On Wednesday an unknown number of travelers are expected to participate in National Opt-Out Day to protest the controversial full-body imaging scanners by requesting time-intensive pat-downs. WiIl it make pre-Thanksgiving travel even more of a nightmare? "Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays," Paul Ruden, a spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, tells CBS 2. "It doesn’t take much to mess things up anyway—especially if someone purposely tries to mess it up." Speaking of messed up, these photos give you a detailed look at what awaits if you decide to forgo the porno scanner for the personalized groping.
Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer urged travelers to submit to the new invasive security theater at New York's airports. "If you’re going to travel you have to cooperate,” Schumer told reporters. "Our job is to make sure that if there’s a real public outcry, to make sure it’s readjusted." Chuck, we're pretty sure the public outcry is real. Also, is that really your job description? Shouldn't your job be to confirm that the security procedures are as effective as possible, regardless of their popularity?
Leading the outcry in NYC is Council member David Greenfield, who has introduced legislation to ban the scanners at all NYC buildings, not just airports. In an op-Ed in today's Post, Greenfield recalls that after last year's failed Christmas underwear bomber, "Michael Chertoff, former secretary of Homeland Security, was trotted out before the national media to proclaim that if these full body scanners were deployed they 'would pick up this kind of device.' What Chertoff neglected to mention to the nervous American public, while shilling for a machine that wouldn’t have stopped Abdulmutallab, is that, as the head of The Chertoff Group, he was now being paid as a lobbyist for Rapiscan, a company actively pursuing a contract for these scanners. Within days, Chertoff’s client received an astonishing $173 million to manufacture and install these machines in airports across the country."
Greenfield also notes that the full-body scanners "can detect guns, knives and box cutters, but they cannot pick up materials, like plastics, liquids and powders, most frequently used in attempted post-9/11 airplane bombings." These scanners are now deployed in 70 of 450 airports in the United States, and TSA chief John Pastole says, "We cannot forget that less than one year ago a suicide bomber with explosives in his underwear tried to bring down a plane over Detroit." And yet Pistole also seemed to leave the door open for backpedaling, telling the Times, "This has always been viewed as an evolving program that will be adapted as conditions warrant."
The uproar comes as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group behind the underwear bomber and for placing explosive devices aboard cargo planes last month, released a new issue of their glossy, English-language magazine, Inspire. In this most recent installment, the group reveals, "This strategy of attacking the enemy with smaller but more frequent operations is what some may refer to as the strategy of a thousand cuts. The aim is to bleed the enemy to death." The Times says this new strategy "represents a victory for Western counterterrorism," and James Carafano, a security specialist at the Heritage Foundation, thinks, "it’s a good marketing spin on a pretty desperate strategy."
So does that make you feel very secure and very warm inside? If not, maybe this video of an 8-year-old boy getting a pat-down by four TSA screeners will put you at ease:
UPDATE: The TSA says the boy's father removed his son's shirt in an effort to expedite the screening.