|November 1, 2010, the start of "secure flight." A day that will live in infamy.|
When it comes to protecting against terrorism, this is how things usually go: A danger presents itself; the federal government responds with new rules that erode privacy, treat innocent people as suspicious, and blur the distinction between life in a free society and life in a correctional facility; and we all tamely accept the new intrusions, like sheep being shorn...
Americans have long resented the hassles that go with air travel ever since 9/11 — long security lines, limits on liquids, forced removal of footwear and so on. But if the Transportation Security Administration has its way, we will look back to 2009 as the good old days.
The agency is rolling out new full-body scanners, which eventually will replace metal detectors at all checkpoints. These machines replicate the experience of taking off your clothes, but without the fun. They enable agents to get a view of your body that leaves nothing to the imagination.
A lot of people, of course, couldn't care less if a stranger wants to gaze upon everything God gave them. But some retain a modesty that makes them reluctant to parade naked in front of people they don't know, even virtually. Henceforth,Jennifer Aniston is going to think twice before flying commercial.
Besides the indignity of having one's body exposed to an airport screener, there is a danger the images will find a wider audience. The U.S. Marshals Service recently admitted saving some 35,000 images from a machine at a federal courthouse in Florida. TSA says that will never happen. Human experience says, oh, yes, it will.
For the camera-shy, TSA will offer an alternative: "enhanced" pat-downs. This is not the gentle frisking you may have experienced at the airport in the past. It requires agents to probe aggressively in intimate zones — breasts, buttocks, crotches.
If you enjoyed your last mammography or prostate exam, you'll love the enhanced pat-down. And you'll get a chance to have an interesting conversation with your children about being touched by strangers.
Reviews of the procedure are coming in, and they are not raves. The Allied Pilots Association calls it a "demeaning experience," and one pilot complained it amounted to "sexual molestation." The head of a flight attendants' union local said that for anyone who has been sexually assaulted, it will "drudge [sic] up some bad memories."
But the option of the full-body scanner is not so appealing, either, even leaving out privacy concerns. Two pilots' unions have advised members not to go through the scanners because of the possible risks of being bombarded with low doses of radiation.
"There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations," a group of scientists from the University of California at San Francisco informed the White House.
Read the whole column, it is excellent.
Even though we have a perfect right to "opt-out" of the nude-o-scopes, the head of the TSA says it is "irresponsible" for travelers to do so,
"It is irresponsible for a group to suggest travelers opt out of the very screening that could prevent an attack using non-metallic explosives," TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said. "This technology is not only safe, it's vital to aviation security and a critical measure to thwart potential terrorist attacks."
To which Wonkette replies,
Really? It’s irresponsible to refuse to be groped and irradiated and photographed naked by the low-IQ goons of an inept federal bureaucracy? That’s irresponsible? It’s irresponsible to refuse to allow halfwit security guards to fondle the genitals of our children and grandparents? It’s irresponsible for people to finally say they’ve had it with the idiot kabuki theater of TSA security checkpoints?
Read more at Wonkette: TSA Says It’s ‘Irresponsible’ To Legally Opt-Out of Porno-Cancer Scanners
Lest you think Wonkette is being too hard on the TSA employees here is this example of two of the TSA's finest in Miami getting into a fight because one tired of jokes about his, err, "manhood" size as revealed by the nude-o-scope,
A Miami International Airport federal security screener has been arrested for allegedly using an expandable police baton to beat up a co-worker.
and from today's newspaper, this story about six TSA workers being fired for planting a fake bomb! Note: In TSA-speak "device"= bomb.
I wasn't intending to write about this again so soon, but there is a Senate hearing on this subject Wednesday, the 17th. Use the information at this link to contact the members of the committee. It is the only chance of getting this stopped.
And, by the way, because I want this to be a family-friendly blog, I have not posted nude-o-scope images because they are too graphic. If you wish to see one, click here.