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TSA says it focuses on security, not good looks

By Katia Hetter, Special to CNN
updated 6:48 PM EST, Thu February 16, 2012
Women have complained that TSA screeners have paid them too close attention at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Women have complained that TSA screeners have paid them too close attention at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some women complain of extra security searches at airport, CNN affiliate reports
  • Senator says he'll introduce legislation for a passenger advocate
  • Passengers should file complaints if they feel harassed, agency blogger says

(CNN) -- Ellen Ferrell thinks that three turns through a body scanner, coupled with comments about her "cute figure," aren't necessary for security at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Speaking of the Transportation Security Administration officials who examined her before a flight months ago, Terrell told CNN affiliate CBS 11 News, "They wanted a nice good look."

Ferrell's case may be one of many, according to a CBS 11 News review of more than 500 records of TSA complaints. The News 11 team found a pattern of women who believe that there was nothing random about the way they were selected for extra screening.

Their complaints must be striking a chord.

The TSA's chief blogger, known as Blogger Bob, jumped into the debate Wednesday. He says that Ferrell failed to file a complaint with the agency, which would have allowed the TSA to review video of the scene. (Ferrell told the TV station she didn't know she could file a complaint.) Blogger Bob encourages people to file complaints online or to call the agency at 866-289-9673.

Blogger Bob's post comes days after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, mentioned Ferrell's name at a Sunday press conference. Schumer announced plans to introduce legislation this week to require every airport where TSA operates to have a "TSA Passenger Advocate" who can be summoned to security checkpoints. (Schumer already had planned the legislation in response to allegations of TSA strip searches of an elderly passenger at a New York airport.)

Blogger Bob didn't mention Ferrell by name but issued several rebuttals about her story:

• The TSA does not profile passengers.

• The technology in place at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport "no longer displays a specific image of the person being screened."

• The old technology "looked more like fuzzy photo negatives than the images that some make them out to be."

• Agents do not scan people multiple times.

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