Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa walked through a body scanner at Los Angeles International Airport Monday, saying he wanted to show how efficiently the security devices screen for potential terrorist threats and to ease some passengers' concerns about invasion of privacy.
He urged people not to heed a loosely organized campaign to boycott the body scanners on the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year. People who opt out of body scanners must undergo thorough pat-downs, which take longer and could result in long lines and delays.
"To those who are talking about opting out of the (body scan) system here during this holiday season, that's the wrong way to go," Villaraigosa said.
"Look, we all have to recognize that these are different times," he added. " After September 11th, we as a nation understood that targets of opportunity across the nation must be secured."
The body scanners perform what has been described as a virtual strip search on selected passengers without any physical contact and takes only about 10 seconds. Those who refuse the body scan are given the option of undergoing an open-palm, up the groin and between-the-breasts pat-down instead.
Villaraigosa said, "There's been a lot of ado about nothing," pointing out that even though 80,000-90,000 passengers go through LAX every day, only two passengers have opted out of the body scanners in the past month.
"This technology is safe," Villaraigosa said. "It is minimally invasive."
He said officials at other airports across the country who are not interested in body scanners should give them to LAX instead.