Pilot takes stand against airport full-body scanners

October 20, 2010 1:41:02 PM PDT
A Houston-based pilot for ExpressJet is taking a stand against the full body scanners that'll soon be the norm at airport security checkpoints across the nation. His protest could cost him his job. That full-body scanner the pilot refused to go through is part of the security system at Bush Intercontinental Airport, and more will be going online in the upcoming months. TSA says crew members are not exempt.

Michael Roberts is that pilot. The incident actually began before he got to the Memphis airport when he refused to go through a full-body scanner similar to one at Bush.

"They wanted me to take off my shoes to go through the scanner, and I told them I didn't want to go through the scanner," Roberts said.

Roberts even blogged about it, calling the controversial devices extremely graphic and intrusive. After also refusing the alternative -- a pat down -- he wasn't allowed to go to work.

"The bottom line, I'm not especially comfortable with being frisked by an agent of the federal government every day on my way to work," Roberts said.

Many passengers say they haven't been through this new screening procedure. Eleven machines are in place at Bush. Hobby will have some by the end of the year.

"I think it's a good thing," airport visitor Kimberly Phillips said. "You never know what they're carrying. They stuff stuff inside their bodies."

"It just seems like there's something to hide," passenger Kristine Marante said. "There's definitely something suspicious there."

TSA says crew members are not exempt.

"Security is not optional," TSA said in the statement. "It's TSA's responsibility to keep the traveling public safe. Anyone who refuses cannot be allowed through."

"He's got a pretty important job," passenger Ronald McCombe said. "I would feel safer if he had to do something I did."

"I just think you have the right to do what you want. It's America. That's why we live here," airport visitor Bubba Bateman said.

Currently, there are 292 scanner systems at 61 airports nationwide. TSA says it plans to have 450 online by the end of 2011.


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