Airport Full-Body Scanners

Full-body scanner has emerged as one of the most controversial debate topics in recent years because the issue pits two fundamental constitutional rights, the right to privacy and the right to security, against each other. The supporters and the opponents of the full-body-scanner disagree upon the degree of compromise that should be allowed in these two individual rights. The supporters argue that the right to security takes preference over the right to privacy, especially in the light of events that have taken place since 9/11, and no security measures should be spared when hundreds of lives are at stake. The opponents argue that full-body scanners go too far and similar objectives could be met through less-intrusive measures and devices. The opponents further argue that these violations of constitutional rights granted under the Fourth Amendment (Fuller, 2010) only advance the terrorists’ agenda who want to create an atmosphere of paranoia in America. A critical analysis of the arguments relevant to the issue confirms that the benefits of full-body scanner outweigh the costs.

Incidents such as Nigerian Abdul-Mutallab’s unsuccessful attempt to detonate a U.S. passenger plan (Yahaya, 2009) prove that alternative methods of passengers’ search have serious shortcomings and terrorists continue to invent new and unexpected methods. Thus, nothing short of a comprehensive research as ensured by full-body scanner can prove to be an effective defense against the terrorists’ innovations. In addition, the technology continues to advance and soon full-body scanners will address the concerns raised by the opponents such as censoring private parts. But we cannot afford to wait for the technology to advance to our desired level. Until then we have an obligation to keep Americans safe and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Most of us may not have a common view on the issue but who knows how many tragic incidents may have been prevented by the intense security measures since 9/11.



Fuller, E. (2010, November 17). Are TSA pat-downs and full-body scans unconstitutional? Retrieved January 26, 2012, from

Yahaya, S. (2009, December 27). Nigeria bomber’s home town blames foreign schooling. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from