By Jim Bergamo / KVUE News
Posted on January 31, 2011 at 9:18 PM
A local group, Keep Austin Free, is so concerned about airport body scanners that it is buying radio ads to fight them.
In its radio ads, Keep Austin Free makes it clear it opposes full body scanners coming to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The scanners use radio waves to look through a passenger’s clothing and reveal concealed weapons, explosives, liquids, metals, and other potential dangers.
One part of the ad says, "The TSA has made plans to install full body scanners at Austin airport to gawk at our naked bodies."
Wesley Strackbein, co-founder of Keep Austin Free, has paid thousands of dollars for radio advertising time in Austin.
"It’s outrageous that we should treat the innocent as if they’re equal to Al Qaeda, and that’s what is taking place," he said.
Strackbein says the scanners are intrusive, can pose health risks, and are ineffective.
"In the pursuit of safety, liberty is non negotiable," he said. "To trade liberty for some semblance of safety is a fools bargain, and we don’t want to play the fool."
Some travelers at ABIA Monday agree with the Keep Austin Free point of view.
"I am not opposed to the pat downs or anything that is necessary for us to be safe. I just do not want the additional radiation exposure," said Candace Phillips, who was traveling from Austin.
"I would rather have neither," Austin traveler Loraine Blackerby said. "But for security reasons I would rather have the pat down."
Others say, while they are sympathetic to the views of Keep America Free, security has to come first.
"If it truly improves safety I am for it," Austin traveler Larry Davis said. "I am hearing the pros and the cons of it, but for me, personally, I do not mind it."
"I am all for security," said Jennifer Ren, who was traveling from Los Angeles. "If there is nothing to hide, then I do not see what is the problem with having to scan it. I do not really a problem with it."
The TSA is expected to release a list of airports that will get the scanners. That comes out in March. An ABIA spokesman says until then, it is not certain whether body scanners are coming to Austin.