[personal profile] fourleftxaviers
The government does not have the right to see me naked unless 1) I post naked pictures of myself on the internet or 2) they have that crazy thing called reasonable suspicion that I have committed a crime or am attempting to commit one. And letting government employees touch me in ways and places no one in my life would generally be allowed to touch me, save my S.O. or maybe my doctor? Nuh uh. I do not consider myself a modest person by any means, but this does not seem reasonable to me. And given the levels of prudishness of many Americans it is incredibly difficult for me to understand how so many people can shrug this off in the name of safety.

I wrote to the DHS to complain about this bullshit and the fact that new international travel rules also dictate they can search and seize the laptops of international travelers and go through years or a lifetime of letters, picture files, purchase records, whatever's on there they want to peek at. I can't imagine more unreasonable searches then these, save if we all had to disrobe entirely and get body cavity searches.

I really hope the American people do not stand for this crap. I have lost much of my faith in us as a people, but really guys. C'mon. Take a long hard look at this shit.

My worst fear is that next, some asshole will blow up a train and then we'll have the TSA virtually strip-searching or groping us whenever we want to take the train. And then someone will blow up a bridge and we won't even be safe from unreasonable searches during car trips. Just... where does it end. I see no end in sight. Gah.

Part of me feels very sad that if these rules don't change and I never fly again, I won't get to see places in the world I would really like to vacation to or to revisit - Bermuda, the Bahamas, Hawaii. But to me this is a question of basic rights, it's bigger then places I'd like to go to. Bottom line is, I get to decide who sees me naked and who fondles me and how. 4 srs.

In the meantime, if there is a wedding or a funeral, we'll be making a road trip, and I just hope it won't mean driving across the country.

Date: 2010-11-18 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] niennah.livejournal.com
Hear hear. And here in the UK I have to go through body scanners on every trip home. I am thinking that in future, after this trip at Christmas, I will look into getting the bus and ferry instead of flying. Quite apart from privacy concerns, there's the fact that they blast radiation at you, too.

It's been going too far for a long time now. It's great to see a groundswell of dissent about the insane invasions we are forced to accept in the name of safety. Especially when security experts say that they don't make us that much safer at all.

Date: 2010-11-18 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
The radiation thing is so sketchy. Of course they claim it's safe, but so little actual research has been done, it's bogus imo.

I haven't had an "I want to move to Canada!" thought in a while, but I had one for about two seconds recently before realizing, oh hey, that would actually make the issue of seeing my family and friends worse.

I sincerely hope the anger and boycotts amount to something. I keep reading about the Israeli security setup, and I'm struggling with the whole idea of profiling they put forth, but it seems a hell of a lot safer, especially since at this point any terrorist with half a brain is going to put the explosives/chemicals/weapons/whatever in a body cavity next go-round. It's the next logical step.

And the only solution for that will be to use the machines with more hardcore radiation that the US is quietly deploying in Africa in a deeply shady way. I had hoped with Obama in office the leadership of this country wouldn't leave me feeling disgusted and dirty for a few years. Guess not.

Date: 2010-11-18 04:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sevarem.livejournal.com
Link to this information? This is something I need to read about.

Date: 2010-11-18 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
Basically, at a ton of airports in the US, there are now machines you must go through that let security see underneath your clothing. Like you're naked (http://www.nowpublic.com/biometrics_gone_wild_flyin_naked_a_new_form_of_auto_id_0), and almost grossly exposed. They're virtual strip-searching (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_zKSb1KyG5TE/SH30IgFXRXI/AAAAAAAACd0/uUw4cuNbNFg/s400/scan2.jpg), and it's being done to everyone simply by virtue of them wanting to board planes and fly places. No reasonable suspicion, just - you wanna fly, we wanna see you naked. I wish I could find the larger photos of the naked people here, because a lot of the graphic detail is lost with these smaller photos. The lady in the first photo there, was identified as being Susan Hallowell. To quote this old but fascinating article (http://www.slate.com/id/2160977/) about it written by William Saletan:

the officer who sees you in the flesh never sees you on the monitor. It's like the blind men and the elephant: Nobody has the whole picture.

Which brings us back to Susan Hallowell. The Times twice avoided naming the naked woman in its Feb. 24 photo. It did, however, mention that the machines were made by AS&E. On AS&E's Web site, I found a press release complaining that pictures circulating in the press were obsolete because they'd been taken in 2003. Then I ran across a 2004 article that said Hallowell had demonstrated the technology the previous year. I typed her name into a search engine and up came a 2003 wire story with a photo of her, fully clothed, next to a monitor showing the same image that appeared in the Times. I didn't need to read a word. You could tell she was the same woman just by looking at her face.


The person who sees your naked image is not the same one looking at you in the flesh, but honestly, that means nothing to me.

Regarding the role of the technology, we have been told lie after lie. First of all, in the beginning when this technology was unveiled, the Departent of Homeland Security and/or the Travel Security Administration said that these machines would be a secondary screening measure only. Still pretty invasive, but okay, fine, a secondary screening measure. Then they 'changed their minds', and now everyone has to go through the machine or face a pat-down. Well, annoying, but no big deal, right? Except they came out with these "enhanced pat-downs" which amount to little more then groping. If you're female, they run their hands around your breasts, if you're male, they place a hand on your hip and run a hand slowly up your leg until they "meet resistance." (http://www.boingboing.net/2010/10/30/tsa-demands-testicul.html) No matter what your gender, they run their hands over your face and hair. The TSA had tried to make their patdowns more aggressive back in 2004, but they relented after a lot of objecting and went back to the old way. They used to use the backs of their hands to touch people. In the new enhanced pat-downs they use their fingers and palms. It's much more grope-y and humiliating, and the screeners have played their hand as it were by openly admitting that the patdowns are more invasive with the specific intention of trying to push everyone to go through the machines. This has led to a campaign for everyone to refuse the machine and force the TSA to take the time to pat them down. If you go to EPIC's site, you can read upsetting quotes from personal reports, like of a 6 year old who was touched in this way, of a 17 year old girl who cried to be touched this way and they didn't care, don't care, just kept going. There's a video off one of these links that shows a 3 year old being patted down. I haven't watched it. I don't want to watch it.

Date: 2010-11-18 11:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealycats.livejournal.com
Holy crap. I hadn't seen the actual images--I guess I assumed it was less...enhanced ultrasound accurate and more, I don't know, digital looking. I did see a man on the news the other day who refused the virtual search and said he would submit to the pat down ONLY if it wasn't invasive, and that he would not let himself be sexually assaulted. The female employee replied that it "isn't considered sexual assault" and he quite rightly told her that if it wasn't the government, under the law it most definitely would be. Needless to say he did not fly, and now he's probably on a bunch of no fly lists. When I flew over the summer it was just the metal detectors, the conveyor belt for my bag and laptop, and taking my shoes off. Today I looked up prices for the same trip, to see about making it in a few months, possibly, if not next summer, and I've decided that, even though it'll be a 12 hour drive and may even require an overnight stay somewhere, driving is going to cost about 30% what it would cost me to fly. From Tennessee to Florida and back. Well. I have a new car. It got myself comfortable with the interstate. Once I hit I-75 it's basically a straight shot from Georgia to Naples, so even though the drive is long, at least I can make it without having to worry about cramming a week's worth of clothes in a carry on and not being able to buy things because I won't be able to bring them home with me. And, you know, there's the whole no one seeing me naked or feeling me up thing.

Date: 2010-11-19 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
They are scarily clear images. I wish I could find the bigger versions of them, cause the larger starker images make it crystal clear how obscene they are. Not to mention unflattering. xD

I suspect a lot of people are going to be doing the road trip thing if the choice between naked pictures and extremely personal touching doesn't get reworked. But 12 hours on the road is definitely do-able. In college I was a big fan of pulling over and sleeping in a hotel/motel parking lot, cause it was cheaper then the overnight stay.

Did I know you got a new car? Congrats!

Date: 2010-11-19 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealycats.livejournal.com
Heh, I don't know; I got her back in February. The Taurus was overheating again, it was cold, I didn't have any air or heat in the car, and I didn't want to sink any more money into than I already had. So when Toyota was doing one of their incentive deals I got a 2010 jade green Yaris with 0% interest for 5 years. Her name is Amphitrite and she needs a bath, but otherwise I still love her :D

Date: 2010-11-19 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
They're never really yours until they need a bath for the grime and the automotive equivalent of an angioplasty for all the random trash that's accumulated in them. :D

Date: 2010-11-19 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealycats.livejournal.com
lol yep, we're there!

Date: 2010-11-19 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
Ack, I just hit up EPIC's site again and I'm not seeing mentions of the 17 yo OR the 6 yo. Those reports must have come from somewhere else. My bad. I'll post the link when and if I find it again.

Date: 2010-11-18 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
So anyway, all along they claimed these machines could not save or transmit images. But then it turns out (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2010/11/full_body_scanner_images_relea.html) they can in fact save the images (http://www.tgdaily.com/security-brief/45453-body-scanners-will-transmit-and-store-passenger-images), apparently it's not hard or anything, and as it turns out the TSA actually REQUIRES the machines to be able to save the images while in test mode. (Can't find my link for the requirement part.)

They claim too (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/18/government-officials-say-_n_785617.html?ir=Travel) that the dose of radiation from these machines is perfectly safe (http://www.salon.com/news/air_travel/?story=/news/feature/2010/11/18/us_med_airport_scanners_safety). Unfortunately, there's been no solid study demonstrating that, and one theory (http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/post/2010/07/full-body-scanners-pose-cancer-risk-at-airports-us-scientists-warn/98552/1) has it that because the radiation is focused entirely on your skin, and they are calculating the radiation being distributed throughout the body, it's potentially much riskier then they claim. But no one really knows. What we do know is that radiation is cumulative. A pilot got into trouble for refusing to go through the machine, and pointed out very rightly that if pilots have to go through these things every freaking day, they are going to be exposed to a LOT of radiation over time. Furthermore it's really extremely stupid to make pilots do this security crap; if they wanted to they could just take the damn plane and crash it. Tons of metal and fuel kind of superior to any chemicals, plastic knives or whatever the pilot might be carrying on his or her person if he or she wanted to do damage. But the TSA has little regard for logic. Everyone has to go through the machines. A lot of places online refer to it as "security theater." Looks good, makes us feel safer, actually does very little to protect us. But it looks good, and that's what counts to the TSA and the DHS.

There are so many incidents and stories of bad flying experiences, every one is like a new PR fail. There was a pregnant woman (http://consumerist.com/2010/09/pregnant-traveler-tsa-screeners-bullied-me-into-full-body-scan.html) who said she tried to refuse the naked imaging but felt coerced into it, like with everything she said, they had an answer and were trying to get her to go through the backscatter machine. I read on a different site (http://dontscan.us/) that you have to say "I opt out" sometimes for them to relent. They're reluctant to. If you put it another way, they may go on pushing you and trying to talk you into it. That's what happened to the pregnant woman, I am guessing.

I also read that they have machines they have deployed in Africa only that deliver a higher dose of radiation (they still claim it's low) that sees through the body, and under the skin as opposed to the surface of it. To look deeper, into people's body cavities (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/us-encouraging-use-radiation-africans). It's so iffy, I don't even know what to say about it besides it's really kind of fucked up. As they say in the write-up, that they're purchasing them only for security in Africa smacks of bad things.

Date: 2010-11-19 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealycats.livejournal.com
you have to say "I opt out"

WHAT? What is this, the '20s? Is Prohibition in effect and there's a pass code not to get naked in front of people?

Date: 2010-11-19 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
lulz. Hadn't thought of it that way, but it's such a good point, and kind of funny when you put it like that.

Date: 2010-11-18 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
Images of naked people whose photos were in fact saved (http://gizmodo.com/5690749/) have been obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, although the images in question were the less 'holy crap, naked person!' millimeter wave version, not backscatter. The 100 or so images came from a Florida courthouse where this technology is apparently in use - 100 pictures of some 35,000 that were saved and stored. Also, a number of these machines have been deployed in moving vehicles (http://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2010/08/24/full-body-scan-technology-deployed-in-street-roving-vans/), with weaker focus, so while they won't be able to see as clearly into your pants, they can look through walls. So less of a privacy violation, still totally an unreasonable search in the making. [livejournal.com profile] meret thinks it's a matter of time before someone uses this to get a naked pic of a celeb.

The TSA claimed its employees will behave in a mature manner when it comes to all this nudity stuff, but then a man who worked for them started taking a lot of mockery and teasing because of his small penis, and after something like a year the joking ended in a physical fight with their steel batons (http://boingboing.net/2010/05/06/naked-scanner-reveal.html#previouspost). (Amusingly, a short time before I read about this story, while ranting to Dan I said government employees have no right to see my sagging breasts or rolls of fat or small penis! He replied, all laconic, "With a bra they'll look firm and perky."

The point is, I just knew small penises would come into play here somewhere. Penis size is way too big a deal for all these people to be seeing naked pictures of us and each other and nothing to come of it.)

Then there's Mr. Tyner from San Diego. This gentleman (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/nov/15/tsa-probe-scan-resistor/) going on a hunting trip told a TSA employee "if you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." He taped what happened afterward with his cell phone. The videos are not that exciting imo, but he's still awesome, and is facing an $10k fine and a possible civil suit. You really stand up to the TSA at your own risk. I'm pretty sure you can google his blog.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (http://epic.org/privacy/airtravel/backscatter/) has filed a lawsuit to stop these machines from being used while their suit is pending, on the grounds that this technology amounts to an unreasonable search. I am an EPIC fan. I'd give them money if I had any.

The DHS searching and potentially seizing international travelers' laptops is something I read about in an email from the ACLU. The ACLU is a bit less active about this whole business then the EPIC, for I guess obvious reasons like lots of other kinds of violations of liberty happening, but it's the first I'd heard about that part of it, so yay ACLU. I don't have a link although I'm sure the ACLU has a write-up of it somewhere on their site.

We would have no idea of half of this stuff without the Freedom of Information Act, from the sound of it.

I'd link more, but all these links have links and I've run out of comment space twice. xD If you go to Huffington Post here and scroll down (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/17/taiwanese-tsa-cartoon_n_784709.html) there are some thoughtful short essays about the topic. And [livejournal.com profile] meret has a wealth of links in her journal about this issue going back quite a long way, not just from mainstream news outlets like cnn.com and yahoo but also from blogs and such, and she's ace about posting the newest info as it comes. The latest shame is here (http://gizmodo.com/5692583/woman-suing-federal-government-after-tsa-screener-exposed-her-breasts-to-entire-airport). Most of these links are either from her, or from links from links from her. So full props to [livejournal.com profile] meret.

Fun (http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/11/more-tsa-grope-vs-po.html) T-shirts have also resulted (http://139039.spreadshirt.com/).

Forgive any messed up links, I am le tired, and have fun reading about this outrageous shit. :)
Edited Date: 2010-11-18 11:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-11-19 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sevarem.livejournal.com
Christ on a cracker. I want to give you a suitably intelligent reply, especially after you gave me a wealth of reading material and a lot of good links, but right, Christ on a cracker is what I feel capable of.

That and I'm so glad the husband and I are planning on moving out this country by summer 2012.

Date: 2010-11-19 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
Yeah, Christ on a cracker. That pretty much sums up my feelings on it as well.

I think if I didn't have all my family here, I'd want to get out too. But then I would have to fly back which would totally defeat the purpose.

Where are you guys planning on heading?

Date: 2010-11-22 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sevarem.livejournal.com
Maybe back to China, maybe to Thailand. Maybe somewhere in South America. The world is wide open and there's lots to see. We don't want to limit ourselves. But my immediate answer would be China or Thailand.

Date: 2010-11-19 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ricekeispiesc.livejournal.com
Since I find myself often dabbling in security studies I figure I'll throw out some thoughts I've had on airport security.

Lately a lot of people advocate emulating Israeli airport security, but I don't think it would work here in the US. As you've mentioned, they racially profile. It's one of the main components of their security policy, essentially if you are a young Arab looking male, you will be pulled aside for extra security and you will most likely be detained. Basically, if you don't look like you belong, you will be subject to increased security. This is problematic to say the least, and probably the courts would say illegal.

The other huge difference between US airport security and Israeli security is scale. Israel has 2 international airports, the US has over 125. Also the busiest US airport is 9 times busier than the busiest Israeli airport. The strongest lesson you could take from Israeli security is the way their planes are built, there's no way to get from the cabin to the cockpit from inside the plane. The only way into the cockpit is from outside the aircraft. That security measure is probably the most effective one there is to prevent hijackings.

I hope that the backlash against these scanners sticks, I really do. I think that the scanners are mostly a product of the rather influential Homeland Security Tech lobby, who is making a fortune off these things. It's security theater and nothing more.

I'm fairly convinced that they will never implement this style of security on trains or bridges because they can't afford to search commuters. If people had to show up for trains two hours early, you can bet that they'd be driving instead, and that is the end of the railroads. Ditto for bridges and tunnels; because that would inconvenience powerful people, and that would never last.

Date: 2010-11-19 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fourleftxaviers.livejournal.com
Rawr. I want to hug you. Your thoughts on bridges and trains are so reassuring to me, you have no idea. Cause that line of what-if thinking scares the crap out of me.

I've read a number of opinions that agree with you we're doing a stupid thing by not starting with making the cockpits impenetrable. And I don't disagree. But what I want to know about that is - couldn't the terrorist just wait until the plane's over a city and then detonate his explosive whatevers, blowing a hole in the side of the plane? Or would that not be enough to cause the plane to go down, since at most it could potentially take out one or two engines when most large-sized planes have four? (Uh, if they even have four. I really know very little about this, when you get down to it.)

I mourn for American dignity if this porno-machine-or-groping thing holds up. Also lol-ing at the fact that the two congresspersons who've come out loudly against the new security measures at a federal level are Ron Paul and Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum. Seriously, of all five hundred something of them, it's two batshit crazy Republicans that are standing up for our civil liberties? Just... lol. And the world turned upside down.

Date: 2010-11-20 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ricekeispiesc.livejournal.com
Glad to offer some reassurances!

While a terrorist could certainly detonate a bomb over some populated area, I think that is probably unlikely. For one thing, successful airplane bombings are very rare. For US airlines, the last successful bombing was the 1988 Pan Am bombing. It is also hard to build a bomb small enough to smuggle but powerful enough to actually take down a plane. In the last 10 years there have been two attempted bombings of US aircraft, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber. Neither one of them was detected this way, and of course, the new nakedmotrons would not have caught those bombs anyway. Another problem with blowing up a plane over a city is that it makes precision impossible, making it that much harder for a terrorist to make a real statement.

Also, when I think about it, I think a plane that exploded and fell to the ground would be a far less effective weapon than a plane that crashed into something fully loaded with fuel. Planes are also surprisingly resilient, http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/rich/MECH353/Aloha.JPG being a prime example. That plane had that happen in flight, and was still able to land safely.

It is a little scary that they are the only real privacy proponents here... I find it amusing that fine Senator Lautenberg is now against them. He bills himself as an expert on airline security, and as I recall he was so proud of himself for getting Newark Airport to the top of the list for the new scanners last year. MMM politicians, always so reliable.

Date: 2011-01-07 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alicated.livejournal.com
<3 It's been a while, I thought I'd pop by and see how you were doing. I miss you!

I was given the option of a pat down or a scan when I returned from San Francisco in October. I opted for the scan, as I find that a body search can be a lot more invasive. I've seen the pictures which result from the scans, and they're hardly pornographic. They look a bit like clay models.

However, I then later realised that there's far more danger of this sort of stuff happening on buses, the tube, a train, etc. where there are no searches whatsoever. Bottom line: invasive security measures might prevent crime, but doesn't tackle the causes why there's crime in the first place. I also read a story of a woman who was given a full cavity search because her homemade panty liner was 'suspicious' on the scanners, and that really didn't sit right with me. Bottom line, if someone is determined to blow up a plane or a boat or a train or anything, they WILL find a way. And yes, that is a pessimistic view, but eh...

Oh, I'll spare you the details of the five hours Abby spent in immigration when she flew over last month, too. Needless to say, I spent quite a long time on the phone with the immigration people, too. (Bottom line, our immigration guys thought an American citizen staying with me and my fiancé was clearly about to marry her way into citizenship or blow something up or hit the Queen or something...)

Going on a cruise is a great way to see the world without flying. Although I hope they rescind because you need to see England at some point!

Ah, man, I've ranted. Perhaps I should stay away more often?!

x

Date: 2013-08-16 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wolfine.livejournal.com
Gosh...I can't tell you how much I miss you. So much has happened, and yet so much has remained the same, and I think of you often, but don't know how to let you know. The number I have for you is no longer yours, and I think about mailing something to you...but I wonder if you stopped talking to me on purpose, and that maybe I should just leave you alone.

Just know..I still love you like breathing, and hope your life is filled with joy.

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