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Court Approves TSA Body Scans, But Calls For Public Comment

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the in-the-case-of-the-people-vs-the-peepers dept.

Transportation 292

OverTheGeicoE writes "The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has finally issued a ruling (PDF) on EPIC v. DHS, a lawsuit seeking suspension of the use of body scanners for primary screening pending an independent review that would include a public comment period. According to the summary, the court 'grant[s] the petition for review' but 'due to the obvious need for the TSA to continue its airport security operations without interruption, we remand the rule to the TSA but do not vacate it.' In short, the TSA is required to open up their policy for public comment, but they can continue to use the scanners in the meantime and most likely afterward. This doesn't sound like much of a victory for EPIC or the U.S. public."

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What's up with the /. bury brigade? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36791998)

Anybody else notice the largest story of last week, the new DOD cyberforce, not make it onto Slashdot?

Re:What's up with the /. bury brigade? (2)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792034)

I didn't notice, but that's probably because it wasn't on Slashdot. :-)

Seriously, isn't the firehose supposed to be taking care of this? Or do most people blow it off (I'm just as guilty, I spend 99% of my time here either reading the front page articles, commenting on them, or moderating)?

OTOH, now that I think of it, if "last week" was Friday, I think you might be expecting a bit more timeliness than usual for this forum...

Re:What's up with the /. bury brigade? (2)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792088)

I was in firehose (recent) last night and of the 30 articles I rated, 27 were binspam, 2 were off topic but not spam, and 1 was worthy of a recommend.

I'm beginning to wonder if Slashdot's way of promoting stories doesn't *encourage* spam. While it might not make it to the front page, how many moderator eyeballs does it get before getting removed?

Re:What's up with the /. bury brigade? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792258)

Maybe the firehose should get more limelight. I usually actually forget about it. Despite reminding me that if I avoid it, I let others dictate what stories I will read.

Re:What's up with the /. bury brigade? (1)

itsenrique (846636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792874)

Something about them "inviting me to take a drink from the firehose" makes me uneasy.

we could take back control... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792046)

These unwelcome intrusions continue because we allow them. If we the people as a group, boycotted air travel, tgis DHS BS would go away. There are two waaaay more effective antiterror methods to use than spying on everyone and fondling people against their wills... first, airlplanes should be constructed to make hijacking physically impossible, (not that hard to do) and we should figure out what it is we as a nation are doing that makes people in other countries want to fscking want to kill us, and stop doing it. It shouldnt be that hard... if we were willing to open our eyes as a nation and see.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792098)

I don't fly unless I have to. There's a lot of people who no longer fly through the US on connections.

Part of it gets written off as bad economy. Come up with a petition sent to all the major US airlines letting them know. You need something to get attention like Miss America in tears. It's been almost 24 hours since I've read about the horrors of TSA, so just wait a day until the next insanity the TSA does. Preferably something "about the children". I'm sure a 6 year old is getting strip searched right now. Find it and get it mentioned in the news articles and start a world-wide petition. You can do it, you're Anonymous Coward. What can't you do? Besides talk to yourself on slashdot.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792748)

I don't fly unless I have to. There's a lot of people who no longer fly through the US on connections.

Oh yeah, that explains why the industry average is 85% capacity with a large number of flights overbooked.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792860)

Look at the reduction in available seats though. Air travel is up from a couple years ago... it must mean people feel safer with the RapeScanners! (j/k)

Re:we could take back control... (4, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792752)

I no longer get connecting flights in the US. I know that most of my colleges are the same now too. We only fly to US if we absolutely need to.

Its a shame really, once past the airports its a nice place to visit (yea pretty much all of it).

Re:we could take back control... (1)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792956)

We really do have a limit of how much invasion we can take before we don't care anymore. It's nice to think that security at any cost is what we want, but in practice we despise it. Look at other countries with more secure airports, they don't do body scanners at all.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792100)

These unwelcome intrusions continue because we allow them. ... first, airlplanes should be constructed to make hijacking physically impossible

Sure, if you want to do it the easy way!

Re:we could take back control... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792254)

This is not practical. However, if everyone carried Juicy Fruit in their pockets the aluminium foil might cause an annoying high number of false positives...

Re:we could take back control... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792268)

How? Just HOW? I fly as gladly as I go to my dentist to have a wisdom tooth dug out. I would buy Mr. Garrison's device (ya know, Southpark...) if it was available as an option because it would be less invasive. But there is often very few options when you have to cross big distances, and none if you have to cross an ocean. It's the difference between a 4-6 hours flight and 20+ hours drive. And, especially when traveling for your job, the 20+ hours drive is not an option.

Re:we could take back control... (4, Insightful)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792314)

You can travel with a cargo ship. It is much slower and somewhat more expensive than air, but it's definitely an option.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792376)

Now see, I could get along with the slower, but having it be more expensive at the same time is beyond ridiculous.

If you happen to be going the same direction as a cruise ship you can look into a partial journey. Some support them, some don't. And it tends to be cheaper than riding on a cargo ship...

Re:we could take back control... (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792394)

I just think that cargo ships are awesome. If I ever have time and money for a long vacation, I'll ride one to Japan.

Re:we could take back control... (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792406)

Oh good, you can ride a toxic shitpile into a toxic country.

Cargo ships are the opposite of awesome, although if you are a programmer you might enjoy being on a voyage on one as it will offer you a long period free from distraction, where use of the internet is very expensive.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792576)

Oh, that's a great idea. I'm going to Charlotte NC tomorrow and dozens of cargo ships dock there every day. Thanks.

Re:we could take back control... (4, Informative)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 3 years ago | (#36793010)

It's only theoretically possible. It got a lot harder after 9/11. I've looked into it.

NO we can't (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792270)

These unwelcome intrusions continue because we allow them.

That's the thing, most people I talk to in the real World actually think that the scanner make them safe - they'd be pissed if they went away or if there were another successful terrorist attack would say, 'SEE! We needed those scanners!!"

Remember, we're in a society that has many many people who think that chiropractic doctors are real, homeopathy works, Satan exists and that by increasing the Debt Ceiling, Government spending will go up.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792392)

we should figure out what it is we as a nation are doing that makes people in other countries want to fscking want to kill us, and stop doing it. It shouldnt be that hard.

No, it should be impossible. That's because if we did what one group of murderous people want, then that'll just crop a group of murderous people who want things the way they were. It's a known fact that it's not possible to please everyone 100% of the time.

Re:we could take back control... (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792900)

We should learn our lesson from the dozen or so times that the US has created a group of people who hate us. We use people as proxies then leave them with a pile of rubble, we push for policies that are favorable to American businesses but which ruin whole countries, we fight wars against countries that never posed a threat, we give weapons to oppressive governments, we throw our support behind tyrants and dictators, etc. We need to stop doing all of the above, then clean up the massive mess that we have made, and then we will return to our position as the country that brings people hope.

As for airport security, can you cite any cases where the TSA's backscatter or groping approach has actually prevented an attack? I seem to recall a test that indicated that the TSA missed the majority of knives and even a large fractions of guns at those checkpoints. I also get the feeling that the bomb sniffing dogs, intelligence analysis, locked cabin doors, and in-the-air security (e.g. tackling people who try to set their shoes on fire) are doing many orders of magnitude more to protect travellers.

Re:we could take back control... (2)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792484)

This is exactly what I've done. I just simply refuse to give them the right to degrade me like this. Luckily I haven't had the need to go overseas since this stupidity started but when I do I will investigate if flying out of Canada is better and go from there if it is or find some other rational way. Maybe it's just me but I'm simply not scared of terrorism. I will, however, fight against the steady loss of human dignity when dealing with almost any government organization. If they won't give me the basic respect due any person then they I simply won't deal with them.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792902)

I'll be driving or taking the train to Vancouver, BC the next time I need to fly overseas. I doubt I'm the only one fleeing to Canada just to get on a flight without being sexually assaulted by a bunch of perverts.

Re:we could take back control... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792724)

There are two waaaay more effective antiterror methods to use than spying on everyone and fondling people against their wills... first, airlplanes should be constructed to make hijacking physically impossible, (not that hard to do) and we should figure out what it is we as a nation are doing that makes people in other countries want to fscking want to kill us, and stop doing it. It shouldnt be that hard.

This reminds me of the old Steve Martin routine "How to make a million dollars and not pay taxes".

Step one: Make a million dollars. Step two...

Re:we could take back control... (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792726)

first, airlplanes should be constructed to make hijacking physically impossible, (not that hard to do)

Obviously you have no clue on what you're talking about. As any pilot as well as airline employee such as myself can tell you there is no such a thing as "impossible to hijack" human creativity prevail, you might make it harder for a while but some new idea will come up eventually. Second, hijacking is not really a problem, how often do you read hijacking stories? The problem is the introduction of dangerous components into an airplane and that's the responsibility of TSA and if you ask me they're doing a shitty job. Every time something is found on a plane (like the taser gun last week in EWR) it's found by the crew or the airline ground personnel, which means that TSA let it in. TSA is a monstrosity that needs to be re-designed from scratch, as it is right now it's just a little more than a money sucking machine.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792738)

There's an easier way than boycotting air travel (which won't happen, because too many people like it). If we all got upset enough that we wrote to our senators/representatives, it would change. And in a bi-partisan way. The only reason it doesn't change is because most people don't fly, and thus most people aren't really bothered by it enough to do anything about it.

Re:we could take back control... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792852)

boycotted air travel

Unfortunately, travelling by plane is fundamental to modern life for a lot of people. It used to be that a business trip across the continent meant a few days travelling (e.g. by train); now it is basically expected that someone will only be travelling for a few hours to do work thousands of miles away. Boycotting planes for personal travel is fine, if you don't mind restricting your vacations somewhat, but for people who need to travel as part of their job, such a boycott is not feasible.

Right now, the TSA gets away with its attacks on our rights, freedoms, and dignity because flying is a necessity for a large number of people. What needs to be recognized is that these scans and gropings are not voluntary for many travellers: many people are faced with a choice between flying and not advancing their careers, or even between flying and losing their jobs. The fact that the TSA has the authority to forbid people from flying if they demand dignity and respect is what is outrageous here.

The feds love their power (4, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792056)

Of course they voted this way... why would a federal circuit court do anything that reduces the power of the federal government? These days, representative government is a lie.

Re:The feds love their power (2)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792154)

So much for the so called seperation of powers. It was all just a myth anyway.

Re:The feds love their power (4, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792766)

It became a myth with the rise of political parties.

Were there not large organizations that spanned multiple branches of government at any given moment, separation of powers would work better, as each branch would be an independent entity protecting their own interests. Instead, you get one party controlling multiple branches, and the members within agree to work towards common goals, dissolving the separation of powers.

Of course, one could blame a lot of the country's ills on the existence of political parties.

Re:The feds love their power (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792646)

Of course they voted this way... why would a federal circuit court do anything that reduces the power of the federal government? These days, representative government is a lie.

Think about what you just said.

The circuit court left the decision of whether these machines should be used to the President and the Congress.

That is what representative government is all about.

Re:The feds love their power (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792702)

no

Which is why separation of powers is good (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792758)

The trouble is, at some point something has to become a check on the power of the representatives at any given time.

History teaches us that some principles are too precious to entrust to any representative government subject to the immediate political pressures of the day. We typically enshrine those principles in some sort of constitution or bill of rights, which is placed above the administration for the time being and beyond their power to overrule without going back to the people as a whole for their explicit consent to change the rules.

Some other system, independent of the way the administration of the day is brought to power, is required to intervene when that administration crosses a line they are not empowered to cross. In the US, as I understand it, that "other system" is supposed to be the judiciary, ultimately via the Supreme Court.

Which brings me neatly to my question: is it possible/appropriate under the US system to appeal such a ruling to a higher court, until you reach someone who could potentially rule that regardless of any need the TSA might feel to continue as they are they may not in fact do so because it violates the US Constitution?

Re:The feds love their power (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792910)

It astonishes me that the court was OK with the machines because we have the ability to opt into a pat down. I'm curious where in the constitution the founding fathers granted the right to a pat down just because you want to travel. Seems pretty counter the whole point of the 4th amendment if the government is allowed by the courts to ignore it.

Summaraized: (4, Insightful)

Sinthet (2081954) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792116)

We're not gonna stop doing it, but we'll now allow you to bitch about it.

Re:Summaraized: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792136)

Ok, which judge made the decision that way and how does he lose his position?

So, this is what we're doing now? (3, Insightful)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792118)

This is the judicial equivalent of saying "cry about it."

Please, just wake me up when somebody actually starts killing Senators. I'm done with this.

Re:So, this is what we're doing now? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792320)

This is the judicial equivalent of saying "cry about it." Please, just wake me up when somebody actually starts killing Senators. I'm done with this.

Who gives a crap about what the public has to say, since it has already been approved. This smells of bought dog politics by feigning concern.

"obvious need"? (4, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792122)

Why is it considered an obvious need that the TSA continue using these devices? They've cost the U.S. tens of millions of dollars and so far I haven't heard of them actually having stopped any real terrorist, in fact they've just made it even easier for people and TSA employees to steal stuff from fellow travelers.

Have these things stopped any actual terrorism attempt? And if so, was the attempt sophisticated enough that it wouldn't have been noticed otherwise?

Re:"obvious need"? (5, Insightful)

James Kilton (714163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792164)

There isn't one shred of data that these devices actually work, or that TSA's security practices have stopped anything. The TSA does not track anything, so there's no way for anyone to know what the hell the truth is. I suspect that the TSA has not stopped anything since 2001, it's been other agencies (FBI, CIA, etc) who have prevented attacks.

There's also the fact that driving is many times more dangerous than flying, yet flying gets the most "security" (not that I want a TSA pat-down before getting into my car, of course, but it just shows how useless they are).

By the way, the backscatter devices would NOT have detected Mr Underpants Bomber. Oh, and every policy the TSA has put in place has been after someone got through security (e.g. shoe bomber => take your shoes off). Security theater at it's finest. Now, who are the politicians who've gotten donations from Rapiscan et.al. and how do we make sure they're permanently removed from office?

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792242)

> TSA has not stopped anything since 2001, it's been other agencies (FBI, CIA, etc) who have prevented attacks.

That's how Seth Jones puts it in this @Google lecture [youtube.com] .

"Dr. Seth Jones is a specialist in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and al-Qa'ida, and he will be speaking to us about the latest developments in Afghanistan following the recent death of bin Laden. Dr. Jones is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the US Naval Postgraduate School."

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792886)

While I agree with most of your comments, it begs the question: are we more comfortable with the CIA, FBI, and NSA abridging our rights? If they have had success in stopping the bad guys does that mean they should have more latitude in violating the constitution?!

Re:"obvious need"? (5, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792966)

You left out what may be the worst offender among the TLAs: the Drug Enforcement Administration. The scale of attacks on our rights by the DEA exceeds pretty much any other government agency. The TSA attacks the dignity of America travellers; the DEA routinely sends paramilitary units into homes, rifles drawn, and imprisons or kills the residents. The DEA routinely seizes money and property, and uses the proceeds from those seizures to fund its own operations. The DEA can even declare a substances to be illegal without any congressional approval, and then arrest people for possession of that substance (let me reiterate: the DEA can arrest you for violating laws that the DEA can create without any democratic process).

There is outrage at the TSA's actions by the media, both from left wing and right wing sources, as well as in state legislatures and in congress. Yet we stand by while the DEA is permitted to commit even worse abuses of American rights, and the media is largely silent or even supportive of what the DEA is doing.

Re:"obvious need"? (2)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#36793008)

There are better reasons why TSA couldn't stop the underwear or shoe bombers.

They flew in from foreign airports. Abdulmutallab was flying in from Amsterdam. Reid was flying in from Paris.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

JamesTKirk (876319) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792182)

Why is it an obvious need that I have a fire extinguisher in my house? I've had them for 15 years, and I've never put a fire out with them. Obviously, they are useless and I should just throw them out.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792202)

Guess what, the rest of the world doesn't use them. Are planes falling out of the skies all over the world as a result? Nope. TSA is all about security theater, nothing more, nothing less.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

bledri (1283728) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792364)

Guess what, the rest of the world doesn't use them. Are planes falling out of the skies all over the world as a result? Nope. TSA is all about security theater, nothing more, nothing less.

Not to defend the machines, but much of the rest of the world pats down every single person getting on the airplane. We bitch about pat downs, we bitch about scanners and rest assured when a plane goes down we'll blame the government about that too.

Re:"obvious need"? (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792418)

I've been through metal detector gates, have had to take my shoes off (very irritating), have had re-scans with a hand-held scanner because of some metal buds in my jeans or so, but not a single pat-down so far. And my flights included international and local flights in and out of Muslim countries.

The tightest security I ever experienced (on a flight some 18 years ago) was flying out of the northern Indian city of Leh, near disputed Kashmir, down to Delhi. On that flight hand luggage was not allowed due to the quite real risk of attacks. But still no pat-downs.

And, some years ago flying out of Korea, I was picked up by security after entering the secure zone because I had an electrical alarm clock in my check-in luggage, and they wanted me to take out the battery (they probably saw it ticking on the x-ray or so). That was interesting.

Re:"obvious need"? (2)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792480)

Not to defend the machines, but much of the rest of the world pats down every single person getting on the airplane.

Which "rest of the world" are you talking about ? It certainly doesn't happen in Europe or Australia.

Re:"obvious need"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792594)

Not to defend the machines, but much of the rest of the world pats down every single person getting on the airplane.

Which "rest of the world" are you talking about ? It certainly doesn't happen in Europe or Australia.

It does happen there if you're taking a flight back to the US. They won't allow a flight in that hasn't been through it.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792652)

It does happen there if you're taking a flight back to the US. They won't allow a flight in that hasn't been through it.

False.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36793120)

It happen in Europe sometime as I had my scrotum checked at a German airport.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792780)

No we don't. Last time I went via China and still didn't get a pat down, just a metal detector. I fly out in 1 week to japan via China again next week. I would bet dollars and cents that i won't get pat down. And even *if* you manage to set the metal detectors off, the pat down is a dignified shadow of what the TSA calls a pat down.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792232)

"Why is it an obvious need that I have a fire extinguisher in my house? I've had them for 15 years, and I've never put a fire out with them. Obviously, they are useless and I should just throw them out."

That might be a great analogy; let's try a test to see. How does having a fire extinguisher in your house violate the privacy of millions of people again?

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792938)

That's the thing, for a few dollars you can get a bit of extra safety. The correlation between the device and the harm is clear cut. Having one doesn't demean or in any way harm the individual and the worst case scenario you end up replacing it from time to time because you haven't had a fire.

OTOH, with these security screenings that haven't been demonstrated to be effective the best case scenario is that you've got millions of people being sexually assaulted as a condition of getting on their plane. And the worst case scenario is that somebody just bombs the check point where they're sexually abusing folks.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

koinu (472851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792234)

I don't think your fire extinguisher also invades people's right to have privacy every day for nothing.

Re:"obvious need"? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792238)

Your fire extinguisher was design to specification, tested and certified as to fitness for purpose by an independent third party, and if you are diligent you regularly check their condition and whether they are 'in date' and replace them if not. How much of that is true for the TSA. The land of the free now cares more for its fire extinguishers than it does for its freedom.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792280)

You put the fire extinguisher in your house by choice ... or you may choose to throw them out. You still have the freedom to make that choice, no matter how irrational I or the gub'ment may think it is.

However, there is an analogous intrusion creeping into home building. Many municipalities, mine included, now require the installation of a residential sprinkler system [dhs.gov] with new construction. That *is* the TSA-intrusion-equivalent forced onto us by the government. You must have this sprinkler system or you are denied a building permit. Hey looky, that URL is disturbingly familiar ...

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

gotpaint32 (728082) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792416)

Why is it an obvious need that I have a fire extinguisher in my house? I've had them for 15 years, and I've never put a fire out with them. Obviously, they are useless and I should just throw them out.

Your logic is flawed. YOUR fire extinguisher may have never been used in the past 15 years but undoubtedly someone has used their fire extinguisher for the purpose of putting out a fire within the past 15 years. Also the cost of a fire extinguisher calculated against the actual risk of a fire makes it an extremely good value by any bean counters standards. It is obvious that a fire extinguisher is a justifiable in terms of the actual risk of a fire both on paper and in practice. OTOH the back scatter machines and TSA theatrics have prevented zero terrorists ANYWHERE. The cost of these scans in manpower, productivity losses, capital investment on scanners and other lost opportunity costs calculated against the actual risk of a terrorist incident makes the TSA apparatus a terrible value at best. It is not obvious that this is a good solution to terrorism. Fund what works, more counterintelligence and human intelligence operations, not this dog and pony show called the TSA.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792440)

Bad analogy. TSA is more like a situation where every person who enters your house carries a fire extinguisher with them, and there are public organization designed to spot and put out fires, and yet you still force everyone who enters your house to go through an extensive search to make sure they don't have any matches, lighters, paper, or two sticks that could be rubbed together.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792976)

this is the kind of comment I except from BadAnalogyGay

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792318)

Expand your question: has the TSA stopped any actual terrorism attempt? DHS claims that DHS has, but they can't tell us about it because that would be leaking information to the terrorists, as if the terrorist leaders wouldn't know an operation went pear-shaped when there wasn't an earth-shattering kaboom and they lost all contact with their cell. If a TSA checkpoint actually captured a high-value bad guy, you'd have a dozen or more cell phones shooting video and taking pictures, and they wouldn't be able to confiscate them all: we would know.

Me, I'm stuck. I've flown five times since 9/11, largely because of the increased security, and I'm getting on a plane in 4 hours for my annual trip to NIH (I'm in a study program). We were planning on driving cross-country (and taking a little vacation up to Maine) in order to avoid this TSA shit, but their scheduling couldn't be done in a sufficiently timely manner in order to mesh with my wife's work schedule, so I'm stuck and have to drive. Still, they're going to have to grope me: I am not going to go through one of those damn machines, especially since I've been told people with immunodeficiencies like me are radiologically-sensitive and having one genetic problem is more than enough, thenkyewveddymuch.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792442)

Expand your question: has the TSA stopped any actual terrorism attempt? DHS claims that DHS has, but they can't tell us about it[...]

Considering with how much fanfare other terrorist cells have been stopped, this sounds like pure BS. Or why would they publish the stopping of those liquid-bomb terrorists, for example? Such an attack has never been tried before, actually they didn't even get to the "attack" stage, they didn't even mange it to the airport, they barely managed to get the ingredients for the plan together when they got busted.

That one was allowed in the headlines worldwide.

Secondly, wouldn't actually stopping a terrorist attempt be the best justification of their actions the DHS and TSA could wish for? Now then they can say "look thanks to this pat-down/scanner we managed to foil this plot!". Yet they haven't published anything like it, so far. The liquid-bomb attempt was used as justification for that stupid ban on liquids that is still in force.

I think it's safe to assume none has been caught by the scanners or pat-downs. We only know about the ones that got caught by police and related organisations before they could actually do anything bad, and about the ones that did manage to get through.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792532)

Absolutely agreed. The liquid-bomb group was discovered and stopped by the British authorities through standard police work, which argues that the previous scans plus locking/reinforcing the cockpit doors plus the knowledge that you may die so you might as well attack the hijackers will stop any future hijackings.

Re:"obvious need"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792666)

Have you ever considered the possibility that these scanners are used as a deterrent? Their efficiency in such cases is classified, for good reason, or the results could tell a terrorist exactly what to do to bypass them. Since there is no infallible security system, and patting down every passenger would bring yet more cries about saving the children, yada yada, we have body scanners and classified test results.

Saying they haven't stopped any terrorist attacks is not provable if they deter such attacks from happening.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792446)

I've got a rock that prevents tiger attacks. I have never once been attacked by a tiger in all of the time that I have owned this rock. Perhaps I could sell it to the government.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792712)

especially since I've been told people with immunodeficiencies like me are radiologically-sensitive and having one genetic problem is more than enough, thenkyewveddymuch.

Then stay off the plane. The radiation you get from a several hour flight is more than what you get from a backscatter device (if it's working correctly and other caveats), keep your health up and avoid CT scanners, then stay away from the NE United States (high radon background, stay away from old basements and granite for sure), then make sure that you DON'T go to the dentist and tighten that tinfoil hat just a bit further.

There are lots of reasons to be annoyed with the TSA. Radiation isn't one of them.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792842)

The radiation you get from a several hour flight is more than what you get from a backscatter device..

We don't know that. You don't know that. What we do know that it is physically possible to build such a device that does give such a small dose. We also know that this is much more expensive than using cheaper detectors and xray sources and just upping the dose significantly. We also know that they have refused to test/certify the machines properly as all other medical xray equipment is.

We just don't know what the dose is. We also don't even know if the machines get any kind of proper calibration and testing like this type of equipment typically needs.

Badly calibrated medical equipment has killed people. It does not follow that machines that don't have proper 3rd party review and testing is safe.

Re:"obvious need"? (3, Interesting)

naoursla (99850) | more than 3 years ago | (#36793160)

Yes, but you get the radiation from the machine in a second and you get it from the flight spread over an hour. That is also assuming the machine is operating and being operated correctly. I'm not convinced yet. I'll wait several years and see if cancer rates increase among frequent travellers before I allow it to be used on myself or my family.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792772)

Still, they're going to have to grope me: I am not going to go through one of those damn machines

I feel much the same way. I suspect that the machines are safe, but I am not confident they have been thoroughly tested so there is a risk. I certainly don't trust the TSA to tell me the truth about the true risks of the scanner.

The main reason I opt out of the scanner, though, is this. I consider both the pat-down and the scanner a violation of my rights. The TSA wants me to use the scanner because that is more efficient for them. Therefore, I will force the TSA to violate my rights in the most inefficient way possible. Unfortunately, there are very few people doing this so it isn't gumming up there system too bad right now. After going through a few pat-downs, I know the procedure well enough that I can be snarky and tell the TSA when he screws up.

Like you, I fly less than I used to because of the stupid security screenings. I'm not convinced that boycotts will influence TSA behavior, though. There are enough people that need to fly that the airlines will not simply go out of business, and they will adjust to reduced passenger load by running fewer flights. In other words, an equilibrium will be reached where they won't realize how much business they are losing because it is hard to measure how many people would have bought tickets if the security procedures were not so retarded.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792422)

They obviously need these big, expensive machines to continue making money and looking like they are doing something so they can continue sucking from the public teat while simultaneously compromising the liberty of the citizens of these united states.

This is what happens when we permit a strong federal government. The founding fathers somehow missed this, and are not the geniuses we thought they were. They were in fact hypocrites; all men created equal except for women and slaves. There's no particular reason to believe that their hypocrisy did not extend to their statements about tyranny. A constitution which permits seizing power on the basis of self-determined need is a trap; a trap intended to preserve power for the descendants of the wealthy and already-powerful.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792454)

This is what happens when we permit a strong federal government. The founding fathers somehow missed this,
The founding fathers put all kinds of checks in place to prevent the federal government from getting too much power, in fact the balance was tipped overwhelmingly in favor of the states. It took hundreds of years of using the constitution as federal toilet paper to reverse that.

Re:"obvious need"? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792510)

And yet the ICC was left open-ended. It's hard to believe that they were so brilliant everywhere else and yet so stupid there. To permit necessary laws is to beg the question of what is necessary and to fail to explain is to leave the citizenry begging.

Re:"obvious need"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36793278)

The safety of these scanners has probably more uncertainty attached than the existence of global warning or evolution. That is on top of the questionable effectiveness. Where is the organized resistance? Bow to your TSA overlords!

Vocal Minority (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792184)

I believe this "public comment" period will only serve the vocal minority that opposes the use of body scanners. I count myself among the majority that doesn't care about the "enhanced security" measures. It's unfortunate that this group is so apathetic that we usually don't care enough to complain about the annoying protests and tiresome media coverage.

Re:Vocal Minority (2)

mrbester (200927) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792382)

We have "public comment" in the UK as well. It's called public consultation and is equally ignored.

Re:Vocal Minority (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792954)

Doesn't matter, unless you're enough of a majority to amend the constitution it doesn't matter whether it's 49% of the population opposed or 49 people, we still have rights, for now since you haven't yet had a chance to sell out the rest of them.

Obviously, it isn't tiresome if only now are folks refusing at the airport to go along with it. I've personally been boycotting the airlines for years now, precisely because I care about my rights. If you don't care about your rights, fine, then get the fuck out of my country. I'm sure there's plenty of nations willing to take your rights for a vaguely worded promise of security.

Ron Paul (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792200)

Unless you voted for Ron Paul, democrat or republican - YOU voted for this.

Re:Ron Paul (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792276)

Really? Ron Paul is the only candidate that is neither democrat nor republican? You must be out of your mind.

The Public is Fickle (1, Troll)

GoodBuddy (1846360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792228)

They are upset by the intrusiveness of body scanning. However, when terrorists bring down another airplane they will readily accept this type of procedure. And they will complain about how the government hasn't done enough to protect them.

Re:The Public is Fickle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792398)

However, when terrorists bring down another airplane

They won't. They will aim for other (less secure) targets like malls, cruise ships, carnivals etc.This secure theater just like our social programs are all a waste of money. If we weren't in their backyards pissing them off, the terrorist tribes would be back to killing each other.

This security is yet another set of government policies that don't take into account natural nomadic human responses to oppression.

Re:The Public is Fickle (1)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36793210)

... and the fickle contradiction is... where?

Big picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792272)

1) Employing would be criminals

2) Generating larger GDP

3) False sense of security

Wow - the only safe place in the world to put. . . (5, Funny)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792362)

If the TSA sets up a website for public comments about this screening policy, it'll be the only safe place in the world to put kiddie porn, messages between terrorists or between organized crime groups, etc.

Because you can pretty much guarantee that the government will NEVER READ IT.

Re:Wow - the only safe place in the world to put. (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792448)

They surely will as everyone asking for those scanners to be removed must be a terrorist. Because the peaceful people that just want to get from A to B have nothing to hide, right?

Uhm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792390)

I'm not a security expert or anything fancy like that but like that last event the kind folk at TSA might have heard of on September 11th, they did not use bombs.

If you think about it, all you really need is some sort of cutting tool, you can make a shank in the toilet. If you can intimidate passangers on planes with some make shift knives and crash the plane into things, what will the body scanner do to prevent this?

I've been thinking about it and correct me if I'm wrong cause I aint not security expert; except for acting as a psychological deterrant (from using TSA facilities) and making staff laugh at people's genitals, these canners do not actually provide any added security. Unless you mean a falsqe sense of...

At the end of the day, how does this body scanner stop a person that wants to crash a passenger plane? did they just want to "add another layer of security"?

Eventually you have so many layers that the service because unusable...especially if frequent exposure to that service might give you cancer.

Some drug smugglers use submarines, maybe that's the next avenue of terrorist attack? might be worth developing a scanner for that...but I guess naked fish genitals are not as funny.

Re:Uhm... (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792858)

Thank you. Someone besides me realized this. A body scanner would not have prevented that tragedy.

Enough to keep me from visiting the US (1)

daktari (1983452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792424)

As many people have pointed out before me, while it *may* be the US government's right to force these measures onto their citizens it *certainly* is my right not to subject myself to this BS. I have not set foot in the USA since these measures have come into effect. I know I'm not the only one. Shame. Seems like the US economy currently could use the money these visitors would bring into the country. Unfortunately the TSA seems to be leading this lunacy by example and other countries are following suit so the list of countries I won't be visiting is growing.

please line up here to make a comment (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792428)

For security reasons we'll of course need to perform some preliminary screening before the secure area in which the comment box is located.

Frequent Traveler Votes "BFD" (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792438)

A- I notice that the lines seem to be moving a little bit faster. I like that.

B- I assume that the security is a deterrent to at least some terrorist wannabes. (Fire extinguishers do not deter or scare away fires).

C- Privacy? Mandatory showers after PE class in 7th grade, perhaps, inured me to TSA scanners. Since they started scanning, how many instances of humiliation have occurred, and how does the risk compare to use of public urinals?

D- I share the suspicions of wastefulness and lobbies, but the economics may balance between making lines move quickly and making planes less attractive targets. The cost of flying would be higher if fewer people flew because they were afraid, or if planes blew up. I haven't done the economic analysis, but presume someone working for the airlines probably has, and doubt the scanner lobbies are stronger than airline lobbies.

E- If I'm at a significant risk of cancer or something, that could be a deal breaker.

F- Thinking outside the box, couldn't they genetically engineer or breed bees to be attracted to terrorists or explosive odors, and place the hives outside of the airport? Ones with frickin' lasers strapped to their heads? That might more efficiently deter terrorist wannabes (B). http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/07/13/1925241/Scientists-Breeding-Super-Bees [slashdot.org]

Re:Frequent Traveler Votes "BFD" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792736)

A - Are you joking? I'm also a frequent traveler, and there is no way in hell that any sane person can claim that the introduction of body scanners has made anything faster. You have to stand in the body scanner for at least 5-10 seconds, and then wait for the person monitoring the screen to radio to the TSA drone that you passed. A metal detector consists of you walking through, and if it doesn't beep, you just keep on walking.

B - Great assumption with zero data to back it up. I could assume that the ridiculous nature of the "enhanced" security makes it easier for some terrorist wannabes, both of us are making assumptions based on nothing.

C - I'm glad you don't care, the conditioning of our citizenry to accept progressively more invasive control is right on track it seems

D - Again you are insane if you think the lines are moving faster, and you are assuming a deterrent effect without any justification. The airlines would continue doing what they're doing with or without the useless TSA and their "enhanced" security. A few connected a**holes are getting very rich on these scanners, that is all.

E - Well it's a good thing they did all those "comprehensive, long term" studies to prove they scanners were safe before deploying them en-masse! Oh wait, no they didn't. The testing was a whitewash, any time someone actually does take a closer look we raise more concerns, but still the scanners are in place.

F - No reply necessary here

Re:Frequent Traveler Votes "BFD" (4, Informative)

Drathos (1092) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792834)

I don't know where you've been using backscatter scanners, but at Washington Dulles, they slow things down. In fact, they actually get so far behind that they randomly select people to go through the old way to prevent the lines from getting too long. With the old metal detector, people just walk through with a possible pause for a check with a hand wand or go through again because of change in their pocket or something. With backscatter, every person has to stop in the device for a few moments, then wait for the person in the back room to report to the agent at the scanner. It doesn't help that every person who goes through the nudie-scan also gets groped because every one is reported to have an "anomaly." At least, with every one that has gone through at the same time as I have since they made the backscatter mandatory earlier this year.

Re:Frequent Traveler Votes "BFD" (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792994)

1k flier's retort:
Lines move faster because more screening lines are open. At my usual queue at LAX, they have gone from having 2 lines open 90% of the time to four for the same periods. This particular station only has one RapeScanner plus 4 metal detectors.

The stupid terrorists have little idea how most of this stuff works. The smart ones can figure out ways around the tech. At PHX, employees don't need to go through RapeScanners. I'm all for keeping medium range weapons off planes, like guns, which could allow a disturbed person of no political affiliation to wreck havoc.

Should a TSA employee know you have a gum wrapper in your pocket? A large wad of cash? While the US definitely has a puritanical view of genitalia, there is more to it than that... it is just an easy one to get people energized over.

The airlines only care about landing fees and the straw that breaks the camel's back to reduce passenger counts. they don't have a vested interest in efficiency of airport operations.

In all, the TSA hasn't justified a need for their procedures or equipment, as best I can tell, to ANYONE. They spend a whole lot of money for extremely limited gain.

No airports in DC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792456)

So all airports serving DC are in VA and MD. Does any ruling in the DC circuit court affect any of those 3 airports (Dulles, National, or BWI)? (IANAL, obviously)

FIRST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792488)

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Link to comment (1)

f16c (13581) | more than 3 years ago | (#36792754)

I may have missed it but is there anywhere on the DHS web site that allows for any sort of comment? Has there ever been? I suspect there are none and never will be. The government wants to control the process as always. Those of us that have to live with this crap here in the US are expected to shut up and just put up with it. In a sane world there would be no US Department of Homeland Security. If the FBI, NSA and the USCS had been talking to each other instead of acting out a mutual circle-jerk the government would never have created it. As it is now we are stuck with it until the end of the republic. God help us! More clods running loose with guns and nothing to do but come up with crap like this.

best fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36792968)

who regularly travel I always choose the best airline service, http://phongvegiare.vn

I'm... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36793128)

I'm more afraid of the TSA than I am of Terrorists.

I'd rather die a free man than fly as a slave.

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