Thursday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving, The "For Security Surposes, We Have to Fondle your Breasts" edition.

I posted previously about Ava Kingsford's adventures with the Transportation Security Administration and their new breast examination protocols. Apparently on theory holds that a couple of women smuggled the explosives that took down to Russian planes in August, in their Bra's. I did not expect that this was an isolated incedent, and now it appears that New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd has had a number of run-ins with the Breast examination squad.
Hiding Breast Bombs


It always makes me feel slimy and humiliated, as though I'm in one of those cheesy women-in-prison movies, with titles like "Caged," "Slammer Girls" or "Reform School Girls."

First you have to strip, unzipping your boots, unbuckling your belt and unbuttoning your suit jacket while any guys standing around watch. Then you have to walk around in some flimsy top and stocking or bare feet. Then you have to assume the spread-eagled position. Then a beefy female security agent runs her hands all the way around your breasts, in between, underneath - again with guys standing around staring.

Flying on business, I've gone through this embarrassing tableau two dozen times in airports all over the country in the last couple of months. I've been searched more than Martha Stewart. I watched a Transportation Security Administration screener brusquely insist that my friend take off her blazer even though she had on only lingerie underneath - a see-through camisole - and the man behind her was leering.

Airport screening procedures are more reactive than imaginative. There's an attempted shoe bombing, so all passengers must shed their shoes. Two female Chechens may or may not have sneaked explosives onto Russian planes, so now some T.S.A. genius decides all women are subject to strips and body searches.
In two articles in The Times, Joe Sharkey has chronicled the plaints of women angry about new procedures in airport security that have increased both the number and intensity of the airport pat-down, or "breast exam," as one woman put it.

He described the experience of Patti LuPone, the singer and actress, at the Fort Lauderdale airport, who resisted taking off her shirt and got barred from her flight, and of 71-year-old Jenepher Field, who walks with the aid of a cane, being subjected to a breast pat-down at the airport outside Kansas City, Mo. (Do we have intelligence telling us that grandmothers are part of Al Qaeda now?)

Even a stripper complained in an e-mail message to Mr. Sharkey that she found her experiences degrading: "On one occasion a screener flat out asked if they were fake."

Somebody tell me what quantity of explosive material they have found through these strip searches, because I've got a hunch it's zero. How many billions are they wasting on this?
I know it's not just women who are uncomfortable; a guy I know said a male screener at the Miami airport recently stuck a hand down the front of his pants, making him feel "totally manhandled." And I heard the sad tale of a red-faced Washington businessman who took off his shoes, only to show the room the red painted toenails he had forgotten to wipe off.

Barry Steinhardt of the A.C.L.U. told Court TV that the new procedures are not only "an open invitation for harassment" - there are not enough female screeners, so sometimes men are doing the pat-downs of women - but they're also "not particularly effective."

I've never wanted to complain because I assume there are inconveniences that go along with greater security. But I would feel less creepy if I thought this were part of an effective overall strategy of protecting the country. I don't.
We really have Jumped the Shark as a country. Homeland security is just a bunch of appearance based crap like this and the shoe removal programs, which as Dowd states in an unquoted part of her piece "are more reactive than imaginative". I have to admit that this is the first I have heard of a "package inspection". I gotta tell you, I would be mighty upset if some guy went rooting around in my pants, looking for an improvised explosive device. I don't think anyone should have to put up with this nonsense, unless the company that got the "no-bid contract" for making bomb sniffing machines has been unable deliver the goods. Strike that, even if one of Dubby's buddies hasn't come through this level of intrusion and humiliation is simply uncalled for. I am suprised that MoDo chose to be silent for so long.

Now, I wonder if I can get a job with the TSA? hmmmmmmm...........................