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  (Source: Cynthia Boll/AP)

Pricey new "millimeter-wave" full body scanners may seem promising, but in reality they do little to detect liquids, plastics, or chemical explosives, say UK government officials.  (Source: IOS Graphics)
Turns out we might really not be any safer with new semi-nude scans

On Christmas Day Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, attempted an audacious terrorist attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.  Fortunately, the Nigerian native's scheme failed due to faulty explosives and he was taken into custody after being restrained by passengers.  However, in the wake of the attacks, U.S. President Barack Obama is considering rolling out current test-phase 3D scanners on a national basis.

Privacy advocates are outraged as the scanners show basically a nude image of the passenger -- with genitals and breasts blurred by software (though the raw image is fully nude).  However, there may be a far greater problem with the scanners. According to British government officials -- they don't work.

The British Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office tested the new 3D scanners thoroughly and found that while they were relatively accurate in catching high-density materials that pat-downs missed (such as knives, box-cutters, or other problem items), they failed to detect most low-density items, including bags of liquid.

The Christmas Day bomber used a 3 oz. package of the chemical powder PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate), disguised in his crotch.  Hard to detect in a pat down, British politicians familiar with the country's internal research say that "millimeter-wave" scanners would also likely fail to spot the bag of low-density chemical explosives.

According to Ben Wallace, the UK Conservative MP, tests showed that the new scanners failed to detect a variety of low-density materials, including, plastic, chemicals and liquids.  The waves pass through these materials, hitting the body and then bouncing back, revealing only the underlying skin.

Like the U.S., the UK is now considering adopting the scanners on a broad basis.  However, emerging evidence from government studies on the scanners indicates that the rollout may be nothing more than a pricey game of "security theater" designed to make people feel safe, while doing little in reality.  This is significant, considering the investment may amount to hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, an expense that will surely be passed on to taxpayers.

Mr. Wallace comments, "[UK Prime Minister] Gordon Brown is grasping at headlines if he thinks buying a couple of scanners will make us safer. It is too little, too late. Under his leadership, he starved the defence research budget that could have funded a comprehensive solution while at the same time he has weakened our border security.  Scanners cannot provide a comprehensive solution on their own. We must now start to ask if national security demands the use of profiling."

Mr. Wallace is among the politicians in the U.S., UK, and abroad that's suggesting some sort of profiling system as an alternative to more effectively increase security.  Such a system might involve additional searches of foreign nationals, particularly from volatile regions like the Middle East and Africa, while potentially lightening the searches on certain groups, like the elderly.

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By TheEinstein on 1/4/2010 2:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
How to bypass security

You ever been in Wyoming in the winter? Brrrr, all I have to say is BRRRRRRRR. Windchill can bring it down so low as to be unbelieved by others until they feel it. Your body tempature, unless properly clothed, will drop so fast as to leave you desperate for heat for a long time after getting out of the cold.

So you have to bundle up for the cold. A native in a cold region, in a cold snap can be expected to have a thick jacket, a scarf, a hoodie of some sort, gloves, etc. And of course you have to place these all in an xray type machine and get them scanned.

Now the xray machines are sorta funny with certain things, they will show the outline of thin materials, show the entire shapes of thick materials, but if the whole material is the whole shape then it shows the whole shape.

A good winter jacket can have its lining replaced by something a little different. Since these jackets are typically sealed against water they can be very airproof even. If a sealed lining, thick in nature, but flexible was inserted inside one of these, with a that horrid plastic like exterior that always crinkles to much is on the outside you could in theory have quite a bit of explosives well disguised.

So next Homeland Security will be telling us to show up naked to the airport, or with throw-away clothes and they will provide safe and secure clothing for us.

Now a lot of talk has been on Fox News and elsewhere of these blower/sniffer devices. They seem to think these devices can solve it all. Pffft.

Build a house, design the interior into 10 small rooms. Each room has an entrance to an over-pressure chamber, and then to a hallway. The first room makes the bombs, getting the materials straight from the outside world. They seal the bombs in vacuum tight bags, which have been floated in water from the room next to them (the only way from room to room is via a water channel, no air possible to transfer the airlock system is just to let clean room garbed employees in each room to effect procedure and transfers to the next room via the water channels of the bombs).

A drying procedure is done on the outside of the package. The package is then placed in another airtight bag which is inside water, and vacuumed out. Alternatively you could use a chemical solvent, such as bleach in this stage if desired, or if counter to the chemicals you have used. Keep transferring the package to room to room with different procedures to make sure the water in each room has less chance of contagion of the original chemicals, and each sealing is effected with the most thorough removal of any outside contagions remaining. The last room used a vacuum chamber to remove all air around the package, places the package in it's final container, removes via string based cutters (like opening a pack of gum, or cigarettes)the previous seals, one at a time, in vacuum, and then seals the remaining container. (Or if vacuum is to hard, just use as it is, inside 5-6 independently mostly vacuumed containers).

All in all it is way to easy to so assure no bomb particles are available for sniffing, and shapes and sizes are easy. You can buy vacuum systems online designed to help you fit clothes in these really small bags, with airtight capabilities, and store the whole in really tight spaces. Quite good stuff, and not very expensive.

Need to bypass a metal detector? Simply go with plastic, wood, or a non-ferric metal.

Worried about a full body scan? Wear the bomb as clothes. Yes clothes can be made from a variety of unique explodable materials. I am not sure if Gun Cotton will fit your bill, but some over-sized buttons with C4 inside a very thin shell can help you do some scary things. What about filling those shoulder pads or bra stuffers with PTN?

No security will detect everything, everything is exploitable, there is no safety via devices.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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