In December I will be traveling by plane with my husband and three young children.  We have had our tickets for months now, but I recently heard that I would be asked to go through the new x-ray scanners at the airports that we were using.  My first thoughts were about whether they were safe.  As a mother who does not routinely use drugs or x-rays on my children or myself, I really don't want to use the x-ray scanners just so that we can fly.    I have heard that the scanners are safe but I have learned enough over the years to know not to trust something just because those in authority say it is safe.

I came across a letter written by some physicists at the University of California back in April 2010.  In it they address their concerns with the backscatter  x-ray technology that is being used.  They have a list of health concerns that they feel need to be answered.  Many of those concerns have to do with several at-risk populations such as the elderly, those at risk for breast cancer, immune-compromised individuals, children, pregnant women, and they even worry about damage to testicles or eyes because of the proximity to the skin. 

These physicists are calling for an impartial panel of experts to reevaluate the potential health risks because the negative effects may outweigh the benefits for increased detection of terrorists.  They point out that there have been many cases where errors have been made because of failure to recognize adverse events and that in the past, crisis have led to decisions that had unintended consequences.

With these questions still left unanswered, I have decided to "opt out" of these scanners on grounds related to my original health concerns.  So really, the only option for my family is to undergo pat downs or what they are calling enhanced pat downs.  I'm not sure exactly what all this will entail but I am really not looking forward to it because I tend to be modest and really don't want someone feeling around on my private parts or on my kids' private parts. 

So, at this point, we either don't fly (we already have the tickets), we go through the x-ray machines, or we get patted down.  I don't know how bad this will end up being, but I know several people who told me that they were uncomfortable enough when they were patted down that they will be doing the scanners next time.  I believe that is the real intent of the enhanced pat downs, so that people will choose to go through the scanners.  I certainly hope I am not harassed for choosing to opt out of the scanners. 

The more thought I have put into this, the more uneasy I have become with this whole security thing.  The government tells us that because of last years incident where a man had explosive powder on him, that they will need to use these new scanners or pat down procedures to keep us safe.  The time line on this sounds very suspicious to me.  Why would this company just happen to have developed this machine unless they knew that someone would be buying it?  I venture a guess that the government intended on using these machines all along and the incident last year just made it convenient to convince people that it was necessary for their safety.  Never let a crisis go to waste is what comes to mind.

And if they had intended on using it all along, why not just say so, especially since I heard reports that these machines may not even detect the explosive power that was used in last years incident.  I would like to know whether it will actually detect the substance as they claim.

Is there anyone out there that really believes that these machines or the pat downs will make us safer?  I think we are pretty safe already, so how much safer can we get?  Flying is already one of the safest forms of transportation.  And hasn't it been 9 years since 911, which was the last time that an American has been injured in the US by a terrorist, unless I am forgetting something.  So are we really that unsafe right now that we need these machines, or are they creating fear so they can push these machines for whatever reason (financial, power, etc.)?

If a terrorist really wants to terrorize us, who really thinks these scanners or pat downs will stop them?  Really?  A terrorist could not come up with any other ways of terrorizing?  I think that they could and very well might.  So again, will these scanners and pat downs really make you safer?

Now I have come to the part of all of this that has really got me frustrated.  You can pretty much disregard the whole first part of this blog because what I am going to talk about next is the most important part because it effects all Americans, not just those who go to airports. 

Are these scanners and pat downs constitutional?  The TSA says it has a mandate to do whatever it can to keep us safe, but it forgets that it HAS to operate within the confines of the US Constitution.  The TSA is the government, and the Constitution tells the government what it can and can't do.  It doesn't matter how well intentioned the government is, they HAVE to follow the Constitution.

It says in the US Constitution Bill of Rights, 4th Amendment:

      "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

It seems pretty clear to me that if a person is not suspected of being a terrorist or suspected of something else, then they cannot legally be searched.  And really, if you look at the 4th Amendment, they don't even have the right to go through our effects (luggage) either.  I heard someone say that we are all suspects.  I disagree.  The American people are not terrorists, so why are we being treated like it?  But I guess the day when we are all treated like criminals has arrived, but, unlike criminals, we don't have to do anything suspect to have them search us. 

Why am I a suspect more than our President and Congress people who do not have to go through the scanners or pat downs?  Why can airports opt out of the scanners all together?  Aren't the passengers at these other airports terrorist suspects too?  Why in some airports do only random people have to go through these procedures?  What if you miss the one person who aims to set off a bomb on the plane?

Have we as a country decided that we are all guilty unless proven innocent?  These searches are blatantly unconstitutional and We the People should not stand for our rights being violated.  Are you someone who feels that we will be safer because of these procedures and this is just the price we have to pay for keeping safe?

So what if next week someone decides to use an explosive that they insert into there body cavity (which these scanners and pat downs cannot detect)?  Will they then require passengers to go through body cavity searches?  Or what if they choose some other method of terror that is yet to be thought of?  Or how about a roadside bomb?  Will they require traffic stops to search your vehicle?  Is this any different than what they are doing at the airports now?  They would say that they are doing it to protect you.  What if the car bomber puts the bomb in a body cavity and the roadside check does not catch the bomb?  Will they have to implement body cavity searches during roadside checks?

I know this all sounds ridiculous, but this is one of my points.  No matter what you do, there will be other ways for terrorists to terrorize us.  Giving away what freedoms we still enjoy in this country is not going to make us safer.  It will just make us less free.  I have started to get that feeling the people in Nazi Germany must have had just before their government started terrorizing its own people. 

If you are not an airline traveler, why should any of this concern you?  Because this is an "in your face" violation of our US Constitution.  If our government can get away with this in the name of security, then they can use this same reasoning to do just about anything they want.  Where else might they decide to implement these searches in the name of security?  What is to stop them from violating other rights if they know we will not stop them?

Please do not stand by and say that this is okay like many others have been doing.  It is our duty as citizens to keep our government in check.  The Constitution is just a piece of paper if it is not enforced.

The following video sums up a lot of this:

Leave a Reply.