The fight against full-body scanners at airports

David G. Savage
L.A. Times
Wednesday, January 13, 2009

from Washington – The government has promised more and better security at airports following the near-disaster on Christmas Day, but privacy advocates are not prepared to accept the use of full-body scanners as the routine screening system.

“We don’t need to look at naked 8-year-olds and grandmothers to secure airplanes,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said last week. “I think it’s a false argument to say we have to give up all of our personal privacy in order to have security.”

After each major terrorism incident, the balance between privacy and security tilts in favor of greater security. But in the last decade, privacy advocates have been surprisingly successful in blocking or stalling government plans to search in more ways and in more places.

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A conservative freshman in the House, Chaffetz won a large bipartisan majority last year for an amendment to oppose the government’s use of body-image scanners as the primary screening system for air travelers. He was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the scanners were the equivalent of a “virtual strip search.”

The pro-privacy stand does not follow the traditional ideological lines; Republicans and Democrats have joined together on the issue now and in the past.

Advocates of increased security are frustrated.

View the original article at L.A. Times

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