New TSA safety regulations justified

Editorial Staff

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for air travel; however, this year, passengers must adhere to new security protocol that has sparked controversy across the United States. As part of the TSA’s (Transportation Security Administration) new security measures, passengers are required to go through body scans or (if preferred) pat-downs by security personnel.

The reason behind these new safety measures is to ensure safe flights for passengers, a goal that no American with memories of the September 11 terrorists attacks can disagree with. However, throughout the country people have held protests and have even boycotted air travel in response to these new rules. The reason? Privacy.

Some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of body-scanners and pat-downs because of the invasion of personal space and privacy. Body-scanners do just what their name entails, providing an image of a person’s body underneath their clothes. Far from nude photos, the scans merely provide an outline of a person’s form, quite frankly mimicking the appearance of someone wearing a full-body spandex suit. What people so critical of this policy may tend to forget is that these scans are not meant for the humiliation of the passenger or the goggling of the TSA agents. The reality is this: people hide weapons under their clothing.

An incident that happened last December proves the need for these scans, as “The Underwear Bomber,” supposedly working with Al-Qaeda, attempted to blow up his plane over Detroit using explosive powder kept in a pocket sewn into his underwear. He successfully boarded the plane, but thankfully, the bomb he made failed to detonate. Terrorists had attempted to outsmart the U.S. through underwear…and succeeded. That is not okay.

But the invasion of privacy isn’t the only thing that worries passengers, it is also the supposed radiation risk associated with the scanners. And yes, submitting oneself to a full-body X-ray every time one flies (especially if making multiple business flights throughout the week) may seem like just asking for cancer; however, this assumption is false.

According to the TSA, the energy emitted by millimeter-wave body-scanners (one type of body-scanner) is thousands of times less than that of a cell phone. And the backsetter scanners produce radiation equivalent to that of two-minutes spent in an airplane. Multiply those two minutes of radiation to add up to a three hour or even trans-continental flight, and those afraid of body-scan radiation would never want to fly again. Body scans are also safe for all passengers, including children, pregnant women, and people with metal medical implants and joint replacements.

The bottom line is this: the TSA has a responsibility to ensure the safety of those who travel by air, and we have the responsibility of heeding this protocol to protect ourselves and others. If going through a body scanner (and perhaps a few uncomfortable moments) means that another tragedy will be prevented, it is definitely worth it.