Even before news came about the plot to blow up US-bound cargo jets on Friday, the TSA had announced another security enhancement: a "new hand-sliding technique" when it comes to pat-down searches.
The TSA is smart enough to know that Americans are not yet willing go along with rules mandating all passengers must go through Advanced Image Technology (AIT) screening, but the agency is making it as unpleasant as possible for those "rabble-rousing, unpatriotic instigators" who don’t believe that the Constitution permits a strip search without probable cause or choose to avoid AIT for other reasons.
While travelers like me who won’t submit to AIT screenings have yet been hauled before the HUAC, the cost/benefit analysis of avoiding this technology will now need to be re-evaluated.
In typical TSA fashion, we don’t know what the new pat-down procedures are. For national security reasons, they can’t be divulged. After all, we wouldn’t want the terrorists to know if the TSOs are going to use the back or the front of their hands to check private parts…
But we do know, from unnamed sources, that the searches are going to be more obtrusive and perhaps more time consuming than before. We also know that with AIT rapidly proliferating at airports across the country, by the end of next year it is going to be very difficult to find security lanes with the standard metal detectors that strike and acceptable balance between security and civil liberties.
As Lucky correctly put it, "So you have two choices — have them see every part of your body, or have them feel every part of your body."
I’d hardly classify that as a choice. But as I got my pat-down at Boston Logan last week, I watched intently as most passengers happily agreed to undergo AIT screening. An apathetic public can’t be saved. James Madison said, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
Wake-up people. AIT is not keeping us safer.