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Advertise on the Tentacle

November 25, 2010

Security, Security, Security

Patricia A. Kelly

That’s all we’ve been hearing about on the news and on the talk shows for the past week. Rudeness, roughness, perverse delight on the part of the security people, either because the opportunity for domination, or because of the opportunity for sexual contact.


Stories of abuse, excessively invasive touching, broken ostomy bags and humiliated elderly ladies being lifted out of wheelchairs, not to mention leaked Internet photos of headless scanned bodies, are daunting, to say the least.


The last time I flew was from Dulles Airport, very recently. I haven’t been there in awhile, so was impressed with the new security facility built into the new terminal. The security force, in fine uniforms with gold braid on one shoulder, was very professional, and very attentive in their roles. They were also informative, explaining the regulations behind their decisions.


The newest security changes are more invasive, and, if there are credible threats, that’s okay with me.


My first concern is with radiation from the body scanner. It appears that exposure is very, very small, less than that of one pulse from a cell phone, from the two-second-millimeter wave scan. A backscatter scan is the equivalent of two minutes exposure to cosmic radiation that takes place during plane flights. No problem.


My second concern is privacy and respect during the pat-down. People should be screened from public view, but visible to a second security officer during physical searches. I have seen someone patted down while standing in an elevated position in front of everyone awaiting a flight at the Hagerstown Airport. Needless to say, he appeared quite uncomfortable.


In medicine, very invasive procedures can be done respectfully with appropriate chaperones and appropriate privacy. It can be done in airports as well.


It may not be pleasant, but, based on the ethical principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, those who fly need to settle down and accept reality. Some people are at war with us, and they are after us.


There are some additional possibilities that should be fully explored, such as some profiling and pre-screening of regular passengers, that could simplify and speed things up. It doesn’t seem right for a pilot or flight attendant to have to go through the scanner every time they fly.


It’s important to remember that our privacy and our personal freedom are being limited, not by the choice of our security planners, but by the terrorists who keep finding new ways to victimize us.


In addition to strong and consistent security measures, becoming a proud, united society will help us a lot. We need to get to know the people around us, become observant of others’ activities, speak English fluently if a resident, and report odd behavior. United, we have our best shot at minimizing conversion to terrorism and at protecting ourselves from it. We can cooperate with security measures, and also demand respectful systems and report inappropriate security behavior to their management.


It is a good thing that cargo is being checked now, also thanks to a terrorist escalation, the recent placement of a bomb in an ink cartridge being shipped to the U.S. If upstanding citizens have to “get naked,” so to speak, certainly cargo should be checked.


Every person or object crossing our borders should also be screened. It is silly to think the only threats come from passengers on planes.


All incoming mail, packages and container shipments should be examined, and that could create more jobs here in the U.S. We must be consistent and fair, checking everything. How about having more than two people patrolling the Oregon seacoast at a time?


Increased airport security is a good thing, to be endured, but cost effective, consistent, and across-the-board screening is something we must demand of those who are making us “get naked.”


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