Well, it seems my post is generating some discussion. First, let me be clear that the point was that I don’t have issues with the body scanners. The pat-downs and other debacles that the TSA have engaged in, I do. Do the body scanners significantly improve detection? Well, not significantly, but it is slightly better than the existing magnetometers. Clearly there are better ways to do this and there are ways around existing (and future enhancements) no doubt. My personal experience with the body scanner was positive. Let me pull and address some highlights from emails.
First from Operative GD:
I think you made, if not the Czar’s point exactly, a fine point for why all this TSA bru-ha-ha is nonsense. To quote you, “… balancing national security and safety with individual privacy…”
Yes, I didn’t disagree with all of his points and much of it I agree with – hence one reason for the title of my original post. This balancing act is a hard thing for a country to do, especially the United States with the freedoms that we have and the target that we are.
Humbly I submit that armored cockpit doors and armed cockpit crew effectively eliminate the only “national security and safety” concern that I and most (travelers or not) have, that someone turns the plane into an effective cruise missile. Otherwise, the damage a terrorist could do is really equal to what they do at a below-average high-school football game, and we certainly aren’t TSA’ing those up, are we? Life is risk… I am willing to accept the risk that McBadguy will be able to get fancy “no metal parts” bomb through a good magnetometer and decent (yes… “profiling”) passenger screening in exchange for not feeling like I am breaking into a prison to fly in my own country.
Good points. However, I would posit that we have yet to implement “decent passenger screening” in this country. If I were to submit an idea for change for the airline process, it would be that all “political correctness” of profiling goes away. Those that fit a profile get more scrutiny. So, your grandmother or 2-year old doesn’t. Swarthier individuals might. Those acting out of character for a regular airline traveler, you bet. There are people trained to do this. I would consider pulling many from retiring military members – they have had to quickly evaluate a situation.
It is an argument between risk versus cost (financial, ethical, privacy, convenience). In warfare (symmetrical or not), attempting the zero-defect game is a pointless.
Yep, and I think the “right to privacy” argument is a bit of a canard here. Right to decency, sure. No one (except ‘Puter) wants to be groped. But GD is right – it really is a risk-cost evaluation.
In the case of an mid-air explosion under the current system, the airline still gets sued and the TSA pleads that they are immune as a government agency. Who has the greater incentive to prevent such an event? When something bad happens, the airline loses money and people, the TSA just gets a bigger budget.
Fair enough. I’m just not sure that making the airlines liable without some minimum standard that is regularly accredited/tested. There probably is a good balance of public/private, cost/risk and other factors (privacy, security, speed, etc.) that we’ll find, it’s just going to be a rough road getting there.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.