Prof. Decries 'Security Theater', Privacy Invasions, Religious Clashes At Airports

As the U.S. and other nations have responded to the Christmas Day attempt to bring down a U.S. airliner, they've made much of the "enhanced screening" being done at many airports.

On NPR's Tell Me More in the last hour, George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen told host Michel Martin that much of what's going on, in his opinion, is just "security theater" that isn't making air travel any safer and violates many people's religious and political principles by invading their privacy with so-called full-body scans.

There is a "profound clash" between the religious beliefs of many Muslims, orthodox Jews and others, and the scanning technology, Rosen said.

He makes the case that if the body scanning machines are going to be used, the images have to be as "blob-like" as possible, should not be stored and that travelers need to be able to opt-out and request private, face-to-face searches by security personnel of the same sex.

Here's the conversation Michel had with Rosen:



  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Rosen has been writing and talking about these issues for several years. His 2004 book The Naked Crowd: Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age, argued that the government's anti-terror efforts were violating essential freedoms.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.