Homeland Security

Enhanced pat-downs and latex gloves — how often do screeners change them?

From WZZM 13 in Grand Rapids, Mich., comes the experience of a traveler who was told that she was subject to the search because she was wearing a skirt. “The female officer ran her hand up the inside of my leg to my groin….” Or from KMOV St. Louis, the woman who described her horror as the agent’s “gloved hands touched my breasts … went between them. Then she went into the top of my slacks, inserted her hands between my underwear and my skin … then put her hands up on outside of slacks, and patted my genitals.”

{mosads}In late December 2009, when the full-body scanners became a news story after the so-called underwear bomber’s Christmas Day attempt to blow a hole in the side of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit airplane, I wondered in a post whether, over time, passengers might accumulate enough radiation to cause some cancers.

Now that the enhanced pat-downs are making the full-body scanners seem oddly benign — the woman at Lambert in St. Louis said she asked to go through a scanner but was told none were available — the big issue has become the aforementioned woman’s comparison of her experience to sexual assault. Latex glove issues might seem minor, but there ought to be procedures to require TSA screeners to don fresh gloves each time they encounter a new passenger.

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