Originally published as a note on my Facebook page Nov 19, 2010
Here are my questions for anyone who believes the new scanners and pat down procedures are justified because they make flying safer:
Q: Would you rather be blown up by a bomb around a terrorist's waist, or a bomb up his a$$?
I know it's a little crude, but it's intended to be shocking. The new scanners won't detect bombs or other items inside the body, won't detect powders, and according to a GAO report, probably would not have detected the "underwear" bomb.
Q: Aren't there better scanners that can detect those?
A: Yes, they're called "trace detectors" or "sniffers", and they don't require x-raying you or taking naked images of you for them to work. They also don't require anyone touching you. We've been using them in a limited capacity for years, so why should we use expensive and invasive new scanners that won't work as well?
Here's an Interesting interview with a former TSA/FAA inspector:
Interviewer: "Are people in airports that don't have the new AIT scanners less safe?"
She also stated that the TSA plans to make the full-body scanners the primary screening method, replacing the metal detectors. So, while right now, few people will go through the scanner, eventually, they intend to make everyone go through.
Bottom line, the new "porno scanners" and "en-hands-ed feel-up" procedures are security theater, they give the illusion of better security, but they do not improve safety at all. At the same time, they're grossly invasive and therefore, violate your 4th Amendment rights agains "unreasonable" searches of your person.
No amount of security can keep all dangerous items off an aircraft. A dedicated attacker will find a way, even if everyone were submitted to strip searches, body cavity searches, x-rays, explosive sniffers, and any other form of "security" you can dream up.
You can not prevent all attacks on board, much less all the external attacks (LAWS rocket, SAM, etc.) or simply attacking the terminal before going though security.
When you finally realize that it's impossible to have complete "safety and security", then the only conclusion left is that at some point there is "enough safety and security", and each increase comes at a loss of privacy and liberty.
Air travel is safer than any other form of travel. The risk of dying in a terrorist attack is lower than the risk of dying from mechanical failure, human error, or weather. The risk is already so low that it can not be significantly improved by any means.
Life has risks. Travel has risks. Eating has risks. To believe you can eliminate risk is delusional, all you can do is reduce it.
The airline safety we've had since 9/11 has been sufficient, there have been no successful terrorist attacks on US planes since, and these new scanners and feel-up procedures do not make getting dangerous items onto a plane less likely, just marginally less convenient. Terrorists don't care how convenient it is, they'll still get dangerous items aboard. The new scanners a waste of time and money, and a gross invasion of privacy.
Want to make flying safer? Then, let's focus on things that will actually make flying safer, like scanning 100% of cargo, performing extensive background checks on airport employees, using explosive sniffers (dogs or electronic detectors), and behavioral profiling. None of those require giving up any 4th Amendment rights or invading our privacy, and any of them would actually make it more difficult (but still not impossible) for someone to get dangerous items on a plane.
For information on how to actually improve airport security without unreasonable searches, see:
How to Have Effective Airport Security
For information on the privacy and health concerns of the new scanners and pat down procedures, see:
For information on how to protest the use of the scanners and pat downs see:
Other viewpoints on the new TSA procedures: