I wasn't quite prepared to have to deal with full-body scanners, since Terminal C at Newark doesn't have them yet. But since I get a mammogram and dental x-rays every year, administered by medically-trained professionals, I really don't want to get x-rayed by bored TSA staff, thank you very much. So I opted for "alternative screening."
It's clear that the TSA staff here doesn't deal with people like me very often -- short fat middle-aged Jewish ladies who refuse to follow conventional wisdom, and my decision to opt out of being essentially strip-searched in order to get on an airplane left them somewhat nonplussed. They read me the spiel, hoping I would change my mind. Other travelers looked at me curiously, perhaps thinking I'd been pulled aside for extra screening.
It took a while to get someone to do the
So here we are, nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, still scratching our heads trying to stay one step ahead of some highly resourceful people who find this level of reality so intolerable that they not only want to leave it, but take a few hundred people with them. And every time we take off our shoes, send our laptops through scanners being monitored by people who often don't seem to know what they're looking at, or undergo virtual strip searches, I have to wonder if a step ahead is really where we are.
It's surprising -- and appalling, actually -- to watch people blindly and unquestioningly go into these body scanners. When you get dental x-rays, the technician leaves the room. It's also appalling to think what risks the TSA staff incurs every day at work, because they don't get to leave the room, and the scanners are not enclosed. It may be easier to think of this here, where the TSA employees are largely pleasant and professional, unlike Newark, where they tend to be surly and largely inattentive.
UPDATED 11/10/10: The ACLU cites Jeffrey Golberg's account of HIS dealings with the TSA in the Atlantic, and also notes that the "safety" of the scanners is disputed.