Would you prefer to be seen nekkid or groped by the TSA?

Yet another reason why I may never fly on an airplane again. They’re deploying more of those millimeter wave scanners that allow agents to see through your clothes to make sure those are actually your tits and not a couple of shapely clumps of plastic explosives:

Do You Have Any Naked Pictures Of Your Mother? The TSA Does – The Consumerist

While it allows the security screeners — looking at the images in a separate room — to clearly see the passenger’s sexual organs as well as other details of their bodies, the passenger’s face is blurred, TSA said in a statement on its website.

The scan only takes seconds and is to replace the physical pat-downs of people that is currently widespread in airports.

TSA began introducing the body scanners in airports in April, first in the Phoenix, Arizona terminal.

The installation is picking up this month, with machines in place or planned for airports in Washington (Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International), Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit.

[…] “People have no idea how graphic the images are,” Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union, told AFP.

The ACLU said in a statement that passengers expecting privacy underneath their clothing “should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane.”

Besides masking their faces, the TSA says on its website, the images made “will not be printed stored or transmitted.”

“Once the transportation security officer has viewed the image and resolved anomalies, the image is erased from the screen permanently. The officer is unable to print, export, store or transmit the image.”

Lara Uselding, a TSA spokeswoman, added that passengers are not obliged to accept the new machines.

“The passengers can choose between the body imaging and the pat-down,” she told AFP.

Assuming we believe the TSA is telling the truth about the images existing only long enough for someone to get a good look at your goodies, and I’m not at all inclined to believe that’s true, this does nothing to stop someone with a camera phone, or just a camera, from taking pictures of the screen itself. And someone eventually will given the quality of some of the folks working as screeners for the TSA.

It’s isn’t so much a sense of vanity or modesty that makes me unwilling to have someone stare at my nekkid form on a screen so much as it being a matter of principle. There are plenty of people that I’ve shown my naked body to in a professional capacity that are probably wishing they could unsee what has been seen, but I shouldn’t have to be virtually disrobed, or groped as an alternative, just to travel someplace via airplane. The presumption shouldn’t be that I’m a terrorist without some reason to back it up.

This kind of shit, more than anything the terrorists will ever do, is what is going to cause more airlines to go belly up as people decide it’s just not worth the hassle. Especially after some idiot TSA screener decides to snap some pics and upload them to the Internet.

Beware the “Behavior Detection Officers!”

I’ve said before that I’ve not taken a plane flight since 9/11 and with the growing absurdity that is airport security getting worse by the day I may never bother to fly again.

Patti Davis: At the Airport, You Better Smile – Newsweek National News – MSNBC.com

“Specially trained security personnel” will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country. These agents, who may literally hold your fate in their hands have been given a lofty, Orwellian name: “Behavior Detection Officers.”

Sir, you’re not smiling enough. Aren’t you happy you’re going on a plane trip? Don’t you just love flying? I’ll have to ask you to come over to the nice officer with the rubber glove on his hand and drop your trousers. Have a nice day!

In the study of “micro-expressions”—yes, it is actually a field of study and there are some who are arrogant enough to call it a science—it has been decided that when people wish to conceal emotions, the truth of their feelings is revealed in facial flashes. These experts have determined that fear and disgust are the key things to look for because they can hint of deception.

Let’s see, fear and disgust in an airport? I’m frightened and disgusted weeks before I have to show up at an airport. In fact, I’ve pretty much sworn off the whole idea of going anywhere by airplane. It’s bad enough that I might be trapped in a crowded plane with no food or water and nonworking toilets for hours; now there are security agents interpreting our facial expressions. The face police, in place at more than a dozen U.S. airports already, aren’t identified as such. But the watcher could be at curbside baggage, the ticket counter or near the metal detectors and X-ray machines. The Transportation Security Administration hopes to have as many as 500 Behavior Detection Officers on the job by the end of 2008.

How much longer before they start offering cash rewards for people to turn each other in at the slightest suspicion that they may be up to no good? All thanks to President Dumb Ass Bush!