The Lowe Down


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Security vs. privacy

privacy.gifThis debate is going to catch fire soon enough...particularly since the latest foiled attack was attempted by a man who smuggled the explosives on board in his underpants.

We have the body-scan technology available now that would represent a new leap in security, but the machines can easily become a symbol in upcoming political discourse for all the ways average people feel government is encroaching on their privacy.

There's an understandable queasiness about having one's privates exposed to a stranger, which is what would be necessary for the scanners to be truly effective. If any areas have to be fuzzed out in a bow to modesty, you might as well junk the whole shebang.

Also, there'll be tabloid outlets waving big paydays in the faces of TSA employees bold enough to spirit the video recording of some celeb's body scan out of the airport, the way they stake out hospital employees now. There will have to be strong penalties in place to prevent that.

Personally, I view it like a visit to the doctor to get a prostate exam. To you, it's a mortifying ordeal. To him, it's like checking the oil, he's done so many of them.

Privacy vs. security is a debate we ought to have...but let's not forget that it's better to be embarrassed than dead.

And there's always the train.

Categories: War on Terror (50)
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Body scanner are primarily useful to improve the bottom line of the company that makes the scanners. For about 1/100th the cost, explosive sniffing dogs can do the same job better and don't need nearly as much maintenance or use as much electricity. The same techno-mad people who jumped on touch screen voting machines (which we just got rid of) love high tech scanners too.

Tom--Your right, regarding using dogs, instead of body scanners. But--I wonder..Can a dog detect explosives (or drugs)hidden in a body cavity? I don't know the answer to that. I enjoy your thoughts on different subjects.

These full body scanners will not make air travel any safer. They only make people feel safe. Terrorists will find ways to get there bombs on plains.
The only way to stop terrorism is to destroy the motivations behind the terrorism.

The ignorance on this board is shocking to me only because you people (TOM!) speak with such authority on this subject.

Did you know that vaseline as well as a number of other body lotions can be used to mask the scent of cellophane (sp?) wrapped contraband? Do you know how drugs get across the boarder?

Dogs work on scent. Dogs will not pickup if the scent is sealed in a body cavity or vacuum sealed non-porous material, which is then covered in a scent insulating material (i.e., vaseline or any petroderivative), then re-wrapped in another vacuum seal.

Dogs cannot do this at the boarder TODAY-- and they certainly can't help at the airport either. In fact, if dogs were capable of xray vision, this discussion wouldn't be happening.

Just the fact that stuff has EASILY gotten around dogs already is proof enough that this is necessary.

And btw-- if you're paranoid about others seeing the outlines of your body, it's a free country! Nobody's twisting your arm to fly! Take a train, or drive your car.


So--"Scratch" the idea of using dogs,(pun intended) Thought that dogs might not be able to detect explosives/drugs,hidden in a body cavity,but I wasn't sure.So- we're back to body scanners.It does give me pause to know that Michael Chertoff has a lot to gain,(by our buying more,at $170.000 each.) Seems he's got interest in their use,and would profit nicely...So- It's cavity search,flying nude, hand-cuffed, and shackled.Yipes--Better gas up the car,for our next trip.!!

For eight years, we've been told that "The terrorists hate our freedom!". I guess we're not so fond of our freedoms, either, if we're so willing to abandon them on the slim chance that doing so will save our skins.

@Private Citizen
Letting airports use body scanner is not giving up much. I don't like slippery slope arguments due to their fallacious nature but there are some slippery slopes and while this alone may not lead to one if we go too far we could find our selves on one. (yes I know, that is a slippery slope argument)
People seem to forget the word "terror" in "terrorism". Terrorist are eventually bullies, they try to get what they want though fear and intimidation. We we talk about restricting our rights and freedoms it actually helps them. What we need to do is as a country stand up and say "You will not scare us, you will not intimidate us! You could kill as many of us as you can, you could blow up our buildings, you could nuke fuckin' New York, it will not intimidate us, it will just piss us off! And you don't want to piss us off."

From the pictures and news videos on TV I saw, is like these machines can see what is in the surface of your skin and inside your clothes but not inside your body cavities or your stomach. If I'm correct, even if we fly naked you will need a cavities inspection. Bend down and cough.

YIPES.!! Scratch the dog, and scanners...It's cavity search time.!! I've seen Michael Chertoff on T V and he stands to gain a lot of money by the use of scanners.He looks like he could use a hearty meal, including dessert..Doesn't need a scanner, to look like a skeleton.

Hay, me again.
It terns out I'm right but for different reasons that I thought I was right about and still do think I'm right about.
"They won’t actually catch that many threats. According to a spokesperson for QinetiQ, another body scanner manufacturer, airport body scanners would be “unlikely” to detect many of the explosive devices used by terrorist groups [BBC News]. QinetiQ said the technology probably wouldn’t have detected the Christmas day underwear bomb. Neither would the scanners have caught the explosives from the 2006 airliner liquid bomb plot, nor the explosives used in the 2005 London Tube train bombing."
-5 Reasons Body Scanners May Not Solve Our Terrorism Problem

All this discussion ends up back to the Iraeli method. Search all the bags and clothes outside the airport, follow-up with a psychological screen done by discussion and discriminate based upon nationality.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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