The TSA’s Gingerbread Man

By:  Becky Akers
10/27/2011
       
The TSA’s Gingerbread Man

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has long turned a deaf ear to criticism and complaints. Whenever its groping of toddlers sets the country howling, the TSA responds that employees “followed proper … procedure.” Ditto when they inspect a 95-year-old invalid’s diaper or drench a survivor of bladder-cancer in his own urine — twice. Last week they even searched trucks and busses in Tennessee to huge outcry nationwide and a sharp rebuke from the heroic Ron Paul. But you can bet such opposition will only increase the number of these internal checkpoints.

Likewise, the more passengers protested the agency’s computerized strip-searches at airports, the more it insisted that its “whole-body imagers” didn’t violate anyone’s modesty. It even changed the porno-scanners’ name to convince us:  “AIT [advanced imaging technology] machines … have built-in safeguards to protect passenger privacy,” administrator John Pistole repeatedly asserted. Indeed, he called those safeguards “rigorous” in an editorial for USAToday.

Yet now the agency’s adding software to protect privacy it swears didn’t need protecting. The software supposedly substitutes a generic figure that resembles a genderless gingerbread-man for the picture of our naked bodies the scanners produced — pictures the TSA’s “area director” in Denver, Colorado, admitted “were graphic, no doubt about it.” Mr. Gingerbread appears on the monitor as a stand-in for all passengers, or so claims the TSA, which lies about everything, all the time; yellow boxes highlight any contraband. If you leave your cell-phone in your hip pocket, Mr. G blushes yellow there.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has long turned a deaf ear to criticism and complaints. Whenever its groping of toddlers sets the country howling, the TSA responds that employees “followed proper … procedure.” Ditto when they inspect a 95-year-old invalid’s diaper or drench a survivor of bladder-cancer in his own urine — twice. Last week they even searched trucks and busses in Tennessee to huge outcry nationwide and a sharp rebuke from the heroic Ron Paul. But you can bet such opposition will only increase the number of these internal checkpoints.

Likewise, the more passengers protested the agency’s computerized strip-searches at airports, the more it insisted that its “whole-body imagers” didn’t violate anyone’s modesty. It even changed the porno-scanners’ name to convince us:  “AIT [advanced imaging technology] machines … have built-in safeguards to protect passenger privacy,” administrator John Pistole repeatedly asserted. Indeed, he called those safeguards “rigorous” in an editorial for USAToday.

Yet now the agency’s adding software to protect privacy it swears didn’t need protecting. The software supposedly substitutes a generic figure that resembles a genderless gingerbread-man for the picture of our naked bodies the scanners produced — pictures the TSA’s “area director” in Denver, Colorado, admitted “were graphic, no doubt about it.” Mr. Gingerbread appears on the monitor as a stand-in for all passengers, or so claims the TSA, which lies about everything, all the time; yellow boxes highlight any contraband. If you leave your cell-phone in your hip pocket, Mr. G blushes yellow there.

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