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Get Ready to Strip At Reagan National

Sunday, June 22, 2008; Page B08

Unless you're a porn star, you may want to avoid flying out of Reagan National Airport. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is introducing millimeter wave scanners at its checkpoints there and other airports nationwide.

Millimeter waves bring Superman's X-ray vision out of the comics and into the concourse. Passengers step into a booth whose cameras peer through their clothing to photograph the body beneath. The pictures then appear on a monitor that is, as the TSA puts it, "remotely located." The agency assures us that the screener watching the monitor never sees the passenger in person -- as if that excuses the peep show. And a peep show it is: "These machines, which show detailed images of a person's naked body, are equivalent to a 'virtual strip search,' " says the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). "The image resolution . . . is high so the picture of the body presented to screeners is detailed enough to show genitalia." Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union marvels at the government's double standard: "If Playboy published them, there would be politicians out there saying they're pornographic."

Children, expectant mothers, devout Christians, Jews, Muslims -- anyone scanned is virtually stripped. The ACLU adds a new wrinkle to the worry over nudity: "Passengers . . . should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals as a prerequisite to boarding a plane."

EPIC and the ACLU are not alarmist. Even the equipment's manufacturer admits that "you can see the threats, but you can also see quite a bit of people's anatomy." No wonder prisons use millimeter waves to search inmates -- which tells us all we need to know about the TSA's view of passengers.

Currently, only passengers the agency selects for the infamous "secondary screening" are scanned naked, and they can "choose" a pat-down instead. But the TSA isn't shy about its plans to virtually strip all of us every time we fly. James Schear, the TSA's federal security director at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, said, "It's the wave of the future." He told USA Today that "the scanners could eventually replace metal detectors at the nation's 2,000 airport checkpoints."

The TSA's checkpoints have been delaying passengers for six years now. With roughly 720 million "emplanements" every year, the TSA has searched almost 4.5 billion fliers. No screener anywhere has found a single terrorist. That's because terrorism is one of life's most improbable dangers. In fact, it's so remote that the National Safety Council only calculates how likely we are to die from "war and other sequelae" -- and in 2004, Americans ran a mere one in 10,487,744 chance of becoming such a casualty. By contrast, those who climbed into a car stood one chance in 19,216 of traveling in a casket next. Anyone who moves is an even greater daredevil: walking, climbing stairs or rolling over in bed makes your odds of dying from a fall one in 15,614.

Forcing passengers to disrobe electronically because of terrorism's tiny risk exposes the TSA as our real enemy. It's time to send this agency packing.



-- Becky Akers

New York

The writer is working on a book about the TSA.


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Added: Jul-3-2008 
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  • Stop that guy he has a gun!!!! oh, wait, he`s just happy to see me. :} i like the idea.

    Posted Jul-4-2008 By 

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  • This is how i did it in the good old days of hitler. Little by little we took away the freedoms of the citizens til they dont even notice it anymore. Keep up der gutt work! Adolf, just look what the Americans are doing now! It's like we never left!

    Posted Jul-4-2008 By 

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  • I am sure we will see TOP 10 sexy women, collected by some TSA personel. Sooner or later...

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  • Source:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/20/AR2008062002227.html

    Posted Jul-3-2008 By 

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  • wow could we get any more of a left wing bias on this one? Of course The Washington Post isn't going to tell you the plan is that the TSA's looking at these scans are going to be in a completely different room with no way to tell who there looking at. Its also much more effective and efficient than today's current checkpoints and has the potential to greatly reduce airport check-in times.

    Posted Jul-4-2008 By 

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    • This new technology is being used for secondary screening and not the primary method. However, in the future it may replace the primary method of detection, and I have no trouble participating if required too.

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  • can it detect glass? im sure you could make a shank out of a glass shard.

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  • Put the implants in us and get it over with NWO...

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  • Its not so much this "small" elimination of privacy, if it were the last one it would be no big deal. But we all know it isnt the last one. There is an actual company that wants to sell a chip: implant tracking chips in employee badges or even in their BODIES so the employer can track where they are every minute at work. Would you like to work in such a place? Or would you rather hold a sign at the freeway off ramp for money? And does what i just mentioned sound implausible now, More..

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  • Welcome to the NEW WORLD ORDER! Your all the victims of your own naivety. They put some dumb kid on the plan with a threat of "Bomb" and broadcast it on all channels even simulating "what would of happened" and the next day they take away another little bit of so-called freedom.

    If you poor Americans still believe that the Muslims and Aliens are out to get you either then your police-stated then you deserve to be pawns.

    Posted Dec-31-2009 By 

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