578

If you’re planning to visit Granny in Florida for Thanksgiving, consider whether her world-famous mashed potatoes and yams are worth being potentially molested. Not following? For those who haven’t heard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has recently implemented Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners (also known as “whole-body imaging”). It is also requiring probing pat-downs, which have horrified many innocent passengers, in airports throughout the nation. Now these invasive “security measures” are causing many to reconsider their holiday travel plans.

Aviation was invented to make traveling easier. The Wright Brothers must be rolling over in their graves.

Since 9/11, a ripple effect has occurred, enhancing the paranoia of the government, which has resulted in the creation of the TSA and the subsequent intrusion of individual rights.

Few isolated incidents have occurred on airlines since 9/11. The infamous shoe-bombing attempts led to mandatory shoe inspections at security checks. In 2006, British police foiled terrorists’ attempts to board at least 10 airlines, heading toward the United States and Canada, with liquid explosives in their arsenal. As a result, airlines now prohibit any liquids weighing more than 3.4 ounces on flights. A 16-ounce cup of Jamba Juice might as well be a hand grenade.

Last Christmas, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Al-Qaeda bomber, attempted to detonate a plastic explosive he had hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines plane in Amsterdam headed for Michigan. His attempt failed, but it did result in flames and popping noises. The explosive was concocted from a plastic explosive powder and liquid acid that was injected by a syringe to produce a chemical reaction. All of the contents had been sewn into Abdulmutallab’s underwear and went undetected by airport security checks.

With health concerns involving exposure to a device that produces low doses of radiation, privacy apprehensions related to nude X-ray images hitting the Internet and the overall creepiness of a stranger perusing man thongs, granny panties and nipple rings to ensure the flight crew that the citizens on board aren’t terrorists, it begs the question: aren’t there less intrusive ways to ensure safety on airlines? Or is this the future of aviation?

The concerns related to radiation exposure are overblown. Meeting the national health and safety standards, the machines produce exposure during one scanning that is equivalent to riding on an airplane for two minutes. According to the TSA, “the energy projected by millimeter wave technology is thousands of times less than a cell phone transmission.”

However, the confidentiality of the X-ray portraits being captured at airports is concerning. An NBC 4 Your Health account reported recently that, “U.S. Marshals in a Florida Federal courthouse saved 35,000 images on their scanner and tech blog Gizmodo posted the images on their Web site.” That’s reassuring. Imagine a random stranger discovering the embarrassing tramp stamp you acquired one drunken night in Las Vegas, all because you flew to Colorado for a relative’s funeral and you chose a body scanner over being groped by a female security agent on that given day.

There has to be a way for Americans to be properly screened without forgoing their individual liberties. Canines are trained to sniff out any signs of suspicion. The TSA should scale down the pat-downs to be less assaultive, continue to put metal detectors to use and expand the use of golden retriever terror investigators. AIT could then be used as a secondary screening tool, allowing passengers who wish to beat the lengthy lines and who don’t mind showing their buttocks to an official observing the X-ray scans to swiftly pass through without waiting in the series of checkpoints.

As of Nov. 19, 385 AIT scanners have been implemented in 68 of the largest airports in the country as primary security screening instruments.

Upon arriving at San Diego International Airport on Nov. 13, John Tyner, an Oceanside resident, caused a scene. He declined to step through a body scanner, which would have presented a holographic image of his naked body to airport officials, subjected him to a low dosage of radiation and somehow made the world a much safer place. “I didn’t think some random person seeing me naked should be a condition of me flying,” Tyler told ABC News.

Tyler opted for the pat-down. Mind you, these pat downs aren’t the routine security checks you endure upon entering concerts or professional football stadiums. They are very intrusive, and they take about 2 minutes. Skimming genitalia and parting breasts, the officials feel passengers up without the common courtesy of buying them a steak dinner.

When an airport security officer told Tyler that he was obligated to slide his hands up his groin twice and twice more on his backside, Tyler responded, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”

After refusing both methods of checks and disputing with two different supervisors, Tyler left San Diego International with a refunded ticket and later shed light on the invasive issue.

Last Friday, a U.S. Airways flight attendant broke her silence after being forced to remove her prosthetic breast from her bra. Cathy Bossi, a three-year breast cancer survivor, was reluctant to pass through the body scanners due to her fear of radiation. Instead she was humiliated after having her breast squeezed by a female official, who then prompted Bossi to remove the prosthetic and prove that she, an airline attendant, wasn’t plotting to blow up a plane with the contents of her bra.

Although it’s crucial to guarantee the safety of passengers, these new measures are inappropriate. The unfortunate events that occurred on 9/11 were due to underperformance in terms of airline regulations. Now, they are over-performing. There needs to be a middle ground, which continues to snuff out shoe-bombing attempts, senses pocket knives and spots excessive amounts of liquid that could be used to create explosives, while not forcing citizens to disrobe or have hands jammed up their crotches. It’s integral to stop all terrorist plots, but the overzealous pat-downs need to be scaled down and the “XXX-ray” portraits from the AIS need to be secure.

Currently, not all passengers are being subjected to this treatment. But for those citizens who are horrified by the potential of being sexually assaulted by a security officer, consider purchasing copious amounts of gasoline, saddling up your horses like the good old days or sailing through the Strait of Magellan and up the coast of South and North America if you still plan to travel to New York this holiday season. It might take a while, but hey, at least your dignity will be maintained.

Please send comments to newuopinion@newuniversity.org. Include your name, year and major. You can also send a tweet to the editor @newuopinion.

In this article