(LOS ANGELES, CA, 8/21/08) — A representative of the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) met recently with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) officials to discuss Muslim concerns about the use of invasive body-imaging technology during secondary security screenings.
Whole body imaging (WBI) technology – including millimeter-wave scans, backscatter scans, and Rapiscans – began being used earlier this year as part of a comprehensive overhaul of security checkpoints at LAX and other airports.
SEE: 10 Airports Install Body Scanners (USA Today)
CAIR and other community-based groups have expressed concerns about the graphic and intimate nature of the “virtual strip search” produced by the scanners, as well as about the protocols used in selecting travelers for secondary screening.
At the meeting, CAIR-LA Staff Attorney Ameena Qazi sought information about the viability of a “pat-down” alternative to body imaging, the adequacy of TSA notification of the intimate nature of the scanners and about the measures used to ensure that travelers are not needlessly subjected to secondary screening.
“We appreciate the willingness of TSA and airport officials to address Muslim concerns about whole-body imaging technology and other security procedures,” said Qazi. “We will continue to work together to find ways to protect travelers’ privacy and civil rights while seeking to strengthen the security of our nation.”
SEE: ACLU Backgrounder on Body Scanners and “Virtual Strip Searches”
ALSO SEE: TSA Guidelines on “Religious and Cultural Needs”
CAIR is urging travelers of all faiths to:
1. Be aware of the right to request a private pat-down instead of going through a body-imaging machine.
2. Report suspected incidents of improper secondary screening. (Ask for the name of the officer, ask to speak to his or her supervisor, note the date and time of the incident, and report the incident to CAIR.)
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda, (714) 776-1847, (714) 851-4851, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: arubin@cair