The TSA announcement on December 18th, 2015, that the body scanners would “sometimes” be mandatory was phrased like this:
While passengers may generally decline AIT screening in favor of physical screening, TSA may direct mandatory AIT screening for some passengers.
…which, as someone experienced in translating TSA-speak, I assumed to mean, “We will force you through the scanners whenever the hell we want, especially if we don’t like you on that day.” But, there were then early rumors that by “some passengers” the TSA was referring only to those on the “selectee list” — an FBI-managed list, much like the no-fly list, that identifies passengers who may fly but only with additional screening.
Those early rumors have been thoroughly dispelled now that reports of actual travelers at the airports are coming in. Last week, one of our readers reported that despite being PreCheck, she was forced towards the body scanners, only receiving a reprieve by informing them that she is pregnant. And then, a couple days ago, the TSA attempted to make a passenger in a wheelchair, who was neither PreCheck nor selectee, stand for a scan:
“If you’re able to stand up, you will go through there [the body scanner], you cannot refuse screening.”
~~TSA Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Abdi, SEA Airport, 12/31/2015
Unfortunately, the passenger in the wheelchair is Sai, another civil rights advocate who litigates against the TSA, and Sai caught it all on video:
While, after summoning the highest ranking TSA official in the airport and going through lengthy waits and arguments, Sai eventually was allowed through with the “opt-out” procedure, it seems perfect clear that the TSA is caught in a lie once again: its intent was not that “passengers may generally” opt-out, but rather its intent was that as many be forced through these machines as possible. To do so to someone who is partially disabled and has difficulty standing on his own for long periods of time is absolutely disgraceful, yet not surprising from this agency.