08 June 2010

To Scan or Not to Scan

Today Omaha’s Eppley Airfield implemented the TSA’s new full-body scan technology, much to my chagrin. A discussion on Tom Becka’s Facebook page revealed that some Omahans aren’t concerned about the invasiveness of the scanners. More modest residents said they are concerned, and some even voiced discomfort with allowing their children to go through the scanners.

I support airport safety and keeping the country free of terrorist attacks. That’s why I want the TSA to implement effective means of security, not just more measures that make people think they’re safe. Some are happy with anything the TSA or the government implements just so they can feel warm and safe. Airport security measures have become their security blankets. Mission accomplished. Terrorism dead in the USA? Hardly.

The reports reveal that regardless of what measures and procedures the TSA claims it has in place, they’re not working. Every time the TSA receives a negative report, it comes up with some newfangled security measure to appease its critics.

Nevertheless, bombs have been brought onto planes, and terrorists have entered our country. And let’s not forget that a year ago even I was able to travel from Omaha to Denver to Las Vegas and back again, going through security at all three airports, and not one TSA worker caught my stun gun. (Las Vegas caught the souvenir lighters I bought, but you’ll have to read that blog post for that story.) As for liquids, I’ve also traveled with those in my purse and carry-on without separating them into the TSA’s regulation quart-size, clear zipper bag.

Advocates of the full-body scanners need to realize that airport security measures only keep the honest people honest. None of these methods of inspection is as foolproof as we want to believe — or the government wants us to believe. The terrorists are already well on their way to learning how to outsmart this newest security measure. We’ll all find that out the next time someone successfully sneaks a bomb on a plane.

For example, Eppley and other airports are giving passengers the choice to submit to the body scanner or to walk through the metal detector and submit to a pat-down. I’m guessing the terrorists are going to choose the alternative to the body scanner — more chance for human error or carelessness — so that basically renders the scanners ineffective from day one.

Perhaps these security measures would be more successful if we couldn’t count on the TSA to regularly do something stupid — like allow a passenger on the no-fly list to board an airplane. That defeats these scanners and other security measures altogether.

Considering all of this, I find these scanners far too invasive. Now, my naked body isn’t even private anymore. I can cleverly disguise my love handles with clothing, but they’re certain to show up in the body scan. I don’t care if the guy operating the machine and seeing the scan of my chubby little body is hidden from my view. I should have the say over who sees me naked, and these machines strip me of that right.

Furthermore, I shouldn’t feel like I need to have a bikini wax before I fly on a plane for fear of what the scan checker might think. These scans also reveal the outlines of passengers’ undies. Now, really, do you want to feel like you have to go buy chic undies before you fly so the scan checker doesn’t make fun of you?

You can tell yourself that the person viewing your scan isn’t making fun of you, but you’re lying to yourself. If you were the scan checker, you’d laugh at a lot of those people. Be honest.

I, for one, certainly am not going to consent to violation of my personal body just so some guy checking scans can get a thrill and the U.S. government thinks I’m it’s puppy dog while the real terrorists are choosing the noninvasive alternative that will enable them to carry out their nefarious tasks.

So, in a couple of years, these body scanners will become passé after a few terrorists foil them. What “safety measure” will the government implement next? I’m guessing cavity searches. Are you prepared to consent to that?

I’ll continue to fly as long as I have the right to choose corporal privacy. When the government takes away that choice — and it will — I’ll take up travel by train. I hear it’s very Old World and charming, and I won’t have to worry about terrorists or perverted security checkers.

1 comment:

katbron said...

Enjoyed the post Amy - and I share your feelings about the ability of these scanners to detect the real issues. I guess I see it as one more tool to add to TSA workers already overblown sense of power. In the meantime I'll schedule my wax before my September flight:)