The Transportation Security Administration is feeling public heat these days over its combination of whole-body scanners and heavy-handed pat-down searches, and deservedly so.
There’s no question that reform is needed to curtail TSA’s excesses. We especially applaud the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s efforts to increase public awareness about the body scanners. But will the heat now being generated produce the kind of light we really need?
Consider, for instance, the all-too-common response that we need to accept the indignity and invasiveness of the body scanners and pat-down searches in order to be safer. That response assumes that body scanners actually make us safer — a dubious assumption that we explore below.
If these machines were truly effective, you know who’d be using them? The Israelis. And you know what? They don’t. And yet, somehow, the security in Ben Gurion International Airport hasn’t been breached in 8 years.