TSA screening protester in skivvies delayed, misses flight

Retired surgeon reportedly strips to bra and panties, but still endures more than hour of hand searches and questioning. Meanwhile, it's "YouTube City."

It seems that America's airports have become, in the words of San Francisco filmmaker John Maringouin, "YouTube City."

Ever since the TSA introduced body scanners into the most detailed parts of our lives, travelers have pulled out their cell phones in order to record incidents that seem to verge on the pointless, if not the slightly degrading.

Following the YouTube video of a little boy being strip searched (which has since been added to with a claim that the TSA might not have been entirely truthful about what happened), here is Dr. Tammy Banovac in her underwear.

According to CBS affiliate KWTV in Oklahoma, Banovac, who uses a metal wheelchair, decided to go through security at the Oklahoma City airport wearing little more than her modesty, as she was suspicious of new security procedures which, for some, resemble that of baggage being handled. According to The Oklahoman, she wore "her underwear because of an unpleasant experience two weeks ago at airport security," the paper reported. "She is typically hand-searched at airports because she uses a wheelchair, she said, and she felt violated by the more invasive searches employed at airports recently."

Maringouin told KWTV: "She thought it would be a great idea to bare all and go through like that," Maringouin said. "I felt like at the time I was the only one who noticed her. Everyone was trying to be polite and not be too lookey about it. Some people were gravitating away from her, noticeably, but I thought it was great."

Somehow, the movie doesn't make it seem all that great.

Worse was to come, however. For the screeners reportedly detected the presence of nitrate residue on her body. An airport spokesperson told KWTV that such residue could be from medication, hunting, or many other normal human activities.

However, according to The Oklahoman, Banovac, 52, was subjected to more than another hour of hand searching and questioning--an hour that meant her flight to Phoenix had already left.

This, in turn, meant that Banovac, reportedly a retired surgeon, had to return to the airport the following day and enjoy precisely the same procedure again while dressed in (perhaps not precisely the same) bra and panties.

Banovac's experience seems to contrast hugely with a gentleman who seemed to glide through the security at Salt Lake City airport last week wearing only his Speedo. Oh, and the words "SCREW BIG SIS'" daubed on his back. (This would be a reference to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security.)

And 31-year-old Corinne Theile managed to pare herself down to a bikini and sailed through security at Los Angeles International Airport.

Of course, Theile didn't object to being scanned. Still, some might wonder whether any manual pat down might have been a little more time-efficient than Banovac's.

I find myself wondering, though, about technology's inability to create scanning systems that manage to do the necessary job with both efficiency and dignity.

While more incidents such as these will no doubt become YouTube favorites, it seems strange that there exists no technology that can perform the security task a little more discreetly. Once upon a time, there were wands that were wafted about one's person. These seem not to have worked.

Surely some enterprising engineer can come up with a device better than the existing--and, as Mythbusters' Adam Savage proved --still highly imperfect, screening technology.

 

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