Saturday, November 20, 2010


ORAM MATTERS focuses on nonprofits, philanthropy and related topics and generally we avoid personal screeds and rants. This blog is a mix of personal and professional because like many of you I am a frequent flier - a road warrior - mainly for work.

I fly out of American at JFK mostly and am pretty much an expert in getting through security without hassle - unless I get stuck behind a family that has gotten into the priority access lane. Until now. Full body X-ray scanners are becoming ubiquitous along with the full-body pat-down (I had a Flair pen in my shirt pocket. Don't ask).

The object of terrorism is first and foremost to intimidate and frighten the civilian population; that is exactly what the Bush and Obama administrations have countenanced. Do you know of a single instance in which a TSA inspection interdicted anything other than your mouthwash and nail clippers? Meanwhile the cargo holds get a pass 98% of the time.

TSA is a huge p.r. boondoggle. Fifty billion dollars or so and counting but I do not feel a whit safer. The invasive X-ray machines should be withdrawn. Up to now inspections have been intrusive, even silly, but tolerable. Now we have crossed a line and without judicial review absolutely compromised Americans' freedom of travel.

Whether the X-ray machines violate 4th Amendment search and seizure the courts will have to decide. I've read that the courts are deferential to the executive branch in these matters so I hold out little hope. Meanwhile we are being bombarded with - according to the government - "microscopic" amounts of X-ray. In my view no one should be exposed to any amount of radiation unless it is absolutely necessary as a health or diagnostic aid.

It is barely possible that public outrage will prevail. TSA has already exempted pilots from the full body scanners; flight attendants are probably next. I don't know if the expediter services that you pay for (and that have not really caught on thanks be) will make any difference. I doubt it.

I hope this image makes you angry and disgusted It's not from J-Date.

If so may I suggest you get to one of the sites that are stirring the pot on this and join in the fight:

1 comment:

mbancel said...

Not just our rights but our actual bodies may now be under attack. Scientists at UCSF have tried to alert authorities to the potential consequences to our health that the rush-to-market scanners may conceal. This link is to a letter written to John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology: