At this point very few would expect that you should be able to carry metal items undetected onto a plane, so I don’t have too big a problem with metal detectors at airports. However, society has a general expectation that the image of one’s naked body is private, so we should certainly consider the new scanners a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, requiring some level of probable cause. Is showing up for a flight probable cause for suspicion that you have explosives on you?
Setting aside the question of constitutionality, there seems to be mounting evidence that TSA agents cannot handle the responsibility that this much power brings:
- ACLU Receives Over 900 Complaints in November Over “Enhanced” Measures. Examples:
- “The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts. She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone.”
- “I cried throughout the groping and have had intrusive thoughts since. It was humiliating.”
- “The procedure was violating, degrading, invasive and humiliating.”
- Woman Not Warned Before Agent Touches Private Areas
- TSA Require a Disabled 4 Year Old Boy To Walk Through Scanner Without His Leg Braces
- Pat Down Causes Urine to Leak On Bladder Cancer Survivor
- Those promising to never store the scans may not be credible.
What happens when a terrorist successfully sneaks in bomb materials embedded under the skin? I’d guess the attack would fail for the same reason the underwear bomber’s did: our system already worked. Until all international airports with flights to the U.S. are outfitted with the new scanners and procedures, we still can’t prevent another underwear bomber (he boarded in Amsterdam).