The opening is starkly scary to start with. After much delay and unwillingness to comply, the TSA has now finally started to release maintenance reports on their new X-ray whole body scanners.
And why do you think the TSA was unwilling to release these reports? How about because fully one third of the maintenance checks showed problems with the machines, including in a significant number of cases, that the machines were spewing out radiation at ten times the proper level.
So that's pretty bad, isn't it.
However, the TSA tells us to relax and not worry, because apparently – so they would have us believe – the people doing the maintenance checks were so incompetent that they didn't know how to test the machines correctly.
But, think about it. If the people in charge of testing and maintaining the machines can't do their jobs, is that actually a reason for feeling relaxed the next time we voluntarily submit to a dose of radiation that, if properly adjusted, is already considered by leading radiation scientists to be dangerous, and which if ten times greater, becomes ten times more dangerous?
One can understand the ordinary TSA operators not knowing much about the machines, but aren't the maintenance people supposed to have some basic competence in the dangerous equipment they are charged with maintaining?
The TSA have another suggestion why we should relax. Because 'their' scientists claim the devices are safe, and therefore, by weak extension, even if they are sending out ten times too much radition, that is still sort of safe.
Excuse me, TSA, but did you not receive the open letter sent to you by a group of pre-eminent radiologists and researchers, pointing out to you the basic errors in the 'radiation is safe' study you continue to cling to? Why do you insist on ignoring the valid scientific doubts about these machines?
These radiation machines are rightly viewed by many as ticking time bombs. As is mentioned in this article, what happens when (not if, but when) one of the machines jams? Inside the unmoving external structure are moving parts to focus and move the radiation beam all over your body; and if there's one universal truth about all moving machinery (even before considering the implications of incompetent maintenance) it is that, from time to time, it malfunctions.
So there you are, submitting to a dose of radiation, and there's a problem with the machine. Unknown to you, or the operator, or anyone else, it is hitting you with ten times the proper dose. Oh, and instead of spreading it evenly all over your body, the beam moving machinery has jammed, and you're getting an increasingly dangerous dose, all concentrated on just one place. That strange burning feeling you're starting to experience in your side? Nothing to worry about, I'm sure…..
The most puzzling part of this is why a society with a massive aversion upon discovering even the slightest suggestion of lead, mercury and asbestos being present somewhere where people have lived safely healthily and happily for decades; will then voluntarily allow itself to be irradiated in an uncontrolled environment, particularly when the dose of radiation serves no good purpose in terms of detecting anything concealed on your person.
To put it as bluntly as possible, these machines are unreliable, ineffective, possibly dangerous, and definitely expensive. Every part of the decision to deploy them was flawed, and every part of the decision to continue using them shows a total disdain for human safety and passenger security.