Jul 132010
 

There is a growing amount of concern and unhappiness at the rush by the TSA to deploy whole body imaging scanners  – they may or may not work and they may or may not subject passengers to dangerous doses of radiation.

The US Government Accountability Office accuses the TSA of deploying the machines without fully testing them and without assessing whether they can effectively detect concealed explosives.  The Israelis condemn them as being useless, and a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the radiation levels may be hundreds of times more harmful than the government claims them to
be.

More details here.

Probably nothing will stop the TSA from continuing full-speed ahead with their plans to waste hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing and deploying these machines at US airports.  But there is one thing that we can all do and we should all do.  If we are ever selected to go through one of these machines, just say no.

Fortunately, we currently have a right to refuse to be screened by one of these machines, in which case we will be given a pat down search instead.  If everyone makes a point of always refusing to be subjected to these whole body imaging machines, perhaps sooner or later the TSA will get the message and turn them off permanently.

There is one more reason why we should always refuse to go through these machines.  As long as sufficient people exercise this right, it will remain available to us, but if most people meekly comply, then those of us who do not want a bonus dose of radiation will be treated more suspiciously/aggressively by the TSA and our right to refuse may end up being removed based on a spurious claim that ‘no one complains about it anymore’.

  3 Responses to “Full Body Scanners? Just Say No!”

  1. I read in a recent issue of “National Geographic Traveler” that Israel believes that spending money on intelligence gathering and training airport screeners is better than wasting money on gadgets. Simply put, the gadgets are ineffective, while questioning passengers will reveal who is a threat and requires extra screening.
    That much of Israel’s screening methods can’t be scaled to the U.S., such as more blastproof construction of airport facilites. But rather than subject people to body scanners and require them to remove shoes and liquids, it is the trained questioning and observing of passengers that will improve security.
    I’ve seen a number of Israeli security people who say that if security personnel in the U.S. would simply question people about their travel plans (why they are traveling and how reservations and intineraries were made), it would make flying more secure than the gadgets can ever achieve.
    Certainly, I would rather talk about why I’m flying to Orlando or when I made my cruise reservations than take off my shoes and coat.

  2. Unfortunately, the Israeli security screening interview concept really doesn’t scale well, either.
    As you’ll know if you’ve ever had such an interview, it can be a very detailed and wide-ranging interview, and sometimes it seems very clear that the interviewer has already been briefed on the person he is interviewing.
    Such interviews can run 5 minutes or more on occasion. If it takes something like 65,000 TSA people of varying degrees of ability to maintain present airport security (which presumably we wouldn’t abandon – you still have metal detectors etc in Israel too, I believe) how many more would it take to interview each passenger too? Think about the training to get as many as another 100,000 people trained in the art/science of security interviewing. And how much extra time would this add to the going through security process?
    I do agree that our focus needs to be on people rather than things. But I don’t think this part of the people facing focus is practical with the huge numbers of passengers – both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the US population as a whole – that exist in the US.
    Most of all, I think your comment about preferring to have a friendly chat about your travel plans instead of taking off your jacket is not valid. I think this would be an extra layer of security, not an alternate layer.

  3. One possible advantage of these machines, from a rather selfish point of view, is when I go through them, they’ll be able to see my titanium hip and not assume the beeping is caused by something other than that. Then I wouldn’t have to go through the whole wanding/pat down thing I do every time I go through security.
    However, the possible economy of truth regarding the amount of radiation negates that entirely.
    I’ll stick to the pat down – and all the other window dressing.
    Cheers
    Barry

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