Friday, November 19, 2010

TSA Now Stands for Transient Sexual Assault?

Alternative title for this post: Scan This TSA :P

I'm so pissed now I don't even remember where this started. This is why I don't normally watch the news - it makes me mad, or sad, or generally puts me in a negative mood. I prefer to be happy and I'm pretty good at staying that way, but I also don't want to be blissfully ignorant as that is just as bad as being overly reactive. Things that are big news tend to make it onto my radar anyway, and this is no exception. I may be a little late to the party, but I definitely have something to contribute.

Whatever I was reading earlier, it gave a link to the blog containing the viral video uploaded by John Tyner in San Diego regarding his encounter with TSA recently. He "opted out" of being scanned in one of the new full-body scanners installed by airport security in the name of "fighting terrorism" (more like our government exercising terrorism on the public if you ask me), then stood up for his rights as an American citizen and refused to be groped in an alternative pat down by TSA personnel (John Tyner may be more well-known as the "Don't Touch My Junk" guy). Now Mr. Tyner may be facing a $10,000 fine even though he PEACEFULLY LEFT THE AIRPORT as he was told to do - simply because he would not "complete" the security check.

GOOD FOR HIM refusing to submit to the absolutely ridiculous new rules they've installed under the guise of safety. I admire a guy that is willing to give up a flight and vacation because he is not going to give up his rights to privacy and will not stand for being sexually assaulted in public at the airport just because "everyone else is doing it." I hope if they actually sue him, he sues them back and wins millions of dollars. He deserves it.

I already wrote quite a long missive in response to a comment from a friend on my Facebook page, so mostly I'm going to copy that here. I posted an article on my Facebook page about abolishing the TSA and basically my friend was asking why people are so uptight about the new security. He thought it was a good idea that we had better scanners. "What are they afraid of?" he asks. Here is my response:

What people are afraid of is losing the last of their shredded rights in this country. Our constitution is already looking like a cat took its claws to it. Every day we look more like a gilded Nazi concentration camp. At what level do they have to violate you before you say enough?

The porno factor of the scanners isn't the bigger issue (at least not for me). If you read about backscatter ionizing radiation, you'll find that being exposed once or twice might not cause much harm, but run yourself through those things once a day, as some business travelers do, or even a couple times a week, and you significantly up your chance of cancer and other DNA-malfunction type diseases. How convenient for the medical and pharmaceutical industries. (Also makes me wonder how the TSA agents that have to stand next to them all day will fare.) From Wikipedia on ionizing radiation: "It has many practical uses in medicine, research, construction, and other areas, but presents a health hazard if used improperly. Exposure to radiation causes damage to living tissue, and high doses can result in mutation, radiation sickness, cancer,[2], and death." The scanners do not use high doses, but depending how often you travel, you will get multiple doses and the radiation is cumulative. Radiation half-life is a crazy high number. The stuff lasts forever, which is why it accumulates instead of dissipating. Our bodies never heal from it because we don't live that long. That's why Chernobyl is still dangerous after how many years?

Add to it that the CEO
(Michael Chertoff) [of Rapiscan - do you suppose they meant to spell it so it could sound like Rape-a-scan?] the company selling most of these machines used to be head of Homeland Security under Bush. Hmmm. What's the best way to get rich? Get into the gov, make a big scare, then retire to a nice little company that solves the problem of the scare. What do you think his bonus is going to look like next year? I'd say he'll profit quite a bit. [Does Halliburton ring any bells?]

Read a few more links and find out that the head of Israel's Tel Aviv airport security (Rafi Sela) thinks these scanners are ridiculous and that guy's got 30 years of successful security under his belt in an airport so tight Tupperware is jealous. In a country with REASON to be paranoid! And he's not using scanners. In fact, he boasts that he knows a way to get enough explosives through a scanner without detection that he could take down any 747. I think I'm gonna believe him and his 30 years of experience. So what's the REAL incentive for these scanners? I'd have to say it's pure profit for a bunch of governmental cronies. Same shit, different day. Just cuz the Bush administration doesn't occupy the White House en masse, doesn't mean friends aren't still wandering the halls and feeding the lobbyists.

Now suppose you opt out and choose to have a cheap thrill with a TSA agent instead. Why is it less illegal for them to grope you than if you chose to feel up a hot chick in Starbucks without her consent? You'd go to jail. Not TSA. Just because TSA is "authorized" (authorized BY WHO?? Not ME!!) doesn't make this right or ok. I don't authorize them to touch me anywhere, nor do I authorize my government to make that decision for me. I've put up with all the crap about taking off shoes and scanning laptops, but this is crossing the line - for a lot of people. That is not what America is about. Nor would I EVER say it's ok to teach your child: "Well it's not ok for anyone to touch you in private places... *except TSA.*" WTF is that about? NO. TSA may not touch me or my children (even tho she's already an adult) anywhere I think is inappropriate. EVER. Even police officers have to have a GOOD reason to pat you down that way, and certainly they must have reasonable cause to strip search you (which is basically what the scanner does). TSA apparently needs no reason at all. I will not ever think that's okay, and especially not under the farce of airport security.

Upon further reflection I recognize that perhaps initiating these measures plants the seed in American minds that none of us can trust each other. We all look at each other suspiciously at the gate (not to mention the subway, the sidewalk, local restaurants... I mean seriously!). We're all on alert in the plane for anything out of order. TSA is supposedly just doing their job when they give the extended pat down, grabbing groins and squeezing for boob bombs. Who's to say perverts won't seek out this particular job now just so they can legally grope people? Do you trust that all TSA personnel can be completely benign even with the hottest chick or guy that comes through their line? Yeah, right. You think TSA reps don't talk about the best/worst people they had to check that day? Please. Even if they're not perverts, they are HUMAN. And a background check might not even reveal if they ARE perverts if they've kept to themselves... until now. There also seems to be no distinction of female officers patting down females and males for the males. And which would be more uncomfortable anyway? (Just one more reason TSA has no business touching anyone like they've been instructed to.) It's not like prerequisites to work for TSA include summa cum laude college degrees. Most of the TSA employees I've encountered could just as easily be asking me if I want fries with that. Creating mistrust among the citizens makes us vulnerable, right? United we stand, divided we fall? The higher ups in government DO tend to have those smarty pants degrees. They've read the history books on how we won the Revolution, and how the North won the Civil War. They know strategy. They know what went wrong for the losing sides in the past and they're up on the technology of today. If the government wanted to create a situation to control everyone, making us mistrust each other is a good way to start. People who love power will do anything to have it and protect it. I can't think of a bigger body of people that love power than the American government.

And to that end, these scanners supposedly do not have the ability to save or transmit images, however, this article states that they absolutely can do both and shows images to prove it. So NOW what do you think the real agenda is behind all this? We already have microchips in our driver's licenses and passports (RFIDs) that can track us no matter where we are as long as we have our ID (and who travels anywhere without their drivers license?). The TSA also states on their site "As we rapidly deploy technology as it exists today, we are also exploring enhancements to it, such as Automated Target Recognition (ATR), or auto-detection software." Read: facial recognition software. Is the gov just gathering more data on every citizen it can until they have a giant database to track our every move? For what purpose? I don't think I want Big Brother knowing every detail of my day. Is this starting to look seriously like the movie Minority Report to anyone else? One can't speculate too long or you'll really have trouble sleeping.

You know what bothers me most? WE, THE TAXPAYERS, PAID FOR THIS BULLSHIT.  Direct quote from TSA's site:

"In March 2010, TSA began deploying 450 advanced imaging technology units, which were purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds."

The ARRA (according to its own site) has three immediate goals:

  • Create new jobs and save existing ones
  • Spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth
  • Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending
I don't see how this new security silliness fills any of those three main goals. And nowhere on the site that is supposedly tracking the allocation of funds distributed under the ARRA does it say, "Legalize the sexual assault of millions of Americans (including children) trying to go about their daily business."

Keep in mind, these scanners and policies are mostly just at airports right now, but this is a transportation issue... eventually they plan to have these security rules implemented even in train stations, bus stations, large office buildings... everywhere.

And this is what's kept me from sleeping tonight... spending time educating myself about what's really going on, trying to see behind the curtain, as I wish ALL people would educate themselves and form their OWN opinion instead of just watching the news and jumping off a cliff after the big, stupid lemming that is Glenn Beck. (And I apologize to any lemmings I just offended.) I'm not fond of American journalism (with a few exceptions) because most of it is bent to say what our government would like us to hear. They don't necessarily lie (ok, some have made it a habit), but they do omit a lot of facts that might sway opinion unfavorably. You really have to read around to get the whole story (or at least a respectable bit of it). I recommend reading what the American Media Circus is saying and then ALSO reading media from Canada, BBC, or somewhere outside our own country that has a more objective perspective.

And in case that wasn't enough to keep you up too, try this video on for size:


Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I actualy have a friend who works security at a local airport and believe me, he is not shy in admitting that there are just some people that they hope they can pat down. The whole thing makes me really happy that I only fly once every couple years. Plus it isn't like the airport BS isn't already a huge waste of time, shoes and zippered anything plus laptops and quart sized containers. We might as well put everything in a plastic bin before we even get to the airport and forget flying in the winter, the number of articles you have to take off & put back on just to run to catch a flight is too mind boggling for words.

I'm all for being safe but seriously there are limits to my level of personal discomfort when it comes to protecting the security of people everywhere. I don't know about other airports but as of last Christmas Logan had a new Homeland Security checkpoint to pass through before getting to security. They looked at my license, briefly looked back at me and sent me on my way. No, I'm not a terrorist of course, just the average Jane traveler, but I wondered just what it accomplished. Do those guys have the names and faces of EVERY single person on the do not fly list memorized? It wasn't like they checked my name against a list or anything. Obviously I'm not on it but it really got me thinking.

Oh & I had to have a pat down on the way back from Cali because I forgot to take off my hoodie with a zipper, however Matt was wearing an over the head hoodie and skated right through unassaulted. Tiny petite person with form hugging zippered sweatshirt must be strapping something but man in oversized sweatshirt who could have been (wasn't of course but you get my drift) hiding anything is just fine to move through untouched. Um, yeah.

Most people will not do what Tyner did because they don't want to make waves and they deal with being uncomfortable because that's 'just the way it has to be'.

I read your whole back & forth on FB & kept nodding at every point you made. If I can't get there in a car I'm no longer sure I want to go. Truth be told I can probably get to most places faster driving these days considering the 2 hours+ before a flight, plane changes & layovers in the middle and baggage claim can really take a toll on the clock. Not to mention I get to see the country without someone telling me I can't carry a lighter and my full sized hairspray.

draagonfly said...

I hear ya. Waste of time doesn't begin to describe even the "old" debacle at the airport. I agree with your assessment of the sweatshirt thing too. That's ridiculous.

I remember when I used to go to my Dad's twice a year when I was little (one of the conditions of Mom moving to Texas) it took *maybe* half a day to get there and most of that was because of flight time, which cannot be avoided. Now, you have to plan two WHOLE extra days (long ones!) into your trip just to cover travel time on an airline. Crazy. And disturbing.

And patting down PILOTS? Get real. If they want the plane to go down, they're taking it down without any chemicals or weapons.

I was offered a free ticket to Texas over Christmas to see friends and family, but I said no thanks because of this BS with security. It's disappointing and sad. :(