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19 November 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:06am

Operation “Grab Ass“: backlash against TSA airport security measures continues

Operation "Grab Ass" is the latest campaign against TSA's new body scanners and "Enhanced Pat Downs"

By Duncan Robinson

It might not have the most tasteful name, but Operation “Grab Ass” is go. After weeks of growing criticism against the Transportation Security Administration’s new security measures, an organised backlash has begun.

Operation “Grab Ass” (or Fly With Dignity, as it’s known in more polite company) is a newly formed campaign which aims to raise enough money to buy an advert in the New York Times, condemning TSA’s new body scanners and “Enhanced Pat Downs”.

The new body scanners produce a near-naked picture of the passenger. If a passenger refuses to let airport officials ogle their naked body, they have to submit to an “Enhanced Pat Down”: a full, rigorous body search, which includes the touching of genitals. Passengers thus has a choice: have a picture taken of their naked body, or have their genitals felt by a stranger.

Stories of abuse by TSA officials have become increasingly prominent, as anger at the new measures has increased. A woman is suing TSA after an official allegedly exposed her breasts. Video footage recently emerged of a three year-old crying as she was thoroughly searched.

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Anger has boiled over to include the absurdity of other airport regulations: such as a TSA official confiscating a heavily-armed soldier’s nail clippers.

A National Opt-Out day is planned for 24 November, on the basis that:

You should never have to explain to your children, “Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.”

This has been the tipping point for many. People are prepared to stand in line for hours. They are prepared to take off their shoes, bin any liquids and take out their laptops for no discernable reason — but they are not prepared to have their genitals fondled in order to get on a plane.

Operation “Grab Ass” (or Fly With Dignity, as it’s known in more polite company) is the latest brain child of Reddit, the increasingly influential social news website. Last month, what started as a post on the website ended up in the Rally to Restore Sanity, attended by 250,000 people in Washington DC and raised $500,000 for charity.