“You guys are having fun at the expense of new travel security measures. And they are a pain in the butt, no doubt. But there is a problem and you're not offering alternatives to a real problem. Why aren't you in any way critical of the reasons for the necessity of these things? Just wondering.”
Since we’re having a special guest (Rudy Delson!) on our next show, we thought we’d answer Listener Steve here on the Blog.
1: The TSA scanners are a virtual strip search. The Fourth Amendment says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ...” How is it reasonable to require every single traveler to submit to a strip search?
2. The TSA scanners are not safe. Jason Bell, a molecular biologist and biophysicist, has reviewed the TSA’s own safety reports, and has concluded that people should opt for the pat-down search rather than go through the scanners. Here are some (long) quotes:
“Essentially, it appears that an X-ray beam is rastered across the body, which highlights the importance of one of the specific concerns raised by the UCSF scientists... what happens if the machine fails, or gets stuck, during a raster. How much radiation would a person's eye, hand, testicle, stomach, etc be exposed to during such a failure. What is the failure rate of these machines? What is the failure rate in an operational environment? Who services the machine? What is the decay rate of the filter? What is the decay rate of the shielding material? …These questions have not been answered to any satisfaction …”
“… the statement that one scan is equivalent to 2-3 minutes of your flight is VERY misleading. …relating non-absorbing cosmic radiation to tissue absorbing man-made radiation is simply misleading and wrong. ... a total body dose is misleading, because there is differential absorption in some tissues. … Even more alarming is that because the radiation energy is the same for all adults, children, or infants, the relative absorbed dose is twice as high for small children and infants because they have a smaller body mass (both total and tissue specific) to distribute the dose. Alarmingly, the radiation dose to an infant's testes and skeleton is 60-fold higher than the absorbed dose to an adult brain!”
There is much more, including Bell’s call for the TSA agents to be equipped with radiation badges to monitor their own exposure. You can read Bell’s full post here.
(Thanks to BoingBoing for the link.)
3. BUT! You don’t have to go through the scanners, you can opt for the “pat down.” Still an unreasonable search, and guess what? The TSA agents don’t change their gloves for each one! That hand going down your pants carries the cooties of 1,000 junk-touchings. The TSA’s own blog has a lot of posts about the problem they’ve had with spreading scabies at Boston’s Logan Airport. Scabies today, flesh-eating bacteria tomorrow, n’est-ce pas?
Finally, to address Listener Steve’s question about the “necessity” of strip searching all travelers: What is the reason for it, really? Does it really make traveling safer? Really?