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US man talks his way out of TSA body scan

An American man has found a way to bypass the US Transportation Security Administration's intrusive regime of body scans and pat-downs: keep them talking.

After a conversation with airport security staff that lasted two and-a-half hours, blogger Matt Kernan found himself waved through by a senior official, without a hand being laid on him.

The incident occurred when Kernan returned to North Kentucky International Airport in Cincinnati on Sunday, after a trip to Paris. He posted audio snippets of the whole incident on his blog,

"I certainly don't enjoy being treated like a terrorist in my own country," Kernan wrote on the site, "but I'm also not a die-hard constitutional rights advocate. However, for some reason, I was irked."

Kernan's not the only one. Security checks introduced by the TSA earlier this year have sparked a storm of protest by travellers - and even pilots - into and out of the United States, who must subject themselves to full body scans by electronic devices that reveal passengers naked, or to physical searches that involved officials touching passengers' groins.

In a bizarre incident reported earlier this week, a US soldier returning from Afghanistan armed with an assault rifle was forced to hand over a pair of nail clippers found by a body scanner. The military man was told that they "could be used be used as a weapon".

Kernan recounted some of the horror stories reported by US travellers.

"Maybe it was the video of the three-year old getting molested, maybe it was the sexual assault victim having to cry her way through getting groped, maybe it was the father watching teenage TSA officers joke about his attractive daughter," Kernan explained on his blog.

"Whatever it was, this issue didn't sit right with me," he said. "We shouldn't be required to do this simply to get into our own country."

Kernan told airport staff politely but firmly that he would not submit himself for body-scanning. When told that the alternative would be to undergo an intrusive pat-down, he told them he regarded any contact with his genital area as an assault.

Kernan told TSA officials that he believed the security restrictions were unconstitutional, eventually prompting a stand-off between airport security staff and police as to who should resolve the matter, during which he remained calm but stuck to his position.

After 150 minutes, Mr Kernan was approached by a supervisor, who told him: "Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to escort you out of the terminal to the public area. You are to stay with me at all times. Do you understand?"

Kernan was then escorted through the security checks by the official, accompanied by 13 TSA staff, without a finger being laid on him.

"In order to enter the US, I was never touched, I was never 'backscatted', and I was never metal detected," Kernan wrote.

"In the end, it took 2.5 hours, but I proved that it is possible," he told readers, adding:

"I'm looking forward to my next flight on Wednesday."