It’s pretty hard to find any part of the terrorism story that isn’t suffused and tainted by partisan politics. But one example that keeps coming back to me is this example of the “backscatter” body scanners which would dramatically increase security but also, allegedly, create unacceptable intrusions into personal privacy.
Now, I’m not sure, either on the privacy side or on the effectiveness side, whether we should be using these scanners on all flights or perhaps all flights coming into the USA.
But what is pretty clear to me is the disconnect on the question that I see in the public debate.
We’re willing to ethnically profile, do all sorts extra-judicial surveillance, maintain massive databases of hundreds of thousands of people who have some vague relationship to extremism, torture captives, condemn people to hours unable to go the bathroom on planes, even launch various foreign military adventures, but when it comes to submitting to a quick scan that might show a vague outline of boobs or penises (almost certainly no more than is exposed in most bathing suits), that’s a bridge too far.
Something about that doesn’t compute to me. And what I like about this is that there’s no clear partisan division on this one. Everyone seems to agree. It just tells me that at some level we’re not really serious about this.