Following up on a previous conversation, I think this warrants starting a new thread.

Since having government agents capture images of my naked body and/or stop me on my way to work and put their hands all over me till deciding to let me pass is where I personally draw the line, I feel it's necessary to communicate my dissent and expectations to the company before it comes up in a real situation out on the line.

Many of you have expressed similar sentiments, so I invite you to take a look at the following draft of a letter I will be sending to the company in the next few days. The basic content isn't likely to change much, but I'm open to editorial suggestions and other meaningful input.

I know I may have to change all the "We's" to "I's", but I first wanted to extend the opportunity to anyone who's interested to PM me if you'd like me to append your name to the signature line. If you'd like to join me in this, but prefer to remain anonymous, I may include a statement to the effect that I am writing on behalf of others who wish to protect their identity. We can discuss this idea below and I'll make a decision on that before I send it off.

99% of what I post on the pipe is for my own personal entertainment - superfluous ranting and sarcasm that even I don't take too seriously. What follows is in the category of the other percent. This is a big deal - bigger than our jobs, ALPA, our political leanings, or most of the other stuff we bitch and argue about around here.

I don't expect this to change anything in the near term (or ever without widespread resistance, which seems to be gaining momentum out there). Most likely for me it will be the first step in a much longer process that may extend beyond my career with ExpressJet. But if we don't wake up soon it'll be too late to even bother. I, for one, am just not willing to go any further down this road.

Begin Letter (it's a two-pager, so get comfy)

To all,

I am/we are writing to express our disapproval and intentions regarding the TSA’s use of Whole Body Imaging (WBI) systems at airport security screening checkpoints for routine passenger/crewmember screening. As indicated in ExpressJet FIL 10-050, TSA is increasing the use of these devices, which enable screeners to see beneath people’s clothing to an extremely graphic and intrusive level of detail (virtual strip searching). Travelers refusing this indignity may instead be physically frisked by a government security agent until the agent is sufficiently satisfied to allow them to continue on their way. Our understanding is that these two alternatives will eventually become the only ‘options’ available to the traveling public, and we find them to be absolutely unacceptable and inconsistent with the undergirding principles of a free society.

The TSA has itself indicated that WBI is not a perfect solution, but one component of a multi-layered approach to air transportation security. While we take airline security very seriously, we do not believe the dubious benefits of these invasive measures justify the trade off in employee and passenger privacy and other rights and liberties. It is our view that reasonable levels of security within the air transportation system can and must be achieved without producing images of travelers’ naked bodies or subjecting them without cause to unwanted, unwelcome touching at the hands of federally employed airport security guards.

After careful examination, we believe the current program is likely to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Privacy Act of 1974, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004. At any rate, it is an egregious advance on civil liberty and an affront to the human dignity of every patron of the National Air Transportation System. Despite statutes obligating the TSA Chief Privacy Office to ensure that new technologies “sustain and do not erode” the privacy of American travelers, no System of Records Notice has been published in the Federal Register regarding the use of unnecessarily obtrusive images of human bodies captured by WBI devices in conjunction with personally identifiable information (employee identification, boarding passes, etc.)

TSA’s own operational requirements and technical specifications clearly mandate that the devices be capable of storing and transmitting captured images. Statements from the TSA that it will not use this capability (which it has required vendors to provide) in operational settings are unconvincing in light of the blithe and presumptuous character of its hasty advances in other aspects of WBI implementation.

Furthermore, the Privacy Impact Assessment prepared by the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Privacy Office for the TSA’s WBI test program failed to identify numerous privacy risks to air travelers, and no such assessment was conducted at all for the current program. The current program differs materially from the test program in a number of significant ways. For example, the TSA stated during testing in 2007 that WBI searches would be “a voluntary alternative to a pat-down during secondary screening” when warranted by discoveries at lower levels in the screening process. In fact, the TSA now claims to allow a ‘pat-down’ as the alternative for those who reject the humiliation of WBI in the primary screening program.

DHS has failed to comply with or acknowledge restrictions and procedures mandated by the Administrative Procedures Act. It has imposed the use of WBI in at least nineteen airports and slated approximately one thousand additional devices for installation elsewhere across the country without initiating a formal rulemaking process to receive and weigh input from the public whose protection is, ostensibly, the very purpose for its existence. What was once a test project in which the controversial scanners were deployed in a few airports as a secondary screening tool is now suddenly (and rather quietly) being launched throughout the United States as the primary screening process. We see this as a “boiling frog” strategy of administrative encroachment upon the rights and liberties of all air travelers, affecting first and foremost those of us employed within the industry whose very livelihoods are now under the assault of these tyrannical overtures. We are compelled to wonder where this outrageous foray of authoritarian ambition against the physical sovereignty of individual persons will end.

As dutiful citizens, we cannot conscientiously consent to the despotic indignity of virtual strip searches as a matter of course in reporting for work or performing the routine duties of our profession. Neither can we abide the prospect of being stopped daily by government agents and physically molested as we lawfully go about the business of earning an honest living. It is appalling that any citizen, who is not under arrest, has made no threats, nor raised any suspicion of terrorist or similar malicious intentions should be forced to submit to either of these ‘options’ in order to move about within the confines of his or her own national borders.

We humbly remind our management of its obligation to promote and ensure conditions that are free of sexual and other forms of harassment and workplace hostility. We understand that it is the U.S. government, not the company, arrogating these disturbing new policies. We accordingly and most urgently invite our leaders to stand with us in resisting this offense against ExpressJet’s employees and customers by insisting upon reasonable security screening procedures which honor our privacy and personal dignity and do not infringe upon our civil rights and liberty.

Very respectfully,

End Letter