For every metallic object that could be a bomb component, an explosive substance, a gun component or other weapon, there are non metallic replacements that are capable of causing equal destruction and harm in an airport or on a plane. The TSA has determined that full body scans are the only way to find out, with the highest accuracy and detail possible, whether any of massive numbers of travelers have concealed any terrorist contraband on their body.
That is the technical reason why the TSA should be using body scanning. The tactical reasons are that, for every detection tactic that the government develops, the terrorists will attempt a new concealment tactic. This will go on in a never-ending series of attempts to cause death and destruction without any regard for human life. Because of the global and unspecified nature of the terrorist’s threats, losing personal privacy and accepting public humiliation has become an acceptable cost of traveling.
Another reason is that a person can avoid being groped in their private areas by a total stranger by having themselves virtually imaged. Travelers will put up with whatever it is that the TSA decides to do because they are afraid of potential terrorism in the skies.
Otherwise, it does not matter whether the TSA should use full body scanners. A federal court said that the TSA can and will use the scanners whenever the agency wants to. This shuts down any legal or other challenges.
According to USA Today, the only factor that is causing a recent decline in the use of the scanners is that there are not enough trained workers to deploy and use the devices on a wider scale.
The problem with full body scans is that they produce an image where the individual appears to be naked. Even willing passengers are outraged at the idea of nude images of themselves being taken, stored, commented on or otherwise mistreated. The TSA initially lied to the public, claiming that the images were never to be stored. In 2009, according to CNET, the TSA stated that, “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”
Not only was this false, the U.S. Marshall’s service was found to have kept tens of thousands of images, while the TSA deliberately required that full body scanning machines have the capacity to store images.
In spite of the fact that the TSA implemented the system after failing to conduct a required “public notice and comment” process, a federal court decided that the full body scans are “administrative searches” rather than searches to detect criminal activity. According to Health Freedom Alliance the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit made the ruling last July.
As such, “administrative searches in the interest of preventing terrorism” are constitutionally fine. Terrorism has somehow been redefined as something other than criminal activity. However, because of the court case, the TSA must at least show more accountability and transparency and is required to pay attention to citizen inputs and complaints.
In summary, air travelers can avoid intrusive, manual groping at a cost of having themselves virtually imaged in the nude. The technical benefits are that both metallic and non metallic terrorism contraband can be detected with incredible visual accuracy when whole body scanning is applied.
But the ultimate cost has been to build a government agency that willfully lied to the public, operated outside of the law, and behaved with stubborn and arrogant disdain for the citizens. The final assessment is that, whether full body scans actually prevent terrorism or not, citizens who travel by air will continue to be subjected to the most invasive personal searches without cause in America’s history, with an enormous potential for abuse.