Security and Full-Body Scans
A Transportation Security Administration officer views a full-body scan during a demonstration of passenger screening technology, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in Arlington, Va. (AP)

A Transportation Security Administration officer views a full-body scan during a demonstration at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in Arlington, Va., on Dec. 30, 2009. (AP)

Post your comments below

The Christmas Day terror attempt on a flight to Detroit has thrown airport security and explosive underwear into the headlines.

It has also thrown a spotlight again on the technology for full-body scans — and the question of whether they should be the norm. Routine.

These aren’t x-rays, but scans that look at the body beneath the clothes. Proponents say it’s foolish not to look — and say Christmas Day was naked proof of that.

Critics say it’s a virtual strip search and an offense to dignity and privacy that is not worth it.

This hour, On Point: privacy, air security, and the call for full-body scans.


Joining us first from Baltimore is Benet Wilson, online managing editor for Aviation Week, where she’s reporting on airline security.

Joining us from Reno, Nevada, is Douglas Laird. He was director of security for Northwest Airlines from 1989 to 1995, and previously served 22 years in the U.S. Secret Service. He is currently president of Laird & Associates, an aviation security consulting firm.

From Washington we’re joined by Michael German, a 16-year veteran of the FBI, where he was a special agent in domestic terrorism and covert operations. He is now policy counsel on national security for the American Civil Liberties Union, a senior fellow at, and adjunct professor for Law Enforcement and Terrorism at the National Defense University.

Also from Washington we’re joined by James Carafano, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. He is a 25-year veteran of the Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

And from Napa, Calif., we’re joined by Kate Hanni, founder of, a consumer advocacy group she started in 2006 to represent airline passengers.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

Nov 25, 2015
A BBQ pork shoulder special with sweet potato hash and over easy eggs at Foster's Market in Durham, N.C. (Courtesy Foster's Market)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 24, 2015
An archival image of a McKinley - Hobart Presidential Campaign Poster from 1896. (Public Domain / WikiCommons)

Republican political strategist Karl Rove is thinking about the McKinley 1896 campaign and the GOP field right now. Karl Rove is with us.

Nov 24, 2015
This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 shows fuel tanks  hit during the attack of Russian warplanes in Syria. Russian warplanes on Monday attacked oil extraction, transport and refinement facilities in areas controlled by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

ISIS, Inc. The terrorist organization is raking in billions –from oil, grain, antiquities, and taxes. We look at how to break the ISIS bank. Plus, Turkey downs a Russian plane. We’ll have the latest.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »