Only future technology will do away with invasive screening

Only future technology will do away with invasive screening

New reality: A Transportation Security Administration officer pats down a flier in Seattle.
Enlarge image Enlarge By Ted S. Warren, AP
New reality: A Transportation Security Administration officer pats down a flier in Seattle.
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As a former spokeswoman for a major international airline, I smiled a just a little bit when I read that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) chief John Pistole thinks the agency could have done a better job of communicating new airport security measures to the public (“Pistole: Screenings as far as we’ll go,” The Forum, Wednesday).
Still, improved communications aside, the controversy about whether stricter and more invasive airport security measures are correct or not makes me wish the 23rd century technologically saturated world of Star Trek would arrive right now. Because I’m afraid that only in such a world can searches and scans be nearly unintrusive.
TSA no-fly lists and other non-physical governmental measures indeed have helped improve safety. Can these measures work better? Obviously. But as with other systems run by humans, they are not perfect. In the absence of total perfection, and without distant-age technology, I am afraid we will have to comply with admittedly annoying things such as total-body scans and pat-downs if we want to increase the chance that our flights will remain safe and secure.
And when talking about future security measures, Pistole and his colleagues worldwide might want to heed the words of the Marquis de Vauvenargues, the 18th century French moralist, who said, “When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, simply drop it.”
Mary Stanik; Minneapolis

Put resources elsewhere
I was wondering when it would happen. We have been at war in Afghanistan for ten years, and now Americans have a chance to know, at least at airports, what it feels like to have their freedoms infringed upon.
Americans now have to be checked and prodded like Afghans, Iraqis and Palestinians as they move about their countries. How does it feel, America?
It is so ironic that the most potent military country in the world is forced to cower to what a potential terrorist might do with his underwear. I would not be surprised if, one day, we have checkpoints on the interstates and we get pat-downs in shopping malls and on trains.
We do all these things, while 34,000 people died from car accidents last year in the U.S., 600,000 people die worldwide annually from secondhand smoke and more than 40,000 people have died this year from breast cancer.
I think it’s past time to rethink where we should put our scarce resources, and that should be to prevent those things that are causing the most deaths in this country. Is that simply too logical?
John Freivalds; Dubuque, Iowa

Scanners, pat-downs intrusive
I appreciate extreme security measures, and agree that most are necessary, but how far is too far? I’m a “road warrior” who flies twice a week, every week, for business. I’m also a 65-year-old grandmother without so much as a traffic ticket on my record, and have been cleared by the FBI due to a military contract I worked on a few years ago.
The new security measures have me more than concerned. How much radiation am I being exposed to over a year? If I refuse to go through the body scanners, is it really necessary to grope me in a manner that we used to call “getting to second base”? And, is it really necessary to send me through a body scanner and grope me as well? That’s what happened when I left the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport several weeks ago before there was any publicity about the new procedures.
I have flown in and out of that airport every week for six months while on assignment. I wore the same type of clothing I always wear when traveling. I have never set off the metal detector, I carry nothing questionable in my bags, and I have never had a problem going through security. The body scanner was intrusive enough, but I felt extremely violated and am still greatly traumatized over the way I was groped by the screener. There are only two people I allow to touch me like that: my doctor and my boyfriend. Under any other circumstance, what I experienced constitutes nothing less than assault.
Susan Wells; Houston

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