TSA screenings: Government stupidity at work

TSA screenings are intrusive, possibly a health risk, and won't stop people determined to blow up planes.

Jeff Roberson / AP / File
TSA manager Anthony Crimi, left, demonstrates how a new full-body imaging machine will be used at one of the security checkpoints inside Lambert-St. Louis International Airport as TSA agent Jan Ziegler, right, looks on, Oct. 7. November has seen a rising backlash against the scanners.

As I try to limit this blogg to issues related to economics, I haven't written until now about the new ultra-intrusive "security measures" that the U.S. government is imposing on U.S. airports, but after reading this article, I can't resist doing so anymore.

Apparently, the U.S. federal government, in the form of the so-called Traffic Security Administraton (TSA) is even insisting that pilots go through this. This is absurd beyond belief. If a pilot really wanted to crashland a plane, would he really need any explosives or weapons. All he needs to do is use his control of the plane to crash land it. But that's hardly the only problem with the full body scanners.

First of all, they are intrusive and humiliating as they allow government employess to view everyone nude, something which can and will be (and already have) abused.

Secondly, the radiation involved in these scans create a health risk. While the health effects are probably very low for people who travel only occassionally, it is nevertheless a negative.

And thirdly, it won't stop people who are really determined to blow up planes. I of course have absolutely no such desire (in fact, I'm of course strongly opposed to it), especially if I'm on that plane, but if I wanted to do it it would be quite easy to do so. In case you don't realize yourself how the scanning could be circumvented, let's just say it involves places where the sun don't shine. As Rafi Sela, a security expert of the arguably safest airport in the world, the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, puts it:

"I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747"

Given that Israel is arguably the country that Islamic fundamentalists hate the most in the world, and given that Israel still unlike the United States and several other other countries have still prevented terrorists from entering their planes for several decades, amd the fact that it has done so without the kind of gross violations of people's privacy, one can wonder why it hasn't been emulated. Is it political correctness (yes, one (but not the only) part of the israeli security strategy is to view 24-year old Muslim men as more likely to be terrorists than non-Muslim 4-year olds or 84-year olds), stupidity or ulterior motives, or a combination of the mentioned factors?

Well, I'll leave that up to you to decide. We can only hope that resistance against this intensifies, because if it is established, it is likely to spread to for example Europe as well.


The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. This post originally ran on stefanmikarlsson.blogspot.com.

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