We should not have to be reminded about 9/11 or the foiled London Terror plot to realize that our security should come above and beyond anything else. We are inconvenienced at the airport, yet it is a very little thing considering we are alive to be inconvenienced. We have terrorists that use our planes as missles after hi jacking them. We have them using liquids to assemble bombs that will bring our planes down. There is evil in this world and we should be using every tool in our power.
The newest tool in our arsenal is the TSA's X-ray screening.
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.
Now, on balance and to put some perspective to this issue, we undress for our doctors, without a device to blur body parts, we undress to try on new clothes, some of us wear very revealing bikinis at the beach or pool, yet the civil liberties union is trying to prevent us from securing our airports because we may have to compromise on a little privacy??? Are you kidding me????
Lets measure the two shall we... a little privacy on one side... and staying alive on the other... it shouldn't even be a question.
In a perfect world we wouldn't need measures such as this, but does anyone really believe we live in a perfect world? If so, contact me, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you.
Captain's Quarters asks a very good question, if we have had the capabilities for four years, why haven't we done this yet? Privacy issues.
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.
Well said. Lets get real folks, we live in a post 9/11 world and we must stop closing our eyes and trying to convince ourselves that 9/11 was an abberation, the London Terror Plot should have proved that beyond argument.
I travel quite a bit for my job, there have been times I have been in 8-10 different cities and states with a two to three week period, so I fully understand how the airpor security systems work and they are not able to catch homemade weapons. Knowing I am safe when I get on a plane overrides any privacy concern I could imagine.
ACLU and any and all liberty unions should be more concerned about peoples lives than about their privacy in this instance.
Blue Crab Boulevard is asking if this is a joke. If it weren't so pathetic I would laugh too.
Just to show one more example of how our present security is a dismal failure, take a look at this on 2002, this from 2003, this in 2004, this in 2005. Just a small example of the many failures across the world.
From the 2002 piece:
Checkpoint screeners at 32 of the nation's largest airports failed to detect fake weapons — guns, dynamite or bombs — in almost a quarter of undercover tests by the Transportation Security Administration last month, documents obtained by USA TODAY show.
From the 2003 piece:
Random audits performed in 2003 found weapons still slipping by undetected. In response, Florida Representative John Mica requested an effectiveness comparison between federal and private screeners. The continued presence of this flaw proves federal monitors alone cannot guarantee a foolproof system. Airports will have the option in late 2004 to once again hire private security firms.
From the 2004 piece:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General and the Congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) have both submitted reports on the competence of airport passenger and baggage screeners, and found, not surprisingly, that they are no more effective today than they were before the security frenzy brought about by the 11 September atrocities.
Another 2004 article:
In Seattle, airlines were caught loading unscreened luggage onto planes. In Los Angeles, a supervisor waved around a passenger's gun, sending one screener running for cover. And in Houston, one lapse so alarmed screeners they complained to Congress.
Four months ago, at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport, a conveyor belt jammed at 9 a.m. For 90 minutes, hundreds of bags piled up while planes waited to leave. In passenger concourses above, TV newscasts reported on the terrorist railway bombings in Madrid the day before.
TSA managers huddled to discuss the expected deluge of luggage once the belt was fixed.
Their solution? Examine what bags you can, the managers told screeners, and send the rest through — unscreened.
From the 2005 piece:
Screeners are being unfairly blamed for failures to detect weapons and explosives at airport security checkpoints, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said.
So-called human failures often were the result of government watchdogs intentionally loading the bags a certain way into the machines to exploit the equipment's limitations, TSA Administrator David Stone said Saturday during a visit to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
''It really is unfortunate that people take the results and blame the screeners,'' Stone said. Stone said the findings illustrate the need for a new type of machine that can look at the insides of a bag from multiple angles.
Improving the ability of screeners to find dangerous items has been the goal since the government took over the task at about 450 airports in early 2002 and hired more than 45,000 workers.
The Homeland Security Department's acting inspector general, Richard Skinner, issued a report last month that said the screeners' performance hadn't improved since the previous audit - which indicated that screeners hadn't improved since before the 2001 terrorist attacks.
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?
We should be using any and all tools available to us and continue to work on even better devices. We better wake up, because the next attack as the london plot showed us clearly, will be even worse that 9/11/2001.