An Oceanside man who recorded a confrontation a TSA agent at Lindbergh Field regarding the agency's new enhanced pat-down searches at airports is getting some support from a local Congressman.
John Tyner, 31, refused to use the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machine on Nov. 13 and when told as a consequence he would be patted down by TSA agents, he objected, complaining that the procedure was similar to a sexual assault.( Mon Nov 15 06:16:06 PST 2010 $__output )
Tyner posted video of the incident on his blog and spoke with news organizations across the country for several days after the incident calling into question TSA policies.
Congressman Bob Filner is calling for a hearing about the rules.( Mon Nov 15 07:18:21 PST 2010 $__output )
"Are full body scans and pat downs at airports necessary to keep us safe?" Filner posted via his Twitter account. "I've asked the Homeland Security Committee to investigate."
Filner, who said he's been through the AIT machine but not the pat-down, said he can relate to the complaints he's getting from constituents.
"It feels embarrassing," Filner said Friday. "It feels like you've been violated so I understand what people are going through and I applaud Mr. Tyner for making a case out of it."
Filner is concerned about what airline passengers are giving up in exchange for security.
"I think TSA has finally crossed the line here in showing we are giving up too much liberty to protect ourselves," said Filner.
On Wednesday, TSA Administrator John Pistole told a U.S. Senate Committee that the agency is close to announcing a possible deal exempting airline pilots from the AIT machines. Some pilot groups have raised concerns about health concerns.
"As soon as you start exempting it shows you don't really need it," Filner said.
"I can imagine now some terrorist saying 'I'll just get a pilot's uniform. I'll get the ID I need,'" he said. "It's silly."
A TSA spokesperson said the agency had opened an investigation into the incident and hinted that there may be some civil penalties issued against Tyner.
Michael Aguilar, federal security director at Lindbergh Field, said Monday afternoon that he is proud of the security officers who treated Tyner with what he called the utmost respect.
Aguilar said Tyner's refusal to undergo the screening may have been planned. If so, the penalty could reach $11,000.
In light of recent Al-Qaeda threats, TSA agents have gotten more aggressive with pat-down searches for passengers who opt out of those full body scans.
Officers are now sliding the front of their hands inside passengers’ legs and across their chests. The agency has previously released a statement saying the new security procedures are necessary.