Porno Scans For Fun And Profit

By Curtis Hewston

I got porno scanned last month. I wasn’t happy about it, but the machines had just been installed at my hometown airport and I couldn’t avoid it if I wanted to be on my way. I don’t intend to subject myself to it again. I will not fly, or if I must, I will avoid airports where the machines are used.

By the way, the TSA has ensured that the screener is never in a position to see the actual subject of the scan, only the scan itself, thus making the process a tad less voyeuristic and ensuring the subject some modicum of privacy. From the TSA Web site:

… the officer who assists the passenger never sees the image the technology produces. The officer who views the image is remotely located in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger.

This wasn’t true in my case. I was able to look back at the TSA screener, and she was able to see me just fine. (She was neither laughing nor blushing, so this might tell you a little something about me.)

Anyway, this business constitutes an unreasonable search, and I take my Bill of Rights seriously. At least one group has already filed suit — the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute.

What the hell is wrong with our government?! Don’t they know any better? That’s rhetorical. I know damn well what’s wrong. Our constitution has been sold.

Yesterday I wrote about the wholesale destruction of Pennsylvania’s environment by the natural gas-drilling industry, this despite an iron-clad guarantee in the state’s constitution:

Article I, Section 27: The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

It’s quite clear. So is this:

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Who bought our Fourth Amendment? Rapiscan Systems, a global, privately held company, and Michael Chertoff, their agent, and our former Secretary of Homeland Security and current head of the Chertoff Group, “a risk management and security consulting company.”

Eleven months ago, on Christmas Day, a guy tried to blow up a plane over Detroit by mixing two chemical powders (PETN and TATP) that were sewn into his underwear. Chertoff learned well from his former employer and quickly took advantage of the near-tragedy. He lobbied hard to fast-track the installation of 150 Rapiscan’s “backscatter” porno machines in our airports. They cost us about $160,000 apiece.

Here is a Chertoff quote from the New York Times last December 29th: “If they’d been deployed, this would pick up this kind of device.”

That’s a lie. PETN and TATP, like other chemical explosives, are not detectable by these or any other available airport scanners. Furthermore, the Christmas Day crotch-bomber was never screened at a U.S. airport. His day began in Lagos, Nigeria, and he transferred to Northwest 253 in Amsterdam for the direct flight to Detroit.

Chertoff appeared with CNN’s Campbell Brown right about that same time:

CHERTOFF: But there are a few things we could do to make things better. First we could deploy this scanning, the scanning machines that we currently are beginning to deploy in the U.S. that would give us the ability to see what someone has concealed underneath their clothing. That has been vigorously opposed by the ACLU and privacy advocates. The House of Representatives voted to prevent us from using it, but I think now there’s been a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery.

BROWN: Okay, can you stop you there for a second? I know you’ve been an advocate of this technology for a long time, but just in the interest of full disclosure I also want to point out in your current role as a security consultant you are representing some of the companies who manufacture that technology, correct?

CHERTOFF: Absolutely correct, yeah.

Note that Chertoff only fesses up when he is asked about the conflict of interest and not before. Nor did he or the New York Times make the disclosure.

So, what the hell’s going on here? We got stuck with a bunch of worthless body scanners that violate our Fourth Amendment rights. A few people made a lot of money. And our TSA agents are trading turns at the perpetual porno machine. I’m getting tired of this stuff.

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One Trackback

  1. By Porno Scans Are So Hot! - The Blue Highway on March 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    [...] about the multifaceted scandal that is the newfangled airport “backscatter” machine in Porno Scans For Fun And Profit. Then, 10 days ago, just about the time a bunch of nuclear power reactors started red-zoning over [...]

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