FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Airport Insecurity

I’m a 1K flyer, meaning I fly over 100,000 miles a year with United, and I consider myself fairly inured to the indignities of travel by now. But, going through my first Whole Body Back-Scatter X-ray at the Denver airport recently took frequent flying to a whole new level of creepiness.

The Homeland Security people obviously put a lot of thought into the implementation of this latest supposed “advance” in aircraft terror prevention.

Before the entrance to the X-ray chamber there was a little sign depicting fuzzy, colorless images of a stripped-down man and woman, which I suppose were meant to put us at ease by suggesting that what the examiners see is not the least bit personal or prurient.

If so, it didn’t work. The depersonalized photos of the little nudes just reminded me of those grisly photos of concentration camp survivors, their bodies wasted by starvation, gaunt faces devoid of expression.

I could have refused, of course. But from what I’ve read, X-ray resisters risk penalties like extended, detailed grilling by Transportation Security Agency personnel and even police, plus a full-body pat-down. For all I know you could wind up being held for questioning and missing your flight, and I wanted to get home for the weekend.

As I entered the tall white chamber, with its automatic doors on front and back, a short, unobtrusive honey-haired female agent, clearly selected and trained for the task, approached me and gently showed me how to form a diamond with my fingers and raise my hands overhead.

The process itself was quick and painless. While I waited in the chamber, she chatted me up about the nature of my visit, keeping one eye fixed for the signal from whoever was inspecting my naked image that I was cleared to go.

A colleague who followed after me emerged from the chamber shaking her head like a cat with wet whiskers. “I never went through that before,” she said.

She’ll get used to it.

On the other hand, I happen to know that this young woman is hoping to start a family. What happens then? Obviously she cannot safely be X-rayed. But how do TSA agents know whether a young woman who claims to be two months pregnant know whether to believe her? Will they be handing out pregnancy test kits? (If claiming pregnancy means you get to skip the X-ray, doesn’t this just mean the next terrorist, instead of an underpants bomber, will be a comely young bra-or-panty bomber?

And how safe are these X-rays anyway? For my part, I’m already paranoid enough about exposure to free radicals (not to be confused with my editor) up in the stratosphere caused by the higher ambient radiation at that altitude. Now, I have to worry about getting zapped by what has to be a pretty powerful dose of radiation at zero elevation just to get on board. Sometime I’d like to see the actuarial stats on dying of “terminal” cancer versus from a terrorist attack on a plane.

Ironically, what is supposed to make us safer may actually be upping our risk of illness or death.

Plus, although it’s been a while, I haven’t forgotten my high school Orwell. This security stuff is really getting out of hand, and it’s not just about airport X-rays.

Going the Brits, who are installing video surveillence cameras all over London, one better, the Chinese are installing cameras virtually everywhere to monitor the populace. This week the New York Times reports, under the subhead, “Explosion in surveillance helps China fight crime and also control dissent,” that by the end of the year there will be 60,000 cameras in “restive” Urumqi, 479,000 video cameras in Beijing, 500 cameras in Chongding, and an incredible 1 million cameras installed in Guangdong. I wonder, can mass Whole Body Back-Scatter X-rays be far behind?

Anyway, the least Homeland Security could do is let us see our pictures. Maybe next time I’ll work up the courage to ask.

BETSY ROSS is the pen name of a Philadelphia-area businesswoman/writer and sometime contributor to ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper. To find the work of collective members John Grant, Dave Lindorff, Linn Washington and Charles Young, and occasionally BETSY ROSS and other writers, please go to: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

WORDS THAT STICK
?

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail