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Chan Lowe: Scans, pat-downs and self-delusion


We have Umar Farouk Abumutallab to thank for all this. If the would-be terrorist hadn’t tried to turn his Jockey shorts into a Christmas surprise, we wouldn’t be screaming about blue-gloved TSA workers visiting regions that twenty percent of Americans can’t stomach.

It’s the same with the Shoe Bomber’s bungled attempt. Now we have to make sure our socks match before we fly.

When it comes to transportation security, we’re always countering the last brainstorm. While we ought to be imaginative and forward leaning, just like our adversaries, we are reactive⎯which is probably better than nothing, but not good enough by a long shot.

If you subscribe (as I do) to the notion that all of this is window dressing just to get the sheep to feel reasonably safe about flying, you figure it’s highly unlikely that the next terrorist is going to try any methods that have already been attempted. And if, God forbid, he or she is successful, then we’ll never know the technique of choice, anyway.

As a corollary to this, it is nonsensical and counterproductive to categorically exempt classes of people from inspection. Terrorists have used children as suicide bombers before. Ninety-nine percent of pilots, I’m sure, are stand-up people⎯but what if one of them cracks from the pressure, just like that flight attendant did (albeit in a more comical way)?

I would think that the most effective solution would be a combination of approaches: rigorous no-exemptions inspection, Israeli-style interrogation and psychological profiling, and top-notch intelligence gathering. But that’s expensive, dilatory, and it’s still not foolproof.

In the meantime, we’ll probably just go on kidding ourselves…and complaining.

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TSA and body scanners...should be called "Body Scammers"...Michael Chertoff has been hawking them...(Rapid Scan, made in Malaysia, India, & elsewhere) Follow the yellow-brick road...Ders money in dem der hills & you can bet that everyone in power will get on the "Theater Band-Wagon." to make a buck off this farce.
They want to privatize TSA---Hey, Wall Street & the Banksters haven't made enough loot to satisfy their needs....that keeps growing & growing.
John Mica has already privatized the air-port in Orlando, Fl. & I'm sure many more will follow.
Just watched a video on UTube, from Germany,on scanners.(The Markus Lanz Show...sub-titles) Theres a whole list of ones to see.
Follow the yellow brick road ...Read it & weep...Weep for the man with the ileostomy bag.(Hope he didn't have more than 2 oz. in there...that's a no-no)
Yep- Ders gold in dem der hills...

It isn't just window dressing! Do you know how much money the manufacturers make on those scanners? It is an economic stimulus program! Just like the radiation detectors for cargo containers and virtual fence for border security. Who cares if it works when it means profits for campaign donors?

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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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