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  (Source: Associated Press)
Full-body scanning may be increased after terror attack on U.S. bound flight

With the failed Christmas Day attack fresh on the mind of many Americans, many are calling for increased security in our airports. Security is already increased in the post 9/11 world of air travel, but many Americans still don't feel safe.

Some lawmakers in Congress are calling for increased use of full body scanners that some claim would have detected the non-metallic explosive used by the Nigerian terrorist aboard the Detroit-bound flight on Christmas day. Reuters reports that Dutch authorities have announced that the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam -- where the terrorist boarded the flight bound for America -- will be using full body scanners within three weeks.

In America, President Obama could decree that the deployment of similar scanners in airports around the country be installed. At this point, only 19 airports around the country are using the full-body scanners and the use of the scanners is optional by the traveler. They can opt for pat down instead of using the full-body scanner.

No legislation from Congress is needed for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to deploy full-body scanners into the remainder of the 560 airports around the country that have scheduled airline service. Reuters reports that the terrorist attacks coupled with the call for increased security and additional full-body scanners in our airports is boosting the stock of some companies that build the scanners and related technology.

Whether or not passengers will be forced to go through the full-body scanners remains to be seen. That decision is not up to the TSA. TSA spokesman Greg Soule said, "That [mandatory full-body scanner use] would be a DHS decision. Clearly we would work with DHS, the White House and our congressional partners on security decisions."

Legislation limiting full-body scanning to secondary searches has passed the House of Representatives but has not passed the Senate. The ACLU says that it does not trust the safeguards in place to protect the privacy of passengers subjected to full-body scanning. The ACLU believes that unaltered images showing the shape of a person's body and genitals would still exist.

One ACLU privacy expert said, "If a celebrity goes through a scanner that kind of image could end up on the Internet."

The full body scanners blur the face and genitals of the person in the scanner and only the operator can see the images. The benefit for passengers to using the scanner opposed to a pat down is that the scanner takes 15 to 30 seconds while the pat down takes 3 to 4 minutes.

Chris Calabrese, an attorney with the ACLU, said in May 2009 when talking about using the scanner or a pat down, "A choice between being groped and being stripped, I don't think we should pretend those are the only choices. People shouldn't be humiliated by their government."

There is much research being put into developing better scanners today. Researchers at MIT have developed technology for a new breed of airport scanners that can tell the difference between items in luggage. The new scanner could for instance tell if a pill bottle holds over the counter pain medications or methamphetamines.



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By callmeroy on 12/31/2009 11:19:00 AM , Rating: 2
that's my question...my concern with this is only because I hate airports to begin with -- don't like the hectic nature of trying to get to the gate on time, etc.....the last thing I want to see is another "layer" of security that just adds even more time to the whole airport experience.


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