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We have long since understood that heightened security is a requirement in the post-9/11 world. What we want, however, is effective security, especially at airports, not just silly procedures that do nothing to reveal real threats. Instead of time-consuming and random patdowns, we would want something more efficient that will check everyone for contraband in an efficient manner. According to USA Today, we have had this capability for almost four years now, but have not deployed it because of privacy concerns:
The federal government plans this month to launch the nation's first airport screening system that takes potentially revealing X-ray photos of travelers in an effort to find bombs and other weapons.
Transportation Security Administration screeners at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will test a "backscatter" machine that could vastly improve weapons detection but has been labeled a "virtual strip search" by the American Civil Liberties Union. Backscatter can show clear images of nude bodies.
At Phoenix and another yet-to-be-decided test airport, the machines will blur or shade images to obscure body parts and medical devices. The TSA also will look at using the machines in subways.
"It's time to get them out and get feedback from [screeners] and the traveling public," said Randy Null, TSA assistant administrator. The TSA has been considering the machines since 2002 while struggling with privacy issues.
The backscatter systems can detect weapons that would not set off the metal detectors in use today. Ceramic knives and explosive materials can be hidden under clothing and brought undetected onto airplanes, and would only be caught if the TSA suspected the individual enough to pat them down. Rather than wait for this opening to get exploited by terrorists, we should have been working to provide better and more comprehensive security checks.
In fact, we have them, but we seem to be more concerned that the outline of our bodies will be visible on a security monitor than we are about terrorist attacks. In less critical circumstances this would be funny, but it's no laughing matter for a nation at war. The ACLU, predictably, has led the charge against backscatter systems claiming that they violate the privacy of travelers. They get hysterical about the propogation of backscatter images on the Internet, raising the spectre of unsuspecting travelers appearing on porn sites.
This is ridiculous. The images might have titillation value to anyone who for some reason can't access the Victoria's Secret catalog, but that's about it. They aren't recognizable as individuals, and the only image one can see is a ghostly outline that can be recognized as a male or female, but that's about all the definition of soft tissue that one can get. (If CQ readers want an idea what one can see, this site has a couple of examples.) The notion that these will become the prurient hit of the Internet in an age of Britney Spears crotch-flashing and the wide variety of much more well-defined porn is simply hilarious.
People complain that the government has not asked us to sacrifice much for the war effort, and so have not built wartime morale in the populace. Maybe that's because when the government does ask us to support common-sense solutions to provide more complete security, we start obsessing about becoming unwilling porn stars. Let's not wait until the next disaster to adopt the security processes that could save lives for a minimal amount of effort on our part as individuals.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Protecting Ourselves Should Come First from Wake up America
Are we beginning to see that what we are doing isn't working? Does anyone really believe that the terrorists will not try to use our planes again, after such a "success" in their eyes with 9/11? Is anyone really that naive? [Read More]
Tracked on December 1, 2006 11:40 AM
» Friday Free For All from Stop The ACLU
Thank God its Friday! Hope everyone has a great weekend! Here are a few links I felt like sharing. Wild Bill was so inspired by the Young Conservatives of Texas that he has created his own ACLU Nativity. Keith Ellison will not be swearing in to Con... [Read More]
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» Why Haven't We Done This Yet? from Bill's Bites
Why Haven't We Done This Yet? Ed Morrissey We have long since understood that heightened security is a requirement in the post-9/11 world. What we want, however, is effective security, especially at airports, not just silly procedures that do nothing [Read More]
Tracked on December 2, 2006 2:11 AM
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