TSA Screening: What are the Limits?

Top security officers claim these invasive scans are necessary for our safety. In a news conference at Reagan National Airport, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pointed to a Nigerian man caught last Christmas day trying to board a plane with explosives hidden in his underwear. If officials had used less invasive techniques, Napolitano reasons, we would not have caught him.

Here is the photo the Drudge Report is running to demonstrate how intrusive TSA’s scans are:

There must be limits to how far TSA officials can go, right?

Actually, not really.

TSA officials put their hands down this radio host’s pants. Baggy sweatpants made it impossible for officials to see the precise contours of the man’s crotch, so officials were directed to grope inside his pants until they were satisfied he wasn’t hiding anything.

In the same ABC News video, another man tells the chilling story of a TSA official giving him a “full 360” “between his underwear and his skin” to check for, well, junk:

Janet Napolitano defended the new policies in a USA Today op-ed, calling invasive scans “safe” and “private,” viewable only by federal airport workers. Yet somehow images from these scans have already been leaked, flooding the Internet.

So far the folks speaking out against invasive TSA touching are men. How far would TSA officials — merely human beings backed by federal indemnity — grope to satisfy themselves a female isn’t hiding a small bomb?

Photo credit: jello2594’s flickr photostream.