Coming soon to an airport near you: Full-body scans, new pat-down procedures

If you haven't been confronted with new security checks at U.S. airports, you will be soon, especially if you're traveling around the holiday season.

Airports around the country, including Seattle's Sea-Tac international are being outfitted with full-body X-ray scanning machines federal authorities say will help identify terrorist threats, but other say pose concerns about privacy, health risks and longer waits in security lines.

The scans, which effectively allow agents to see through clothes by scattering low-dose X-rays at a passenger's front and back, produce a blurry nude image that can be screened for nonmetallic items such as weapons and explosives hidden under clothes.

TSA is making the screening optional, but opting to go through a metal detector instead will require a physical pat-down that promises to be more thorough than those given in the past. 
TSA is introducing new physical search procedures at two airports – Boston Logan and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport – before implementing them nationwide. Known as "enhanced pat-downs," the procedure involves using the palm-first method for the entire body search. The TSA had previously had its officers use the backs of their hands when moving over a subject's more sensitive areas. 
The pat-downs have raised the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Massachusetts which questions the effectiveness of screening techniques when weighed against what it feels are increasing threats to privacy.
Meanwhile, the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C. has filed a suit to stop the use of body scans, charging they are the equivalent of a digital strip-search.

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