Travel

Arthur Frommer: Use all available means to expose terrorists

Talk shows and the Internet are bursting with gripes about security procedures at the airports — especially the installation of an increasing number of booths doing full-body scans. The chief complaint is that the new machines supposedly invade passengers'privacy, despite the fact that images are conveyed to a far-off room staffed by various faceless TSA staff, who cannot make out the faces of the people being scanned and who do not know their names. They are also charged with looking at so many scans, scores of them each hour, that one doubts they are able to get worked up by the anatomical details exposed to them.

As you can see, I'm in favor of almost any technological device that can thwart the plans of al-Qaida terrorists. I cannot for the life of me understand why so many travelers seem offended by the new full-body booths — and I also must point out that if you are that sensitive, you can opt not to enter the booths but to undergo a full-body "pat-down."

Because I have a metallic right hip joint, and thus set off the alarm every time I pass through a magnetometer, I have been patted down on scores and scores of occasions — I am patted down on every one of the numerous trips I take by air, in both directions. And never once have I been groped or made to feel that the TSA staff member is enjoying his duties or is taking liberties with me. And if a passenger is troubled by the prospect of being patted down, then let him or her opt to go through the full-body scan machines to avoid such pat-downs.

How about the levels of radiation to which the new full-body scan machines expose us? It has been noted that if passengers are already undergoing medical treatments involving radiation, they should opt not to go through the full-body scans but to be patted down. But one commentator after another has alleged that the radiation levels of the new machines are less than one experiences from a cell phone.

The authorities at Amsterdam International Airport believe that if the "Christmas bomber" (who had packed explosives into the crotch of his undershorts) had been made to pass through a full-body scan machine, he would have been discovered. I'm with them. In these days of terrorism, it's important to utilize every method of exposing such perpetrators, and if that involves a so-called invasion of privacy, a delay in boarding passengers or a slight extra level of radiation, then I'm all for it.

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