Nearly a week before the Thanksgiving travel crush, federal air security officials were struggling to reassure rising numbers of fliers and airline workers outraged by new anti-terrorism screening procedures they consider invasive and harmful.
Across the country, passengers simmered over being forced to choose scans by full-body image detectors or probing pat-downs. Top federal security officials said Monday that the procedures were safe and necessary sacrifices to ward off terror attacks.
"It's all about security," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "It's all about everybody recognizing their role."
Despite officials' insistence that they had taken care to prepare the American flying public, the flurry of criticism from private citizens to airline pilots' groups suggested that Napolitano and other federal officials had been caught off guard.
At the San Diego airport, a software engineer posted an Internet blog item saying he had been ejected after being threatened with a fine and lawsuit for refusing a groin check after turning down a full-body scan. The passenger, John Tyner, said he told a federal Transportation Security Administration worker, "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested."