Tuesday, November 30, 2010


How to measure success of “Opt-Out Wednesday”

by Larry Geller

Most newspaper accounts of last week’s “Opt-Out Wednesday” reported that it was a failure. The measure was that lines proceeded smoothly through security screenings at airports around the country.

Of course, all TSA had to do was not ask very many people to pass through the full-body scanners and not subject passengers to the invasive pat-down feel-ups.

Whether they did that or not is something we can’t tell.

I was at the airport last week as a volunteer passing out ACLU flyers on passenger’s rights, but since that was on the upper level, there was no chance to ask arriving passengers (at the lower level) about their experience.

Checking local TV and press coverage, it’s also hard to say whether TSA backed off on scanning for that one day. There just isn’t evidence.

Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight is checking further:

I have e-mailed the T.S.A. and asked them what, if any, additional statistics they are willing to provide. While they undoubtedly did a good job in keeping traffic moving over the holiday weekend — and certainly did a good job in managing public relations over the new procedures — it would mean something much different if this was accomplished because new scanners were turned off, or if overall passenger volume was down from a typical Thanksgiving weekend. We simply don’t have any good way to assess this based on the numbers they have provided thus far.  [Five Thirty Eight, What The T.S.A. Hasn’t Told Us, 11/29/2010]

Getting the numbers will take time. Meanwhile, occasional new stories of airport atrocities still pop up. I’ll skip listing them up, they are there for the Googling.

Bottom line: if there was a TSA strategy not to scan last Wednesday, it was very successful.



Sign of the Times: Metallic-Inked Undies Give TSA a Constitutional Middle Finger

Thanks for the link. I saw those undies on a web page somewhere and was wondering if they'd be readable on the scanner. Print looked kinda small.

My own suggestion never took off. It was to make moaning or animal sounds during pat down. Freedom of speech, and all that. Would someone get arrested for "enjoying" a pat-down?

I can tell you that last Wednesday, I was not told that opting out was an option when going thru security at HNL airport. I am the one who had to let them know that i did not feel comfortable with the full body scan. Then, the process got into gear. I hope that this is not an omen (i.e: no option at all in the future.)

Just checking, after you opted out, did they pat? Was it an ok pat or an enhanced pat down?


I'm all for "no option". Everyone MUST go through the scanner.

As for 4th Amm. rights...they only apply to "unreasonable". Who defines reasonable and unreasonable? The government.

You lose.

Actually the legal eagles have no problem defining "resaonable".

For example, I'm assuming, though I don't know you, that you are not in the habit of making bombs or sending money to terrorist organizations overseas (for example). So there is no reasonable reason to search you.

That's how I would make the argument, though I'm sure lawyers could cite cases that produce a pretty clear definition.

Since known bomb makers and carriers come in all socio-economic-ethnic-citizenship "flavors" it is totally reasonable to enforce body scans.

Air travel is a privilege, not a right. The act of buying a ticket enters you into a contract whose "fine print" indicates that you acknowledge and accept any measures the government chooses to apply.

All scan or no fly...that's my position.

In response to your question, after I opted out, they did do an "enhanced pat down." The screener was very courteous, not problem there. I don't have a problem with pat downs and the TSA intensifying its screening methods. I do have a problem with a full body scan, simply because of air travel. Yes, we are told that the level or radiation is negligible. But, here's the deal, if this kind of scan becomes common place simply for travel, then what next? How often are we going to be scanned? Am I going to be scanned every time I shop at Safeway. Is a scan going to be a routine part of entry into some establishment? That is where I have a problem.

Well stated.

If we permit this,Safeway can't be too far behind. All it would take would be for a bomb to go off in a shopping mall somewhere.

Thanks for coming back and replying.

Remember the movie "Total Recall" where everyone in the spaceport walked through a long tube scanner and the officials saw the people's skeletons with faint "exterior flesh outlines", but everything that wasn't "flesh and bone"? People didn't have to go into a "box" one at a time and stand their with their hands raised. They simply walked through the "tunnel" in an average way...like walking past a video camera.

Assuming cumulative radiation issues were proven inconsequential, I wouldn't have a problem with those things fronting all entrances to shopping malls and other selected places.

It would probably reduce the business owners insurance premiums!!

Nothing to hide...nothing to fear.

Your comment may be prophetic.

I didn't see "Total Recall" but maybe I should check it out. Thanks!

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