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Friday, January 1, 2010

Get Naked to Defeat Terrorists

By Becky Akers
Published 01/01/10

"We were very lucky this time," quavers Joe Lieberman, the supposedly independent senator from Connecticut dedicated to defeating Israel's enemies with American lives and money. He was speaking of Northwest Airlines' Flight 253 and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt at self-immolation thereon. Joe waved his cowardice proudly, rallying Nervous Nellies to his standard: "[B]ut we may not be so lucky next time, which is why our defenses must be strengthened. . . .why isn't whole body scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?"

Well, for starters, because it's completely, indubitably, diametrically unconstitutional. Alas, most Americans, particularly those elected to Congress, shrug at the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of "unreasonable" searches (and searches don't come any more unreasonable than "whole body scanning," during which the Transportation Security Administration's [TSA] screeners photograph you naked, right through your clothes, at airport checkpoints).

Still, the Constitution isn't the only treasure these X-rated X-rays assault. Dignity and modesty also sustain knock-out blows -- and you needn't be a prude to think so. The American Civil Liberties Union is hardly a bastion of bashfulness, yet it denounces whole-body imaging as "a significant -- and for some people humiliating -- assault on the essential dignity of passengers that citizens in a free nation should not have to tolerate." Meanwhile, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) compared such scans "to a 'virtual strip search' for all air travelers . . . The level of detail uncovered [is] akin to a disrobing in public: the images seen by the screeners reveal the outlines of nipples and genitalia."

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