This toon, by Patrick Chappatte and via Cagle, sums up pre­cisely what I think is wrong with “full-​​body” scan­ning at airports.


What’s strik­ing is that I was think­ing it just this morn­ing. There is no way that a “body scan­ner” can pos­si­bly tell you any­thing about the per­son being scanned. Reliance on tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide us “safety” or “secu­rity” is a fool’s path, and will fail us. Machines can always be out­smarted — and the trained chimp run­ning the machine is even eas­ier to get past.

El Al, the Israeli car­rier, was a ter­ror­ism tar­get in the late 1960s. They have since changed their secu­rity mea­sures, as a result of which they haven’t been hit again. Since 1970, there have been two “fatal events” on El Al, nei­ther of which had any­thing to do with hijack­ers or terrorists.

They man­age this partly by main­tain­ing their air­craft, of course; but mostly by screen­ing every pas­sen­ger that boards — with a com­bi­na­tion of secu­rity mea­sures and ques­tions that make the TSA’s list look like the joke it is.

They do not use “full-​​body” scanners.

What they do is pro­file their pas­sen­gers, and use watch lists com­piled by mul­ti­ple inter­na­tional agen­cies. There might be some evi­dence that El Al scru­ti­nizes Muslims more closely. Given the fact that all 19 of the 11th September mur­der­ers in this nation were known to be Muslim, and that Islam is the only reli­gion that cur­rently endorses killing of non-​​Muslims, and that those mur­der­ers com­mit­ted their killings in the name of Islam, this seems like a sen­si­ble policy.

If this is a form of eth­nic pro­fil­ing, I have to say I’m for it. It sure as hell seems to work for El Al.

The prob­lem (PC whin­ing aside) is that if we were to imple­ment sim­i­lar secu­rity mea­sures here, we’d have to go into proac­tive rather than reac­tive mode. We’d have to hire intel­li­gent and edu­cated TSA employ­ees, and pay them more than min­i­mum wage. We’d also have to train them exten­sively, keep their train­ing cur­rent with fre­quent update sem­i­nars, and we’d need an awful lot of them in order to prop­erly screen every passenger.

This trans­lates into a lot of tax dol­lars being spent on pre­ven­tive mea­sures. A frac­tion, to be sure, of what’s being spent on end­less wars on civil­ians in coun­tries known to be Muslim.*

Three guesses which course we’ll choose, and the first two don’t count.

Meanwhile, enjoy your “safe” flight, and be sure that when some­one blows up an air­plane with the bomb he’s shoved up his ass­hole, the Fed will respond in the only way they know how.

Unfortunately it’ll still be TSA work­ers doing the “inspect­ing”, not proctologists.

UPDATE: We can rest easy. The TSA has been aggres­sively seek­ing out trav­el­ers whose names appear on their watch lists, includ­ing this eight-​​year-​​old. They frisked him for the first time at the age of two.


* For some peo­ple the only accept­able kind of eth­nic pro­fil­ing is at gunpoint.


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