You Might As Well Fly Naked
August 2003

by James Colburn

The Associated Press put out a little item today about increased security screening measures at airports, to whit.

"Authorities will be asked to pay special attention to cameras, flash devices and laptop computers, said an official of the Department of Homeland Security who spoke on condition of anonymity."

Well isn't that just great. Really great. Cameras, flashes and laptops. Can you say "I'm a photographer, please kick me in the ass?" What the hell else do we carry on to airplanes? You can't check your film with your baggage because it'll wind up at your destination so fried by x-rays that it looks like it's been through a nuclear blast. You can't check any equipment because all the bags get opened and some minimum-wage baggage handlers is going to look at your 300/2.8 and think "That'd be great for taking pictures of junior's little league games."

So you've probably gotten into the routine of packing every last thing you need for your job into a backpack and satchel that just barely fits into the "if it won't fit in this box you can't take it on board" thing at the check-in counter and now, it seems, the Department of Homeland Security is going to do a strip and deep-cavity search on you every time you pass through airport security because someone, somewhere thinks that a camera might contain something dangerous.

What about all those stuffed animals those kids bring on? How about that Game Boy? The "apple juice" in that baby bottle? Maybe those CD's are actually Ninja flying disc weapons with sharpened edges. Do you really believe that that walking stick is just a walking stick or is it really a blow-gun?

What's going to happen is that if you're a professional photographer you'd better be prepared to get to the airport six hours before flight time dressed in nothing more than a clear plastic jump suit and sandals because anything else will set off alarm bells. It's bad enough now getting the third degree when you ask for a hand search on your film (as is your right) and some numb-nuts security "supervisor" decides to take sniffer sample from every last roll of film, one by one, just to teach you a lesson.

Oh, by the way, that AP story goes on to say that, 'The advisory does not reflect new intelligence, the official said, adding: "There is no specific intelligence to indicate these tems are to be used in any terrorism attack."'

Isn't that an understatement...

© 2003 James Colburn
Contributing Writer


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