Saturday, June 6, 2009

How to depersonalize TSA backscatter x-ray "strip searches"

Emailed this to TSA a while back (for latest controversy see below):

To reach an acceptable level of privacy with the use of low energy backscatter x-ray machines we could try morphing all personal body images into standard impersonal templates: fat persons' images would be shrunk to fit a standard image and vice versa for example. All males and all female images could could be morphed into one standard gender image (not very personal). We could even try squared off "standard body" images if that would make the public feel less exposed.

Standardized male and female body images might actually make it easier for TSA employees to search for hidden objects. Even modified images should do a significantly better job than metal detectors.

Whether or not standardized images would satisfy public objections of virtual strip search would be purely subjective. If it works for the public, it works.
Touching private parts might be considered a felony criminal law violation as part of random checks entering a disco. You cannot be forced to agree to allow an illegal assault.

When the government is the main -- only -- actor setting TSA frisking policy the Fourth Amendment may be invoked under the same kind of rationale that finds some so-called private contractors (e.g., leasing limo drivers) to be employees because all their job activities are governed by management.
I went on hundreds of prison visits in New York State in the late '70's (Rikers Island, Elmira, Fishkill, Coxsaki, Camp Monterey and Hudson) and the metal detectors were set so sensitively the brass rivets in your plastic eyeglass frames would make them go off (take them off and go through again) -- but the frisks never touched anyone's genitals, male or female.

"By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights," countered the TSA supervisor.

You cannot give up your First Amendment rights by buying a ticket -- nor your right to due process; going to jail without trial. You cannot give up your rights not to have the private areas of your body groped. The latter becomes especially egregious when the TSA, according to some stories, presents a male agent to intimately frisk a female flier on the excuse of no female agent available (one of the first stories on Drudge I believe) for a RANDOM AIRPORT (as in on the ground) check -- not a bomb threat at 35,000 feet.
I just finished reading about prosecution for leaving the pat-down area without permission: once you enter the pat down area you have to allow it (unless you get "permission" ???). No rational relationship to a valid state interest -- shamelessly violates 14th amendment's rational test." You are forced to allow someone to grope your private parts because a terrorist might want to look at the no-tech, empty room (and leave unfrisked?). Even if it were high-tech, pat-down room what difference could being patted-down or not make? Someone at TSA has a serious skull full of mush.

The supposed letter of the law (check out the way law enforcement sees the strict legality of men frisking women as opposed to mere, if almost universal outside TSA stories, policy prohibitions) means that even if only a man is available a woman has to submit.
For the last word on pointless TSA over focus on passengers read:


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