Saturday, January 19, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors

It looks like public outcry has scored a victory now that Rapiscan machines are being removed from airports.

You might want to hold your applause. 

The government is simply ending its contract with the company which produces these backscatter x-ray machines because it was unable to come up with a “gingerbread man” display instead of the graphic photos for which they are known.  It is not abandoning the use of airport scanners. 

Rats.  I suspected as much.  It’s all smoke and mirrors with them, isn’t it?

Therefore, in the spirit of big government announcements, below are:

 The top ten reasons I never send a Christmas card to the TSA:

10.       Millimeter wave machines are rolling in to fill the vacuum left by Rapiscan’s exiting naked body scanners. Yet millimeter waves also bombard you with radiation and have not been proven any safer than backscatter technology. As if that isn’t enough, millimeter wave machines have a 54% false positive rate.  They alarm on inseams, pleats and sweat. Which wins you a personal patdown anyway.

9.         Scanner technology was originally developed and marketed for protection in prisons and government installations. Only after September 11, 2001, did anyone consider putting naked body scanners in airports “and treating air travelers like prisoners.” 

8.         The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a government organization with no accountability (isn’t that an oxymoron?) which “seems to have hired more criminals than it has caught. With a zero success rate in capturing terrorists, the TSA has instead irradiated, humiliated, molested, and stolen from the customers of air travel, all the while completely funded by you, the tax payer.”

7.         Your luggage is no safer with the TSA than you are.  Since the organization’s inception in 2003, nearly 400 screeners have been fired for theft.   

6.         Following that thought, the question remains as to why the TSA attracts such a “disproportionate number of criminals and pedophiles.”  As reported in September of 2012, “there have been 99 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months, including . . . 13 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, 12 for smuggling contraband through security, and one for murder.”  Maybe birds of a feather just flock together.   

5.         In the twelve years since terrorists brought down three planes on 9-11, “the TSA has not foiled a single terrorist plot or caught a single terrorist.”  And “don’t be fooled by claims that the plots it foils are secret. Stopping a terrorist attack is a political triumph. . . . If the TSA ever caught anything even remotely resembling a terrorist, it would be holding press conferences and petitioning Congress for a bigger budget.”

4.         Basic flying—sans TSA trauma—is still safer than driving.  Yet with former flyers abandoning the practice and returning to the open road, the government’s counterproductive aviation security policies can now be blamed for an estimated 500 additional traffic deaths annually. Simple math will tell you that’s more people than fly on a 747, giving TSA the esteemed recognition of being responsible for the equivalent of one downed jet every year.  Congratulations, John Pistole.

3.         There is “compelling evidence that we aren’t getting protection from the terrorists. Aside from one fluke of a failure, we already had that protection. Rather we are getting robbed of that protection. We are getting protection from the TSA who threaten to charged us, fine us, and even jail us for ‘disorderly conduct’ if we don’t submit to them.”

2.         The TSA is security theater.  The technology to detect and intercept firearms on passengers or in their luggage has never required the unique tools of the TSA: sexual molestation and nude scanning.” Rather, “. . .  the technology for finding guns has . . . been used for decades. It doesn’t require an invasive groping and it doesn’t require indecent radiated images."

“It is important to remember that none of the hijackers on September 11, 2001, had a gun. None of them dodged or evaded airplane security in that way. In fact, we got the nude scanners after the underwear bomber, but that was a fraud. The nude scanners cannot detect chemicals soaked in underwear. The underwear bomber would not have been stopped.”

And finally, the Number One reason the TSA is not on my Christmas list:

You do not abandon your constitutional rights when you buy an airline ticket. The 4th Amendment is your guarantee that you are “secure in your person, house, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, and this right shall not be violated.”

It’s not enough to remove backscatter machines from airports. The only solution to the rape of our 4th amendment rights is to eliminate the TSA and return security to private companies with accountability.

Of course, that all depends on your interpretation of security.  And to be fair, the TSA wants to assure you that it’s not a grope – it’s a Freedom Pat.



  1. Isn't amazing how easily the public is manipulated into giving up their basic right through the use of fear - not by terrorists, but by politicians! Gah!

    1. And what do politicians thrive on? Money and power. The intimidation against citizens is severe. I watched a video today where an airport director tried in every way possible to strong arm a photographer and a young woman who were handing out flyers to passengers with information about opting out of scanners. A sheriff who was called in to shut them down, instead told the airport director they had the legal right to pass out the flyers there. I was amazed at how they stood their ground without being disrespectful. Not every one could do that.