Monday, November 22, 2010

America's McTravel Options: Full bodies on the internet or strip search over clothes? Something just seems wrong here...

I've been waiting and waiting focusing on the novel, but just can't wait any more. I am truly and deeply disturbed by the changes going on in airport security in the US. I read this article yesterday about a retired teacher with an ostomy bag (an external urine collection device for those who have suffered from, among other things, bladder cancer. This man was given the "enhanced pat down" after going through the full body scanner because of his medical prosthesis. Unfortunately, the highly trained and skilled TSA agents refused to listen to him explain that he has a medical condition. How insensitive and disgusting could their behavior be?

Then today, I saw the following video.

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You know, what's truly troubling to me is that most Americans don't seem to care. Once we take the fear to this level, we've lost already. When we say no one is human in order to catch inhuman predators, we've lost our own humanity. Mind you, I don't have a particular issue with pat downs. In Jordan, this is par for the course for women. Somehow metal detectors are not adequate (I won't even go there), so we get patted down twice for each trip.

Yep, that's right. Double pat downs in the course of getting to my plane. Yet, somehow dignity is retained. I've never had an issue with screeners at the airport here. They ascertain what they need to (I have no weapons and no bombs) without making me feel like I've been violated. What worries me is that the media is listening to hacks like the Israeli guy. Really, THIS is the model you want to hold up?

Note in the video that he's encouraging profiling (which doesn't work) and talking about loss of privacy. Unfortunately, it seems to me that in Israel only one class of non-citizen is subjected to such inhuman behavior... and it's created suicide bombers. So, maybe that's NOT the model we want to follow.

And, as for full body screens, is there anyone in the world who doesn't foresee these pictures ending up for sale on ebay? Anyone at all? I can see what this will become, whether they can see your face or not. Oh, and do you really think there are no cameras that are taking video of the screeners at all times? How hard is it to match these up? I don't think all TSA screeners are bad, but there is some percentage that is. There is ALWAYS some percentage that is...

Personally, I plan to say no thank you to "full body screening" and live with the pat downs. But, hopefully by the time I travel to the US again, they will have a more appropriate option available. And, I'm sorry but dial down the fear rhetoric and search for real solutions. I feel the same way about this as the Patriot Act, if you want live in a police sate there are many to choose from. Maybe we should keep America as America... I seem to recall something about it being the land of the free, but that WAS before 9/11 I guess. Perhaps we should change our national anthem to, the land of the kind of free in some ways and the home of those who live in fear. Seems more appropriate these days. So, to Secretary Clinton and President Obama, yeah you really need to think long and hard about that "balance" you've been treating so cavalierly. I find America beginning to slide down a slippery slope and I don't think I like where the end of it is...

Happy Imbalance!


At 2:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are speaking out about this. I, for one, am not comfortable with either option. That pat downs are invasive...Not a typical pat down, I would say.

I think the line has blurred way too much and people are taking notice of this and trying to get the system changed but is it enough?

At 3:18 AM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Really, this is the last straw.

Now that some are putting explosives n bodily cavities, what's next? Cavity checks?

Enough. People who blow up planes have already figured out how to do it another way. They won. ALL who travel have lost their personal freedom as a result, thanks to them and our government.

After all the previous privacy invasion, gathering intelligence etc, don't they have a clue who such people are?

If Muslim women get an exemption am going to don a hijab and say 'my religion forbids it'.

I need to read up and see if TSA employees are making a stink yet. Imagine comin to work and being told your job is now to touch other people's genitals. The next gen of TSA workers is guaranteed to have some really creepy characters with that job description.

At 1:28 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Samar, I finally just had to speak out. Kinzi, exactly. The whole point is that now that you're doing this, they'll simply find another way, right? So what are we doing other than wasting time and money? And, I'm with you on the type of people that will be attracted to the new job position... I don't want to encounter any of them, sigh.

At 8:53 AM , Blogger abu 'n um tulip said...

I see you're starting to get libertarian on us... nice!

Really, if someone is determined, couldn't he find enough stuff on the plane? Surely the knives and forks they give you with the meal service (at least RJ still gives you metal ones, bravo RJ!) are more of a threat than Grandma's nail clippers.

-Abu Tulip

At 10:59 AM , Anonymous jaraad said...

The other day when I saw the interview with the Israeli guy I was like seriously do you want to go that low. Watch this video of a child being stripped by TSA

By the way, I don't mind racial profiling even though I would be one who is going to be screened in this process. If it is effective why not. But to strip a child naked just to prove that you are doing things randomly is just ridiculous.

At 5:14 PM , Anonymous jaraad said...

Correction regarding the video link: I just heard Keith Olbermann on TV says that the kid's father took off his child's shirt so he doesn't go through a pat down. But I am not sure if this is the whole story or not because a pat down includes checking the legs as well so there is still touching.

At 12:54 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Abu Tulip, oh, I have many, many sides. But, I still vote democrat for reasons of personal liberty and freedom ;). I tend to think all of the candidates are awful choices, so I'm pick the ones I dislike least...

Jaraad, the problem is, my friend, profiling doesn't work. After all, if you're smart and they search all young Arab males or all muhajibi women, don't you think they'll recruit someone who looks like me to go next? Are they really that stupid? Somehow I didn't notice that the 9/11 fellows looked at all different from your average Italian-American guys from Philly...

Oh, and random or not, my muhajibi friends get "randomly" selected for screening all the time and I pretty much never do. Then again, have you SEEN me? Pre-9/11 I didn't even get asked to show ID when crossing the border from Mexico to the US. Ha. Can we say ridiculously American-looking?


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