“NAH UH” gripes the ACLU, “We will sue the pants off you if you dare to target Muslims for extra scrutiny.”
That’s right, scan crippled children and old ladies in wheelchairs because they are just as likely as Muslims to be carrying explosives that can blow up the plane.
To the list of instructions you hear at airport checkpoints, add this: “Put your palms forward, please.” The Transportation Security Administration soon will begin randomly swabbing passengers’ hands at checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives.
Previously, screeners swabbed some carry-on luggage and other objects as they searched for the needle in the security haystack — components of terrorist bombs in an endless stream of luggage.
But after the Christmas Day attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit, Michigan, the TSA began a program of swabbing passengers’ hands, which could be contaminated by explosive materials, experts say.
“The point is to make sure that the air environment is a safe environment,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CNN. “We know that al Qaeda [and other] terrorists continue to think of aviation as a way to attack the United States. One way we keep it safe is by new technology [and] random use of different types of technology.”
Security experts consulted by CNN said swabbing hands is a good move, and privacy advocates said they support the new swabbing protocols, provided the agency tests only for security-related objects and does not discriminate when it selects people to be tested.
Under the new protocols, tests will be conducted at various locations — including in checkpoint lines, during the screening process and at gates. Newer, more portable machines make it easier to conduct tests away from fixed locations such as the checkpoint.
The American Civil Liberties Union is chiefly concerned that the TSA does not discriminate when selecting people for enhanced screening — something the agency said it does not do — and that it treat people with dignity.
“We would not want to see it implemented in a discriminatory fashion, for example, in a disproportionate way against Muslims and Arabs or, for example, people with red hair or anything else. Security experts from across the spectrum will tell you that that’s not just unfair and unjust and not the American way, it’s also a terrible way to do security,” Stanley said.
(So when redheads start blowing up planes, you can give them extra scrutiny, too, but for starters, ALL Middle Eastern-looking men should be given the highest scrutiny)
The TSA said the machines test only for explosives. It declined to specify which explosives, citing security reasons.
“It’s important that the government treat people who do show up as a positive — fairly and with dignity — and not parade them off in handcuffs and treat them as terrorists (not even when they are?), but do rational things to investigate what the problem might be,” he said. CNN
SNIFFER PIGS, anyone?