Facing tough decision at airport security [POLL]

PHILADELPHIA - November 19, 2010

Many Americans may feel safer knowing the Transportation Security Administration has tightened airport security with new full-body scanners, but a number of travelers ahead of the busy Thanksgiving holiday are finding those intensely personal pat-downs too close for comfort.

As 24 million Americans take to the skies for the Thanksgiving holiday, a rebellion has broken out at the security line.

Wendy Gigliotti calls it sexual assault.

"She came all the way up my arms and between my breasts and up under my breasts and around. And all in silence," Gigliotti said.

At Philadelphia International Airport, all passengers who spoke to Action News said they backed the TSA's efforts.

"It's not big deal. You are going through the line, there are hundreds of people going through the line," said Sharon Razzano of Elkton, Maryland. "They are not looking at what your body looks like."

"I did not find it invasive, I was not upset by it, I was not surprised it was going to happen," said Dr. Mario Moya of Newtown Square.

In northern California's San Mateo County, new District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he will prosecute agents who carry out excessive pat-downs on sexual battery charges.

"If someone were to take their hand and put it underneath somebody's blouse and touch someone inappropriately and go skin to skin, that's a felony. If it's done simply over the clothing, according to California law, that's a misdemeanor," Wagstaffe said.

Florida Congressman John Mica (R) wants airports to replace TSA workers with private contractors as 17 airports have already done.

"We're being groped because of the diaper bomber. What's next? The proctologist? The gynecologist?" Rep. Mica said.

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said the alternative is unthinkable.

"We know Al-Qaid and its affiliates want to hurt us, how they want to bring down passenger aircraft or cargo aircraft," Pistole said.

The American Civil Liberties union has fielded 400 complaints while pilots and other groups are suing.

Meanwhile, The Transportation Security Administration says airline pilots will be allowed to skip some physical security checks at airports.

Pilots have complained about being held up in airport security lines with travelers, and forced to go through screening.

TSA now says that pilots traveling in uniform or on airline business will see immediate changes in their screening at airport checkpoints, according to an agency press release.

Earlier this week, Pistole told lawmakers the agency was working with airline pilots on a new plan for their screening requirements.

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