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Nov. 27, 2010

Safety through scanners

by Marjorie Fuchs, Editor-in-Chief
Oh, the joys of travelling. Every year thousands of holiday travelers lug their heavy suitcases through the maze of long airport lines, empty their pockets and take off their shoes to go through security before boarding their flights.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented a new and controversial security policy for this holiday-travel season. Casey Goldvale
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented a new and controversial security policy for this holiday-travel season.


This year, as a result of increased security threats, travelers face full-body scanners and pat-downs in addition to the normal security routine. These new measures by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have sparked various online sites (http://wewontfly.com) and a national uproar, for now it appears people's privacy is public policy.

The full-body scanners are exactly what their name implies: scanners that display one's entire body, and some travelers see the devices as a massive invasion of privacy. If a traveler chooses to opt-out of the scanner, they receive an invasive pat down by a TSA official. According to TSA Administrator John Pistole, the scanners ensure the safety of all holiday travelers. Pistole believes that the majority of people simply want to get to their destinations and the select few who protest may cause travel delays.

Yet coverage of the airport rush has been non-stop and opinions are running rampant. The Washington Post interviewed en route travelers, many of whom felt uncomfortable with TSA officials viewing full-body images or patting them down but felt it was for their personal safety. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 68 percent of Americans support the full-body X-ray machines, 35 percent say they may present a health risk and 50 percent oppose the new pat-down searches.

TSA Administrator Pistol correctly foresaw the impact of the new security procedures - or rather the lack thereof. According to TSA reports, it appears that most travelers "opted out of opting out" with only a few of the 2 million pre-Thanksgiving day travelers choosing to be patted-down. There were few delays due to opposition of security procedures nationwide.

By emphasizing what the TSA has changed instead of why the changes were needed, the media has subsequently blown these security changes out of proportion. Yes, these new security threats are extremely personal and people have a right to opt-out if they feel these changes too invasive, but the government and TSA employed them for the safety of all. In this case, the delicate balance between securities and liberties is being pushed, but security is increasing as to protect our liberties from terror.

The TSA is just trying to ensure the safety of all travelers, both during this holiday season and beyond. Hopefully such measures won't be needed in the future, but until then people should keep in mind that these measures are for their personal safety. Opponents of the security measures will most likely shift the focus of their campaign to the courts, challenging the constitutionality of the new security measures.

As one woman in the Washington Post video eloquently stated, "As long as I donít get blown up on a plane, it's cool by me."



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  • Scott on November 27, 2010 at 9:09 PM
    The article claims that these new measures come "as a result of increased security threats." It should read "as a result of increased lobbying from companies that manufacture full-body x-ray machines." Don't take my word for it; look it up. This is a full body SCAM.
    • Lori on November 29, 2010 at 5:03 PM
      Have you picked up a newspaper in this country recently? Stop with the political bullcrap--this is about national security.
  • Kenneth Collins (View Email) on November 27, 2010 at 9:23 PM
    "As long as I donít get blown up on a plane, it's cool by me."

    So what else exactly would be cool? Instead of 3% of the public patted down, 25%? 100%? Cavity searches for everybody? I can guarantee you 100% safety if every passenger on the plane is stripped naked and sedated for the duration of the flight. And donít tell me to ďget over itĒ. The pat-downs are illegal according to the Constitution. They amount to an unreasonable search by any stretch of the imagination. The traveling public should not be treated as criminals and humiliated in public. The new measures aren't effective. Reinforced cockpit doors, aware citizens and pure luck are what has prevented another attack, not the TSA. The GAO says the new scanners wouldn't have detected the underwear bomber.

    "But the enemy is crafty and determined! I don't want my children or grandchildren getting on a plane that's going to be blown apart in the sky!"

    Nobody is arguing that there will never be another attack. And yes, some day, somebody's children will be killed. But buying a ticket and stepping on a plane are what educated people would refer to as TAKING A RISK. Consider that 327,000 people were killed in auto accidents in the eight complete years since 2001. That's the equivalent of 700 Boeing 747's, or one 747 being taken down EVERY FOUR DAYS. These deaths are every bit as deadly as a death on a plane. Why is there no media outcry? Because auto fatalities happen EVERY SINGLE DAY. Stop using your gut, people, and use your head. I agree with security analyst Bruce Schneier that the new measures are "more a result of politicians and government appointees capitulating to a public that demands that "something must be done," even when nothing should be done; and a government bureaucracy that is more concerned about the security of their careers if they fail to secure against the last attack than what happens if they fail to anticipate the next one.Ē
  • bptr (View Email) on November 27, 2010 at 9:26 PM
    The people go along with this are the stupid people in this country who are complacent to everything and will go along with anything. This is a majority in this fat stupid country now.

    We are enduring invasive fascism which does NOTHING but create a false sense of security.

    By the way, "Hopefully such measures won't be needed in the future, but until then people should keep in mind that these measures are for their personal safety." is a run-on sentence.
  • Wimpie (View Email) on November 27, 2010 at 9:57 PM
    The TSA has gone off the deep end. Your choices are to be viewed naked by strangers, or groped by strangers. When I travel into the city, I'm not groped and X-Rayed before getting on the train, or before going through Grand Central Terminal so why do airlines get to subject passengers to this treatment?

    In the future will they have Government Groping Stations at every street corner and at the entrance to every public building "for our safety?"

    This is insanity. It's impossible to have complete and total safety, but it is possible to turn an entire society into a bunch of "Locos" jumping at every shadow and in constant fear for their lives.
  • jinksto on November 27, 2010 at 10:06 PM
    "TSA Administrator Pistol correctly foresaw the impact of the new security procedures - or rather the lack thereof."

    Wewontfly.com and others are reporting that this is whitewash and that in many cases TSA turned the scanners off to reduce the impact of any "opt outs".
  • Schadeboy on November 27, 2010 at 10:53 PM
    I wonder how cool people will be with it when the TSA announces body cavity searches because some lunatic decided to smuggle a bomb on the plane using his rear end? By the way, the AIT scanners can't see INTO the body.

    Do we have to wait until then, or do we finally get to tell our government that enough is enough? When does it go too far?
  • bptr (View Email) on November 27, 2010 at 11:28 PM
    Right-wing sites like this usually just censure out opposing views and all intelligence. They have to do this because they can't make any intelligent arguments in response and their goal is to brainwash all the gullible masses of fat morons in this country.
    • irony in motion (View Email) on November 29, 2010 at 7:08 PM
      >Right-wing sites like this

      You, dear sir or madam, are my new favorite person.
      Thanks for the laugh.
    • hahhahah on November 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM
      i'm pretty sure SCO isn't right wing...
  • JoAnn (View Email) on November 27, 2010 at 11:48 PM
    I haven't had good experiences with TSA. My first TSA experience was an agent shoving my 80 year old, almost deaf mother (a retired health professional) through a metal detector and then screaming at her for 5 minutes for going through the screening with a pace maker. Since I've had knee replacement surgery that sets off the metal detectors, I've had very unhappy experiences of being pulled out of line and extensively, uncomfortably screened in full view of other passengers by loud, insensitive TSA agents. It has become very uncomfortable and embarrassing. That means I would now be invasively searched every time I tried to fly--because there is no way I can get through the machines. I am too modest to submit to the AIT and I would be too emotionally scarred by a body search. So, much as I love to fly, that part of my life is now closed.
  • asdfghjkl on November 28, 2010 at 2:39 PM
    "A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 68 percent of Americans support the full-body X-ray machines, 35 percent say they may present a health risk"

    Does this mean that 3% support health risks?
  • noname on November 29, 2010 at 7:27 AM
    The public screams for action against every perceived threat. TSA is damned if they do and damned if they don't. How about developing a comprehensive travel security strategy instead of band-aid approaches to every shoe bomber, underwear bomber, and so on?
  • yeah rly (View Email) on November 29, 2010 at 8:42 AM
    ... do any of you even GO here?

    If you care this much about this topic, I suggest contacting your legislators or the appropriate lobbying firms - not raging about it in the comments of a high school paper.
  • Past student on November 29, 2010 at 7:50 PM
    Interesting article, but you failed to mention the many legitimate claims that these new "security" measures fail to keep us safe. Many people, myself included, oppose these new regulations because they are absolutely pointless AND put us in harm's way while simultaneously violating our rights. Israeli airport safety advisers have said time and again that these new measures accomplish nothing. If any country knows about airport security, it's Israel. Yes, it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice some of our liberties for security, but in this case we're merely sacrificing our liberties for the pretension of safety.
    • Another Student on November 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM
      Interesting comment but...You failed to realize that this is a blog. A "frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts or ideas". Have problem? Let me refer you to a link: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

      Otherwise, hop off. -.-

      • Past student on December 2, 2010 at 9:36 PM
        Simply because this is a blog doesn't excuse a lack of research. Even pinions should be well-informed went posted on a news site. I'm not blaming this student for the ludicrous actions taken by the TSA (and I'm not sure where you got that idea), but I do think this blog post would've benefited from further research, thus my comment.
        • calm down on December 3, 2010 at 2:49 PM
          dude...like Another Student said..chill out and hop off
          • Past student on December 6, 2010 at 2:41 AM
            The media has power. Yes, this is a student-run paper, but it still has power (especially as it's Silver Chips, a well-known school paper). Any issue -- and especially one as important as this -- should be well-researched before someone writes up a story, whether that story is hard news or a blog. I simply hold SCO to a higher standard than I would other student news sites. If that's wrong, oh well. I think that's one of the reasons why SC print and SCO have made names for themselves in the past.

            This invasion of privacy is a significant issue, as is the fact that these security measures are useless. Waving it off with an "oh, it's for our safety, don't question it" is dangerous. I'm sorry if you feel that calmly stating my opinion is an overreaction or out of line. :-
        • F on December 5, 2010 at 11:25 AM
          is this eli barnett????
  • Joe on November 30, 2010 at 10:35 AM
    Its seed, chiefly used as caged-bird feed, is a valuable source of protein. The flowers (and to a lesser extent the leaves, stems, and seeds) contain psychoactive and physiologically active chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are consumed for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. When so used, preparations of flowers (marijuana) and leaves and preparations derived from resinous extract (hashish) are consumed by smoking, vaporizing and oral ingestion. Historically, tinctures, teas, and ointments have also been common preparations.
    • troll on November 30, 2010 at 2:29 PM
      lmfao yay for completely unrelated comments
  • insight on December 6, 2010 at 12:52 AM
    Protecting our country from terrorists is meaningless if, in the process, we turn our country into something not worth protecting.
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