(AP/TheBlaze) -- The Transportation Security Administration says airline passengers won't get out of body imaging screening or pat-downs based on their religious beliefs.
TSA chief John Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday that passengers who refuse to go through a whole-body scanner machine and get a pat-down will not be allowed on planes, even if they turned down the in-depth screening for religious reasons.
Civil rights groups contend the more intensive screening violates rights including freedom of religion. The issue is getting new attention after a man named John Tyner posted an item online saying he was thrown out of the San Diego airport for rejecting a full-body scan and pat-down groin check and insisting he go through a metal detector instead.
"The [body image scanning] technology is sent to the airports without the ability to save, transmit or print the images," said Greg Soule, TSA spokesman, in an interview with CBSNews.com. "At airports, the images are examined by a security officer in a remote location, and, once the image is cleared, they're deleted."
But air travelers were concerned Tuesday as at least 100 of the near-naked images surfaced on the internet and thousands more saved by U.S. Marshals operating a full-body scan operation at an Orland, Fla., airport.
About 300 of the controversial scanners are in use at 60 American airports and the TSA plans to deploy approximately 500 units by the end of the year.
"It's all about security," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says. "It's all about everybody recognizing their role."