Expert: patdowns aimed at making travelers take body scan

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The head of the Transportation Security Administration is asking travelers for their cooperation as the government tightens security during the busy holiday travel season.

The body searches are at the center of a national debate over whether security concerns should trump individual privacy and civil liberties. Mounting outrage online has prompted several campaigns urging passengers to forgo flying during the Thanksgiving holiday, what is traditionally one of the busiest flying weekends of the year.

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Meanwhile, cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Travel expert Rudy Maxa, host of Rudy Maxa’s World on KFWB NEWS TALK 980, gives some holiday travel tips to KFWB’s Michael Shappee.

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Here are some additional suggestions to help keep your holiday flying experience both safe and private:

  • Despite the police-type uniforms, TSA “screeners” are not law enforcement officers they have no police powers and no immunity from any state or local laws. At some airports, including San Francisco (SFO) , they aren’t government employees but rather rent-a-cops employed by a private contractor. They cannot legally arrest or detain you, but they can call the local police.

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  • When in doubt, push record.  Photography and recording in airports and at TSA checkpoints violates no Federal law or TSA regulation, and you have the First Amendment right to photograph, videotape or otherwise document any public area of an airport, including security checkpoints.
  • If at any time you believe a TSA screener may have gone too far, you have the right to make a criminal complaint and/or a citizen’s arrest of someone who assaults you, and/or to sue them for damages.
  • Most major airlines are obligated to provide a full and unconditional refund if the airline refuses to transport you for failure to agree to a pat-down or body scan. If the airline refuses to give you a full refund, you may opt to sue them for damages and request that the U.S. Department of Transportation investigate and fine them.
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