Nov 17, 2010

Pirate Party Exclusive: DHS/TSA Security Theater is Reactive and Ineffective, Aims at Compliance and Submission

The importance of protecting and strengthening the rights to privacy and transparent government are emphasized at the very top of the Pirate Party of Oklahoma's platform.  As the Pirate Party has also long been critical of full-body scanners and "enhanced pat-downs," I contacted the Administrator of the PPOK, Marcus Kessler, for comment on the recent uproar and controversy over the DHS/TSA's new security protocols.  Markus was kind enough to provide a detailed response, which is published in full below.

TPID: What is the Pirate Party's response to the TSA/DHS's roll-out of the new and highly invasive body scanner screening procedures and "enhanced pat-downs"?
Marcus Kessler:  The Pirate Party is really not surprised that the TSA is pushing heavily to get these machines deployed. Every time a new plot is discovered, such as the "Christmas Bomber" or the "Printer Cartridge Plot", it becomes more obvious that the current tactics and security theatre orchestrated by the TSA are ineffective. Not surprisingly, instead of realizing that the current system does not provide any meaningful safety, the TSA responds to each incident with further reactionary and ineffective directives. A good example is the current use of "Trace Explosive Detection Technology". These devices are used to swab carry-on luggage and passengers hands to test for the presence of explosives including PETN, the type of explosive reported to have been found inside the [bomb-rigged] ink-toner cartridges last month. The TSA reports that we have spend $15 million on this technology in 2010, and the 2011 federal budget calls for $39 million to be used to purchase this technology. Since ink-toners are now at risk of containing PETN, we are no longer allowed to bring toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces on a plane. It appears that we are spending over $50 million on technology that is so ineffective, the TSA thinks it is safer to just ban these objects from the sky, instead of trusting this expensive technology.  
We also take great issue with the current use of the "enhanced pat-down" as a punitive measure to ensure greater compliance and submission to the enhanced imaging devices. There have been multiple reports that the strategy employed by the TSA is to make the pat-down so intrusive that passengers will choose to be viewed naked on screen instead of being touched. We don't think that having to choose between "show your scrotum on screen or let us touch your scrotum" qualifies as a reasonable search according to the constitution. The physical pat-down is also more time consuming, often requiring passengers to wait on a qualified employee that has been trained on the enhanced pat-down, or an employee of the same gender. At the same time, many airports that use the imaging devices have reduced the number of lanes that can be used for screening. This leads to longer wait times which requires passengers to decide whether to allow the TSA to view their naked body, or opt-out of the screening and risk missing their flight.

The only real surprise to the Pirate Party of Oklahoma is the fact that only lately there has been a large outcry about these operations. The use of enhanced imaging devices has been a target of the PPOK since our formation in January, and our members have been vocal opponents of this technology since it was introduced. We are glad to see that people are becoming more aware of this issue, but at the same time we are sad to realize that for a long timeframe people did not mind having this technology render them naked.

Marcus Kesler
Pirate Party of Oklahoma

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