TSA: Keeping America Safe One Bluish-Gray Half-Naked Person At A Time
Having just come back from a relaxing vacation in Mexico, I was privy to not only white sand beaches, blue water, and overpriced night clubs, but on the way to and fro from destination I got a first-hand look at some of the new security measures implemented by our good friends at the Transportation Security Administration. Or rather they got a first-hand look at me.
Yes, among the x-ray screenings on my luggage, the restrictions on liquids, and the mandatory removal of shoes, many airports around the country have implemented the use of full-body scanners, or as the TSA calls them millimeter wave scanners. I suppose the choice of name is designed to lessen the public fear that the machines will put people in cancer wards for radiation poisoning instead of speeding them along their way toward some tropical island. “How can a millimeter hurt me? It’s so small.” Great marketing guys…
So is it legal? The TSA insist that the use of the new machines is necessary to insure the continued safety of America. But is that enough justification under the eyes of the law?
Well in my opinion, yes and no. Technically one could attempt to make an argument that the scanners constitute unlawful searches and therefore are unconstitutional. However, this would likely be argued away by the government showing some “just cause” as the impetus for each search – namely national security. And to be fair, as invasive and possibly hazardous to your health as these machines may be, the TSA allows flyers to opt out of being scanned. But at a cost, as you’ll then be subjected to a good ol’ fashioned pat down by a TSA agent. It should also be noted that the machines automatically blur out passenger faces and, at least according to official reports, passengers are only shown in their undergarments and not completely in the buff.
However, despite the fact that polls suggest most are fine with the new scanner, this hasn’t stopped people and groups from filing lawsuits to stop their use. Not to mention other claims…ahem…child porn laws…cough….
But, these scanners are just the latest thorn in the side to privacy advocates as critics have been steaming since many of the TSA’s overly exhaustive and restrictive flight regulations took effect. That list has everything on it by the way, even swords, SWORDS!! Guess we don’t want any rogue samurais taking over the airways.
Now I’m all for safety and precaution, but really the issue here isn’t simply the scanners, but the TSA itself. With a budget of over $5.5 billion, you’d think they’d be able to secure our airports. But latest reports from government inspectors still show a 50 to 60 percent detection failure rate.
What does this all mean? Well, at least to me, it seems like I’m better off keeping my shoes on when I go to the airport as it likely doesn’t make much of a difference anyway. Also, even though we have massive security measures implemented here, has anyone ever wondered what we’re going to do about flights aboard? Europe and many other countries don’t have nearly the same regulations in place as we do, so what’s to stop a terrorist from boarding a flight abroad? Furthermore, why is that you still have to get scanned upon arrival from an international flight? You’re already on the ground – if you wanted to hijacked a plane, you probably would’ve done it in the air?!?
Anyway, all good questions. I have to stop now as I’ve gone cross-eyed. But as always, feel free to comment if you have any suggestions or thoughts.