I normally try to dedicate my blog to purely religious or pschologically-related posts, but like many other Americans, I am incredibly outraged over the naked body scanners the US Transportation & Security Administration (TSA) began implementing last December.
Conveniently, immediately after the Underwear Bomber incident last December, Michael Chertoff (former homeland security secretary, no conflict of interest there of course), now the lobbyist for Rapiscan, manufacturer of the scanners, began loudly peddling the product on all news outlets, declaring the scanners to be the end-all solution to the problem. Of course, it seems doubtful that he’s really interested in doing what’s best for American citizens, as he and many others are making a ton of money from all this – a frustratingly similar pattern to practically everything else going on in this country these days.
The scanners have been intensely criticized by scientists, professors, lawyers, those involved in security operations, and of course, by many every day Americans. The TSA’s response to all of that was to ‘kindly’ provide an opt-out option, which allows the individual to bypass the scanner and be treated instead to an ‘enhanced patdown’. Ooh a patdown – well that doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Wrong. This patdown involves the TSA employee (not a security guard or police officer who has been trained to do routine searches, mind you) reaching INSIDE your clothes and touching you everywhere, private parts included. Women’s chests and both men’s and women’s nether regions are to be squeezed and firmly explored. There have been reports of women being asked to actually raise their shirts and expose their breasts to the public while they are being groped, and others have been asked to raise their skirts over their heads. Some women who have been victims of rape have experienced panic attacks or have outright refused, which has been met with savage responses (laughing, more aggressive groping, and one woman recently was knocked to the ground, dragged away to jail, and forbidden from using the airport).
Do a simple google search and you’ll find numerous other similar stories. TSA agents aren’t properly trained, and apparently aren’t undergoing thorough background checks, as one TSA agent who has recently been accused of sexually assaulting, kidnapping, and stalking a woman, had been previously in jail for sexual assault and stalking – yet he still got a job as a TSA agent… I guess those transferable life skills come in handy at this particular job…
I’m flying in the next few days to visit my family for the holidays, a decision I now intensely regret (I would rather drive the 10 hours to their house than be forced to endure any of this!). I had been vaguely following the story regarding the body scanners previously, but I hadn’t experienced any immediate alarm until just after buying my ticket, when my local airport announced the installation of the body scanners. Great timing. It appears thus far that passengers are being ‘randomly selected’ to go through the body scanners, but from what I’ve read, attractive women, children, and Muslim women are being particularly targeted.
Well. At first I had planned to just wear a hat and a scarf around my neck to avoid any unwanted attention to my headscarf, but it seems that I’ll be just as a likely target without it, being that I’m in my 20s, slim and in good physical shape (as I’m an avid runner). Neither can I wear baggy clothes to diguise my shape, as that will also make me look suspicious. Last night I entertained the thought of just showing up in a black abaya and burka… but in the end, what does it matter? No amount of baggy clothes will prevent the machine from displaying my naked image.
Quite clearly, the promoters of the naked body scanners are trying to force people to give up and resign to going through them in order to avoid the much worse option of sexual assault, but the naked body scanners also pose serious concerns. For one, many scientists are speaking out against the health threat from the large amount of cancer-causing radiation emitted from the scanners (and some have wondered if the TSA isn’t even being truthful about the amount emitted).
Health risk aside, giving minimally trained strangers full view of your naked image is completely against Islamic beliefs – not to mention against Christian and Jewish beliefs as well! Muslim men and women are not allowed to expose themselves to anyone except their spouses, and to medical personnel in cases of absolute necessity. Further, most people, and women in particular, find the thought of the virtual strip search invasive and an affront to their human dignity.
Finally, and the strongest point of all: both the scanners and ‘grope-downs’ are ILLEGAL as per our 4th amendment rights, which state:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and Warrants shall not be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Such extreme searches against everyday American travelers are indeed unreasonable. Old ladies, small children, rape victims – are they really our enemies? Come on. Several lawsuits are being filed now against the TSA – one such example is here:
On top of all that, security experts are also weighing in, stating that the body scanners don’t even work that well anyway (there have been reports of weapon-like objects getting through without detection; further, studies have shown that the scanners “have difficulty differentiating between plastic explosives and human flesh, says a study that appears in the Journal of Transportation Security.”
Some security experts recommend going to the Ben Gurion airport security model, which simply entails behavioral observation (a highly effective and routinely used technique by psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and mental health counselors when assessing clients). Apparently this Israeli airport is also one of the safest in the world, despite being in an obviously dangerous and volatile area. More on this and other experts and organizations weighing in can be found here on Democracy Now (click “Real Video Stream” to view the video of the discussion): http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/19/national_outcry_over_tsa_body_scanners.
The evidence is overwhelmingly against the body scanners. Any rational human being would object to being stripped of their human dignity and basic human rights as given by US law. Further, for those still actively brainwashed to believe that the government only has the best of intentions toward its citizens, and who may readily fall in line like sheep being led to the slaughter all in the name of “security against terrorists”, the scanners, as previously mentioned, don’t do anything to keep us safe. Benjamin Franklin also had something to say to such mindless sheeple: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Don’t give up your rights and liberties. Our government has only big corporate interests in mind, and has little regard for its citizens. Once you give up your rights, you give up your power to fight back against corruption, greed, tyranny, and oppression. Don’t think the US government is an infallible, holy entity eternally protected by God Himself. No, powerful and mighty nations have fallen into corrupted, evil hands countless times in human history. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the US is any exception.
More instances of TSA assault against passengers: