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Posts Tagged ‘Porno Scanners’

TSA’s nude body scanners are worse than useless

March 7, 2012 Leave a comment

…because they give us the idea that we are safe while providing a far less than adequate level of safety. I found this video, courtesy of http://tsaoutofourpants.wordpress.com/, very informative:

How To Get Anything Through TSA Nude Body Scanners

Another factoid I found interesting is that no one has brought explosives on an American-originated flight in 40 years. However, if the TSA “officers” and the traveling public are convinced that these machines will help keep that streak alive, and yet they are demonstrably worse than the old-style metal detectors, then it can reasonably be concluded that the machines are actively making us less safe by lulling us into a false sense of security while failing to catch real threats.

Then again, I simply do not accept the idea that an outfit like the TSA has moved the needle higher in security at all. The reason why most planes don’t blow up is because, out of 7 billion people in this world, all but a handful won’t ever blow up a plane. And the ones who might are marginalized otherwise.

The point of diminishing returns has been reached and exceeded long before TSA existed. At this point, TSA’s annual budget of more than $8 billion is worth about as much in actual security as your own vigilance. Possibly less.

The inevitable question that I get from security-statists upon saying that is, “well won’t that make it easier for terrorists?” Sure. But terrorists have an incredibly difficult time of it anyway (and it bears repeating that TSA has never, ever caught a single terrorist). If we spend $8 billion of federal money and have a terrorist attack every decade or two, would that really be any better than spending $0 of federal money and having a terrorist attack every decade or two?

The idea that we can make the threat completely disappear is false. What is left is a balancing act of economic interests, freedom interests, and security interests.

Let’s stop shoveling money at the TSA on the basis of boogeyman stories and start talking tradeoffs like adults.

The TSA – A Stark Rendering of Misplaced Priorities

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Paul Hsieh has pointed out the absurd contrast between the millions of unnecessary x-rays that TSA forces travelers through and the potentially millions of preventive x-rays that our government health czars are now urging us to forego.

I am struck by the blatant display of misplaced priorities.  As Hsieh notes:

Screening travelers and screening patients share some common features. In both cases the goal is to sort through a large, mostly-normal population to identify the relatively few problem cases — either an undetected terrorist or a hidden cancer.

…the TSA screeners are of dubious effectiveness. TSA screeners have failed to detect simulated bombs and real guns. The attempted hijacking of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 two years ago was thwarted not by the TSA but by alert passengers.

In contrast to mandatory screening for terrorists, the government is actively discouraging Americans from regular screening for common forms of cancer…

After years of arguing that regular cancer screening saves lives, the government now warns that such routine screening creates unnecessary emotional distress, leads to further risky invasive tests, and raises overall health costs. Regardless of the scientific merits of these claims, blogger Glenn Reynolds notes that many skeptical Americans fear that the government’s real agenda is to save money at the expense of their health.

Although I have no hard statistics on this, I believe it is safe to say that preventive medicine has saved many lives.  Do the lives number in the millions?  Thousands?  I am not sure, but either way, the number is certainly greater than zero.

By contrast, the TSA has forced millions through medically unnecessary radiation, and managed to catch zero terrorists.  Zero.

Let that sink in for a moment.  Our wise, benevolent government is spending billions on screening machines that have zero effectiveness in catching terrorists, and at the same time, it is encouraging the underuse of screening machines that have proven effectiveness at catching disease.

It all seems to come down to dollars and cents.  The first question is, why spend the money on the failed programs at the expense of the productive ones?  The second – and more important – question is, why is the government spending this money anyway?

The TSA Ignored Radiation Concerns in its Haste to Roll Out “Porno Scanners”

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

In a story that will surprise no one who has been paying attention, the TSA ignored radiation concerns raised more than a decade ago about its airport X-Ray scanners.  The very real health risks posed by these machines (to say nothing of their privacy concerns and blatant trampling of the fourth amendment) received little to no consideration.  According to ProPublica,

One after another, the experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [in 1998] raised questions about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle in radiation safety — that humans shouldn’t be X-rayed unless there is a medical benefit.
Even the machine’s inventor dismissed concerns that such machines would be used at “lower-security” areas in the future, thereby deflecting criticism of its radiation dosages:
The machine’s inventor, Steven W. Smith, assured the panelists that it was highly unlikely that the device would see widespread use in the near future. At the time, only 20 machines were in operation in the entire country.
 
“The places I think you are not going to see these in the next five years is lower-security facilities, particularly power plants, embassies, courthouses, airports and governments,” Smith said. “I would be extremely surprised in the next five to 10 years if the Secure 1000 is sold to any of these.”
Inventor, yes.  Prognosticator, no.  But his statements almost certainly came from a sincere belief.  Contrast them with statements from the TSA:
Robin Kane, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security technology, said that no one would get cancer because the amount of radiation the X-ray scanners emit is minute…
 
“It’s a really, really small amount relative to the security benefit you’re going to get,” Kane said.
No one will get cancer?  Can I get that in writing?  And if someone does, can that be the impetus that we need to shut down this godawful privacy violation?
 
Also, we should consider the brief sop to cost-benefit analysis.  Kane engages in a little unwarranted assumption when he claims that there are benefits to this technology.  Let’s tally the scores.  How many people has the TSA irradiated?  Millions.  How many terrorists has the TSA caught?  Zero.
 
That’s right.  Zero.  Ever.  And annoyingly, the more the TSA strips away the freedoms of the people who would otherwise follow the rules, the more it seems that the people who are real, potential terrorists are still finding their way onto the planes.  Look, if they are going to make it through the TSA security theater anyway, why bother with any kind of scanning machine?
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