Copping a feel for authority

How about having your private parts poked and groped or,
perhaps, being photographed virtually nude is preferable. If you’re an airline
traveler you may already know the drill, maybe even first hand.

Airline travelers are faced with a choice, either get a dose
of heavy radiation from a backscatter X-ray machine that will render an almost
nude photograph or get a fondled frisk.

Maybe the Transportation Safety Administration should be
renamed the Office of Touching Sensitive Areas.

It’s all in the name of safety and security, of course.

According to
“Backscatter X-ray machines were built specifically for airport security.
Backscatter X-ray technology can strip off a person's clothing in the captured
image to show him or her practically naked. In the process, it will show any
contraband such as ceramic knives, liquid explosives or drugs that the person
was carrying but were previously undetectable by metal detectors or
conventional X-ray machines. The backscatter scanner can, therefore, see
through clothes and provide photo-quality views of its subject.”

It works because higher periodic table elements, such as
metals, absorb more photons and scatter less.

“It is this capability of backscatter machines to strip away
the outer clothing layers of a person which have (sic) created anxiety among
many civil liberties groups and concerned citizens who claim that such machines
will provide security people with a free peep show of airline passengers and
will thus constitute an invasion of privacy,” the site said.

There are lawsuits challenging the use of the machines on
the grounds of both privacy and safety (from radiation).

It’s also now being reported that many of the scans taken
have leaked out, meaning the images themselves got out into the public.

So far there are a reported 300 of the machines in use in
about 60 airports. The TSA wants another 500 in service by the end of the year.

No one is forced to go through the scanners, but those who
refuse get to learn first hand just how touchy-feely government can get—they
get a very personal pat down.

That leads to the case of John Tyner, a traveler who said no
to the scan and, when told the details of the pat down responded, “If you touch
my junk I’ll have you arrested.”

Mr. Tyner was told either to be scanned, get patted down or
to leave. He chose to leave and security personnel escorted him out of the
airport. Given the wisdom of the federal government, he’s now being charged
with leaving the airport.

Does anyone really believe the intrusiveness of government
will stop? How long will it take before the backscatter machines and groping
security agents will be at all government buildings, train and bus stations?
Will schools come next?

Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying: “Those who
would trade essential liberty for perceived security deserve neither security
or liberty.”

So if you
choose to fly and opt for either the scanner or the personal frisk, let’s hope
the operators don’t giggle. Those who don’t believe in privacy are already
snickering up their collective sleeves.

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