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“The TSA has stated that their policy is going to change, which is basically what we were after all along,” Mr. Bierfeldt told The Washington Times.

Some civil liberties activists speculate that TSA wants passengers to be uncertain about its procedures because it gives more power to the authorities in an encounter.

The new directives don’t affect a situation where a TSA officer, in the performance of a regular screening, comes across evidence of illegal activity, such as a bag of illicit drugs.