Monday, November 15, 2010

"Backlash grows over TSA's 'naked strip searches'"

"Unions representing U.S. Airways pilots, American Airlines pilots, and some flight attendants are advising their members to skip the full-body scans, even if it means that their genitals are touched. Air travelers are speaking out online, with a woman saying in a YouTube video her breasts were "twisted," and ExpressJet pilot Michael Roberts emerging as an instant hero after he rejected both the body scanning and "enhanced pat-downs" options and was unceremoniously ejected from the security line from Memphis International Airport."

"Body scanners penetrate clothing to provide a highly detailed image that TSA says is viewed by a remote technician. Technologies vary, with millimeter wave systems capturing fuzzier images with non-ionizing radio waves and backscatter X-ray machines able to show precise anatomical detail.

TSA says it does not store scans, and there is no evidence indicating the agency does at routine airport checkpoints.

But documents that EPIC obtained show the agency's procurement specifications require that the machines be capable of storing the images on USB drives. A 70-page document (PDF), classified as "sensitive security information," says that in a test mode the scanner must "allow exporting of image data in real time" and provide a mechanism for "high-speed transfer of image data" over the network.

Another federal agency, the Marshals Service, has acknowledged (PDF) that tens of thousands of images from a Brijot Gen2 machine were stored from just one courthouse checkpoint."

CNET - Backlash grows over TSA's 'naked strip searches'


"THE Transportation Security Administration, America's second-most loathed bureaucracy, has used its stimulus bucks to stock up on fancy ritual-humiliation scanners that electronically disrobe air-travellers. TSA officers are exceedingly unlikely to detect terrorist tools thereby, but they can always wince and titter at their victims' corpulence or unimpressive primary and secondary sexual characteristics. And if you are unwilling to surrender your dignity to a low-level security-state functionary in this way, you always have the option to surrender your dignity to a low-level security-state functionary in an "enhanced pat-down". The enhancement is that the TSA agent now gets right in there and gropes nearer the possibly ne'er-do-well passengers' tender bits."

The Economist - Nude model or groping victim?


"This is a letter from Captain Dave Bates, the president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 11,000 American Airlines pilots, to his members, in which he calls on pilots to refuse back-scatter screening and demand private pat-downs from TSA officers. Bates's argument is multifaceted and extremely cogent. He worries about increased exposure to radiation, of course (a big worry among commercial pilots) and he is eloquent on the subject of intentional humiliation:
There is absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience. In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot. I recommend that all pilots insist that such screening is performed in an out-of-view area to protect their privacy and dignity.

It is a source of continual astonishment to me that pilots -- many of whom, it should be pointed out, are military veterans who possess security clearances -- are not allowed to carry onboard their airplanes pocket knives and bottles of shampoo, but then they're allowed to fly enormous, fuel-laden, missile-like objects over American cities."

The Atlantic - American Airlines Pilots in Revolt Against the TSA


One woman, who is - according to reports - highly attractive, gets singled out from other passengers for the "nudie scanner", then gets handcuffed to a chair and for a full body pat down after refusing to do a full body scan.

It's interesting to listen about what will happen if a person refuses or even questions. Singled out. Humiliated. Handcuffed to a chair. Answers not forthcoming. Shows what happens to those who buck the system.

"When she asked some question about what they planned to do to her, they flipped out. TSA agents yelled at her, handcuffed her to a chair, ripped up her ticket, called in 12 local Miami cops and finally escorted her out of the airport."


One of the folks in the above youtube copy of a radio interview makes the point "These people have to justify themselves and their procedures, at least to themselves, in order to remain relevant."

I think that point is well made.

The Economist article points out "The odds of being a victim of terrorism on a flight are approximately 1 in 10,408,947—rather less than the 1 in 500,000 odds of getting killed by lightning."


Picture Credit: The Economist - Nude model or groping victim?

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