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"Flying? Don't worry about your outfit"


 
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Opinion
Flying? Don't worry about your outfit
The Stroudsburg (PA) Pocono Record


Prediction for 2007 in the American southwest: Gym membership will go up.
Way up.

So will applications for airport security jobs, among a certain voyeuristic
sector of the population.

Also going up, maybe? Bus tickets.

After all, starting in January, some passengers who fly out of the Sky
Harbor Airport in Phoenix will be walking practically buck nekkid down the
concourse.

Yup. New technology waiting in the wings there can "see" through multiple
layers of clothing to what lies beneath. And it creates a rough body
outline.

The Transportation Safety Administration is just waiting for the hectic
holiday travel season to pass before putting into action its new
"backscatter" X-ray devices at Sky Harbor.

The machines offer the latest and, security officials believe, the most
throrough screening technology available.

They cost about $100,000 each and bounce low-radiation X-rays off each
passenger's skin. The advantage - and the disadvantage - is the result, a
photo-like computer-generated image of the passenger's naked body. Hard
objects such as pens, keys, phones and guns, knives and bombs, presumably
are silhouetted against the now graphically bared flesh.

Security folks tout the machines for their throroughness and argue that they
will ease the hassle of current search methods. But the backscatter
technology raises obvious privacy concerns.

To assuage these concerns the TSA is adjusting the devices so that they blur
strategic portions of the image. They also say they will give passengers the
option of going through the backscatter screen or the "traditional
pat-down." Gee, thanks.

So when you're dressing for your next trip somewhere, don't worry too much
about what you're wearing. It won't be noticed. Your breasts showing your
age, bare-naked ladies?, that spare tire around your waistline, and for the
gentlemen, the size of your genitals ... well, all that will be on display.

Security folks aren't going to let passengers through wearing a dentist's
protective X-ray apron.

So, grab a gym membership and start working out. Or go Greyhound.

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