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.Now the furor over the installation of airport body scanners has somewhat subsided, from the feverish peak around Thanksgiving of 2010-- when the notorious incident occurred (lately entered into the popular lexicon as 'dont touch my junk!') of a passenger refusing both the body scan and the intimate pat down, as a pre-condition of boarding an airplane. There was at that time a call for a 'National Opt Out Day' during which airline passengers should opt of out of the scans, and demand the pat-down, and thereby clog the security procedure to the point of effectively halting the nation's air traffic. Fortunately or unfortunately (the latter in my opinion), this enterprise fizzled; and it now appears that the great American
I state the case too baldly you say? Perhaps I do. First off, there are two types of scanners: X-ray and microwave. The potential danger of the X-ray scanners, which use ionizing radiation, is described in a letter of concern from several scientists at one our premier medical schools, University of California at San Francisco. The danger from the microwave scanners (no ionizing radiation) is less obvious, and some would rate it negligible. (A debate on this point will be deferred to a future post.)
But the key point about X-ray scanners, is their likely ineffectiveness! This has been flagged by the rightward leaning (but occasionally contrarian) Economist, which has pointed to a recent paper, by two eminent imaging scientists, demonstrating that a pancake of plastic explosive strapped to one's torso, would not be detected by the current scanners.
So we are to submit to police state procedures, for effectively zero benefit. My view is that the real point of the new security procedures (so called) is in fact to further socialize the American Populace to accept a Police State as the Norm. My personal view is that this is in fact a major goal of the Global War on Terror (so called.) My rather intemperate views on this subject will be given in future posts as well.
But a major by-product of all this pother is the further shredding of the already tattered 4th Amendment. Brad DeLong had an excellent link, (which I have copped) on the extension of the VIPR program (visible intermodal prevention and response) --now on display in Tampa, Florida, but coming soon to a bus station near you-- in which passengers were frisked, and their luggage sniffed by a dope-sensing dog, as they were boarding an inter-city Greyhound.
The conflation of national security, and random searches for contraband seems poised to fray the remaining shreds of the 4th Amendment, leaving only a thread or two to which we may all collectively cling.