Saturday, July 2, 2011

That 'Other' Method

(Originally published 12/1/2010)

Suppose a terrorist were concealing something under clothing: The backscatter X-ray would not be a problem if the terrorist could bypass the X-ray by simply declining to pass through.
Therefore, the "brutality" of the searches performed by the Transportation Services Administration (TSA), when travelers refuse to go through the back-scatter X-ray machines, is an inevitable security requirement.

For the new machine to have any utility, the alternative to it must also be able to detect anything the X-ray would, and so anyone declining to go through the X-ray must be searched closely and intrusively.

So the real issue is the perceived necessity of under-clothing searches. If we were to someday decide that body cavities must also be searched, perhaps by some kind of "look-through" X-ray, then the alternative to that would be a physical body-cavity search.

Nevertheless, the alternative to the backscatter machines seems more like a punishment delivered gleefully by TSA personnel, rather than the real requirement it is. We (Citizens and their Representatives) should have thought harder about our security goals—and the consequences—before adopting the backscatter machines.

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