The TSA’s Arrogance Could Benefit Us Yet

| November 15, 2010 | 8 Replies

tIf you have not been keeping up with the quickly-growing scandal over the Transportation Security Agency’s new security measures, you’ve missed quite a lot in the last week.

Let me give you a quick summary. The TSA rolled out some shiny new machines that can scan through your clothes and give agents a good look at what you’re carrying underneath. Unfortunately, these images are also just the tiniest bit revealing, so revealing, in fact, that it caused a fight among TSA employees during a training session. Now, the TSA gave us its most solemn promise that it couldn’t save these images for later use and, even if it could, it certainly wouldn’t. Earlier this year, however, the Acting Administrator admitted in February that the machines certainly could save images, though that feature was disabled and there was no way at all that someone could enable it, no way, no how.

So, now that these full-body scanners are in place, the TSA has a new rule: either go through the scanner or subject yourself to a full and very intimate pat-down search as well as a ton of attitude from TSA personnel (via memeorandum). You’ll also get searched if you set off the metal detector. There are no other options. Your sensitive areas will be touched, and not lightly, and not just yours but those of your children, should they set off the detector for whatever reason.

As you can imagine, this new policy, which can be quickly summed us as “screw you because we’re in charge” had led to a loud backlash that’s growing louder with every new story of bureaucratic inanity from airports around the country. I defy anyone in the TSA to read Melissa Clouthier’s story of her airline trip shortly after 9/11 and tell me that the agents acted properly. Now, her trip took place before these scanners and the new “fondle you until you cry” policy went into place, but the attitudes that birthed the new policy — the disdain for basic human concerns, the unwarranted suspicion, the complete lack of empathy — were readily apparent even then.

I can only hope that the TSA’s tone-deaf reaction to legitimate public concerns will rile us up enough to get real changes to airport security, and homeland security in general. Perhaps now we will get angry enough to insist that our government stop treating everyone as equally likely to blow up an airplane. With any luck, we’ll presume on our government the way the Israelis presumed upon theirs and we’ll have a security system that works without the cattle lines, embarrassing disrobing, and snotty security guards.

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Category: The Long War Here At Home

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