August 7, 2010
NBC New York has reported the announcement that full body scanners will soon descend on JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports, the major transportation hubs of the New York City metropolitan area.
However, an informal poll on NBC NY’s website shows that more than 70% of its local readers are “furious” at the announcement. Another 3% described their reaction as “sad.” Only 14% demonstrated any support for the measure. The overwhelming negative reaction is all the more telling in the context of NBC NY, an affiliate and very mainstream source that likely draws very typical readers. The response demonstrates a rejection of a technology that many critics say is an invasion of privacy, violates the 4th Amendment and may pose health risks.
After nine years of the so-called “War on Terror,” the TSA is fighting a public relations war to maintain support from increasingly frustrated passengers who must now cooperate with the additional measure of scanning.
The poll is a continued indicator that widespread opposition to the use of ‘naked’ body scanners is on the rise. A series of reports show that the technology is insufficiently tested, is likely to prove ineffective, violates privacy, Constitutional rights & child porn laws, and may pose serious health risks, including cancer.
But the fear of harassment proves even more troubling than the dangers of the machine itself. The TSA has been caught lying about the fact that body scanners store a naked image of passengers’ bodies, despite previously claiming no image was stored. The “exposure” factor was also highlighted when a TSA employee attacked his co-worker after repeated jokes about his penis size prompted by daily displays of his genitals on the scanner’s monitor. Another TSA agent was arrested for substance abuse after declaring “I am God, I’m in charge.” Still another TSA agent was arrested after allegedly groping a 15-year old girl whom he’d asked to be his “sex slave.” Actress Christine Ebersole told Alex Jones in an April 2010 interview about a TSA encounter where she was partially strip-searched, touched and made to feel violated.
As for the dangers, scientists exposed the fact that airport body scanners are emitting 20x the radiation experts previously thought were occurring. Thus, they have warned that airport scanning increases the potential for cancer, particularly for certain types of skin cancer. Cumulative-radiation overdosing is also a potential risk for frequent flyers.
The New York Times recently exposed a growing problem of radiation-overdosing in medical and dental fields. CT scanners and other radiation-blasting scanning technologies have been shown to cause an increase in cancer and potential brain damage, despite the fact that that they are manned by high-trained medical staff– which is not the case with TSA employees who operate body scanners.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Despite the PR push-from-the-top for body scanner implementation, many government and “official” bodies have objected to the technology and either spoken out or moved to block its widespread use in policy:
• Only a few weeks ago, USA Today reported on a “growing backlash” against the use of full body scanners in airports. Citing concerns over privacy and dangers from the high-frequency x-rays, the article also identified a European Commission report demanding testing for health risks, as well as a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report claiming that the machines were not sufficiently tested and that its potential to detect ‘threat items’ “remains unclear.” Moreover, the GAO stated:
On March 17, 2010, the GAO issued its own report on the scanners. In the report, the GAO states that the body scanners, also known as advanced imaging technology (AIT), might not have the capability to detect the type of explosive that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly had sewn in his underpants.
• Complimenting this failure in potential detection is the fact that TSA has scored “0” catches in the War on Terror. In May, CBS News questioned whether TSA’s behavior detection program was a $200 million sham, as the program has to-date failed to identify or stop even one single “terrorist.”
• The European Parliament, for their part, voted down a measure to implement the scanners in 2008.
• Concern has been raised in the UK about the scanners’ potential to violate child indecency laws.
• The Islamic Human Rights Commission have also recently opposed the use of body scanners in the UK.
• In March, Idaho’s state legislation passed a house bill restricting use of full body imaging in its state’s airports. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, called the technology “an unreasonable search” and further questioned the medical risks:
“What if they harm our bodies? What if they’re not medically sound? What if they’re going to cause cancer sometime down the road?”
• Back in January, the ACLU and Congressmen like Rep. Jason Chaffetz voiced opposition to the “virtual strip searches” and attempted to limit the use of body scanners in a bill that ultimately failed. Chaffetz stated in January 2010:
“We don’t need to look at naked 8-year-olds and grandmothers to secure airplanes,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said last week. “I think it’s a false argument to say we have to give up all of our personal privacy in order to have security.”
Widespread opposition is a good sign that Americans have had enough of the nearly-decade long phony “War on Terror” and the violations of civil liberties that comes with it. Recent polls also show that Americans are tired of seemingly never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has spilled over into Pakistan and other regions, and now threatens to spark war in Iran.
Despite opposition and potential risks, NBC NY reports that the TSA will continue to roll-out machines across the country:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent more than $80 million for about 500 machines, including 133 now at airports. It plans to install about 1,000 by the end of next year.
New York state recently announced the use of National Guard to search vehicles for drugs and guns using high-powered gamma radiation mobile scanning-units on highway checkpoints.