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The day has come to submit your “junk” to the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
November 24 is National Opt-Out Day, and as Change.org blogger Kelley Vlahos wrote over on the Criminal Justice blog, travelers are expected to opt-out of the full body scans and ask for pat-downs, in order to cause delays on the busiest day of the year. The activist initiative is designed to send a clear message to lawmakers that Americans will not stand by quietly while airport security officials subject us to naked body scanners and enhanced pat downs in the name of national security.
Hearings in Congress, jokes on Twitter, Foursquare check-ins and campaign sites all serve to demonstrate that this time, the TSA has gone too far. A new Zogby poll reveals that 61 percent oppose full body scans and TSA pat downs with a massive 48 percent seeking alternatives to flying. This certainly is not good news for the airline industry and spells a public relations disaster for the TSA.
Last week, TSA Chief John Pistole staunchly defended the new screening procedures while testifying in front of Congress. He even offered the members of the Senate Committee for TSA Oversight pat-downs to clear away doubts that this was good for America.
His boss, Janet Napolitano, downplayed the importance of the outcry in a statement that screamed of Orwellian security: “Remember, the walk-through metal detector was hugely controversial when it began, and now, of course, we don’t even think about it.”
The DHS Secretary hopes that Americans will soon forget about the (dis)pleasure of TSA groping its private parts and act like it is normal. Tell that to the guy who urinated in his pants after an enhanced pat-down, the young boy who was strip-searched, the blogger detained for taking pictures and another who was fined $11,000 for refusing the grope. Enough is enough.
To make things worse, politicians are not subjected to the same treatment at airports. Americans are rightfully enraged that there are one set of rules for politicians and another for the masses. TSA Chief Pistole is now considering less intrusive searches but has not set a timeline or announced any changes as of yet.
To be honest, the outcry is coming from an often-privileged section of the American public. White Americans are appalled that the TSA is touching their junk. Well, welcome to flying as an Arab or Sikh in America. Most Americans finally agree that behavior and travel history must be used for profiling ahead of factors like race, religion or nationality. That is certainly a win.
Private companies taking over TSA duties is not the answer to the massive intrusion of our privacy at airports. Investigative journalists have uncovered that the full-body scans are manufactured by a company belonging to the former Secretary of DHS, Michael Chertoff. Revolving door much?
The pat-down searches need to stop. In the least, body scan images must be destroyed. Six-year olds need to be taken off no-fly lists. Heck, we should be allowed to keep our shoes on. Our national security cannot be reactive — it has to be proactive and we must trust due diligence on the part of passengers to deter any hypothetical threats.
Happy opt-out day. Remember it is not intrusive — it is simply a “freedom frisk.”
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