You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

EDITORIAL: Obama’s pornographer pal

TSA body scanners expose rent-seeking kickbacks

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

President Obama rallied to the defense of the Transportation Security Administration's X-rated airport x-ray scanners Saturday with the insistence that the intrusive machines were needed in response to last year's attack by failed underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. "Since the explosive device that was on Mr. Abdulmutallab was not detected by ordinary metal detectors, it has meant that TSA has tried to adapt to make sure that passengers on planes are safe," Mr. Obama said. Unfortunately, the administration's policies appear to be motivated more by business as usual in Washington than true security concerns.

For his extravagant trip to India earlier this month, Mr. Obama invited a number of corporate leaders, including Deepak Chopra, the chief executive of OSI Systems Inc. Through its Rapiscan Systems subsidiary, Mr. Chopra's firm sells whole-body imaging systems to the TSA. It is also an administration ally. Mr. Chopra and his executive vice presidents, Alan I. Edrick and Ajay Mehra, each cut separate checks for the maximum legal amount to Mr. Obama's presidential campaign on Oct. 24, 2008. Given the $2.4 billion in public money the administration plans to dole out over the life of the pornographic scanner program, those donations may have been a wise investment.

This influence game is, of course, bipartisan. Three congressional Republicans took to the House floor last week to condemn President George W. Bush's former Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff, whose firm counted Rapiscan as a client. "There must be a better way to have security at airports than taking pornographic photographs of our citizens, including children, and then giving apparent kickbacks to political hacks," said Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican.

The tough words are backed up by fact. Advanced imaging technology quite simply is not being used in response to the underwear bomber, despite presidential assertions to the contrary. In January, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was asked directly whether the new-age machines were being introduced because of the Christmas Day incident. "The answer is it was planned before this," Ms. Napolitano admitted. The failed attack just happened to serve as a convenient explanation for systems the Government Accountability Office noted were being rushed into service without adequate operational testing.

There are other reasons for concern. Ms. Napolitano has stated unequivocally that TSA will protect traveler privacy and that the virtual strip searches will not be recorded for posterity. Ms. Napolitano once made a similar promise as Arizona governor. In 2008, Napolitano administration officials assured state lawmakers that proposed freeway speed cameras would only photograph lawbreakers. Only after the wildly unpopular machines doled out millions in tickets did the truth emerge that the robotic devices recorded the movements of all drivers, 24 hours a day.

The same lack of credibility now plagues the Obama administration's insistence on predatory pat-downs and naked photography. Americans intuitively realize that feeling up grandma does nothing to decrease the statistically minimal chance that an Islamic radical will take down a flight. Nonetheless, government-sponsored molestation will continue unless Mr. Obama realizes that he loses a re-election vote with each grope.

"As you have heard the president say, the buck stops with him," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said of the controversy Monday. The dignity of travelers shouldn't be sacrificed so Mr. Obama's friends can make a buck.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts