Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Peep-and-Grope (Body Scanners and Invasive Pat Downs): Coming to Subways, Trains, Boats and Federal Buildings?
Scanning and invasive pat downs might be a necessary evil if there were no alternatives, but there are alternatives.
In fact, the alternatives would keep us safer than the peep-and-grope system we have now.
For example, trained dogs can detect many dangerous items which pat downs cannot. Or you could just blow up the terrorists (please ignore the religious smear).
Of course, it would help if we stop creating new terrorists. See this, this and this. But that would be bad for the handful of guys raking in big bucks from the protection racket.
Ron Paul is calling for an airline boycott, saying:
If we tolerate this there is something wrong with us.
But this may not be limited to airlines and airports. Janet Napolitano, head of the Department Homeland Security and Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, appear to be pushing for the use of body scanners in subways, trains, boats and federal buildings.
And in July, USA Today noted:
Protecting riders on mass-transit systems from terrorist attacks will be as high a priority as ensuring safe air travel, the new head of the Transportation Security Administration promises.
In his first interview since taking over the TSA, former FBI deputy director John Pistole told USA TODAY that some terrorists consider subway and rail cars an easier target than heavily secured planes. "Given the list of threats on subways and rails over the last six years going on seven years, we know that some terrorist groups see rail and subways as being more vulnerable because there's not the type of screening that you find in aviation," he said. "From my perspective, that is an equally important threat area."
Indeed, as Forbes' Andy Greenberg notes, mobile backscatter x-ray scanners are already being mounted in vans and used on American streets:
The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.
It would also seem to make the vans mobile versions of the same scanning technique that’s riled privacy advocates as it’s been deployed in airports around the country.
“It’s no surprise that governments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. “But from a privacy perspective, it’s one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.”