Tag Archives: Airports

Opt Out Tomorrow

by Richard

So. It turns out I’m not the only person who objects to those civil-liberty-infringing porno-scanners the Transportation Security Administration is foisting off on the plane-using public.

I’ve talked before about the idiocy of these porno-scanners, which produce a picture of your nekkid body for the enjoyment of the TSA personnel working airport security screening lines.

I’m not alone in my hatred of these things. Every time I go through a security screening at an airport, I always make sure to opt out of the backscatter x-ray screening and choose instead the equally odious “enhanced” pat down administered by the barely adequately trained TSA gropers. I want them to feel as uncomfortable as possible as I moan and gyrate to their — metaphorically — slimy hands on my junk.

Anyway, a large grassroots protest has been organized for tomorrow, the busiest flying day of the year, encouraging everyone to opt out of the porno-scanner.

My problems with these ineffective scanners are numerous, not the least of which is the fact that the TSA has constantly lied about disposing of the nekkid photos they take of you. Them throwing those photos away? Deleting them? Yeah, not so much.

Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.

The kicker here is that each of these things are actually enabled with ethernet connections so they can transmit these illicit images onto the internet and, from there, anywhere.

What’s worse, these porno-scanners aren’t effective.

In a recent Vancouver Sun article, leading Israeli airport security expert Rafi Sela says the scanners are ineffective “I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747.”

I know it’s asking a lot for you to intentionally gum up the works if you’re flying tomorrow, but the inconvenience is worth it. We need out government to understand that we won’t stand for ineffective safety circus shows, nor will we stand for having our civil liberties nickel and dimed to extinction.

Dudes, it’s up to us.

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Thank A Veteran

by Richard

Today, in America, we celebrate Veteran’s Day. This is the day we set aside to honor those of our fellow countrymen and women who have served time as part of our armed forces.

What with the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, as well as in various hotspots around the globe, we’ve owe more than ever to those past and present members of the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and National Guard.

While we’re celebrating all of those who served today, I’d like to set aside a couple of minutes to talk about those who gave even more. Thanks to advances in battlefield medical technology, we’re seeing more soldiers returning alive but seriously wounded from service abroad.

Which gives us the opportunity to help them. Just quickly google assistance and veteran and you’ll find plenty of organizations dedicated to helping our troops. I’d like to highlight a couple here to which you might want to donate.

Fisher House is an organization dedicated to providing “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

The Wounded Warrior Project provides a number of services to the returning wounded and their families, including benefits counseling, caregiver retreats, family support and peer mentoring.

The USO is a nonprofit, congressionally chartered private organization that provides innumerable services to our troops, either on active duty or on leave. In addition to the well-known entertainments the organization puts on overseas, the USO does things as simple and powerful as welcoming home troops who arrive in airports all over the country, something my father-in-law (himself a veteran of the Marines) does almost every week.

Take some time and provide some support, dudes. If you can’t get out and do the work yourself, you can easily donate some money to help out these and other worthy organizations.

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Safety Dance

by Richard

So, there I was at the airport, ready to make trouble yet again. See, I have this (quite justified) belief that those new backscatter X-ray machines that many airports are using now is an illegal search. You’re basically being stripsearched for no cause. I absolutely loathe them and the nickel-and-diming of our civil liberties that they represent.

Which means I don’t go through them unless it’s completely unavoidable. So I got in line for the metal detector. Took of my shoes and hat. Slid my laptop onto the conveyer belt and got ready to go through the metal detector, like so many others in my line had already done.

That made it the perfect time for the backscatter X-ray machine to start working again. The TSA drones told me I had to go through the backscatter. I politely declined. They were shocked. I was prepared to elucidate my problems with the technology and the certainty that those pictures they were going to be taking would be kept, rather than disposed of. They quietly told me to save it and then said I’d have to be searched or go through the baskscatter machine.

I chose the search. As I knew I would. It’s what happened next that really got my goat.

See, to get to the area that I’d be searched in, I had to go through security. Which meant that I walked through the metal detector and didn’t set it off. Just like the people in front of me and the people behind me. You know those people, the ones they let go without patting them down. So I basically went through the exact same security procedure and still had to be searched. And, of course, in between my saying I didn’t want to go through the backscatter machine and going through the metal detector, the backscatter machine went off line again.

I pointed out these inconsistencies and was told basically, tough. Then I got a thorough pat down from a bored TSA dude, which was my cue to start vamping it up, gyrating slightly and moaning just a bit. Hey, if I’m going to be inconvenienced, they’re going to be uncomfortable.

Really, this sort of thing is ridiculous. I had to wait 10 minutes before they could find someone to give me a pat down, despite the — at least — three TSA agents standing around gossiping near the exit to the security area. All of which leads to the inescapable conclusion that TSA policy is designed to inconvenienced people who pass on the backscatter as much as possible to try and get them into line the next time.

I say, no. I say everyone should pass on the illegal searches using backscatter x-ray technology. Really clog up the lines and force the TSA to get rid of these civil-liberty-eating machines and bring some actual sanity to the process.

But I suppose that’s probably asking too much.

Bitterness expunged. Rant done.

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