Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TSA Screenings

The unannounced implementation of increasingly invasive airport screening procedures have been covered for days on news programs, radio talk shows and by the cable TV pundits. Every day another citizen is reporting their experience with the TSA – many being recorded and posted on the internet for the whole world to see. It started with John Tyner in San Diego, who said “Don’t touch my junk or I will have you arrested!” We saw a young boy having his shirt taken off and being patted down while his father just stood there watching. We heard from a flight attendant who was told she had to remove a prosthetic breast implant for them to inspect. Another man who had survived bladder cancer was forced to show his urostomy bag, leaving him covered in urine and causing him incredible embarrassment. A three year old girl screaming and climbing on her mother as a security agent pats her down. The alternative, like an Orwellian awful option, is that you can consent to submitting to an X-ray scanner that reveals your naked body to an unseen, unknown person “behind the curtain” delivering an untold amount of radiation to every square inch of your body. Even pilots and flight attendants are being subjected to these new screening procedures. Is this the best our government can come up with to assure safe air travel? A report from ABC News stated that there has been an increasing amount of intelligence indicating imminent terrorist attacks originating out of Germany. They may be trying to get explosives on planes by hiding them in prosthetic devises or in body cavities. It appears from reports, though, that such methods of smuggling explosives would not be detected using these devices. What are we doing? We are allowing our government to deprive us of our 4th amendment right against illegal search and seizure without probable cause and the right to be secure in our persons. Parents watch numbly as their children are being traumatized by the TSA. Is it disbelief? Amerika is becoming a police state as we dutifully submit to the ever increasing affronts to our personal dignity.

The federal government continues to be reactive to the terrorists' modus operandi, this latest due to the infamous failed "underwear bomber" of  Christmas 2009. They must be proactive in utilizing intelligence gathering and profiling methodology in identifying people who could potentially be a security threat. Israel has been doing this successfully for many years.

I fear that all of this enhanced screening has someone laughing in a cave somewhere at the lunacy of our government's attempts to thwart another attack in the air while they are planning on blowing up a bridge or train or other largely populated area.

Perhaps it is time to consider that no matter what new technology we can invent, whatever new infringement of our rights or to our sense of modesty and decency can be imagined, it might be better to go back to a time when there was no technology on which to rely. How would we screen people if there were no x-ray machines or metal scanners or full body scanners? The fact of the matter is, when TSA agents are given training and instructions on how to pat down a child, or ask a woman to remove a prosthetic breast, or look at the scanned image of a virtually naked body, they cease to think beyond this type of training to actually notice the profiled behavior patterns that could indicate someone who might truly be a threat to security.

The president should be asked how he would feel if his daughters and wife were required to submit to these enhanced screening procedures while he stood by unable to do anything about it.

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