"It's Just Security"

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By on January 8, 2011 in Current Events with 20 Comments

The controversial body scans being utilized by the TSA for airline passengers have led some entrepreneurs to create new clothing lines that are “TSA friendly.” The idea behind the products is that they will either show a message or hide private body parts when the clothes are run through the scanner.

Remember the 4th Amendment Wear clothing line? FedSmith linked to this story a while back. The clothes contain words from the fourth amendment and are designed to have the message show up when passed through the scanner.

Image of 4th amendment wear shirt

And now we have ScannerShirts.com, a company that produces underwear for men and women designed to blur out the private parts of the body in the scanner images. The site states “Our garments have been imprinted with a special ink which tests have shown will create an opaque blur to help keep the details of your private body parts, private.” The products are 100% made in the USA.

Clever products, but the TSA may not see it that way. According to a recent post on the TSA blog:

Throughout history, there have been many creative products offered to consumers that promise to make certain parts of their lives easier. Some work better than others, and well… some just don’t work at all. What am I getting at? I’m getting at the products folks have created that are designed to shield private areas of passengers going through our Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

Remember the post (Message In a Carry-On) about the artist who designs metal plates for baggage with messages that appear on the X-ray monitor? This is very similar to that. If there is something shielding an area and we don’t know what’s under it, we have to conduct a pat-down.

So basically, passengers should be aware that the use of these types of products will likely result in a pat-down. Some might think this is TSA’s way of getting back at clever passengers. That’s not the case at all. It’s just security.

We’re certainly not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy or wear, but I feel it’s only fair to give you a heads up on your choice of attire.

In other words, you may think you’re going to avoid both the humiliation of a body scan image and a pat down simultaneously, but you may be getting the pat down after all.

image of ScannerShirts.com female t-shirtMarc Carey, the man behind ScannerShirts.com, said in an interview with Fox 19 News that some of his customers had worn the clothes and didn’t have any problems, so he believed that it looked like they were being received well by the TSA.

However, Jim Fotenos, a TSA representative, reiterated the point that shielding undergarments necessitate a pat down and also referenced a story from the Wall Street Journal which said, effectively, that wearing blocking type undergarments will result in you having to remove them, be subjected to a pat down, or they just won’t work (in which case you wasted your money on the clothes). According to Fox 19, Fotenos said he thought the Journal’s author characterized the situation fairly well.

So will these new clothing lines ultimately work in airports? Or will the TSA send these companies the way of the dinosaur? Only time will tell, but remember, “it’s just security.”

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.