I arrived at the airport two hours before my flight. As usual, I "opted out" of going through TSA's Whole Body Scanners. The agency's prize possessions are incompetent at detecting terrorist threats; the inspector general reported that they fail to detect 96 percent of weapons and mock explosives smuggled past them. The machines take birthday-suit snapshots of each traveler; the TSA claims photos are not retained but the agency has less credibility than Congress.
A TSA agent took me aside and gave me a vigorous pat-down. This is the usual routine I experience at airports and a small price to pay for a silent protest for my constitutional right to be free of unreasonable, warrantless searches.
After he finished, he tested his glove on an Explosive Trace Detector. I was surprised when the agent claimed his glove showed a positive alert for explosives. "What type of explosive was it?" I asked. "I don't know — it's a code," he replied. I asked how often the detection machine generates false positives. He said that was classified information. It was not like I had been hanging out at shooting ranges or missile- launch sites in Oregon.