On Friday, December 14th, TSA officials detained a 12-year old girl for testing positive for traces of explosives. En route to Tampa, Florida with her mother to receive treatment for her condition, Brittle Bone Disease, wheelchair-bound Shelbi Walser was randomly selected for security screening. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport TSA officials swabbed her hands and, after deeming she was a threat, drove Walser to tears.
“I was just scared because I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said. “[The traces] could have come off fertilizer because we have chickens. I could have run through something from them. It could have just come off the ground because I roll through everything.”
False Positives and Degradation of Privacy
If this doesn’t sound familiar, think back to 2008 when the Daily Mail posted about Keith Brown, a father of three who had a speck of cannabis literally invisible to the naked eye under his shoe and was arrested at Dubai International Airport. Another man has been jailed for having three poppy seeds left over from a bread roll he consumed at Heathrow Airport. Yet another man, Cat Le-Huy, was arrested in Dubai after customs officers detected melatonin and suspected him in possession of illegal drugs. Melatonin is a supplement often used for jet lag.
Cancer-Causing Body Scanners
These invasive searches and all-knowing body scanners may have been (but probably not) initiated to prevent very real dangers from plaguing the skies, but they just might not be worth the so-called security. Not only do they lend themselves to false positives like the examples above, thereby congesting airports despite their supposed selling point (that they are efficient), they also present other real dangers, like cancer, as reported in a 1998 document that predicted 100 cancer deaths related to the TSA naked body scanners—annually. Children and individuals with gene mutations—whose bodies cannot repair damaged DNA well—are especially at risk, although radiation is unsafe for anyone. Moreover, the numbers of deaths contributed to by these scanners may climb over time. TSA officials themselves are highly at risk.
Predictably, the TSA continues to claim that the scanners are safe. Meanwhile, Europe is citing “health and “safety” for banning their scanners.
Security…at What Cost?
But the question remains: if not invasive searches and scanners, what? Though perhaps overstated by the TSA and Department of Homeland Security, ignorance of danger is not necessarily the absence thereof.
But, as Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003, speculates in this video, what is the eventuality of these security measures? Body cavity searches? Body scanners at athletic events and on school buses? More cancer deaths than already perpetrated by pesticide exposure and phthalates? As Alex Jones from Infowars says of the First Amedment, “Use it or lose it.”