This is one of the problems I have with the TSA. Their policies across airports are completely inconsistent, and the procedures are not clear until they are being barked at you while trying to get your bags on the conveyor.
Many countries in Europe have videos playing for those waiting in the security line, demonstrating the procedures clearly.
While few would argue that airport security is especially efficient, they do help address a real, albeit rare threat. The backscatter x-ray seems to be the next evolution of the traditional metal detector, and even though both have weaknesses, they do act as a general deterent.
I fly several times a week and have for several years. Over the last year I have gone through these new machines at many major airports along with a few pat-downs and found it to be no major inconvenience. I have also travelled often in South America and have found pat-downs and bag searches almost compulsory when entering public buildings, night clubs, or even after going through multiple metal detectors at airports.
Although many in this thread seem confident that this is merely security theater, to say that the measures are not at all effective or that security theater in itself is not effective seems to be a simplistic judgement. Another viable alternative is to have the full body scans and pat downs be completely random, much like the Mexican red-light-green-light approach in customs. Given the high visibility of aircraft terrorism, responsible and appropriate levels of security should be in place and passenger privacy needs to be balanced with the need to have passengers prove they are not bringing hazerdous materials on board. The media's sensationalism in presenting this development along with typical public overreaction only obscures real systemic analysis.
Defending the right to not be exposed or touched by the government is never an over reaction. The over reaction is fearing that the exact same thing could happen again. It won't. Prior to 9-11, most hijackings were done to get people released from jails. The position of the government was stand aside and let us handle it. This isn't the case anymore. The government's position failed to protect us. So, now, we will take it into our own hands and the government frankly isn't needed to advance protection beyond the level they had before. Scan the passenger names, travel routes, bomb sniffing dogs above and below, metal detectors, scan the luggage and off we go.
If you feel better about the back scanners, and that nudity isn't a problem, then why not the odd cavity search? How can you know that to avoid detection I and three friends don't have a baggies of P.E.T.N. stuffed in our cavities? Maybe it's full x-rays that should be happening? Why do you think this new technology isn't harmful to you when you fly several times a week? How powerful are these x-rays? In this picture you'll see that they clearly show a woman standing about 20 feet away.
We aren't overreacting. We are saying the government needs to stop and respect us. The searches are unreasonable when it moves to nudity or groping at random. The assumption of guilt is Un-American. A great dissent comes from Thurgood Marshall in Florida v. Bostick.
"Yet it was one of the primary aims of the Fourth Amendment to protect citizens from the tyranny of being singled out for search and seizure without particularized suspicion notwithstanding the effectiveness of this method. See Boyd v. United States 116 U.S. 616, 625-630 (1886); see also Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145, 171 (1947) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting). In my view, the law enforcement technique with which we are confronted in this case -- the suspicionless police sweep of buses in intrastate or interstate travel -- bears all of the indicia of coercion and unjustified intrusion associated with the general warrant. Because I believe that the bus sweep at issue in this case violates the core values of the Fourth Amendment, I dissent."Florida v. Bostick
It's not as if those objecting to the new rules don't fly. We are saying the intrusion of the government on my genitalia for safety, be it theater or functional, is going too far. We assume the risk and let's get on with it. The red/light green light isn't even the best way, look to Israel. They aren't patting grandma's labia at random. There are passive systems that are actively and functionally safe. There is no reason to violate the 4th Amendment as this Former TSA Administrator suggests.
First of all, it's not as if "the government" (actually the TSA) is installing these machines in public parks. Secondly, your constant assertion that pat-downs are equivalent to groping is an exaggeration, and I could just say that I have been patted down in other countries and have never felt like it was groping or that I was violated.
I'm not saying that I think that this is the best way to maintain security either, and my own concerns lie with accumulated xray exposure and increased waiting time. Although it is possible that one day we will be able to step onto an airplane like we do a bus, it seems that some measure of screening is currently needed before letting people board multimillion dollar aircraft bound for potentially international destinations.
At the end of the day, we are up in the air with others, not "the government", and it gives travellers some peace-of-mind to know that everyone's carry-ons have been screened to a resonable extent. If you find yourself traveling on a crowded bus in the middle of Colombia when a fight breaks out, the thought of pre-boarding security does seem reasonable. And the truth is everyone will have a different comfort level with various security measures, for example I have seen it suggested on this thread that dogs should be used, a measure I am least comfortable with (I trust police dogs far less than TSA personel). So we must strike a balance between screening and comfort.
Certainly the new machines need more study to know whether or not they should be in regular use and maybe they go to far. I would also say that if it cannot be demonstrated that the machines are more efficient, safe to use long-term, and provide more effective screening of passenger carryons, then they should not be implemented.
(1) they may be subjecting travelers to doses of radiation large enough to cause cancer in some cases;
(2) they do not find contraband hidden in body cavities, where it is most likely to be put to avoid detection;
(3) it allows the TSA employees manning the scanners to see sufficient detail to comment on, e.g., the size of someone's anatomy.
OTOH, the pat downs have been made more intrusive recently precisely to embarrass people to the point that the machines become a more palatable alternative. There have been a number of reports of people being groped.
Why do you fear dogs? It's not as if the dog is going to search or bite you? If the dog identifies you as having something suspicious, the only thing that will happen is that you'll then be subjected to the pat down that you've already said is no big deal.
"it gives travellers some peace-of-mind to know that everyone's carry-ons have been screened to a reasonable extent."
What does screening carry-on luggage have to do with these new screening procedures? Carry-ons can, and have been, already screened effectively with X-ray machines and if necessary manual inspections. The new machines are not used to search carry-ons, they are used to search passengers!
Oh, I saw that on the News. This cute Asian lady was being patted down on a New York Airport, and this lady security personnel was pressing hard underneath her breasts, she gave the security lady this most astonished look I've seen from someone in the airport (I kinda went "WOW" because... the nipples... kind of embossed on her tank top), but wow, that was ridiculous.
I was going to start a thread on this topic and name it "Flying the Fucked Up Skies" - but you beat me to it. I guess that tentative discussion name probably gives you the tiniest little clue to how I feel about the matter. It's a good thing I'm too broke to fly anywhere, because I'll be damned if I'm submitting myself to those "measures." The people in congress who think this is a good idea need to be bodily beaten and mentally tortured - starting with a full body cavity search in public for Napolitano. This is absolutely ridiculous.
Years ago, I used to love to fly. And a cross country driving trip with two kids is a rather unsettling proposition. But if I had to get from Georgia to California, I would rent the car and take the drive. If I won the lottery tomorrow - I still wouldn't be flying to California - I'd hire a personal driver and see the sights on the way there.
I am lividly, avidly PISSED about this. I cannot believe that this is going on in this country. Doesn't anybody see that this is one of those slippery slope deals? What's next after this? If a ship gets blown up, then will we all be stuck with pat downs and crap like that when we are boarding our Carnival Cruise? Suppose a bomb was found on a Greyhound bus in the middle of NYC - will they make it so you have to be scanned to get on a bus? Where does it end once it is allowed to begin?
I think about emigrating more seriously every time some more of what I term "stupid shit" happens in the US. George Carlin would be hopping mad if he were still alive right now. Hasn't anybody ever heard of having "a little fun, a little excitement, a little danger?" Life is a terminal condition - why are we so worried about prolonging lives made miserable by retarded government officials and corrupt corporate heads, yet not worried enough about valuing and bettering whatever amount of life we have at the present moment for all our citizens?
And why doesn't anybody realize that if the US military wasn't told to go stick it's nose into the business of other countries, that none of this would be happening to us in the first place? Why do we need to have bases all over the place? Why do we start unfounded wars? Why do we back various dictators? If we were more concerned about the things we should be concerned with, we wouldn't be the target of any other countries' hostility. Change the foreign policy and you solve the problem. Term your citizens guilty until proven innocent and you make the beginnings of a revolution (which, if you think about it, might be another way to solve the problem too).
New slogan for the country: "America! Getting dumber since 1776!" (sigh)
"Flying the Fucked Up Skies" would have been a good title for this topic and I totally like your slogan for the country.
I don't understand all the apathetic responses I've heard in reaction to the new security measures. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil. As Melissa stated above how are those people who have been sexually assaulted to react to these new security procedures? Remember 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Those aren't numbers to ignore. How do I know that the person who is touching my child is in the criminal history registry and is a safe person for my child? (I'd tell my child to kick the TSA person in the shins or groin.) And of course where does it end? It seems we are stuck in a cycle of reactions to the latest"threat." And these reactions make things even more difficult then they already are. I live in the USA where it's supposed to be innocent until proven guilty so of course I'm mad that suddenly for my supposed safety in an airplane it switched to guilty until proven innocent. My rights shouldn't be violated because I want/need to fly from point A to point B.
It is ridiculous to equate pat-downs to groping or sexual assault.
I agree that many security initiatives seem reactionary and knee-jerk, but wistfully invoking "innocent until proven guilty" does not help or address airport security.
Would you suggest having no screening? Screening just for those that are found to be "guilty"? Would other countries be willing to receive passengers into their airports that did not have at least modicum of pre-boarding security before arrival? Should the airline system not react at all to present threats, even if just perceived?
I am not apathetic in my response to airline security, the system could certainly be improved and security should be proactive and not reactive. I just take issue with bitter exaggerations like "Flying the Fucked up Skies". Air travel is exceedingly safe and is not the hassle some make it out to be.