Las Vegas is boring.
Protesting the Transportation Security Administration's controversial pat-down procedures, a woman in Los Angeles wore a black bikini to the airport and a woman in Seattle stripped down to her underwear.
In Las Vegas, nothing?
Well, not so fast. Passengers both departing and arriving at McCarran International Airport on Wednesday said that is not the case. One lonely soul showed up near the C gates midafternoon, wearing brown leggings partially covered by pink underpants. Underneath a furry coat, she wore a shirt layered with a pink bra.
She held a sign, apparently, which said something about the TSA hating us and told passengers that simply because we wear underwear and shoes doesn't mean we're Muslim terrorists. She explained that 7,000 people committed to the National Opt-Out Day on Facebook, but she was alone at McCarran.
A couple flyers reported that the woman sat with her sign, but wasn't actively protesting. She was on her phone texting away as passers-by chuckled and went about their business. Las Vegas police eventually showed up and politely asked her to leave. She obliged.
Perhaps the woman was alone because few travelers passing through McCarran refuse the full-body scanner and receive the pat-down. After last week's attempt to undergo a pat-down, I returned to the airport on several occasions to see whether I was there on a slow day or whether I received special treatment. Still, I saw no pat-downs.
Last Sunday's column prompted several readers to write in with their opinions about the new security procedures and my experience as a whole. Some thought it was funny, and others were convinced the screening was a set-up. Your rants are solicited every week and since this continues to be a hot topic, we thought we would share some readers' opinions about the story and the issue.
This is what Scott had to say: I'm so happy to hear that your one manufactured "experience" has led you to believe that the tens of thousands of Americans who have protested and written in to their elected officials demanding the TSA be stopped really must be exaggerating. I guess every parent who doesn't want their children's genitals groped by a TSA goon or their naked bodies gawked at by unseen pedophiles has no right to be filled with blind rage. After all, it's being done for their own good, right?
The entire federal government is out of control. The White House and Congress had better correct this situation immediately, or the American people will correct them (and their enablers in the media like you).
Along the same lines, Rick wrote: Do you really think you were treated the same as everyone else? Did those wonderful TSA folks not notice your cameraman? Do you think that, just maybe, you were afforded special treatment for publicity reasons? Naw!
I neglected to explain in the story that my visit to the airport was not prearranged or approved by the TSA or McCarran officials. I did not wear a media badge, did not dress professionally and I never informed any official of my plans to be in the airport, which they ask reporters to do. I purchased a plane ticket and, in their eyes, was flying out just like everybody else.
Our photographer was ahead of me in line and lingered around the security checkpoint until I was pulled aside for the pat-down. Well aware he would be shooed off once he started shooting, we waited until my search was well under way before he began taking pictures. After a few minutes, a TSA agent noticed the photographer and began to approach when the photographer bolted.
Rick continued: If you really want to do a service for your readers, you should travel to Israel and take an El Al flight. Experience their security procedures and then report back. Just so you know, Israel, the most hated country on this planet, has never had a terrorist attack on one of their airliners. Never. Not in 50 years. And yet they don't pull this Fourth Amendment violating crap on their passengers.
I would fly to Israel in a second if I had the chance, but the higher-ups here won't pony up. Apparently, only Reno and Los Angeles are in the budget. For readers who are unaware of Israel's security procedures, trained experts question every passenger who passes through security and studies their body language to determine if they might pose a threat. El Al officials have no problem with profiling travelers and preventing any suspicious person from boarding the airplane.
Unlike many protesters, Rick wishes McCarran installed more full-body imaging scanners: I do fly for a living, and I do find this new procedure very intrusive! In my personal situation, just because I have a titanium hip replacement and a metal brace in my ankle, I am singled out and subjected to this "new procedure" each time I fly, and I do not appreciate someone other than my wife touching my body! If I did not have the implants, I would probably embrace your opinion! My carrier of choice is Southwest Airlines, and the TSA needs to install body scanners at C gate to simplify the security procedure!
McCarran only has 14 body scanners now, but more are on the way, according to TSA officials.
Hey, TSA agents have opinions, too. This guy asked to remain anonymous and, even though he included his name, we'll respect that: All I want to say is thank you for painting a more accurate picture of the screening process. With so much negativity in the press, it has made me want to scream at my TV or computer when I see things that are just not factual or true. It's a thankless job, but we do it as professionally as possible.
Finally, here's James' lighter assessment of the entire mess: Here's a look back at how we reached this point in American history: 1960s: Ginger or Mary Ann?; 1970s: Love or War?; 1980s: Paper or Plastic?; 1990s: Boxers or Briefs?; 2000s: Body Scan or Pat-down?
If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at 702-387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal .com. Please include your phone number.