okay so I've done a little more research. Here's what I've learned:
- People will randomly be selected for a "special search" and will be asked to switch from the Metal Detector line to the Body Scanner line (at which point you can "Opt Out" and have the "Enhanced Pat Down")
- By the end of 2011 the plan is for 2 out of 3 passengers to go through the scanners (which will be at all or most airports)
- Your ability to hold your child during their pat down seems to be up to the TSA agents discretion
- pat downs *should* be conducted by a same gender person
- There are two types of scanners
- The Backscatter (looks like two large blue boxes that you walk through) uses Xrays (should be a small amount equal to the radiation exposure of 4 minutes flying, and infinitely smaller than that of an actual medical xray) Was not able to find information on how often or who calibrates the machines or how they ensure that the Xray dose is a small as stated. The images DO show your private areas in detail (as the Xray bounces off skin). So you look naked
- The Millimeter Wave Machine (looks like a cabin or capsule type thing that you walk through). Uses radio waves. No risk there? (still look naked)
--Though TSA says the machines can't save, store, or send the images they absolutely can. Several documented stories of images being saved and leaked (sent).
-If you elect for a Pat Down the new rules (went into effect Oct 25) state that agents can use the front of their hands (previously it was the back of hands) to feel your groin, breast and buttocks areas including the underside and in between your breasts.
- The TSA website states (in all caps) TSA will NEVER separate you from you child. They do not define what they mean by separate and there are several stories posted online about agent's taking young children (1 year old) out of eyesight of their parents to pat them down, or forcing parents to leave young children (2 and under) unattended in a stroller while parents are taken to another room/area to be patted down. Again out of eyesight.
- Once you enter the security line you agree to be screened, you canNOT refuse. IE if you enter the metal detector line and are asked to move to the body scanner line your choice at that point becomes body scanner or pat down. You can't simply walk out of the airport and choose not to fly that day.
- I don't understand this part but the person who is viewing the images never actually sees you in person. They are viewing the images from another room/area/location. And the people who are at the machines never see the scan images. Not really sure how that works in terms of catching the guy with the bomb (since the person who sees the bomb doesn't see the bombers face and vice versa).
At this point I'm not as concerned about the naked images (though it DOES tick me off) as I am about the trauma of being patted down (to DS and myself) and the risk of the xray machines. If we are given the option of the Millimeter Wave Machine I'll think we'll choose that (and hope that DS can cooperate so he doesn't have to undergo a pat down).