Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do people really support this?

Sometimes you find yourself far out of step with the mainstream of American thought, or so recent polling data had led me to believe. CBS news released the results of a poll that, they claim, shows that 81% of Americans support the use of full body scanners in airports. Really, are we talking about the same invasive, creepy, perverse scanners that produce those disturbing naked images of people? That's what an overwhelming majority of Americans support? Well, kind of, sort of, not really, if you take a closer look at the polling question CBS news used, you find that they used the term, "X-ray machines," in their question. I think they skewed their results by using X-ray machines instead of scanners. One evokes images of a doctor's office and images of people's skeletons while the other makes people think of Star Trek tricorders and the security screening thing from Total Recall. If they had used different terminology, they probably would have found less support for the TSA's use of invasive technology. If you really wanted to get a different result, ask people if they think the TSA needs to be taking naked pictures of everybody who gets on an airplane. Okay, that would probably bias responses too much in the other direction, but you see the point.

In case you haven't guessed, I don't believe the American public is as supportive of the TSA and their knee-jerk, poorly thought out attempts at airport security as recent polling data would indicate. One serious problem with the TSA is that they are always reacting to the last attempted attack and not preparing for the next one. I guess the flying public should be glad that they were not forced to, "go commando," after the attempted attack by the underwear bomber. I will take an even more cynical stance and say that preventing an attack on an airline is only tangential to the TSA's two main missions. The first is to make people feel safe enough to purchase airline tickets. This is the mission that is tangentially related to preventing attacks. It is also the mission that creates the whole dog and pony show designed to make it look like they are making people more secure. Gee, doesn't everybody feel safer now that they only have 3 ounce liquid bottles with them in their carry on bags? The second mission of the TSA is to make people scared enough to justify their continued existence and their chipping away at people's civil liberties. If these Orwellian nut-jobs continue to have their way, how long before everybody has to fly naked and handcuffed? Maybe the TSA is a repository for government workers with weird fetishes.

What is really annoying is that the full body scanners, or pervert scanners if you like, may not even work. In March, the Department of Homeland Security released an evaluation of their high tech toys. the unclassified version, is a sad document all of 7 pages long. It has a coversheet, a one page preface that is mostly irrelevant and then less that 2 pages of actual content about the audit and it's findings. There is scarcely a mention of the effectiveness of the full body scanners in the report. The lack of any specifics leads one to believe that the findings were not positive. To wrap it all up, full body scanners, they are invasive, creepy and they probably don't even work. Happy flying.

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