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November 12th, 2010
07:08 AM ET

To Scan or Not To Scan?

The Debate Over Your Body at the Airport

The unions that represent pilots for American Airlines and US Airways have urged their members to avoid the full-body scanners at airport security checkpoints.

The unions, which represent a total of 16,500 pilots, say they worry about the health effects of being exposed to the scanner's radiation.

The scanners are operated in 65 airports nationwide, and use radiation to create what looks like a nude image of the person being screened, in order to reveal weapons or contraband hidden under clothing.

According to the Transportation Security Administration the levels of radiation emitted by the scanners are too low to pose a health risk, but we want to know what you think?

How do you feel about being required to have a body scan before boarding a plane?

Give us your feedback at cnn.com/kyra and we’ll read some or your responses today on CNN Newsroom at 9am-11am EST with Kyra Phillips.


Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Dan

    I don't fly very often; however, if it means safety and security, I am all for it. But I don't understand the health effects they are talking about this technology would cause to an individual.
    Isn't this basically an Xray or MRI? That doesn't cause harm.

    November 12, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  2. Carlos

    I prefer a full body scan and all necessary measures, rather than have my flight blow up in mid-air. If these dimwitted fools do not appreciate the security we have to avoid these tragedies then don't let them get on the plane. Flying is a privilege not a right.

    November 12, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  3. Alexa Graber

    I thought removing shoes to bare feet for security purposes was bad enough recently, but the body scan techique blows my mind. Not an issue for me, but does anyone know what the effects of the scan would be on an unknown pregnancy? Furthermore, how many of us would carry anything inside a body orifice – let alone illegal contraband? Nothing can take the place of common sense scanning of personal items and reequirements for workers to be dilligent, with requirements in place to monitor their quality of work. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. A.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  4. Shorty

    I'd rather have the scan, it seems the lesser of two evils. However my first choice is to take the bus, a lot less headaches

    November 12, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  5. Addie

    If it can be proven to be useful, it's fine! No one's forcing you to fly, anyway. But I can imagine pilots having problems, if they'd have to go through it every day

    November 12, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  6. Ariel

    Personally, I'd prefer the scanner to the random pat-downs that are in place now. Those scanner images don't feel like nearly as much of a violation as having a total stranger put their hands all over you in the name of security!

    November 12, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  7. john walsh

    When we allow TSA and other security agencies rule our lives and trample our freedoms without limits and even without question, we hand victory to the terrorists.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  8. Scott

    The technology is not effective, the radiation is shown to be damaging to DNA, I fly every week and have too many courses in genetics to support this. Believe this is an unwarranted invasion of privacy as well, trampling on the 4th amendment, which requires judicial authorization of all searches. If the TSA wants to get a warrant for each scan, they are welcome to it, but they must show probable cause to a magistrate.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  9. John L. Stanton, Jr. MPH

    We should have a complete moratorium placed on body scanners until there is sufficient evidence that we are not placing people are harm via radiation exposure. Why hasn't the FDA stepped in as these are medical devices being utilized for non medical use? They provide guidance on X-Ray exposure, what's different?

    November 12, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  10. Nina

    I am on the fence with this one:

    I am uncomfortable with the full body scan as it is an invasion of privacy, yet if they were implemented before, the Underwear Bomber might have never made it on the plane.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  11. Anna

    I think these body scans violate my privacy. I now definitely prefer to drive to my destinations rather than fly. On those occassions where driving is not an option I will opt for the body pat down.

    Also, some of your viewers don't realize that xrays and MRI's do pose health risks. It's radiation and can cause cancer.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  12. Jose Gonzalez

    People want to complain about the body scanners. You got to do what you got to do, in order to keep this country safe. The complainers will stop when those scanner catch something. With out the scanners some people have been able to get things on the plane. Little extra security is not going to hurt. The scanners are not taking nude pictures of your self, get over it.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  13. Joan

    I love the extra security and whatever it takes to make us safe, but as we are informed that this scan will not even pick up what is used in the terrorist procedures. I am not in agreement with this type of scan imagine that time of the month as a woman! I think it's way too deep into my privacy.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  14. emma

    i'm not understanding the american people ....they want to be kept safe but only at their convenience.........as for micheal steele he was a token for the republicans against Pres.Obama anyway........he should have known that they were going to get rid of him anyway.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  15. Ronald Schmid

    The idea to be x-rayed every time you fly, “no matter how harmless they tell you it is”, makes me not want to fly any longer. I would never refuse a thorough security check to the benefit and safety of all of us but this x-ray system goes to far. The technical analysis they give about the skin deep wave cannot really be verified and any additional amount of x-ray exposure is a health risk—period! Any x-ray that can be avoided, no matter how safe and weak they say, is reducing health risks!

    November 12, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  16. Alden C. Sheremata

    We learned during the Civil Rights Era that if we're going to talk about our rights, our rights go as far as another. Today that other is Wanted, Dead Or Alive for Mass Murder – Bin Laden.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  17. Chris

    Thank you for pointing out that these machines are indeed flawed. However, please tell viewers that TSA has changed it's pat down procedures to where they must inspect the groin area until "forced resistance". Ultimately, pushing body scanners on those that do not want to be humiliated or testicular pain. No where in the constitution does it entitle us to fly, yet why can't we be smart about our safety. Employ bomb sniffing dogs, iris scanning, and psychological questions (similiar to ben goren). It's all smoke and mirrors folks.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  18. Chris

    BTW pilots have problems with these machines because we do not know the impact of irradiating people with these machines and then these pilots are exposed to radiation at 30,000 feet. I would be weary too.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  19. Joe M

    A lawsuit to limit the uise of the aiport scanners sounds intersting. Does the plaintiff offer something else in it's place? If you decline to be screened with the scanners, then take the alternative. Have them do the pat down. If that is not acceptable, take the bus! Until a newer technology is available for screening these are the only two ways to try to protect our air travel.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  20. phillip Moore

    I'm a "Million Miler" on one airline so I travel quite a lot. While the scanners certainly invade my personal space if you will, they will help save lives. A person willing to kill himself and possibly hundreds of others by blowing up a plane is not worried about modesty. Air travel has forever changed...there are some things we're just going to have to deal with until a better option becomes available.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  21. Margaret

    Kyra, I have been refusing these scans since they arrived at our airport in Cincinnati. I have always be suspicious of their safety. Then, I read an article that revealed the level of radiation was higher than initially thought. I get on a plane twice a week. Now I know I am doing the right thing asking for a pat down.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  22. Larry T.

    As a former law enforcement officer, I assure you all authoritative sanctions are subject to abuse and this is applicable to the rank and file of the TSA as well. Historically Americans have dealt with risk as a price of something even more precious; freedom from tyranny and abuse. No governmental agency should have the ultimate authority to undermine statuatory, constitutional, or common law. I risked harm daily to protect these rights and it was my choice to do so. These inalienble rights were earned by many chosing to take a risk to protect them. Yes, flying is a choice, because of risk not inspite of it.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  23. Bob

    For as often as people fly I don't think it is a risk to their health, but we need it to protect the lives of people. I don't think pilots or any of the flight crew should be subjected to that radiation at every airport, that could cause health issues.I think they should at least past inspections before boarding the planes.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  24. Dave

    Infringment on our personal right to privacy! And the heath risks involved. No matter what technology the TSA places, does NOT guarantee our safty. I say this because, if a scumbag wants to cause fear and or harm, they will find a way around our technology. Isn't flying a danger in and of itself? Driving is more dangerous than flying, or you could trip off the curb. Life is dangerous my friends...get over it!

    November 12, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  25. Bruce

    There an over reaction by the TSA. Anytime something happens they come up with some other way to search to make us believe they can protect us. What's up next, strip searches?

    November 12, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  26. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    America wouldnt have this problem if wernt for political correctness .

    November 12, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  27. Phil

    I oppose the use of "body scanners", it is a health risk and invasion of privacy. These "scanners" are an old technology, as they are xray machines used for looking at casts by orthopaedic surgeons. Call them what they are "body x-Ray machines", and a health risk.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  28. Tom B

    1.I don't think everyone has to go through the body scanner..2.I want everyone on the plane with me screened ..3.The scanners themselves do not "sniff out" explosives ,guns ,and knives: the officer (from a remote spot) evaluates the image to determine anomalies within the image .

    November 12, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  29. Jim

    This technology has already been shown ineffective by the Asian man who passed through it in a full disguise just last week. There are many other ways of defeating these scans that the "Evil doers" will be exploiting.

    The TSA talks about "Layered" systems... soon we will all be subject to background checks, psycological evaluations, metal detectors, body scans, full pat downs, cavity searches and what ever other "screening techniques" the government can think of before being allowed to board an aircraft.

    Where is the Tea Party and their defense of Constitutionalism when everytime you go to the airport your Constitutional right to privacy is violated?

    November 12, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  30. rita nalette

    E-screening inefficient
    Using K9 to screen pax invalidate profiling, discrimination claims, are green, no privacy invasion so no Islamic violation, and won‘t hurt DNA.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  31. Jonathan

    Those complaining are the same people who put all their private lives on Facebook and Twitter... give me a break.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  32. girlsoll

    "Those that would sacrifice freedom for temporary security deserve neither." – founding father
    there are health concerns (long term effects) of body scanners as well as personal body privacy. A good old fashioned pat down or search does nearly the same as the full body scanner, not everyone is subject to it AND i'm sure it costs consumers and TSA a whole lot less.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  33. Jon

    Earlier in your show it was determined that the bomber in Detroit last year would have been able to walk through the scanner undetected. If people can beat the scanner than why have it.

    I have used the scanner and get the pat down anyway. So why use it.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  34. diana levy

    Just tuned in and heard part of this report. I was never bothered by possibility this additional scan until I heard the word radiation.

    As a Cancer survivor I do not welcome further radiation to my already over burdened body.

    Lets hope this dose not happen on the international flights. I have not ever been subjected to one yet.

    Will listen in for updates on this as it is worrisome.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  35. Barbara

    As an American who travels all over the world, I will never submit to full body scanning. It's a health risk AND it's an invasion of privacy. I will strip in front of any TSA at any airport but will never undergo the "scan."

    November 12, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  36. Angela

    As a frequent flier, and someone who for medical reasons ends up getting multiple yearly x-rays and ct scans, I worry that there could be an increased risk for cancer. I will be asking for pat downs.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  37. Staci

    I am so sick of hearing people complain about the body scanners. Terrorists have become more advanced with the way they do things, so we must also. It just really blows my mind that someone would rather not go through a body scanner than to get blown up by the guy sitting next to them.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  38. Investigate911

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

    What is more dangerous the underwear bomber or an out of control government?

    November 12, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  39. Victoria

    I travel once a month for work and i have been declining to go through the scanners every time, i dont believe they are safe, and surely for frequent fliers it cant be good. the TSA has always been cool about opting out for a pat down. so just say no next time you fly.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  40. Peter

    I'm split on this for one reason, pregnancy. If there is a health risk to woman who are prengnant, then no, do not use body scanners. However, if it can increase of security, then I am all for it. The only downside is that enemies foreign or domestic might take advantage of this and will fake a pregnancy to get onboard a plane with contraband or explosives. If the country was so freaking political correct, the scnanner wouldn't be needed. Protect this country, I do it everyday as a member of the Armed Forces.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  41. Brian

    I am really amazed by people who oppose the body scan machines. Would they rather have their planes blown out of the sky? Anything that increases security–however inconvenient–is perfectly fine with me. I don't know what planet these people live on, but the "good old days" of air travel are gone forever! I'll be first in line to be scanned.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  42. Sherry

    Pilots fly frequently...the rest of us, not so much. I would prefer to strip naked in front of 5,000 other passengers and put my clothes through a screaner, than have someone I don't know "patting me down". Body scanners are non-invasive, quick, and non-threatening. Bombs are threatening.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  43. Leigh

    They're already a step ahead of the TSA. They're experimenting with surgically implanting explosives in dogs. Next will be humans. It'll be interesting to see what the TSA comes up with to address that. Body scans and invasive pats are a joke. Bin Laden has to be LOL.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  44. Chris

    Folks, domestic terrorists are opportunists. They wait patiently and take months if not years of planning. The scanners are merely a front....look around there are plenty of 'holes' in our system elsewhere. The scanners have proven to fail sensing the same powder explosives of the underwear bomber last xmas. So why have them? Money and a false sense of security. Money to the companies that get the juicy gov't contract and false sense of security for passengers.

    Flying is not a right. It isn't protected in our constitution. Yet do we have to be so dumb when it comes to instituting security? Really these machines and TSA's blatant attempt to push people to use them with the new pat down procedures – continuing until 'forced resistance' in the groin area – it's all a ridiculous joke!

    Speaking of ridiculous this reminds me of the Southpark episode of flying today – anyone else concur?

    November 12, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  45. Daniel

    Terrorism wasn't invented in 2001. There were plenty of hijackings and thousands of lives lost through terrorism in the 1980s, yet we didn't use that as an excuse for ridiculous security measures, since there's no such thing as a risk-free life. Statistically, you're more likely to be killed as a pedestrian than as an airline passenger, but we're not all required to wear body armor when crossing the street. Americans need to stand up for their rights and stop cowering in fear before improbable threats conjured by a government agency eager to expand its authority. The rest of the world has terrorism, too, but they don't subject air travelers to these indignities. Are we citizens or are we subjects?

    November 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  46. lynn

    These scanners are dangerous to everyone longterm & to some people more immediately. An example: I have a relative currently going thru multiple skin cancer surgeries. The cancer is not from the sun but from radiation exposure she had 20 years ago for lymphoma. Please listen, it is skin cancer from radiation! The damage is cumulative over time. I will never allow myself to be scanned, I already have too much radiation exposure from my own ongoing health issues. We need to stop being sheep. And how often does the FDA approve drugs that end up killing people? Really, do you trust them? I don't!

    November 13, 2010 at 2:06 am |
  47. Alfonzo Roscoe

    While I believe that screening pilots is a bit overzealous, I also rather feel a bit uncomfortable and safe instead of sorry or dead. Wouldn't you believe that these terrorists are definitely monitoring our playbook about what we are going to do and not do in order to invent even more creative ways to kill us?

    November 15, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  48. David (From (San diego)

    I understand the need for these increased security measures in light of 09/11 and really dont have a problem with them so long as they are conducted respectfully however, if someone touches my "junk" even accidentaly, then it only seems fair that they have to buy me dinner 🙂

    November 15, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  49. Brian Wood

    If I thought for one second that all this scanning and/or patdowns actually enhanced security I'd be fine with it, but the problem is it doesn't. The TSA continues to "fight the last war", by engaging in "security theater", to protect themselves from claims of "you're not doing enough" should anything happen.

    Even the Israelis say that removing shoes is silly, and nobody could accuse them of not taking security seriously.

    The TSA is more interested in protecting themselves than the public, and refuses to take advice from the experts in the field.

    Scanning pilots is even sillier, as Sully said, if a pilot wanted to crash a plane he could easily do so, whether scanned or not, which proves that the true purpose of all this theater is NOT to protect the public, but to put on a show for them, and continue to collect large salaries for the TSA officials.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  50. Terry

    Israel has one of the best records globally for airport/aircraft security. They don't believe that the scanners are effective.

    The question that I have is who is making money off these scanners? I suspect that some former government official is getting rich from them. Follow the money.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  51. george wynn

    why not allow a person to scan themselfs with the proper authority watching over them too ensure that it is done uuder correctly. if it is done in accordance to their standards. sure it will take s little moretime but if they wish to fly get there early.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  52. Penny

    The entire process for "safety" seems to be getting more and more invasive to everyone. We are all likes lambs to the slaughter – we just keep taking more and more. Where is this all going to end up? There has to be another solution – and it's NOT TSA.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  53. cynthia r.

    all of americ knew about these scanners coming and what their functions were this is to help protect us as americans after 9/11 so what is the big deal.do you want to be protected or not bottom line

    November 15, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  54. Ariel

    i worry more about the under age girls/boys that i see getting full body scan imagse done. what's the goverment looking for there? does a group of perople gather to look? about about soemone with a usb stick?

    i travel weekly and i have always refused the scan, i europe the pat downs get very personal also, only thing missing now is "turn your left and cough".

    November 15, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  55. PJ Borelli

    Fly or not to fly???????
    NOT........The cost the absurd security measures and anything else these paranoid jerks can come up with, do not justify my need to fly....

    I will drive,to my destination. If it is beyond my ability to drive..I will not go....People are being treated like criminals...For what? So an airline can make money! To hell with them..
    Every security check is backward....Measures are meant to target one billionth of the population...Everyone should walk thru an area that sniffs for bombs and or guns...If detected, the person is sealed in the booth and the bomb/person detonated...Now that flight has an opening, no one is held up, on to the next...
    No measures are taken for train or bus or subway...get a grip!
    To arbitrarily search everyone is absurd and a violation of everyones rights..you do NOT give up rights, because of a ticket purchase thats BS

    November 15, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  56. Linda Shreve

    The TSA needs to have their people checked frequently so they are not infiltrated and let a terrorist pass through security.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  57. Bob Perkins

    I don't envy the screeners their difficult job in attempting to keep the traveling public safe. With his camera at the ready Tyner was clearly looking to provoke a confrontation. He is obviously more concerned with his own over inflated ego than with the safety of others. If he wants to get somewhere in the future... he should take his "junk" and walk rather than fly.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  58. molly o.

    Everyone boarding a plane should be checked by a scanner or by a body search. Flying is not a right; it is a privilege. There is a choice here, and if a person won't submit to either type of check, then that person has no right to fly and jeopardize the safety of everyone else. Having said that, it is interesting that doctors in the US do warn that full-body scans in the US are x-ray scanners and may eventually cause health problems. In contrast, scanners in Canada use low-level radio frequency energy which is not a health risk. I travel a lot and personally, I go for the body pat-down. The checkers are always professional and polite.

    November 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  59. Madinah

    American government, should be ashamed of themselves, to allow individual rights to be violated this way. If homeland security want to secure the country, then do it by leaving the people alone. What they are doing is wasting tax payers money, would they like their love ones to be rubbed and touched this way? I am shamed to say it, but America has become – " America The Nasty." The most nasty country in the world.

    November 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  60. Lance in Illinois

    I recently had the experience ot a "full body search." I opted not to use the full body scan as I've had more radiation than most of the population. Besides being an invasion of my privacy (due to metal in my spine), the search felt more like being molested. The pat-down took place in the security area next to the body scanner). I would think this should have taken place in a private area. To be quite honest, I've had anxiety over the full body pat down for over a week now, as I am a survivor of sex abuse. The pat down was too invasive for me; it made me feel as if I were experiencing the abuse over again. More over. the childhood-sexual-abuse has taken me over 30 years to wrap my brain round, and now the memories have returned with ferocity. Is it truly nececssary to touch "my junk" five times during one security screening? This incident will make me think twice about flying!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  61. Greg E

    I am an airline pilot. I also served in the military. Our government is seriously flawed. The scanners are worthless, not to mention most likely not good for your health. The pat down of your genitals is beyond ridiculous. They are even targeting children. Regardless of your opinion it will affect the child and it is absolutely child molestation. Now, I wont go into details... but for those of you that actually believe it increases airline safety.. keep dreamin! Not a chance! There are other ways that do but they cost more money. Unlawful search and seizure. It was our constitutional right. Enough is Enough! It's pathetic!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  62. marti barribeau

    Dear Kyra: can you please find out how much radiation a person gets in these body scanners? I received 12 yrs. of it in two months just checking me out for lung cancer and I don't want anymore of it.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  63. Peter Kershaw

    If the body scanners do or do not have a detrimental effect on our health, it should be easy enough for those who make either assertion to publicize the data and the method of analysis that support their claim. We needn't uselessly argue over metaphysical fantasies and untestable conjectures; let's apply intellectual honesty and the scientific method (for a change).

    November 16, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  64. Joe Thomas

    As a Captain for American Airlines I frequently go through a security check point 3 times in one day. For example, I will start the day in Venezuela, go through security, fly to Miami, go thought customs then through secuity, fly to Orlando and back, and then go through security again to fly home to Charlotte on USair as a passenger. My problem with the full body scanner is the radiation. I am a cancer survivor who absorbs considerably more radiation than the average person just due to on the job exposure at altitude. I have no interest in absorbing any more radiation than I already do or being sexually assaulted several times a day as the alternative. I am responsible for 200+ lives every time I do my job which I have been doing for 25 years; I am a former Marine pilot; I have a track record, as do all of my colleagues. For the TSA to waste man power on me and my fellow pilots is a gross waste of resoures when the means to positively identify working crew members exsist.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  65. Anita Smith

    What no one is mentioning is the risk posed by the full body scanners to pregnant women, many of whom fly frequently as businesswomen, fight attendants, pilots. Even though it has been said that the radiation is "too low" to pose a health risk, what of the cumulative effect on the fetus of multiple exposures? How much radiation is "safe" to the fetus especially in the early stages of pregnancy when a woman may not be aware of her pregnancy?

    November 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  66. vicki smith

    I think this is sexual harrassment and sexual assault, not to mention invasion of privacy. and they need to be scanning for suspicious persons who make their way into this country that have not right to be here! I agree whole heartedly with the guy who refused to be scanned. Maybe the people scanning should be scanned too since many more innocent people have to be treated like a criminal. America treats it's criminals better than this! I think the American people have gone through too much already because of 911. Where was security then??and it's not fair to scan every single person that comes into the ariport. People get arrested for stuff like this! Are they going to scan babies too??

    November 16, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  67. Ron Keelean Jr.

    I'm really tired of hearing these so called "American's" reactions to these new scanners. If you are a citizen that feels that the threat of Terrorism on this country isn't your problem, then you need to be somewhere else where being there IS your problem. Many pic up guns to assist with the security of our States. Some won't even step through a scanner to help save American lives.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm |