Six years ago I warned you that the TSA was going to install machines that photograph your naked body. Later, I told you that those photos were being stored and leaked by the U.S. Marshalls. Well, Congress finally got their act together and demanded that the nude photography stop, and Friday the TSA announced they’re removing a few of the machines that do it.
A Little Detail
There are two different kinds of machines being employed. There are backscatter scanners, whose software is not yet able to obscure the naked images approprately. And there are millimeter wave scanners, whose software produces a cartoonish character for display to agents that is deemed acceptable.
The good news is that the TSA will remove all 174 backscatter scanners from the 30 airports they’re used in now, plus another 76 in storage. The bad news is, there are 669 millimeter wave machines, plus options for 60 more, that are staying. So, only about 21% of the operational machines are being removed.
Why This is the Stupidest Thing in the Universe
Lets assume for a moment that there were some way to authoritatively state that these machines make air travel safer – despite the fact that it is WELL DOCUMENTED that they have never foiled a single incident since their inception. This despite the fact that a year ago Forbes reported that American’s had spent over $60 BILLION on the TSA with nothing to show for it.
Oh wait… I’m sorry, we were going to assume whatever they do WORKS!
Ok, so if it did work, then we need to make sure it is ubiquitous, right? Meaning, everyone is doing the same thing everywhere – because consistency is key! That’s why we need a National TSA instead of leaving security up to locals, right?
But we don’t even have consistency! And by that, I don’t mean that if I go to the airport in LA there are no body scanning machines, while in Dallas there are. Heck, I don’t even mean that if I go to Terminal A in Dallas there are no machines, but in Terminal D there are even though you can ride the tram between terminals after entering terminal A (true story).
What I mean is, if you go in one set of doors in Terminal D in Dallas, you get scanned. But if you walk 100 feet down the hall and go in the other entrance you only get X-rayed!
Sorry, but do you see what I’m getting at now? We’ve allowed the government to spend over $60 billion, and they’ve literally given us NOTHING for it. And I mean, this system is a total, complete, and universal failure. In fact, by any measure the TSA has to be the biggest failure of a program in the history of the United States.
Keep in mind that $60 billion is more money than the annual budget of all but the 50 most powerful nations on the planet. Let me put it another way, FedEx annual revenues are only 38 Billion, and they employ 250,000 people!
What Bothers You More?
It seems like the question of whether or not its worth it to violate basic human rights is often answered with, “it depends.”
Should we waterboard this terrorist? “Hmmm. Well, we think doing so MIGHT get some information which MIGHT save a life.”
Should we scan every human traveling through a US airport and store digital images of their naked bodies in a database where only a few people have access to that library of images? “Hmmm. Well, will we prevent planes from being hijacked and hundreds of people being killed?”
Problem is, we answered the question YES to doing it, but we’ve got no results. So American officials have compromised the principals by which the country was founded, delivered nothing to the American people in return except cost and burden, and despite years and years of failure have decided to continue a bad policy.
Oh wait! I almost forgot!!! They’re gonna remove 20% of the machines. Whew!