Spending millions of dollars to treat every one of the over 2 million people that fly in the US, including pilots and babies, as potential terrorists? Totally means that the terrorists have won. They’ve succeeded in turning American against American, so that we now treat each other as presumed criminals on a regular basis. Fear now rules over liberty. We now abuse our airline passengers more than any other country, including places like China that are notorious for their human rights abuses. The only real gains in this maneuver are to the companies that sell this equipment, and to those people who like seeing the US froth at the mouth with paranoia. I repeat: the terrorists have won.
I am fortunate enough that most of my family lives within easy driving distance, and I don’t need to fly that often. Others are not so lucky. But I did get to experience the new procedures first hand recently as we flew to Hawaii for 2 weeks. It is incredibly impractical to get to Hawaii through any other travel method. Logan has the new body scanners. I got to go through one. And because I was still wearing a pewter pendant necklace, they decided to go ahead and give me a pat-down too. I was annoyed, I was inconvenienced, I was mildly embarrassed. But most of all, I felt sorry for the poor sods who are required to administer these treatments, who are forced to look at things they don’t want to see every day – people they never want to see naked, including toddlers (does taking their image count as child pornography?), medical implants, unfortunate deformities, broken bones, etc. on a daily basis. I hope the TSA has hired counselors, and requires every screener to take the same oath of confidentiality that doctors do.
Freedoms and liberties mean being exposed to a certain amount of risk. I get that. I also understand that one of the things the government does for us is to help minimize those risks. But there’s a law of diminishing returns here, and I, for one, am ready to experience some personal risk in exchange for greater freedom.
1) I will be posting copies of this to my elected representatives.
2) Part of this is inspired by the reporting and research done by Jeffrey Goldberg over at the Atlantic. I should acknowledge him as one of the tipping forces behind me speaking out, and one of those upon whom I’ve built some of my opinions. Here is a clip of him on the Colbert Report, rather a good bit. I wrote this post before seeing this clip, so it is interesting to see him also give a ‘terrorists have won’ perspective. Jeffrey has called for everyone traveling on the day before Thanksgiving to ‘Opt-Out’ (use that phrase specifically) of the scans and to submit to pat-downs, as a form of protest, tying up TSA resources on a massive scale. I appreciate what he is trying to do, but I am ambivalent about it. Choose for yourself what action to take.
3) Also, here is an article from Gizmodo on body scans that have already been leaked. I’ve not checked to see if I am one of them.
4) Some scanners are using radio waves (millimeter wave) . Some are using backscatter X-rays, and these could pose a health risk. Are the TSA and the FDA taking this into account? According to this Ars Technica article, so far the data has been brushed aside.
6) The Pilot’s Union is asking all pilots to reject scanning. Pilots are already exposed to large amounts of radiation as a normal part of their job (flying above some of the protective layers of the atmosphere). Further, as highlighted in the above Colbert video clip, we trust them to fly the planes, we can’t trust them with a pocketknife?
7) The experiences of one individual who refused both the imaging scan and the pat-down, but was willing to go through the still-in-use metal detector, and was in all other respects polite and compliant.