Resent the idea of airport security devices scanning your body? Your mind may be next.
And no, I’m not kidding.
As you can see from this Associated Press story, there are people actually working on something along just those lines.
In the wake of the Christmas Day attempt by an alleged al Qaeda suicide bomber to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner, airport security is a hot topic again. The political hand-wringing, mud-slinging and CYA that followed the attempt only heightens a belief widely held by a lot of travelers:
America’s air transportation security is a joke.
Seriously, do you feel safer on an airplane because all the other passengers had to take their shoes off?
The last alleged air terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight with a bomb sewn into his underwear. His device ignited but failed to explode, making Operation Tidy Whities an utter failure — and putting a painful new spin on the old rock song “Light My Fire.”
Now that the dust has settled somewhat, the people who make their living thinking about this stuff are looking for new and better ways to thwart terrorists in the air.
Which brings us back to the AP story. There already are body scanners that can see through clothes, machines that can literally sniff out explosives. Now, an Israeli company is testing equipment that would flash certain images on video screens in airports and gauge the reactions of those who see them.
The body scanners already have got some travelers raising Hell over having their privacy violated. How are they likely to respond to this?
At some point, you and I will have to decide which matters more to us, safety or privacy.
What’s truly frightening is that the choice may already have been made for us.
What makes me say that? The answer, in part, comes back to Israel, acknowledged as the world’s best when it comes to keeping airports and airliners safe.
Israeli airport security is stringent, multi-layered and unyielding. They do things that would cause both Libertarians and the American Civil Liberties Union to tear their hair out. But their travelers fly into and out of their airports unvexed by terrorists.
So why can’t we do that here?
The consensus among U.S. security folks, again according to AP: Can’t do it. Wouldn’t be practical. Too many airports. Too chaotic. Too costly. Nope.
Could it be that, deep in the bowels of the Beltway, some faceless bunch of bureaucrats has been poring over bloodless actuary tables to decide what constitutes “acceptable losses” at home in the so-called “war on terror?”
And where do you suppose you and I would figure in those calculations?
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