The X-ray security machines coming to an airport near you have been called “dick-measuring devices” by seasoned travelers, inspired TSA employees to commit crimes of passion, and eaten up the Transportation Security Administration’s allocation of stimubucks. In short, no one likes them.
Consumer rights advocate and perennial presidential vote-splitter Ralph Nader is here to help. Not only has he joined forces with the Electric Privacy Information Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations to protest the machines, he also told The Daily Caller that he paid a visit this week to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform meeting to recruit conservatives in his fight against “federal fondlers.”
“I said to ’em, ‘I want to say a few words to this group, who are fully employed, fully insured, and fully clothed.’ And I said, ‘Get ready for naked insecurity.’”
Airport X-ray machines, says Nader, are a bipartisan issue. Republican Senators Tom Coburn, Susan Collins, and Richard Burr have all raised concerns that the machines emit a dangerous amount of radiation, “and you should know,” Nader added, “that the Libertarian Party, at my urging, came out with a tough statement last week against them.”
The list of critics is growing by the day. A group of 11,000 airline pilots have objected to the scanners on the grounds that they could be dangerous. (They’ve also whined that it’s unprofessional for TSA to give full-body pat-downs to pilots who decline to use the X-ray machines in full view of their passengers.)
The travel industry is frustrated because the machines cause delays, pilots are upset because the machines are degrading, consumers are upset because strangers get to see their genitals, and “academic scientists” are upset, said Nader, because the backscatter X-ray machines emit a radiation dose “10 times higher than what the government says.”
Italy, after a 6-month trial period using the machines, is abandoning them. “Italy called them ‘ineffective and slow,’” Nader said.
“Susan Collins has requested information from TSA, but DHS is an exceptionally secretive and inaccessible, unresponsive bureaucracy. So it’s very hard to get information.”
TSA “knows best,” said Nader. Or thinks it does. “They just blew $32 million on puffer machines. You ever see one of those?”
The Daily Caller admitted that we had, in fact, seen the puffer machines.
“They blow air. You get into a cage and they blow air at you. Too many false positives.”
The backscatter X-ray machines are more of the same, Nader argued. “They don’t work how they are supposed to, they are hazardous in terms of radiation, and they are wild invasions of privacy.”
Also: “They store these images of you naked.”
If you don’t want to go through the machines, “they grope you like you would not believe,” said Nader, who has yet to face either an X-ray machine or a pat-down. When asked if he would submit to a groping in lieu of having naked images of himself stored on a machine, Nader said, “I don’t think we should have government gropers or federal fondlers.”