Government Spending

Only 400 of 2,200 Body Scanners Are In Place at Airports So Outrage at TSA Likely to Grow as More Are Installed


Defenders of the TSA's intrusive new airport screening procedures (including The Nation) keep pointing to last week's CBS News poll that showed 81% of Americans supposedly support full-body airport scanners. CBS said:

Although some civil rights groups allege that they represent an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, Americans overwhelmingly agree that airports should use the digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines, according to the new poll. Eighty-one percent think airports should use these new machines—including a majority of both men and women, Americans of all age groups, and Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Fifteen percent said airports should not use them.

That number seemed completely out of whack with the widespread opposition we've been seeing. First of all, there are only 400 body scan machines in place and operating at U.S. airports. There are 2,200 screening lanes at 450 airports, and unless Congress forces a change in policy, all of those lanes will get body-scanners—but not until the end of next year. So even if every adult citizen in the CBS poll had taken one flight recently, he or she would have had an 82 percent chance of going through a lane without a body-scan machine. It's easy to tell a pollster the politically correct answer if you've never actually encountered the new screening procedure. But as more scanners are installed and people are forced to choose between body scans and pat-downs, the public is likely to become more infuriated with the TSA.

This may already be happening anyway. Two other surveys came out this week that countered the CBS findings. Zogby International, polling likely voters, found:

The implementation of full body scans and pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of security enhancements at our nation's airports will cause 48% of Americans and 42% of more frequent fliers to choose a different mode of transportation when possible, a recent Zogby International Poll finds.

Overall, 61% of the 2,032 likely voters polled from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, oppose the use of full body scans and TSA pat downs.  Republicans (69%) and Independents (65%) oppose in greater numbers than Democrats (50%).

And a USA Today/Gallup poll of adult fliers (people who have flown at least twice in the past year) found nearly the same percentage—57%–bothered or angered by the new procedures. Asked more specifically about just the body scanners, only 42% are angry or bothered by them, which suggests that the aggressive pat-downs are the greatest source of upset, as might be expected.

Polling guru Nate Silver looked at an ABC News poll and concluded "that the public scrutiny of the new screening procedures is significantly increasing." Silver wrote:

It is perhaps foolish to predict how the T.S.A. will respond this time — when they have relaxed rules in the past, they have done so quietly, rather than in response to some acute public backlash. But caution aside, I would be surprised if the new procedures survived much past the New Year without significant modification.

Hopefully, what we've been seeing the past week or so is that Americans are not willing to continue to give up more personal liberty for what amounts to enhanced security theater at the airport.

NEXT: Afghanistan: Yup, Still Bad Situation, Pentagon Reports

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  1. The wording of the poll that gave 81% approval is pretty generic and absurd.

    1. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winna!

      I found it interesting that there was a more recent and specific poll that dropped approval to 66% or so once they (more honestly) outlined the nature of the scanning.

    2. The outrage is a fad that’ll die down. The media will stop mentioning it so that disgruntled people will feel like it’s them against the consensus.

  2. I don’t care if 99.99% of the people have no issue with violating the fourth amendment.


    1. That’s fine. Because they don’t care if you don’t care.

      “We have assumed control…..we have assumed control…..”

      1. Nice 2112 reference there.

  3. It’s also certainly true that the more people fly, the more they object (which really contradicts a lot of the stupid editorials.)

    People who never fly are the most enthusiastic about burdening those who do, unsurprisingly.

    1. JT,

      If I was the CEO of Hertz, I would be telling my lobbyists that the will be fired by Xmas if the TSA isn’t doing body cavity searches by New Years.

      Think of the extra money as people decide to rent a car to drive to the relatives instead of flying.

      1. No people would drive their OWN cars and not need a rental car when they got to their destination.

        1. Sorry. I guess I’m an outlier.

          My own car is pretty crappy and I have no idea how it works, so when I go on a long trip I often rent a car. You can get pretty good deals if you look for them.

          With a rental, I don’t put all those extra miles on my own beater and if it does break I can call the rental company and they pick it up and give me a new one.

          But yeah, I guess most people would drive their own.

          1. Actually, I am exactly in the same circumstances and do the same think…plus all the decomposing crap in my car makes any trip more than 1/2 an hour long unendurable.

          2. Me too. Why rack up miles on your own vehicle? It’s cheaper to put miles on someone else’s car.

            1. A government-provided People’s Car.

      2. There’s a reason rent-a-car companies are located next to airports. Hertz would get crushed if there were no flights.

  4. The fact of the matter is Opt-Out day has been a dud. For all of the complaining, the obedient American people will also do exactly what THEIR government tells them to do.

    *This PSA brought to you by the open-ended war on terror, the patriot act, and for those of you that don’t comply with big brother-Guantanamo Bay.

    1. They have Internet access at Gitmo, apparently. How’s the food?

      1. I hear there’s no lawyers down there, also.

        1. No lawyers, Carribean Island, free room and board… hmmm…

    2. I have no information whatsoever to base this on – completely pulling this out of my ass – but I wonder if the TSA isn’t pulling folk over today in order to short circuit the protest.

      If I were in charge of the TSA, I would tell every goon under my authority to simply send people who opt out back to the metal detector line.

      Then there really wouldn’t be any slowdown and the sheeple who submit to the nudie scanner would get through quicker than ever. This would lead to all sorts of reports about how awesome the nudie was.

      1. Now I do have some “proof”.

    3. The TSA (wisely) decided not to give people the option to opt-out, and instead closed the lanes entirely. But hey, it fools some people some of the time (case in point).

      1. True. There’s a great discussion going on at /. and it is confirmed that some airports bypassed the new scanners.

        Also, it turns out that air travel is down 4.5 million from 10 years ago – to only 1.6 million this Thanksgiving. That’s right, that’s a loss of 3/4 of the passengers from ten years ago.…..fb3721.jpg

    4. The TSA (wisely) decided not to give people the option to opt-out, and instead closed the lanes entirely. But hey, it fools some people some of the time (case in point).

  5. “enhanced security theater”

    Well done.

  6. I can’t recall any American trying take down an airplane over the last hundred years. A hundred years! Can anyone recall an American trying to take down a plane over the last 100 years? Bueller? Anyone? and patting down little kids is truly a national embarrassment if not a right out obscenity? I’m truly embarrassed for the TSA management. Shame on you! Quite frankly fellas, Americans are very proud that the airplane was invented by an American in the good ole USA, if the TSA management didn’t get their head wrap up so tight over worrying they’d see the obvious embarrassment and mockery that the system has become. I don’t blame the TSA at all, I blame the management. Score one for Bin Laden.

    1. There are a very few: 1933, 1955.

      1. (Damn spam filter) 1960, 1962.

          1. how did you know about those???

            1. I’ve forgotten exactly what I Googled, but it got me here, then I just searched the page for “bomb” and noted only the ones concerning US flights. (I skipped incidents involving US carriers in other countries, since we are talking about US airport security.)

      1. I don’t think a single person in a light plane counts, because we’re talking about screening and commercial flights.

        1. He deliberately crashed his plane into a building. That should count.

          The big incidents were somebody crashes a big commercial plane rather than merely hijack it are very rare.

  7. I would like to see a change to the TSA policy that puts a lifesize OLED monitor next to each scanner that projects the image of the person in it toward the line of people waiting behind him.

    Not only does it prove that these scanners are effective, but the people waiting in line get a little entertainment too.

    If people have no problem with the scanners, they shouldn’t object, right?

  8. there are only 400 body scan machines in place and operating at U.S. airports. There are 2,200 screening lanes at 450 airports, and unless Congress forces a change in policy, all of those lanes will get body-scanners?but not until the end of next year. So even if every adult citizen in the CBS poll had taken one flight recently, he or she would have had an 82 percent chance of going through a lane without a body-scan machine.

    The most heavily used airports got the new scanners first, so this analysis is not valid.

    1. They’re not at all terminals in those airports, bootlicker. Sea-Tac got some, but not at all terminals. Which makes it all the more bullshit security theater.

      1. So? Poole’s analysis treats a security line at Des Moines Regional processing 200 passengers a day equally with the lanes at O’Hare that are constantly in use and process thousands of people every day.

        The point is, the average number of passengers going through the new scanners is much higher than the number of passengers going through old ones.

        1. …passengers going through each of the new scanners…

  9. Let’s phrase the question this way:

    1. Show the person an example of how much detail these scanners show.
    2. Tell the person that a similar image will be taken of their 15 year old daughter.
    3. Remind that person that, sooner or later, these images will end up on the internet.
    4. Ask if they support these scanners.

    1. That wouldn’t be a push poll, it would be a tackle poll. The promoters of all the sex offender hysteria would be flattered by our imitation of them.

      Even if scans do wind up on the net, a dubious premise in its own right, you can’t identify who the scan is of by just looking at the scan, as facial features are not picked up. It’s not like an actual naked picture in that way.

      1. Scans of celebrities already end up on the Internet in India with these scanners. It’s not an idle concern; it already happens.

  10. Aren’t the scanners and pat downs only given to those selected for secondary screening? It’s only like 1% or something. I mean if very single person has to be scanned or patted down it’s gong to be a massive cluster fuck.

    1. No. The new “advanced imaging technology” machines (porno-scanners) are primary screening devices. They are alternatives to the old metal detectors. The pat-down is given to those who refuse the porno-scan. In this scenario, there is no secondary screening.

      1. In Houston last weekend they were pushing a sample of people through the machines as a primary screening, but not all passengers. Most passengers (but not me, unfortunately) just went through the regular the regular metal detectors and the rest (~30%) got put into the line where everyone got the nudie scan.

  11. I haven’t flown in quite a while, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna do the kilt thing whenever I do fly next. Fuck this security theater shit. I am so unworried about someone trying to hijack an airplane. All these pants-wetting pussies need to stop worrying about unlikely shit over which they have little control.

    And that doesn’t even begin to address how un-American (in my mind) and perhaps illegal such measures are.

  12. TSAstroturf: The Washington Lobbyists and Koch-Funded Libertarians Behind the TSA Scandal

    This is the title of an article which appeared in The Nation, yesterday, written by, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine.…

    The article, as you can guess by the title, is not only a smear against libertarians, but John Tyner, as well.

    Glenn Greenwald wrote up a response to this attack in Salon.…..1/24/tyner

    Which prompted a response from Mark Ames and Yasha Levine to the Greenwald response, where they attack libertarians, again, particularly, Robert Poole, of Reason.

    Greenwald responded to the response to the response with “Update III”, in his article.

    Ames and Levine say they “respect” Greenwald but, I guess Ames and Levine are unfamilliar with Greenwald’s work for Cato, and his appearance on Reason TV, with Gillespie, otherwise, I’m sure they would attack and smear him for being a Kochtopussie.

      1. BTW, Happy Thanksgiving, Kochtopussies.

    1. Yeah, I have been reading that.
      Greenwald makes some very good points – the one I agree with most being this whole red/blue thingy, and if our side is for it now, your side is dopes, even though they were for it, and now are against it because our side, which was against it when your side was for it, is now for it and if your are for it or against if you are bad, bad people.

      I am old enough to remember when being for the 4th amendment was kinda liberal…Not to mention how liberals used to say that fear shouldn’t be used to trample our liberties.

      What ever happened to principals???

      1. The whole 60s revolution thing was anti-authoritarian, anti-war, and pro-freedom. The liberal left have become those authoritarians (The Man) which they despised back in the 60s. Go figure. Maybe that’s why so many youth groups are pro-Ron Paul, now.

        1. …remember those clenched-jawed, sullen creatures lurking in the background way back then….

      2. It isn’t wrong when “our side” does it silly.

  13. Please citizens. The “smart” people have decided that this is a necessary measure ? effectiveness be damned. Even the well-known bootlicker Howard Kurtz has deemed this all just a few malcontents and a Drudge-fueled media frenzy.

    I wonder if this is going go like the congressional townhall meetings two summers ago. The liberal echo chamber reassuring our rulers that they are truly loved and it’s just few malcontents and Fox news. “Just ignore the angry mob outside and there will be no electoral impact. Barry’s got your back.”

    And with that reassurance the our administration of “smart” people will continue the fondling and xrays and people will count the days til November 2012.

  14. Our rulers’ echo chamber and court scribes has deemed this subject, like the angry mobs at congressional townhalls, just a few malcontents and rightwing media frenzy. No reason to change the policy at all.

    And no one’s counting the days til November 2012 as the TSA fondles their children. No one at all.

  15. You see, back in those days, rich men would ride around in zeppelins, but first they had to go through metal detectors, not the fancy ones we have today but a row of hobos holding magnets…they’d pay those hobos with leftover turkey, which in those days was known as a walking-bird. We’d always have walking-bird on Thanksgiving, with all the trimmings: cranberries, injun eyes, yams stuffed with gunpowder…now and again some damn fool would try to smuggle a yam onto a zeppelin and fly it to Cuba, which at that time was known as Miami. Then we’d all watch football on the radio, which in those days was called concussion-ball.

    1. ha – ha!
      dare I ask…where did they hide the yams???

  16. That’s not a problem at all, we’ll just have more virus inside these walls… who cares, health bill is still in effect right!?? hummp…

  17. Flew out of Reagan National yesterday. There was not a single scanner in sight. You would think that the DC airports would have been the first to get them. Washington DC along with New York is the most high profile target for a terrorist attack. Yet, they still don’t have any scanners.

    I wonder if perhaps the fact that Congress and their staffs fly out of Reagan National has something to do with that.

    1. There was not a single scanner in sight. Washington DC along with New York is the most high profile target for a terrorist attack.

      But the people going through security in DC and NY are leaving town. If a terrorist wants to kill a few hundred people there, all he has to do is set off his vest bomb in the security line. But since we have freaked out over air travel as opposed to a thousand other ways for a terrorist to wreak havoc, we’re stuck with the current billion-dollar “security theater,” and the terrorists are happy to oblige with $4000 toner-bomb plots. Talk about a return on your investment!

      1. Do you think it’s possible al-Qaeda is intentionally launching ridiculously implausible plots (like the shoe bomb, underwear bomb, etc) that they know have little chance of succeeding, because they know it will force the TSA to clamp down ever harder?

        It reminds me of the episode where the Riddler was sending Batman random riddles that had nothing to do with any crimes just to wear him out and distract him.

        1. didnt AQ practically say that? Not that the attempts were ridiculously implausibile but that there goal was to cause the stupid security procedures.

          1. if al qaeda sets off a bomb in a taco bell drive in…I won’t get a thanksgiving chalupa and a hot spicy taco, but more importantly, America will starve as 98% of the calories ingested in this country will be unavailable due to the implementation of car scanners at drive throughs…

            1. This guy probably wouldn’t have a problem with the scanners at the drive thru.

        2. Give this man a ceegaar, no a whole box of ceegaars.

          The terrorists are winning because the are a) turning us into a police state and b) spending us into oblivion in the the process.

          And all it costs them is some half-wit they pick up in an alley, hammer in some BS about Islam and Allah and the Great Satan and a one-way airplane ticket.

          Voila. The government cracks down on the citizenry a bit more until the people rebel.

  18. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence floating around that the nudie scans were turned off at a lot of airports yesterday. TSA denies it, but given the competence of those boobs and their love of double-secret nonsense as “security” it wouldn’t surprise me that they turned them off to preempt “opt out day” and will have them back on after the holiday is over.

    1. That’s conspiracy-theory nonsense. For it to have worked, they would have had to announce it beforehand. As it was, the TSA took great pains to assure American fliers that all security measures would be in full force.

      1. Why would they have had to announce it beforehand?

        1. West Texas said “they turned them off to preempt opt out day.” For that to work, you’d have had to let prospective protesters know that you had turned them off, thus blunting their reason for protesting in the first place. Anyway, no such announcement was made, and few travelers opted-in to opt-out day.

          1. Huh? You can’t opt out when the new scanner is not being used anyway.

            If the object of the TSA was to avoid embarrassment that would come from widespread opt-outs, turning off the new scanners would be one way to do it.

      2. No. You wouldn’t announce it. If no one knows you turned them off, the terrorists are just as deterred. You turn them off without telling anyone to avoid chaos while still keeping the terrorists thinking you are scanning.

      3. You wouldnt even have to turn them off, just only divert someone to that line every few minutes. Basically, only send someone thru it if the previous person was clear. Then people will report going thru the procedure but the numbers are low.

    2. Here is some of that anecdotal evidence.

      I agree with the theory that someone at TSA was smart enough to turn the things off on Wednesday so that they could claim that no one opted out, and that the whole protest was a dud.

      1. Note to self: Make sure no one has already posted your link before posting it.

        1. Silentz, don’t sweat it. If accuracy or attention to detail mattered here, the boards would be absolutely empty.

  19. We should have a contest for who can come up with the most exaggerated moniker for the new scanners, most conducive to spreading hysteria about what they actually do.

    The early entries “virtual strip search” and “porno-scans” are pretty formidable. Are pictures of nude people even considered porn these days?

    1. How about xxx-ray machines?

      It isn’t the nudity that upsets me, though, it is the fact that they cost a lot, don’t perform as advertised and may well be a violation of your rights.

      1. If you’re not concerned about nudity, then it’s not any more of a rights violation than the old scanners.

        1. The $64K word when it comes to deciding what constitutes a rights violation is “reasonable”.

          The xxx-ray (you forgot to comment on the cleverness of my new moniker) is more invasive than the metal detector. Whether I care if you can see my massive dong isn’t the issue. The issue is whether the scan is “reasonable”.

          You can make an argument that the less intrusive metal detectors are reasonable, but the new scanners are not (because they dig too deeply).

          1. If we discover terrorists using bombs stuffed up their butts, it would be reasonable to perform random digital rectal examinations…..

    2. The machines are already called Rapiscan. The “a” sound is supposed to be like in “rapid” but it’s more fun if you make it a long “a” like in “rape”, i.e. Rapeyscan.

  20. The TSA should just hire telepaths to scan the minds of travelers for ill intent. That would be totally cool, and at least as effective as what they’re doing now.

    They (the fortune tellers) can sit in little glass booths, wearing turbans and scowling inscrutably at the travelers as they pass. That would smoke out the terrorists, for sure.

    1. And they can make your head explode like in “Scanners”.

  21. Good thing the terrorists don’t have the internet tube thingie. Otherwise they could read this and find out which checkpoints have the scanners and which ones don’t.

    C’mon TSA, if you are going to use the xxx-ray machines, remember that it is an all or nothing deal. If some checkpoints don’t have them, how hard is it for Mr. Panty Bomber, Jr. to go through that one?

    Why didn’t you roll them out at every gate in a single airport?

    1. This is what I don’t get. If the scanners are essential for our security, doesn’t that infer that the airports/terminals without these scanners are less secure? If we can’t fly safely without the backscatter machines, shouldn’t every airport either implement them or enhanced pat downs or ground all flights?

      Or perhaps this is all bullshit.

  22. Why would they have had to announce it beforehand?

    Strangelove: “Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you *keep* it a *secret*! “

    1. It’s friggin’ Thanksgiving, my turkey is in the oven and I refuse to be sucked into a conspiracy-theory rat hole. Besides, everybody knows that the Koch brothers are behind all this.

  23. If no one knows you turned them off, the terrorists are just as deterred.

    And, if nobody knows they’re turned off, why wouldn’t the potential opter-outers opt out? Were the TSA goons whispering, “Psst! G’wan, silly! Don’t worry, it’s not even on.”?

    What if one of the multitudes of terror-cell security probers was told this? He could call out to the penis-extension bomber waiting in the parking garage on his Man-From-UNCLE invisible ink fountain pen slash communicator and tell him the coast is clear.

    KaBOOOOOOOOM. No punkin piez for youse!

    1. The reports are that they were turned off and roped off. So everyone was sent through the old metal detectors rather than the new scanners.

      1. I’ve heard reports that President Obama was born in Iceland.

        1. Actually, he was born in the bowels of the WTC, where he returned to help Bush wire the place….

  24. As one of very few survivors in my area of the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, I favor the new airport imaging machines and pat-downs.

    Sorry, Nancy, but I find this no more compelling than if you said, “As someone who was bitten by a neighbor’s dog when I was a child, I favor the total annihilation of all dogs everywhere.”

    1. Actually, it’s more like saying,
      “As someone who was bitten by a neighbor’s dog when I was child, I favor total annihilation of all animals everywhere.”

      Because, you know, once dogs figure out that people see their attacks coming, they’ll have other species actually carry out the attacks.

  25. Just for fun:

    Apparently, Rush Limbaugh
    [*makes sign of cross in Shriek’s general direction*]
    and Motor Trend Magazine are in a big pissing contest over the VOLT.

    Rush says, “MT has lost all credibility by choosing VOLT as Car of the Year.”

    MT says, “We know more about cars than you do, fatso, and our masters at Government Motors say they have top secret extra-super-duper whizbang technosavvies which you couldn’t possibly grok, because you are not even an Automotive Journalist, nyah nyah nyah.”

    In this particular bum fight, I gotta go with Limbaugh.

  26. 81% of Americans would subject themselves to full-body cavity searches, let alone internment camps, if the government told them it would make them safer. You bet the sheeple don’t care about getting raped by Wall Street, the White House, or the TSA. So why the fuck should they care about being led through porno-scanners like the cattle they are?

    The only brave people left in this so-called free country were subjugated and placed into desolate reservations. Being brave now-a-days means having the courage to get your genitals squeezed by a minimum waged goon on a power trip. Great! The government tells its people to “bend over and take it like a man” and what-do-ya-know, ankles are grabbed en masse!

    I seriously can’t wait for a Soviet style collapse…

  27. For anyone who can find humor in any of this, is selling a funny commentary tee shirt. This one of mine is up for voting. I’d love your support for it, if you like it. I love the idea of going through a scanner wearing this.

  28. Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us:…..1010710392

  29. Passengers at Thanksgiving –
    2000: 6.1 million
    2010: 1.6 million

    Also, a great discussion about this at Slashdot, confirms that some airports bypassed the new scanners.

    Between these two things, lines moved quickly.

  30. Fuck this spam filter – can’t post a very relevant link. Air travel down from 6.1 million 10 years ago to 1.6 million this year, at Thanksgiving.

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  32. I want to directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates, but I cant find it, do you have one?

  33. Seems like a good first place to cut the budget — cancel the orders for these scanning machines that the voters don’t want anyway.

  34. New Total Recall scanners coming.…..-Here.html

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