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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/29/2010

TSA says Thanksgiving travel went smoothly

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Thanksgiving holiday travel didn't go well on the roads (what is it about New Jersey's highways, anyway?), but the Transportation Security Administration insists weeks of intense scrutiny and criticism led to few problems and delays at the nation's airports.

"Everything went smoothly overall," TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said in an e-mail Sunday evening. "Wait times at more than 450 airports nationwide were consistent with past holiday travel periods with many airports experiencing minimal lines."

TSA plans to release final details later today, but if statistics from last Wednesday are any indication, things should have gone well over the weekend.

At the nation's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, 39 out of more than 47,000 passengers last Wednesday declined to use the machines, TSA said. Among other places, wait times were no longer than 20 minutes in Detroit.

Overall, about 99 percent of airline passengers chose to use advanced-imaging technology (AIT) machines despite last Wednesday's Internet-fueled "Opt Out Day" campaign to protest their use, Lee said. The high participation rates are consistent with numbers dating back to when TSA first started using AIT machines in 2007.

The high participation rates mean opponents of new body scanners and aggressive pat-down procedures will have to shift their efforts from the airports to the courts, according to George Washington University professor Jeffrey Rosen, who penned a Sunday Outlook piece on the issue.

"Courts evaluating airport-screening technology tend to give great deference to the government's national security interest in preventing terrorist attacks. But in this case, there's a strong argument that the TSA's measures violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures," Rosen wrote.

But if things went so well over the weekend and a majority of Americans back the stepped-up security measures, will the hyped-up criticism and legal efforts continue?

Unlikely, so let's just go back to complaining about the lack of leg room on planes, OK?

How was your holiday commute? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: First Lady Michelle Obama receives lots of fan mail from young students. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens criticizes the death penalty. Former NASA Adminsitrator Sean O'Keefe (no relation) recounts the harrowing Ted Stevens plane crash. Opponents of Rahm Emanuel hit him where he lives. A Department of Veterans Affairs adviser is drawing GOP fire for his consulting fees.

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT:
New push planned for DREAM immigration act: President Obama is willing to spend "political capital" on making sure the measure passes, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

EPA:
Texas challenges the EPA over climate change rules: In effect, Texas is staking out a role as the anti-California.

FBI:
FBI foils elaborate bomb plot in Oregon: A tip from the Muslim community that led federal officials to the would-be attacker.

FEDERAL RESERVE:
Dissenters gain clout on Fed panel: Four presidents of regional Fed banks will step into the rotation at the Fed's policy meeting in late January.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
New House overseer suggests it might be closing time for some agencies: But a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) declined to elaborate on whether the congressman had any particular agencies in mind for closure.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:
Interior will speed offshore wind leasing process: The department could offer wind leases in the Atlantic coastal areas in late 2011 or early 2012.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE:
Toward a World War I memorial: Nowhere in Washington, a city of monuments, is a shrine honoring all of the 116,516 Americans who died in battle or from other causes in what was once known as the War to End All Wars.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 29, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

Oooh, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over to know the TSA does not find violating American's civil rights inconvenient...

NOT!

The shakedowns at the TSA screening points are illegal because the TSA is forcing citizens to "choose" which of their right they will surrender - which is no choice at all. They aren't giving the traveller the right to decline to have their federally protected rights violated.

These are the choices:

1. surrender 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure (porno-scan or grope)

2. surrender 8th amendment rights against excessive fines (11,000 dollars? That's a deliberately outlandish fine.)

3. surrender right described in U.S. Code 40103 (A)2 American citizen's right to transit navigable airspace (avoid flying in order to avoid government sponsored abuse)

Please recall that the Bill of Rights was not intended to deny citizens rights not specifically enumerated, nor disparage these other rights. (That would be amendment 9, if you're keeping track.)

Furthermore, the TSA and the DHS planned together to effect this denial of rights, which means their officials should be prosecuted for their malfeasance under

18 U.S.C. 241

and since these crimes are being committed "Under Color of Law", many of the perpetrators should be prosecuted under

18 U.S.C. 242

Not that any of that is going to happen, but it would be best for the nation if the TSA was reformed or disbanded. These agregious violations of our rights need to stop.

The News Media should renew it's commitment to the American public. Journalists should be explaining the shenanigans of the DHS and the TSA.

Posted by: dibette | November 29, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Dibette sounds like a terrorist trying to sneak a bomb on a plane. Booooooooooom

Blam Dibette.

Posted by: motherseton | November 29, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

"The high participation rates are consistent with numbers dating back to when TSA first started using AIT machines in 2007." So please, TSA spokesman, tell us how many scanners were turned off. Oh wait, I'm sure that's classified and you'll never tell us. I wonder what our next silly over-reaction to a terrorist act will be. Maybe a cell phone bomb will require all cell phones to be checked!

Posted by: ScuderiaF | November 29, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Good thing TSA shut off most of the scanners;
http://gizmodo.com/5698536/fliers-claim-tsa-have-deactivated-body-scanners
I have already decided not to fly again, till TSA and their scanners go in the round file.

Posted by: wannabersc | November 29, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The statistics on the new airport screenings are very misleading.

99% of people who were directed to go through a scanner opted for the scanner instead of the pat-down, which is NOT 99% of everyone who went through security. I've gone through security a few times this month, and would have been one who opted out (and refused the pat-down). But I quickly learned that if you don't want to go through the scanner, you just hurry up or slow down putting your stuff down the belt for screening and time it so that someone else is in the scanner and you're pointed to the metal detector instead. So if you don't want to go through the scanner, you generally don't have to -- which is why they're a joke. If 100% of the people had to go through the scanners (instead of maybe 15-20% now?), the percentage would be much less.

Also, a poll of those who actually fly would be different than a general poll of all Americans. And the reactions are probably even different for those who must fly for work compared to those who choose to fly for social reasons. It is frustrating that my friends and family who never fly don't have a problem with the scanners.

Posted by: HoosierNDC | November 29, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the whiners just don't have the influence they thought they might. Too bad. I guess you are getting the hard news that you just aren't as special as the advertising industry wants you to feel.

Posted by: password11 | November 29, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

99% huh? I went through Reagan and Sea Tac and I didn't see one person asked to use the machines sitting right there and Sea Tac was a 45 minute wait to get through the line; must have been 300 or more people there while I was in line and zero went through the AIT machines.

They said 47K people went through Atlanta and 39 declined but how many went through the machines? 3900 people would have had to go through them to make 39 a 1% decline rate at Atlanta but I doubt that many went through the machines there.

Posted by: flonzy1 | November 29, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Reports are TSA backed off on use of many scanners and intimate gropes, but how can you can you go wrong with a TSA press release? They would never spin the truth, would they?

Posted by: cscherf | November 29, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

TSA seems inordinately proud of the amount of people being exposed to ionizing radiation (all of the backscatter machines, not the millimeter-wave ones).

If they continue to insist on using these machines, we will likely see an uptick in cancer rates in a few years, but being unable to trace it back to specific causes will mean that these guys will never get the blame for it they deserve.

Posted by: omarsidd | November 29, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Writing an article based on the TSA reporting on itself is not good reporting.

I don't believe I have seen any articles about the Tea Party movement written by a Tea Party person.

And you wonder why people prefer Fair and Balanced Fox News?

Posted by: bonnieb23 | November 29, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

It remains amazing to me that on every post about how the TSA has "won" this argument 90-100% of the comments are negative. Even on the CBS poll that says that 80% of American's are "for" the scanners 98% of the comments remain negative.

That is, of course, unscientific but I suspect that anyone that discounts the outrage now will be surprised later.

Even this article which is decidedly Pro-TSA has met very high resistance. There are currently 11 (now 12) comments on this article. Of those, only one is in support of the idea. That's more than 90% against.

Posted by: jinksto | November 29, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see something about the large numbers of travelers seeing the scanners not being used. My daughter and her boyfriend opted out of the scanners leaving Boston on Saturday and were given "cursory" pat downs. So, did the TSA back down after all? There were also reports of empty airports - just how many travelers chose to drive instead of flying?

Posted by: Jem248 | November 29, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I read reports that the scanners were turned off in many instances and in cases where scanners were present, you could choose the line for metal detector or scanner. So that would explain the statistic of 99% of travelers choosing the scanners.

It didn't go so well for this poor young boy. (http://www.yumasun.com/opinion/saw-65798-father-tsa.html) Instead of making glowing reports about themselves, maybe the TSA should get their act together. Groping children is not acceptable, and they continue to do it.

If the latest Zogby report is any indication, support for the TSA is on the decline.

Posted by: amy_l | November 29, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"complaining about leg room" is truly insulting when you read the sample of complaints on ACLU's website:


http://www.aclu.org/passengers-stories-recent-travel/


Posted by: ntpierce | November 29, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I thought this issue needed a protest song about it, not quite Bob Dylan but a sincere effort never the less to raise awareness on our "disappearing civil liberties" blues at "echster" on Youtube.

Posted by: techterling | November 29, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

TSA is fudging the truth. There were nation-wide protests. The Jamaican Bobsled scrotum eggs protest was the most effective. Unnerved TSA screeners, we are told. http://bit.ly/bpR7Ac

Posted by: HogsAteMySister | November 29, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

People that see no problem with the pat downs and scanners, and are willing to bend over for the Gov no matter what they impose, are the real threat to America. These people need a refresher course on what we stand for as a nation. Otherwise, leave.

Posted by: kryan74 | November 29, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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