Why the Fuss Over TSA Pat-Downs?

Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 08:32 AM

By Chris Freind

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When both sides in a negotiation refuse to budge, the impasse is usually detrimental.

So perhaps I can help mediate the conflict involving body-imaging scanners at our airports.

The government, despite its reluctance to employ profiling with these scanners, is standing its ground. On the other side, we have groups such as WeWontFly.com, urging travelers not to fly because the scanners are “strip searches;” if they do, they’re encouraged to opt out of the “porno-scanners” and “raise holy hell.”

And I thought this was going to be difficult.

Simple solution: completely accommodate the We Won’t Fly people.

Usually, that’s not an effective strategy, but in this instance, it works perfectly.

Travelers in America will be somewhat safer, and the We Won’t Fly gang can take the bus to London. I hear Greyhound has some great deals this time of year.

The current outcry is vastly overblown. Sure, there are loudmouths staging protests, videoing themselves in pre-planned confrontations with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, and posting fallacies, but they’re a small minority.

Most Americans don’t have a problem with the full-body imaging scanners, nor do they object to rigorous pat-downs. These measures are unfortunate but necessary precautions in a post-9/11 world. That’s the reality, and it’s not going to change.

Critics argue that those not opposing the procedures are sheep, simply rolling over to the government’s demands. They miss the point entirely.


No one is holding a gun to their head. They don’t have to step onto that plane. If they don’t like the way things are being done, they can find alternatives. Flying on commercial aircraft is not a right, but a privilege. Why should the other 300 passengers have their security (read: their lives)  compromised because a few individuals are upset about a computer-generated outline of a person’s body?

That in mind, a few points need clarification:

1) Does anyone really believe a screener in a remote location, who can’t see the person being scanned, is getting his jollies by looking at black-and-white humanoid images all day? What’s next? The “Hottest Airport Scanner Images of 2011” wall calendar?

2) America is one of the world’s most obese countries. So how much physical stimulation are screeners getting when they’re patting down Passenger Pat, who at 385 pounds, could easily play an NFL defensive lineman?

3) Those images are not downloadable, according to the TSA, so they’re not making the rounds on social media. However, if images are being deleted immediately, as is reported, that’s a mistake. They should be saved until the plane has reached its destination, since, should terrorism occur during the flight, a record would still exist of all scanned passengers. Mistakes, both honest and deliberate, must be fleshed out after an incident, and the stored files would be an obvious starting point.

4) Most important is not how we are scanning, but whom. It’s time to actively profile, since nothing is more effective at preventing terrorism. Just ask the Israelis.

Despite whining from politically-correct hypocrites who “abhor” profiling but secretly pray that the Muslim in First Class was vetted to the point of tears by security, profiling works. Always has, and always will, so long as we are proactive and not reactive in our techniques.

Nothing can ever guarantee our safety. Engines catch fire, landing gear gets stuck, shoddy parts come from China. Mechanical failures happen, and we live with that risk.

Likewise, there is no guarantee that we’ll nab all the bad guys trying to bring down a jetliner. But having state-of-the-art technology not properly utilized because a few misguided souls are trying to posture themselves with a significance they never had is inexcusable.

If going through a body scanner makes people that insecure about themselves, here’s a suggestion: get a couch and talk to a shrink in comfort.
Otherwise, get out of the airport and send us a postcard from the trans-Atlantic highway.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.freindlyfirezone.com (E before I in Freind). He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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