The scene: The Oval Office. ENTER White House chief of staff RAHM EMANUEL, looking distracted and somewhat worried.
BARACK OBAMA, The Boy President®, is seated at his desk. He looks up, puts down the latest Golf Digest after looking at his picture on the cover one more time, and glances quizzically at his aide.
BO: "What's up, Rahm?"
RE: "Mr. President, we have another problem involving...child pornography."
BO: "Good Lord, Rahm. This time, he's going to have to go. Tell him I want his resignation letter..."
RE: "No, no, Mr. President! It's not about Kevin Jennings. It's something else."
BO: "Somebody else? Do you know what's going to happen when Limbaugh gets wind of this? Fire whoever it is and back-date the resignation!"
RE: "Ah...we really can't do that, Mr. President. Ah...I don't really know how to put this, but...technically, Barry, you are the one in violation of the child pornography laws."
Fade quickly to gray (about as quickly as President Obama's approval ratings are fading...)
I can't guarantee that is even a semi-accurate re-enactment of the conversation being held today or tomorrow at the White House. I can't guarantee the conversation will take place in the Oval Office--Rahm might have to walk over to the White House Basketball Court to talk to the Center in Chief. Heck, I can't even guarantee that Barack Obama will be told about this at all, since I don't know how much "in the loop" he really is on important decisions.
I can, however, guarantee that what I'm relating is going to have to be talked about by the people in charge of the current administration. And there is nothing funny or light-hearted about the actual situation.
As The Guardian points out in an article published today, the new high-tech full body scanners that appear to be a cornerstone of the U.S. defense against Al Qaeda airplane bombings violate existing child pornography laws. The images are too graphic. I would include a sample image here, but I'm pretty sure that it would violate Redstate site policies.
The issue has come to a head in the U.K., where testing of the full-body scanners (called "virtual strip-searching" by the newspapers there), could only proceed after under-18's were explicitly excluded from the tests. Contrary to early reports in the media, the scan images are so detailed that "genitalia and breast enlargements" are visible. Celebrities are concerned that scanner images of them will be leaked onto the internet--but the major problem is that the images produced in full-body scans are legally "indecent images or "pseudo-images" of children."
The obvious solution to this problem is to exempt children under 18 from being scanned, which is precisely what the U.K. government has done. However, that really isn't a solution to the problem. It is a potentially deadly loophole.
Does anyone seriously believe that terrorists who have convinced pregnant women to become suicide bombers would not focus their efforts on convincing children under 18 to carry bombs if a loophole exists to exempt them? Can anyone seriously believe that, in at least a few cases, they would be successful in brainwashing children into becoming living bombs?
What is the alternative? Forbid children under 18 from flying into Western countries? Search each child in an actual strip-search? And after years of politically-correct precedents involving profiling, can we now say that children of a certain ethic background, race, religion or national origin must be strip-searched while others are immune to something that could be potentially traumatic for a child?
The full-body scanner technology seems to be obsolete and ineffective even before it is fully deployed. Where now is the line of defense against in-flight bombings? Where is the safety Americans have a right to expect from their government?
All we are sacrificing for an ineffective, invasive technology is our time waiting at airports, millions of dollars in development money--by government standards "chump change," and the tattered remnants of our dignity. I'm sure that counterterrorism czar John Brennan will assure us soon that the full-body scanners will work flawlessly to provide us with a comforting illusion of safety and security, except for those days that they do not work, of course.
But the ultimate irony of this story is that the scanners which violate Western child pornography laws and may therefore be for all practical purposes unusable do not really work anyway. Tests show that the scanners would not have revealed the explosives the Underwear Bomber had concealed in his briefs.
So the question that every American has to ask now is: Do you feel safer in 2010 than you did in 2008?