Thursday, November 11, 2010

Debra – Assume the Position

I traveled this past weekend and I feel a little dirty. Why? Our airport has begun operation of the body scanners. It’s sort of like standing around naked.

Theoretically, no one but the scanner operator is “peering” at your for-all-intents-and-purposes naked body. This is NOT me… <g>

But you can certainly see why it feels like you’re standing around naked.

The following 4 shots of the front/back view of a man and a woman illustrate the “position.” Once you pass through the metal detector, you are waved to the body scanner where you face the machine and spread your legs, raise your hands over your head and angle your arms in. You must angle your arms over your head.

And if you’re a woman who wears a bra, then you get additional scanning of your back by hand because the idjits apparently have never seen metal bra hooks.

One of the machines actually uses radiation. So, I get to stand around, looking naked to someone while being dose with radiation. Hmmm… Do I at least get to skip some of the pain in the butt security like taking off my SHIRT? (Yes, on a recent trip they made me take off my shirt and stand around in my camisole. I was decent, but…seriously? A thin cotton shirt over a camisole is considered a jacket? Yep.

I’m beginning to get a bit cranky.

The procedure is easy enough. I’ve included a plain old photography shot of the machine and a man below.

But have we gone too far?

You tell me. Are you uncomfortable with this kind of screening?

Are you still comfortable if you know the machines are all capable of taking and storing images? What if the TSA told you that they “always” turn off that capability when installing a machine? Do you believe them?

What do you think about the additional time you are separated from your purse, for instance, while you wait for a scan to be complete?

I have to say…I think maybe we’ve gone a bridge too far.


Betina Krahn said...

Wow. And I thought the "puffer" was bad. Talk about an invasion of privacy. And what kind of radiation are we talking about here? Any dose large enough to give those photos is too large for me. I've already had a bout with CA. I don't need random radiation-- at least any more than I get just flying above the protective atmospheric cover.

Wow, Deb-- this is at the Memphis airport? And does everyone have to go through it or just certain flights?

I'm with you. This is a big step too far.

Helen Brenna said...

I have mixed emotions about this, but then I don't travel as much as you do, Deb.

Does everyone have to do this, or is it random? If everyone has to do it, then I'm leaning toward excessive.

I have a friend who travels about 3 nights out of every week. For someone like her, I wonder if it doesn't make sense to make some kind of pass available allowing her to bypass this screening.

Make sense?

Rula Sinara said...

Wow...and that's an understatement. First off, that's flat out airport porn. I had no idea the images would be so, um, detailed. Call me silly, but I'm shy in the privacy of my own doctor's office. The body search alternative doesn't help.

And even more importantly, they claim that the scan isn't harmful but they don't really know that. Even if the rays used don't go beyond skin deep (according to an article I read), they can still increase the risk of basal cell carcinoma and other skin cancers. I'm not convinced that they don't increase the risk of other, deeper cancers. The bottom line is that it could take decades before studies can show increased cancer trends.

When you go in for medical testing, you read and sign disclosure and consent forms. You sign off on no risk of being pregnant etc... Folks at these airports are basically undergoing 'informal' clinical human trials without full disclosure/consent. And what about kids? Are they subjects too? Deb, you mentioned having your purse waiting for pick-up. Where are the toddlers waiting on their parents?

Maybe if you don't travel much, it's not a big risk. The naked image would still bother me a lot. People who travel a lot...that's another story.

Okay. Sorry for the long post. I'll get off my soapbox. Thanks for such an important post, Deb.

I think I'll drive, take a train, or look for a lot of connecting flights through scan free airports the next time I travel.

Michele Hauf said...

I echo the others, I'm so not keen on the radiation. I rarely travel, and okay, I'm all for higher security and using technology to ensure no one gets on with a weapon, but isn't there another way without using something that is harmful to our health?

Leanne said...

Deb, I'm not thrilled about it either. I'm hoping this machine will be another "fad" that passes.

Debra Dixon said...


One of the machines doesn't use x-ray and I believe it is the more "naked" of the two. The less naked photos are from the back scatter, but you know...less naked is still less NAKED. So why use it at all?

Some info I've read reports that the radiation is negligible and other reports question whether the SKIN needs that much radiation even if the dose doesn't reach deep. Makes me wonder why I stayed out of the sun all these years!

Debra Dixon said...


Yes, everyone in my terminal had to go through the machine.

To my knowledge there is no "opting out" unless you take the full body pat down which will include a groin grope. Hubby has to have these since January when he had to have his first knee replacement.

The groin grope can't stop until they "feel resistance." So when they come up between your legs they are touching you.

Debra Dixon said...

Rula-- Don't apologize for your post at all ! This is what I wanted to know. How do others feel about this?

And I'm concerned about the radiation. I didn't think about the fact that this really does amount to clinical trial. Radiation at the dentist is fairly safe but the dental tech who does it every day doesn't stay in the room with you!

For frequent travelers, I do think this is an entirely different risk than for the once or twice a year traveler.

Debra Dixon said...


I would like to think this will be a fad, but I doubt it. The machines are hideously expensive and their being installed at a fairly fast clip. They offer law enforcement a very easy way to assess human risk.

And I'm not sure most folks have made up their mind. We have a lot of information coming at us.

Debra Dixon said...


I'm with you on worrying about the health aspect. The radiation one is less like porn. It's called "back scatter."

Which I believe is why they went to some of that technology to combat the concern people had about the nakedness of the pictures, especially when it was discovered that the machines are full capable of capturing and storing images.

Leanne said...


lois greiman said...

Seriously?? I had no idea. Too much, I think. No one knows the effect of that kind of radiation and to say they do seems wrong. You'd better drive from now on, Deb. :)

Debra Dixon said...

Happy Birthday, Betina !!!

Lois-- Sometimes I do drive and you can bet I'll consider this more often, but I frequently fly across country and driving just isn't an option!!! Darn it!

Keri Ford said...


Airports are never fun for me. I usually cry to get my way through but this is just....eeeeee.

my only issue with this is the radiation. If they could scan me without putting me at risk, I'd be more okay with it.

Debra Dixon said...


Yeah, the radiation really does make me a little queasy with as much as I fly. It's even worse for my husband who's a "Platinum" guy.

Cindy Gerard said...

I HATE flying anymore, mainly because of all the security measures, but having said that - it's NOT TSA's fault. It's the fault of the terrorists who are bent on killing us. Plain and simple. It's our new normal and it's not pretty.
So, I'm probably the only one who says _ I don't care! if it means it makes it safer for me to fly, then do it. If it makes one wacko with a gun or a bomb think twice before boarding MY plane, bring it on.
As for the radiation concern? What about the FLYING concern? It's always a risk ... the ex-ray seems minor. :o)

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- Yes. That's the flip side. Security is good.

I do it all politely. Even when they made me strip off my shirt and stand around in my camisole.

But I'm not sure this makes us safer than we are now. We're probably protected from the idiots but not from the serious terrorists who have brains. There's always something new.

KylieBrant said...

Yes, we've gone TOO FAR!!!! I didn't mind having to go to the airport 2 hours early to leave time for the extra security. Didn't mind giving up (usually) curb side check in. Whatever keeps us safe, I thought. So I sucked it up when we could no longer pack gels or liquids in our carryons. When we had to take off our shoes, our jackets, take the computers out of the cases, step through the xray, get pulled out of line, wanded and then have my suitcase searched by hand *every time* I leave the country. But this....? It is an invasion of privacy. A gross gross invasion. How much more are we going to stand for????

Heather said...

Yes, it is going too far, and I think it says something that even airline pilots are against them.

lavendersbluegreen said...

This is POOP. A biiiiig load of yuck. Worthless waste. Israel doesn't do this. I'd think the hottest spot for terrorists would have the best of the best security.... oh hey... wait... they do. Using the terrorists as an excuse to further erode our liberties. That is what this is. Oh.. yeah, and I am an actual survivor of a terrorist attack.