81% Of Americans Support Naked Airport Scans… If You Leave Out The Naked Part In Asking The Question

from the fun-with-stats dept

With all the stories of people who don’t want to be groped or seen naked just to travel by airplane these days, the TSA must be thrilled with a new poll that was put out by CBS that’s getting lots of press claiming that 81% of Americans support such full-body scans. Thus we get titles about how Americans “overwhelmingly” are in favor of such scans.

Of course, as with any poll, the devil is in the details, and specifically in how the questions are asked. As Tim Lee properly notes, the poll question does not mention the whole naked bit or anything relaying the concerns of those protesting the machines. The actual question asked read as follows:

Some airports are now using “full-body” digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines. Do you think these new x-ray machines should or should not be used at airports?

Note that there’s nothing about how someone will see you naked. Note that there’s nothing about the health concerns some have raised (which, frankly, are probably blown out of proportion). Note that there’s nothing about the compulsory genital groping should you refuse to be seen naked. Most people don’t follow these issues, and without knowing the details, when you present the question as it’s been presented in this poll, it should come as little surprise that most people agreed. Try asking the same people whether or not they approve of being scanned by a machine that presents TSA screeners a naked image of their body, and see what the results would be then.

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Comments on “81% Of Americans Support Naked Airport Scans… If You Leave Out The Naked Part In Asking The Question”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think the most disturbing thing is that everyone is talking about the backscatter (which uses radiation and is much less common) and no one is discussing the millimeter wave scanners (which use high frequency radio waves and are much more common.)

The effects of radiation are heavily studied but still not well understood. The effects of high frequency radio waves, on the other hand, have hardly been studied at all. What little information we do have is that they are not directly carcinogenic but they are capable of damaging DNA.

Markle says:

Re: Re: Re:

the backscatter (which uses radiation and is much less common) and no one is discussing the millimeter wave scanners (which use high frequency radio waves and are much more common.)

You’ve got it bassackwards. The backscatter machines are much more common than the MMW machines. It’s like 65-70% BS if you’ll forgive me for not looking up the numbers to be exact.

Both machines use “radiation”. Radiation being particles beamed at you and the particles in both cases being photons. The difference is in the wavelength and hence energy of the photons. Both wavelength regions are well studied. Millimeter Wave machines use photons in the region of 1mm, hence the name. This is about 0.0008 electron volts(ev) in energy. Visible light is about 1.6 to 3.4 ev The Backscatter machines use “soft” X-rays at about 140 ev (.11nm) Whether it’s a paparazzo’s flash lighting up a starlet’s nipples under a sheer blouse or the MMV or BS, they use the differing properties of living flesh from fabric or metal to achieve their aim. The difference is that X-rays are well into the range of ionizing energy.(13.4ev for Hydrogen, more for heavier atoms) This pops the electrons off the atoms entirely. This is actually the principle upon which the Backscatter machines work. There is no recommmended minimum dose. Risk is cumulative over a lifetime.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Hmm… I stand corrected, although it sounds like t-hertz could be much worse for you since it moves from the high-end of microwave into far-infra-red. So instead of sterilizing me, you’re going to cook me. Sweet.

I had searched for millimeter band, and everything I found pointed to X-ray, since X-ray tops out at 1 millimeter wavelength. Guess I do need to practice my search-fu.

By the way, I almost rebutted you again because the wiki link you provided points just to the terahertz info, but doesn’t support its connection to Millimeter Wave scanning… here’s a better one to use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millimeter_wave

BearGriz72 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 (Wikipedia 101)

Electromagnetic radiation is classified according to the frequency of its wave. In order of increasing frequency and decreasing wavelength, these are radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.

A millimeter wave scanner is a whole body imaging device used for airport security screening. It is one of two common technologies of Full body scanner used for body imaging. Clothing and many other materials are translucent in some extremely high frequency (millimeter wave) radio frequency bands. This Far Infrared (1 mm = 1000 ?m) frequency range is just below the (related) sub-millimeter terahertz radiation (or “T-ray”) range.

The competing technology is backscatter X-ray. Traditional X-ray machines detect hard and soft materials by the variation in transmission through the target; in contrast, backscatter X-ray detects the radiation that reflects back from the target. In contrast to millimeter wave scanners which create a 3D image, backscatter X-ray scanners will typically only create a 2D image. For airport screening, images are taken from both sides of the human body,

SEE ALSO: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/EM_spectrum.svg

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Let them know...

Your statement assumes a natural progression of events.

It’s entirely possible the intrusive new TSA BS exists for the purpose of discouraging flight by average consumers (citizens, I mean). It is easier to control a populace which does not travel.

However, having flight around is all sorts of useful and necessary, so your tax dollars will prop up the airlines.

In short, it barely matters if you fly or not. It only matters if you pay taxes (or not).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let them know...

“It’s entirely possible the intrusive new TSA BS exists for the purpose of discouraging flight by average consumers (citizens, I mean). It is easier to control a populace which does not travel.”

Everyone knows I love a good conspiracy theory, but I don’t think this one makes much sense. Flying domestically has to be one of the most controlled, conditioned ways of getting around. I would think a govt. that wanted more control would be ENCOURAGING peopel to fly.

Now, sure, there have been attempts recently to make it so that more control and visibility of driving passengers could be exerted (more traffic cams, iPass, GPS systems, etc.), but you’re still far more anonymous in a car than on a flight….

AJ says:

Re: Re: Let them know...

“It’s entirely possible the intrusive new TSA BS exists for the purpose of discouraging flight by average consumers (citizens, I mean). It is easier to control a populace which does not travel.”

It’s possible, but not likely. When you fly, your name and other information is gathered and easily tracked. When you drive, expecially if you use cash, there is no way (unless they gps your car) to know where your going.

I don’t think they will ever get rid of public air transportation, however, we can put a big enough dent in it to force the airports to use private security, and not have their customer submit to the TSA goons.

As far as tax dollars going to the airlines, ask the Dem’s what happens when you piss off Americans! Granted that probably won’t stop them, but we can make sure they don’t have a job at the next election.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let them know...

I recognize that despite any feelings I have that this is part of the erosion of our freedoms, it isn’t going away.
Too much money has changed hands, too much political hay has been made of national security concerns, etc.
I am simply going to opt out of the imaging (For multiple personal reasons which have already been hashed over by TechDirt commeters.) scan and will pretend to enjoy the abusive pat down whenever I fly.
Americans are Sheeple at this point and I’ve heard from all of the right wing talk radio voices (Hannity, Lars Larson, etc.) saying that we all need to suck this up and just get over it, to protect America. I agree protecting America is critical (Anyone remember the furor over the border??) but I think the Israelis are to only ones doing it right, as far as airport security is concerned.
So, for all of the talking heads and experts out there, making a buck off Americans being scanned and groped, I hear you and am marching along as directed.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let them know...

“I recognize that despite any feelings I have that this is part of the erosion of our freedoms, it isn’t going away.”

But this part CAN go away… read this article: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Amid-airport-anger_-GOP-takes-aim-at-screening-1576602-108259869.html

Scrub out any BS about partisan activism and you’re left with the fact that airports do NOT have to have TSA checks. So, if we all stop flying, and airports know that the reason why is because of the TSA, the airports will tell them to go grope each other and leave their customers alone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Let them know...

I appreciate your following up on my comments and listing that URL. It’s good to see that this invasive American surrender to the terrorists is not written in stone.
With that said, even I’ll admit that while I do not fly often, with family on the other coast, I do have to fly. I cannot get enough vacation time to drive for 3 days one way (Minimum), also worry about car troubles and other trip related hazards. Simply put, just for my own multiple reasons, driving cross country is not a reasonable option.
For a start, we need the talking heads (TV and radio.) to start talking about smart ways to provide security and not give up our personal freedoms. This will get the country involved in the discussion.
For all of the great reasons I read TechDirt, such as this discussion and the Internet Blacklisting for example, most Americans simply don’t see reason enough to get worked up about these issues. Sadly, this website and others like it, are not read by enough people. They listen to radio and watch the news on TV. And even if you disagree with the focus of TechDirt, I think most of the dissenters will agree, the topics brought up here are important.
I worry about our country. I worry about us losing our freedoms. I worry about the USA losing that which makes us special. Seems like everyone wants to sue as a solution to whatever issue they find important.
Anyway, I’ll go back to lurking and reading the insightful comments, DH’s sharp wit and the foul mouthed arguments. It seems to pretty well cover what America’s all about.

Whatis42? (profile) says:

RE: Health Risks

as the King of Gingers I can tell you that all the studies in the world won’t convince me that going from a 3D exposure in a traditional xray/mri machine to the 2D SKIN ONLY exposure of the BS crap they are using is ok more than on a VERY rare occasion.

The real factoid relevant here is that the FBI barely gets more funding than the theatre troop called the TSA….

I will be participating in national opt-out day as TRUE SCOTSMAN FWIW

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: RE: Health Risks

Seriously. The fewer radiation scans the better, for everyone. I need a lead shield over my body to get a dental xray and the tech leaves the room to snap it. You’d think TSA workers might have an issue over passengers, even.

Knave of Gingers

(aka skin cancer poster child)

TheStupidOne says:

Re: Re: Re: RE: Health Risks

Now that is absurd … anyone who works with any form of potentially harmful radiation should have protection. The repeated exposure of ‘safe’ doses of X-Rays to TSA employees and to frequent flyers could be harmful. We should use the machines, but only when there is reasonable suspicion that it will reveal something that will keep people safe. So no random screening, and absolutely do not scan everyone!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Right around 50% of Americans have actually flown somewhere in the last year. I honestly can’t see how the poll is statistically relevant if they used random sampling and included people who don’t fly.

When the answer to the question will never directly impact you, the value of your answer (opinion) is not usually very high.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not sure exactly how much I trust these polls. The MSM has been known to be dishonest at times. Not saying they fabricated the data, they probably didn’t, but I’m just saying that fabrication is considerably more likely than most people think.

Also, the fact that there were more independents than either democrats or republicans seems somewhat unlikely?

I wonder what other polls have been done by other organizations asking these kinds of questions. Obviously it would be inappropriate for Techdirt to do an online poll because we all know what the results will look like.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Also, when it comes to these polls, I think there are two things to consider.

A: It’s possible they do multiple polls on multiple different issues and they release only the results of those polls that are favorable their predefined bias on that position.

B: It’s possible they do multiple polls on the same issue, perhaps with each poll wording the questions slightly differently, and they release only the results that they like.

Also, maybe different news organizations conduct these polls and the ones that get favorable results to their position release them whereas the ones that don’t won’t.

It’s also important to consider the fact that some people don’t answer their phone, some people hang up when they hear it’s a poll, and those who do answer to polls might tend to have a certain bias.

and were there any selection biases in terms of who was called? Maybe people from a certain area was called.

Maybe it’s the case that these polls are accurate, I don’t know (my guess is they probably are), but they seem suspicious and I don’t really trust the MSM much.

John Doe says:

I take issue with the low risk of health issues...

There was an article I read a while back that CT scans were very popular in emergency rooms because they could see injuries and such very well. The problem with the scans is they expose the patient to larger doses than normal x-rays. The other, larger problem was that there appeared to be no monitoring of that dosage. Some CT machines were putting out far larger doses than needed to do the job. That being the issue with well established health organizations, who is monitoring the dosage from the airport scanners? How often is it checked? Do you really think TSA is qualified to monitor that?

Daniel Belleville says:

Well its like your going to stand their for 5 or 10 minutes to get checked, its more exposure if you were at the doctors office or hospital and having tests. if they want to see me naked, I say let them have their thrill and if they want to pat me down and grop me, it better be a really hot GUY doing the screening. Better to fly safe than sorry

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well its like your going to stand their for 5 or 10 minutes to get checked, its more exposure if you were at the doctors office or hospital and having tests

There are people who regularly fly, but even going for annual checkups I might get an x-ray once every few years on average, mostly dental. It is the effects of regular, repeated exposure to the doses radiated by these machines that has not been studied and logically leaves room for question.

Ryan Diederich says:

In the end

None of it really matters. Airlines and airports are private organizations, and can do what they please, even if they are swayed by the government.

If you tried to enter a bar and they wanted to do a backscatter scan on you, you could complain, but thats just about it. Its a private enterprise.

I am in great support of the scanners and pat downs, but I hope a better method appears.

The radiation is harmless, by the way. Youll get more x-rays from the sun than you will from this. Maybe a couple of hours in the sun, but nonetheless.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: In the end

None of it really matters. Airlines and airports are private organizations, and can do what they please, even if they are swayed by the government.

While I appreciate your respect of private ownership, it is apparent the TSA is a government agency which does not represent the private carriers. I’m highly skeptical any airline would want for their regular market to be decimated.

Whatis42? (profile) says:

Re: In the end

“The radiation is harmless, by the way. Youll get more x-rays from the sun than you will from this. Maybe a couple of hours in the sun, but nonetheless.”

As Scott Tenorman, the aforementioned King of Gingers, I would like to remind you that “a couple of hours in the sun” could very well constitute an ER visit for me and is certainly a tangible accretion to my accumulative lifetime radiation exposure!

Joe P says:

What Playboy prints is a naked picture, what the TSA sees is a pale green and black outline. Get over it people. They can take my finger prints, my blood a retina scan, whatever they want, because I’ve got nothing to hide.

The sad truth to this is that the people that don’t want these machines are the same people who say we can’t profile. Well sorry folks, pick one! If we have to treat everyone the same, then get in line for the scanner, or trash the scanner and let’s pull aside the people who are more likely to be a threat.

DH's Love Child (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They can take my finger prints, my blood a retina scan, whatever they want, because I’ve got nothing to hide.

So let’s see the 24×7 camera feeds of every inch of your house. Nothing to hide right? Privacy isn’t important. Oh yeah, and all of your purchases for the last year, every website you’ve browsed, every query you’ve made on-line or off, every book you’ve read, movie you’ve watched. Oh yes, we also need all of your e-mails and recordings of every conversation you’ve had.

After all, you have nothing to hide.

Joe P. says:

Re: Re: Re:

Privacy is important in private places. My home is my private place, the airport is not. The airline’s plane I fly on is not mine, or yours, its theirs. My computer is mine, my work computer is my employers. If they want to look at my computer before I fly, that’s OK with me, because I haven’t done anything on it that I wouldn’t want anyone else to see.

I’m all for closed circuit TV too. I don’t think it’s invading my privacy, its keeping me safe, I’m not doing anything wrong.

When you go to an arena for a concert or sporting event people willingly get search. When you enter Disney they search your bags and take your finger print, no one is complaining about that! So if you want to fly, deal or stay home, drive or charter a private plane.

I’m not doing anything wrong, I got nothing to hide.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m not doing anything wrong, I got nothing to hide.

How about “I’m not doing anything wrong so I should not be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures without due cause”?

I’m not american nor a constitutional scholar, but isn’t that an idea thats supposed to be enshrined in your Bill of Rights somewhere?

By any sensible interpretation of that idea (and note I say sensible not legal) that ought to rule out such an invasive “just in case” action when you have no reason to assume there will be any kind of attack never mind that a specific person may have anythign to do with it.

It’s called “living in a free country”….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I have nothing to hide. They already have all of that DNA stuff of mine from my military service. I still do not readily consent to giving up my personal freedom / information just because somebody in power wants it.
Sometimes, the principal of the issue is more important than just rolling over and surrendering to the situation.
Does anyone really want to set the precedent that just because I gave up once, means that the authority can assume, without asking for my permission, I will give up again? Is that the situation you want to live in going forward? Or the situation you want to leave to your children?
Sometimes I think that while debating the minutia of the issue, people forget the larger picture going forward. More laws and more rules means less freedoms. While many people may not care now, I wonder how they will feel in 10 years from now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Its just humiliating, and really, its all for a illusion. If you got a terrorist showing up at the air port with a bomb, or a plan, then the entire thing fails. They could detonate the bomb in the line and probably kill more people then on the plane.

Where does it stop? will i need a body scanner to go to the store? or any crowded place. Its this paranoia that not only humiliate innocent but give the terrorist what they want; AND, nobody wants to fly, not because they are scared of the “terrorist” but because its a big hassle and really just not worth it.

I really hope that the airlines start going out of business for this

Libertarian law student says:

Re: Joe P.

Joe, the people against this aren’t just the people who are against profiling – I’m not a fan of profiling, and I’m against the use of these machines/methods. I’m against them because they are an affront to my basic liberty.

I’m not a member of some herd to be corralled into a box, poked and prodded to determine I’m not carrying more than the 3oz. of shampoo I’m allotted. I’m a human being with rights – including a right against unlawful searches and seizures, protected by the 4th Amendment. It doesn’t matter if it’s a only green and black outline of my naked body – it’s not theirs to take, but rather mine to give.

And I’m sick of this “you give up your rights when you travel/buy the ticket/etc.” business. That’s nonsense. I don’t give up my right to privacy when i travel any more than I give up my right to free speech. Fun fact: The TSA is not even 10 years old. We somehow survived without being felt up by some government employee before then – in the 1970’s, we could get on the plane with a gun if we felt like it (go figure, you didn’t leave your right to defend yourself at the arrival gate, either). It’s about time we got our heads out of the sand and recognized that our precious liberty is being destroyed by our indifference.

Chris (profile) says:

When Israel..

Says it’s crap and doesn’t use them. I’d take that as hint that they are worthless. To me I say we just let people bring knives on planes then *if* someone tries to blow up a plane the people will have a easy way to stop them. Knowing that a plane is full of armed and pissed of passengers would be a great deterrent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: When Israel..

While I don’t agree with the use of these scanners, I’m fairly certain that Israel does use scanners of some sort. In fact, it’s worse there then it’s here, from what I hear they use them from check point to check point (that is, often driving from city to city even).

Not sure if they use the X – Ray ones or not though, not sure exactly which ones they do use, but they do use scanners of some sort, and from what I hear they use imaging ones too.

Anonymous Coward says:


Does anyone here do any kind of bona fide research before posting a statement about anything? Let’s start w/ the scanners. Only 1 of them (backscatter) uses x-rays, the other uses electromagnetic waves that bounce off the body. The x-rays you are exposed to DURING a flight is far greater than what you get from the backscatter [check the FDA’s info on it]. And your cell phone emits even greater radiation than the other machine. Again, check the FDA’s findings.
As far as the whole “naked” concept goes, don’t let your imagination run amuck. Have you really seen what the images are? Can you really identify who that person is? If you think it’s porn, then you yourself have issues. Go visit a fine art museum and then tell me if everything there is pornographic.

DCX2 says:

Re: Really?

The x-rays you are exposed to during a flight are very high energy. They need to be, in order to get through the metal hull of the plane. Most of those x-rays will go right through you, perhaps only affecting your bones. Meanwhile, the x-rays used by backscatter machines are lower frequency, so that they won’t penetrate the skin. Therefore, you actually get a larger effective dose of radiation absorbed.

Besides, it’s the cumulative exposure that matters. And the lower-energy x-rays experience Compton scattering (arstechnica had an excellent article on this). The question is not whether the additional radiation exposure will create cancer in Americans, but how many. After all, the FDA categorized x-ray radiation as a carcinogen in 2005.

Finally…if you think that some of the men looking at those images aren’t perverts…then you should familiarize yourself with the story of Rolando Negrin, a TSA employee in Miami who was repeatedly harassed by his co-workers about the size of his genitals after going through one of the scanners.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Really?

“Let’s start w/ the scanners. Only 1 of them (backscatter) uses x-rays, the other uses electromagnetic waves that bounce off the body.”

Is that why you put “Really?” as your subject? Because that was my first reaction to this part of your post…

X-rays ARE electromagnetic waves. “Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz (0.3 GHz) and 300 GHz.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave

The only difference between the Backscatter and the Millimeter Wave machines is that the former creates a 2D image while the latter creates a 3D image. It may be as short as one millimeter, but it?s still an x-ray.

But the biggest problem with all of this farce isn’t even the health danger… we’re all pissed about the fact that there is little-to-no added security by these invasive measures. We’re being stripped (no pun intended) of our privacy for absolutely nothing! Unless, of course, you think FEELING safer is a worthwhile payoff.

as says:

Re: Really?

“Only 1 of them (backscatter) uses x-rays, the other uses electromagnetic waves that bounce off the body.”

And to that end the backscatter scanner is the one that produces the detailed image that many (including myself) consider nearly nude and, as you say, uses x-rays. So, why not use the other type of scanner hmmm? Besides, it’s not my imagination I’m worried about. To echo DCX2, low energy x-ray radiation has the potential to do lasting damage to cellular DNA by dislodging electrons and thereby disrupting the molecular bonds (look it up), and my health is something that concerns me. Also, there are no long term studies on these machines, so at this point it is impossible to know for certain.

Eugene (profile) says:

Re: Really?

Even on the official TSA website they feel the need to blur out the face. In fact I’ve never seen an example image from one of these machines that *didn’t* have a blurred out face. So I’m calling bullshit on your claim that you can’t identify who is in a given image.

Just you wait – the second a celebrity elects to go through, his/her junk is going to be all over the web.

Overcast (profile) says:

Tried calling Hertz three times today to setup a rental car – lines busy each time.

I doubt most people are ‘ok’ with it – I’m certainly not and I’ll keep paying for Rental Cars instead of Flying.

The radiation is harmless, by the way. Youll get more x-rays from the sun than you will from this. Maybe a couple of hours in the sun, but nonetheless.

Radiation – harmless?

It’s known to irritate skin conditions among other things, which I have one. It’s unneeded risk, performed by people who are not medical professionals.

Plus X-rays can sterilize you – ever had a hip x-ray? They make you ‘cover it up’ with a lead shield to prevent that.

And no – I don’t want a ‘couple of hours’ equivalent radiation ‘compressed’ into a 5 minute scan. I value my health and privacy more than I do the ‘ease’ of flying – which isn’t ‘easy’ anymore.

How many acts of terror have happened since 9/11 involving planes? Would this have stopped any of them? Doubt it – any potential ‘terrorist’ will find a way around this, no doubt.

Or just detonate in line – which could take out as many people as being on the plane anyway – right?

Anonymous Coward says:

That's polls for you......

Someone else posted this in techdirt – about internet I think – but it’s sooo handy for so many situations. Largely because it’s true.:

Humphrey: You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don’t want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: ” Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Do you think they respond to a challenge?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?”
Bernard: Oh…well, I suppose I might be.
Humphrey: “Yes or no?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told her you can’t say no to that. So they don’t mention the first five questions and they publish the last one.
Bernard: Is that really what they do?
Humphrey: Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren’t many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result.
Bernard: How?
Humphrey: “Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Are you worried about the growth of armaments?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: “Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?”
Bernard: Yes
Humphrey: There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample.

Overcast (profile) says:

Maybe we should take a few pointers about airport security from Israel. They seem to have the “system” of airport security nailed down WITHOUT the inconvenience…In the middle of one of the high threat hubs of the world.

It’s not about security – that’s the thing.

It’s about control. Mark my words – this will ‘fail’ and they’ll start pushing on how we need all sorts of Identifications and Biometrics – never mind that all the 9/11 hi-jackers had valid ID’s…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s not about security – that’s the thing.
It’s about control.

Isn’t security just a form of control? “I’m sorry you can’t go there. It’s a secured area.” Security is controlling where I’m allowed and not allowed to go.

Being able to walk into an airport and answer a few “conversational” questions and be at the gate waiting to board my plane in 25 minutes is worth it. I really hate having to show up to the airport 3 hours BEFORE my flight departs just so I can wait for 2 of those hours just to get past security.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting historical factoid ....

When x-ray machines were invented they were used in excess. I mean its just x-rays they aren’t harmful. X-rays were used as therapy for a huge number of ailments from back pain to hemorroids. They were even used for checking your shoe size. That is until shoe sales men started dying of cancer …

I wonder if anyone has told the TSA workers that story.


Ron (profile) says:


We have the choice to fly or don’t. Sometimes flying is the only realistic alternative.
But, once you make the decision to fly, your choices are reduced to which personal assault you will opt for.
Would I prefer to have the scan or be groped? I’ll take the scan. I’m more comfortabe with a light X-ray than some TSA perv feeling me up.
Would I want my daughter or girlfriend to be scanned? If the choice I have is to ask her to do the X-ray than being felt up by some TSA perv, I’ll ask her to do the X-ray. My blood would boil at watching either be groped by some TSA perv.
Oh, and the idea of going as the true Scotsman, fabulous! Hmmm, I wonder if the TSA pervs wear gloves, and if they change them before each grope.

Bengie says:


The current risks for these machines is 1 in 200mil people will *die* of cancer per year, unknown amount will aquire non-lethal cancer. One large air port can move over 200mil per year.

On the flip side of the argument, about 13 in 1mil people die to bicycles, which is about 2600 per 200mil.

Seems bikes are more dangerous.

The real question is, will these machines risks out-weigh the risks of crazy people. I’m not sure, let do an experiment, need a control group.

Fentex says:

Aircrew have something like a 1 ~ 2% greater chance of cancer due to flying high and slight increases in exposure to cosmic rays.

It is a real, but small, risk to increase their exposure to possibly damaging radiation.

It is not unreasonable for a person to refuse to increase their risk of contracting cancer in a profession that already includes a slightly elevated risk.

Besides which the idea of checking pilots for dangerous contraband is preposterous given they will have the whole aircraft at their mercy.

Indeed it would be better to let them carry bombs onboard as detonating one would probably entail less risk to more people if an aircraft was to crash uncontrolled than possibly be weilded as a weapon.

AS to the general public, well, these machines can’t tell a tampon from an explosive so their utility is questionable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rafi Sela, an Israeli airport security expert who helped design security at Ben Gurion International Airport, has said:[82]

“I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747…That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport”


SLK8ne says:

Nothing to hide, eh?

To all the “nothing to hide” folks, maybe you don’t. Yet. If you look at the legislative trends over the last 100 years you will see a gradual erosion of personal freedoms. So, just because you have nothing to hide NOW does not mean that some nabob in Washington isn’t going to decide tomorrow that something you are doing IS wrong.

Take a look at how the environmental laws have been abused to the point that if you have a damp patch in the back of your house it’s classified as “wetlands” and you cannot plant a garden in it, level the grade or do anything else without being fined thousands of dollars. That was not true a 100 years ago.

If you give up your rights while you aren’t doing anything “wrong” you won’t have any rights when some burro-rat makes an arbitrary decision that what you do IS “wrong” in their eyes.

Kirk (profile) says:

Strip Me

Literally. I don’t want my naked self to be digitally imaged while someone sits huddled in front of a monitor, mocking my tiny penis. I also don’t want to be touched in special places by ordinary people. If the government needs to see me naked, someone should do it in person. They can touch my clothes all they want without me in them, and I will proudly lift my junk up high for them or check for cancer or take a crap or whatever else they want ME to do.
And how is it a good thing that I can’t see the people who see me? At the very least, they should be on CCTV for the scanee to see.

There’s one simple reason why strip search isn’t an option: time.

When these machines were first introduced, my chief complaint was (and remains) that they make it too convenient to invade one’s privacy.

hushicho (profile) says:

It would be so nice if popular media had any integrity.

Hopefully the facts about this won’t be muddled by CBS’s completely unethical and unscientific ‘study’.

Frankly, I think they should be forced to make a public apology for using dishonest journalism — which is misleading and dangerously close to fraud — to support an organisation that has gained international attention for its dehumanising and unconstitutional practices.

It does at least say something that at least 20% of people either knew what they were talking about or disagreed with the practice out of principle completely.

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