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TSA Scans and Pat-Downs (and Personal Finance Links)

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Like many others, I have been outraged by the detail of the new TSA scanners. I found the advanced pat-downs just as outrageous. I understand the need for security, but I believe our right to privacy trumps that. We are slowly losing all our rights to privacy. You use a cell phone and the police can track your location. You fly and the TSA gets more action than I did in high school.

This week, I was flying with my wife and she got chosen for the security pat-down at the gate. This, despite the fact that we went through two sets of security checkpoints. They didn't have the X-Ray eye machine, so it was just the pat-down. She is the least suspicious person ever. I'm a thousand times more shady looking (and acting). I thought that when they found her military ID with sensitive clearance level, they'd move on. Instead they practically strip searched her at the gate.

Something is wrong here. I understand the need for security, but it's not like someone just invented the underwear bomb. Do you really think that people wanting to hide bombs, had never thought, "I'll hide it in the most private of places?" Are we going to need body cavity searches next? Surely it is possible to hide a bomb there, right?

So what's the solution? There is talk about having the computer only showing outlines of the body and potential foreign objects. Considering that the technology that we have with facial recognition is a million times more complex, this should be able to implemented in a couple of weeks. (I say this with confidence in my bachelor's education in computer science and my schools focus on AI). I say that we end the intrusive scans and pat-downs until we take those two weeks to improve the machines to give us the best of both worlds.

And now for the personal finance links.

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Last updated on November 19, 2010.

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11 Responses to “TSA Scans and Pat-Downs (and Personal Finance Links)”

  1. Karen says:

    I couldn’t agree more. To me, the scariest thing is that we, as a country, are actually becoming accustomed to gradually losing our freedom, which in turn makes it easier for the government to take away more and more of our liberties. Once they are taken from us, they are rarely given back. On the upside, there is a growing backlash, so maybe there is hope after all.

  2. Jan says:

    Personally, I cannot wait for the day when an older woman or man with a full Depends gets frisked. What are they going to do then-“remove your underwear”. I feel sorry for the screeners- they are in a terrible spot.
    My support for the President is quickly waining.

  3. Jackie says:

    I frequently get selected for the pat-downs too. The most frustrating things to me is that they seem to focus on things that really do little more than “reassure” (and piss off) the public, while avoiding things that may actually be beneficial. Then there’s the whole civil liberties thing…

  4. Contrarian says:

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. – Benjamin Franklin

  5. Michele says:

    I fly about 2-3 times a year. I get selected for special screening almost every flight (even tho I am not muslim, I have a muslim sounding name). Its more annoying but I really am thinking twice if I will fly again anytime soon. This extra screening is intrusive, and borders on sexual molestation. I watched the tsa rep this morning say that kids under 12 are exempt from the patdown, yet I have read numuerous reports of 3 and 4 year olds subjected to patdowns and even removal of clothing.

    A man with an osotomy bag was patted down leaving him urine soaked to go off to his flight without even an acknowlegement or apology. A woman was asked to remove her prothetic breast for inspection.

    I don’t know about you, but I really am not comfortable with going through a scanner where someone, anonymous or otherwise can view my nude body.

    I dont liek this one bit.

  6. Blue Spyder says:


    Read the USA Patriot Act implemented by Bush, that’s scary, the FBI can search your home while you’re away and has up to 1 year after to tell you, shit getting bad…

  7. Patty says:

    Dear LM,

    Good post.
    As always, follow the money.
    The false demand for the scanners was created through fear. Then the pat-downs were made especially obnoxious so we would end up opting for the scan, thus creating the demand for more scanners while someone rakes in the cash.
    I’m glad to see people are finally digging in their heels and saying no to this travesty. It’s also nice to see a few news outlets digging for the real story instead of telling us to shut up and take it, for our own good and safety, of course.

  8. Michele says:

    From Worldnet Daily

    Americans ‘likely’ to get cancer from airport scanners
    ‘TSA is basing claims for safety on research government commissioned’


  9. What bothers me the most are the lemming private citizens who take the other tack: “Man up, get over it, nothing’s too extreme if it stops another terror attack.”

    The DHS head actually pats herself on the back, claiming that the new procedures have stopped countless banned items from getting on planes. She’s playing Calvinball: she sets the rules, then brags about her record-breaking performance. If you stop an absent-minded traveler from bringing nail clippers on board a plane, you haven’t stopped a terror attack. You’ve just saved a TSA employee a trip to Walgreens, that’s all.

    Both this administration and the previous one seem to think that anyone, everyone is a potential terrorist. Instead of profiling the suspicious people, and the ones who match the…what’s the word? Oh yeah… profile of a terrorist, we all get to waste time coming to the airport early so we can prove we don’t have bombs in our shoes or our laptop bags.

    I’m thinking John Thune or Tim Pawlenty or whomever could get 500 electoral votes in 2012 just by adopting a no-TSA-crotch-grabbing platform.

    The TSA administrator gets strident and defensive. His boss is even less helpful: her message is, “yeah, it sucks for you, deal with it.” And her boss is mentally incapable of knowing what’s happening with ordinary Americans.

    But we haven’t had a terror attack in years, and that’s the justification for everything. How much farther does this go? If a terrorist inserts an explosive device in his anus, then boards a plane, then what?

    Just deal with it! If cavity searches keep us safe, then they’re worth it.

    The current TSA standards are inconsistent, anyway. Only 3 ounces of liquid for me, but 6 for the nursing mother next to me? So a single Caucasian man might be a terrorist, but a chick with a baby can’t be? And let’s not even discuss the idea of the TSA restricting a state of matter. Solids and gases, sure. Liquids, not so much.

    If this doesn’t indicate that the terrorists have won, what would?

  10. Edward says:

    Michele makes a good point about cancer. I believe that is why you can’t receive more than three x-rays in a given year. So I guess it would come recommended not to travel more than 1 1/2 times a year. In fact it seems that when any danger occurs another violation of freedom is the best answer. I’m sure if the people that follow this blog put our heads together we could figure out a safe way to protect ourselves without the groping, cancer and just plain wrong patriot act ideas that we are getting from leaders. And as Patty says follow the money, every decision made.
    Thanks and good post

    • Lazy Man says:

      Supposedly, the scanners do not penetrate the body like X-rays (they bounce off of skin) making the radiation a non-issue. I’m not a radiology expert, just relating what I’ve read.

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