Naked scanned full body images
Source: Transportation Security Administration.

Nude Body Scanners Case Thrown Out By Court of Appeals

In a split vote of 2-1, “the United States 11th District Court of Appeals denied a petition filed by Jonathan Corbett who was suing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for violating the Fourth Amendment with the Rapiscan Secure 1000 SP full body scanners”, according to this article written by Mary Minor Davis at FlyerTalk.

Nude Body Scanners Case Thrown Out By Court of Appeals

Corbett — also known as FlyerTalk member Affectionhas been fighting for years, claiming to protect the constitutional rights of citizens and visitors of the United States of America pertaining to the experience at security checkpoints in domestic airports.

He first filed his complaint back on November 16, 2010, where it was “tossed”; then affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit after a successful appeal. According to an entry in his weblog on October 1, 2012, Corbett vowed “that the fight is not over, it simply must be continued without that jury, and with discovery and witnesses allowed to me at the discretion of the 11th Circuit (instead of by right, as a reasonable reader of the Constitution might assume that we had).”

Rapiscan — the manufacturer of the controversial full-body scanners in question which gained notoriety for producing images of passengers considered by many to be too revealing — failed to produce a software upgrade by the deadline of June 2013 to prevent the scanner from projecting naked images of passengers similar to the ones shown below, resulting in its scanners being removed from service.

This is an excerpt from the article posted at TSA Out of Our Pants!, the weblog authored by Corbett:

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled last Friday that the government’s “30 days, forever immunized” theory is exactly right: the government, without violating your Constitutional right to redress, can create a law that says “once we do it for 30 days, it’s permanent, and we can keep doing it for the rest of eternity and you can’t take us to court!” They also went further and ruled that “even if Corbett had timely filed his petition,” the TSA’s nude body scanners and checkpoint molestations are constitutional — before they ever gave me a chance to ask the TSA for documents or meaningfully question their asserted facts.

In her dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Beverly B. Martin blasts the majority for issuing the “unnecessary holding” that the TSA’s actions were constitutional, stating that there was no reason for the court to go there at this point since the majority decided it was too late to hear. She continues that “Mr. Corbett’s pursuit appears to me to have been methodical and diligent” and that she disagrees with the court’s decision to “penalize” me for the switch of courts in 2012.

Because there was a split between the judges, there is a higher chance now that the case will be accepted for review by either the full 11th Circuit or by the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ll be filing my petition to ask the full 11th Circuit to hear the case next week.

Corbett believes “that every citizen has a right to a trial by jury for constitutional grievances. The implications of this are clearly wider than my case against the TSA: by not taking this case, the Supreme Court has just chopped off a few more inches of our due process rights. In this case, it’s even more suspect because it was entirely unclear that Congress even intended to limit district court jurisdiction of my variety of case. The TSA has stretched Congress’ intent beyond any natural reading of their words, the district court bought it, the appeals court stamped it, and the Supreme Court ignored it. Truly sad.”

Here is a video in which Corbett demonstrates “how to get anything through a body scanner at an airport security checkpoint”:

Is Corbett truly attempting to protect the constitutional rights of citizens and visitors of the United States of America —or this is merely a publicity stunt?

I have never liked the idea of full-body scanners at airport security checkpoints and – with the exception of a handful of times — have successfully avoided them. I may be wrong; but in my opinion, they violate my privacy — despite any claims of my automatically giving consent if I want to travel as a passenger of an airplane. I do not want some government employee looking at my naked body — no matter by what means — especially if there was even the slightest possibility that the images were being stored instead of discarded.

New technology was announced back in 2011, which was meant to increase privacy of passengers being screened at airport security checkpoints by using a generic outline of each passenger instead of a more revealing photographic image; but to this day, I still do not know what agents of the Transportation Security Administration sees or stores out of my sight.

Fortunately for me, I have been using the Pre✓ program offered by the Transportation Security Administration of the United States as a lifetime — supposedly, anyway — elite level status member of a frequent flier loyalty program; so I do not use the full-body scanners whenever I pass through airport security checkpoints…

…but that does not mean anything to you if you do not like to pass through a full-body scanner at an airport security checkpoint; and your only other options are either a “pat-down” or not fly as a passenger on an airplane.

The “pat-down” has had its own share of controversies — including but not limited to the following:

  • The “pat-down” examination of a six-year-old girl at an airport security checkpoint in New Orleans
  • The “pat-down” examination of a boy who was only eight months old at an airport security checkpoint
  • The controversial arrest of Andrea Abbott in 2011, who alleged that her daughter — then 14 years old — was touched inappropriately during a “pat-down”; and Abbott was found guilty of disorderly conduct in October of 2012
  • A passenger who was arrested for the retaliatory groping of an agent of the Transportation Security Administration Agent at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers in 2012
  • A woman who was allegedly so traumatized by a “pat-down” that it reminded her of a violent sexual assault she supposedly endured, resulting in her being transported to the emergency room of a local hospital in the Fort Lauderdale area in the summer of 2012
  • A girl — who was three years old and bound to a wheelchair due to suffering from a disorder known as spina bifida — was detained last year with her parents at an airport security checkpoint at Lambert–Saint Louis International Airport, resulting in her crying that she did not want to go on their trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando after all because she supposedly did not want to be touched by any agents of the Transportation Security Administration


Is it really that difficult to devise a technological solution to ensuring that air travel in the United States is as safe and convenient as possible without potentially subjecting passengers to possible humiliation and a lack of dignity?

If I were technologically proficient, I would create a solution myself…

Image courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.

  1. I never liked or supported Rapiscan because it used ionizing radiation. Some of the better informed TSA agents tried to talk me down saying, “The radiation is only equivalent to two minutes of flying.” That’s too much radiation already, and I always opted out.

    I also think most flyers have no idea how much radiation they get in the air. Six hours of flight is equivalent to an hour in Fukushima 3 miles out from the power plant. I consider the radiation from actual flying acceptable, because I’m getting something in return, namely passage.

    In principle, I consider airport security an absolute necessity. Argue all you want about how badly it’s implemented by TSA. We still need it.

    I would say a whole body scanner is not a bad idea, per se, aside to my strong objection to the back scatter X-ray technology that was used. That’s why I’m perfectly fine with the other millimeter wave scanner. I’m not convinced there is a peeping tom factor. Tell me that body scanner imagery can do true colors and textures, and I’ll reconsider. Otherwise, it’s as convincing to me as IR images and ultrasound pictures of your fetus.

    You say that you don’t like government agents being peeping toms. As I consider airport security, in principle and regardless of today’s actual implementation, to be an absolute necessity, the alternative is consignment to private contractors. My impression of the matter is that private contractors are far less trustable than government, in that they can’t be scrutinized to the same degree as a government agency when they do wrong. They are held much less accountable for their deeds for that.

  2. What does this guy hope to gain? a little notoriety at the costs of tens of thousands of dollars and a hell of a lot of time? I kinda feel bad for this guy that he has nothing better to do than fight a battle he can/should/will never win.

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