Monday, November 22, 2010

The TSA: molesters and pervs!


I am currently living in London, going to school and definitively NOT plotting any terrorist attacks.

I had basically given up the blogging life, because I think it has always been clear that it is not something I am able to passionately commit to. But I have to say, other writers have been fascinating me lately... namely, Bruce Schneier.

You must check this out: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/11/tsa_backscatter.html?nc=96

I can't take credit for finding this, that was the work of Jill York (another blogger to read, if you're looking to get smart fast!). And I am HORRIFIED. I have to fly home to Boston's Logan Airport, home of the infamous NYC flights of September 11, and am super excited to fly back to London under the new TSA screenings process -- not (I am also personally crusading to bring back the phrases "not" and "psych!").

If you haven't heard, there are these delightful new scanners called backscatter, which means they are low-dose x-ray machines which take some insanely high-res images (check this out: http://www.google.co.uk/images?q=backscatter&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi&biw=960&bih=421) of passengers. I realized with a "DOH!" that I had actually walked through one of these machines before, without thinking, and am now supremely grossed out. If you opt out of using these scanners, the TSA has decided that you get an "enhanced" pat-down -- a nice little grope of your tits and junk, which has left children crying (no joke -- I can't find the video at the moment, but it is upsetting) and women everywhere going, HUH?

Look, here's my beef (and I may well end up on a wanted list for this...) - I am a dance student. I am not a scientist. But even I learned in high school chemistry that plain old water -- even 3 oz of it, even water bought through the security area -- can blow up a plane if you mix it with the right things. The backscatter machines can't detect things in orifices (which leads me to the next horrendous thought of where airline security will go...), folds of skin or folds of clothing. And this lovely myth that the images from the machines cannot be saved?

How did I just google them?

And here's a great one -- http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html

Check it out -- it's pervy TSA agents sending a cute girl over to be either porno-goggled or groped. No shock there -- the power to do whatever the hell they want has just been handed to poorly-trained agents the country over (I say this not because I have an intrinsic dislike of security agents. But simply because, in all my years of flying, they are, in fact, almost uniformly poorly trained).

I'ma just throw this out there as well -- I have been perfectly capable, the world over, of getting on buses, trains, boats, taxis, with NO SECURITY WHATSOEVER. Even in sacred New York. And guess what? I've been okay. So have all the other passengers. How about focusing our energies on less "sexy" (uncomfortable word play intended) measures for national security than airports, and just using sense? If Israel can do it (read further in Schneier's article) and be, hell, JUST FINE, I bet we can, too. Just as many people hate the US as Israel (though for the record, I have no beef with either), so if they are okay, I am pretty willing to take my security cues from them.

While we're all rediscovering the wonder of blogging, let's hear it for this as well: http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2010/11/14/tsa-promises-10-000-fine-for-refusing-se

John Tyner's story has been the most widely circulated, and I agree with one of Schneier's commenters, Greg W., when he says,

"How can it [the TSA] claim that there are no constitutional protections for the search when you voluntarily fly, but at the same time say that they will fine you $10,000 for refusing a search if you leave the search area as they did with John Tyner? I would understand that John Tyner, if he made a private contract, could be liable for $10,000 to a private party, but if the government is using a coercive fine to ensure people are searched, they are clearly taking responsibility for the search and the constitutional protections should apply."

Well, there we have it. A Merry F-ing Christmas for all us poor sods who want to spend the holidays with out families, and return again in an unmolested state.

I am not flying for Thanksgiving (London, remember), and as much as I understand the hand-wringing over the security problem that Wednesday could cause as an opt-out protest day, I have to say a giant Rock On to everyone doing it. As a country, my fellow Americans, let's finally stand up to the circus that flying has become.

And let's hope we all get through this holiday season with our bits kept to ourselves. Happy holidays.

1 comment :

  1. The only real fault in the Israel argument is that Israel relies heavily on racial/ethnic profiling which, while in their context might work (I still say it's racist), in the US context wouldn't fly any more than the nude scanners would...

    ReplyDelete

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