Friday, June 1, 2012

Handheld scanners

You may have heard that the TSA is now looking for handheld naked scanners. I just can't wait until every law enforcement arm in the country is carrying around something that can strip search me without my permission or knowledge! There is a slippery slope, and we are headed down at break-neck speeds.

What I find interesting about this is how the state-friendly media (or do I repeat myself) deals with this kind of information. The original announcement that the TSA was looking for this was back in November. The ominously named Government Security News let its readers (many of whom are apparently government contractors) know that DHS "issued a presolicitation notice on Nov. 2 inviting technology companies to describe... handheld detectors that could provide such secondary screening in the event that the AIT body scanners now being rolled out to dozens of U.S. airports pick up an 'anomaly' during their primary inspections of passengers."

At the beginning of last week, there was a solicitation (not presolicitation?) for white papers on handheld naked scanners, again reported in GSN. Fast forward 6 days and this turns from a bland request for proposals-type announcement in an industry rag to a positive PR story for the TSA. Sample headlines:
It may just be coincidental, but on May 29th, the story also broke that the TSA's budget is set to be cut and this may lead to higher airline ticket fees. Republicans are going to prevent this from happening by cutting other so-called government services. Democrats are joining forces with the TSA to make sure there is no real budget cut by increasing fees:
The agency, backed by Democrats in the Senate, wants to increase the security fee everyone pays with a ticket from $2.50 a flight. to $5.00 per one-way ticket. A total of $10.00 would be added to round-trip tickets.
Uhhh... why is the idea of cutting the budget of this really truly terrible agency off the table? The cynic in me knows the answer, but it's a good question to put to other citizens to get them to think about what is going on here.