Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The TSA Is Still Odious

After 9/11 the United States was left reeling, confused, and uncertain.  That mentality is revealed in the closure of the Stock Market, and its sudden bullish behavior.

The United States was shaken, but in the dark months after 9/11 a new national resolve formed.  America would not be vulnerable, we would wage war (two of them, in fact) to protect our interests, and we would rally around President Bush.
 
A decade later, and we haven't been attacked on any scale approaching that of that rotten September.  But now a vocal section of the American population is expressing doubts about how we've gone about protecting ourselves.  This has happened before.  It happened when the TIPS program was introduced, and with each new passage of the Patriot Act.  It's the same national level introspection we saw when the U.S. was confronted with the facts of military prisoner abuse, Guantanamo Bay, and legalized water boarding. 

This time, something seems to be a bit different.

Now it's average American's who are subject to intense scrutiny, and many don't seem to like it.  The angst of this group is directed at both the new backscatter scanners being launched across the country, and the alternative full body frisking.

It's not difficult to understand why so many people are uncomfortable with the new scanners.  They show the operator an essentially nude figure of the passenger.  Boston.com spoke with an offended traveler:

It seems to me the TSA has turned into the threat,’’ said Emery Woodall, 51, from Atlanta, who opted to get the pat-down — what he calls the “lesser of two evils’’ — instead of going through the body scanner at Logan yesterday afternoon.
The news and internet are both full of similarly indignant responses.  Another objection comes from both pilots and flight attendants, who are concerned about frequent exposure to the radiated procedure.  Both groups have recently been exempted from the backscatter scanners after weeks of speaking out.

For those who choose to op-out of the backscatter machine, they can submit to a full body frisking.  This procedure is drawing fire left and right.  The crotch and breast invasive policy has sparked countless outrages.  Here are horror stories from a breast cancer survivor, a crying child's private parts being invaded, and traumatized sexual assault victims speaking up.

A vocal group called Opt-Out Day has decided to protest the new screening techniques tomorrow, by slowing down airport security lines. 

Despite all this, a sizable majority of people are perfectly fine with the new backscatter scanners, according to a recent poll, apparently believing that the loss of privacy is acceptable for presumptive security benefits.

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