“Opinion: Getting intimate with body scanners”
As published in The Daily Titan, December 2010.
Exactly 21 days from now, I will embark on an adventure to Iceland. The adventure lays not only in the destination itself, but also at the Los Angeles International Airport with the full-body scanners the Transportation Security Administration has rolled out in the last few months.
According to a recent poll by Zogby International 61 percent of travelers recently surveyed oppose the new full-body scans and modified TSA pat downs. I’m of the minority who is willing to try out the full-body scan.
The people who oppose these new security methods, such as the followers of the organized “National Opt-Out Day” Nov. 24 who opted out of the full-body scans, seem like nothing but complainers to me. The new TSA procedures are yet another example of the costs Americans must pay to protect — ourselves and one another.
With transportation security and airplane terrorists battling head-on, one of them had to increase their technology and efficiency. I don’t know about you 61 percent, but I would rather my own security increase, thank you.
Whenever these types of procedures change, there will always be a backlash. The thing is, the amount of air travelers per year has gone down steadily since 2007, the lowest it has been in years, according to the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
“The backlash to the latest procedures may be partly a result of the public not seeing an immediate need for them,” says homeland security analyst Stephen Flynn to USA Today. That makes sense, because the school life expectancy for the average American is only until 16 years old, according to the CIA World Factbook. They can’t help it; they probably just never learned better.
The pat down takes two to three minutes, as opposed to about 20 seconds per person with the scanner, Sari Koshetz, a national spokeswoman for the TSA, told the Los Angeles Times.
If it only takes 20 seconds, who wouldn’t want to take that route? Many people are concerned with the invasion of privacy that either option requires. According to the TSA, the scanner does not reveal a person’s face, only what they look like beneath their clothing. Anonymity remains as the image is shown on a screen in a back room where security ensures that there are no concealed weapons. The image cannot be stored or transferred and is immediately deleted after the person is deemed safe.
With long and coiling airport security lines, it is highly unlikely that the security officer is a pervert who enjoys sitting in a dark, dank room by himself, aroused by the sight of your naked body. Don’t flatter yourself. He or she is doing his or her job.
Why some people prefer the in-depth pat-down where, as The Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg phrases it, the security officers pat down people all the way up their thighs until they reach “resistance”, or one’s crotch, is beyond me. Why they claim that this method is less intrusive, I will never understand.
This contrasts the full-body scan which, according to the TSA, is “advanced imaging technology (which) safely screens passengers for metallic and nonmetallic threats including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing without physical contact to help TSA keep the traveling public safe.”
In addition, the TSA offers many workarounds for those who are extremely uncomfortable with either of these methods for reasons including religion, pregnancy, etc. Security officers are willing to do pat-downs in private rooms or with witnesses to ensure that no one is being violated.
As a whole, the people who complain about the new restrictions likely do not consider the efficiency these new full-body scanners provide. They are safe. They are fast. They are anonymous (unless there is a discrepancy).
Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole even told USA Today that the scanners and new pat-downs already had found “dozens and dozens of artfully concealed items.”
Not only are these procedures fast, safe, and anonymous, but they are also extremely effective.
The short attention spans of the average modern American citizen may be to blame for those complaining about the procedures. Perhaps they have forgotten all of the terrorist attacks within our borders and out, through air travel. Not just September 11th, but also a four-year span from 1985-1989 where many overseas occurred, as was artfully explained by Salon writer Patrick Smith.
Regardless, less than four weeks from now, I will confidently make my way through LAX, carry-on in hand, ready to test out new technology for the sake of my country’s security, and for the sake of my own time saved. Sure, full-body scanners, let’s go to second base together.