TSA Under Fire

November 22, 2010

During the year's busiest season for travel, the TSA has implemented new intrusive security measures at  60 airports across the country. The new procedures are being called intrusive, a violation of privacy, and even sexual abuse.  Full body scanners or pat downs are in place at major U.S. airports. The controversial body scanners have even reached Saipan.

The body scanners may not be safe according to some scientists including x-ray and imaging specialists, as well as cancer experts:
Specifically, these scientists argue that the concentration of radiation on the skin of individuals being scanned poses a serious cancer risk that has been largely dismissed. The TSA has compared the radiation received from the body scanner to the radiation that is absorbed in regular airplane travel or the radiation from a chest X-ray. However, in their memo to Dr. Holdren, Drs. Sedat, Agard, Stroud and Shuman note that this comparison is “very misleading.” The TSA estimates only consider the radiation as it would be if absorbed by the whole body, as opposed to how the scanner really operates, which is to concentrate the radiation on the skin. The scientists claim that the body scanners have not received a proper medical review using “key data” which would allow for a proper understanding of the medical impact of the technology which they believe could cause mutations and skin cancer. They suggest setting up an independent panel to review the safety concerns posed by the scanners, a highly reasonable suggestion for a piece of technology that will be scanning millions of people a year.

Other scientists have also voiced their concerns over the devices, such as Dr. David Brenner who heads Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research. He states that radiation produced by the scanners is twenty times higher than the official estimate. Physics professor Peter Rez at Arizona State University echoes Dr. Brenner’s claims. He points out that there is a real possibility that a body scanner could malfunction, concentrating unsafe amounts of radiation on one area of the body. “The scary thing to me is not what happens in normal operations, but what happens if the machine fails. Mechanical things break down, frequently.”
Additionally, pregnant women, children and people with gene mutations are at an even higher risk from the machines according to Dr. David Brenner who heads radiological research at Columbia University. One study claimed that the scanning could cause birth defects.

PrisonPlanetTV reported:
Courts have consistently found that strip searches are only legal when performed on a person who has already been found guilty of a crime or on arrestees pending trial where a reasonable suspicion has to exist that they are carrying a weapon. Subjecting masses of people to blanket strip searches in airports reverses the very notion of innocent until proven guilty.

Barring people from flying and essentially treating them like terrorists for refusing to be humiliated by the virtual strip search is a clear breach of the basic human right of freedom of movement.

Several examples of airport security staff abusing the use of the devices have already come to light since their introduction earlier this year.

Indian film star Shahrukh Khan told a BBC talk show that naked images of his body from the scanner were printed out and circulated by airport staff at Heathrow in London. Heathrow denied the claim but Khan himself never retracted the story, and had no apparent motive for making it up.

Heathrow authorities were unable to deny a later example of the scanners being abused, when it emerged that a Heathrow worker had perved over a naked image of a female colleague after she passed through one of the devices, before commenting, “I love those gigantic tits”.

Jo Margetson, 29, reported John Laker, 25, to the police after she had entered the x-ray machine by mistake and Laker took the image before making lewd comments.

In Miami, a TSA worker in Miami attacked a colleague who had made fun of his small penis after he passed through a scanner device. The story again emphasized the fact that authorities were brazenly lying in claiming that the images produced by the devices did not show intimate details of genitalia.
The Allied Pilot Association with 11,500 urged members to "revolt against the devices" saying that the imaging machines are dangerous because of excessive exposure to radiation.

The scanned images are extremely invasive.  Check out this site to see that inverted scanned images reveal a body image akin to a photograph.

The pat downs sound ridiculously intrusive. I foresee lawsuits.


Anonymous said...

They have gone too far

Anonymous said...

This will kill the airlines. People don't want to be groped or xrayed in order to fly. There will be violations of rules and some enhanced scanned images will get out. Employees can just take a photo of the images and make them viral on the internet. Watch some scanned images of children end up as child porn or worse.

Anonymous said...

I agree, they've gone way too far. There is risk in everything, this crosses the "risk-management" line and then some. When we do stuff like this, the terrorists have won. This is exactly what they want.

Anonymous said...

we need to profile. enough said. this is a disgrace.