TSA’s Peep Show And Grope Fest

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - November 24, 2010

Editor’s note: For a different take on this subject, see Bob Jones on Page 8. (Click here)

In light of the controversy regarding TSA inspections at airports around the nation, this question was posed recently on my radio program: Have the terrorists won?

The responses were as varied as they were passionate.

We have been aware of the impending widespread use of the full-body scan technology, which renders its subjects virtually nude. Yes, the images may be grainy and the anatomical details fuzzy, but the reality is your parents wouldn’t have allowed you to see these pictures as a kid, and if you had pictures of kids like these, you’d likely be arrested.

So let’s dispel with this notion that the imagery is “acceptable levels of revelation.” Despite other locales utilizing this technique, the concern for its use didn’t really register until Americans had to submit. Now the proverbial stuff has hit the fan.

TSA has implemented procedures for travelers who choose to “opt out” of the body scan. TSA is allowed to perform “full-body pat-downs.” This combination of words should tell you this is a whole bunch of nothing good.

To clarify, I believe the majority of TSA agents are dedicated to keeping our skies safe. I don’t question their mission. I also understand that they are following “procedure” as set forth by TSA and Homeland Security. But I am not so sure I want a TSA agent, or any other government employee, scanning me and my family or offering the alternative of a full-body touchy-squeezy. Here’s where you empathize by envisioning your wife or your kids being subjected to such, yes, indignities.

OK, I can hear you saying to yourself, “But if it prevents planes from flying into buildings or exploding in the sky, then it’s a small price to pay!”

Indeed, that is the question. Is this scan-and-grope directive an exercise in futility that is based on theatrics rather than results?

Let’s take the underwear bomber. I don’t have his name in front of me and quite honestly, I remember him as “The Underwear Bomber” instead of what his name is. It’s been reported by security experts that the Panty Bomber (his nickname) and his explosives would not have been prevented by the full-body scan. All I can say is the phrase “the incongruent physicality of the suspect would not have necessarily been detected” speaks volumes.

Now, aside from a full-blown junk in the front examination - sans panty - that’s what it would have taken to discover his cargo. The question is, are we ready to allow this invasion in the pursuit of safety?

If we look at a city that has dealt with various forms of terrorism since day one, London has spoken on the body-scan issue. The full-body scanners were installed at Heathrow Airport for a test run of four years. At the end of the trial period, Heathrow removed the scanners. They just didn’t see the benefits to the collective costs incurred.

Why didn’t we recognize the failures in London?

I wonder what the contract amounts were for the purchase and installation of these machines in hundreds of airports around the country. Am I saying that this is the only reason for their use? No. But I wonder.

The reports of outright groping and fondling of female passengers are rampant. If you opt out of the scan, you will be touched, pinched, rubbed and boofed. I’m not sure what “boofed” means, but you can fill in the blank yourself since this is a family publication.

I mean, without the benefit of a dinner, the agents are getting to second base. I am not being flippant, but I hope my sarcasm reveals just how misguided, inappropriate and unacceptable these procedures are.

What is the alternative? Let’s start with the basics. Enforce the laws we have had in place previous to this.

The Panty Bomber was on the Federal No Fly List. Why was he allowed on the plane? His own father reported him to the CIA previous to the flight. Why was he not investigated and detained?

Why do we not profile with more urgency and specificity?

I am not talking just about personal appearance, but on flight origin and destination. Does a family of four flying from Des Moines to Dollywood really trigger a security alarm?

And yes, degrees of profiling works. The Millennium Bomber, the guy who wanted to blow up Los Angeles Airport in 1999, was stopped at the British Columbian/U.S. border by an agent who deduced he was up to no good. She didn’t trust the way he looked. Sure enough, well, we know the rest.

So to answer the question, “Have the terrorists won?” We need to define “won.” If the objective is to disrupt the lives of the despised American, they are succeeding.

That said, the true objective of the al-Qaida terrorist is the utter destruction of America.

In that regard, then obviously not.

But their war is a devious one, which relies on patience and erosion of defense. We are allowing ourselves to succumb to knee-jerk reactionary policies that do more to negatively affect our lives than theirs. The compromising of our rights and liberties does not necessarily translate into a safer America.

But if we continue our devolvement away from those rights, then the terrorists could defeat us without commandeering an aircraft or firing a single shot.

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