Mayor Villaraigosa thinks security theater is awesome, doesn’t care about your privacy

Across the country people are voicing their concerns for the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners recently implemented by the TSA. This is not surprising given the fact that the radiation used in the scanners has about 1 in 30 million chance of giving you cancer – the same odds of you being involved in any terrorist attack, and if you choose to opt-out of that scan, the alternative is basically a violation of your fourth amendment rights. The TSA is facing heavy questions about why they continually under represent the amount of radiation these scanners use, as well as their ability to store the naked images of you that they capture. This is such an issue that the Chairman of Homeland Security has asked the TSA to reconsider the policy, Congressman Mica, soon to be head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is reminding airports that using the TSA is optional and they can kick them out – and airports in New York and Orlando are already taking steps to do just that.

Very clearly people are upset, and their elected officials are stepping up to address these concerns. Well, in other places they are anyway, here in LA it’s almost like Mayor Villaraigosa is mocking them. In this climate of concern, the mayor is bragging about installing the tech at LAX. Lawsuits are being filed against the DHS, several nationwide protests are being organized (National Opt Out Day, We Won’t Fly, Opt Out on Twitter), people are collecting horror stories online and there is question if the scanners would have even detected the underwear bomber that apparently set this all into motion (Dear TSA, thanks for always being one step behind) – And here’s our Mayor clearly siding against all reason. This single act pretty much determined how I’ll vote at the next mayoral elections.

10 Replies to “Mayor Villaraigosa thinks security theater is awesome, doesn’t care about your privacy”

  1. I read that 1 in 30 million stat at Boing Boing as well…was I the only one that took that to mean that the odds of getting cancer from the scanner was very small?

    Yes, given that the same odds of being blown up in a terrorist attack are equally small I don’t think that justifies spending all of the money on the machines and the very disturbing privacy violations. But I don’t see how the health risk argument is a valid one.

  2. I think this gives Mayor A.V. one more shot on the naughty list as I thought LA was heading towards bankruptcy and he’s putting those machines in.

  3. Security Theater indeed. The TSA and Homeland Security are chasing Boogie Men at the cost of civil liberties. Their Bush-era security tactics are obsessed with the idea that forcing people to relinquish their rights is the only way to ensure safety. Sadly, our 24 hour news watching nation hasn’t turned away from the TV to read the Constitution, let alone what the 4th Amendment is.

    How is it that a nation like Israel, with all their terrorism experience manages to secure its planes without invasive searches? Instead, they diligently screen their air passengers with a series of questions, using psychology instead of technology.

  4. Also kind of ironic that the same day Sec State Clinton raises questions about the screenings, her local 2008 presidential campaign chairman embraces them.

  5. Evan – the point isn’t is 1 in 30 million is a lot or a little, it’s that it seems stupid to implement a security measure to protect you from something, when the security measure is just as likely to kill you as the thing is’t supposed to protect against.

  6. The mayor is a moron. Too bad the machine didn’t malfunction & fry what little brain cells he has. All he cares about is getting his mug on TV instead of doing anything constructive for L.A.

  7. 2 observations:

    1. In terms of political consequences to those in power, there is no comparison between the remote chance of someone dying from radiation-caused cancer and the remote chance of them dying in a terrorist attack. Most successful politicians are amateur behavioral psychologists and know that the former involves a remote fear of something occurring years in the future, while the latter involves the immediate fear of something horrible happening now, fed by the frenzy that began after 9/11. Fear of immediate pain wins out over fear of future pain nearly every time.

    Add to that the pain of a politician losing his or her re-election because he or she was seen after the fact as not doing everything possible to prevent a terrorist incident, versus the pain taking a hit now for invading passengers’ rights (and the really small pain of having someone die of radiation-caused cancer many years later and probably not being able to pin the cause on a decision by a particular politician), and there’s just no comparison.

    2. Too bad there wasn’t as much public and media outcry when our rights were similarly being violated several years ago by federal government-ordered warrantless wiretapping, which violated the federal FISA Act. Again, it must be human nature, because the lesson seems to be, if you want to violate people’s rights and not suffer as many repercussions, do the violating in such a way that people can’t see, feel, or film it.

  8. I guess he must have finished that whole “collapsing city budget and structure” thing and had some time left over to hang out at the airport and pimp security theatre. Just another day in the life of America’s hardest working mayor…

  9. I think most of these politicians take charter flights or fly on private planes- they don’t have to deal with TSA security, right?

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