Reading in the Chicago Tribune today about the full body scanner the government will soon have in place at O'Hare to check travelers more completely for hidden weapons and/or explosives. Fully body scanner. Wow. Sounds like something out of Star Trek, doesn't it?
The writer describes the machine's function as providing a "virtual strip-search," of passengers, though he says the face of the person being scanned will not be visible, nor will the images be retained in the system. From what I can tell, the machine is designed to detect weapons and explosives hidden in body cavities or elsewhere difficult to search by other means. This machine, the article says, will update technology from the 1970's which is still in use.
The article indicates the scans won't be done in front of a leering audience of other travelers (which could actually be a welcome diversion for those waiting in the security line) but in a booth where only TSA personnel will be watching.
Illinois ACLU officials and a number of people interviewed at O'Hare and who posted their thoughts in the comments section fear the machine and call it an abridgement of their rights. They apparently don't like the idea of being naked in front of strangers.
Okay, let's see if I have this straight.
The idea is to update equipment that's been outdated for thirty years and, thus, keep airline travel safer. Presumably the body scans will also speed up passage through the screening procedure for at least some travelers.
The downside is that some folks will be embarrassed to have others see their flabby bellies and butts and . . . so forth. Yet, TSA says the old fashioned frisk will still be available for those who are afraid the screeners might guffaw at their virtual image (and perhaps illicitly save the images for trading . . . like baseball cards).
And the alternative might be . . .what?
Without the machine, someday, somewhere, the highly trained expert security specialists of the TSA might miss an explosive device that an immodest terrorist has hidden, shall we say, where the sun don't shine. Which then would result in an explosion and all those body parts people want to hide being strewn all over the landscape for hapless evidence collectors to dig out of trees and the sides of houses and so forth, leaving the ones the CSI's miss for animals to gnaw on.
Hmmm. Which would I prefer to encounter in my travels?
A screener who, after the first half-dozen scans will care less if the flier has a double-D cup, is built like John Holmes or had surgery two weeks ago?
Or continued reliance on outmoded equipment that could allow The Bad People to blow my equipment and everyone else's into chunks of fish food?
All I can say is this. A couple of years ago, I bought one of those spy coats with fifty hidden pockets, some of them large enough to store a big screen TV and my entire Pez collection. I figured it would be great for those last minute items I always forget when I'm packing a suitcase. The problem is, some of those pockets are so well hidden that I've lost valuable stuff.
I think this new machine may be a Godsend for me.
(reprinted from my blog http://everysecretcrime.blogspot.com)