Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Terrorizing (and violating) airline passengers

I found this piece by TNR's legal commentator Jeffrey Rosen on those full-body scanners at airports striking and persuasive. His contention is that the millimeter scanners "are a virtual strip search -- and an outrage." They give somebody somewhere in a booth an anatomically correct view of the passenger, but they would not have detected the explosives the panty-bomber carried. Earlier in the development of the machines models that at least blurred facial features, but those have not been adopted. Maximum invasion of privacy almost seems to be the goal.

The upshot is that in response to the Christmas would-be bomber, we have imposed yet another degrading invasion of privacy on ordinary airline passengers, and one that doesn't really increase safety or security. It's like a knee-jerk response. Screw up -- this was a government screw-up caused largely by the fact that we have too much security bureaucracy, too many different agencies looking at various pieces of the terrorism puzzle but so caught up in bureaucratic procedures, turf issues and empire-building that they don't -- perhaps can't -- communicate with one another. A would-be terrorist fails on a difficult, long-shot bombing attempt and the government responds by terrorizing ordinary innocent passengers. Truly the terrorists have won.


Mike Freitas said...

"Truly the terrorist have won." Yes, not the Muslims, but US government terrorism, the one's who demand, "Submit or else."

Airfare said...

Terrorism is the worst thing which is going on. Government should tight up the security to fight with suicide bomber and terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if he hadn't been given a visa to come to America in the first place...? How about just one single agency instead of numerous ones to eliminate the inter-departmental rivalry? I went to the CN tower in Toronto last fall. You had to go into this little closet-like place and a bunch of blasts of air 'hit' you from about 15 different spots. Would that be better then the scanner machine? Or maybe yet America could drastically change its foreign policy and cause less offence in the world? That might be the best option.