Just Because 'National Opt-Out Day' Didn't Do Much, Does It Mean People Don't Care About TSA Searches?

from the say-what-now? dept

Last Wednesday, there was a lot of media attention paid to this concept of "national opt-out day" concerning the TSA's new "naked scan or grope" security options. I didn't cover that story at all. Leading up to it, I don't think I even mentioned the concept of the "national opt-out day" once, because the whole idea seemed pretty silly. In retrospect, it may have been worse than silly. Since there was no corresponding gridlock at airports, it appears that the press has now decided that because "national opt-out day" was a failure, it means people don't really care about the TSA's new policies. In other words, the failure of the protest means this "story" is over, much to the relief of the TSA and the administration, who now thinks it can go on ignoring the very real concerns of passengers.

This is a problem.

It's no surprise that the media storm over the TSA procedures had an arc. It's how major media stories go. But, it's unfortunate that there was this misguided focus on getting a bunch of people to do stuff on a particular day (and a day when they are probably least interested in actually doing what's asked of them). Because of that, suddenly, to the major media, it feels like this story is "over." But to the people who are still worried about the scans or uncomfortable with being groped by the government without reasonable cause, it's unfortunate that this story will now get less attention. It's not because the issue is any less. And it's not because the TSA has responded to the concerns. It's because of this one silly, poorly thought-out "event," which became a part of the media spectacle and an easy way to end the story with a claim that the whole set of protests has been a failure.


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    Sarah Black (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 3:03am

    Many flyers cite that these machines were roped-off and not being used on that day. Where is the press in noting this important piece of information in their news about "opt-out day being a failure"?

    http://gizmodo.com/5698536/fliers-claim-tsa-have-deactivated-body-scanners

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 3:24am

    Re:

    yup. no surprise. I hope they try to make every day an opt out day though, that'd put the TSA in their place.

    would people keep it up? hell no.

    so, let's do another opt out day, with much faster notice and see if the TSA ropes it off again. Bet they wont'.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 4:25am

    National opt-out day was a failure because there was nothing to opt out from. And also, all the reporting was based on the TSA blog as the only source. That is plainly absurd. Of course the TSA blog also linked to all the reporting as a source to itself, creating a circle of misinformation. The comments in the blog post are by far more informative than the post itself, and they inform that a) the TSA shouldn't be conducting obvious acts of self-promotion and b) that the post is a lie, since there where no scanners. I'm flying today. I hope that the scanners are still off.

     

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    C.J., Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    Just ignore the news media

    All that spews from their mouths is the same from all of the news media. Got to look good, and secure their jobs, make sure big Gov is happy.

    Don't believe me? Pick out a few top issues covered on the news. Now spend some time watching each of the news stations to see what was said on your topics. You will notice most follow word for word. Many also have the same beliefs on the topic, or sayings. So if one calls a certain politician a dork, the rest do also. I have even caught them saying the same thing line for line - word by word when they bashed a famous person. Rather if was a politician, actress, or actor etc.

    Alex Jones wont let the TSA issues die.

     

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    Howard the Duck (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:28am

    Re:

    With the scanners roped off, didn't they still do the groping bit? If so, couldn't they have opted-out of that? Opt-out day was a failure.

     

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    CJ (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:35am

    well...

    They should just boycott. Then the news media, and the TSA can't mess with the numbers.

     

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    Michial Thompson, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:47am

    The real issue

    Mike;

    You overlook the real issue here. The real issue is that the Media's Audiance that would want to hear about the TSA and the Groping is no longer concerned because it won't affect them again until either Christmas or next Thanksgiving.

    It's no coincidence that the media was all over these stories right before one of the biggest travel times of the year. It stired up the people that fly only this time of the year and they got all bent out of shape. BUT now that they are done flying, and the TSA did a good job of not harrassing them by closing the scanners and most likely they couldn't grope the same percentage of flyer either, so noone's going to care.

    The real tragedy isn't the lack of success of the Opt-Out plan, the real tragedy is that it should have waited until it made the biggest statement which would be after the holiday flyers are no longer an issue.

    ALL of the "increased" security issues are because of the holiday flyers, it's no coincidense that they come into play in September/October.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:50am

    It just means to get where they wanted to go they had to be sheep. The terrorists dream comes true. The Airports are terrified.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    Did opt out day fail?

    I want to know the numbers of people that actually flew compared to the last few years. I'd bet the reason there was no gridlock was that there were less people flying. Or a combination of that and them dropping the security.

    Shouldn't we be afraid of the TSA when they will close off the oh so necessary scanners just to prove a point?

     

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    Mark, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:58am

    Boycott Flying!

    A better strategy: Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392

     

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    Rick, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    TSA to High Schools

    How long you think it will be if TSA succeeds with the scanners until high school officials will use them "to protect the children"?
    Think about it...

     

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    Robert, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    The machines were off

    I've heard this from a few others, but I know for myself flying out of EWR (Newark Liberty) during "Opt-out day" the machines weren't running and were roped off so nobody could even get near them. No extra pat downs. Nothing out of the ordinary.

    I suspect this was done intentionally to keep the number of people opting out to a minimum for PR purposes... then just phase them back in slowly.

    Also noteworthy is that there were no significant delays were reported at any airports in the country this year (first time in a few years) for pre-thanksgiving rush.

     

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    Freak, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re:

    From what I can see on twitter, no, no groping was done either.

     

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    Hulser (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:20am

    Re: Did opt out day fail?

    I want to know the numbers of people that actually flew compared to the last few years.

    I found it amusing that right after a cable news story on the "failure" of the national opt-out day was a story about how the traffic on the highways was very high. So, no one in the newsroom thought that the two stories were possibly related? Would it be too much to ask that they would have cited some stats on the traffic as compared to last year? Call it bias or just good old fashioned incompetance; in either case, it's just terrible reporting.

     

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    BBT, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    Propaganda

    The powerful have been mounting a pretty steady PR Campaign in defense of the TSA and the scanner policies. There have been countless articles telling us that we're being unreasonable, to think of the poor TSA workers struggling to get by, telling us we must want to be blown up, telling us what horrible people we are for questioning authority.

    I wouldn't exactly put much trust in any media report about the effects of "Opt Out Day".

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Did opt out day fail?

    That's probably more them just not putting two and two together. We put it together quite quick, but we're use to figuring things out like this. Reporters aren't use to digging deeper.

    I don't think that's part of a conspiracy, just an inconvenient coincidence.

     

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    mac84, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:38am

    Let this non-story die

    Give me a break. When I was a kid I had to walk from the shower to my locker naked in front of all my classmates after gym. How is that any less invasive or traumatic than these full body scanners where my "inspector" will never know my name or even my face?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:41am

    Opt Out Day a failure? To tell the truth, it was doomed from the start. No one flys for the joy of flying, so to take a flight, you have to want to get somewhere fast without any other option. Throw in Thanksgiving and who really is going to throw up their hands and prove a point with the chance of missing out on a holiday? Opt out days in the future? What family would miss their visit to Disney to prove a point? What business traveler will miss that meeting so their junk stays safe?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:58am

    Re: Let this non-story die

    because unless your gym teacher was a perv, you weren't being fondled in the showers or locker room. Being touched is more invasive than being looked at. And as far as the scans go for being looked at, after walking by, its just a memory for the others and is gone, your scan pictures are stored for safekeeping and future viewing.

     

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    jinksto, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:58am

    I love comments...

    ... from people that didn't actually read the story. Most of these are the "pro" scanner comments which makes you wonder how many of them are scripted responses.

    It remains amazing to me that though 80% of the country purportedly support the scanners nearly 100% of comments on news stories that I've seen are anti-scanner. Of course, a lot of people that are "interested" in this store are against that can't account for the overwhelmingly negative response. Even on the original CBS poll report 98% of the responses were negative and yet the media just keeps quoting these numbers.

     

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    Jeptha, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    How did we forget so soon.
    It makes me sick your going to be frisked.
    shut up and get on the plane or stay home

     

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    Benny6Toes (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re:

    i can't speak for the day before Thanksgiving, but i flew out of Atlanta (Hartsfield-Jackson; busiest airport in the world) on thanksgiving morning, and i was through security in about 10 minutes. it looked to me like the scanners were all roped off and turned off.

    since it appears that this has happened at other airports as well, wouldn't that make National Opt-Out Day a success?

     

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    Benny6Toes (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Let this non-story die

    even without the groping, it's still a violation of your 4th amendment rights against unreasonable searches.

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re:

    What I heard was that everyone went through the metal detectors without the extra groping. (as is normal, the groping is only when you opt out of the naked scanners)

     

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    flytomuch, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:18am

    Overblown

    This whole discussion and the opt out effort are very misguided. It would seem we all get a little forgetful of the realities of the world and get caught up in our own little selfish worlds. I am definitely concerned about the scanners and the pat downs and believe that very strict guidance and oversight needs to be in place. However, people are out there that will use every loop hole in our security to try and terrorize the population. In other works KILL PEOPLE. Where will all these people who offer no alternatives to the scanners and pat downs but believe both are intrusive and unnecessary be when a plane falls out of the sky and a couple of hundred people are dead. They will be in their houses trying to rationalize that they played no role in it. The world is not perfect but I seem to remember something from grade school:

    If you have nothing constructive to say, shut up!

    Security is invasive by its very nature. But we cannot turn our backs on the danger. The key is to accept the realities and minimize the personal impact, privacy concerns and rights issues for the good of everyone and the individual. A balancing act. This "opt-out"...what if terrorist had used that day to actually blow up a plane. I wonder how that would have went because you know some were thinking about it.

    Anyways, let's work together and drive change based on the real world realities and not some mis-placed sense of personal injury. If someone seeing my naked means 200 people won't die this year, let me know where I need to line up!!!!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Re: Overblown

    So...what happens if a plane is bombed despite these scans and gropes? If the right person wasn't chosen for them?

    What then?

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re: The machines were off

    Slowly? Hell, they probably turned them back on the next day.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    Re: Overblown

    Loopholes like the fact that neither the scanners nor the groping can see into cavities? That's a pretty giant loophole. Since that giant loophole is there, why molest and irradiate good citizens, thereby bunching passengers into easy-to-blow-up groups?

     

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  29.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Profiling?

    Is there a good anti-terrorism system? Or do we just accept terrorism as a fact of life in the modern world and not try to deal with it? Any thoughts?

    In Israel profiling is used, but the concept has been widely rejected here.

    What can U.S. learn from Israel airport security? - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News: "Israeli intelligence agencies, working in lock-step with airport security, flag travelers deemed potentially dangerous -- a designation applied most readily, and controversially, to Arabs who make up 20 percent of the Jewish state's population.

    Commensurate scrutiny follows: from the rifle-carrying guards that question the drivers of incoming cars, to the unsmiling sentries who eye passengers as they wheel in their luggage, to the security interrogations in the check-in lines.

    As a last resort, on Israeli airlines at least, undercover sky marshals can be seated next to passengers seen as risky."

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Re: Overblown

    This whole discussion and the opt out effort are very misguided. It would seem we all get a little forgetful of the realities of the world and get caught up in our own little selfish worlds.

    I absolutely disagree. Most of us are very aware of the fact that these machines and policies don't work and are not protecting us at all. We'd like to see actual security put into place, which is a good part of why we're protesting. Which is sort of the opposite of what you said.

    I am definitely concerned about the scanners and the pat downs and believe that very strict guidance and oversight needs to be in place.

    I am concerned about the fact that both are dangerous, useless, and expensive. The guidance needs to be away from these measures and the oversight needs to be by people who aren't financially gaining from the measures.

    However, people are out there that will use every loop hole in our security to try and terrorize the population. In other works KILL PEOPLE.

    Yes, so let's ditch the scanners and the pat-downs - which don't work - and trade them in for measures that do work.

    Where will all these people who offer no alternatives to the scanners and pat downs but believe both are intrusive and unnecessary be when a plane falls out of the sky and a couple of hundred people are dead.

    Your statement is disingenuous. First, the scanners and groping don't lessen your chances being blown out of the sky, so alternatives aren't necessary. Second, plenty of people have offered alternatives. Third, we'd be in the same place we were the many times that this has happened before.

    Wait, you know that 9/11 wasn't the first time, right?

    They will be in their houses trying to rationalize that they played no role in it.

    It's more likely that they'll be in their houses, angry at politicians who put useless, expensive scanners in to please their lobbyists, while ignoring inexpensive safety measures that actually stood a chance of stopping the terrorists in question.

    You'll be in the one trying to rationalize your role in it, just like you're trying to rationalize the loss of liberties that these scanners and pat-downs represent.

    The world is not perfect but I seem to remember something from grade school:

    If you have nothing constructive to say, shut up!


    What grade school told you this? I'd be very interested in hearing about it, because adults don't generally encourage children to come up with constructive criticism, much less allow it in their classrooms.

    Are you thinking of having nothing nice to say?

    Security is invasive by its very nature.

    No, it's not.

    But we cannot turn our backs on the danger.

    That's right, we can't, which is why we're protesting these dangerous security theater measures that are causing us bodily harm, along with harming our liberty.

    The key is to accept the realities and minimize the personal impact, privacy concerns and rights issues for the good of everyone and the individual.

    Yes, that's why we should get rid of the scanners and groping, and start introducing real security, Israeli-style.

    A balancing act. This "opt-out"...what if terrorist had used that day to actually blow up a plane.

    On Opt-Out Day, or any other day, they could simply place the bomb in a cavity. End of story.

    I wonder how that would have went because you know some were thinking about it.

    Actually, most security agencies think that our airports aren't the biggest targets, anymore. In regards to our airports, the terrorists have won. They believe that the next step is to cripple a highway, train station, or another urban center.

    (My guess of your reaction to that statement: "Ahh! Let's put scanners and groping in front of the Mall of America!!!")

    Anyways, let's work together and drive change based on the real world realities and not some mis-placed sense of personal injury. If someone seeing my naked means 200 people won't die this year, let me know where I need to line up!!!!

    Too bad that's not what it means.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re: Profiling?

    In Israel profiling is used, but the concept has been widely rejected here.

    That's untrue. Let me fix it for you:

    In Israel, behavioral profiling is used, in addition to four layers of hard security measures, including baggage searches in bomb-proof areas. The concept hasn't been discussed here.

    There you go!

    (By the way, I'm in favor of the Israeli system.)

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Profiling?

    The concept hasn't been discussed here.

    I wasn't talking about it Techdirt. I was talking about in the US. Profiling as a security measure hasn't been a popular concept in the US.

     

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    Steven (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Profiling?

    Racial profiling has not been a popular concept in the Us, and for generally good reason.

    Behavioral profiling has not been even brought up in the US because any profiling is automatically going to be equated with racial profiling

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Re: Overblown

    I am definitely concerned about the scanners and the pat downs and believe that very strict guidance and oversight needs to be in place. However, people are out there that will use every loop hole in our security to try and terrorize the population. In other works KILL PEOPLE.

    Sure. But, as stated, the TSA seems to be aiming for perfect security, which is an impossible goal. Someone will bring down a plane sometime. The problem is not that people "don't like" these new procedures, but that they realize the invasiveness greatly outweighs the actual effectiveness.

    You can't just claim "but people are trying to kill us" and use that to make everything seem okay -- especially without any evidence that such procedures work. Based on that reasoning, it should be fine to force you to strip naked and be searched before you go out in public "because people are trying to kill us." But, obviously, you would find that problematic. So why do you say one is okay, but not the other?

     

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    Todd Eastman, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    Why I couldn't "Opt Out"

    I think the concept had good intentions, but it failed in part because some of us opted to boycott flying altogether. I disagree with both the nude scanning and the body searches based on the 4th Amendment.

    I predict (and hope) that this issue is far from over. I have stopped flying, but my elderly mother lives out of state and her health is failing. Sometime soon, I may have to fly on short notice. When that happens, I will do my best to not raise any flags, and hopefully just have to go through metal detectors. But if I get selected for an "enhanced" search, they better be prepared to physically restrain me, or arrest me. I won't let them do it willingly.

     

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  36.  
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    jon, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 10:12am

    Opt Out Day accmplished a lot. Why is everybody so quick to dismiss it?

    Reports from around the country were that they weren't doing the prison-style enhanced patdowns, scanners were turned off at many airports, and even when the scanners were on a lot of people were given the chance to avoid them -- here's what it looked like in Seattle. FlyersRights' hotline calls dropped from over a thousand a day to virtually nothing. Even before Wednesday, the TSA had reversed position and exempted pilots and flight attendants.

    Unfortunately the mainstream media has been following the TSA's line of "nothing to see here, move along." Disappointing. But reporting aside, it was a major success.

     

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  37.  
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    Keybored, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 10:20am

    Re: Let this non-story die

    Me too. naked as a jay bird. i got over it. my guess is the scanners are in place to try and stop bad guys. That is okay with me.

    Like the chick who walked through in a bikini, yeah for her! Just get on with your life and leave the oh so bad memory of the airport scanner behind you.

     

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    PRMan, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Let this non-story die

    Not to mention that your showers probably didn't contain an as-yet-untested level of cancer-causing radiation, with the calibration done by people who flunked out of high school.

     

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    PRMan, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re: Overblown

    You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than killed in a terrorist attack, but I don't see everyone walking around in thunderstorms in rubber safety suits BECAUSE IT'S JUST SO REMOTE A CHANCE!

    But hey, let's spend billions at the airport, give everyone cancer, sexually assault them (except on Thanksgiving, where we turn the machines off so that they have something to be thankful for) for a 1 in 200,000 chance of an attack.

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    Separate but Equal, Via Jordan (response to Suzanne Lainson, et. al. #29-33 )

    My understanding is that the Israelis, ah, "encourage" Arab travelers to cross over into Jordan, and fly out of Amman on Air Jordan. What was the phrase our Southern States used to use? "Separate But Equal." The same principle is increasingly being applied to education. An Israeli Arab has to wait a couple of years to get into an Israeli university, so as not to get ahead of the Israelis who are doing military service-- or he can cross the Jordan River, and start college right away. Something like a third of Israeli Arab college students are now studying in Jordan, and the proportion is increasing rapidly. Again, the same principle as the state of Mississippi. Someone who doesn't respond to either the carrot or the stick is by definition, suspect.

    http://www.mail-archive.com/cikeas@yahoogroups.com/msg16234.html

    http://www.airliners .net/aviation-forums/non_aviation/read.main/976313/

    http://www.securitymanagement.com/article/pro filing-aviation-threats-004454

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/business/what-are-israeli-ara bs-are-they-jewish-1.123496

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=8200

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Profiling?

    ^^What Steven said.

     

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  42.  
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    BigKeithO (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Let this non-story die

    Was the towel too heavy to carry with you out of the shower?

     

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    sum guy, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    mike,
    if you decide to link to an external story to make a point, please don't use the new york times or any other website that requires registration/payment to read it. thank you

     

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    ltlw0lf (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Profiling?

    The problem is the word "profiling", which has become a "taboo" (pejorative) word. In the minds of most people, there is no distinction between criminal profiling, behavioral profiling, or racial profiling. The moment you say "profile", people substitute "racism" even when it isn't at all appropriate. This is probably what scares the TSA the most (and seems to be the root cause of why they think only grandmas and children should be searched, because they are the least likely to be offended)...but they need to get past this otherwise they will continue to be a joke.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Profiling?

    One of the challenges with profiling is that someone has to be monitoring you enough to profile you. Do they monitor your emails/phone calls? Do they monitor who you meet with? Do they monitor your behavior at the airport? Do they look for superficial clues, like appearance, dress, last name, etc.

    So profiling does involve a level of observation of you. It may not be as intrusive as the current TSA approach, so maybe you aren't as aware of it, but you are being watched in some fashion, or you couldn't be profiled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: Let this non-story die

    ...my guess is the scanners are in place to try and stop bad guys. That is okay with me.

    So... You're okay with spending billions of dollars for machines that don't work, instead of spending it on techniques that do work? Really?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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