Privacy advocates concerned about the new full-body scanners being rolled out at airports nationwide now have an alternative: "touchy-feely" patdowns, reports the Boston Herald. Those who opt not to go through the scanners will be subject to a "front-of-the-hand, slide-down" body search, including around breast and genitals, from a TSA agent of the same sex. Are these new "enhanced patdowns" really necessary for air safety, or are they "an example of Big Brother run amok"?

The TSA is taking too many liberties: A grope or a peek — why are air travelers forced to make "a fool's choice between one form of privacy invasion and another"? asks Carl Unger in Smarter Travel. "A conspiracist may offer that it's all security theater," a way to remind both "innocent civilians and potential criminals" that the TSA is on the job. Whatever the rationale, it's not enough to justify usurping "our rights to privacy and decency."
"TSA experimenting with 'enhanced patdowns'"

Safety trumps privacy: Nobody wants to be patted down or subjected to a "virtual strip-search," says The Grand Rapids Press in an editorial, but "if we’re all safer as a result, those inconveniences are a small price to pay." The government needs to diligently guard against "unnecessary or frivolous invasions of privacy," but we should all be glad it's mindful that "Al-Qaida is lurking."
"New airport body scanners necessary tool in fight against terrorism"

The price isn't right: There's no such thing as risk-free air travel, says Aubrey Cohen in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and whatever bump in security we gain from labor-intensive patdowns and super-expensive scanners isn't worth the money. "Safety versus cost is always a trade off," and if we made that calculus rationally, "we'd worry a lot more about highway safety and less about prodding genitals."
"How personal should airport screeners get?"