It never ceases to amaze me exactly what it takes to make the American people rise up. Turns out that after all of these years of hyper airport security mania not phasing us, it’s the thought of having to choose between being seen naked by the new radiating scanners or having our privates groped that is greatly pissing us off. I wrote about it yesterday here. Today the NYT reports that we are seriously scaring the crap out of TSA and oh yeah, possibly helping the terrorists with all our whining. John S. Pistole (great name, just saying), the new head of TSA is,
worried about the Internet-based campaign encouraging fliers who opposed the new machines to observe a “national opt-out day” on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. Any passenger can opt out of a scan that creates an image of the naked body and choose a full-body pat down instead. Only a tiny percentage of passengers now do, the T.S.A. says. But if enough people choose to do so on one of the busiest travel days of the year, checkpoints could become crowded and disorderly.
As any security expert knows, a chaotic checkpoint is a security problem. “If terrorists can anticipate that, it gives them an opportunity” to try to evade various layers of security by creating an incident for diversion, Mr. Pistole said.
But the part I absolutely like best is this:
Do the imagers, for example, detect sanitary napkins? Yes. Does that then necessitate a pat-down? The T.S.A. couldn’t say. Screeners, the T.S.A. has said, are expected to exercise some discretion.
Discretion?? They are leaving this up to screeners so young they still have pimples or that bear a resemblance to your creepy uncle who everyone avoids? And what about tampons? They look kind of like sticks of dynamite. Are they going to ask us to pull them out and show them just to be sure?
How about an unequivocal statement saying that sanitary napkins and pads will absolutely not trigger additional screening? In the meantime, if you do happen to get your period, perhaps you can sweetly ask the TSA personnel if they would like you to remove your pad or tampon and put it on the conveyor belt.
For this and so many other reasons, support National Opt Out Day.
Addenda: The Louisville Courier Journal recently ran a story about the loss of funding for a badly needed and very successful domestic violence advocacy program. For the cost of one of these scanners, the funding could be restored, thus providing a service with a proven track record for making us safer. Think about it.
Addenda 2: Others have pointed out that if someone patted you down on a street corner the way TSA is allowed to do, it would be called sexual assault. Meanwhile at a prison in Afghanistan, the U.S. is ‘rehabilitating’ members of the Taliban by teaching them to bake bread and plant sunflowers.
Addenda 3: From Karl Zeeuw on CommonDreams:
Because as we all know, sexual predation is about personal power. If that predation is institutionalized, as it is now in our airports, it’s about social power, political power, and – most importantly – economic power…
…”You should never have to explain to your children, ‘Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee,'” say the organizers of National Opt Out Day – Nov. 24, 2010 – when they’re urging all U.S. air travelers to refuse to be body-scanned.
What he said.
Addenda 4: As Stephen Colbert hilariously points out, if TSA selects you for “enhanced” screening, you can opt out of the scanner and ask for a pat-down, but if you opt out of both, you can’t just leave the airport, according to TSA you may be subject to a $10,000 fine and jail time. Not so funny.