Friday, November 19, 2010

[Back]scattered Thoughts

Megan is on a tear:

Dear Airline: I'm leaving you. But don't feel too bad. It's not you, it's me. Or rather, it's the TSA.

I'm not going to lie. It's come between us. If I have to let someone else see me naked in order to be with you--well, I'm just not that kinky.

Several things come to mind. First, if Megan objects to what airport security has become, well, she should have thought about that before cheerleading the immigration policies that allowed into our country hundreds of thousands* of Arabic Muslims while at the same time insisting that ethnic profiling at TSA checkpoints is immoral. She is now reaping what she sowed.

But given these constraints, it's hard to get upset about the backscatter scanners. On the contrary, if these ever provide sufficient resolution to replace the shoe-and-belt-removal and the unpack-the-baby-stroller aggravations we're presently enduring, then they'll be a welcome improvement. No, I don't like the diminished zone of expected privacy either, but I like getting killed by terrorists even less.

But a stranger will see us naked! To which I respond: they get what they pay for.** Seriously, the porn value of these images, judging from the TSA samples I've seen, is pretty limited, and in any case, if the prospect of getting seen naked motivates some of the travellers I've seen at airports to either (1) lose weight or (2) take the train, then . . . explain to me where the downside is?

Megan objects that the TSA has failed to make a public case for the extent to which the backscatter machines marginally improve airplane security, which is fair enough . . . but it's also kind of the point. By way of analogy, consider the intelligence community (with which I have a passing familiarity). The kinds of information we are able to collect and the ways we collect it (i.e. "Sources and Methods") receive the highest security classification handling our government has, and for good reason: to know the sources and methods is to know how they can be defeated. The same is likely true for backscatter images: exactly what they can tell airport security about what passengers are carrying on their persons would be exactly the kind of information that aspiring terrorists would want to know, and thus should remain closely held.

But I repeat: if you don't like these security arrangements (and I don't), then join me in calling for the expulsion of the aliens among us, or for profiling them.

* I don't know the exact number, except that it's too damn many.

** In my case, they get more. I look pretty good naked.


Dexter said...

It is the "no ethnic profiling" rule that is the problem. Israel has many aliens in its midst, but does not have an airline security problem because they have SANE airline security procedures.

Erik said...

Oh they can profile alright...

I can't stop laughing...

Default User said...

Good post.

That link is funny in a kind of sad way. I cannot believe they are even considering it.

If pat downs offend Muslim sensitivities, than they can stay off planes. That might actually make us safer. It is funny how the government can express the don't like it, don't fly attitude to rest of us, but would never dare to it to the group that, you know, actually has been responsible for the major airline incidents.