Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TSA Airport Security: Could We Just Strip?

There's been a bit of controversy lately over the new TSA security devices and procedures being put in place to make commercial air travel more obtrusive and dangerous for people. Specifically, I'm referring to the new full body "naked" scanners, and the associated "enhanced" pat-down procedures for people who refuse the scans, designed primarily to be so obtrusive and embarrassing that people will consider the scanner to be the lesser of two undesirable circumstances. The new system are more obtrusive for obvious reasons, but also more dangerous: after all, exposing frequent travelers to repeated bursts of radiation (which may be significantly higher than advertised, according to some rumors/investigations) can have bad long-term effect on the human body. Of course, if everyone requested the new "make it as cumbersome and humiliating as possible" pat-downs, that would also grind security lines to a halt, so there's no real good alternative.

As a side note, it's also very important to remember amidst all the new scanners and procedures that none of this makes air travel any safer. Real security is about thwarting people who are trying to do bad things; by refusing to focus on trying to find bad people, and instead focusing on treating everyone equally, TSA does nothing to enhance the safety of air travel. In addition, security penetration tests have shown that human error makes it still possible to get "bad" things by security, and any determined and trained military adversary would have little trouble thwarting any security measures TSA could employ. In essence, everything is for show, and to a lesser extent for enhancing government control and intrusiveness.

That said, if we're going to have all these ridiculous "security" measures for air travel, allow me to suggest an additional option for the seasoned traveler who is not particularly self-conscious about nudity. Since people already need to remove their shoes and all jewelery, as well as belts and items from pockets, it would not be too hard to strip entirely naked while in the security line. You could send your cloths through the scanner with your other carry-ons, breeze through the metal detector (probably optional too at that point), and get dressed on the other side. As long as there was enough room before and after the security checkpoint for the people dressing and undressing, it wouldn't even slow the process down. This process would eliminate all radiation, any excuse for fondling or sexual assault, and you could always choose one of the alternatives if you were uncomfortable. As an added bonus, if it became common, this would probably do a lot to loosen people's attitudes toward nudity in general (you may or may not consider this a bonus, and you may need to add extra seating and/or CCTV around security for other people at the airport, to handle the crowds wanting to watch, at least for the first few years).

Anyway, what do you all think? If we're going to have all this intrusive, dangerous, useless security, we should at least allow this as an option, in my opinion...

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