Saturday, November 13, 2010

TSA Body Scanning, once more

Sorry. This article was actually the first that brought the issue of the TSA naked body scans to my attention. And it bothered me. But not as much as the articles and forum posts that led to my last blog post.

I thought I should bring Mike Adams' article to your attention, however, because he highlights the behavior that TSA personnel use "no doubt . . . to attract attention (or perhaps humiliation) to those who choose to opt out of the naked body scanner." --In other words, to increase compliance with their "program."

I quoted other people who identified the same behavior. But Adams, I think, was more perceptive of the purpose.

He said that when he told the TSA agents that he wanted to opt out of the body scanner,
A TSA agent told me to step to the side and stay put. He then proceeded to shout out loudly enough for all the other travelers and TSA agents to hear, "OPT OUT! OPT OUT!" . . . I saw no purpose for this verbal alert because the same TSA agent who was yelling this ultimately was the one who patted me down anyway.
But/and, then, that is when he knew for sure what the real purpose was--i.e., to ensure higher compliance on the part of more passengers.

Adams' experience with the pat down (back on October 19th) was less invasive than the pat downs seem to have become within the last couple of weeks. On October 19th, the agent, first, explained exactly what he would do and then proceeded with the pat down "us[ing] the back of his hands to pat down the crotch and buttocks areas."

"This is probably designed to make the pat-down seem less 'personal' and more detached," Adams explains. "That way, air passengers can't complain of being felt up by TSA agents who might get carried away with the pat-down procedure."

But, of course, we now see that procedures have progressed several steps further in less than a month.

Meanwhile, Adams made the following observations:
The most fascinating part about this entire process was not the verbal broadcast of my opt out status, nor having my crotch swept by the latex-covered back hand of some anonymous TSA agent, but rather the curious fact that I was the only one opting out. Although I must have watched at least a hundred people go through this particular security checkpoint, there wasn't a single other person who opted out of the naked body scan.

They all just lined up like cattle to have their bodies scanned with ionizing radiation.

To me, that's just fascinating. That when people are given a choice to opt out of being irradiated, they will choose to just go along with the naked body scan rather than risk standing out by requesting to opt out.

You see, I'm not convinced that the TSA's naked body scanners enhance air travel security at all. Previous security tests conducted by the FAA show quite clearly that the greatest threat to airplane safety isn't from the passengers but from ground crews, where bombs and other materials can be quite easily smuggled onto planes.

But even though naked body scanners may not enhance air travel security, they do accomplish something far more intriguing: The successful completion of an experiment in human behavior. If you were to pose the question "Will people line up like cattle to be electronically undressed in front of government security officers?" The answer is now unequivocally YES!

Most people, it turns out, will simply do whatever they're told by government authorities, even if it means giving up their privacy or their freedoms. Almost anything can be sold to the public under the guise of "fighting terrorism" these days, including subjecting your body to what is essentially a low-radiation CT scan at the airport!

I don't know about you, but I don't think I should be required to subject myself to ionizing radiation as a condition of air travel security. Of course, the more technically minded readers among you might counter by saying that high-altitude travel is, all by itself, an event that subjects you to low levels of ionizing radiation (which is true). But that's all the more reason to not add the body's radiation burden any more than necessary. Americans already get far too much radiation from CT scans and other medical imaging tests (not to mention mammograms). Do we really need to dose peoples' bodies with yet more radiation every time they board an airplane?
There is much more on the subject. I encourage you to read his article.
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