December 16, 2010
The TSA has once again denied that the crisp naked images produced by x-ray imaging machines can be captured and stored, a claim already shown to be false by documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
In response to reports that former “Baywatch” star Donna D’Errico’s body scan image may be leaked into the public domain, a TSA spokesman told AOL News that it would be impossible:
“The scanners that we use are not equipped to save the images,” Nico Melendez insisted.
“There are similar scanners used by the U.S. Marshals’ office, but not the TSA.” Melendez added.
This claim has been repeated several times by TSA officials, as well as by Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano.
“The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images.” Napolitano wrote in a propaganda piece last month.
As we have previously detailed, the images that show in detail the naked genitals of men, women and children that have passed through the scanners can indeed be transmitted and printed.
As reported by Declan McCullagh of CNET earlier this year, “The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.”
The proof comes in the form of a letter (PDF), obtained by The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), in which William Bordley, an associate general counsel with the Marshals Service, admits that “approximately 35,314 images…have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine” used in the Orlando, Fla. federal courthouse.
EPIC says it has also obtained more than 100 images of electronically stripped individuals from the scanning devices used at federal courthouses. The disclosures come as part of a settlement of an EPIC Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Marshals Service.
Brijot, the manufacturer of the body scanning equipment in question, also admits that its machine can store up to 40,000 images and records.
EPIC, has filed two further lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security over the scanners, claiming that the DHS has refused to release at least 2,000 images it has stored from scanners currently in use in U.S. airports.
EPIC’s lawsuit argues that the body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches, as well as the Privacy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, referencing religious laws about modesty.
The group points to a further document (PDF) it has obtained from DHS showing that the machines used by the department’s TSA are not only able to record and store naked body images, but that they are mandated to do so.
The TSA has admitted that this is the case, but claims that it is for training and testing purposes only, maintaining that the body scanners used at airports cannot “store, print or transmit images”.
This was confirmed in a letter sent to Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, at approximately the same time the government initially claimed the machines are safe and cannot save images. In fact, this ability is a government requirement.
“TSA requires AIT machines to have the capability to retain and export imagines (sic) only for testing, training, and evaluation purposes,” states a Homeland Security letter dated February 24, 2010 and signed by Gale D. Rossides, Acting Administrator.
The machines indeed store and transmit images. According to Rossides, however, this ability is limited to engineers, training contractors, and “Z” level users. “Z” level users are described as select lab personnel from the TSA’s Office of Security Technology.
The images are apparently also sent to the TSA’s Threat Mitigation Lab.
“In complying with our Freedom of Information Act request, the Marshals Service has helped the public more fully understand the capabilities of these devices,” EPIC President Marc Rotenberg has said in a statement. “But the DHS continues to conceal the truth from American air travelers who could be subject to similar intrusive recorded searches in U.S. airports.”
As if it was needed, further evidence also points to the fact that the images are actively being transmitted and printed in airports.
Furthermore, if there is no capability for the devices to save, distribute and print images, then how on earth have news organizations obtained print outs of such images like the one above?
Donna D’Errico says that she was singled out by a TSA agent for a body scan at Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
When she asked why, she says the official told her, “Because you caught my eye and they [pointing to the other passengers] didn’t.”
Her story is similar to scores of others from women who say they were singled out for enhanced screening based on their figures.
Eliana Sutherland recently flew from Orlando International Airport and told Local 6 News she felt the two male TSA workers were staring at her breasts and chose her for additional screening because of their size.
“It was pretty obvious. One of the guys that was staring me up and down was the one who pulled me over,” said Sutherland. “Not a comfortable feeling.”
Another disturbing incident, which is subject to an ongoing lawsuit, involved a 21-year-old college student from Amarillo Texas. The woman was passing through security at Corpus Christi airport on May 29 2008 when she was subjected to “extended search procedures” by the TSA.
“As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” the lawsuit said. “As would be expected, plaintiff was extremely embarrassed and humiliated.”
TSA workers continued to laugh and joke about the incident “for an extended period of time,” leaving the woman distraught and needing to be consoled. After the woman re-entered the boarding area, TSA workers continued to humiliate her over the incident.
“One male TSA employee expressed to the plaintiff that he wished he would have been there when she came through the first time and that ‘he would just have to watch the video,’” the suit said.
The woman filed an administrative claim against the TSA but was forced to launch a full lawsuit after the agency failed to respond.
The incident bears similarities to a 2002 case involving a pregnant woman who had her breasts exposed by TSA agents in public. Her husband was thrown in the airport jail for complaining about the treatment of his wife.
Most recently, we reported on an ordeal suffered by a cancer survivor at the hands of the TSA, who was subjected to an invasive breast groping in full public view by the TSA, despite making it known that she had been forced to undergo a mastectomy last year.
When the woman’s son asked a TSA supervisor why he had also not also been subjected to a body search, the TSA agent told the boy “well you don’t have boobs”.
Despite these and thousands of other complaints against the TSA, and the fact that police are being called to look out for over enthusiastic TSA gropers, the agency still maintains that no fondling, groping or squeezing is taking place at airports at all.