Posts Tagged ‘airports’

TSA anti-terrorism measures more harmful than terrorism itself

December 25th, 2011 Comments off

The holiday season is in full swing, and that likely means travel for many of you. And travel often involves airports. And airports (at least here in the US) demand taking part in the TSA’s wonderful circus of security theater. In many airports, that means there is a good chance you’ll be asked to step through a full-body scanner.

You may have noticed that these same scanners were banned in Europe last month, due to health concerns over the ionizing radiation the machines employ. That might make you think twice about stepping into one, which is a perfectly valid response. However, this post isn’t really about the dangers of TSA backscatter scanners (there are already plenty of those), or whether or not you should opt out of a scan (ditto). I personally don’t believe that the health risk posed by the machines is serious enough that casual travelers need to realistically worry about those issues. Rather, I was more curious about the risk-reward relationship regarding them, and whether placing them in airports around the country made sense purely from a numbers standpoint.

Or, put more simply: is the potential benefit that we’re getting from these scanners in line with the health risk that they present (however small that risk may be)? I mean, surely somebody at the TSA thought about that, right? … Right?

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