At first, I wasn’t much of a fan of the whole-body scanners. I thought that we Americans should be allowed more dignity than to be stripped naked when we planned to board a plane. The whole-body scanners to me were an expensive strip-search solution that created as many problems as they solved. But over time, I have realized that there are many pluses to these contraptions.
Here are my delightful dozen reasons for loving the introduction of these lovable, if invasive and inefficient machines.
1. I love showing my naked body. Ask any old girlfriend of mine. They’ll agree. Way back in the early 90s, I remember joking expectantly with other passengers that, “Soon we’ll be walking naked through security.” The second part of the joke was something like, “Well it would keep Islamic terrorists away, since they are not allowed to see naked women.” Now we have the worst of both worlds — we are disrobed by backscatter rays or radio-frequency waves without the naked women (the opposite for women readers).
2. These scanners will never detect powdered explosives or my secret make-up. Even experts who make these machines and the highest-level executives at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) cannot guarantee that the powder secreted in the Christmas Day Bomber’s underware would have been detected. My make-up “for surprise TV interviews” will remain a secret.
3. I can hide explosives up my rectum. Anything placed beneath the skin cannot be seen. A bomber can secret explosives in any body cavity, such as one’s mouth or other obvious opening such as found in our posterior.
4. Burkas won’t hide explosives, but bodacious ta-tas will.. A body cavity isn’t even necessary. On a recent trip through Baltimore and Boston airports, both equipped with whole-body scanners, some passengers were walked through a magnetometer and others were directed through the whole-body scanner. (I was magnotometerized both times.) The scanner cannot detect metal. A large-breasted woman could place a hand grenade under her bodacious bosom and walk through the whole-body scanner without setting off any alarm.
5. Taxpayer funded radiation treatments may help national health care. Though testing and studies done by the manufacturers claim that there is no significant radiation harm from the machines. Their experts say the machines dose passengers with nothing more than “cosmic rays” gathered when flying. But we now find that these “studies” have been based on the whole body, inside and out, rather than on only the skin that gets the entire dose of radiation. And no studies have been performed on children. The Government Accountability Office agrees with me.
The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety reported that, although the radiation dose is extremely small, pregnant women and children should not undergo scanning. This group includes the European Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization, suggested this year in an internal report
6. We’ll slowly kill all the TSA officers. Think of the poor TSA employees forced to work with these giant machines (not to mention the luggage x-ray machines). When a dentist or dental assistant takes a tiny x-ray of my tooth, they huddle behind a lead wall or walk out of the room in order to protect themselves from x-rays. I find it hard to believe that there are no adverse consequences to having TSA officers exposed to repeated x-rays. Perhaps their official uniform underwear and bras are lead-lined. I predict a major lawsuit and unexpected expense for damages to our TSA workforce in the future.
7. No more lint left in my pockets. I have flown about as much as anyone since 9/11. My security checkpoint habits are fairly similar to other travelers who surround me. We take off our shoes. We empty our pockets of cell phones, PDAs, keys and coins. We take off our jacket. We remove bulky belt buckles. We place heavy pens in the bin with our keys and coins. We place our computer in a bin. We lay our three-ounce bottles of shampoo and toothpaste in bins. That used to be it.
I used to keep my notes, plastic ball-point pen, boarding pass and passport in my shirt pocket together with my wallet and wad of cash in my pants pocket. The whole-body scanners don’t allow this. Now I have to disgorge and lose sight of more personal, private and important items. I don’t like it and have not met any passenger (other than a guy who had a hip and knee replacement) think that it was a good idea.
8. More time to to chat up chicks in the security line. Note the actions required by reason #6 above. These are only time consuming actions by the poor victims of whole-body scanners. The actual scan performed by the whole-body scanner takes at least three times the time the old magnetometer took. It is slowing down security lines and other airport operations and TSA recognizes that, but they need more officers and more airport space to fix the problem. In the meantime, “What’s your sign?” Or, “Do you come here often?”
9. I love the look of big airport security areas. The slower the whole-body scanners go, the more machines we need. The more machines we need the more operators we need. The more machines we need the more space at airport we need. This is an example of a boondoggle of amazing proportions that was not tested prior to implementation. No radiation test. No explosive detection test. No operational test. No human throughput.
10. Finally, someone to caress my scrotum. The pat-downs of old when I could joke with the officer performing the pat-down, “A little more to the right. Now, a little lower. Aahh, that’s just right. Thanks,” are history. My last pat-down was actually painful … and a bit exciting. Unfortunately, the person assaulting me was doing it with the blessing of our government. Though they are doing the assaulting and groping, I would be the one punished should I protest.
If you have issues with the treatment by our trained TSA therapists performing the “European pat-downs,” please fill out one of these customer comment cards.
11. I love being punished. Reports surfaced earlier in the spring, which were denied by TSA. Now we find that there was indeed a clandestine testing of enhanced pat-downs going on. They lied, of course, in the name of security. TSA now claims that there is only one level of pat-down — rough, tough and thorough.
12. Truth hurts. I use the proper descriptive term whole-body scanner with an occasional “strip-search machine” thrown in here and there. TSA has adopted bureaucratic-speak where they use a bland euphemism to refer to these machines — “Advanced Imaging Devices.” TSA still claims the machines cannot store images — another lie. When the truth hurts, avoid it.
13. I own stock in this company. Just like Michael Chertoff, Former Department of Homeland Security and chief whole-body scanner cheerleader, I may own stock in these companies. Chertoff is shamelessly lobbying for more machines and selling them to our legislators. The more Rapiscan machines that OSI Systems, American Science & Engineering, Inc. (AS&E) or L3 Communications sells to the government the better the stockholders and lobbyist like Chertoff make out. Buy stock. You, like Chertoff, can make a bundle, too, while fellow Americans are marched through these machines.
(Photo: Total Recall body scanners)