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Thursday, October 21, 2021

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Scanning Away our Freedom?

Some idiot decided to attempt to blow up a plane.  He decided to sneak an explosive onto a plane and succeeded.  The passengers of the plane attacked and subdued the terrorist when he tried to set off the explosive, the amount of which was unlikely to damage the plane or even injure anyone but the terrorist himself.  In response, the Democrats are in a frenzy about security, a subject about which they are normally weak.  Some of them, along with others, called for body scanners at the airports.  This unit literally sees through a personís clothes to detect hidden devices.  The problem?  The scanner shows a naked body.  Female breasts and the genitals of both genders are visible in the scans.  Is such a scan an invasion of a personís right to keep his or her nakedness private?  I say yes.

One example that was pooh-poohed by some conservatives is that of a Muslim man being insulted because an unrelated person, and perhaps even an unrelated man, would see his wifeís nakedness.  Why is this manís concern irrelevant?  He has every right to be Muslim, and to protect his wifeís body according to the tenets of his faith.  I think that this invasive scan is a ridiculous violation of: (i) First of all, the womanís right to privacy; and (ii) Both womanís and husbandís rights to freedom to worship.  I am Christian, but if I were to remarry and my wife were in an airport, I would not want a TSA agent to see her naked.  Nor would I want the TSA agent to see me naked.  

Now I assume that there would be no abuse of this feature, for example, leaked scans of Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon or Brad Pitt.  By and large, TSA officers operate in good faith in absurd conditions.  I am sure that they will not do foul things with the scan images.  However, the remote possibility exists.  Even if it did not, celebrities have the right to hide their naked bodies from third parties, just as we all do.  Privacy is a fundamental right.  In the midst of the abuse of the right enacted via Roe v. Wade, conservatives, especially pro-life conservatives, often swing the other way to deny the existence of such a right.  To do so is to imperil our precious liberty.  The fourth amendment is an example of our privacy right -- we are protected from police searches unless there is probable cause, certified on oath to a court, where a lie is perjury.

Body scans violate the Fourth Amendment.  It is an electronic strip search with no probable cause.  Now if a young Saudi man who bought his ticket from New York to Tokyo in cash and has no baggage appears in line, then by all means scan this person, for there is probable cause.  If necessary, have a magistrate judge available by video to issue a warrant after hearing testimony from the TSA agent.  But, putting granny through the strip search machine has a zero chance to protect our safety, and our rights must exceed our desire to eliminate every possible safety threat.  These rights must extend even to terror suspects at the airport.  In the above scenario, if you scan the young Saudi man and he comes up clean, great.  If not, you have an airtight case for terrorism, complete with a warrant-backed search.

Economically speaking, the cost of a video link to a magistrate judge and one scanner per airport (or even terminal) is far lower than outfitting numerous scanners to scan everyone.  Furthermore, the TSA will be able to get passengers through airport security screenings more rapidly. In my scenario, leftist nut jobs may accuse the TSA of profiling based on race and/or religion.  Israel, the gold standard of airline security, profiles the passengers they select for enhanced scrutiny.  Did you notice the number of Israeli planes hijacked in the last 30 years?  Zero.  How about the number of Israeli planes blown up by passengers sneaking explosives on board?  Zero.

Conservativity opposes the use of full body scanners at any airport except upon probable cause and the issuance of an appropriate search warrant, the infrastructure for which is relatively inexpensive.