Overly Optimistic Projections by the TSA
On November 24, the TSA Blog declared victory for its full-scan machines. In a post entitled “Opt Out Turns Into Opt In,” TSA’s Blogger Bob wrote that what was supposed to be a protest day turned into a “TSA Appreciation Day.” The post cited scores of articles describing the absence of significant delays and few protests. Yet the lack of significant protest can be explained by many things that have nothing to do with flyers’ support for the move to full-body scan machines. The absence of significant protests no doubt had something to do with the fact that it was Thanksgiving. More generally, travelers have one thing on their mind: to get to their destination with as little embarrassment and delay as possible. Perhaps people might not want to make a fuss and been seen as troublemakers. Or as between a pat down by a TSA guard, the full screen body scan might seem less degrading.
The TSA Blog fails to mention a Zogby poll released on November 23 that casts doubt on the theory that people have opted into full body scans. The poll suggests that 61% of the 2,032 voters polled from November 19 to November 22 oppose the use of full body scans and TSA pat downs. Republicans and Independents oppose full body scans in greater numbers than Democrats. Of those polled, 52% believe that the enhanced security measures will not prevent terrorist activity, and almost half say it is a violation of privacy rights. The poll also finds that when given a choice, likely voters will choose full body scans over the TSA pat downs (48% to 7%), but 42% would rather have neither. So much for opting in.