I’ve been going through security screening right here in this line for five years and never blown up an airplane, broken any laws, made any threats, or had a government agent call my boss in Houston. And you guys have never tried to touch me or see me naked that whole time. But, if that’s what it’s come to now, I don’t want to enter the facility that badly. — Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts is a pilot for ExpressJet, or at least he was until he went to work at the Memphis airport and saw that the TSA had installed a new security device, a backscatter imaging machine. I’ve have written previously about these devices, which can see through your clothes and give TSA personnel a view of your naked body underneath. If you’re in the security line and don’t want to offer such a personal view of yourself to strangers, you can choose the alternate indignity of being frisked.
Roberts chose neither. He had passed through the metal detector without setting off any alarms and found it ludicrous that, since he had commuted to work through this portal every week for more than four years without incident, he was being treated this way. He’s right. As the pilot, if he wanted to crash into a building or use the aircraft for a similar terrorist attack, he wouldn’t need a box cutter or any other sharp implement because he’d already be at the controls of the plane!
Roberts posted his story in detail in an online forum for ExpressJet employees. As of this morning, his job status is unclear, although he hasn’t been allowed to work since the incident last weekend. The conservative civil liberties group The Rutherford Institute has agreed to represent him in his claim that the TSA’s use of full-body scanning technology as a primary security scan violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.