X-Ray, Invasive Patdown or old status quo?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Nov 16, 2010.

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  1. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    =D= =D=

    And anyone who "doesn't care" is welcome to take an extra fondle in my place.
  2. New_York_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 16, 2002
    star 6

    I disagree with this. I wish it were true, though. With all the press, imagine the outrage that will occur if the new methods are removed, and an attack gets through. Whether or not the scanners/pat downs would have prevented it, heads would absolutely roll if it happened and no one is going to risk losing their jobs.
  3. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I've also read reports from about a dozen other airports of scanners either not being in service, or being taken out of service fairly early in the day. Considering the rather forceful comments from Janet Napolitano about using the scanners, and the urgency with which they have been rolling them out, you have to admit that it looks rather unusual to have widespread reports (I only gave one example report, I can give more if you wish) from across the country indicating that many of them were shut down and not in use on the busiest travel day of the year, a day that a major protest centered on those machines was scheduled to occur.

    The reports are more than "a handful of fliers at LAX". I've seen reports from San Diego, Minneapolis, New York City, and other places.

    For example, in Newark, New Jersey:
    You can wave your hand all you want, but that doesn't get rid of the fact that your argument calling it a non-issue was severely flawed.

    Similarly, the TSA claims that "99% of travelers opted for the body scanners" is a rather blatant distortion. Considering that they haven't been rolled out to more than 20% of security checkpoints, and were not in use at some of the busiest airports where they have been installed (such as LAX, Newark, and others), they are misrepresenting the data.

    So, do you have any actual facts to back up your hand waving, or are you just going to keep trying your prestidigitation?

    Kimball Kinnison
  4. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    I did a very quick search, but it seems to back up Mr44

    TSA says Thanksgiving travel went smoothly
    By Ed O'Keefe

    Thanksgiving holiday travel didn't go well on the roads (what is it about New Jersey's highways, anyway?), but the Transportation Security Administration insists weeks of intense scrutiny and criticism led to few problems and delays at the nation's airports.

    "Everything went smoothly overall," TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said in an e-mail Sunday evening. "Wait times at more than 450 airports nationwide were consistent with past holiday travel periods with many airports experiencing minimal lines."

    TSA plans to release final details later today, but if statistics from last Wednesday are any indication, things should have gone well over the weekend.

    At the nation's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, 39 out of more than 47,000 passengers last Wednesday declined to use the machines, TSA said. Among other places, wait times were no longer than 20 minutes in Detroit.

    Overall, about 99 percent of airline passengers chose to use advanced-imaging technology (AIT) machines despite last Wednesday's Internet-fueled "Opt Out Day" campaign to protest their use, Lee said. The high participation rates are consistent with numbers dating back to when TSA first started using AIT machines in 2007...

    Also

    TSA: Short waits, few opt-outs
    By Washington Post Editors
    The Transportation Security Administration provided this listing of wait times and numbers of people who opted-out of using body scans Wednesday.

    Operational Updates as of 5 p.m. EST:

    Atlanta: 39 total advanced imaging technology opt-outs today (out of 47,000 fliers). All were screened and continued to their flights.

    Boston: Approximately 56,000 passengers screened with 300 AIT opt-outs, which is less than 1 percent of all travelers and less than a normal day at the airport's 17 AITs. All were screened and continued to their flights. The longest wait time was 12 minutes in terminal A in very early morning.

    Colorado Springs: 5-minute average wait time, and no AIT opt-outs...
  5. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    My cynical side (which I've been very distant with lately) wants to call those articles lies. Me, I'd say they're trying to put a good spin on this thing in light of KK's info.
  6. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    So, I was reading recently that, as people keep citing how other countries have the scanners, that the Netherlands doesn't use the same wavelengths, they apparently use radio waves that are much lower energy, and instead of taking an image, it shows where there's any irregularities on a cartoon body, meaning that it's not actually photographing someone, just looking for anything that would require a further search.

    Personally, I would not object to the nature of such a scan the way I object to our scans, as that carries significant health and privacy protections with it.


    And I'm going to somewhat go with Fire_Ice_Death's cynical side, but that's largely as the government has already blown their credibility on this issue with me by acting as though we're at great risk of terrorist attacks. I'm tired of 9 years of fear-mongering hacks bandying about terrorism, ignoring that many of the attacks have been because of their own incompetence at transferring information correctly and it's a minute risk.
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    That statistic, as I said, is being misrepresented. The AIT scanners are only available on about 20% of the lines, and many of those lines either were completely shut down or not operating at capacity. There's no way that 99% of all travelers wound up going through 20% of the lines on the busiest day of the year.

    How many were screened with AIT scanners, and how many were screened with magnetometers? How many AITs were in use? Without this information, these stats are useless.

    Again, how many of the AITs were actually in use, and how many people of those 56000 were actually screened using the AITs?

    Because according to TSA's list, there are no AITs at Colorado Springs. (The same technology is used at the Colorado Springs Court House, but not the airport.) It's hard to opt out of something that isn't there.

    Those two articles are blatant spin and manipulation.

    Kimball Kinnison

    EDIT: For reference, the TSA blog posting that the second article got its stats from is here.

    But, let's do a little math for a moment, using Boston as a reference point. Now, the TSA has stated that AIT scanners are only available on about 20% of security lines. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) has AITs, but they are not used in every line. In the absence of a clear statement of what percentage of lines at BOS have the AITs, let's assume that the 20% holds.

    That means that of the 56000 travelers at BOS, at most 11200 went through the scanners. However, the AITs take longer to use per traveler, by a factor of about 3-4 (at least). That means that a reasonable estimate of how many people got the AIT scans is closer to 6000. Except, that is assuming that they were using all of the AITs, which news reports dispute. If we assume that they used only about 50% of the scanners, that gives us an estimate closer to 3000-4000 scanned at BOS. They stated that they had 300 opt-outs.

    That suggests that the opt-out rate isn't less than 1%, like they claim, but rather closer to 10%.

    I'd love to get some better data to replace some of the assumptions I had to use here. If any of you have better data, please post it.
  8. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Who knew ejaculating was illegal?

    Seriously, they're holding him without bail? Like he committed murder? When the TSA agent was feeling his penile piercings? What exactly did they expect to happen? :rolleyes:
  9. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    It's funny that he was arrested for sexual assault when the TSA worker was the one groping him.
  10. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    You might want to check your sources a bit better.

    From their About page:
    The only other source I could find for this story is from The Spoof, another satirical site.

    I am more than willing to criticize the TSA for things that they have screwed up, but this is not one of them.

    Kimball Kinnison
  11. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Well crap. That's what I get for pulling something from a friend's Facebook page.

    Point conceded. Or should I say point withdrawn.
  12. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    I'd get behind the radio scans - this seems to be a healthy balance of safety and respect.
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well crap. That's what I get for pulling something from a friend's Facebook page. Point conceded. Or should I say point withdrawn.

    Honestly though, does it matter? This is precisely why, oh, for about 50 times now, I've said look at the actual policy and research what the procedure is. The fact that anyone would read an article that says "the TSA agent spent an inordinate amount of time groping"... and accept it as accurate- doesn't highlight a problem with anything actually at an airport, it illustrates the danger of clinging to preconceptions. Based on only your posts here, I think it's why you seem to be so inordinately focused on the "sexual assault" aspect, when it fact, genital manipulation isn't part of the actual procedure.

    I also think this illustrates why, for the most part, those who actually go through the checkpoints ask "what's the big deal?" While those who only read about examples like this seem to react the most strongly.

    But like I just said, I don't think any of this matters. I bet in a couple of days, someone else is going to reference this "article" as something they heard from their cousin's friend's sister. Except by then, the name of the airport is going to be different, and it's going to be 5 workers who did it to members of the University of Nebraska auxillery marching band or something similar..

  14. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    I admitted my mistake, I was in a hurry, I had never heard of that website and didn't think to look at its home page. But at the same time, please do not accuse me of not "researching what the actual procedure is." I posted an article from the Philadelphia newspaper, I suppose that is not a valid source? I looked at the TSA website and...it refuses to give any information on what the "actual procedure" is, citing...wait for it..."security reasons." :rolleyes: In other words, the only evidence we have of what is actually happening are the "eyewitness accounts" which you condemn. I'll reiterate something that has already been posted: "The majority of people aren't complaining" does not mean the policy is acceptable. Based on that logic, the government could do anything it **** well wanted as long as they could ensure that the majority of Americans would not complain.

    What about raising the taxes on the top 1 percent of Americans back to the 1950s levels of 90 percent? Pretty sure the majority of Americans wouldn't complain about that, because it doesn't affect them. [face_whistling] I am not arguing for such a policy but under that logic, it should be implemented without any sort of congressional mandate or vote.

    On another note, there are people who are not only complaining, they are filing lawsuits.
  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    The heck is with San Diego? That's like the 3rd time that airport has come up.
  16. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    The problem with you, 44, is that when someone does do the research and comes out against it you're saying, "You're just a reactionary," or, "It's no big deal," like a good citizen (psst...it's coooode). So you're trying to have it both ways--which I admire. It takes big brass ones to claim that the people against this policy did not do the research and/or accuse them of being reactionary. The problem comes when you have people like KK and Lowie who tend to do their homework and being against this. I guess they're just flukes or merely 'misinformed'. Or maybe they don't exist at all like how you hand waved away info that showed these scanners weren't even operational at more than 20% of airports and in those 20% was hardly used.

    Yeah, I tend to think that one's the real excuse--that Lowie and KK are hallucinations thought up by liberal reactionaries.
  17. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Not to mention, the scanners and patdowns are pretty darn reactionary.
  18. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, the problem comes when he claims that others are misinformed, but he doesn't provide citations to information to demonstrate that. If I'm wrong about something, I am more than willing to admit it, but I want to see evidence of my error first. Mr44 hasn't provided any evidence that holds up under even moderate scrutiny yet.

    Point of order. The scanners are operational at more than 20% of airports, but only at 20% of all security lanes. In some airports, they are only in use at one terminal, while in others they are available at all of the terminals.

    Shhh! That was supposed to be a secret!

    Kimball Kinnison
  19. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Not being an American, all I really have to say about this issue is that the American government and/or people have the right to implement any security they like at thier airports. If they deem patdowns are necessary, then by all means.

    The only thing I don't agree to that I've read on this thread was JS's assertion that 'extra' security only be made on those people deemed to come from an ethnic group that might be a likely threat. That I don't agree with: either the security measures apply to everyone, or they apply to nobody. If there's an individual acting suspicious, by all means go ahead. But let's not get into this "seperate but equal" farce.

    But scans, patdowns, whatever: if you think it's over the top, change it. If you think there's a real threat of these things preventing a terror attack, keep them. It seems simple enough to me.
  20. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, what he identified was not an ethnic group. He specified "Moslem extremists" as the threat group. That doesn't require targeting an ethnic group, but can be covered by targeting behaviors.

    It's also instructive to look at the context of his comments. He was specifically contrasting the utility of profiling to look for "Moslem extremists" with the current policies that result in doing invasive searches of nuns and 3-year-olds. It's a bit of a jump to go from him saying that we should use profiling to identify likely threats from "Moslem extremists" and saying "we should only target Muslims". After all, "Moslem extremists" can attempt to disguise themselves among the general population, but you can use behavioral profiling to help identify them.

    Kimball Kinnison
  21. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Behavioral profiling makes the most sense. IIRC every terrorist who has either successfully or unsuccessfully blown up a plane, behaved in an obviously suspicious manner first. I think your average 10-year-old could have picked up on the Underwear Bomber. As long as "being Muslim" or "wearing a burka" is not considered "suspicious behavior"--and it shouldn't be--I don't know why we couldn't profile behavior.

    Retailers profile behavior all the time with those customer cards. They send me coupons for yogurt because my oldest eats it like it's going out of style, so I buy a lot of it. Heck, retailers even profile demographics. They check birth certificates filed with the county, and send the parents diaper and formula coupons. Sometimes they profile incorrectly, which is why I still get diaper coupons even though both of my kids have been potty trained for almost a year, but the point is that they profile.

    The assumption that "all Muslims are terrorists" is just as bad as the assumption that "all Christians handle snakes, blow up abortion clinics and attend Fred Phelps rallies" and we shouldn't profile based on a blanket assumption about a group, a blanket assumption that is, quite frankly, stupid. But when there is actual behavior that suggests terrorist sympathy, there is no excuse not to give extra scrutiny. And I doubt either a nun or a 3-year-old has behaved in such a way that remotely suggests terrorist activity. (No, tantrums don't count, even the ones that my 3-year-old throws. :p )
  22. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    Hey fellas, I don't have much time to respond or review posts. So quickly,

    KK

    Even if the opt-out is 10%, and that remains to be seen, doesn't that also say that 90% went thru without a fuss? A fairly high percentage.

    You, and I'm sure others, will find this interesting, as it backs up some of what you were saying (Nate Silver, as usual, has a very good analysis):

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/what-the-t-s-a-hasnt-told-us/?partner=rss&emc=rss

    they emphasize the need to know how many people had the option of opting out, but also cautioning against anecdotal reports. I found it particularly noteworthy that the DOT keeps stats on this stuff.

    And here?s an interesting article from a reporter at National Airport in DC

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20024062-503544.html
  23. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Except that your argument presumes that the other 90% were fully informed of what they were doing, and aware of the option to opt-out. As the CBS article you posted points out, the TSA didn't exactly go out of its way to inform people. Can you really call obedience consent if they aren't really informed of what they are "consenting" to?

    Also, those numbers I gave were mostly back-of-the-envelope calculations. If you take the CBS report (claiming that the vast majority of travelers were sent through the magnetometers), then the percentage would go up accordingly. My numbers assumed that only 1 in 10 people were directed towards the body scanners. If it were closer to 1 in 20 (half as many), then you would get a corresponding 20% opt-out rate.

    It mostly echoes the arguments I already made. But then, maybe Nate Silver is similarly as "misinformed" as Mr44 claims I am.

    Anecdotal reports need to be taken with a grain of salt, but they also cannot simply be dismissed for being anecdotal. If you get numerous anecdotal reports of the same behavior from multiple locations, it strongly suggests that it's not just isolated behavior.

    That article basically sums up a lot of what I have been trying to say. At the very least, it demonstrates that the claims being made by the TSA are not as unbiased as some people here would like to suggest. There is a lot of spinning going on. (Could we hook a generator to it?)

    Kimball Kinnison
  24. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Here are the very vague TSA statements on this subject:

    TSA statement on new security measures

    How about that "unpredictable mix of security layers"? [face_plain]

    TSA guidance for passengers

    "For security reasons, the specific details of the directives are not public." :rolleyes:

    The following is an op-ed piece which references Janet Napolitano's piece in USA Today (a piece I will look for in a minute) and makes the point nicely.

    Airport security is one big scan

    Here is Napolitano's editorial. I fail to see how getting fondled in a private room by a woman is supposed to make me feel better.
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    The problem with you, 44, is that when someone does do the research and comes out against it you're saying, "You're just a reactionary," or, "It's no big deal," like a good citizen. So you're trying to have it both ways--which I admire. It takes big brass ones to claim that the people against this policy did not do the research and/or accuse them of being reactionary. The problem comes when you have people like KK and Lowie who tend to do their homework and being against this. I guess they're just flukes or merely 'misinformed'. Or maybe they don't exist at all like how you hand waved away info that showed these scanners weren't even operational at more than 20% of airports and in those 20% was hardly used.

    But that's not really an accurate summary. And I think you're glossing over what "do your homework" actually means. No one is disputing that some scanners at some airports were not in operation. So what? It's almost a meaningless assertion.

    First off, DS already touched on this, but by very definition, 20% of something means that 80% of something else is true as well. So yeah, 20% of scanners might have been down on a particular day. Does that number represent the normal maintenance schedule? Does it represent excess capacity that is only opened at peak times? We don't know, because all the link had was an opinion from some guy who had no connection to the TSA, the government, or the administration. The answer to the question is what is represented by "doing one's homework," not just the assertion itself. But besides that, there are big picture issues in play here. Because, in the same breath, the government announced that since they consider them to be so effective, the administration is purchasing more scanners, and they'll be used in more airports across the country because they're not a hassle for most of the population.

    If this was an anti-war protest we were discussing, then it would be like if someone linked to a story about 5 protesters marching down the Washington Monument, just as the government made an announcement that 50,000 more troops were being sent to Afghanistan for an increased 5 year mission. And then, have someone try to ignore the actual announcement to say "but look! 5 people marched in protest so they sure showed the government..."

    So which would you rather have?

    1)A statement from "Mike Adams" of the "Natural News" reporting that 20% of scanners were turned off because protests obviously forced the fascist dogs to bow down to the will of the people in a symbolic victory?

    OR

    2)the actual fact that there were no major incidents reported, and the government is purchasing more scanners so they will be used in more airports for routine security in the upcoming year?

    Sun Tzu would laugh his head off at that choice, and use the extra time allotted for planning to go catch a movie.
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