Tag Archives: Full Body Scanners

Just How Safe Are Full Body Scanners?

Who knows? There’s been no credible testing.

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Filed under Public Health, Terrorism

What Do We Tell Our Daughters?

Almost two years ago, we made the decision that our daughter would attend college all the way across the country at the University of Alabama. It was a fiscally prudent decision. Our daughter was and is an excellent student – just the kind of student that ‘Bama rewards with generous academic scholarships. In fact, the scholarship they offered was so generous that even taking air travel into account, she’s attending college for a tiny fraction of the cost to attend our state’s flagship school, the University of Washington and will graduate after four years debt-free and with our savings intact.

Now we’re in the uncomfortable position of wondering if we made the right decision after all, not because of any financial concerns but because it has become all too obviously apparent that it’s no longer safe for young, unescorted women to travel by air within our own borders. The imminent threat doesn’t come from terrorists, although that’s not a danger that can or should be ignored, but from TSA workers operating under new guidelines for enhanced security.

I don’t believe I’m overstating the situation. At airports where the enhanced security procedures are in place, travelers have three choices.

The Naked Scan

You spend your daughter’s lifetime telling her that granting access to her body is at her sole discretion, then Uncle Sam tells her, no, sorry, it’s your duty to bare it all in front of a low level and poorly screened government employee even though everyone knows the chance that you’re an explosive-packing terrorist is next to zero.

The Public Grope

Should your daughter exercise her right to keep her privates private, she’ll be subject to the new enhanced pat-down. The TSA has declined to publish the full guidelines for the pat-down so your daughter will have no way to gauge whether or not the officer administering the pat-down is exceeding her authority. For example, your daughter is entitled to be patted down by a female TSA agent except in the case “extraordinary circumstances” but those circumstances are undefined in the guidelines available to the public.

The Private Grope

Finally, if your daughter doesn’t want to endure the humiliation of having her breasts and genitals groped in public, she can ask for a private screening room. Of course, she’s entitled to have a traveling companion with her during the pat-down. But – wait! – she’s traveling alone! What sane parent would advise their daughter to enter a private room with a stranger with the intent of letting that stranger lay hands on her body?

Which brings me back to my original question. The TSA has implemented a system where – for their own good – young women are subjected to security procedures that would be crimes were they conducted by private individuals. When faced with three equally abhorrent options, which do we advise our daughters to take?

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Filed under Politics

Penn Jillette Calls The Cops On The TSA

Hilarity ensues.

My favorite part is where he tells the TSA public relations representative, “…Freedom is kind of a hobby with me, and I have disposable income that I’ll spend to find out how to get people more of it.”

Read the whole thing.

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Filed under Terrorism

TSA Plans No Retreat

Do you think the TSA, under the direction of Janet Napolitano, cares what the American public thinks about grossly invasive and, in my opinion, unconstitutional airport screenings? Think again.

Despite viral objections to new technology and procedures, the Transportation Security Administration PLANS NO RETREAT on airport screening, officials tell [POLITICO] Playbook. But the administration is having conversations with pilots’ unions about their loud objections to the full-body scanners and alternate patdowns, and a resolution is expected this week. As Thanksgiving approaches, look for more 9-11 families and other “security validators” to make the case in the media for rigorous screening. The fire on this story was lit by Drudge, along with CNN and USA Today, and the complaints by pilots were a propellant. Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano scored a front-page headline, story and photo in USA Today on Monday with her call for patience and vigilance by the traveling public.

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Filed under Terrorism

Of Pat Downs, Scanners and Profiling

Bernie Goldberg asks the eminently sensible question, “And What Exactly is Wrong with Profiling?

My trip on El Al comes to mind because of what we’ve been hearing recently about the “underwear bomber” who tried to blow up a Northwest flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day.  By now we all know the story:  his father, a prominent banker in Nigeria warned the U.S. State Department in Lagos that his son was becoming a religious fanatic and might be dangerous.  His travel history included a trip to Yemen.  He bought a one-way ticket.  He paid for it in cash.

Did any of this set off alarms?  Nope.  Too bad he wasn’t wearing a sign that said, “I’m a terrorist and I plan to blow up your airplane.”  But frankly, I’m not sure those eagle-eyed authorities would have noticed that, either.

When I look at some of the alternatives to profiling, such as full body scanners, profiling starts looking a lot more attractive. Authorities know who is more likely to commit acts of terror. Patting down five-year-olds is a feel-good measure designed to make us feel as though everything possible is being done to keep us safe, but that actually leaves us more vulnerable because it diverts finite resources away from actual sources of danger.

The United States government owes it to the rest of us to do whatever is within their power to keep us safe. If that includes profiling – and I believe it does – let’s get on with the program.

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Filed under Terrorism