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The Invasion of the Body Scanners

John Podhoretz makes a good point about where the anger at the TSA is coming from:

The message of the election was: No, stop, enough. The federal government has gotten too big, is doing too much, and may be acting in ways that are impinging on our freedoms. Through a coincidence unfortunate for the Obama administration's political future, it just so happens that the same month in which the public was explaining this to the political class, the terror threat rose, and the TSA instituted tougher measures to counter it. And where do people outside Washington encounter the federal government directly? At the airport.

I wouldn't put it quite that way, but I suspect he's onto something about what's making Americans angry. 

P.S. If large numbers of Americans demand pat-downs on Wednesday, should we call it, "The evasion of the body scanners?"

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 20 Comments

On the one hand, the TSA is forcing old women, young children, father-of-four WASPs, nuns, etc to go through all those ridiculous procedures despite the obvious fact that they are not a threat. On the other hand, the words "Mumbai-style attack" have entered the conversations of the well-read, and we realize that the TSA is at once creating a more dangerous environment as well as looking backward not forward.

It's an inimitable example of the Left forcing policy on us based on their "ought" rather than reality.

Here's a fun fact:

"Schiphol [airport - where the notorious wannabe underwear bomber boarded his flight to Detroit] in the Netherlands was the first airport in the world to implement this device on a large scale"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_body_scanner#Usage

They were in use there long before the inept diaper bomber was foiled by the Dutch artist.

So, aside from the privacy issues and the right-wing's (as exemplified by Kate and others) freedom-for-me-but-not-for-thee approach to the issue, their effectiveness is highly questionable.

Andrew - You think that these scanners and gate rapes are "an inimitable example of the Left forcing policy on us"?? Seriously? Wow, things are getting more unhinged than I could ever have imagined.

So will Obama be moving the TSA to the border to scan all people illegally coming into the United States?

A few months ago Obama was going on and on about people being asked for their "papers" while going to get ice cream and how the Arizona law was bad for the illegals in Arizona. Guess he doesn't care about American citizens being searched against their Constitutional rights.

Not one single would-be terrorist has been caught by the TSA - not one. However 23 TSA personnel have been fired in the past 2 years for stealing passenger's belongings.

There is a great article in Popular Mechanics about how the inventors of the scanners being used by the TSA would be unable to detect anything on the recent underwear bomber. The guy who makes the machines said "We couldn't have caught that".

Andrew: Rape is means nothing to the left. Their favorite President Clinton was a rapist and a groper and still loved and adored by the left - even today.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/tsa-scans-security-theater-interview.

Craig, what is your solution? Security protocols as they were under the Bush Administration? Less than that? An alternate form of enhanced security?

Craig's answer is simple. Surrender to the terrorists. No more need to worry about terrorism then!

Craig, do you mean to say that if the scanners and "enhanced pat-downs" worked better, then those petty matters of privacy and "we are all guilty until proven innocent" of the Obama Administration's TSA procedures would be just fine? No, you don't mean that, given the rhetoric you use to respond to Andrew. What do you mean?

According to a Wa Po/ABC poll, most Americans think the whole thing is reasonable. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/22/AR2010112205514.html

This would appear to mean that America is more concerned with security (even if questionable) than with privacy.

Everybody knows Arabs arent getting scanned by the TSA. It's just a scheme to get Americans to give up their liberties.

Americans always fight back against this sort of thing:

http://www.rockyflatsgear.com/mens-brief-radiation-blocker.html

This is not my find; it was noted on NR's "The Feed".

the terror threat rose? How convinient for those with a vested interest in the scanners. Of course we don't get real info on any this other than a confusing story about a printer bomb that was not a bomb then six hours later was a bomb. I don't recall which one of our beloved leaders said it, but one of them admitted to fake alerts for political gains in their book. Of course we get more threats when people protest the scanners, the scanners are big money, train people to be slavish toward government authority, and strip people of their most basic human dignity. The leader was tom ridge:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32501273/

Go over to NRO, and read Marc Theissen's post on this, it will give you pause about the typical conservative reaction to the this latest amp-up of screening (which we all knew was coming, but had sort of denied to ourselves that the invasive pat-downs would be logically coming with it).

Theissen shows you that:

a) here may be an impossible problem.

b) while there is reason to admire and call for Don't Tread on My Junk spirit, TSA employees are people too, and they should not be set up as Symbols of the Nanny State That Good Americans Must FIght Back Against. Now as for Napolitano...

and he leads you, I think, to consider the following:

Just as the most irresponsible thing about the liberal and "moderate" crusade against "Torture" and other sundry post 9/11 "abuses," was that forcing us to have this massive debate about precisely where the lines ought to be drawn in interrogation, on electronic surveillance, on detention, etc., revealed a great deal to the terrorists, if we now have a massive debate about what TSA should be doing chapter and verse, we will convey precisely the same type of info. That is, to fight against terrorists effectively requires a certain level of trust-granting (with behind the scenes monitoring by all three branches, to be sure) to the respective agencies. As hard as it may be, one must leave the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Department, and yes, the TSA, some wide areas of darkness in which to operate in. We do not want to spell out all the rules in the name of some bullshit and partisanship-motivated Not Shredding the Constitution dogma. We want terrorists to be uncertain of what the TSA might have up its sleeve, and even intimidated by the agency.

So what to do? Just an amateur speaking here, but the following seem to make sense:

--another level of opt-outs for those willing to show up extra early, that will be hands-off but will involve the Israeli-style interviewing and profiling method.

--simple profiling/random methods to reduce, but not eliminate, use of the "naked machines." Make the chance of the average joe going through one somewhere around 25%.

--same methods used to make the pat-downs that are administered often less than "full."

--hyper-scrupulous investigation of the radiation threat.

--strict control of naked-image database, such that those images are irrevocably done away with at least a week after creation.

--stricter-than-normal firing procedures for TSA agents, with special laws to prevent aspects of union agreements if necessary. If Americans are going to submit to this, they need to know that any agent found guilty of abusing their powers is going to get canned and quickly, and that any twice-suspected but not caught red-handed agent is going to be removed from the screening process.

Don't Tread on Me, yes; We Are in This Together, that too.

Therefore we must change our notions of liberty to ensure our security. This is not change I can believe in. We are all being treated as criminals for our own good.

How far do we go to ensure we are safe? http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/130549-next-step-for-body-scanners-could-be-trains-boats-and-the-metro-

"The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary."

Andrew - I'll respond to your question after you answer mine:

Do you seriously think that these scanners and gate rapes are "an inimitable example of the Left forcing policy on us"?? You think this is the work of "the Left"??

Kate said:
"Craig, do you mean to say that if the scanners and "enhanced pat-downs" worked better, then those petty matters of privacy and "we are all guilty until proven innocent" of the Obama Administration's TSA procedures would be just fine? No, you don't mean that, given the rhetoric you use to respond to Andrew. What do you mean?"

It looks like you mostly answered your own question.

I'm against the use of the p*rno-scanners and the "enhanced" (there's a word to be suspicious of!) pat-downs (which are just creepy gropes by another name).

But I'm also against your ostensible approach, which seems to be that these things are unacceptable for you and your angelic "type" - because it's wrong to treat you and your type as guilty until proven innocent - but fine to submit others to such treatment and presumed guilt.

That's not a principle, it's just self-serving ethical contortions (among other things).

Brutus - We often don't see eye-to-eye, but I appreciate your take on issues like this one. Your post in this thread was pretty much a bullseye.

You think this is the work of "the Left"??

Well, the Nation appears to be okay with it: http://www.thenation.com/article/156647/tsastroturf-washington-lobbyists-and-koch-funded-libertarians-behind-tsa-scandal

Thanks for reminding me why I dropped my Nation subscription years ago.

I think this is a unifying issue, one which makes some unusual and atypical bedfellows. I think it's also fair to say that the libertarian left and right find easy agreement on this one, along with a lot of not-very-political Americans in the mushy middle.

1. The more I read through the comments under that Nation piece (of ...), the more I see people (presumably the majority of whom are Nation readers and not one-time hit-and-runners sent over from NewsMax or whatever) slamming and trashing it. Good for them. Even though I parted ways with The Nation long ago, that piece is still rather sub-par for them.

Notice too, that other Nation writers - like the very good Jeremy Scahill - are distancing themselves as much as possible from it.

2. Glenn Greenwald (whom I recently mentioned in another thread) destroys the piece and everything about it:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/24/tyner/index.html

Craig, we understand that you never got the "Liberal Fascism" thing, which was so evident to some of us here, but you find oxymoronic. The language of it is an oxymoron, so that is reasonable. On the face of it, the language used for American politics often does not make sense.

It must be frustrating for you to find other Americans who call themselves "liberal" behaving, and now governing, so illiberally. In case you hadn't noticed, Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama & Co. are not conservatives. They characterize themselves as liberals and previously you have supported them as such.

The bizarreness of this seems to have unhinged you. You are attacking people here and in other threads with a stunning illogicality. I, myself, have never been so carefully, consistently, purposefully and thoroughly misread, mis-taken and misunderstood by anyone, even my husband. Well, there is my teen-aged daughter who can take the hint of a "yes" out of the context of a field of "no"s and will try to beat me into submission with it like it was a truncheon.

Arguing with you feels the same, like arguing with a hormonally-deranged and intellectually deluded teen. I have better things to do than track down your links to see what you are doing to all the other people you just don't "get" and wish to shut up in your sweet liberal way. What I do not see is why the fact that those people you supported are not behaving and governing as you expected means you should come here and rant nastily.

Is it really so bad for you that they are behaving as we expected them to, as we predicted they would, with all the authoritarianism the words "Liberal Fascism" suggests? How awful for you to be reduced to hoping a conservative House of Representatives might be the only defense of liberty that we have got.

Actually, we are all worried about that. So much depends on all our little Mr. Smiths going to Washington -- they seem a slender thread of hope.

Anyway, you behaving (or at least writing) thuggishly does not make you seem disassociated with the thugs in power. You helped put those thugs in power. What are you going to do about it? Ranting at those of us who didn't want them or their policies isn't really helping anything beyond, maybe, your psyche. I suppose you are only doing what comes naturally to you, as the Democrats running the nation right now seem to do what comes naturally to them and as I am doing what come naturally to me, whining about politics pointlessly.

I am going to help prepare a Thanksgiving dinner with a large extended family -- in-laws and my mother -- who are going to tell me why everything Barack Obama does is right and good. Perhaps I will be converted by nightfall.

Here is my tardy contribution to this discussion:

http://www.desertdispatch.com/opinion/security-9763-national-attempted.html

Kate, I'll ask one last time, in the most straightforward manner possible:

Is the principle "innocent until proven guilty" so sound and so valuable that it should be applied universally?

Your latest comment was one for the ages. Chock full of bluster and extra ad hominem (I'm like a "hormonally-deranged and intellectually deluded teen" who's "attacking people [...] with a stunning illogicality." - some examples might have been useful there) but pretty weak on substance.

Please elaborate: Who do I "wish to shut up" - and how am I expressing that desire, and how am I attempting to do it - and exactly how am I "behaving (or at least writing) thuggishly"?

Amazingly, in the very same post, you declare that I "thoroughly misread, mis-taken and misunderstood" you.

This was also interesting. First you offered:
"It must be frustrating for you to find other Americans who call themselves "liberal" behaving, and now governing, so illiberally."

Which would seem to be an admission that Obama, Napolitano (& co. - probably Pelosi, right?) are not acting like liberals normally/typically should act - a norm which, following the Goldberg thesis, means acting like fascist thugs (since "fascism, properly understood, is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left." - correct? {quote is Goldberg's}

But then there was this:
"Is it really so bad for you that they are behaving as we expected them to, as we predicted they would, with all the authoritarianism the words "Liberal Fascism" suggests?"

So, they're acting "illiberally" and, simultaneously, like liberal fascists? I'm sure it's my teenage hormones again, Kate, but something seems - illogical - about your claims - even going by your own unique brand of logic.

Where in the world did you come up with this one:
"How awful for you to be reduced to hoping a conservative House of Representatives might be the only defense of liberty that we have got."

Where did I say that, or even remotely imply it?

"Anyway, you behaving (or at least writing) thuggishly does not make you seem disassociated with the thugs in power. You helped put those thugs in power."

Kate, what do you know about who I've voted for? Please share. (And how have I supported Napolitano and her self-described liberalness?)

Kate, do you know when the TSA was established? Do you know when they started doing pat-downs?

Do you know who Michael Chertoff is? Do you know who nominated him as Secy. of Homeland Security?

Here's Chertoff in a Dec. 2009 NPR interview:

"Well, a couple of years ago we began the process of testing them [full body scanners] to see, first of all, if they worked and second, if they could be deployed without unduely restricting the flow of traffic.
...
The difficulty is the ACLU and other similar organizations began a very aggressive campaign to limit or prevent the use of these machines and it culminated frankly last year in a vote by the House of Representatives to be very sharply restricted of the use of these machines.
...
I would point out that I've talked about this for probably the last three years."

In the same interview, Chertoff admits that he has an (obviously financial) interest in at least one company that makes the full body scanners. It's worth reading:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122018593

(and since previous comments by you here at NLT seemed to be riding the Obama = govt. takeover of everything, a la Beck, wave, I'll ask you this - ) Do you know who signed into law the TARP bailout of the banks? I'll give you a clue: imagine a conservative audience assembled before a President finishing his 2nd term and chanting "Four More Years! Four More Years!" Any guess?

What you really need to come to grips with is the obvious "continuity" - if Obama is a liberal fascist, then so was Dubya:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/11/22-14

And then maybe you'll start doing what you should be doing: THANKING Obama, rather than decrying whatever he happens to be doing, just because he's a Democrat who happened to campaign (which is distinct from governing) as some kind of vague liberal/progressive. (Not that it would matter on that score, as the Tea Party crowd seems to imagine all Dems as being aligned with Michael Moore)

Okay. You poor guy, so misunderstood. I just wish you wouldn't make me feel so much sympathy about that.

You're right about some of what you write. I don't know who you voted for in the last presidential election. The way you supported Obama and his political past against the slurs of conservatives in comments here made me think you liked him. That was then, in the distant past of -- well, in some time past.

That's a convenient approach, Kate. As long as you continue to dodge my questions, the contradictions I note in your own words, and the facts that I offer, you remain in a lofty position where you can fling the ad hominem and offer condescending "sympathy."

Few (very few) progressives (i.e. "liberal fascists") care at this point if Obama does or ever did consider or refer to himself as "liberal" or "progressive." His actions speak louder than his words. If Glenn Beck started tomorrow promoting universal, single-payer health coverage and shutting down military bases around the world, and endorsing gay marriage (etc, etc.), but he called himself a tea party conservative, would his self-designation matter to you? Would that make him one?

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