Thursday, November 25, 2010

Full body cameras and voodoo

Since the horrible terrorist attack of 9/11, flying has gone from being a slight hassle to a rather big one. The latest chapter in the saga over ever stranger security measures is the installation in all larger US airports of "Full Body Cameras", basically a camera that strips you of your clothes and shows your naked body to the security official on duty. A lot has been said about these cameras. I personally believe they are thoroughly intrusive. If you don't agree with me, it's probably because mainstream media for some odd reason never bothered to publish the true images these machines make, and opted to publish tacitly redacted versions, where the naked bodies shown look like barbie dolls, and where any detailed body features have beed dimmed out. However, five minutes with Google will show you that these cameras take detailed images of your genitalia, including intimate piercings and,well..the form and size of your equipment, female or male, for lack of a more tzniut way of putting it. Including recognizable facial features. So after being forced to remove your shoes and being robbed of your chap stick and your after shave, you are now being expected to pose for nude photos. That is the clear cut truth. The elephant in the room is too obvious – when will exhausted, delayed and insulted airline commuters stand up and scream "Enough is enough!"?

Flying was always one of the safest activities you could experience. Even during the roaring 70's, when the PLO and other crazies hijacked anything they could lay their hands on, flying was still immensely more safe than driving your car to work, having a shower or simply taking a nice stroll in the local park. The risks of having to endure a highjacking was exceedingly low even in a time when getting a gun onto an airplane was a fairly easy thing to pull. So why is it that our security concerns surrounding air traffic is bordering on hysteria? Many reasons might be cited, such as the feeling of being out of control when on an airplane, as opposed to the decidedly false sense of security and control when driving your car. But the truth is, non of these reasons are rational.

There are hundreds of "soft" targets for terrorists to attack, even in a country like Israel, obsessed as it is with security. Trains, concert and sport venues, political gatherings such as demonstrations or sit-ins, company workshops, malls, the list is endless. And no matter what we do, this will always be the case. Because if we imposed the kind of security strictures on all human mass activity as we do on air traffic, the world as we know would come to a halt. And the terrorists would have won. Airports have become voodoo shrines where we sacrifice our personal integrity and honor to unknown deities, in a vain attempt to appease our fears and our sense of insecurity, caused by our being mortals in an insecure world. Rationality is thrown to the dogs when we install full body cameras that can only reasonably uncover hidden arms, something metal detectors have already been doing for 50 years. But the truth is, that any security we may hope for, lies in your fellow human beings. The overwhelming majority of the human race is not prepared to commit mass murder for any political goal, faith or idea, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or geographical background. And no matter how much security we put in place, this will always remain the main reason why terror attacks are so relatively rare.

Now, I'm not saying we should do away with airport security. I too feel safer knowing that all passengers have to pass metal detectors and that intelligence organizations are keeping tabs on crazies, political fanatics and self appointed world saviors . But I am saying enough is enough. I do not want pictures of my privates or those of my wife to be on display for some bored college drop-out, nor saved for posteriority together with millions of others in ever growing data archives (Yep, I know what they say. They are lying. Security organizations always save their finds, with or without the explicit consent of their governments. And if they didn't, from where do these pictures leak in the thousands?). These cameras are an insult. Period. Enough is enough.


  1. Well argued!
    No need for Wikileaks here. There will be a Publish-to-Youtube button on the screening machine :_)

  2. All too true.

    And I'd like to add that these cameras give you a dose of radiation. Of course it's a small dose, but small doses add up. I'll ask for a body search rather than walk through one of these cameras.