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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Security

Full-Foot Scan?


By
Richard Carreno
Junto Staff Writer
Washington.
If we get a full-body scan, does that include feet?

Will this new technology eliminate the need for airline passengers to remove their shoes in the name of travel security?

Interestingly, I haven't heard anything about this. Odd this, in that shoe removal has to be the biggest complaint passengers lodge as they line up, for the most part, compliantly in areoport security queues.

Everyone believes in airline security -- and is willing support most measures, as long as they're necessary, appropriate, and undertaken respectfully. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has gone a long way in accomplishing this mission. With the exception of the shoe sham, that is. Security stagecraft at its worst.

Visiting the White House yesterday, I got the full monty. No gate-crashing this.

My name was on the list, and they were checking it twice. I got ticked at the 15th Street gate, and then again as I entered the East Wing. I emptied my pockets, went through a metal detector and, as is the case at aeroports, my artificial left knee set off the alarm, necessitating a wanding.

The process was respectful, efficient, and thorough. In fact, I was told by a person who knows about these things that anyone that is, anyone, who enters the White gets a security check that amounts to a 'Secret' clearance. That's why you need to submit your personal details before showing up.

(Does this mean I can now get fast-tracked at areoports? I don't think so).

Of course, the list of no-nos is hysterical. If you've any doubts how literal Americans are, all you have to do is consult one of the banned-item lists you find here, at the Capitol, at the White House. The White House bans, in its long list, handbags, tabacco, combs, knitting needles, pens (oops, I carried one in), mace, knives, martial arts items, fireworks, guns and ammunition,and, my personal favourite, electric stun guns. Just beautiful! Where else but in America would there be an explicit prohibition against electric stun guns?

The good news, even though somewhat contradictory: We were allowed cell phones, umbrellas (blunt tips?), wallets, and car keys (rubber?)

'Please power off your cell phone,' I was told as I entered by the 15th Street gate.

When I got into the East Wing, the person I was waiting for hadn't arrived yet. I feared that there might have been a mix-up. I asked a guard if I might use my cell.

'Sure,' he said.

I powered on my phone, and made the calls I needed to.

Yet no removal of shoes.

A few years ago, at Hartsfield in Atlanta, I experienced my first body scan. Actually, it was a foot scan. Instead of removing my shoes, I inserted by shod feet in a device that scanned them. An X-ray? Who knows? Maybe it was something like those infernal machines in some shoe stores when I was a kid. They were supposed to size your feet. (Actually, I think they were responsible for the bunions I have now).

Obviously, these Atlanta-based feet machines went nowhere.

Even the White House security official I spoke to yesterday had never heard of the device.

What about feet getting scanned if we submit to body scanning? He was stumped.

'Anyway, don't expect those full-body scanners anytime soon,' he said.  
     

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