Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pssst, Uncle Sam Can See You Naked

This is a picture of Susan Hallowell, who runs the Transportation Security Administration's research lab. Four years ago, she volunteered to be scanned by a backscatter x-ray machine, which sees through clothing. She was wearing a skirt and blazer. But in the picture, she's as good as nude.

Now it's your turn.

Like retarded children drooling over old comic-book ads for "X-Ray Specs!" and daydreaming of actually being able to see through clothing and and leer shapely women, America Top Cops™ at the Homeland Security Department/Transportation Security Administration have decided that in order for you to be Safe From Terror™, they have to be able to take naked photos of you.

Now, any kid with half a brain knew that X-Ray Specs were a novelty gag that didn't really work. But time marches on and technology makes the impossible possible. Get ready, air travelers, because this week the Homeland Security Department began using backscatters at airports to screen passengers for weapons. The first machine is up and running in Phoenix, Arizona. The next ones will be in New York and Los Angeles.

Are you ready to get naked to protect your country from Osama Bin Laden™?

This is no joke. The government desperately craves to look under your clothes. Ceramic knives, plastic guns, and liquid explosives have supposedly all made metal detectors obsolete. Carry-on bags are X-rayed, so the safest place to hide a weapon is on your body. Puffer machines can detect explosives on you, but only if you're sloppy. Backscatters are different. They can scan your whole surface, locating and identifying anything of unusual density—not just metals, which have high atomic numbers, but also explosives or, say, large sums of money and/or drugs, which have low ones.

Which may be the real reason the TSA is rolling out these types of scans. Not for the terrorists... but in order to help them catch people with undeclared cash or drugs on them. Hurrah! Another way to tie together the War On Terror™ with the War on Drugs™!

Of course, the TSA has downplayed the privacy concerns about these backscatter x-rays, saying that they've imposed very rigid protocols for this early "experimental" and "voluntary" use of backscatter x-rays. In Phoenix, for example, the TSA screener operating the machine can't see you in person -- he's in an entirely different airport terminal entirely. The idea being that it's totally cool for you to be strip-searched so long as you don't have to look at the face of the guy doing it to you via remote, I suppose. Additionally, the TSA's backscatter x-ray machines won't currently identify you by name, nor do they currently save scans of your naked body, nor do they currently print out scans of your naked body (as always, the key is their emphasis on the word CURRENTLY, of course). The TSA was also forced by privacy activists to "distort" the images the machine produces. Here are some examples of the "distorted" images:

Note that the sexual organs of both the male and female are very clearly visible

More importantly, the TSA's "voluntary submission" and "very rigid protocols" are just the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. It's very clear that someday everyone, without exception, will need to go through one of these things to get on an airplane. Of course, once that legal justification is made, then there isn't much reason that you can't be required to go through a backscatter everywhere else. To take a train. To get on a bus. To enter any courthouse or federal building. Every day at school. Private businesses.

And once we get to the point of private businesses requiring this technology ("but we Have To... it'll keep Puff Daddy's rap protégé from sneaking handguns into our club!"), then we immediately lose the strict procedures which are currently set in place for the TSA. Worse, there's no proof and it's not very likely that these proceedures will be enforeced at non-experimental airports once the program rolls out wide.

Think about the airport today... the TSA has proven completely incapable of getting luggage x-ray machines out of the lobbies of our airport terminals after SIX YEARS. Still we have to step up, check in, watch that luggage belt rotate behind the counter uselessly, then trudge with our luggage to a different part of the lobby, then undergo a pointless explosives residue test, then take the luggage to a different part of the lobby and stand in a NEW line and drop it off with the TSA who x-rays it right there in the middle of what used to be space for walking and THEN puts the luggage on the conveyor belt.

Where the hell are they going to put these x-ray strip show machines BUT in the middle of the lobby? Great, a new line to stand in. Oh, and for everyone standing behind the TSA guy to be able to see you naked. Sweet! Humliate Yourself For America!

Corporations will claim it's too much work, takes too many employees, etc. to have 2 people scanning entrants. People will rig their private machines to make jpegs, etc. Then we'll all be naked all the time. How better to cow and scare and terrify the Little People than to expose them in all their flabby nakedness?

Oh, and it'll only be the Little People, don't fool yourself. The powerful and wealthy won't be subjected to this bullshit... they'll just bypass all security just like they already do. No, this invasive bullshit is just for us plebes.

And in case you think I'm being overreactionary, think about this: Because of concerns about killing people with radiation, body scanners are designed not to penetrate the skin. All that's needed to defeat this entire system is for is someone heavily overweight to go through the system with a weapon or explosives pack tucked into a flabby body fold and it won't be detected by the scanner. For that matter, how big of an issue is it -REALLY- for a Terrorist who's perfectly willing to die for Allah to shove 10 pounds of C4 explosive up his ass in order to sneak it onto a plane?

Lastly, consider this simple question: would this technology have prevented 9/11? Answer: No. Those 19 men took common household objects on board that plane with them and then used them as weapons. Any of you could do today exactly what Mohammed Atta did with 19 friends armed with metal coat hangers and aluminum soda cans torn in half.

No, once again, this is baloney fake-o protection designed to make America FEEL safe while simultaneously stripping our Civil Liberties from us AND simultaneously shift tax dollars from the poor and working class to the wealthy connected few who own these defense corporations.

The Military-Industrial-Terrorism-Drug-Complex strikes again.