Last Christmas in Amsterdam, Umar Abdulmutallab waltzed through Dutch security with a bomb shoved down his crotch. To prevent future “pants bombers” from eluding their ingenious belt and shoe inspections, the TSA ordered whole-body imaging scanners to be installed in every American airport. Officials assured us that the X-rated X-rays “cannot be recorded.”
They lied. This week, U.S. marshals admitted to “surreptitiously saving tens of thousands of images” in a Florida courthouse, using the same scanners as the TSA. Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says the “devices are designed and deployed in a way that allows the images to be routinely stored and recorded,” and “TSA is not being straightforward with the public about the capabilities of these devices.” Rotenberg’s EPIC is filing suit against the TSA. He wants to expose the truth.
Imagine a public school imposed full body screening on all its students and was caught concealing the scan’s recording capabilities. Americans would be appalled. No excuse, including the fact that school stabbings are far more common than terrorist attacks, would fly.
But on national-security matters, Americans instinctively acquiesce. Worse, many actually thank the TSA for strip-searching their children. This submissiveness allows agencies like TSA to lie without consequences — at least for themselves.
Through people like Julian Assange and Marc Rotenberg, the truth about the national-security state is being — if the TSA will pardon the expression — laid bare. Yet Americans still act like bewildered rabbits whenever they see officials in uniform. We must instead demand all government institutions conduct themselves transparently and morally.