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San Jose-Bound Traveler Strips Naked To Protest TSA Screening

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John E. Brennen stripped naked in the Portland International Airport
(Credit: Scott-Ryan Abbe, KOIN Local 6/Scott-Ryan Abbe)

John E. Brennen stripped naked in the Portland International Airport
(Credit: Scott-Ryan Abbe, KOIN Local 6/Scott-Ryan Abbe)

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PORTLAND, Ore. (CBS/AP) - A high-tech worker who stripped naked at Portland International Airport as a protest against airport security screeners said Wednesday he was being “nude but not lewd,” and characterized his act of defiance as protected political speech.

John E. Brennan, 49, of Portland, Ore. was charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after taking off far more than this belt and shoes during the screening process before a Tuesday evening flight to San Jose. The incident report from the Port of Portland, which operates the airport, said some passengers covered their eyes and the eyes of their children. Others laughed and took photos. The disorderly conduct charge was dropped at Brennan’s arraignment Wednesday.

“When interviewed about his actions Mr. Brennan stated he flies a lot and had disrobed as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him,” said the arresting officer in his report. “Mr. Brennan had been scheduled to fly on Alaska Airlines to San Jose, California. Mr. Brennan was transported to Multnomah County Detention Center and lodged.”

Brennan said in an interview that he did not arrive at the airport with the intention of getting naked. He said the Transportation Security Administration crosses the line between privacy and security. He decided to protest after he was pulled aside after going through the metal detector and a pat-down, he said.

Port police officers arrested Brennan after he ignored requests to get dressed.

“The most effective way to tell them I’m not carrying a bomb is take off my clothes,” Brennan said.

Authorities led Brennan from the screening area with a towel around his waist. Brennan was transferred to a downtown Portland jail and released late Tuesday.

Brennan has criticized TSA previously, saying on Twitter last May that airport security violated his privacy during a pat-down in San Jose. The tweet came after intense criticism in 2010 over the government’s use of full-body scanning machines and invasive pat-downs in airport security.

Annie Linstrom, a spokeswoman for the Port of Portland, said two screening lanes closed temporarily during the incident, but there were no flight delays.

This was not the first time Brennan has undressed for political reasons. In Portland, the World Naked Bike Ride attracts thousands each year to protest oil dependence. Brennan said he has ridden in the event three times.

Brennan booked a flight to San Jose for Wednesday night, and had no plans to protest.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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