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November 28, 2010

TSA pat-down rules 'handing terrorists a victory,' says privacy expert

     Washington: The time spent in the over-aggressive pat-downs are a waste of valuable resources and could better be used attempting to identify likely terrorists, says a privacy expert, Fred H. Cate, of Indiana University. He sent a letter applauding leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for their close scrutiny of the new policies enforced by the Transportation Security Administration. "As you know, the new TSA policy requires full-body pat-downs of travelers picked at random and of any traveler who refuses to be X-rayed or presents anything 'anomalous,' such as a knee brace, a pacemaker, or a prosthetic limb,' wrote Cate in the letter. Cate has argued that intrusive searches often don't work and they have repeatedly missed potential explosives and other contraband. He also said that the new search policies violate long-held social and legal norms about personal privacy. Even though searches might detect wrongdoing, we reject them on the basis that the "solution" is worse than the "problem." Since the TSA 's new policies are unlikely to detect wrongdoing, the searches aren't a "solution" at all. "The TSA has a long history of ill-informed and ill-targeted security programs, and disingenuous dealings with Congress and the American public," said Cate. Though Cate acknowledged the challenges faced by TSA agents, he said "since the agency's creation, TSA leadership has done little to earn the public's respect or its trust. Its policies are handing the terrorists a victory they could not win on their own."
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