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Saturday, November 20. 2010
The furor over revealing body scans and pat down searches for those who refuse the body scan has several themes, privacy and effectiveness of alternative means. It is part of the revolt against increased government intrusiveness, as well as just another way for scribblers to fill space.
Here’s an idea: Let all those who object to scans and searches (according to a poll, about 1%) to fly on designated planes, after signing that there will be no law suit for being blown up, and that their assets can be tapped to repay the airline for its plane. – That will, also, make the other 99% safer, as bombers fly on these planes instead.
Yea, not practical.
But, either is creating a well-trained workforce of adept profilers, even without bounds. The volume of US air traffic is mega-multiples of Israel’s. Lotsa luck with that one, even if the disagreements with profiling somehow miraculously disappeared. -- And, wouldn’t we want layers of security anyway, like scans and searches?
Sure, any method has its downsides, and none can be perfect, but that beats a rapid, explosive downside for flyers.
OK, commenters, have fun ranting. Please add how often you fly commercial airlines, and whether you are willing to scatter your remains to the birds.
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I used to fly occasionally. I will fly no more. The full body scans and disgusting pat downs are a violation of the Constitution, in my opinion as well as a sign of an ever-increasingly intrusive government.
If you're willing to give up your rights for convenience, that's your right. I will drive. This year my wife and I drove 2400 miles, round trip, because we refuse to fly.
OK, I'll take my shot.
I used to be a road warrior. Got laid off right around 9/11. Started my own business at that time. So are travel since 9/11 has been light.
I hated the security theater before 9/11. Really hate it now. Even with my limited flying since 9/11 I have had two ridiculous trips through the security system.
I also hate our society wide problem of punishing and/or inconveniencing the innocent because we lack the courage to punish wrongdoers. From this problem, springs the whole security theater which has to both look effective and, hopefully, be effective (and I really have doubts about the effectiveness, we are talking about the US government).
My solution would be to give the airlines strict liability for any damages caused by the failure of their airplanes (failure for any reason). Coupled with the freedoms required to operate in such an environment, such as the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.
Then I would sit back and watch the marketplace offer a range of solutions. Some I might like, some you might like. We would then be free to patronize the airline with the security features we find desirable.
Like your idea, mine is crazy and will never be implemented.
As to the safety of the scanners, I would like to point you to this James Fallows post.
Someone please explain to me how detailed naked body images or having TSA agents stick a hand down your pants or pull your blouse down and expose your breasts is not an unreasonable search.
Here's an idea:
So called "libertarian" or somewhat right "side" commenters actually think thru such posts.
Or is it easier to shout "You're against Safety"?
PS -I'm a 1M flyer on UAL, + six digit mileage on two others. Around the world airlines & airports use variations on keeping the terrorist out. Only in America are we fetished on keeping the tools of terrorism out. Such methods haven't raised the costs of air travel "over there", either, so based on my experience, I reject your unsupported assertions.
Well, alrighty then...
1 - I don't fly commercial, but I do fly - myself. :>)
2 - It is my opinion that all should suffer the same indignities being foisted upon the general flying public. That means members of Congress, pilots, attendents, mechanics and/or anybody else who is involved in civil aviation. We're all in this together, so let's get out there and expose ourselves. And their results should be published - not reimaged to blur out anything - just what the TSA agent sees. Case in point. It would be a great way to ensure the public of the ruling class feels out pain. Yeah - like that's going to happen.
3 - Is it really necessary to have a stranger reach into the pants of your twelve year old son or daughter on a secondary screening or grab their crotches so that other passengers may be assured that the flight will be safe? Really?
4 - Exactly how do these scanners and the subsequent "pat downs" make you or anybody else who flies commercial safer? Right off the top of my head, I can think of at least six ways to sneak explosives onboard and probably a dozen ways (if not more) to bring down a commercial airliner with a minimum of explosive power. If I had the time to engineer something, the methods would be innumerable.
5 - As somebody stated above, it is theatre of the mind - all this nonsense isn't making commercial flight any safer. The fact that an airliner hasn't been brought down recently is not because of security measures, it's because the terrorists have been inept, stupid or both.
6 - Our personal space is being violated by edict of the government for reasons of "safety". Where does that stop? Already we have these scanners on streets looking inside trucks and cars - maybe even pedestrians - who knows because they certainly aren't going to tell you about it. Perhaps it is time to admit that the terrorists have won because the very fundamental right granted by the 4th Admendment to the Constitution prohibiting Unreasonable Search apparently means nothing.
I don't know about you my friend, but this type of interrogative intrusion is not an American value. You may be willing to submit - that is your choice. I can only speak to my own choice and that would be not to fly - period. I'll give my travel money to somebody else and take my sweet time getting there.
What's the big deal? A scan is just a picture, I don't care if some random security person sees what my random body looks like.
The groping seems odd though.
Anyway, isn't the old metal detector routine sufficient?
As someone who has participated in business meetings in the Baltic states where sauna is an expected part of the social plan for the participants, the naked-scanning machines are no big deal for me. But I can understand that many people are more modest about their bodies than I am.
I'm also psychologically immune to cries about the danger of radiation, because of all the uninformed people who cry "wolf" so often. Yet I am 100% behind the right of people like pilots and air-crew, who already have above-average exposure to ionizing radiation, to opt-out of getting more.
It is also quite clear that the "aggressive pat down" is being used as a humiliation technique to draw attention to and publicly shame those who chose to opt-out of the screening.
Now, I've had the "enhanced pat down" in the past when I was traveling alone at late notice with little luggage on a one-way ticket. It seemed reasonable to me. But I know I have no conception of how reasonable it would seem to someone with Asperger syndrome, or to someone who was a victim of sexual-abuse by an authority figure.
If I were the author of the policy that "opt-outs" were to have lots of public attention drawn to them and then "groped", right now I would be lining up a lawyer experienced in defending 18 USC 242 cases.
Oh, and I fly only about twice a quarter nowadays, and I am eagerly awaiting both the expansion of SeaPort Airlines and the formation of other airlines with similar business plan and marketing strategy.
he who gives up freedom for security will end up having neither.
THE SCANS DO NOTHING TO INCREASE SECURITY.
Several experts - American, European, and Israeli - have pointed out that it is possible to smuggle explosives in body cavities, undetected by these scans.
Similarly, the ban on shampoo did NOTHING to increase security.
These are ham-handed responses by people who are unwilling to engage the actual facts - probably because they already think they know so much more than the rest of us.
The responses also betray their authoritarian bias.
Profiling likely suspects would be much more effective than chucking people's cosmetics and subjecting them to scans.
When the powers that be show that they value safety more than political correctness, maybe they'll have some credibility.
Illuminating fact: number of terrorist caught by TSA's procedures - none, nada, zip, zero; number of TSA agents fired for stealing passengers' property - 23. Feel safer now?
Before I even cover the rest of my points, there is one overarching concept: Living in freedom means taking risks. Call me elitist if you want to, but I disdain people who want to live in an environment of suffocating security at the cost of liberty.
It is NOT impractical to do it the way the Israelis do it. The contrast of scale does not prove your point. The first time I heard that argument: "The volume of US air traffic is mega-multiples of Israel’s." I said, "SO!?!? "
If we can find and hire enough McDonald's rejects to harass every single passenger at every single airport in the country, we can certainly train them to do the job right. First, if you are not wasting valuable resources on groping 80% of the passengers who don't even remotely meet any profile standards for terrorists, you will have ample time to focus on those who need the scrutiny.
You dissolve the government agency known as TSA and return responsibility to the airlines. Let them send their security agents to El Al and let them learn the techniques for profiling and interrogating possible terrorists. Secondly, you stop wasting time on flight crews who have proven records. Same goes for frequent fliers who have been repeatedly screened and had thorough background check. They should merely have to present an ID and pass a quick biometric scan, like a fingerprint or retina.
Dogs can be trained to sniff out all but the most sophisticated explosives. You might be able to hide the scent of explosives in something going on a cargo plane, but you wouldn't be able to do so in something you'd carry on your person.
If you quickly eliminate 80 - 90% of the passengers using plain old common sense, you can focus your attention where it's needed.
Another point of importance: This is post 9/11. If someone were able to get past security with any kind of weapon short of explosives, there would be more than a few "Todd Beemers" among the passengers to take the perp(s) down and immobilize him. If that's not true, then we don't deserve to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I will walk from coast to coast before I subject my daughters to either the scans or the groping.
CV: I trip once or twice or thrice per month, to any and all points in-country as required. Have done so for about four years. Am now quite surprised when I don't get the free First Class upgrade. Have sufficient ff miles to do free-tix family vacations for quite some time.
First: I understand and accept the philosophy that drives our use of TSA at airports. I have no objection to exchanging a little bit of my "freedom" for a little bit of everyone else's who wants to come into my airplane. My objection is not with the goal - it's with the means and method. The execution is just very very poor.
I wouldn't mind the TSA hassle quite so much if the population of TSA workers didn't seem to contain a far higher percentage of jerks and power-trippers than one would normally expect to see in a similar-sized group.
Best way I can think of to describe this: As I've lived through my fifty years, I've seen the general population of cops in society change from "mostly nice helpful guys" to "mostly jerks looking to provoke me with their insulting and aggressive behavior so that I'll react and do something for which they can punish me." TSA seemed to come into being with too high a percentage of these types right off the bat.
The frequent-traveling crowd tends to be a self-confident one, but it's also usually tired, annoyed, and prickly, and so TSA's "go ahead, sucker, Make My Day!" attitude - which seems designed to get right into our faces so that they can assert their territorial dominance - doesn't often have the desired cowing effect.
Most frequent travelers I know fly on business tickets, and many of us get little advance notice about our trips. As a result, a lot of us are flying without paying much attention to price. If I am told I'm needed in Florida in two days, I know I'm going to get skinned on the seat price, but I just book it and send the bill to our travel department. Point is, most of us are not flying in a cost-conscious manner, and, if the airlines could hire some intelligent people to design and run a system that made sense and got us through lines predictably (so that we don't need to blow an entire day for each leg of travel simply because the TSA line MIGHT be staggeringly long and slow), I doubt many of us would even notice if they then tacked $50 or $75 onto each ticket to pay for it all.
But there's no way they can tack such a charge on to the tickets and then expect to keep the current crop of fast-food-rejects as inspectors. Just NFW.
No more flying for me. (Formerly flew cross-country a few times a year.) I object to the whole process of dumbing down the populace. NOW I can understand how people could be loaded dociley onto cattlecars.
I lived for about a decade with an emotionally abusive lunatic. It's disquieting to see the same techniques she used being implemented by various authoritarian agencies.
Simple- arm all passengers with tasers. Of course, this won't work if there are more terrorists on the plane than passengers, but you get my drift.
My perception is this: 1. It's another step in the government control conditioning process that has been going on for ages. Let's see...seatbelt laws, bicycle helmet laws, smoking bans, trans-fat bans, salt bans...it's about power and control over the "little people." 2. People will get completely outraged by the long lines at security, and the indignation of being "felt up." They will demand an alternative. This is exactly what the Left wants. The alternative is high speed rail. The administration is willing to let the airline industry go under for the bigger picture: The infrastructure for high speed rail is not in place. It will involve a huge network of new rights of way for the rail lines. That will mean thousands of small single family homes in the working class surburbs will be demolished for the rights of way. Don't worry, they won't be targeting the upper middle class affluent neighborhoods. They will be targeting the working class with their small single family homes. Areas will be selected based on certain "demographics." The left has finally found their way to get rid of a lot of the 1950s suburban sprawl that they have hated from the get go. Take their homes and force them into high rise rental units along a bus line. In my opinion, that is the big picture here. Create a crisis so you can solve the crisis.
Chip ... High speed rail is not the only alternative to government-mandated, insulting and intrusive body searches. But there is a "hole in the market" here. After this truly stupid idea of airport "security" for commercial airline passengers has driven away almost all pleasure flying and much of the business flying, our commercial airline corporations will have been pretty much starved out. If you know anything about the marlet, you know that commercial airline profit margins are very slim.
Meanwhile, companies which own their own private planes, or offer flights available to the general public on a one by one basis are going to be gearing up to offer plane sharing contracts to executives of smaller business companies. These so-called "private flight companies" will of course do the intelligent thing and hire private security companies to supply pre-flight passenger safety inspections. These private security folks will be careful to be intelligent and respectful of passenger concerns, instead of crotch grabbing, taking naked pictures which they save for later commenting, stripping cancer survivors, terrifying three year old children who are of course packing pistols in their underwear and other outrages commonly committed by the TSA screeners. The private security staff will know that if they pi$$ folks off, they can be fired, and more courteous security staff will replace them.
Free market in action, or, there's always a way around the government thugs and bozos. I'm with Mr. Tyner [who reminds me of a young Jimmy Stewart, by the way] Don't touch my junk either.
P.S. Who's to say that the Government won't decide to institute body searches on high speed rail? They've got to use those deck apes from TSA somewhere.
My brothers and sisters and our spouses try to take a trip with my parents every year or so. The last couple of times my dad, who is now in his 80's, has been completely humiliated by security. He is somewhat frail and has a hard time getting his shoes off etc. while standing in a line. He's a little old school as well and I think we won't be flying anywhere again. That's 14 round trip tickets that won't be bought.
Thanks for the rant platform! Will try not to abuse it.
Back in the 90s, I was living in upstate NY and my father had retired to the South; he got sick frequently, and I had to fly down several times in the latter half of the decade when he was hospitalized. It wasn't too bad at first, but then they started checking driver's licenses and getting intrusive at the check-in counter. I didn't like it, both for the intrusion and the ineffectiveness (proven on 9/11/01). I stopped flying after he died in 1996. I've never regretted it.
They say driving is more dangerous than flying...these days, I have to ask, dangerous to what? The likelihood of accidents is statistically higher for you when you drive somewhere instead of flying there, but it seems to me that the likelihood of a people, conditioned by such measures, to succumb to ever increasing intrusion of the state in all the important areas of their lives puts the entire concept of freedom at risk.
Don't believe me? Watch "Bullitt" (hey, any good excuse will do, right?) Near the end, watch everybody in the airport. True, they're all a bit on the hardened side, as they just walk past that bad guy's body with a glance. But (and this is the important part), they just enter the terminal and go get on the plane and then they fly out, probably the lucky ones gawking for a chance to see Steve McQueen underneath their plane as it taxis (Sigh. Life was rich back then).
Now, take that group of passengers and confront them with what they will face today...just drop them into 2010 from 1968. They. Will. Revolt. There will be nothing left of the screening infrastructure in that airport, or else the airlines will have a bunch of canceled tickets on their hands and empty flights in the sky.
Had the 9/11 hijackers tried their stuff with this set of passengers, well, frankly, it well could have turned out the same, although people hadn't yet received the behavioral conditioning that would set in during the 70s hijacking era (a mindset that played right into the bad guys' hands in September 2001, but only until the passengers understood what was planned to happen next), and it's not impossible that people would have fought back from the get-go, even before they learned what the hijackers' bigger plan was.
We don't know for sure what these 1968 "Bullitt" types of passengers would have done, but the point is this: the hijackers wouldn't have known for sure, either. It would be a big gamble for them, and they quite likely might have decided not to take the risk, and to skip the whole "hijack" part and move straight on to where they're at today: attempting to FedEx bombs hidden in print cartridges, etc.
By the way, it's instructive to study just how close that print cartridge bomb plot came to succeeding. The plane had been thoroughly examined (and so had the cartridge) by British security, and it had been cleared to head out to the US; only a last minute call from (Yemen? Italy? can't remember now) stopped it. I get the impression the tip came from people, and that's how it was foiled...not by our technology. That's pretty much how it will always be foiled, and the rest basically is just window-dressing.
All this detail didn't come back to me in the late '90s when I made the decision to never fly again, but I certainly got the general principle of the thing, and a decade and a half later, it's holding up quite well, unfortunately.
Nowadays, it's all degrees...how much security do you want?
No. For me, what's important is how much freedom (from intrusion, from self-accusation, and all that other silly Bill of Rights/Constitution stuff) I want to give up.
That's more important than flying (which hasn't been around commercially for even a century yet and is hardly the necessity we have come think it is). This is about freedom, not "security," and everybody has to make their choice and stand by it.
Thanks again, and sorry for the length.
Security methods that search every piece of hay in order to prevent that needle in the stack are bound for failure. That they are personally intrusive, constitutionally questionable, and performed by the security equivalent of the McD's fries guy will just push the issue to the surface faster.
What we have to wrap our heads around is that we need to perform professional profiling of passengers, so that we are using the equivalent of a magnet on that haystack in order to detect the needles. Those are the folks that need the extra attention by TSA.
Oh, and until that happens, there should be no exceptions for going through a security checkpoint. Not even for TSA agents coming through on the next shift. Or Congresspeople pretending to be common folk by flying commercial.
ruralcounsel ... you say that we need to perform professional profiling of passengers, so that we don't waste precious time [precious to the passengers as well as the screeners] screening little screaming girls in pink dresses who definitely will not be hiding guns or C-4 in their underwear, elderly Nuns, trembling little old ladies in tennis shoes, and other obvious non-candidates for 'terrorist of the year.' Of course we do.
We have allowed the moonbat liberal section of our population to call us racists if we point out that few if any white folks have been accused of terrorism. They also say that no one should be exempt from suspicion. Come on now. How many old ladies have been convicted of terrorism? How many scared little boys? How many wheel-chair bound passengers? Give us a break here. Because profiling has become verboten, thanks to Mr. Mineta, who still resents that his parents were interned during the Second World War because they were Japanese, and is therefore going to extract his pound of flesh from today's innocent travelers, we are forbidden to use good judgment and common sense in eliminating certain categories of passengers from most of the Naked Picture Scans and the personal Groping attacks.
Profiling, as such, is hardwired into every mammal on this planet. Not just human beings. It's the way one stays alive in a cruel world. If the bunny bopping down the bunny trail sees a big cougar coming toward him, he gets the heck out of the way. Otherwise he's lunch. That's not racial prejudice. That's sensible precaution. If a woman sees a large thug of any color coming toward her in the parking lot, she hides or runs to her car and gets in and roars away. You can call that racial profiling if you're a silly Democrat. I call it good sense. And we'd better start training our airport screeners in doing profiling the right way, instead of humiliating the paying customers with ever more insulting requirements, or the number of passengers will continue to decrease, and the Obama Administration will have destroyed one more once profitable segment of the economy.
Good work, Mr. President. Hmmm. Let's see ... first they came for the auto industry, but I was not an auto company exec, so I didn't protest; then they came for the oil drilling industry in the Gulf, but I was not an oil company exec, so I didn't protest as the fishing industry and the underwater drilling industry came to a halt; then they came for the country's healthcare industry [which was in pretty fair shape until they got their busy little paws on it] and they semi-destroyed it, but I was not a doctor, so I didn't protest; now they're coming after the airline industry and they're going to destroy it too. What famous quotation does this remind you of, the last line of which is "then they came for me, and there was no one left to fight for me." Some German pastor in the Second World War, wasn't it?
I have been flying about once a week for the past few months as part of my job with the airline industry. I get regular background checks, so I keep my nose very clean.
I spend a lot of time going through security points that the public isn't allowed through and I can say that the next air terrorist attack will not come through passenger screening.
Even though I'm more of a certified good-guy than the illegal aliens and the felons that the TSA hires, I'm subjected to the same presumption of guilt as everyone else. I understand the need for security...correction..I understand the need for good security. I see pointless security procedures at every airport that I spend time in the baggage areas.
I don't go through any of these body scanners, and I get the TSA grope each time I'm forced to go through a "mandatory" check line.
These scanners have been shown to be ineffective and a potential health hazard. It's shown that there is collusion between the manufactures and ex-TSA personnel profiting from the installment of these scanners.
I don't want to be scanned and I don't want you to be scanned in these white (or beige) elephants gifts from the TSA for privacy and health reasons.
We expect a machine to light up and tell our minimally paid, minimally trained, and maximum egoed TSA rent-a-cops who is a terrorist and who isn't? Wasn't that the exact problem with Electronic Intel vs. Human Intel a decade ago?
Yes the US is a factor larger than the Israeli system, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't attempt it here. Try it with a few airports and grow from there.
There are a few other security models that are available, but are not Politically Correct, so they won't even be discussed.