Tuesday, November 15, 2011

X-ray Airport Body-Scanners Banned in Europe

Those "backscatter" model whole-body imagers used at airport checkpoints have been banned at airports in Europe by the European Union. Here's a report in ProPublica.

However, airports in Europe will be allowed to use the other type of body-imager, the so-called millimeter wave machine that accomplishes the same purpose, but by using radio waves rather than radiation-emitting X-rays.

In the U.S., the TSA has been using a combination of backscatters and millimeter wave machines, roughly an equal number each of the approximately 500 machines currently in use at 78 airports.

Serious concerns have been identified, most recently by this piece in ProPublica, about the safety of the backscatter machines, which are made by a company called Rapiscan. One of the leading proponents of those machines was Michael Chertoff. When he was Secretary of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, Chertoff was a cheerleader for the use of the machines. Later, as a Washington lobbyist, Chertoff's firm did consulting work for Rapiscan.

The millimeter-wave machines are made by company called L-3 Communications.

As I reported here a few days ago, it looks like the TSA is quietly making a shift toward the millimeter-wave machines as it purchases new body-imagers as part of the plan to eventually have the machines replacing magnetometers at all of the 2,000 airport checkpoints. In September, for example, the TSA awarded L-3 a $44.8 million contract for 300 additional millimeter wave machines. Rapiscan, the X-ray machine producer and Chertoff client, hasn't announced any new contracts from the TSA.

Over a year ago, by the way, the TSA invented a new name for these machines, which see through clothing and produce an image of any foreign object on the human body. It originally had referred to them as "whole-body imagers," but as the criticism mounted about the privacy threats of the machines, as opposed to just the health threats from radiation from the backscatter models, the TSA began calling the whole-body imagers "advanced imaging technology" machines. AIT, for short.

You know, so you don't think "body."



Wimpie said...

Meanwhile, Americans who travel from one part of America to another by plane are subjected to degrading pat downs and naked body scans that by no means has been proven medically safe.

Because some bad men attacked us ten years ago, we created a nanny security state in which poorly trained bottom rung employees of a vast security apparatus are given god-like powers over those poor schlubs who find themselves in need of a plane ride.

Nothing degrades this nation more than the cowardly ways in which we responded to a one-day flurry of terror. Out of fear of terrorism, we opened the doors wide to fascism.

DHS is nothing more than a conduit through which Congress shovels money to security contractors and the military-industrial complex.

paleolith said...

Like MRI was originally called NMR imaging -- nuclear magnetic resonance. Somehow the N-word got dropped before commercialization.