Even before news came about the plot to blow up US-bound cargo jets on Friday, the TSA had announced another security enhancement: a "new hand-sliding technique" when it comes to pat-down searches.
The TSA is smart enough to know that Americans are not yet willing go along with rules mandating all passengers must go through Advanced Image Technology (AIT) screening, but the agency is making it as unpleasant as possible for those "rabble-rousing, unpatriotic instigators" who don’t believe that the Constitution permits a strip search without probable cause or choose to avoid AIT for other reasons.
While travelers like me who won’t submit to AIT screenings have yet been hauled before the HUAC, the cost/benefit analysis of avoiding this technology will now need to be re-evaluated.
In typical TSA fashion, we don’t know what the new pat-down procedures are. For national security reasons, they can’t be divulged. After all, we wouldn’t want the terrorists to know if the TSOs are going to use the back or the front of their hands to check private parts…
But we do know, from unnamed sources, that the searches are going to be more obtrusive and perhaps more time consuming than before. We also know that with AIT rapidly proliferating at airports across the country, by the end of next year it is going to be very difficult to find security lanes with the standard metal detectors that strike and acceptable balance between security and civil liberties.
As Lucky correctly put it, "So you have two choices — have them see every part of your body, or have them feel every part of your body."
I’d hardly classify that as a choice. But as I got my pat-down at Boston Logan last week, I watched intently as most passengers happily agreed to undergo AIT screening. An apathetic public can’t be saved. James Madison said, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
Wake-up people. AIT is not keeping us safer.
I was watching 10/28/10 ABC World News interview the TSA and the spokesman said that even this frisk would not have discovered the underwear bomber. This means no one is going to be touching my nether regions. On the other hand women will have their bras patted down. Hmmm.
During Madison’s time people use to let doctors bleed them by cuttings and leeches: we always don’t know what is really good for us even though our ideals are very fine.
It is crazy. No one is thinking. I have a 2kg battery I carry all the time onto flights. In SFO they decided to swab it to see if it was a bomb. I’m thinking, ‘If I were a TSA agent and I thought that this 2kg thing might in any way be a bomb, would I be touching it in any way?’ Pretend I am a bomber and it is a bomb. Now what does TSA do? They are looking for bombs. What do they do if they find one? If I am a suicide bomber, what am I going to do if I think you have discovered my bomb? I’m sorry, TSA is inane.
I personally enjoy the free massage.
We may not all agree on the way the TSA screen passengers. Agree, civil liberties and privacy are always a concern. However I have not read other effective solutions. The AIT appears to be the best solution to date, that will allow screening to flow a queue of people in an orderly and paced manner. It is all our responsible to be safe from the drive to the airport to passing through airport security and on board.
What other solution can we recommend to Homeland Security and the TSA to assure our safety or at least minimize the risk of a disaster. It is “us” not “them,” “we” may be need to try and be more cooperative as a culture…or at least when we travel.
On the other hand there is a choice, fly private aircraft, as there are (currently) less stringent screenings at the FBO’s.
What should be the process for screening thousands of passengers everyday? Lets work with the TSA, as they are “us.” If we all go through the same pain-process, when you look at your fellow passengers in flight, at least you know we did what could reasonably be done to assure our security and safety. That is what it is all about, safety.
Good blog, would like to read “the better way” to secure safe flights for the flying public.
Thank you, Paul
This is such a sad joke. I realize the TSA is trying to make for safer travel, but so many of their methods are completely ineffective.
The passenger screening process is a disgrace, but what I find equally appalling is the baggage screening process. I’ve completely stopped taking out my liquids bag…which hasn’t been found in my last 20+ trips. On multiple occasions I have noticed screeners deep in conversation and completely ignoring the X-ray monitor they are stationed at while the bags go through. It would seem quite easy for them to miss something while their attention is elsewhere.
@Paul: Thanks for your comment–allow me to answer your question.
Indeed, AIT does appear to be the best solution to date, but that doesn’t mean we should spend billions of dollars on it.
Do you remember “explosive trace portals” (ETP) [“puffers”] the “cutting edge” technology in 2005/06 that was supposed to keep us safe from bad people? The TSA spent over $2BN dollars on acquiring these machines WITHOUT EVER TESTING THEM OUTSIDE A CONTROLLED LAB ENVIRONMENT. Turns out the machines didn’t work in practice and were too expensive to repair–they’ve since been removed from all U.S. airports and their utility has been discredited.
Earlier this year the GAO warned Congress that it had the same concerns over the TSA’s AIT program. In fact, it is not at clear whether AIT could pick up the sort of homemade bomb that was brought aboard the NWA AMS-DTW flight last Christmas. That defeats the very purpose of acquiring these machines!
Flying private is not a realistic choice. Come on, that’s like telling people they can always walk instead of fly.
My solution is simple. Stop worrying. A society that is so afraid of its own shadow acts irrationaly and I am perfectly willing to “take my chances” (flying over 200,000 miles year) with a tradeoff between civil liberties and security: a standard metal detector. Shoes stay on, liquids stay in the bag. If you set off the metal detector, then you can choose a patdown or AIT.
But as a primary screening mechanism, I see no place for AIT and would say that even if the recent cargo bombing or Christmas Day bombing had succeeded.
It is my choice to walk, ride or fly. Putting your hands on me is not an option. You don’t make that decision, I do.
@R. Whit: I don’t understand you comment.
I’m with R. Whit. I’m fine with a magnetometer and with explosive sniffing, if it works. I’m even OK with a light pat-down, pointless as I think it is. But what passengers are describing is sexual assault, and if I’m assaulted, I will defend myself.