The TSA is Now My Dermatologist

From my Bloomberg View column this week:

I'm writing this column aboard a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. I first entered the TSA matrix for this trip at Reagan National Airport. As is my practice, I opted out of the body imager and asked for a pat-down. I do this in part because I don't trust the government's assurances that the radiation emitted by the machines is harmless. And also because I don't enjoy raising my hands like a mugging victim inside a radioactive box so a government agent can look at me naked.

During this pat-down, the TSA agent, while running his hands carefully up my leg, came across a small bump near my left knee. He asked me to describe the nature of the bump. I told him it was a benign cyst. (I realize I'm oversharing, but there's a purpose to this story.) The agent called over a supervisor. The supervisor questioned me about the cyst. The supervisor and the agent then discussed the cyst. This has happened to me at two other checkpoints. My dermatologist is much less interested in this cyst than is the Department of Homeland Security. Eventually, the supervisor ruled that the cyst (or, I should say, "alleged cyst") was too small to be a threat to a commercial airliner.

Read the whole thing. I provide other pertinent examples of security theater.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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