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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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RE: Blame the other guy
By Spuke on 12/31/2009 1:41:48 PM , Rating: 3
Because Obama and Napolitano are directly responsible for who boards Dutch airplanes.
When I first heard this story I was confused because I couldn't figure out how Napolitano, regardless of what she said, had anything to do with security on this flight. Seriously, the terrorist boarded a Dutch flight. It seems there was a failure on the their end. I can understand that we could've improved intelligence sharing to them but it's ultimately THEIR responsibility to secure flights leaving THEIR country! Would the Dutch be responsible for flights leaving our country? I think not.

RE: Blame the other guy
By geddarkstorm on 12/31/2009 1:57:09 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. This whole thing about increasing security at /American/ airports when the breach happened at a /Dutch/ airport.. is kinda arse backwards. Add in the hysteria trying to be stirred up over this, that somehow the US government or security failed... when this is /another/ country we're talking about.. It just doesn't make sense.

On the other hand, now that we've seen an exploit, we can better guard internally for it, as I don't think we were properly prepared in house for that kinda thing anyways. But that doesn't change how ridiculous this whole affair has become.

RE: Blame the other guy
By thurston on 1/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: Blame the other guy
By zsejk on 1/1/2010 2:17:48 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the doer board a flight in Lagos, with a transfer onto a Delta flight in Amsterdam? Correct me if I'm further wrong, but don't most transit areas in airports all over the world *not* have extensive scans and pat downs? As in, in such a flight with a transfer, wouldn't/shouldn't the heaviest security be at the first boarding city (in this case, Lagos)?

Regardless, this whole political discussion about US airpot security is just a fear-driven knee jerk reaction. Good to have the discussion, but more/better US security sure wouldn't have stopped this event.


RE: Blame the other guy
By geddarkstorm on 1/2/2010 1:17:01 AM , Rating: 2
I honestly don't know how transfers function for international flights. For domestic flights, there is no security after the initial boarding, though that may not be fully true on internationals (one can't control for the security inadequacies other countries may have, or differing procedures).

But yeah, that was also my point; the security needed to really stop this sort of thing isn't that common, but none the less, one can't say the US government or security is at fault when it was in /another country/. We can only say it has a similar flaw and potentially equal risk.

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