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Posts Tagged ‘TSA’

Cable news reached an all new level of self-satire and hackery this week as various daytime “serious” anchors mindlessly repeated the phrase “touch my junk” over and over. Years of journalism training, internships and advanced education and they’re repeating “touch my junk” in the context of a videotaped airport security fracas.

And, speaking of journalistic integrity, “touch my junk” was featured between repeat airings of the brain-shrinkingly stupid commercial for abstinence featuring “The Situation” and Bristol Palin, both of whom are famous for their, you know, virginity. But good job, anyway, cable news people. Nailed it. You must be very proud.

Meanwhile, the TSA airport security segments on cable news have been prompted by two sources.

First, a blog entry by a would-be airline traveler who rightfully refused to submit to both a naked backscatter scan and, subsequently, a manual pat-down at San Diego International. The blogger videotaped much of the process and, as is heard on the video, exclaimed, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” The full description of this confrontation can be found at the blogger’s website.

Second, and not surprisingly, the broader TSA body scanner story has been egged on by a week’s worth of screamer headlines and “Big Sis” snark from Matt Drudge because, as Mark Halperin famously put it: “Drudge rules our world.” (“Big Sis” is Drudge’s too-clever nickname for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.)

Before I get into why this is so twisted, I should mention here that, in theory, I actually agree with Drudge about the body scanners and some of the (often purely cosmetic) increased security measures at airports.

The full body scanners, also known as millimeter wave scanners, are an obvious and very creepy violation of privacy and, despite what Homeland Security and the TSA are suggesting, the freakish naked images can, in fact, be saved and leaked. Not surprisingly, there is also untold health issues involved with being bombarded from head to toe with radiation. And, oh yeah, the scanners really wouldn’t have stopped terrorists like the Underwear Bomber because the scanners aren’t very good at picking up “low-density materials like plastics, chemicals, and liquids — precisely what the underwear bomber had stuffed in his briefs,” according to Mother Jones magazine.

Ultimately, and for all of these reasons, vocal opposition to the naked body scanners transcends ideologies and political affiliations — lately at least (more on that presently). But the opposition isn’t making much of a dent in terms of rolling back this unconstitutional security measure: a new CBS poll released today shows that 81 percent of Americans favor the use of the scanners. Sad.

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Ann Coulter says she’s afraid of anal, foreskin bombings

RAW STORY

By David Edwards and John Byrne
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 — 11:09 am

If [you] didn’t lose your lunch over comments conservative doyenne Ann Coulter made about abortion doctors (“I’m not opposed to shooting abortionists”) or about Jews (“We just want Jews to be perfected, as they say”) or maybe even about John Edwards (whom she called a “faggot”), you might just lose it over her latest quip.

Ann Coulter is against body scans because she doesn’t think they’ll find anal bombs.

Speaking on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor Tuesday night, Coulter declared she was opposed to the Transportation Security Administration’s new push to add body scanners to airports in an effort to detect terrorist’s explosive devices.

O’Reilly countered: “If you have a body scan and you have a bomb in your underwear, they can see the bomb through the body scan.”

To this, Coulter replied: “No one credible has asserted that… No they’ll be able to see a container… It was spread throughout the diaper. Unless the bomb is inserted under the foreskin, and by the way, I don’t see a clear angle on the anus. That’s a pretty easy hiding place for this.”

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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Feeling Nervous? 3,000 Behavior Detection Officers Will Be Watching You at the Airport This Thanksgiving

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted November 24, 2009.

Nearly 100,000 passengers were pulled aside by TSA behavior watchers last year, and it remains to be proven whether you can spot terrorists by the looks on their faces.

Here’s a question to ponder the next time you’re taking off your shoes at airport security: Can you spot terrorists by the look on their faces?

For the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the answer is yes. For the past few years, airports across the country have been using what many call “behavioral surveillance” to weed out potential hijackers among us, by covertly examining travelers’ facial expressions and body language as they go through security. Unlike those airport employees who herd us along as we remove our shoes and relinquish all liquids over three ounces (with dubious results), this new program, named “Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques,” or “SPOT,” is carried out by TSA employees who have been trained to monitor travelers’ faces and movements. As Americans head out of town this holiday season, more than 3,000 “Behavior Detection Officers” will be at 161 airports nationwide, watching our every move.

The TSA boasts that the SPOT program is “derivative of other successful behavioral analysis programs that have been employed by law enforcement and security personnel both in the U.S. and around the world.” Yet, the success of the SPOT program remains highly questionable. This month the Washington Post reported that, in 2008 alone, Behavior Detection Officers across the country pulled 98,805 passengers aside for additional screenings, out of which 9,854 were questioned by local police. 813 were eventually arrested.

The cost of the program, according to TSA spokesperson Ann Davis, was $3.1 million.

In an e-mail correspondence with AlterNet, Davis could not say how many of the 813 arrests led to convictions — or for that matter, whether any terrorists were caught. “Many of the SPOT cases that resulted in arrests remain under active investigation by law enforcement,” she said. “TSA doesn’t always hear back from the investigative agencies on the outcome of the cases so we cannot track convictions.”

But as Stephen Soldz, Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis points out, “Even if the arrests are justified, they are less than 1 percent of the total singled out. What happens to more than 9,000 who are subjected to questioning and released?”

This question cuts to the heart of protests by civil liberties advocates and others who argue that, not only is the SPOT program a violation of people’s privacy, but it is actually counterproductive, a wasteful exercise in false positives.

“By the math alone, rare events are impossible to accurately detect,” says Soldz. “One will either miss most of what one is interested in [false negatives] or else identify many people falsely [false positives].”

MORE HERE

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