Sunday, January 30, 2011

My first full-blown rant on body scanners, etc., but definitely NOT my last!

Just one short week ago, The Telegram’s Pam Frampton wrote a column, "Neutering the Truth" , that mirrored my opinion in every conceivable way concerning the banning of “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits. I linked to the article on Facebook, calling it the “best bit of journalism I’ve read in The Telegram in a long, long time.” I was committed to being Pam Frampton’s lifelong, most ardent fan.

Then I saw this weekend's edition of The Telegram, online. 

Pam, Pam, Pam. What happened? How could you get this so wrong? How could you go from one week, demanding the protection of our freedom of speech, to the next week, advocating the individual sacrifice his or her right to privacy? Are some rights more or less valuable than others? What a slippery slope, if true!

What she got wrong, and yes, with all due respect she is 100% wrong, is the issue of body scanners and enhanced screening in airports. You can read her column here.

I warn you: I do not know how to shut up on this issue, nor do I want to, so this is going to be a long one. You've been fairly warned, but if you want another side to this story, in which opinion I am not alone, then read on and think about it. Just think about it.

Taking the approach that any infringement on a person’s rights is justified in the name of ‘safety’ is a lazy, misguided, ineffective, dangerous, and did I say lazy approach to air travel security.

A lot of people will say with a very cavalier attitude, “Well, it’s more important to me to be safe on a plane than to worry about being groped or scanned.”

People, I’d be chanting that right along with you… IF IT HAD ANY BASIS IN FACT OR WAS EVEN REMOTELY LIKELY TO WORK!!!!

It's kind of like installing an alarm system and putting an ADT sign on the front of your house. If the bad guys know you're prepared for them, they'll move on somewhere else. In this case, the bad guys, read "terrorists", know that people are now being scanned and groped, so they're taking their time, of which they have lots, coming up with other ways around these 'precautions', and I use the term loosely.

The successful terrorists are surprisingly low-tech. Flying lessons and a couple of boxcutters took care of over 3000 souls. Even with the advent of all this touchy-feely scanning, people are still getting on planes with enough computer cables in their laptop bags to strangle 3 or 4 people, each. If I saw the guy next to me being strangled, I'd be pretty submissive, I believe. They wouldn't need some fancy-schmantzy elaborate scheme to get exactly where they got on the morning of September 11, 2001. So, from what, exactly, is this invasion of my privacy and my rights protecting me?

It is not making you or me safer. It's having no effect whatsoever. Anyone thinking that it is, is living in a fool’s paradise. Sorry, but that's the truth.

I traveled to and from the United States since this enhanced screening has been implemented. They’ve gotten so focused on the new pat downs and their new toy that they don’t even bother getting people to remove their footwear anymore.

On top of that, on both complete trips, from Newfoundland to the States and back again, not once did anyone question me about liquids in my carry-on luggage. I had them in a separate baggie, like you’re supposed to do, but I also had a bottle of computer screen cleaner in my laptop bag, which no one, not from St. John’s, Toronto, Washington DC, New Orleans, Atlanta, Toronto and St. John’s picked up on. Not one. I plan on running this test every time I fly in future.

They’re ignoring the basics in favor of technology. A dangerous proposition.

So, while 1 year olds are having their diapers examined, menstruating women are being questioned about their tampons, cancer survivors are being asked to remove their prosthetic breasts and people are just generally being assaulted, the terrorists can go back to the tried and almost true shoe bombs and liquid bombs, because – news flash! – no one’s looking there anymore.

When screeners made my 86 year old father remove his belt to be examined for chemical explosives in LaGuardia Airport in New York a few years back, I just chalked it up to being in the post-9/11 city, and frankly, I’d forgive anything that anyone in New York would want to do to me. THEY have the moral authority and post-9/11 wounds to do whatever they want to protect their city.

But... don’t EVER try to get me to go through a body scanner in Deer Lake, Newfoundland! Not a chance in hell. Will. Never. Ever. Ever. Happen. Never.

This article Ms. Frampton has written… she quotes somebody as saying there are no electronic records kept of any of the scanned images. For crying out loud, do they think we were born yesterday? What the hell is the point of obtaining these images, if they are not going to be available to review post-incident? To illustrate my point… do you seriously believe that if a flight going somewhere today explodes in mid-air (God forbid) due to a terrorist plot, do you really and honestly believe that they will not immediately access the scanning records of every passenger on that plane and in that airport who was scanned? OF COURSE THEY WILL! I would hold them in the deepest contempt if they did not!!!! And furthermore, the scan of the alleged terrorist will eventually be on the cover of Time magazine.

If they don't store the images, then where did this come from?? Not invasive? Think again and look again. I wouldn't want this to be my dad / brother / son / uncle / husband / boyfriend / colleague / stranger behind me at McDonald's.

Bleeding-heart-liberal political correctness madness is going to be the cause of more terrorist-related deaths than any body scanners or lack thereof.

I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it for the 1001st time, happily – it is not the 75 year old grandma from Little Heart’s Ease that is planning terrorist activity, so WHY are they groping / searching / scanning her? I’ll tell you why, because the bleeding heart liberals say it’s not PC to racially profile. So, because of that, babies are being violated, as well as the others I mentioned before. But the women in their burqas, whose faces haven’t been seen or photographed since puberty, let’s just wave them through, guys! No risk there. But the nuns? Watch out!!

Racial profiling is not ideal, either, but at least it has some basis in logic, as much as it might hurt someone's feelings (boo-effin'-hoo). But, the ranks of ‘home-grown’ terrorists grow every day, so there have to be other methods used as well.

Explain to me why the rest of the world can not emulate the methods employed by El Al?

Who or what is El Al, you might ask? The fact that you might not know speaks volumes to the effectiveness of their methods. El Al is the national Israeli airline. You have the Jewish state of Israel surrounded by Muslim countries on every side, who have hate-hate-hated Israel for millenia, yet when was the last time you heard of a terrorist attack on an El Al aircraft? I believe it can be measured in decades.

Are they just really lucky? Uh, no.

Were they first with these new-fangled scanny-type toys? No.

What is their defence against terrorism? It’s very simple, and it’s apparently very effective. It does not require equipment that can fail. It does not infringe on anyone’s rights, or single out any one group.

It’s called – talking to people. Radical!!

Every person who wishes to board an El Al flight is spoken to, while they’re in line, by a university-educated screener, who asks about a person’s reasons for travel, where they’re going, where they’ve been, the time of day, whatever. Every single person is looked in the eye by people who are very well-trained in the art of interpreting body language. You can practice you’re storyline all you like, but until you come face to face with a member of Israel’s Defense Forces, you don’t know nuthin’ about a poker face. And, if you’ve got your skivvies packed with explosives, you’re gonna sweat under their scrutiny. Sweat big-time. I don't care who you are.

I met an American gentleman not too long ago who had the pleasure of one such screening. He had been visiting Israel for work, and was about to leave to return home. Something he did and / or said waved a red flag for the person who was speaking to him, and he was asked to leave the line and go for further interviewing. He was questioned for the next three hours by personnel who, he said, were perfectly polite throughout. Once they were satisfied, he was permitted to continue on his way.

The American TSA (Transportation Security Administration), a section of the Department of Homeland Security, has over 62,000 employees in 14,800 airports in the USA. They just got new shoulder patches for their uniforms:

It just strikes me that a few of those 62,000 TSA employees could be trained to do what has been proven to work, and proven to be acceptable by the public and decidedly unacceptable to terrorists. Instead of touching me in an intimate manner, which is probably no more fun for them than it is for me, why not talk to me? And the next person. And the next. You never know what you'll discover.

Anyone who says, “Well, if it will make the skies safer, however they want to invade my privacy or violate my rights is ok with me” needs to ask themselves the questions, “Where does it end?” At what point do you say no? Where do you draw the line? And, once you've given up those rights, do you seriously believe you'll ever get them back again? Or even be able to say 'no' when they cross your self-imposed line? So, like in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when Nazis would and could storm private homes searching for Jews… are you saying that it’s ok for police to search your house without a bloody good reason, and a warrant? No? Well, if you’re so against them searching your house for no reason, why on Earth would you support them searching your person for no reason? I’m a middle-aged white woman from Newfoundland who has never been to the Middle East, who has never studied political science or attended a radical mosque. I’ve never bought a gun, or bomb-making supplies. I’ve never posted on a pro-Muslim website, or been active in anti-Western causes. With technology as it is today, almost anyone who is only barely interested could find out these facts about me. So, why doesn’t the government utilize its resources for screening those who do meet those conditions?

So, until I get a chance to charm the pants off an Israeli-like screener in an airport, I will have to ‘content’ myself with the pat down, safe in the knowledge that I will refuse to fly rather than step inside a body scanner. I’ll put up with the momentary humiliation, versus the lifelong humiliation of knowing that somewhere, out there, is an image I would not like framed and hung over the mantel.

Look for the bomber, and you will find the bomb. Simple as that.

Now, for those of you who actually read through this whole diatribe (and believe me, this won’t be the last I write on this issue), here is a reward for your efforts, a little treat for you to click on!

Enjoy, and happy travelling!!



  1. Pilots are trying (unsuccessfully) to not have to be put through this invasion of privacy. It shows how stupid the whole thing is if you can't trust the guy who can fly the thing straight into the ground. No manicure scissors necessary.

  2. It's funny in a scary sort of way, isn't it? "Sorry, Captain, we're going to have to confiscate that bottle of shampoo, but wait! You forgot the keys to the 747. Allahu akbar!" (Because if you've been to the airport in Toronto lately, you might have noticed that it's a job requirement for English to be a second language...)


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