As I sat on one of those metal benches, retying my shoes after enduring yet another near-cavity search courtesy the TSA, something both rather obvious and rather sad dawned on me. It is, in fact, the answer to the question that heads this post, and that answer, by the way, is “No.” As a matter of fact, “Hell no.” As I sat there, I contemplated how much more intrusive the searches could get before the public rose up and said, “Enough!” Simultaneously, a conversation I had enjoyed with a fellow traveler as we stood in a very long line at the Monroe County (Rochester) International Airport rolled around in my head.
She had quipped, as we inched closer to our turn in the scanner, “I’m just glad that we haven’t had a bra bomber yet.” We laughed, but it was more out of pain than humor. She and I both knew that we were experiencing a real-life reenactment of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and that things would get worse–likely a lot worse–before they got better. (And that’s making the very large assumption, an assumption I might characterize as a pipe dream, that things will ever get better.)
The Transportation Security Administration has demonstrated over and over again that they cannot be trusted with neither your personal liberty nor with your health. This infographic gives an excellent description of why and how they fail. (Cross-posted at StopAustinScanners.org.)
Regarding the recent TSA flap where “a TSA-critic and blogger named Jonathan Corbett has been making the viral video rounds, supposedly showing how “anyone can get anything past the TSA’s scanners.” The TSA, in addition to apparently warning the media not to cover this story, has also responded on its own blog. The post has an amazing line:
For obvious security reasons, we can’t discuss our technology’s detection capability in detail, however TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior to rolling them out to the entire field. Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs. It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM.
Things that go BOOM. Wow. So… if you are reading the TSA’s own blog out loud at the airport, you are subject to arrest.
The agency that is “tasked” with keeping flights “safe” is warning reporters not to report on scanner failures. You see, if terrorists were to find out these weaknesses it could jeopardize the security of passengers and indeed national security.
“When anti-TSA activist Jonathan Corbett exposed a severe weakness in TSA’s body scanners, one would expect the story to attract a lot of media attention. Apparently TSA is attempting to stop reporters from covering the story. According to Corbett, at least one reporter has been ‘strongly cautioned’ by TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz not to cover the story. If TSA is worried that this is new information they need to suppress to keep it away from terrorists, that horse may have left the barn years ago. Corbett’s demonstration may just be confirmation of a 2010 paper in the Journal of Transportation Security that concluded that ‘an object such as a wire or a boxcutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible’ to X-ray scanners.”
One of the first things that the state eliminates under the guise of national security are freedom of the press and of speech. Good thing that the Internet still manages to remain decentralized and largely uncontrolled (though this is sadly changing as well). Here’s the YouTube video that apparently kicked off recent TSA frenzy.