The Corner

Re re re re re: TSA and Nude Scanners

I’m with Kevin and Mario on this one, Wesley. Civilized air travel within the United States is an ever dimmer memory. As I wrote in The Spectator after my last Australian tour:

Returned to the tender mercies of America’s hideous Transport Security Administration, I pine for the (literally) lighter touch of Aussie airports — no coat removal, no shoe removal, no digital imaging of one’s genitalia. From Brisbane to Perth, the screening areas are spacious and organised; in the US, it looks as if 9/11 happened last week, and they’re improvising with some trestle tables from the discount warehouse.

Sane systems go to some lengths to reduce “false positives”: A cancer-screening system that gave false tumor readings to 47 percent of patients would not be regarded as satisfactory. But the TSA is nothing but false positives: In over a decade, it has caught not a single terrorist, but merely thousands of law-abiding grannies, children, the chronically ill, persons with prostheses, returning servicemen from Iraq with traces of gun powder on their boots, and one unfortunate chap at O’Hare flying off on vacation with a penis pump. One hundred percent false positives. On New Year’s Day, my son fell victim at Burlington Airport, Vt., which is a prime al-Qa’eda target. He’s at that tender age where he’s not partial to a trio of middle-aged men with latex gloves inspecting his genitals, and, having aced civics class, he found it hard to believe that the United States Government can put its fingers in your crotch without probable cause. I sighed airily, “After two-and-a-third centuries, this is what it’s come to” — at which the supervisor threatened to kick me off the flight, too, for “disrespecting” the process.

Nobody will ever need to hijack an American plane ever again. A generation or two hence, the last al-Qaeda member will die of old age in a Yemeni old folks’ home, but cowed, compliant Americans will still be shuffling shoeless through ever more decrepit airports waiting for the obergropinfuhrer to determine whether the pumpkin mix in their Thanksgiving pie is sufficiently soft to be confiscated as an illegal liquid.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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