Theater of the absurdTSA: Alleged child molester did not train or use new full-body scanners at Logan

Published 12 March 2010

A Boston man charged with multiple child sex crimes was a certified luggage and passengers screener at Logan Airport; TSA says the man was already missing from work for several days when full-body scanners were deployed at Logan on 1 March, and thus had no access to the machines; the man’s arrest adds fuel to the opposition to body scanners

How do you spell relief? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener charged with multiple child sex crimes had no access to the full-body scanners at Logan International Airport that are outraging privacy advocates. Boston Herald’s Laura Crimaldi writes that Sean Shanahan, 45, of Winthrop had already been missing from work for several days when the controversial scanners were delivered to the airport 1 March, a TSA spokeswoman said.

Winthrop police issued a wanted poster for Shanahan that day. TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said screeners began training on the new equipment the next day.

Shanahan’s arrest, however, adds fuel to the opposition to the full-body scanners, three of which were put into use Monday at Terminal A. “We’ve been saying all along that full-body scanners create possibilities for serious violations of people’s privacy,” said Boston ACLU spokesman Chris Ott. “The allegations in this case haven’t done anything to lay those concerns to rest.”

Shanahan is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at his apartment.

Davis said Shanahan, who is not currently working but is certified to screen luggage and passengers, passed two background checks before he began working and is only authorized to perform pat downs on male passengers. “Unfortunately these checks do not predict future behavior,” Davis said. “Short of a crystal ball, we do not have the ability to see into the future.”