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Essay on “The Role of Intensive Screening in Airports”

The realization that terrorists have been devising new ways to bypass traditional screening procedures has significantly transformed the field of airport security. The use of nonmetallic explosives and crafty concealment of weapons has forced the Transportation Security Administration to implement the use of advanced screening procedures. These measures, which include full body scanners and pat down procedures, have attracted resistance from critics who claim that they pose significant health risks and that they intrude into passengers privacy (Elias, 2011). However, scientific and legal evidence justify the use of these measures and hence their use in intensive screening of passengers should be encouraged.

Full body scanners, which have the ability to detect both metallic and nonmetallic objects that may be concealed, are more efficient than traditional screening procedures (Pistole, 2012). Though critics argue that the radiation used by these scanners is potentially harmful, an investigation performed by the inspector general’s office concluded that the radiation falls within the normal safety range (Pistole, 2012). The fact that modern body scanners produce images which resemble chalk sticks and that they do not store or transmit images ensures that the privacy of passengers is maintained (Elias, 2011).

Body Scan

Though pat down procedures may intrude the privacy of passengers, the situations under which they do so is legally acceptable, since they fall under administrative searches. According to Elias, these searches allow for breach of privacy if there is reason to believe that a passenger is a potential threat to airline security (2011). For this reason, pat down procedures are only executed on passengers who trigger the alarm of other screening methods or those who willingly wish to be screened in this manner (Elias, 2011).

In an era when terrorists are innovating new ways to bypass traditional screening methods, intensive screening procedures should be used. Their ability to detect nonmetallic objects and concealed weapons make them superior to traditional screening methods. These measures do not have any associated health complications. Moreover, privacy is only breached in circumstances where there is a reason to believe that a passenger poses a potential threat to airline security (Elias, 2011).


Elias, B. (2011). Changes in airport passenger screening technologies and procedure [PDF document]. Retrieved from
Pistole, J. S. (2012). Counterterrorism, risk-based security and TSA’s vision for the future of aviation security. Retrieved from