“We Don’t Save The Photos.” Really?!?
Despite promises that these full body scanning systems will not save naked photos of you, recently it was discovered that 35,000 photos of naked citizens were being stored by the U.S. Marshal’s Service (another Federal agency) and over 100 of those photos were leaked.
In response to this, the TSA posted on their official site:
Myth: TSA Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) images can be stored on the AIT machines located in our airports.
Fact: Completely false â€“ TSAâ€™s machines should not be confused with the recent stories about the U.S. Marshals Service. The machines used by TSA at our airports cannot store, print or transmit images. They simply donâ€™t have that ability.
Note the claim that the images are not transmitted? Yet they’ve also told us that the images are transmitted to another location where a different TSA agent is viewing them. So which of their two stories are we to believe?
They are also being extremely specific when they say the LOCAL machines at the airports don’t store images. I’m willing to bet images are being stored in a central system somewhere, just not LOCALLY. Considering that the TSA is also certainly tapped into every flight manifest, it doesn’t take much work to start matching up images with travelers so they can build a database of what every man, woman and child in the US looks like in their birthday suit.
Remember, it only takes ONE employee with access to take home millions of scans on a portable drive to ruin your day. And these things happen all the time.
So What? How Detailed Could The Images Be?
Well, you tell me what you think. Here is a scan that was simply inverted to show you what’s possible. The TSA technology is MUCH higher resolution than this.
In fact, in England, use of full-body scanners is considered a violation of child pornography laws, and the machines are banned for children under 18.
What if You Opt Out of the Body Scanner?
Well, I’ll tell you since the TSA doesn’t. I’ve opted out about 90% of the time, unless I’m in a huge hurry – and even then it didn’t always help.
When you opt out of a body scan you are placed into a separate line where you wait for the next available TSA agent to come get you and do a screening. In literally every case except one when I did this I had a TSA agent with a very bad attitude come get me. (More about that in a minute.)
- The agent will ask you where your items are that went through the metal detector and then carry all of them over to a table. You are not allowed to touch your stuff or help carry it. You stand there and wait.
- Next, the agent will tell you what they are about to do and describe how they are going to frisk you using the front of their hand in places that are not sensitive, and the back in other places.
- They they have you hold your arms to the side and begin to frisk you. When they get to your genitals they absolutely go all the way there – every time. YES, you will have their hands on your junk. (Hopefully you enjoy that kind of thing.)
For females who go through the screening process, they will use the back of their hands to rub completely around the outside of your breasts. The bad news is, you will be fondled. The good news is that it doesn’t cost you a dime to get felt up!
By the way, Dave Barry had similar experiences with the TSA you can read about here, and here’s a little video about the new pat down procedures:
Lets say that you decide to forgo the manhandling and breeze through the body scanner! Well, 50% of the time when I’ve done that I still get dragged aside for the probe! Damn! This tells me that you might as well not even bother and move straight on to the anal probe.
Why do All the TSA Agents Have Bad Attitudes?
I don’t know if dealing with so many people every day makes you numb or what, but 90% of the TSA agents that I’ve interacted with treat me like cattle. This lack of treating people with respect and dignity comes from the top. If the executive leadership demanded it, it would filter down. But clearly they do not.
Here is an example of how unreasonable TSA agents can be:
I’ve had several screeners come up to me and ask questions in accusatory and demeaning ways, and when I respond in a similar fashion they act as though I have no right to question them or attempt to retain some shred of human dignity. I’ve also experienced what can only be described as threats and intimidation.
One agent went so far as to attempt to “stare me down” when he overheard me speaking to a travel partner saying that I didn’t believe this made us any safer.
What Else is the TSA Wasting Money On?
I’ve got two words for you – behavior detection. Did you know the TSA has 3,000 agents deployed in airports across the country at an annual cost of $200,000,000 trained in “behavior detection”. Yet they’ve never apprehended a single terrorist.
Oh, and the GAO released a report that said at least 16 individuals later accused of involvement in terrorist plots flew 23 different times through U.S. airports since 2004. Yet none were stopped by TSA behavior detection officers working at those airports. None.
The bottom line is, the TSA spends $6.3 BILLION per year, has 60,000 employees, and has does not seem to have made us safer. Their argument might be that TSA run programs prevent people from even trying… but security existed in the airports for decades prior to the TSA and the results were no different.