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Airport Insecurity


By dlindorff - Posted on 12 August 2010

By Betsy Ross

I'm a 1K flyer, meaning I fly over 100,000 miles a year with United, and I consider myself fairly inured to the indignities of travel by now.  But, going through my first Whole Body Back-Scatter X-ray at the Denver airport recently took frequent flying to a whole new level of creepiness.
 
The Homeland Security people obviously put a lot of thought into the implementation of this latest "advance" in aircraft terror prevention.
 
Before the entrance to the X-ray chamber there was a little sign depicting fuzzy, colorless images of a stripped-down man and woman, which I suppose were meant to put us at ease by suggesting that what the examiners see is not the least bit personal or prurient.
 
If so, it didn't work. The depersonalized photos of the little nudes just reminded me of those grisly photos of concentration camp survivors, their bodies wasted by starvation, gaunt faces devoid of expression.
 
I could have refused, of course.  But from what I’ve read, X-ray resisters risk penalties like extended, detailed grilling by Transportation Security Agency personnel and even police, plus a full-body pat-down. For all I know you could wind up being held for questioning and missing your flight, and I wanted to get home for the weekend.

As I entered the tall white chamber, with its automatic doors on front and back, a short, unobtrusive honey-haired female agent, clearly selected and trained for the task, approached me and gently showed me how to form a diamond with my fingers and raise my hands overhead.

The process itself was quick and painless. While I waited in the chamber, she chatted me up about the nature of my visit, keeping one eye fixed for the signal from whoever was inspecting my naked image that I was cleared to go.
 
A colleague who followed after me emerged from the chamber shaking her head like a cat with wet whiskers.  "I never went through that before," she said.

 She'll get used to it.

On the other hand, I happen to know that this young woman is hoping to start a family. What happens then? Obviously she cannot safely be X-rayed. But how do TSA agents know whether a young woman who claims to be two months pregnant know whether to believe her? Will they be handing out pregnancy test kits? (If claiming pregnancy means you get to skip the X-ray, doesn’t this just mean the next terrorist, instead of an underpants bomber, will be a comely young bra-or-panty bomber?...

For the rest of this article by Betsy Ross (pen name of a Philadelphia-area businesswoman/writer and occasional contributor to ThisCantBeHappening!), please go to: ThisCantBeHappening!

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