Ever since the attack on September 11, 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seems to be introducing Americans to what a police state feels like. After the terrorist attack on the twin towers, the TSA has been strengthening the security of the nation’s transportation systems. They say they are ensuring the freedom of movement for people and commerce. They have been working with law enforcement and intelligence communities in order to set the standards for transportation security. The advanced technology has been utilized within airports operating checkpoints. Although these technologies can help make the airports a safer environment, many believe that this is a way to prepare americans for a possible police state in the future.
Other than the 9/11 incident, there was another situation that hit the media concerning the employees of the TSA. The employees within airports were accused of misconduct by not following the strict security procedures. They were also accused of not enforcing enough punishment for people breaking the rules. TSA employees were said to have been sleeping on the job and allowing people to bypass security among screenings. After this hit the media, people agreed that the airports needed advanced security changes. Some believe that this incident was an excuse to install the new advanced technology such as the exit portals and millimeter wave units.
Last year, the TSA came out with the exit portals that some like to call “detention pods.” These portals look like something out of a science fiction movie, like the Star Trek transporter. Some people thought that the portals were some sort of x-ray devices. The process is simple but very uncomfortable to some. When a passenger is ready to leave, they must go through these portals. First they must step in front of the entrance to the pod. The door will then open, able to contain up to six people at a time, and let the passenger go inside. The door then shuts and locks the passenger inside the pod. Meanwhile, a computerized voice is giving the passenger instructions on what to do and how to utilize the portal so they can exit. The passenger will stay inside to examine the person and their belongings. If they are considered a threat, they will remain locked in there until law enforcement arrives. Once the device acknowledges that the passenger is no threat, the doors unlock and open so they may leave. Most of the portals are monitored by law enforcement or TSA employees. Introducing police state technology, the TSA does not intend to stop there.
Another device that the TSA has introduced to the American airports is the millimeter wave units. These units incorporate advanced imaging technology screening. Just like the detention pods, this allows the TSA to detect what could possibly be a threat. It detects concealed items, both metallic and non-metallic, and even explosives. Once a passenger enters the pod, the imaging technology scans the body and places the image on the computer screen, which displays an image of the passengers naked body. If this makes people uncomfortable, the screening is only an option. If a passenger refuses to go through the imaging pod, they must undergo an alternate screening that includes a thorough pat down.
There are numerous reports on the TSA and how they are abusing this power. People claim to have been inappropriately patted down leading to sexual assault. Women have reported to being groped during the security process. It even went as far as someone who had been bit by a bomb-sniffing dog, someone had been stun gunned for refusing to go into the scanner, genital fondling, and many more incidences have been reported. Travelers are not happy with the new process they must undergo when all they want to do is exercise their right to travel. It is one thing to utilize safety precautions, but many people believe the TSA has stepped the line. Introducing the police state has not been easy to accomplish until the TSA decided they were able to do so using their advanced technology.
Editorial By Brittany Varner-Miller