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Chaffetz against body-scanner protest

Published November 16, 2010 2:21 pm

Security • Movement targets Nov. 24 as an 'opt-out' day on full-body imaging screens.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Congress' most ardent opponent of the whole-body imaging machines now deployed at many airports, says he doesn't support the movement for a "national opt-out" day set for the eve of Thanksgiving.

A grass-roots effort is urging people flying for the holiday to decline to go through the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) imaging machines that allow screeners to peer through travelers' clothing.

"We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent," proponents argue on their website, which targets Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving, for all travelers to object to the screening.

Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who sponsored a bill in the House that would bar the TSA from using the machines as a primary screening tool, says he still has many concerns about the full-body scans but says Americans should object through Congress, not to TSA agents. And especially not on such a busy travel holiday.

"I just think there's a better, smarter way to do it than protesting and missing your flight home to grandmother's place for Thanksgiving," Chaffetz said Tueday. "That's not the way to change the system."

Those who opt out of going through a whole-body imaging system are then forced into a pat-down by TSA agents. Chaffetz made news himself when he declined to go through such a machine at Salt Lake City International Airport and had a confrontation with agents.

Chaffetz's legislation passed the House but stalled in the Senate where it probably will die when the session ends.

tburr@sltrib.com