Defense of Airport Body Scanners Undermined
I think that authorities do need to take reasonable precautions to prevent future bombings and hijackings, but I think that these back scatter radar devices & full body feel ups go beyond reasonable. I used to support these methods but after a few years of pat downs due to my pace maker I’m questioning it.
I had this revelation last trip as I opted to walk through the scanner rather than go through the delay and discomfort of strangers patting me down yet again. I thought about that later on the plane - and how stupid I was to take that risk and what drove me to it.
After Rapiscan developed “backscatter” body scanners using Advanced Imaging Technology in 2007, Jonathan Corbett sued the Transportation Security Administration three years later.
He claimed that the TSA procedures violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches in requiring agents to touch the passengers’ private areas and let them see clear images of the passengers’ nude bodies.
Corbett claimed that the “the abstract risk[s] of terrorism without a credible, specific threat” does not justify the unreasonable screening procedures, which are performed without probable cause or a search warrant.
“The nude body scanners serve to palpate every inch of skin, this time with electromagnetic radiation rather than fingers,” he wrote in a recent brief. “Every crevice, fold, and bump is turned into a picture of the traveler’s nude body. It is, essentially, the high-tech version of an invasive pat-down.”
After a federal judge found in 2011 that only federal courts of appeals can hear challenges to TSA orders, Corbett’s case is now pending before the 11th Circuit.
In the course of discovery, the TSA gave Corbett classified documents, which he incorporated into the brief that he filed under seal.
A clerk at the 11th Circuit somehow neglected to place the document under seal, however, allowing the public to see the redacted information.
This mistake revealed the TSA’s apparent admission that terrorists are unlikely to target airports in a subsequent attack.
“As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing,” the TSA said.
In addition, the brief states that “the government concedes that it would be difficult to have a repeat of 9/11 due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers rather than assume a hijacking merely means a diversion to Cuba. The government also credits updated pre-flight security for that difficulty assessment, but the assessment was written before the en masse deployment of body scanners and before the update to the pat-down procedure. Further, the government admits that there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11.”
More: Courthouse News Service