The debate over whether TSA's full-body scanners are porn-y or not has been ignited again by reports that one of the fancy machines would have detected an explosive packet carried aboard a Detroit flight on Christmas day. Security folks say the machines are awesome. Privacy folks say they're intrusive.
Take this quote, from a letter sent to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano by twenty-four privacy organizations, including the ACLU, courtesy of a New York Times story about the debate over the scanners: "Your agency will be capturing the naked photographs of millions of American air travelers suspected of no wrongdoing."
At the Denver International Airport, it already is.
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DIA has had one of these fancy doohickeys, which produces a fuzzy-ish anatomically-correct photo of the passenger standing inside it in order to detect weapons or other no-no items concealed under their clothes without having to actually touch them, since May 2008. That's right. TSA employees at DIA have been looking at your naked ass for a year and a half.
And according to regional TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon, at DIA, the machine is not a BFD. (That stands for "big fuckin' deal," for anyone who's not a tween.) Not all passengers pass through it; just those who are selected for extra screening. And passengers are given a choice: stand in the nakie-machine or be patted down by a TSA officer. According to Harmon, 98 percent of travelers choose the machine.
When asked about the controversy, Harmon is quick to point out the many security measures associated with the machine. First, she says, the officer viewing the scans is in a separate room and never sees the person in the scanner. So if he or she ran into you at, say, an airport bar later, they couldn't think to themselves, "I know what that chick looks like naked." Also, Harmon says the images can't be stored or transmitted, and the machine blurs people's faces.
Still, it's got to be one of the hottest jobs at the airport. And the fact that Denver doesn't mind being peeping-tom-ed by airport security officers? Even hotter.