The past few days I’ve been reading up about the changes TSA has been making, as they implement the new full-body scanners at airports around the country. It has really been bothering me, the more I read about it. The basic premise is that every passenger is a terrorist, and you are required to prove you aren’t before they let you fly. That goes against the “innocent until proven guilty” ideology of our justice system. What’s next, being required to let the government periodically search our houses just in case we might be hiding something bad?
For those of you still in the dark, the full-body scanners have the ability to “see through” a person’s clothes in order to spot any weapons hidden underneath. However, unlike an x-ray, these show the outside of a person’s body – private parts and all. Also, these scanners are a blast of radiation – minuscule amounts, the TSA promises, but I think it still should make people stop and think of the potential health impacts. The alternative is an invasive pat down – where TSA employees use the palms of their hands to feel to make sure nothing is being hidden. They touch everything – not holding back the private areas – including going all the way up the inside of thighs and all around a woman’s chest.
When I heard about this, it immediately made me uncomfortable. I feel awkward when my OB or midwife does this – someone I know and trust – I feel like those are areas for my husband only. The thought of submitting to that makes me cringe inside.
Then I thought about Savannah being subjected to that, and I felt even more uncomfortable. I watched a news clip that had video of a 3-year-old girl getting the “pat-down” by a TSA employee (link below), and she is NOT happy about it. It made my heart tighten. I don’t WANT Savannah to be okay with strangers touching her. She has a right to her own privacy, and I think it’s dangerous for her to “get used” to something like this.
Here are some links I want to share with you about this issue:
A list of airports with the new imagining technology – the list starts about halfway down the page.
A very interesting news clip that talks about a variety of people with negative experiences with the TSA, including a disabled man having to remove his pants in public view, and a woman who was violently forced to the ground.
A video clip of a 3 year old girl getting a pat-down, and and she is not happy about it. This makes a mother’s heart cry, and the thought of having to go through such an ordeal every time you fly with kids is exhausting.
Some are saying that the photos released to the public by TSA are being blurred and not accurate representations of what TSA employees are actually seeing.
TSA promises that the photos are not being saved and are deleted from the computers, but it looks like a few have leaked already. I also read somewhere that TSA has said they save some pictures for “training purposes” (but, those could be pictures of willing volunteers and not unsuspecting passengers).
This article talks about the potential health concerns with the scanners. “The probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that of being killed in a terror attack are roughly the same…” Hmm well if that’s the case, then I’ll keep my dignity, thank you.
Passengers aren’t the only ones upset; pilots are too. In fact, two pilot unions have urged their members to opt out of the body scanner and go for the pat-down as well.
In Miami, there was an incident of one TSA employee attacking another. Apparently, some months before they had all gone through the full body scanner and since then, the one employee was teased mercilessly about the size of a certain aspect of his body.
One California man got into quite a bit of trouble when he tried to leave after refusing to be searched by the TSA. Apparently, you’re not allowed to leave either!
I just thought this article was interesting, about TSA employees not understanding how the body scanner works in their attempt to convince the passengers that it is perfectly safe.
Despite everything that TSA does, it sounds like they miss a lot of things as well. I think one of the biggest criticisms of all these new policies is that they are not effective enough to warrant the violation of personal privacy.
Here is another example of this happening, with specifics to the current controversial body scanner.
The personal story of a woman who describes what exactly the pat-down entails.
This is a humorous take on the new policies. (Warning: some may find it slightly crass.)
Want to do something? A Senate subcommittee is holding a TSA oversight hearing tomorrow, Nov. 17th. Here is more information about that, including applicable phone numbers.
These are just some of the links I’ve come across – I’m sure there are many others, if you Google it. I would love to say that we won’t fly again until this is resolved. However, that’s not very practical. A drive up to my in-laws in Massachusetts is 18 hours, which means it’s probably closer to 20+ hours with kids. It would take 4 days of driving for any trip we make there, and if Paul takes a week off work that still means we are driving more days than we’ll actually be up there. It’s very frustrating, and I’m not sure what we should do. I do know that we’ll probably limit our airline travel to “necessary” trips and limiting our visits to just once a year. Or maybe I will get used to strangers touching me and my family, and it won’t bother me. That has its own positives – I will then be okay with working at the local strip club for some extra money. (Just kidding. I know those two things are different, but right now it feels like a similar invasion of privacy.)
A few more links that I wanted to share.
A humorous video of a lady questioning a TSA employee, asking all the questions I’ve been asking, too.
Another site against the scanners and raising some good points of their risks. I hadn’t thought about the safety of my things while I am in the scanner – the site mentions how they’ve had issues at one airport with TSA employees stealing passengers’ things while they are otherwise occupied.
And, of course we expect to hear from Colbert about this! As usual, hilariously funny yet with truth. The guy he interviews makes an interesting point about how these policy changes are a sign that the terrorists have won.
Meanwhile, we are checking out Amtrak for our traveling needs. Much higher in cost than flying, but then what price do I put on my own privacy? (And, to be honest, the principle of the whole thing.) We haven’t decided yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.