Checking your privacy at airport security

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Sunday, December 26, 2010; 7:17 PM

Whenever I read about the Transportation Security Administration's fast and furious spending of our tax dollars ["TSA's embrace of technology draws questions," front page, Dec. 21], I'm reminded of my family's 2008 vacation to Ireland and England.

At Dulles International Airport, we strolled through security. A few days later at Dublin International, the security screener stopped us. She was seeing scissors in my then-10-year-old daughter's backpack. "You're going to have to empty that pack." She interrupted my friendly chatter about how my daughter was using her school backpack and how I'd neglected to properly empty it of her school supplies before our vacation. "I'm seeing five pairs of scissors," she said sternly. We dumped out the backpack and surrendered the scissors. Yep, all five pairs.

An Irish security checker prevented those five pairs of scissors from taking a 30-minute commuter hop from Dublin to Manchester, England - while our TSA let them fly for seven hours across the Atlantic.

But in the summer of 2008, the agency hadn't yet spent $8 billion of our tax dollars for new and unproven screening technologies. We must be safe now.

Suzanne Picard, Kensington

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Regarding the Dec. 23 front-page article "TSA procedures offend followers of many faiths":

While I am not insensitive to the qualms some people have about their privacy as they go through airport security, I for one want to go on record as being delighted with the full-body scanner. I have had two hip replacements and have had the experience of being pulled aside every time I have gone through security. I have been wanded and patted down in full view of other passengers, and, yes, it's annoying and embarrassing. But this month, for the first time, I went through the full-body scanner at Reagan National Airport and was delighted with the lack of fuss and the speed with which I cleared security. I have no compunction about any infringement on my privacy when it's in the cause of safety in the air, though, since I'm a 76-year-old grandmother, I don't think I was ever much of a threat.

Jennifer Santley, Falls Church

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I am offended by TSA procedures not because of my religion but because of my age. I am a 66-year-old woman, wife, mother and grandmother, and when I last flew in September, my underwire bra and a metal clasp on my slacks set off the machine. I stood there while a TSA worker wanded and clutched at me. "You must wear expensive bras since mine never set this off," she said. It was a conversation I didn't want to have with her or in public.

I, too, am a modest person who has spent my lifetime loving my country, not wishing harm on anyone and trying to respect others. This spring I will have knee replacement surgery, and the thought that I will be singled out for scrutiny every time I fly makes me almost physically sick.


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