Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TSA Fail | Criminalizing Flying for the Illusion of Control as the Metric for "Safety"

Hi Colleagues,

Here I go protesting another social justice situation, or the misuse of TSA and body scanners. See below for categories for news links, my response, recommendations, and questions:

Non-Random Selection of Females

Non-Regulated, "Glossed Over" Cancer Risk, and Medically Invasive

Big as Contrived -- Arbitrary -- Artifices for "Safety"

Did you know that airports could initially opt in or out to TSA/scanners, but now must use TSA, and that some legislators want to make it mandatory for every airport to use a scanner by 2013 via the "SAFER AIR" Act?

In contrast, the EU banned scanners (good for them!)

Even the TSA Author wants TSA dismantled

Passengers who opt out refused access or detained "indefinitely"

Obama Signs the NDAA, or Gives more Power

All to Save us from Cupcakes, Breastmilk, and Senators...

...But to miss the Sword...

...Yet risk Children's Safety...

...and violate Women's rights...

...and constitutional rights prohibiting unlawful surveillance, search, and seizures

Obama minimizes concerns as "inconvenience"

Are we just Neurotic about Safety?

Collective Grassroots Action against TSA

Legislative action against TSA

What about your flight?

My Response | "Good grief, it's as though we've gone back to primal times with a ton of technology to give us the illusion that we're 'modern...'" My criticisms of TSA and the scanners list as follows:

  • Liability Deterrent: Similar to Medical Management, or the appearance of preventative action if catastrophic event or "isolated" or "anomalous" failure
  • Psuedo-Science: Overreliance on technology and sight from making certain scientific methods and genres primary over others and due to Unbelief in human collective action; what constitutes "random" selection? How, when, what, and who determines this "random" selection? Does randomness make findings reliable to our conversion funnel, or prove we will find a terrorist with this method?
  • Primacy of Sci-Tech Genre: What other research methods might better address safety concerns?
  • Faulty Assumptions: Overreliance on sci-tech and cultural cues for "reality," such as an overdependency on sight, convenience, and large sweeping interventions, risk efficacy, or misses other cues 
  • Cultural Frames: Remember we're operating out of Western paradigms and methods risking us to misunderstand the culture we profile to cause terrorism and so misapply our means
  • Inhumane: Ends do not justify the means, but influence them and vice-versa
  • Unlawful: Violating constitutional rights, warrant and search and seizure laws, and privacy
  • Unhealthy: Sloppy standards, lack of regulation for safety, willingness to risk people's future health to maintain current illusion; I worry that many reproductive and other cancers will pop up on the radar
  • Violates Liberties: Will I be put on TSA's black list or screened for criticizing them? Even the perception or question suggests amiss
  • Ecquivocation: Mistaking and equating control for safety and uncertainty for lack of safety
  • Massive vs. Strategic: Similar to carpet bombing, a sweeping requirement to search passengers and install scanners actually risks a single terrorist act instead of thwarting it; screening everyday and upstanding citizens in the unlikely event that will find a terrorist?
  • Upsets Check and Balances: Over trust in single administration puts constituents at risk for future abuse of power, or asks people to trust their leader's goodwill and ability to interpret law in ways that match their definition of goodwill, or leaves too much to chance, or endows too much power to a leader in the name of "safety"
  • Ridiculous: Just look at the cadre of obtained stuff, and a TSA video picturing knives, or circumstancial evidence, does not convince me of the valor or justification of their efforts
  • Criminal: Complaints of sexual assault, racial profiling, or physical assault or injury offset TSA's rally cry for "safety"
  • Shrinks Public Commons via Compliance: Does not allow people to perceive contribution, or that their concerns or wants or needs are met, or by subjecting them to varying degrees of search and seizure of property and indefinite detainment is not a genuine opt-out or choice
  • Economic Consequences: If people perceive air travel to, in the least, hinder travel or commerce or business, then what impact will these practices bear on tourism, business, and our economy? 
  • Lack of Transparency and Access: A blog and social media are nice, but what pathways are people allowed to participate with or correct the decisions that affect them?  Of course we've the right to see our accusers, but in our veiled security, can we access even that basic right to transparency? 
  • Lack of Oversight: Who, what, when, and how regulates the scanners and staff for procedure compliance and legal risk?
  • Lack of Foresight: Relying on the past to determine what we look for now; wrongly assuming terrorists perform in trends when terrorism is akin to organized guerrilla action
  • Phobic: Profiling by race or gender constitute acts of violence. If we say the ends justify the means, then we agree that we enact violence on another person. 
  • Widens Disparities: Increases the gap between people and their liberties by requiring them to pay money or hire lawyers to protect their 4th amendment right.

Risking dramatics, think of it this way:  Violate the womb, violate world peace.  Believe it ok to detain someone who isn't [like] you, and you've just permitted that action against yourself next time the pendulum swings.  Not to be confused with a rant, note that by Reacting to Faulty Assumptions and Fear with aforementioned illusion of control, we not only risk our health, our public safety, our founding principles, our economics, and our reason, but => Terrorists Win?!

::: In short, TSA/body scanners restrict freedom, criminalize people for travelling, and will be ineffective overall due to reliance on faulty assumptions. Even if a TSA agent or scanner thwarts a terrorist attack, is the cost sustainable, precise, or right? 

My Recommendations | Design safety infrastructure as communication system. Educate on behavior observation and make communication channels for people to report. Gain foresight literacy. Build better opt-out recourse. Study terrorism via cultural foundations and human behavior. Learn dialogic methods to de-escalate, and train your constituents and children. Beautify flying!

Perhaps we ought to organize a day when we all collectively opt out of both scan and pat down for media coverage. I start by example in blog protest; let's model a collective digital protest, too. We need collective protest; I urge more lawmakers to create legislation.

Locate our "true north," or the direction we want to go and who we want to be as a "free" society, and collaborate cross-sector. Conceive safety not as "detaining criminals," but as public health via collectively contributed verses latex gloved interest. Reroute funds from TSA to those means and ends.


View from piper cub cockpit;
Image by author's grandfather & WWII veteran,
Reginald McIntyre (above)
24 February 2012 | Oh no, it's on now! From OverTheGeicoE writes

Here's a familiar story: a breast cancer survivor's mastectomy scars showed up on a TSA scan, which forced a horrifying pat-down ('feel-up' in her words) of the affected area. The woman decided that she would not subject herself to that again, and was barred from a later flight from Seattle to Juneau for that reason.

But now the story takes an interesting turn: the woman is Alaska State Rep. Sharon Cissna, and once she finally made it back to Alaska she started sponsoring legislation to restrict TSA searches. Her many bills, if passed, would criminalize both pat-downs and 'naked scanning,' as well as require better health warnings for X-ray scanners and even studies of airport screenings' physical and psychological effects.

Other states, including Utah and Texas, are considering similar legislation. For example, Texas State Rep. David Simpson is preparing to reintroduce his Traveler Dignity Act again in 2013 if he is re-elected. The last time that bill was being considered the Federal government threatened to turn all of Texas into a 'no-fly zone'.

Shame and foul TSA! Go Rep. Cissna and lawmakers, including in Texas and Utah, courageous to confront this abuse. Even if TSA thwarts one terrorist attack, that doesn't preclude error and wrongdoing on behalf of a pseudo-government branch that terrorizes everyday persons and some state officials, too.

I want to fly even less than before not wanting my ovaries radiated or my breasts groped by a stranger. If TSA personnel came equipped with a medical degree and the screening qualified as preventative, then perhaps that would be a bonus. How ironic that people pooh-pooh on women breastfeeding in public, but somehow require with opt-out penalty that women and men permit strangers to grope their private parts in the interest of public safety. Yet those people being groped constitute the public whose safety you violate.

Perception matters greatly in safety. We tell children not to let strangers touch them or even if they feel uncomfortable to not talk to strangers. We question media affect on body image, yet require people to show themselves with a device not even accessible to their use in turn. We say fight cancer, yet put scanners in airports whose safety seems questionable at best.

We tell women to cover up from natural lactation, or show more skin to look sexy, we tell men to be manly and buck up and deal with it, and then we decry domestic violence, but make it legal to violate people's sense of decency, sense of selves, and sense of safety.

To make matters worse we don't give these people an option to opt out of a scan. Ordering a physical pat down is not a viable opt out in the true sense. An opt out does not penalize by forbidding passage or forcing an at least equally invasive and less desirable requirement. When you penalize an opt out, do not call the requirement an opt out, a choice, or an alternative for doing so you ecquivocate. You mix meaning to persuade people to comply. You make a requirement. Do not delude your process in an already contrived system.

Why do I use we? We the People must contribute or at least facilitate change. We build a system that betrays our guiding principles and our example.

Ought it be criminal to fly? It is criminal to violate people's bodies by touch or space and especially embarrassing and painful to zero in on areas healing from past illness or procedures! It is criminal to desensitize children to child molestation via requiring them to trust an adult to conduct pat-downs (1) and calling the pat-downs a "game" (2). It is criminal--unconstitutional--to force search and seizures without a warrant. For the love of fear bodes not a good reason to abandon common decency, respect for fellow humans, and our founding principles.

--> Time to make more respectful and effective Public safety measures! What say you?

Cry Foul

Your Response | What do you think? Do you find TSA scanners effective or ethical? Do you rely on technology to make you feel safe? Why or why not? How? What makes you feel safe? What are you willing to tolerate for safety? Tell us your experiences with TSA. Share your ideas on public safety design. Put more simply:

Do you feel safe flying?
Why or why not?

How ought we measure safety?

With a spirit of goodwill,
which has come to imply no criminal intent,
but we know in the context of relationship in conversation
and via open inquiry, demonstrated behavior, and stated intent,

Free Speech Overlaps

Patrons admiring a display of a WWII map
at the Museum of Flight (above)
Once you violate one right, as a domino effect that violation violates other rights. Wondering if I'll "get in trouble" for these critiques and criticisms of the TSA. Reflect on history and note that early interventions can prevent free speech abuses later on. Blog profiling become part of the "random" selection? Will those I mentioned in twitter put me on a list without my knowing, and so impact my travel experience or blogging access?

Time will tell, and hopefully no need to worry, but who can say with the renewed the obsessive cyber security sprint? To my concerns one friend quips, Oh, they'll just log you and the trouble will come later, but another laughs at my concern. Ridiculous for me to fret or fume? Perhaps, but perhaps not as ridiculous as being told by Uncle Sam's second cousin thrice removed that I must permit some stranger to grope or radiate me, but now I repeat myself.

Not to knee-jerk paranoia, but seems errant to me to try to manage a system as always a gray area when legislating liberties and a conflict of interest when those liberties may involve revenue streams with language as, "to support the cybersecurity efforts of critical infrastructure owners and operators..."