A Boston-based TSA agent was charged with child rape, sparking concerns and criticism from privacy and passenger advocates who continue to be unhappy with the new full-body scanners in use at many airports.
Just who does the TSA have manning those scanners anyway?
While this guy’s arrest had nothing to do with his professional duties, its unnerving at best to think of a pedophile patting down my daughter as we enter an airplane. It’s certainly not a thought that make me feel more secure.
The TSA says that Sean Shanahan, 44, passed two background checks before being allowed to run security screenings on passengers. They also point out that he hasn’t been allowed to feel anyone up in his professional capacity since being arrested for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
Good job, TSA. Don’t put that guy back on the strip search detail anytime soon, OK? Sounds like it might have been the wrong line of work for him.
The ACLU’s Chris Ott spoke to the Boston Herald about this case, saying:
Whatever safeguards that are built into the machines are only as good as the people operating the technology.
Of course, no one has yet complained about this guy’s job performance. He was arrested for sex crimes committed on his own time; the victim was a friend of his teenage daughter’s.
So what does his arrest signify for the security of our security measures? I’m of the opinion that most airport security is security theater anyway. I certainly don’t want to become an apologist for the TSA. But I’m not sure one bad apple is a red flag worthy of reforming the entire organization.
Sunday’s London Times has an excellent essay about the needless security measure we adopt as a society in response to isolated tragedies. The writer suggests that, “We must start to accept that 5% of the population at any given time is bonkers.”
I’m pretty sure he just made that number up, but he has a point. No security measure is perfect. Our obsession with futile, theatrical gestures in the direction of perfect security is what brought us all the TSA and it’s idiotic search policies in the first place.
I have no doubt that they’ll respond to this arrest with their usual idiocy and institute some new layer of inquisition to weed out the creeps from their applicant pool. But I doubt it will be perfectly effective. The problem isn’t that a pedophile slipped through their employment screening process and got his hands on the passengers at Logan airport. The problem is that we’re all expected to submit to a full-body search in our stocking feet every time we get on a plane.
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