Back to News & Commentary

Soothed into Submission at the Airport

Share This Page
July 21, 2008

Today’s IndyStar features a story called “Airport’s calming features should make for serene security checks,” and describes the Indianapolis International Airport’s efforts to smooth the way through security checkpoints for harried travelers. They include “mural of flowers, blue-lit panels and ambient music.” Similar efforts are underway at the Baltimore-Washington airport. Ahh… Nothing like some ambient music to forget that you’re about to confront…the naked machine.

The naked machine is a full-body, virtual strip-search that shows TSA officials what can only be described as too much information. The Indianapolis airport has the millimeter-wave machine that reveals images like these. (I was disconcerted to see that the Delta terminal at JFK has the backscatter machines on my way to Netroots.) Must security really entail TSA officials seeing your colostomy bag, evidence of a mastectomy, or the size of your breasts or genitals?

“They create a very graphic picture of the naked body,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s technology and liberty project. “I don’t believe Americans should be subjected to a virtual strip-search for the privilege to board a plane.”

Now, to be fair, you don’t have to subject yourself to these super-invasive machines. You can opt for a grope, pat-down instead.

At least in Indianapolis and Baltimore, Enya will play in the background to soothe your frazzled, exposed nerves.

Learn More About the Issues on This Page