To scan or not to scan

via National Geographic

With the holidays here and all the travel we are going to be doing there has been a lot of press about whether to be groped or scanned.  Talking from the experience of getting groped at the airport a few times most recently on my way to Texas, I go for the scan. I am proud to say I have nothing to hide. 

How do you feel on this subject? Are you participating in the “ national opt out day” ?


  • V. L. Kadoch

    I have several concerns. First, the radiation exposure, especially for people who’ve previously had cancer or are immune-compromised. Even when you have a miniscule amount of exposure from dental X-rays once a year, they put a lead gown over you and the technician steps out of the room the few seconds of the X-ray. Too often we jump into new technologies before understanding their risks (a long time ago they used X rays to see if shoes fit properly!); I am most concerned about frequent travelers. Second, the ineffectualness of the scans –against current technologies, such as liquid explosives, and against any new technologies that develop in response to the new scans (there’s always a better mousetrap): even the toughest security programs in the world, such as those at Israeli airports, don’t use these kinds of scanners, because they believe them to be ineffective. Related to this, technology will never be the answer for a problem that is fundamentally socio-cultural and economic, and we’ve now spent $250 million dollars on scanners as opposed to approaches that address the problem at its roots. Third: the procedure takes away our dignity in a way that even terrorists cannot, and it hands the battle over to them. Finally, it’s interesting to follow the money: Michael Chertoff, head of the Chertoff group and former head of the Dept. of Homeland Security, was the chief lobbyist for the Rapiscan scanners — and his company, which represents Rapiscan, made a lot of money off the government contracts. There are plenty of articles about this corporate angle; most recently, from the Boston Herald (today at, but the “follow the money” story has been being reported for some time (see, for example,

    November 24, 2010
  • edyta

    I have no issue, whatever it takes to make sure we are safe on the planes is totally fine with me. I don’t see why people complain about an effort to make sure we get through the trip safely.

    Happy Holidays!

    November 24, 2010
  • In Europe they do not even ask you to take your shoes off!!!!! I also, had a water bottle go thru in my bag and they never caught it….

    I think if some one wants to take a plane down they will….


    November 25, 2010
  • todd haley

    frankly – i’d rather be groped than blown apart or downed with an aircraft-

    November 25, 2010
  • Gary Nelling

    I think whoever is writing the rules of search does not manage risk assessment well. Scanning luggage and walking through a metal detector as we’ve been doing is fine, but ongoing x-rays are risky to health, and taking off your shoes and pat-downs are unnecessary. Instead they should focus on observing for strange behaviors, concealing dress, age groups and other signs of people who engage in terrorism, and singling those folks out for close observation or inspection. It would also be more effective to add undercover sky marshals, and/or male and female stewardesses trained in counter-terrorism than subject your children and grandmothers to the gropes that my family has already experienced. By trying to search everyone closely, they spread their attention too thin and risk missing the one perpetrator. For a would-be terrorist, knowing that you could be pulled from line for close inspection would be as much or more deterrent as inspecting everyone quickly and poorly. – Gary

    November 26, 2010
  • Been “groped” numerous times over the years when flying out of India. Would prefer it rather than subjecting myself to numerous x-rays from a health point of view.

    Sandy K

    November 27, 2010
  • I feel very double minded about all of this. On the one hand, I find it an intrusion of our privacy. On the other, I realize it’s part of our new world environment. It does sadden me a bit. The allure of travel is dimmed a wee bit.

    November 30, 2010

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