The world we live in now?

Do you want to go see the Super Bowl? Get ready to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars and be seen naked before you are allowed into the stadium. That could be our future if we don’t defend our rights. A recent news report suggested TSA planned to scan tens of thousands of people at the Super Bowl using its x-ray scanners, and perform pat-downs. TSA denies they are scanning Super Bowl patrons. Nevertheless, airport indignities are expanding.

A news reporter, Matt Touchette, went to visit the Lucas Oil stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVI. He writes, “I then found myself walking into the side gates of the stadium, through intense security which included full body scanners”. In Yahoo Sports, writer Eric R. Ivie writing about event security urges everyone to go along with the plan.

[T]his is the world in which we live now. When you’re starting to feel aggravated about the wait or self-conscious about getting patted down, remember that the object of all this security is to keep everyone safe and having a good time at Super Bowl XLVI. And everyone else has to go through the exact same thing, too.

Let’s examine the logic: We should be made to feel secure before having a good time. When we go to see the Super Bowl, we should relax because everyone else around us is violated too. We must get used to this treatment because this is “the world in which we live now”.

Perhaps we are lucky; TSA says it will not use scanners – this time. There is little holding them back except our reaction against such treatment. Extending the logic, we should feel safer and more secure being scanned with x-rays that could cause cancer, produced by scanners that show picures of us naked.

The current Administration clearly believes we should ignore what the Founding Fathers put in the Bill of Rights.

Amendment 4 of the US Constitution

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

American colonists were regularly searched by British soldiers. No doubt the British authorities believed these security measures were reasonable. In the case of the Super Bowl, the event is run by a private company, The National Football League. If you don’t want to be scanned, don’t go.

Airports are another matter. Air travel is basic transportation, and unavoidable for many people being necessary for their jobs. Representative John Mica (R-FL) authored legislation that established TSA, but now wants the programs “dismantled”.

Rep. Mica originally wanted TSA to use a program like El Al Airlines, based in Israel. “Unfortunately, the TSA’s SPOT Program is not like the Israeli behavior detection model. Unlike the Israeli program, SPOT is conducted from a distance, with no personal interaction between the passenger and the TSA employee performing the SPOT screening unless the passenger is identified for secondary screening”, he said.

The measures used by the Transportation Safety Administration for airport security have failed. Judicial Watch reports the TSA security measures are ineffective and expensive.

TSA’s operations are outdated, more than 25,000 security breaches have occurred at U.S. airports since congress created it and the agency has failed to develop and deploy effective technology despite wasting $39 million to procure special machines that could not consistently detect explosives. The TSA also blew $212 million on a failed passenger observation program that allowed terrorists to board planes on nearly two dozen occasions. This information was attributed to a separate government report published earlier this year.

It’s not like the TSA lacks manpower. Its workforce has swelled by 400%—from 16,000 to 65,000—since it was created and it’s larger than many other agencies, including the departments of State, Labor, Energy, Education and Housing and Urban Development. The TSA has also received nearly $60 billion to secure the nation’s transportation network.

Time Magazine reports these x-ray scanners are banned in Europe. Yet here in America, the LA Times reports TSA is planning to expand its security measures at train stations, subways, busses and on our streets. X-ray scanners could be used. Scanners have been developed that can look inside vehicles on the road. Fox News reports mobile scanning “ZBV” vans are ready to patrol our streets and peer into our vehicles while we are inside them.

AS&E, the company producing the ZBV vans, claims the x-ray devices provide “safety” and “privacy”. They assure us the images cannot be used to identify anyone. The dose from a scanner is supposed to be less than 10 µrem, about 0.3% of the dose you would get riding for an hour in an airplane. The actual dose depends on the number of scans and the duration of each scan. If these devices become common, your dose from x-rays could go up dramatically. Each scan may be deemed “safe”, but the cumulative exposure may be harder to justify.

Anyone with knowledge of radiation health would tell you there is no “safe” dose. When you go to a doctor or dentist for an x-ray, you accept the risk voluntarily. The risk is weighed against the risk of a dangerous condition like a malignant tumor, a bone infection, or a tooth abscess.

Even if the majority of people believe we need to give up basic rights, that doesn’t make it acceptable. The United States Constitution is based on certain founding principles, one being to protect the rights of the minority. The rights of a majority are protected in a Democracy. That’s called “tyranny of the majority”, or mob rule. We have a Republic administered by a government with limited powers given to it under the Constitution. It is supposed to protect individual liberties.

It isn’t even clear that the majority of people want to be “protected” by these ineffective scanners, or would like to be patted-down at subway stations, or while walking on the streets. The fact is, that is the direction this Administration is taking us.

I feel more terrorized by the prospect of daily invasions of privacy than I do from the boogeyman terrorists. The measures taken at airports don’t work, and probably are not even needed. Terrorists know passengers will fight back now. If we give up our freedom for a false sense of security, we should be ashamed. And we will deserve to lose our freedom. Every generation has a duty to defend our rights. Start by learning what your rights are. Then defend them starting with the ballot box.

2 thoughts on “The world we live in now?

  1. From Susan One would think they would have a union advocating for them… Susan, as a more than eight year fdreeal TSA Officer protecting Boston’s Logan International Airport, once two year serving A.F.G.E. District 2 Local 2617 elected President of theirs; and; now a National Organizer for the TSA union campaign 12,000 TSA Officer members of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIOdo and long have had, America’s largest fdreeal employee union advocating for them. This past July 21, 2010, we succeeded in getting the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Chairman Rep. Stephen. F. Lynch, D-MA and his committee, to hold a hearing involving questioning these TSO’s unwisely stubborn TSA employer at length on these TSO’s had radiation fears and concerns.We hope that if TSA doesn’t quickly do the right thing in finally allowing any TSO to wear a radiation dosimeter, that once again [like when he and Congress ordered TSA to allow TSOs to wear protective masks vs the nation's H1N1 threat], Lynch and his elected colleagues, will again bi-partisanly support ordering TSA to provide them to 40,000 brave TSOs. This is a serious issue of bi-partisan concern in Washington, as even Senators Collins, Burr and Coburn, collectively wrote TSA in August to please provide better answers for clients, crews, and, TSOs, on the level of radiation both face. Even, Senator Scott Brown and other Senate colleagues, are being asked to weigh in with letters and a similar hearing. TSA’s selfish PR protecting stance is an insult and an outrage as TSOs watch hundredsof thousands of hospital and safety workers all being allowed to wear them, but not they only deepens a TSO’s emotional insecurity. Especially, when more than twenty Boston TSA employees have incurred cancer while employed at TSA and where some have even died. TSA responded by claiming that since each afflicted TSO had cancer show up in differnt parts of their body, then, TSA cannot be the source of that radiation.I would but out laughing as such ludicrous agency rebuttals but my heart hurts for these poor employees.Since TSA always cares much more about what flyers think if they see TSOs wearing a health protecting device, please help support TSOs by now stepping up and by writing your elected to support any TSO’s right to self-monitor with a self-purchased dosimeter,Tell your elected to now order TSA and, the sooner, the better for all concerned. Thank you Ira for your perfectly timed article on the TSA client and employee radiation fears issue! Susan, thank you too, for your comments and for your support!

  2. Some quick internet rascereh from reputable professional organizations and manufacturers alike can clearly demonstrate that there are in fact screening machine’s that use ionzing radiation, X-rays, and expose the subject to these radiations. While there are also appears to be screening technology that instead utilize’s non-ionizing forms of radiation, such as millimeter wave technology, this is does not exclude the use of screening technology that uses X-rays. Multiple technologies, some using ionozing radiation, are being used to screen airline passengers. Currently, it seems that the TSA is using these technologies but has yet to provide adequate information to the public regarding the radiation exposure posed to member of the public and TSA employees. Furthermore, the fact that TSA employee’s have not been issued or have been denied radiation dosimetry badges does not neccessarily mean that the machines they work with or near are not exposing them to ionzing radiation. In the practice of radiation safety, NRC and state regulations allow for this situation to occurr if it can be shown that the radiation doses to workers from such devices are below given levels.I think some of the confusion on this subject may be a result of the fact that most of the information pertiaining to the radiation exposure posed by these scanners has come from the media rather than the government agencies that use them. This lack of information from them seems to causing the confusion as well as fueling the controversary.However, I think that it is likely that manufacturers’ of these machines combined with the FDA, which I believe licenses all radiation emitting devices, have evaluated the potential radiation exposure posed by these scanners to the public and TSA employees and have determined that they are within regulartory compliance. The intention of which is to ensure that members of the public and the employees are exposed to radiation only when that exposure is determined to result in a net benefit to society, in this case the safety and security of the air travel. My guess is that the TSA has been less than forthcoming with information because they are afraid draw any attention to the subject of ionizing radiation becuase of the enormously negative, and often misinformed, public perception surrounding it. While sound and transparent scientific information regarding these x-rays screener is important, one thing to keep in mind when evaluating the risk posed an X-ray screening: Humans are exposed to natural and man-made radiation everyday and air travel itself increases our exposure to natural cosmic and solar ionizing radiation by taking us to higher altitudes.

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