Red Eye: Security Breach Around
OK. The TSA screening policy in use has been in place for a while now, as far as I know. Washington State’s SeaTac airport has had the full body scanners in place for at least several months, and I had a brief exchange on Twitter definitely that far back about people opting for the pat down instead of the scan.
Still, the issue has been brewing for the past couple of days since a man filmed himself being patted down by TSA security after opting out of the scanning process at an airport he believed didn’t even possess the full body scanner technology yet.
Since then, several people have come forward with horror stories, audio and video clips of people – even children as young as three years old – being subjected to invasive personal searches.
The subject came up on last night’s episode of “Red Eye,” but I hadn’t quite formulated my thoughts on the subject yet. I was very happy to see it come up again on tonight’s show.
Here, in a nutshell, are the most prominent arguments against the scanner:
1) OMG, like there are totally naked pictures of me! They could be uploaded to the Internet.
2) There’s radiation in that thar machine.
3) Screw you, authoritarian bastards!
Here are the arguments against the pat down:
1) Don’t touch my junk!
2) It’s sexual assault
3) Screw you, authoritarian bastards!
Honestly, I’m sympathetic. When I read about the machines a while back, an Israeli official talked about how he’d found they weren’t productive. In fact, enough explosives to down a 747 could easily be smuggled through the scanner, undetected. I have no idea if that’s true or not, only that it was asserted to be true.
The radiation scare is completely mind numbing. Not only have I read a human body actually absorbs more radiation during a flight than going through the scanner, there is probably more radiation in your vintage Fiestaware or Uranium glass martini set displayed proudly in your lead painted curio cabinet.
As to the “nudity” claim, I understand. I’m not really comfortable with images of me floating around … wherever … with my “junk” exposed.
Here are some of the images off the Web purporting to be taking with the scanning devices:
As you can see from both images, the soft tissue isn’t entirely penetrated by the scanner. So what is to stop a potential terrorist from hiding an explosive substance in a body cavity? Even, potentially, in a form fitting “pouch” that could be made to look – to the scanner – just like human flesh.
As to the pat down: well, I can think of little more humiliating and degrading than having one’s body inspected by someone in a position of authority. Of course, we’ve all been naked in front of our doctors, physical therapists, and various other professionals we entrust with our health and safety.
The difference is, there are people we’ve learned to trust touching our bodies in a professional capacity. Also, we have the choice to undergo these examinations. One also has a choice whether to fly or not, but when one is forced to travel for business, or when one’s family lives across country, using the word “choice” is almost useless.
I’ve already read reports of people being pulled at random out of a line for the scanner/patdown options. They found the process humiliating. What’s more, some reported physical pain at the experience. Others stated that, while they went through a regular scan without detection, they were patted down while others who set of the detectors weren’t.
As to the “sexual assault” portions of the arguments against pat downs, I’ve had fun laughing about it, but I can’t see most TSA agents getting sexually aroused searching a person’s body for weapons.
Yes. Of course it’s invasive to have someone run his hands very thoroughly over the most private areas of your body. To me, unless there’s some erotic component to the touching, no matter how invasive it is, it’s not a sexual assault.
These arguments aside, I think some of the comments on “Red Eye” made very good points. Host Greg Gutfeld was tired of people whining about the issue. Whereas Patti Ann Browne thought people were making lots of complaints, without offering any solutions.
I am no fan of the TSA, or the current screening process, but I have to agree with PAB. I’ve heard nothing but outrage from anyone (on either side of the political spectrum, other than Janet Napolitano herself) on this issue, without one single suggestion as to how to proceed.
OK. That’s not entirely true. Some have suggested the Israeli approach, which seems geared more toward looking for suspicious behavior than for finding devices. In other words, look for someone who might be smuggling something dangerous, rather than focusing on finding the thing being smuggled.
Andy Levy correctly pointed out that one needn’t necessarily have an alternative to lodge a complaint against a particular behavior or policy.
Why do you always have to give an alternative other than not doing it? Someone says they’re going to kill you and you say, “Don’t kill me.” Then they say, “Well, you’re not giving me any alternative.”
But, at some point in time, someone is going to have to come up with something if we are to change the current situation, which is apparently unacceptable.
Perhaps Joe DeVito had the most pertinent comment of the evening, when he said
I think it’s another thing that we do, that’s busy work. [If people thought] it was making a difference, they’d feel different about it.
I think he’s spot on. We’re Americans! We can endure anything. If we really thought the TSA policies were helping secure our airspace, we’d be lining up volunteering to be scanned or felt up. Not that we’d enjoy it, but we’d endure.
Instead, the policies seem more like a grand gesture of good faith than likely to accomplish anything. People who fail metal detector and wand tests have been subjected to pat downs for quite some time, as far as I know. And yet, how many terrorists have TSA caught in the screening process? The answer is: less than 1.
While it’s fun to be outraged sometimes, I think we need to be focusing on positive steps. We all know airline security is a problem. The most recent case of explosive devices loaded into cargo planes headed to the US from Yemen proves it, if it still needed proving.
Clearly, current policies need revising. So, what do we do? Personally, I think it’s time we hire experts from places like Israel, and perhaps do away with our societal squeamishness when it comes to subjects such as profiling or actually accusing guilty people of being guilty.
Yes, we all know most Muslims aren’t actual terrorists, but when we can’t admit there is a worldwide pandemic of young Muslim radicals hellbent on killing themselves and taking the rest of us with them, then our problem goes well beyond an uncomfortable airport search.
What do you suggest? One idea I had was explosives and substance sniffing dogs. Leave your ideas below, and let’s come up with something better than being groped by strange, cold hands in a backroom.
“Red Eye” air date – November 17, 2010. Guests: Patti Ann Browne, Andrew Klavan and Joe Devito. Cast: Host – Greg Gutfeld, Sequential Hermaphroditic Sidekick – Bill Schulz and Ombudsman – TV’s Andy Levy
The views in this post are entirely my own (except where I’m quoting.) Neither “Red Eye” nor Fox News endorse or support my “Red Eye” posts. I am not affiliated with the show in any way, other than being an avid fan.
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