Airport Hustlers

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In its tireless efforts to molest passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is photographing them at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Naked.

The TSA is about the baddest, bawdiest bureaucracy ever to curse a country, but geez, even they must have needed help on this one. I figure they went to Larry Flynt at Hustler Magazine for advice. Only a pornographer of his unsavory talents could have dreamed up such wickedness: tell Americans that merely groping us is no longer enough protection from the terrorists thronging our airports. Now we must pose for dirty pictures, too.

And so the TSA has installed "backscatter X-ray" equipment in Phoenix. These contraptions penetrate clothing to show the flesh beneath. Victims don’t strip: the rays do it for them. Screeners leering at the monitor see only our birthday suits — and, of course, the guns and knives so many of us tape to our thighs.

The TSA claims its debauchery at Sky Harbor is only a test. But because "the machines have the potential to speed up the security process," they are "likely future replacements for the metal detectors now in use" at other airports. That’s all the excuse the TSA wants to plant the gizmos everywhere. A nationwide peepshow! Wanna bet Flynt’s the star of the agency’s Christmas — excuse me, holiday party this year?

The TSA certainly dreams big: it’s already scheming to move its smutty technology beyond airports. Consumer Affairs reports that "Backscatter machines…are also being considered for big-city train and subway stations." Why? Undoubtedly for the same reason that the manufacturer, American Science and Engineering (AS&E), sells its device to the creeps at Customs: to "search for drugs." Apparently, Our Rulers have confused us with AS&E’s other clients: "SmartCheck personnel scanners are in use at maximum-security prisons to screen inmates and visitors for threats and contraband." The police state scores again.

Like a dirty old man who can’t decide when to pounce, the TSA has dithered about dosing us with backscatter X-rays for years. But a media as sympathetic as it is gullible reports that the bureaucrats "struggl[ed] with privacy issues." Hard to believe an agency that enthusiastically paws new mothers would balk at forcing passengers to pose in the raw. Then, too, its head honcho growled in April 2005 that there shouldn’t be an "endless debate" over privacy. Apparently, the only "struggle" confronting the TSA was coaxing passengers to accept this newest assault.

USAToday assures us that "the machines will be used only on travelers who require extra screening beyond a metal detector." [Emphasis added here and in other quotes.] Oh, the subtleties of mainstream bias! You poor slobs who are hauled aside for "secondary screening," whose belongings are rifled while a uniformed goon violates your body — it’s your own fault! You "require" it, though even the TSA admits that "Passengers…are selected for secondary screening…"

But whether "requiring" or "selected," passengers now have a choice. Yes! According to the TSA, "Backscatter is a voluntary option for passengers undergoing secondary screening as an alternative to the physical pat down procedures currently conducted by Transportation Security Officer s [sic] at the security screening checkpoint." Or, as USA Today chirps, "Those passengers will be offered the option of being photographed from the front and back by the backscatter machine or undergoing the customary pat-down by a screener." "Customary," huh? So that’s what we call warrantless searches of citizens who have committed no crime.

You can either be sexually assaulted or photographed naked. It’s your "choice"! Thank you, Leviathan. We can’t blame Larry for this: even he understands that forcing folks to follow artificial, arbitrary regulations, regardless of whether they can select which regulations they’ll follow, is as anti-choice as it gets. The sluts adorning Hustler’s pages are there because they want to be, not because they went to an airport to catch a flight and were instead pushed into a "personnel scanner" under penalty of arrest.

And what happens to our pictures when the TSA’s done with them? Has Larry cut a deal with the Feds that will save him modelling fees? Au contraire. The TSA’s website alleges that the photos are deliberately blurred in a high-tech version of the fig leaf and that they are "erased from the screen" as soon as the prey clears security. Furthermore, "the capability of printing, storing or transmitting the image is not available to the Transportation Security Officer."

Yeah, right. These are the liars who insisted that Rigoberto Alpizar hollered about a bomb before air marshals killed him last year, contradicting other passengers’ testimony. They are pedophiles and thieves. The Administration that created their agency has lied about WMD’s, eavesdropping on us, torturing POW’s, and just about everything else for the last six years. I trust the TSA’s denials that screeners can "print, store or transmit" blurred pictures of naked passengers about as much as I would Larry’s claims that he reads Playboy for the articles.

Screw that.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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