To Scan Or Not To Scan – That Is The Question

I like airports.  They’re a great place to people watch.  It’s still a wonder how an airplane gets off the ground and stays in the air, but I’m a lawyer and haven’t a clue about aeronautics.

I’m especially astounded at how flight attendants – whose job description must read “being nice to stupid people” – maintain their composure.  One of my flight attendant friends calls it the “Boeing Brain Suck.”  Some people seem to lose all common sense when they enter the jetway and almost every passenger develops “irritable bladder syndrome” the moment they hear the wheels of the drink cart coming down the aisle.

One of my pet peeves is the “one carry-on and one personal item” rule.  I don’t have a problem with the rule itself but with the lack of enforcement.  Because I have a carry-on and my computer case, I always pack my purse in my carry-on luggage.  How many times do I see women with a carry-on, a personal item AND a purse?  It drives me insane.  Why do they get to carry three items when the rule says two items?

I’ve learned to live with all the new security changes since 9/11.  I may be having a senior moment about “how things used to be,” but I wonder if I really carried large bottles of perfume, shampoo and hand lotion in my carry-on before 9/11.  I’ve adapted and am content with carrying my all-important 3 oz. bottle of hair gel.  Three ounces is better than no ounces!

On our recent trip to Denver for Thanksgiving, I was a little apprehensive about security because of all the hype about the new full-body scanners and pat-downs.  I knew before we left I’d opt for the scanners, but I was concerned that we’d be late because of anticipated delays.  Well, we had nothing to worry about when we left on Sunday because there were only two people ahead off us on the security line in Seattle.  We didn’t have to go through the scanner and were not subjected to a pat down.  On the way home, on Friday, we went through the scanner, waited about 30 seconds for the TSA worker to get the ok to let us through, and we were on our way to the gate.

I’ve heard all the arguments about the scanners and the infringement of our rights, etc.  The idiot who came up with “National Opt-Out Day” on Wednesday was just that, an idiot.  The idea was for everyone to opt out of the scanners and require the TSA to conduct pat downs.  Did the numbskull who came up with the idea actually believe the TSA wouldn’t conduct its pat downs if everyone opted out of the scanners?  So, what was the point?  The only thing that would’ve happened is that there would’ve been a mile long line of people waiting to be patted down and God only knows how many delayed flights and people even more crazed than they normally are at the airport.  Fortunately, the idea was a bust, but it never made any sense to me.

The scanners are an intrusion and pat downs violate my right not to be groped.  But, I guess, I could choose not to fly.  On the other hand, my question has always been, “why isn’t the TSA profiling passengers?”  Muslim terrorists, men ages 18 to 40, flew planes into the WTC.  Almost 60-year old stylishly gray-haired women like me, or 64-year old Native American men like my husband, did not.

Fortunately, pilots have finally been excluded from scanning, but why weren’t they exempt in the first place?  Doesn’t a pilot already know how to bring down a plane?  Would it really be necessary for a pilot to carry some type of explosive device in his tidy whities?  Or her hipster?  Flight attendants are now exempt because of their extensive background checks, but only after one was asked to remove her prosthetic breast form.

Will the scanners make us safe?  Would they have prevented terrorists like the Christmas Day underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from getting on the plane in Amsterdam to Detroit?  I haven’t a clue and I’m betting we’ll never get a straight answer from the TSA.  What we did know at the time was that the CIA received warnings about Addulmutallab from his own father regarding his extreme religious views, he bought his one-way ticket with cash, had no passport when he boarded the plane and no coat heading for frigid Detroit.  The warning signs were there.  It didn’t require a scanner to view his genital area to know something wasn’t right with this guy – profiling, in my opinion, would’ve been far more effective.

But until the TSA adopts profiling as its official policy, which the ACLU and other bleeding hearts on the left would adamantly oppose no matter how inconvenient it is now for every grandparent, tow-headed 3-year old, Asian person, nun, and anyone else who doesn’t fit into the 18- to 40-year old category of Muslim men, we’ll all have to put up with these violations and indignities.

Whatever your opinion of these security measures, the TSA workers, like flight attendants, have a thankless job.  I’m guessing some passengers get hassled just because they’re so rude.  Instead of directing their anger at the terrorists, they take it out on the TSA people.  Personally, I find that a smile and a “how are you today?” goes a very long way at the airport.

Yes, it’s a hassle.  Yes, it’s an invasion of privacy.  Yes, it’s an inconvenience.  But, I find it far more annoying when I’m on the phone and prompted to press 1 to continue in English; more aggravating when, after 15 years of doing business in the same bank, a new teller asks for my identification; and far more troublesome when my bank has to cancel my credit card because some low-life decides to buy $2,000 wheel rims after gaining access to my credit card number.  I think morons who text while driving pose a far greater danger to me than radio waves from scanners.

I’m far more concerned about the infringement of my right to choose whether or not to buy health insurance with the enactment of Obamacare; it’s far more intrusive that I’ll have to report whether or not I carry health insurance on my income tax return; and far more disturbing that there will be 16,000 new IRS workers just to enforce Obamacare.  So, if you think the TSA is out of control, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • TOMMY FREEDOM

    BERNIE, SERIOUSLY, HEARD FROM SEVERAL EXPERTS DO THE PAT
    DOWN, THE SCANNERS CAN GIVE TOO MUCH RADIATION.

  • TOMMY FREEDOM

    TALKED WITH A FREQUENT FLYER, HE SAID HES HAD SO MANY
    STRANGERS HANDS IN HIS PANTS, HE FELT LIKE TIGER WOODS.

  • TOMMY FREEDOM

    BERNIE, IF I WERE GOV & HEARD MY RESIDENTS CRYING OUT, I
    WOULD SEND THE NAT GUARD TO THE AIRPORT TO MONITOR
    THE CONDUCT OF PEOPLE WORKING THERE.

    ANY UNMONITORED AIRPORT, I WOULD REQUIRE CHARLY RANGAL TO GO THRU SCREENING 50 TIMES FOR PUNITIVE ACTION, HIS SENTENCE

  • Roger Ward

    One of these days, an Islamic terrorist is going to put some explosive where the sun doesn’t shine. In their usual reactive manner, I presume the TSA will then institute a policy requiring body cavity searches for all passengers. When that happens, we will wish for the good old days of groping pat-downs and too-explicit scanners.

    Of course, we should be profiling!! When we are struck by a wave of religious Amish terrorists or a wave of blond-haired, blue-eyed snow dwellers, then they should be profiled, too. Until that happens, we should concentrate on ferreting out the potential terrorists by any means possible. We know whom they represent and we know from where the next terrorist will emerge. The Politically Corrrect will have the blood of innocent people on their hands.

    Profiling will not stop the terrorists; it is only one method to help stop them …. but it is the most obvious answer to help with this continuing wave of terror.

  • Paul Borden

    From what I understand from reading elsewhere, no, the new scanning procedures would not have caught the Christmas Day bomber but Israeli security measures at Ben Gurion Airport would have. (Yes, I have heard the comment that because the volume of passengers in the U.S. compared to Israel it would not be practical to institute the Israeli system, but that is looking at the issue from national scope. If you break it down by airport, Ben Gurion is pretty damn busy. I believe a clip I saw said about 1 million passengers a month. That seems like a pretty busy airport.

    BTW, I was thinking the same thing about pilots. As you said, they need an explosive device to be in a position to crash a plane.

  • Bruce A.

    Nice one Leona. Are there any constitutional protections under the 4th amendment for US citizens?

  • John

    You couldn’t be more right about profiling!! If you are a 20 yr old student from Saudi Arabia named Farouk Al-Something, you should be under more scrutiny. ACLU be damned – law enforcement’s been doing that for decades. And I can’t even remember an American citizen attempting to blow up a plane….ever. And when blond hair, fair skinned people of German descent start blowing up planes, I’ll submit to further intense screening but….surprise….that ain’t happening. I don’t get it either.

  • JDO

    The people that carry three items onto airplanes are the same people that try to go through express, 10 item only, lanes at the grocery store with 20 items.

    That’s an idea for my niece’s Halloween costume next year (she’ll be 3)! An Asian nun! Time to book her flight!

    I say start profiling right now, and if, in the future, some Swedish blue-hair grandmother (isn’t that the most popular “pro-profiling” cliché?) blows up a plane, you change the rules again.

  • TOMMY FREEDOM

    FED AGENT AT AIRPORT ASKED ME ” DO YOU HAVE ANY PICTURES OF
    YOUR WIFE?? I SAID NO ! HE SAID WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY SOME??