TSA might be getting intimate, but rightly so

Airport security has certainly been beefed up over the last month. The most notable additions to the security lines that students can expect to see on their homeward-bound Thanksgiving trips are full body scanners. Los Angeles International Airport is one of the approximately 60 airports outfitted with the new technology.

The scanners, which use advanced imaging technology, take what is essentially a black and white nude picture of the subject. If a passenger tapes, glues, attaches or wears something that is potentially dangerous, then it’s a pretty safe bet the scanner will pick it up.

Passengers have the right to refuse a full body scan, but there is a catch that many passengers have passionately complained about: an intimate and thorough pat-down that gives Transportation Security Agency staff the right to examine a person’s inner thighs, breasts and buttocks.

Understandably, passengers have complained about such pat-downs. They are intrusive, and they can be humiliating. At the same time, Kate Hanni, Executive Director of FlyersRights.org, stated in a recent New York Times article that “There seems to be a huge variation in how they’re patting people down.”

Still, the heightened thoroughness of airport security is necessary and should not be compromised for the sake of convenience.

Airport security lines can be long and tiresome, but ease of mind is well worth the added inconvenience.

It’s been less than a year since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab successfully boarded a Northwest Airlines flight hiding an explosive device in his underwear. Either the full body scan or a pat-down would probably have detected Abdulmatallab’s home-made bomb.

John S. Pistole, a TSA administrator, recently said in a statement, “We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary, but that just isn’t the case.”

The very least we can do is make sure nothing dangerous is allowed on flights.

Opponents of the scanners and pat-downs include public interest groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as medical and science professors who argue that the scanners pose a potential health risk because of the small doses of radiation used in about half of the machines.

Homeland Security, however, has stated that the Food and Drug Administration and Johns Hopkins University have tested the safety of such technology extensively.

President Barack Obama recently addressed the TSA heightened security measures as well. Speaking at a NATO press conference in Lisbon, Portugal, the president said that the increased security is needed to prevent another Christmas Day bombing.

No one is denying the extra hassle the body scans or pat-downs add to a passenger’s travel plans. But everyone should be willing to sacrifice to ensure our personal and national safety.

A USA Today/Gallup poll confirmed that the majority of travelers approve of the TSA’s increased security measures. In the poll, 78 percent of respondents support the full body scanners. The survey only reached a small sample size  — 542 adults — but those who were questioned had flown at least twice in the last year.

Those who supported the new security measures rightly understand what needs to be done to keep our country safe.

The increased security measures will make flights more secure. We should all accept the inconvenience with a grain of salt, and feel a little comforted when we fly home this Thanksgiving break.

William Fay is a senior majoring in international relations.

8 replies
  1. Christopher Ganiere
    Christopher Ganiere says:

    We have had eight+ years without these nude scanners and enhanced pat downs. Including the 9/11 attacks, there have been only 21 people that succeeded on getting on a plane and trying to take it down. There are over 10,000 flights a day! We do not NEED these techniques to keep us safe. We are already safe. It is the law enforcement efforts away from the airports that is keeping us safe. The nude scanners and enhanced pat downs are just to show the American Citizens that their government is out of control and their hired goons can violate the Fourth Amendment anytime they want without any EVIDENCE.

    Buying an airplane ticket is not probable cause!

  2. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    Brilliant comparison, Colin. Yes, security screenings at airports are similar to the systematic slaughter of millions of innocent people. Yes, some minor discomfort is similar to the gestapo busting down doors and ripping children from their parents. I hope everyone in Australia isn’t as absurdly ignorant as to compare the greatest mass murderer of the last century, if not all time, to a full body scan and a pat down. If flying on an airplane is akin to being in a concentration camp, you should probably just stay in Sydney.

    Anon: Flying on an airplane is a privilege. It’s a perk. There are plenty of other modes of transportation for those who can’t stand a little personal discomfort for the safety of millions of people. I’ll feel much safer on an airplane without you on it. Thanks.

    • Diane
      Diane says:

      This is an ignorant response. Ever heard of the slippery slope, Daniel? That is what happens when people allow a government to treat them like cattle, or perhaps more accurately, sheep.

      However, we would at least have something to discuss if the TSA were making us one bit safer. They are not. They have caught NO terrorists. The underwear bomber and shoe bomber (who most likely would NOT have been caught by the scanner or a fast food reject TSA patdown expert) were foiled by PASSENGERS. That’s right – the people who are being treated like criminals.

      The government does not have the RIGHT to search your person without probable cause. If your passport shows you’ve been to Yemen lately, that MIGHT give them the right to pat your privates. But for the rest of us, the answer is NO.

      • Daniel
        Daniel says:

        I am not defending the gov’t, Diane. I fully agree with what you’re saying. I think you misunderstood my post. I am very critical of the decisions made by the DHS so far and I do not believe the people, myself included, should submit to invasive pat-downs that are often only reserved for hard criminals in prison known to cause problems.

        In Iraq, we often avoided searching kids, and if possible, women. The reality for us was a balance of security vs public relations. Our mission would be a failure if we started subjecting kids to invasive pat downs and manipulating their rights as human beings. Instead, children were visually searched by having them lift their shirts and spin. Yes, this is easy to countermeasure; however, one’s body language never lies. We have caught kids with weapons, without needing to touch them. If a search was necessary, the parents would manipulate the child. We never dared think to touch someone’s kid, it fuels discontent.

        Being a member of the military, I cannot get too political on this debate. Hence, why I originally did not form a solid opinion on DHS/TSA. If you want want, I think they are doing a bad job. They even harass us on our tours; even though we are carrying solid steel equipment, I was still forced to turn over my Sprite–on a 100% armed military flight. :)

        • Daniel
          Daniel says:

          Crap, I just noticed the other guy above me was also named “Daniel.” I should change my name next post (see below for my original). Sorry for any confusion this may cause.

  3. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    PETN has been used by terrorists for over 30 years; yet, however, DHS buys ridiculous scanners, scanners that will not detect this rather simple explosive. So, even after all the invasive pat downs and scans, a motivated bomber will find a way to get past security–because there is none. There are no detection devices in place to interact this this compound. The ones that are there, they are typically tested against commercially developed explosives (i.e. Semtex).

    Likewise, until we actually use our intelligence AS intelligence, we will always be a soft target. The underwear bomber was discovered weeks before his attempted attack. Yet, he was allowed to move freely, from Yemen no less. How many fun loving men get on flights from Yemen? al-Awlaki was from Yemen. :) How retarded and utterly unforgivable. Yet, TSA has us take our shoes off… yet probably have no clue what they are looking for in those shoes. Maybe misplaced nail clippers? I can easily doubt that every “agent” is trained and qualified to find what he thinks he is looking for.

    The goal of terrorists is to strike a target by simple means but meaningful enough to discourage a civilization. TSA will tire themselves to death with reactive surgeries, ultimately alienating their meaning to the public and putting us in a worse state of affairs. I know people cite Israel is a prime example to emulate as a baseline. This has always been the case. Israel’s counter-insurgency is THE BEST, and has been a valuable ally to our military. Why the hell then is there such pride in the other departments? Is it really such a bitch to ask for help on this issue?

    By sacrificing our liberties a day at a time; American have fallen victim to the # goal of terrorism. The maxim of terrorists is never essentially a simple maxim of death. Death creates the wave that spreads the pollution. The publics fear is the desire, the control is the end result. If we carry on like this we will implode into ourselves and fall. It’s too simple. This is why the true meaning of terrorists doesn’t technically exist in US. There are few groups which aim for this reality that are home bred. Hence, why profiling is so attractive. Yes, there have been school shootings. Yes, we all remember McVeigh. These men’s goals were, minor, in the ideology that is terrorism. Good luck locating an American extremist group filled with a Christian demographic which hopes to bring utter fear and disarray to the American public by causing mind numbing fear to a gigantic population through what is called a “war of a thousand cuts.” If this were our reality, our military would be well engaged in the homeland. :)

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
    -Benjamin Franklin

  5. colin wellstead
    colin wellstead says:

    Sorry Mr. Fay but you need to dig a lot deeper , way deeper, and wake up from the sleep that you and so many Americans have been under for far too long. I am sure that after the TSA criminality you have sat down and rationalized the need for your Constitution to be trashed once again because of the fear which has been manufactured by your government. They are the terrorists and once you do your homework properly , be honest and carry out journalism for the truth rather than the paycheck we will all be a lot safer. This terrorist threat is manufactured to gain your compliance. Come on – wake up. Your country is eerily akin to Nazi Germany under Hitler – this is exactly how it started there. Trust me – it is so clear to evreybody looking in. The internationalist banksters are trying to destroy your country because they fear the US constitution. You should protect it with all your life !!


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