Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

Government Porn Booths and Molestation Makes Me Safe?

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Umm...nice gun?

Talking about the new porn booths she’s rolling into airports across the nation, Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Chief says “Each and every one of the security measures we implement serves an important goal.”

Okay, but what is the goal?

Violation of the fourth amendment? Invasion of privacy? Profits for a company, Rapsican who makes the scanners and wouldn’t ya know, is a client of Michael Cherthoff’s lobbying group, the same Michael Cherthoff who introduced the idea of using the scanners when he was Department of Homeland Security Chief?

In case you’ve been living in a bubble, people are getting angry about the TSA’s new tool to fight crime, full body scanners. They take a full body image that is sharp enough to show non-metallic weapons and body genitalia through x-ray technology. The TSA maintains these x-rays are safe, but par usual whenever a government agency maintains the safety of (gulf seafood, genetically modified crops and salmon) something they mandate by law, scientists without agenda hold a differing view: “They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” says Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine. Should one opt out of the scanners they are then forced, in lieu of a $10,000 fine should they try to leave the screening process, into an intrusive body pat down, one that has been an equated with sexual assault. In response to such comparisons, Ron Paul, introduced a bill which would waive immunity for TSA airport screeners, opening them up to charges of assault by travelers, feeling they should beheld to the same laws as the rest of us.

Some have suggested that the more intrusive pat downs, rolled out this past October are meant as a deterrent to get people into the machines and some people, rightfully so, question what happens to these naked computer images? In an earlier post from August, I explored this issue. The TSA first maintained that the computers were not capable of saving or transmitting images. Then a courthouse in Florida demonstrated that not only are they capable, but the sheriff’s department at one court house had saved over 35,000 of them. Then the TSA said, okay, but they are deleted right away, but then those images started to make their way to the internet. Then they said well, okay, but we would never use machines with those capabilities at airports.

Right.

And since those capabilities are a matter of software inside the machines, we’ll never know, and even if those machines are truly disabled what would prevent a TSA screener from taking a picture of the image with his cellphone. Oh, right, the TSA doesn’t permit its employees to carry cellphones. How many of you work in jobs where cellphones aren’t permitted, but have brought them with you anyway?

Yep, me too.

So now the horror stories begin:

An airline pilot brings his 18 year old daughter to the airport and overhears one TSA agent say to another, “Heads up! I’ve got a cutie for you,” as she was headed for the scanner. When the pilot confronted the TSA clerk, he was told there must be a misunderstanding.

A breast cancer survivor is forced to remove her breast prosthesis in Charlotte. Cathy Bossi, a flight attendant relates the story: “She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ Bossi recalled. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’”

Thomas Sawyer tried to warn the TSA agents that he had a urostomy bag and they might break the seal if they weren’t careful during the invasive pat downs. The TSA agents ignored this and then, of course, broke the seal, resulting in the man walking through the airport and onto his plane covered in urine.

And what do TSA agents think about this, well those without morale compass certainly wouldn’t be bothered, but lest we forget, TSA agents are people too and one particular agent who remembers this, describes his feelings this way:

“It is not comfortable to come to work knowing full well that my hands will be feeling another man’s private parts, their butt, their inner thigh. Even worse is having to try and feel inside the flab rolls of obese passengers and we seem to get a lot of obese passengers!”

“Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me, said in my presence as I patted passengers down. These comments are painful and demoralizing, one day is bad enough, but I have to come back tomorrow, the next day and the day after that to keep hearing these comments. If something doesn’t change in the next two weeks I don’t know how much longer I can withstand this taunting. I go home and I cry. I am serving my country, I should not have to go home and cry after a day of honorably serving my country.”

Initially, airline pilots were forced to undergo the screenings, but now will be allowed to bypass as the TSA apparently realized how ridiculous it was to check the individual flying the plane for bombs.

Several lawmakers are getting into the act, including President Obama, who despite never having gone through the scanners or suffered the indignity of the pat downs, said he “understands peoples frustrations.” He states he asks, constantly, if there isn’t a better way to do this, but TSA officials have told him there isn’t, not yet. Congressional members, who have been sounding off about this, both pro and con, you know, our elected representatives, they of course are exempt from these screenings.

This is not your Congressman

Oh, and the most amusing fact about these new procedures?

They all come as a result of last years attempted Christmas bombing when a man snuck explosive chemicals onto a plane in his underwear. Well, the GAO reports: “it remains unclear whether the AIT (Scanners) would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident based on the preliminary information GAO has received.”

Passengers, pilots, flight attendants, members of congress, front line employees of the TSA, the media…everyone up in arms about these new procedures, the invasive pat downs, the radiation from the machines. Republican congressman are calling for airports to ditch the TSA and hire private security (an empty gesture as the airports would still be mandated to follow TSA guidelines), passengers are talking on public forums about the best way to humiliate TSA agents, four lawyers in New York City have proposed legislation to ban the machines in New York City’s airports, the morale of TSA agents are flagging, people are opting out of flying. With all the uproar, what is the response from the TSA?

TSA Chief John Pistole told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs that his inspectors at 453 of the nation’s airports are not going to back down in the face of complaints that techniques are invasive. Pistole acknowledged the outcry, but he argued that passengers need to be educated, rather than change the procedures.

“Am I going to change the policies?” he said. “No.”

So here we are:

I fly mainly into two airports: Louis Armstrong International and San Francisco International and both have the scanners. I can choose to be radiated and allow the TSA to take a nude image or I can subject myself to an invasive pat down where a TSA agent runs his hands over every inch of my body…well, either that or I don’t fly. The president, congress, people, the TSA’s own employees, everyone but Joe Lieberman and Michael Cherthoff are less than thrilled by any and all of this, yet my three choices remain. I didn’t vote for the TSA. I have a big problem with what it is they are doing. They are a government entity doing something that would get everyone but them arrested for sexual assault, yet I have no choice but to submit. I have no recourse to being wronged.

Yeah, this is why I feel disenfranchised.

So look for me at the airport, I’ll be the one feeling much, much safer and making things very awkward for the TSA agent who’s touching my balls. I’ll also be the one contacting members of congress and demanding they stop this bullshit money grab for yet another company in the name of (fear) safety.

Check out National Opt-Out Day, November 24th where a large number of people plan to skip the scanners and demand pat-downs, keeping the pressure where it should be, on the TSA.

Have a nice day.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Editilla, Drake Toulouse. Drake Toulouse said: Government Porn Booths and Molestation Makes Me Safe?: http://wp.me/pWdWw-Tf [...]


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