Skip to main content

Did you know that in 2008 TSA claimed that the images generated by their wiener screeners were "G-rated" and appropriate for "posting in pre-schools"?  

So what's all the fuss about?

There are two types of whole body imagers or WBI:

  1.  The millimeter wave scanner, which produces rather blurry 3d images which look like this, and
  1.  backscatter X-ray, which produce more detailed 2D images which look like this.    

All you'll need to know below the fold.

This diary is rather long, so I will summarize what I discuss in detail below:

  1.  The S-1000 machine produces radition which is said to be at a safe level, but there have been no extensive tests; children and persons with certain medical conditions will be more vulnerable.
  1.  No significant health risks have been shown to be associated with the millimeter wave devices
  1.  A version of the L-3 ProVision shows only an image in stylized cartoon-like fashion; it is in use at one of the largest airports in the world and can be retrofitted to the U.S. machines.
  1.  The current version of both machines in current use in the U.S. can store and transmit images; previous statements by the government that the machines lacked this capability have been shown to be false.
  1.  Images on the machines could also be obtained by analog attack, that is, by photographing the on-screen image with a cell phone or other imaging device; TSA forbids its agents who are observing the images from carrying cell phone and similar devices into the image viewing room.
  1. These machines are marketed for use in prisons, and some have been so installed.  They have been tested on at least one subway system and there is good reason to believe that they will be extended to trains.  

Basic functioning
Millimeter wave scanners work by reflecting extremely high frequency radio waves off of the body.  Backscatter X-ray machines use a form of ionizing radiation, which penetrates the clothing, but which is supposed to bounce back off the skin to the detector unit, which captures the bounced back photons and assembles them into an image.   Ars Technica has an excellent summary of the technical aspects of these machines.
Numbers installed
According to CNN, on 10/31/10, TSA had 189 back scatter machines and 152 millimeter wave machines in operation.  Eventually TSA plans to completely replace all metal detection devices and use the image scanners as the primary screening tool.

Scanner models
For its backscatter machines, TSA uses the S-1000 device manufactured by Rapiscan Systems, a multinational company which in turn is owned by OSI Systems.  The S-1000 machine looks like two large blue refrigerators, with a walk way on a rubber mat passing between them.  Some images of the machines are here and here.  

The millimeter wave scanners are called the L-3 ProVision, and manufactured by L-3 Communications, which is one of the ten largest government contractors.
A diagram from Scientific showing sample use and components is here.  Another image is here..  An article in the Deseret News from March 2009 shows and describes the testing of the millimeter wave scanner at the Salt Lake City airport.  L-3 Communications has a website with explanations and demonstrations of its millimeter wave operation of the machine.

Health issues
Almost all of the health issues relate to the S-1000 backscatter radiation scanner.  The government claims that the radiation dose from the machine is too low to be of any realistic concern.  Highly qualified experts outside the government have disagreed however, and it appears that no clear consensus has emerged.  Wikipedia has a good summary of the controversy here.  CNN also published a fine short article covering the issue on 11/12/10:

David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University and a professor of radiation biophysics ... is concerned about how widely the scanners will be used. "If you think of the entire population of, shall we say a billion people per year going through these scanners, it's very likely that some number of those will develop cancer from the radiation from these scanners," Brenner said.  Skin cancer would likely be the primary concern, he said. Each time the same person receives a backscatter scan, the small risk associated with the low dose of radiation is multiplied by the number of exposures.  Brenner said the risk to an individual is "very small indeed" for a single scan. He said he is most concerned about frequent fliers, pilots and young people, because children are more sensitive to radiation.

The bottom line is that the government has determined that whatever the danger maybe to the individual (which it claims is negligible), it is overridden by the need for security on the aircraft.  According to the Food and Drug Administration's website

Since general-use x-ray systems emit ionizing radiation, the societal benefit of reliably detecting threats must be sufficient to outweigh the potential radiation risk, if any, to the individual screened.

Let's assume the S-1000 machines are safe if properly used.  What if they aren't?

Rez estimates 50 to 100 doses of backscatter radiation would be equivalent to a chest X-ray. But he said the dose is not his main concern with backscatter machines.
"The thing that worries me the most, is not what happens if the machine works as advertised, but what happens if it doesn't," Rez said. A potential malfunction could increase the radiation dose, he said.

Indeed. TSA's record for technical training and attention to detail does not exactly one give comfort.  For example, it appears that Inspector Closeau now works for TSA.

Of course, TSA won't tell us what the procedures are for operating the S-1000, so there's really no way of knowing whether its being properly done unless TSA should again happen to idiotically place the entire manual on a public website.

Lobbying and contracts
L-3 communications spent large amounts of money on lobbying and campaign contributions  to members of Congress in both parties.  Former U.S. senator Al D'Amato from New York is a lobbyist for L-3.  Rapiscan was able to CEO Deepak Chopra on Air Force 1 with President Obama on his recent India trip.  By way, this is not THAT Deepak Chopra, but the OTHER Deepak Chopra.  And, as is well known, the chief pimp for Rapiscan is former Homeland Security Maximum Leader Michael Chertoff.

L-3 Communications markets its current millimeter wave scanner as follows:

L-3’s ProVision uses harmless active millimeter wave technology. To help ensure privacy, the product generates an image that resembles a fuzzy photo negative with options to blur facial and private areas. Images cannot be stored and can be viewed in a remote location separate from the checkpoint.  The ProVision reduces the need for pat-down searches, increases the speed of checkpoint security and makes correctional facility visits safer and more secure.

Rapiscan markets its S-1000 machine as follows:

The the two sided Rapiscan Secure 1000 Single Pose system eliminates the need for repositioning between front and back scans thereby increasing throughput.

In other words, Rapiscan is claiming that more people can be processing through the S-1000 than the L-3 ProVision because in the S-1000, the subject only needs to pose once.

Use and proposed use outside of airports
In March 2009, Cook County awarded L-3 communications a contract to install ten L-3 ProVision millimeter wave scanners at checkpoints within the Cook County Department of Corrections for the purpose of monitoring prisoner movements.   In 2006 the New Jersey PATH authority conducted a two week trial of the full body imaging machines at the Jersey City subway station usiing millimeter wave devices.  Officials reported that "the body's private areas were blurred".  If so, the machines tested in 2006 would appear to be different from those in use now at TSA.

Samuel Plumeri Jr., the Port Authority Police superintendent, said the agency is "exploring innovative ways to protect passengers" at its facilities and is a willing partner in such ventures with DHS. Richard Canas, director of the state's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, praised yesterday's announcement for putting increased emphasis on rail security. "I think we can deal with (rail security) the same way we deal with airports," said Canas, referring to the extensive manpower and money given to aviation security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "But we need to focus on it.

Privacy issues
Above, I noted that a nude 3D image is produced by the current generation of millimeter wave scanners.  In April 2008, TSA claimed on its official propablog  that for the millimeter wave scanners :

These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody. Privacy and security go hand in hand,

Multiple comments noted the following contradiction:

From the TSA webpage discussing Whole Body Imaging.........

The image will not be visible to the public, and the viewing TSO will not be permitted to bring any camera into the viewing area.

Why would TSA make the above statement if the image was not capable of showing considerable detail?  Lack of Credibility and Integrity at TSA is a much larger questions.  The Public does not trust you!

On it's L-3 Communications claims that privacy issues can be resolved by new "automated threat detection image-free technology", abbreviated ATD

Automatic Threat Detection feature addresses privacy concerns by eliminating the generation and review of images. Scan data is processed by software without human intervention to determine if any threats are present. Potential threat areas are then presented to the operator using a generic mannequin that resembles a human outline.  

The "mannikin" actually shows up on the outside of the scan and looks like a  rather creepy cartoon figure, but certainly it cannot be described as explicit in any way.  Millimeter wave machines using ATD are in operation at Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam, which is the largest airport in the Netherlands and is the 3rd largest airport by passenger volume in the world.  L-3 Communications says that its ATD mannikin technology can be retrofitted to existing L-3 ProVision machines.

Rapiscan apparently doesn't have any technical solution comparable to the L-3 mannikin.  Instead, they will rely people preferring the scan over the grope.  Their marketing materials are quite frank:

Rapiscan Systems has also developed techniques to protect the privacy of the person being screened while enabling effective detection of threat items. In a recent study, 19 out of 20 people preferred a Secure 1000 scan to an invasive pat-down physical search.

For both machines, TSA prepared a privacy statement (dated 10/17/08) making the following privacy claims

While the equipment has the capability of collecting and storing an image, the image storage functions will be disabled by the manufacturer before the devices are placed in an airport and will not have the capability to be activated by operators. Images will be maintained on the screen only for as long as it takes to resolve any anomalies; if a TSO sees a suspicious area or prohibited item, the image will remain on the screen until the item is cleared either by the TSO recognizing the item on the screen, or by a physical screening by the TSO with the individual.  

The image is deleted in order to permit the next individual to be screened.  The equipment does not retain the image.  In addition, TSOs will be prohibited from bringing any device into the viewing area that has any photographic capability, including cell phone cameras.  Rules governing the operating procedures of TSOs using this WBI equipment are documented in standard operating procedures (SOP), and compliance with these procedures is reviewed on a routine basis.  Due the sensitivity of the technical and operational details, the SOP will not be publicized, however, TSOs receive extensive training prior to operating WBI technology.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained, via the Freedom of Information Act, TSA's contractor specifications for both the L-3 and the Rapiscan "whole body imaging" (WBI) machines, and released a report which refuted or at least called into serious question substantial portions of the government's privacy claims:

Contrary to TSA’s claims about WBI machines, these documents make clear that the WBI machines are designed to allow for the production of images with no privacy filters and to allow for the storage and transfer of those images. The capability to create unfiltered images and to store and transmit those images was expressly required by TSA in its Operational Requirements and Procurement Specifications.  

These documents reveal that there are numerous security threats inherent in the WBI machines’ design.  The WBI machines are subject to outside security threats because they employ Windows XP operating system and the Ethernet network. More disturbingly, they are subject to inside security threats due to the existence of Level Z clearance, which allows an unspecified number of TSA employees, outside contractors, and generic
“superusers” to disable privacy functions while at the same time storing and/or transferring data.  

In their spectacular collection of lies and fairy tales maintained by Blogdad Bob, TSA claims:

Myth: TSA Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) images can be stored on the AIT machines located in our airports.
Fact: Completely false – TSA’s machines should not be confused with the recent stories about the U.S. Marshals Service.  The machines used by TSA at our airports cannot store, print or transmit images. They simply don’t have that ability.

Several commentators on the blog pointed out the contradiction with the RFP, best of which was this:

Bob, either you are misrepresenting the facts, or the TSA has misrepresented its specifications for AIT scanning devices in its RFP.  The RFP clearly states that any Whole Body Imaging device purchased by the Transportation Security Administration shall have the ability to store and transmit mode when the system is set to 'test' mode.

DId the TSA lie to your vendors (and the Congress, the GAO and the taxpayers) in its RFP, or are you and Administrator Pistole now engaged in a campaign to lie to members of the public and the news media?

Just for the record: * Black ≠ White * Up ≠ Down * Left ≠ Right * Physically can't store/transmit images ≠ “
When in Test Mode, the WBI: - shall allow exporting of image data in real-time; - shall prohibit projection of an image to the IO station; - shall provide a secure means for high speed transfer of image data; - shall allow exporting of image data (raw and reconstructed.”

Clearly TSA was lying about the machines not being able to store images.  But does that mean that it actually is occurring?  We do know that the U.S. marshall's service stored 35,000 images taken from a whole body image scanner in a Florida courthouse.  This was from a millimeter wave scanner, apparently of a less advanced variety, produced by a different manufacturer.  

But what about TSA?  The latest from Blogdad Bob

TSA has not, will not and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports. The equipment sent by the manufacturer to airports cannot store, transmit or print images and operators at airports do not have the capability to activate any such function.

This is a lie masquerading as a truth.  In fact, the machines are capable of transmitting all images taken to remote locations where they can be stored, as the repeated use of "at the airport" shows.  According to the procurement specifications, the machines are also specified to have USB and ethernet ports.  One of many comments on the TSA Blog pointed out other problems:

I don't believe you or the TSA. Period. The technology is closed source and not open to independent review (not even for health concerns). Unless and until it is there is no reason to believe this is not possible.

And besides, there's always the "analog loophole". That is to say an agent snapping a pic with a phone or camera.

People were reassured in this particular case that images weren't stored either. So why should we believe the TSA when they say the same thing? Please answer that.

So, if the images are suitable for preschool and G-rated, why are they, as TSA not stored?  Seems like if you actually had a terrorist sneaking a bomb onto a plane, you'd want one of those G-rated images to prosecute him or her.  TSA can't have it both ways.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:41 AM PST.


Do you believe TSA when they say they're not storing nude images of travellers at the airport

53%30 votes
8%5 votes
3%2 votes
25%14 votes
3%2 votes
0%0 votes
5%3 votes

| 56 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:41:38 AM PST

  •  So what if they did take (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, darthstar

    thousands of blurry, faceless, and nameless images and store them on some computer? What if they even released them? I'm having trouble understanding why a fuzzy naked picture of me, that nobody can tell is me, is something I should give a shit about. I get the health and hassle concerns, but not this one.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:48:49 AM PST

    •  Thn why does TSA say they don't store the images? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      means are the ends

      Seems that if there's no reasonable objection, then the training value alone, not to mention potential use in investigations would mandate storage.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:54:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whether they store them or not, (0+ / 0-)

        my question is why should any of us care?

        I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

        by doc2 on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:56:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It beats obsessing about Sarah Palin? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          doc2, AaronInSanDiego, weatherdude

          Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

          by darthstar on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 10:07:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So far, the best answer. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Funny, so many are aghast that the images may be saved. Oh nooo! Yet no one can say why that even matters.

            I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

            by doc2 on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 10:34:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If you have to have it explained, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cartoon Peril

              then you're probably not going to understand the explanation.

              Some people apparently just the instinct of personal privacy. Just like some people lack parental instincts and others aren't interested in football. ;-)

              •  Clio2, I'm working on the legal analysis (0+ / 0-)

                it seems to me it's going to depend a lot on the efficacy of the machines.  Your thoughts?

                You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

                by Cartoon Peril on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 01:20:43 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have to go right now but will (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cartoon Peril

                  try to add a comment later this evening or tomorrow morning.  Thank you so much for this. (I'm not a lawyer, though.)

                  •  Doesn't matter, what is "reasonable" is issue (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

                    by Cartoon Peril on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 01:41:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Hi, I hope this is not too late to follow up (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      white blitz, Cartoon Peril

                      A virtual strip search -- either as an alternative to or accompanied by an actual fingertip search beneath clothing, inside underwear, and sometimes involving the stroking of exposed body surfaces --  without a specific reason that it is essential to ensure public safety is way far out of line with longstanding and widespread human social norms, regular procedures for the administration of justice and even international standards for the treatment of war prisoners.

                      "Person wants to travel by air on a common carrier flight originating in the U.S." is so far from a specific reason as to be absurd.

                      If you saw my series earlier you may have read my observations on the Geneva Conventions' prohibition on "humilating and degrading treatment" (a clause explicitly rejected by the Bush administration, BTW). To me, the humilating and degrading treatment aspect is different from the the Fourth Amendment issue, and right "up there" with it. There is no amendment to the Consitution that specifically prohibits humilating and degrading treatment of citizens for no adequate cause, but as the Ninth Amendment makes clear, there other intrinsic rights exist that not necessarily listed, and I think that protection against such treatment ought to be considered one of them.

                      Such searches might be justified if absolutely necessary to protect pubic safety, but they are not remotely necessary to achieve a quite acceptable degree of safety -- witness the small record of terrorist incidents on air liners since 9-11, none successful.

                      Such searches might also be justified if they primarily revealed security threats. But overwhelmingly, what they reveal is simply private, potentially embarrassing, and just plain personal-none-of-your-business information. Sanitary napkins. Ostomies. Paper, including currency. This is kin to Total Information Awareness, the previously defunded government omniscience project, once again.

                      If such searches add anything at all to safety, it would be marginal, based on the records. Most likely, such searches do nothing, as potential terrorists are presumably able to use any number of other avenues other than planting a bomb on a passenger's person. Also arguably, they reduce safety by siphoning time, money and attention from other, more feasible types of attack.

                      And random searches of a selected few are especially pointless in this situation. Random product sampling, e.g., as things come off an assembly line, makes sense in a production situation where managers need to keep an eye on a process and find out reasonably quickly if machinery starts to malfunction -- sampling every 100th or 1,000th item  allows catching production errors due to machine problems or human-factor drift before too many rejects are produced that have to be thrown away. But travelers are not coming off a production line; each traveler (or group) is unrelated to the next in terms of risk.

                      So I think it is indefensible either to subject the whole normal traveling public to this or to pull the normal traveling public out of line randomly for the purpose. There needs to be a specific, strong reason for putting an individual through this.

                      BTW I'm reading and absorbing James Carroll's magnificent House of War. The ginning up or the terror threat beyond what in my opinion it actually is -- in light of actual expereince since 9-11 -- to justify programs with major capital expenditures and novel powers for those who administer them, is reminiscent of the DOD consistently pushing for more paranoia about Russia and ore expensive and dangerous nuclear programs from the end of WWII until the Soviet Union dissolved. Historically, the paranoids almost always seem to have won these types of arguments, and that pattern has cost this country dear.

                      One other thing today, of all things from Matthew Dowd in the National Journal:

                      As I was sitting with my three grown sons over the post-Thanksgiving weekend watching football at their place (where they have lived together for nearly a year without a major fight, the place burning down, or the police showing up), my oldest son, who served in the Army for five years and was deployed in Iraq for nearly a year and half, turned to me and asked, "When as a country did we become a place where the government gets upset when its secrets are revealed but has no problem knowing all our secrets and invading our privacy?"

                      •  thx, I am working on a piece now, my ideas (0+ / 0-)

                        are currently that the courts will defer on any issues of balancing threats to the the political branches, that is Congress and TSA.  However, there are a number aspects to this, such as the searches (photographic and physical) of children that will draw sharp scrutiny from the courts.  

                        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

                        by Cartoon Peril on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 02:31:02 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not satisfied the images are so bland (0+ / 0-)

          particularly those from the backscatter machines.  We've only been shown a few images.  TSA claimed the images could be posted in pre-schools -- really?  I don't think I've seen that happening.  

          Also, wouldn't it be counter to security to give images which showed everything the machines were capable of?  I am not convinced the face is blurred out -- that seems a software feature at best that could easily be overcome.

          Finally, and I can supply the link if you want, John Pistole says that he's "very interested" in the millimeter wave device in use in the Netherlands which projects out a cartoon image.  If the privacy issue were not such a big deal, I doubt that Pistole would say he was interested in the Netherlands machines.

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 10:33:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't really give a shit about my naked image (4+ / 0-)

      but my teenage daughter might feel differently. Can I reassure her that she's not being electronically leched over?

      Plangentarchy: dictatorship of the whiners

      by Perry the Imp on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:57:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't care about the naked image (3+ / 0-)

      per se. I mean, I don't like it, but I could live with it.

      I do care that my naked image is highly likely to trigger a "patdown" because it won't correspond to my physical presentation. I care very, very much about the patdowns, and about the fact that I can't simply decline to fly if I'm selected.

  •  Surveys have shown people don't care (2+ / 0-)

    They don't like these security procedures, but for the most part,
    they shrug it off, and go through the line.
    Where is the outrage about the peculiar  way we have of administering
    our own American version of shock doctrine?  
    An imaging option showing a weirdly cartoon-like representation
    is available, can be adapted, but, because we don't object, won't be.
    No, the choice we accept is the most blatant option available.
    When these machines are everywhere, and our naked images are everywhere,
    what will the rest of the world be doing?
    They will be laughing at the ridiculous exhibitionism of Americans, and calmly going through their security devices, which show cartoonish nothings.

  •  I'm not a terrorist and I refuse to be treated (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, Cartoon Peril, Clio2

    like one.  Whatever happened to the "innocent until proven guilty" assumption?  The shoes-and-jacket-off thing was working just fine, although it was humiliating and unpleasant enough.  Going through the metal detector was OK.  But now they want to violate our Fourth Amendment rights just for security theater?

    I do mind it, and I won't fly.  I hope enough people refuse to fly that TSA will get stamped on by the airlines and will rescind these stupid procedures.  Until then, I'll stay home, or if the destination is less than 500 miles away, drive.

    And as someone upthread pointed out, meekly going through the scanner like a sheep doesn't necessarily save you from the sexual assault known as a "pat-down," if you're selected.

    "Selected"...ugh, what awful connotations that brings up for someone of my generation.  "Selected" for the line to the'll live.  "Selected" for the line to the to the gas chambers.  Ugh.

    Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:25:17 AM PST

  •  Kudos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    white blitz, Cartoon Peril

    for a really helpful diary and all those links.

    I didn't do the poll though. I don't know if the TSA is saving images and franl,it is not my biggest concern.

    I don't want the government peering into my underpants, whether they store the image or dispose of it. Storing it would make it worse, of course, but in any case I'm not flying while these procedures remain.

    To me, the whole choice they have been giving travelers, between a very invasive body search or a nude scan (and perhaps a very invasive body search after the nude scan, if they are not satisfied) is completely unnecessary, revolting, and a unprecedented breach -- especially on such a broad scale -- of personal boundaries, civil liberties and human rights.

    You could not do this to war prisoners under the Geneva Conventions unelss you could prove it was actually an essential security measure. And it is not. It is overkill, and overkill that does not make us more than marginally safer, if that.

    In fact, it can contribute to a false sense of security because it is an extreme and imposing measure, but there are many, many potential threats  to air travel essentially unregulated, that it doesn't begin to address in any way.

    The "stick figure" machine is much less of a concern, if that's really all it produces. At the same time, I would want to know exactly what information it collects and if that information can be tied with the identity of the passenger in any way because if so, it can be stored and disseminated, and if it can then at some point it probably will. This needs to be considered under the Privacy Act, among other things.

    I would also want assurance that people going through this machine are not going to continue routinely to be skin-searched for wearing a sanitary napkin, having a knee replacement, or carrying a piece of paper in a pants pocket, which is what is now apparently happening.

    I think we should seriously consider that any kind of total body scan should only be a follow-up for probable or at least possible cause. And travelers need to be told what those causes are, just like we are told what can be carried on and what not.

    I would note there is probably not a desperate  urgency to implement something, anything at all, no matter what, in the way of a total body scan. Dare I say it -- planes have not exactly been falling from the sky around here on a weekly basis, have they? Is it possible that the numbers and abilities of actual terrorists have been somewhat overstated, with the best of intentions, I'm sure?

    Finally, I think we have to accept that these scanners would not produce perfect protection against terrorists, anymore than any particular crime fighting tool protects us perfectly against crime, nor do we expect it to. Of course, we could all live in separate, locked cells to guarantee protection from each other, but it wouldn't be much of a life, and in that situation, who guards the guards?

    •  thanks, in studying the legal issue I realized (0+ / 0-)

      that a thorough understanding of the machines was essential.

      I don't see major legal problems with the stick figure scan, of course that's not how the U.S. machines are set up.  They seem to be operating well at a very large airport in the Netherlands.  

      I do see major legal issues with the grope, or enhanced pat-down, or whatever it's called.  I don't see how that can be applied absent some sort of reasonable suspicion.  

      Failure to pass a metal detector clearly justifies a follow up pat down, but not the kind of gropefest that we've seen here.  As you say, when the whole body scanner can't distinguish handkerchiefs and sanitary napkins from bombs, I don't think a court will treat failure to pass the scanner as justification for the grope.

      The harder part is what about the grope if there is either a refusal of the full body scan, or there is no scanner in place.  This may hinge on whether all persons are being made subject to the full body scan, or whether people are selected for the scan or the grope based on whim.

      I don't think that the groping of children will ever be upheld absent a showing of reasonable suspicion.

      Also, the simple failure of hygiene (failure to disinfect hands and change gloves between searches) will defeat any search.  I don't see any court holding that the agency may create a health risk when basic precautions are so simply made.

      Finally, the issue of children with braces, medical appliances, etc. cannot be addressed in the haphazard and basically stupid way it's being done now.  I don't see a court finding these to be lawful unless there is some medical staff supervising the situation.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 01:40:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't want neckid pictures stored (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    of children

    or important (blackmailable) officials. I seem to remember reading something about a trial security program for trusted passengers being interrupted because more information about these passengers was being kept than they were supposed to. I'll have to go look for a link (Feel free to beat me to it).

    They've been BSing us about every other aspect, I wouldn't take their word on the anonymity part of it either.

    •  that was incident where TSA lost laptop (0+ / 0-)

      with huge amounts of private data on it.  While the laptop was later recovered, the information was compromised and the program had to be abandoned.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:50:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site