What would you give up to spare this unfortunate collision of knuckles and nose? A dollar? A twenty? Would you invest in a face mask, helmet and Kevlar vest? Would you stay at home and never come out? Would you give a stranger naked pictures of yourself in exchange for a vague promise of protection? Actually I’m guessing you probably would just tell me to f-off, and/or punch me in the face depending on how hard core you were.
But, what if my name was Osama-Omari-Middle Eastern-Dark-Skinned-Man-with-a-Turban?
And what if Fox, CSPAN and Obama said that I was going to kill you, your family, and any cute floppy-eared puppies in the vicinity of your house? What would you give up then to spare this unfortunate collision of jet-liner with jenny & rover? It’s likely you would go all out, screw a $20, you’d give $2,000. Hell, you’d probably give naked pictures of yourself to all sorts of strangers in return for a vague promise of protection.
Actually, it seems that you already are! Full body scanners, all the rage of the day, are taking off like co-workers on a Friday. Basically, if a low-income home owner or Mexican hasn’t already caused you to lose your job and you have some money to play with, you should invest in Rapiscan- one of two federally approved manufactures of full body scanners in the USA .
( I would give you their stock symbol, but Google finance says that’s private. ERRrr? )
So let’s cut the chase and get to the point here. Basically some guy from Nigeria, whose parents forewarned the U.S. Government about his diabolic intentions, got on a plane and tried to blow up his underwear. The United State’s response? Obama made up a list of 14 “naughty countries” including the major island-nation of Cuba, USA-run Iraq, and reigning nuclear heavy weight Algeria; from now on, anyone flying to the USA from these terroristic nations will have to go through additional screening mechanisms.
In addition, with absolutely, positively no pressure from the United States government or corporate interests, several European nations are stepping up their use of full body scanners on passengers planning to fly to the United States from terror hotspots like Italy, Britain, and the notorious Netherlands.
(Some countries though are dragging their feet however, with Germany stating that before they use such scanners they want the ridiculous assurances that: “they increase security, that they are not a health hazard, and that the scans do to not harm the individuals’s rights)
So what’s the problem with these scanners? Well honestly it’s not that big of a deal, but let’s look at a few:
1) Some guy takes a picture of you. Naked.
While it’s true that if you are uncomfortable with this technology you can request TSA personnel to personally grope you instead, there’s no guarantee this user-friendly alternative will always be an option.
You might say big deal, sucks to fly to the United States from somewhere else, but the fact is, these scanners have been tested in the US since 2003 and are already operational in 40 major US airports including: Dallas, Baltimore, Denver, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix San Francisco and Richmond.
2) There is no way to guarantee a passenger’s privacy. Officials say that personnel reviewing the Passengers Gone Wild! images sit in a remote room, will not see a distinguishable face and cannot save or print the images. Sounds great. Then why do I know what Susan Hallowell looks like naked? And how come this guy’s baby maker is on full display?
I highly doubt that Beyonce or President Obama (or me) are going to go through these scanners and the image won’t turn up somewhere.
3) How about this one: are we going to take naked scans of kids? 10 year old Johnny? 6 year old Susie? Don’t think so? Wait till we get child bombers. Or what about the Muslim women who don’t even reveal their face in public? Are we going to tell them if they want to come to the US we have to check out their goods first? That’s going to make us a lot of Middle-Eastern friends.
4) Or how about health? Don’t the X-ray and MRI technicians always slap a lead vest on you and hide in the next room when they take scans? These airport scanners are full body and last at least 15 seconds. Free cancer with every 1,000 frequent flier miles!
5) Here’s another problem- follow the money. The former head of Homeland Security who has been pushing the government to purchase more of these scanners has just admitted that he has a consulting relationship with a full body scanner manufacturer. I’m willing to bet he’s not the only politician, past or present, that stands to gain from this lucrative business- each of these machines are retailing at over $170k, and the TSA just ordered 150 of them with plans to buy another 300.
Okay, so if you’ve stuck with me this long, now I get to the real issues, the aforementioned issues are really just sensationalistic fluff for those of you who saw the word “naked” on facebook and clicked on over. The real problems are the deeper currents of growing government intrusion in our lives in the name of “security”.
Throughout history, the rights of people in this nation have been compromised for the “safety of the nation”. It seems to me that this line of reasoning got lots of nice Japanese folks kidnapped and locked up on the west coast during WWII.
It Seems to me that this got us a 1,000 page Patriot Act passed in the middle of the night after 9/11. And it seems now that its setting us on the proverbial and terribly cliché “slippery slope” of absolute governmental control over our selves. Nothing is more fundamental than our bodies. Without a right to the autonomy of our own body all other struggles are futile.
Today a guy sticks a bomb in his underwear and we wind up with naked imagery as a solution. This will be about as effectual as building a picket fence with Mexico to keep out immigrants. Know why? Because tomorrow some misguided soul is going to stick a bomb up their rectum- out of the reach of a body scanner. Then what? Full cavity searches for all passengers, spread your leg’s please mam? Or some jackoff is going to swallow a chemical compound and then we are all going to have to purge in a personal bucket we can reclaim at the security clearance window, two heaves please sir?
Sure it is easy to sit in my cozy terror-free apartment enjoying a slice of sweet potato pie and criticize those who would sacrifice our liberties in the name of our safety
After all I wasn’t on Flights 11, 175, 77, or 93 in 2001, and I wasn’t on Flight 253 this past Christmas—but it is easier still to change the channel, to turn off the radio, to close the webpage when I come upon a thorny issue that’s not easily reduced to black and white. So perched up here on my soapbox, do I have some grand plan for national security? No, (actually I do) but what I do know is that when we accept rapid national adoption of reactionary policies that infringe upon our liberty in order to negate undefinable threats, we do ourselves a disservice as human beings and as thoughtful engaged citizens.
People are quick to jump on the bandwagon decrying how our government failed to protect us and let a terrorist slip through their fingers. I disagree. It is no more reasonable for us to believe the government can ensure 100% exclusion of foreigners who would do as harm, than it was for China to believe the Great Wall was going to keep all the Mongols out.
I will however, jump on the bandwagon of people who fault our government for not doing more to proactively reach out to the world in a positive way. Here’s one idea- establish a Department of Peace– the legislation has been raised in Congress over 100 times since 1935- including the last 8 consecutive years (yeah Kucinich!) .
This singular act would do more for our security than 1,000 naked pictures ever could
You know what f- -k, it, I’m being too idealistic. For our children’s future, let’s all just get anal probes and start a war with Yemen.