Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Double-speak from the TSA

I was so bored by the predictable calls from the Congress to Do Something! that I didn't blog about it here. I didn't expect any elected officials to acknowledge that there might be fundamental issues with a system that peers under passengers' clothing. Sure enough, it is only how a small fraction of the passengers subjected to such incredible invasive procedures are treated that the elected officials think is an issue.

So, we now have a response from the TSA. It is a typical non-response, where they are going to make some superficial changes and promises (always more training!). What is very interesting, though, is that their story is contradicted by an advocacy group:
However, after reading this story and reviewing TSA's comments, NCTE Director of Policy, Harper Jean Tobin, issued a clarifying statement walking back the organization's involvement with TSA. In an email to The Advocate, Tobin said:
"TSA's response completely misses the point. Whatever they call it, a machine flagging someone for questions or pat-downs of intimate body areas just because of their body parts is unacceptable — no matter how politely officers handle it.
While NCTE offers training to government agencies as a matter of course, our training has so far reached a small fraction of TSA staff who don't actually screen people — but most importantly, they haven't retrained the machines. If TSA is going to rely on body scanners at all — and there is plenty of evidence they're not only too invasive but ineffective — they have to be able to tell the difference between a body part and a bomb. Right now they can't, and that needs to change."
Three chears from Harper Jean Tobin for pointing out that these scanners really oughtn't be used on anybody!