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Laurion

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By the way TSA… [Nov. 17th, 2010|01:20 pm]
Laurion

Spending millions of dollars to treat every one of the over 2 million people that fly in the US, including pilots and babies, as potential terrorists? Totally means that the terrorists have won. They’ve succeeded in turning American against American, so that we now treat each other as presumed criminals on a regular basis. Fear now rules over liberty. We now abuse our airline passengers more than any other country, including places like China that are notorious for their human rights abuses. The only real gains in this maneuver are to the companies that sell this equipment, and to those people who like seeing the US froth at the mouth with paranoia. I repeat: the terrorists have won.

I am fortunate enough that most of my family lives within easy driving distance, and I don’t need to fly that often. Others are not so lucky. But I did get to experience the new procedures first hand recently as we flew to Hawaii for 2 weeks. It is incredibly impractical to get to Hawaii through any other travel method. Logan has the new body scanners. I got to go through one. And because I was still wearing a pewter pendant necklace, they decided to go ahead and give me a pat-down too. I was annoyed, I was inconvenienced, I was mildly embarrassed. But most of all, I felt sorry for the poor sods who are required to administer these treatments, who are forced to look at things they don’t want to see every day – people they never want to see naked, including toddlers (does taking their image count as child pornography?), medical implants, unfortunate deformities, broken bones, etc. on a daily basis. I hope the TSA has hired counselors, and requires every screener to take the same oath of confidentiality that doctors do.

Freedoms and liberties mean being exposed to a certain amount of risk. I get that. I also understand that one of the things the government does for us is to help minimize those risks. But there’s a law of diminishing returns here, and I, for one, am ready to experience some personal risk in exchange for greater freedom.

UPDATES:

1) I will be posting copies of this to my elected representatives.

2) Part of this is inspired by the reporting and research done by Jeffrey Goldberg over at the Atlantic. I should acknowledge him as one of the tipping forces behind me speaking out, and one of those upon whom I’ve built some of my opinions. Here is a clip of him on the Colbert Report, rather a good bit. I wrote this post before seeing this clip, so it is interesting to see him also give a ‘terrorists have won’ perspective. Jeffrey has called for everyone traveling on the day before Thanksgiving to ‘Opt-Out’ (use that phrase specifically) of the scans and to submit to pat-downs, as a form of protest, tying up TSA resources on a massive scale. I appreciate what he is trying to do, but I am ambivalent about it. Choose for yourself what action to take.

3) Also, here is an article from Gizmodo on body scans that have already been leaked. I’ve not checked to see if I am one of them.

4) Some scanners are using radio waves (millimeter wave) . Some are using backscatter X-rays, and these could pose a health risk. Are the TSA and the FDA taking this into account? According to this Ars Technica article, so far the data has been brushed aside.

5) Toddlers are being put through scanners and subjected to pat-downs.

6) The Pilot’s Union is asking all pilots to reject scanning. Pilots are already exposed to large amounts of radiation as a normal part of their job (flying above some of the protective layers of the atmosphere). Further, as highlighted in the above Colbert video clip, we trust them to fly the planes, we can’t trust them with a pocketknife?

7) The experiences of one individual who refused both the imaging scan and the pat-down, but was willing to go through the still-in-use metal detector, and was in all other respects polite and compliant.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

linkReply

Comments:
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-17 10:11 pm (UTC)
Done. I have written them through their forms, including links to my original blog posting and this LJ repost (so they can read comments), and further including the complete text with updates below my letter so they need not even click a link to get the bulk of the mater.
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[User Picture]From: benndragon
2010-11-17 06:08 pm (UTC)
Just as a note, they're not porno-tube-or-grope-check screening children under 12. So, no toddlers, but barely pubescent children are A-OK!
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[User Picture]From: bluestocking
2010-11-17 06:58 pm (UTC)
I read an article yesterday where they grope-checked a passenger's 3-year old daughter.

So, I don't know if that's entirely true.
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[User Picture]From: benndragon
2010-11-17 07:18 pm (UTC)
The sad part is, I don't know if I was misinformed, or if the TSA agent doing that grope-check was.
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[User Picture]From: bluestocking
2010-11-17 07:52 pm (UTC)
I don't know either, really.

I just went hunting for more reports, and found a few, but TSA training seems to be inconsistent.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-17 10:12 pm (UTC)
See my updates. Amongst others, they tried to scan a 3 year old. When she cried and balked, they gave her a pat-down.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-11-17 06:51 pm (UTC)
I have zero pity for TSA workers: ZERO. IMHO, those who have a problem with it should resign immediately. Yes, it may mean personal poverty. Yes it probably means extended unemployment. However, there are greater things at stake here than a few thousand more people on the breadline. If more TSA folks 'fell on their swords' and resigned (or even went on strike), the administration would change the policy a whole lot faster than the current political bickering back and forth. I personally would rather be unemployed (or even flip frozen cow-parts for a living) than be employed by the TSA, but I understand that's just my opinion and it's not for everyone. For those who choose TSA employement over that, they get NONE of my pity, ALL of my derision, and nothing but the back of my hand should they ask for anything more. Fuck those unamerican bastards.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-17 10:17 pm (UTC)
Truthfully, for all we know, there have been resignations and walkouts. We just haven't heard about them.
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[User Picture]From: mr_teem
2010-11-17 10:05 pm (UTC)
How kind of you to feel sorry for the poor TSA screeners. (eyeroll)
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-17 10:16 pm (UTC)
I do. With unemployment already up near 10% I can't fault them for taking a solid paying job with benefits. I don't blame them for the policies and procedures handed down by their DHS overlords, er... superiors. No more than I hold individual soldiers responsible for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Yes, each individual TSA screener does have the ability to quit, and so they are not entirely immune from my anger and outcry, but my personal experience was that by and large they were as displeased with the whole process as well. There may be certain individual screeners who enjoy the power it gives them, or who may look forward to the opportunity to become intimate with passengers, but I'll not give in to believing that simply taking the job makes you an enemy combatant.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-11-18 04:25 am (UTC)

Yeah, I'll bet they felt real sorry for the Nazi foot-soldiers too. Poor bastards, just following orders. Never had the chance to speak up, resign, or even have the critical thought processes to think "Gee, maybe what I'm being asked to do by 'my superiors' just isn't right"...
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-18 04:56 am (UTC)
Hello Mr., Ms., Mrs., or other Anonymous. While I appreciate your sentiment, please note that I did not exclude individuals from my sentiments, but did exclude the individual low level screeners from the decision to create and implement such procedures. I do not excuse them entirely for executing them, but do comprehend the more complex position they are in. And again, I will not fall into the trap of vilifying them merely for holding the job they hold and carrying out their assigned duties. Such hyperbolic reaction limits productive discussion. And as you yourself have implied the useless nature of rhetoric throwing the TSA in with the Nazi forces, I have to wonder why you brought it up.

Edited at 2010-11-18 04:58 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: hungrytiger
2010-11-18 04:43 pm (UTC)
I keep hearing the argument that the TSA can't use the Israeli-style of screening, as that only works because Israel is about the size and population of New Jersey. To which I think, ok, so why can't we try it for New Jersey and see if it works there.

And FYI, I flew from Boston to and from D.C. three weeks ago and wasn't made to go through a body scan or pat-down (which were supposedly already in place in Boston), so as there's no uniformity in this process already, why not try out alternative systems in other airports.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-18 05:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know. So far less than 100 airports have them, mostly the major ones. I know that Manchester, NH is still just X-Ray machines at the moment. But that isn't the point. Evading the topic doesn't change anything, it just gives everyone time to accept it as the new Normal while they spend enough taxpayer money to install the equipment everywhere. I'd rather protest before it gets to that point.
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[User Picture]From: hungrytiger
2010-11-18 05:21 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I agree with you but my point was badly phrased. Pronoun trouble.

I was trying to say that _the TSA_ should test out new alternative measures in smaller airports, not that we should go to smaller airports to avoid the scanners and pat-downs.

The other point was that even airports that have them (like Logan and Regan National), don't have them everywhere so no only is this a stupid policy, it's badly enforced as well.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2010-11-18 05:51 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. Very true. even at airports that have them they don't yet have enough to screen everyone, and security frequently has scanner lines and metal detector liens right next to each other. Selection for scanning seems to be random, or every other person, or whoever the screeners feel like calling on (potential abuse there!), and in general serve to only make the whole system even more ridiculous, as you point out.
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[User Picture]From: hungrytiger
2010-11-18 05:25 pm (UTC)
And here's another small piece on the topic I liked from Wired's Geek Dad blog. It focuses on issues parents should consider before taking kids to the airport.

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2010/11/our-take-on-the-new-tsa-security-measures/#more-47974
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