"Enhanced Pat-Downs" are to Pat-Downs as "Enhanced Interrogation" is to Interrogation: We Are All Terrorists

Would you prefer to be exposed to radiation and subjected to a strip search, or would you rather submit to sexual assault and molestation?  This is the question more and more travelers find themselves confronted with by the agents of the Transportation Security Administration in our nation's airports.  Late last month, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled newly-installed full body scanners at a number of airports across the country, including those in New York, and announced the implementation of so-called "enhanced pat-downs" for air travelers nationwide.  The Washington Post reported over the weekend:
the TSA has instituted a new type of pat-down of passengers, a move that's part of a general tightening of air security. If a full-body scanning machine shows something strange or a passenger declines to go through the machine - which is now in use in the Washington region's three major airports - an officer will perform a more personal search.
Except among those perennial hysterics who can always be found cheerleading the expansion of the national security police state, opposition to the body scanners and "enhanced pat-downs" is growing nationwide.  There are two primary objections to the full body scans themselves, on the basis of privacy and health concerns.  As the machines create an image of the body underneath the clothing, the process of advanced imaging has been called a "virtual strip search."  The government claims no such images will ever be stored on any machines, and therefore privacy concerns are overblown.  However, it was reported just this past August that the US Marshals at a Florida courthouse had used similar machines to collect a database of 35,000 images.  From the Register:
US Marshals have built a collection of more than 35,000 "virtual strip search" body scans at one Florida courthouse in just six months, despite wider assurances the technology cannot store images, it's been revealed.
There are also potential health risks.  If you submit to the full body scan, you will be exposed to the radiation emitted by back-scatter X-rays.  Though the level of radiation exposure for an individual scan is supposedly relatively small, long-term and cumulative effects represent a credible health risk.   Pilots and flight attendants are understandably wary of allowing themselves to be radiated by agents of the state every time they show up for work.  From USA Today:
Pilot unions at two of the nation's largest airlines are advising their members not to submit to body scanners at airport security checkpoints as tension grows over what they see as intrusive or risky checks.
Unions representing pilots at American Airlines and US Airways have advised their more than 14,000 members to avoid the scanners, which peer beneath clothing, and instead get a pat down from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers.
However, as noted above, when you opt out of the scan, you are subjected to an "enhanced pat down," which has riled flight attendants' unions.  From ABC News:
a flight attendants union with 2,000 members is upset over what it calls "invasive pat-downs" recently implemented by the TSA. "We're getting calls daily about peoples' experiences, our members are concerned," said Deborah Volpe, Vice President of the Association of Flight Attendants Local 66. Volpe confirmed that the union is offering advice to its flight attendants, who mostly work for Tempe-based USAirways, involving the security moves.

According to a union email obtained by ABC15, it tells flight attendants if they opt out of using the body scanner through security and are required to undergo a pat-down to ask the pat-down be conducted in a private area with a witness.

"We don't want them in uniform going through this enhanced screening where their private areas are being touched in public," said Volpe. "They actually make contact with the genital area."
These so-called "enhanced pat-downs" are to pat-downs what "enhanced interrogation" is to interrogation.  While "enhanced interrogation" is our government's Orwellian term for torture, "enhanced pat-downs" is its term for sexual assault and molestation.  Watch this video of a TSA agent serving a three-year old girl with an "enhanced pat-down" while the girl screams "stop touching me!":

Over the last month, numerous citizens' groups have been founded in opposition to the newest outrage from the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Agency.  Among them are Fed Up Flyers, We Won't Fly, and Opt Out Day, which are organizing a national day of resistance against invasive strip searches and state-sponsored sexual molestation on one of the most hectic travel days of the year: November 24th.

As the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration were created with overwhelming bipartisan support from the Republican and Democratic parties, it is safe to assume that Republican and Democratic leaders are unlikely to exhibit any leadership on this issue, except to browbeat the American people into accepting the government's most recent assault on rights, liberties and the rule of law.  And with good reason.  Their friends stand to profit mightily from the roll-out of the new procedures.  The case of former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is well known.  From an article published in January of this year, shortly after the so-called underwear bombing episode, via On the Wilder Side:
Since the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. Chertoff disclosed the relationship on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

An airport passengers’ rights group on Thursday criticized Chertoff’s use of his former government credentials to advocate for a product that benefits his clients.  “Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive,’’ said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.
And Chertoff is not the only former government official cashing in on the Democratic-Republican party's bipartisan war against the fourth amendment.  From the Washington Examiner:
If you've seen one of these scanners at an airport, there's a good chance it was made by L-3 Communications, a major contractor with the Department of Homeland Security. L-3 employs three different lobbying firms including Park Strategies, where former Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., plumps on the company's behalf. Back in 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed D'Amato to the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism following the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Also on Park's L-3 account is former Appropriations staffer Kraig Siracuse.  The scanner contract, issued four days after the Christmas Day bomb attempt last year, is worth $165 million to L-3.
Rapiscan got the other naked-scanner contract from the TSA, worth $173 million. Rapiscan's lobbyists include Susan Carr, a former senior legislative aide to Rep. David Price, D-N.C., chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee. When Defense Daily reported on Price's appropriations bill last winter, the publication noted "Price likes the budget for its emphasis on filling gaps in aviation security, in particular the whole body imaging systems."
Though advocates of virtual strip searches frequently cite the foiled Christmas plot by the underwear bomber, it is unlikely that the technology would have even detected that device.  From the UK Independent, last January:
The explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned last night.
The claim severely undermines Gordon Brown's focus on hi-tech scanners for airline passengers as part of his review into airport security after the attempted attack on Flight 253 on Christmas Day.
The Independent on Sunday has also heard authoritative claims that officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.
Of course, Democrats and Republicans and their legions of hysterical national security statists seize on every possible opportunity to make the case for expanding the police state and surveillance society and paring back rights and liberties, especially when it is also in their financial interests to do so.  Buto pposition to this most recent attack on fundamental rights and liberties is broad and deep and unites people across the political spectrum, from Ralph Nader to Matt Drudge, from Prison Planet to Reddit, from the Constitution Party to the Libertarian Party and the Pirate Party.  Poli-Tea joins in to opt out.  You should too. 

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