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Guest Article (1/10, updated 11/18/10)

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Guest Article:

25 Reasons To Reject Airport Full Body Scans [Updated]

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25 Reasons To Reject Airport Full Body Scans

Note: Scroll down for 11/18/10 update or click here

By "Former Flier"

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It's sickening that many television personalities have been so willing to violate the privacy of honest Americans over fear due to the recent foiled terror attempt. On the matter of full body scans, they are wrong, not to mention terribly shortsighted. They have one - and ONLY one - supposed argument in favor of full body scans; that is, such scans MAY make airline travel safer. But will it? Certainly there is no guarantee that this will occur. Rather, it is their "hope" or "belief" that this will result. But it is wrong - immoral even - to subject innocent people to this degrading procedure.

The following are my 25 reasons to reject these full-body scans...

1. These scans are a total violation of privacy! (Have you seen the full body scan images on TV? You can see everything, and I mean EVERYTHING!)

2. This procedure is immodest and will further a sense of immodesty as people become accustomed to allowing strangers to examine images of their body.

3. It is wrong to allow strangers who are not doctors to examine images of your private parts and the private parts of your family members. You wouldn't dream of allowing this to occur in any other setting.

4. The people who will be viewing every single nook and cranny of your body are government employees. Think of that, government agents viewing full body images of you. Did such privacy violations even occur in Communist Russia on such a wide scale?

5. Most likely you won't be allowed to know, see, or give your consent to the individual chosen by the government to analyze your body scan from head to toe. You will not be given their resume or information on their criminal record (if any) or about their mental health or any past transgressions involving others' scans. For all you know, the person who views images of your entire body and the entire bodies of your loved ones will be a pervert. The person viewing the images will be able to focus on any part of your body they want, free from any objection of yours and with your knowledge & consent. (If you go through the scanners, you are consenting to this.)

6. I wouldn't allow my 13 year-old daughter's body to be viewed in the nude by a stranger - would you allow your daughter's to be? So why would you allow a revealing full body scan of your teenage daughter to be viewed by a stranger at the airport?

7. When this becomes widespread, EVERYONE who flies will be subject to this invasion of privacy - be they minor, grandparent, man, woman, priest, nun, or bishop. This is plain wrong.

8. When viewers of the full body images can't make out certain details on their screen, people will be subject to even more evasive, exploratory searches. Watch out if you have a safety pin, underwire, fancy zipper, unique button, or unusual growth!

9. Americans are supposed to be constitutionally protected from unreasonable searches. If revealing full body scans of INNOCENT people who simply want to visit relatives doesn't count as an unreasonable search, what does?

10. It is impossible for full body scans to be a foolproof security measure. Obviously they are only as good as the equipment and the (probably overworked) government employee viewing them. Eventually something will get through. People aren't perfect.

11. Full body images will eventually be stored. How would you like yours or your loved one's to turn up on the Internet? It WILL happen sometime, somewhere, to someone, especially to celebrities or "controversial" persons (e.g. pro-life activists). Do you bring forth the argument that they aren't saving the images? Maybe they aren't now, but after the first security breach, people will call for storing body scan images to see "what went wrong".

12. There can be no guarantee that these full body scans are safe. We often discover long after the fact that procedures that were supposed to be "safe" were more dangerous than first thought. Just recently, ubiquitous CT scans were shown to be much more dangerous than previously believed. Ironically, although CT scans may be used to detect cancer, they have been found to cause cancer in some patients. In contrast to CT scans done with "meticulous care" in medical facilities, full body scans in airports will be conducted by non-medical personnel on people in a rush. Even though a different technology is used in airport scans vs. CT scans, rushed patrons combined with non-medical government personnel in a public setting is not an especially good combination for personal safety. Plus, who will control any settings on the machines? Who will make sure all emissions are always within proper limits? How often will the equipment be tested for dangerous leaks? And what about the effect of these scans on pregnant women and their babies? What about the cumulative effects of exposure to this equipment on frequent fliers or airport personnel who will be standing next to the machines for hours at a time, day in and day out? The extent of the effects may be unknown for decades.

13. Some persons involved in the scanning process may use the opportunity to harass people (e.g. subject them to more searches, spend more time on "beautiful" bodies, force persons to engage in immodest postures, etc.). Once people are in the scanner, airline ticket in tow, with a booked hotel, car rental, and waiting relatives, most will probably just consent to whatever they are told to do. They may not have the will to complain or they may be embarrassed to do so. Even if they did, it will be one person's word against another's.

14. On one hand, certain body images may tempt some scan viewers to lust (Jesus says a person who looks at another person with lust has committed adultery with the person in their heart). On the other hand, body images of some persons will probably become the "butt of screeners' jokes" (pun intended). The job of airport scanner has got to get boring after a while and an unusual body shape here and there may provide the employees with some "comic relief"

15. This practice will further a loss of respect for the dignity of the human body, especially for operators who will view nude images all day

16. Since these revealing scans put bodies on display for strangers, they may be a violation of one's right over a spouse's body. In fact, strangers viewing full body scans that expose every crevice of someone's body may view more of that person's body than their own spouse does!

17. Conducting full body scans won't solve the terrorist threat. Terrorists will just get more creative - and we will keep trying to play catch up - spending endless sums of money and giving up more of our freedoms. Eventually they may require people to remove false teeth to look for contraband or force us to strip nude, all for the "privilege" of flying. If you think terrorists will just give up because we implement full body scans, you're sadly mistaken.

18. Full body scans are just one more example of the government punishing many good people for the crimes of a few bad people. The good people will be hurt by lost freedom & violations of privacy. The terrorists will be undeterred in their plans, and they will probably be happy to see the disruption & harm they have caused the good people.

19. What effect do you think the revealing full-body scans will have on rape survivors or others who have been violated? Wouldn't it be reasonable for them to feel as though they've been violated again?

20. If we allow full body scans at airports, we'll soon be forced to undergo them in other public places - schools, office buildings, sporting events, and the like. In many places, the scans will not be optional because people will not be allowed to avoid them. In time, police may start carrying portable versions of the scanners when the technology becomes available. Allowing this practice at airports is likely to unleash a slew of new privacy violations against innocent Americans.

21. Full body scanning at airports may give passengers a false sense of security. Recent events prove that it is dangerous to be complacent with regard to airport security.

22. Full body scans are unnecessary and may be overcome. We already have (non invasive) metal detectors in place for metal objects. At this point, the most feared items may be powder or liquid. While full body scans thoroughly expose the naked body to the gaze of the scan viewer, it is questionable whether the machines will be able to clearly indicate the presence of small amounts of powder or liquid, especially when you factor in a creative terrorist. For example, how can the scanning equipment differentiate stuffing in a jacket from stuffing plus powder? Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack! And certainly even the zealous airport workers may hesitate to make passengers cut open their jackets so they can inspect the stuffing inside them.

23. Full body scans focus on the external part of the body. They would not show items taken orally or other items hidden internally (e.g. in feces). As drug enforcement agents might tell you, criminal persons don't refrain from using such unsavory tactics if they work.

24. Full body scans are incapable of solving the problem. Even if a terrorist is prevented from hiding items on their person by a full body scan, they can still keep items in their bags (who would question a prescription medicine bottle which appeared to contain real pills or a sealed shampoo bottle which seemed to actually contain shampoo?). The scans also won't prevent terrorists from recruiting insider employees who can help them evade the procedure.

25. This practice will harm the airline industry. Some people (myself included) will stop flying altogether. Costs will go up to pay for the new equipment and the additional personnel required to operate it. Airport delays will increase.

This is not a case of sacrificing "a bit of privacy for the good of the many". This practice will bring harm to many - in fact, all of us! Even if we don't fly, we should be concerned for our bothers and sisters who do and who will either, unfortunately, agree to the procedure or be involuntary pressured into it. And, as time goes by, this precedent will spill into other areas and we will ALL suffer invasions of our privacy because "new threats" have been found.

Let's not allow this to happen. Those who support this practice have only one argument in their favor - that the scans MAY make airline travel safer. But this is not the case. It will NOT be a security panacea. Rather, it is a harmful and dangerous road that we should not go down. God Himself made Adam & Eve garments after the fall. Let's not allow the government to force us to "shed" ours.

11/18/10 Update To Article: "25 Reasons To Reject Airport Full Body Scans"

Author was 'prophetic'

It's been almost a year since I wrote "25 reasons to reject airport full body scans" (see above). The intervening months have clearly vindicated me in my concerns & validated my predictions. Did you see the image of the nun in her habit being 'groped' by an airport worker wearing a burqa as the nun stood there helpless? Did you also hear about these reports in the news?...

* So much for claims that scan images "cannot be stored or recorded" - it has been revealed that "tens of thousands" of body scan images have been both stored and saved. Further, one article reports that: "The Transportation Security Administration has promised not to store or transmit nude images of airline passengers made by whole-body scanners, but when it asked manufacturers to submit bids for such machines, it required that the scanners have exactly those capabilities, according to agency documents obtained in a lawsuit." The machines may allow wireless transmission of the nude scan mages and the nude images may also be saved to USB devices

* So much for the supposed "safety" of scans - Experts have demonstrated that the scanners may pose a health risk to all persons, but particularly to children & pregnant women, not to mention frequent fliers. The radiation from scans apparently concentrates on the skin and may result in skin cancer. It may also be "20 times higher than first estimated". One agency report recommended not screening pregnant woman and children, but you may never hear about that

* So much for claims that the scans would not be a "primary" means of screening. Not only are they being used as a primary means of screening, but those who opt out may be "punished", "treated as examples, or "treated like criminals". Even pregnant women have been forced to go through the x-ray emitting scanners (some discover later they could have opted for the humiliating - but safer for the unborn child - 'pat down'). If you refuse the 'pat down' as well, you can be ejected from the airport, and possibly even sued & fined thousands of dollars! Apparently, travelers can't refuse to be fondled & viewed naked after a certain part of the process has been started without risking a lawsuit and fine (not to mention intimidation from airport workers)

* Body scanners may be a boon to airport thieves since persons being scanned may not be able to keep an eye on their belongings. An increase in thefts has already been reported (one article says "dozens of travelers...have had valuables stolen while going through TSA screening checkpoints at JFK in just the past 8 months"). Stolen items may include cash, credit cards, identification, boarding passes, wallets, keys, expensive jewelry, computers, hand held electronics, carry on luggage, and prescription medication. Even if you don't end up being a victim of identity theft or have your home burglarized as a result of airport theft, just try continuing on your trip without these items!

* Those who object to body scans, those whose scan leaves airport workers with questions, those who can't sufficiently lift their arms or spread their legs, those who tremble too much during the scan, those who return false positives, and assorted other travelers must now undergo a humiliating, offensive, degrading - and certainly immodest - "enhanced pat-down" wherein a government worker touches ("probes and pushes") one's breasts, thighs, buttocks, and genitals ("head to toe, it does not miss an inch") either publicly or privately. If the pat down is done privately, they may ask you to remove all your clothes and there may be no witnesses. Even in public, however, there has already been an allegation that a young woman's top was pulled down and her chest was exposed in full view of the flying public. Whether in public or private, the offensive procedure "seems designed to drive you to the naked strip search machine", says one traveler. 'Pat downs' may take a long time to complete and may be conducted in close proximity to the scanning machines (forcing persons to stand near the radiation emitting scanners for long periods of time). The delay may also keep persons from their belongings for a long time (again, incidents of theft have already increased). And don't forget that many of those persons listed above will be forced to undergo both a nude body scan AND an invasive 'pat down'

* Parents are now facing the dilemma whether to force their children to be "radiated or molested". If they opt for radiation, they allow strangers to view naked images of their children, risk that their children suffer health effects, and possibly find out later that nude images of their children have been saved and are circulating online. If they opt for 'molestation' (the pat down), they force their child to go through a traumatic experience (in public) which is immodest, indecent, and invasive. The procedure makes some children scream & cry and also risks confusing children regarding their parents' instruction that strangers should not touch certain areas of their body. How will a child know when it is "okay" to be touched or not if their parents allow any old stranger at the airport to touch and probe their private parts - in full view of the public?

* Naked body scan images are routinely viewed by those of the opposite sex (who, by the way are free to "zoom" in for a closer view of any area of your body). Intimate 'pat downs' may be performed by homosexual males or lesbian women on persons of the same sex

* The scanners have already contributed to sexual harassment at work. A female airport worker claims she was "ogled" by a male worker after she "mistakenly strayed into the scanner". A male worker got into a fight after being teased over the size of his private parts. Yet these may be the types of "professionals" viewing nude pictures of passengers and their children

* Nude body scans and 'pat downs' have completely removed all limits of propriety from the minds of many passengers. Women have reportedly been asked by airport workers to look down their underwear. The women apparently "dutifully" complied with the request in the name of "security". Frequently less assertive than men, women may be especially ripe for victimization at the hands of uniformed airport personnel who insist they "must" physically see or inspect a passengers' most intimate body parts in the name of "airport security". Remember that good persons are generally taught to obey requests of "law enforcement personnel" and many persons may be unaware of their rights or be too afraid or timid to assert their rights

* There has already been talk that the scans and pat downs don't go far enough since they cannot reveal contents in men's private cavity or in females' two private cavities. The future "solution" may be higher radiation levels or more invasive body cavity searches

* Predictably, "attractive" women have been "singled out" for scans. Husbands, parents, and the women themselves are given no option to object

* So much for medical privacy - Various marks on nude scan images (scars, implants, etc.) may result in passengers being forced to reveal private medical information to strangers in public. This information may further be repeated loudly over walkie-talkies to persons viewing the images in remote locations. Also, the scanners are said to reveal if a woman is on her menstrual cycle

* So much for any form of privacy really - Besides the obvious violation of personal privacy, the scan may also enable airport workers to retain your nude image along with your medical history information, your address, your name, your travel plans... And despite the recent uproar over the scanners, many of your fellow travelers are, unfortunately, still quite willing to sacrifice your privacy and the privacy of your loved ones so they can "feel safe" while flying, even though you were probably never a threat to them to begin with. Won't someone scream: It is not me and my loved ones who want to hurt you and you have no rights over my body! But privacy rights in this country seem only operable when they permit killing of the helpless unborn infants in their mothers' wombs. The persons who are willing to sacrifice your privacy may claim that air travel is optional. This is true to a point, but a man may be forced to fly to support his family, and that may not be optional. Also, attending to a far-away dying or deceased family member is hardly optional - clearly there is not always a reasonable alternative to arrive on time without airline travel. So, this is a rather unfair argument other people make to sacrifice your right to privacy so they can "feel safe"

* Scans and other security procedures are only as good as the personnel involved (clearly, some of these people have been rude, insensitive...even 'horrible'). According to online reports, the qualifications for certain airline workers who may 'grope' adults & children and view their nude images are very low (they may not even need a high school diploma). Some joke that it is a good job for unemployed perverts. Even for healthy persons, it can be a desensitizing experience to be 'immersed' in nude scan images. Although 'media celebrities' may offer unqualified praise for airport workers (who are assuredly on their best behavior when they encounter such celebrities), it seems clear that some airport workers have not always acted properly when encountering the general flying public. Also, difficult as it may be, airport workers could have resigned rather than agree to 'grope' and x-ray innocent adults & children

* Businesses in this country spend countless sums of money trying to prevent sexual harassment at work, but our government now spends billions of dollars 'sexually harassing passengers in the name of security'. Travelers are forced to submit to offensive, humiliating 'pat downs' and nude scans by strangers against their will even though the same strangers would be arrested for performing the same procedures on them against their will outside the airport

* Scans won't protect us from foreigners who want to harm us since various countries - including Islamic countries - have refused to use the scanners. If persons flying from these areas arrive in this country, they will not have undergone a scan. Likewise, Muslims living in this country try to avoid the scans. Although it may drive the p.c. crowd into a frenzy, I can't help but believe that a fair number of persons who are honest in their hearts will likely feel more secure in a plane full of non-scanned non-Muslims who had merely been observed by trained personnel & had gone through a metal detector than in a plane full of fully scanned and patted down Muslims in their garb. [Tip: If you work for NPR, don't admit to this publicly]

* Scans won't protect us from many risks, as some have now admitted. Even the 'underwear bomber' may not have been detected by the scans. Note that scanners may be incapable of detecting plastic or liquid explosives. Risks also exist in luggage. A few months ago, a USA Today article said that lithium-ion batteries may be the "next threat to airline safety" - yet no one seems to be calling for a ban on batteries in cell phones & laptop computers. Apparently these batteries can "burst into flames" during travel. Despite the body scanning & invasive 'pat downs', potentially explosive batteries are still be allowed on planes without hindrance.

I believe I was somewhat "prophetic" in my original article listing 25 reasons to reject body scans, however, there is one area I seriously underestimated. In reason #20, I said...

"If we allow full body scans at airports, we'll soon be forced to undergo them in other public places - schools, office buildings, sporting events, and the like. In many places, the scans will not be optional because people will not be allowed to avoid them. In time, police may start carrying portable versions of the scanners when the technology becomes available. Allowing this practice at airports is likely to unleash a slew of new privacy violations against innocent Americans."

Well, I was wrong to limit the first sentence above to public places and the other sentence to police. A report came out this year which revealed that, unbeknownst to many, government agencies have already deployed a portable version of the full body scanners in street roving vans in the U.S. The scanners "see through clothes, cars, and even walls - bouncing x-rays off unknown & unsuspecting persons (including pregnant women and the elderly) who never consented to the scanning or to the saving of scanned images." They do not even know it happened.

So what's left for Americans in terms of privacy? Persons can be 'groped' by strangers in airports and even viewed 'naked' in the 'privacy' of their own homes by government workers in street roving vans emitting x-rays. Pretty much everything that is done online leaves a trail. When outdoors, it seems we are recorded by the state on every street corner in the nation. And this is in a country where we are supposed to have a right to privacy and be protected from unreasonable searches. Since when does a "free" nation force law abiding citizens to appear naked before strangers and have their genitals fondled by these strangers for the 'privilege' of getting to a desired destination?

I think this invasion of privacy is demonic. It not only risks harming us physically (via the x-rays), but also makes us further lose our sense of modesty and propriety - and it therefore poses a threat to our souls. Like I said before, nude body scans will NOT be a security panacea. It is a harmful and dangerous road that we should not have gone down. God Himself made Adam & Eve garments after the fall. We should not allow the government to force us to "shed" ours.

Please consider joining me in refusing to fly and prohibiting your children from flying. This commitment may spare yourself and your children from possible physical harm, trauma & embarrassment, loss of privacy, theft of property, victimization of your person, and even danger to your soul. Decades down the road, won't you be glad you preserved your modesty & privacy and avoided risks to your health? You might also discover joy in long car rides with your family and in making use of alternate forms of transportation (e.g. trains).

And if you choose not to protest this invasion of privacy, are you not essentially aiding society in continuing down this path? Can you not see where this will lead if people don't stand up and protest? Please don't voluntarily relinquish hard won freedoms that many Americans have lost their lives to secure. In the long run, losing these freedoms will serve only to harm the innocent - threatening our health, privacy, and even our souls - yet who doubts that those determined to hurt us can't find a way around our 'security' procedures? So who are these procedures really harming?

By "Former Flier"

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"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves." (Gen. 3:7)

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