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Prepare to be scanned: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to follow in Britain's footsteps and roll out a pricey deployment of 450 scanners to U.S. airports despite health, efficiency, and privacy concerns.  (Source: Daily Mail UK)

Some experts say the plan is to give the perception of security, even if it doesn't make airports much safer.  (Source:
Scanner deployment is part of $1B USD airport security upgrade

Even as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security races to deploy full body scanners at airports across the U.S., significant concerns have been raised.  The scanners have been shown to be ineffective at detecting dangerous low density materials like liquids, powders, or plastic weapons.  In addition, some studies have linked them to potentially cancer-causing DNA damage.  Perhaps most importantly, major privacy concerns remain unresolved around the scanners, which digitally disrobe passengers

Despite those problems, the DHS appears to believe that the perception of security is too important to wait for further study.  It is instead beginning a mass deployment, rolling out new scanners in 11 cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

The advanced imaging technology (AIT) units were installed at the Boston Logan International airport on Friday and will be installed at Chicago O'Hare International in the next week – all installations will be completed by the summer's end.  

Currently, forty AIT units are in limited use at 19 U.S. airports.  The new units will mark the first mass deployment of the technology to the U.S. airports.  More units are expected to be deployed later this year.

The scanners will come at a relatively high expense to taxpayers.  They are funded by a $1B USD appropriation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  The spending plan -- crafted by Congress, President Obama, and the Department of Homeland Security -- calls for $700 million in new screening for checked baggage and $300 million in checkpoint explosives-detection technologies.

The nine other airports receiving scanners will be: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FFL), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG), Mineta San Jos International (SJC), Los Angeles International (LAX), Port Columbus International (CMH), Oakland International (OAK), San Diego International (SAN), Kansas City International (MCI), and Charlotte Douglas International (CLT).  Of the airports, only LAX previously had full-body scanners.

The DHS is defending its pricey plan, arguing that there's no privacy risk.  It says that images of passengers unclothed won't be stored, despite the recent revelation that the scanners had the built in capability to do so.  They also admit that the scanners are only efficient at detecting metal objects, but say that could be very helpful in detecting knives or metal-based guns.  

They also claim there's no health risk with the non-ionizing radio frequency energy in the millimeter wave spectrum used by the scanners to generate their images.  They say the system's energy is 100,000 times less than a cell phone transmission.  (Recent studies, however, have suggested that DNA damage may certainly be possible).

For better or worse, though, the 450 new scanner units will soon be a common sight in the 11 airports on the mass deployment's front.  The U.S. appears to be marching in Britain's footsteps, moving towards a "no scan, no fly" policy.


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RE: better than the alternative
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2010 5:07:53 PM , Rating: -1
How many tens of thousands of people die in auto accidents each year? Compared to that, flying -- with or without these mostly-ineffective security measures -- is still far, far safer.

So why have police and fire departments ? You are FAR more likely to have a car accident than mugged, raped, shot, car jacked, house fire etc etc.

Seriously, you are either borderline retarded or naive beyond belief.

RE: better than the alternative
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 5:48:37 PM , Rating: 5
"So why have police and fire departments ? "

There are hundreds of thousands of crimes and fires in the country each year. How many air bombings are there?

Police and fire departments don't add 3 hours to the flight time of millions of citizens, for little to no extra protection. Are you seriously naive enough to believe that a gang of terrorists couldn't still take over a flight, just we now check for boxcutters before boarding?

RE: better than the alternative
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: better than the alternative
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 6:50:01 PM , Rating: 5
"Point is, nobody likes to be held up."

The point is you are (especially in certain areas) very likely to be held up. You're very UNLIKELY to get blown up in a terrorist incident.

Even still, would you agree to spend 3 hours standing in line to get searched, every time you want to go outside your home, if it meant a reduction in muggings? I certainly wouldn't. So why should we abide it for flying -- especially when the risk is negligible, and the increase in safety minimal?

RE: better than the alternative
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: better than the alternative
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 7:26:23 PM , Rating: 4
"That's a REALLY bad analogy. When I'm in my home. I have a gun..."

Please read posts before replying to them. When you leave home to travel to a public place, you're no longer in your home. And in many of those public places, you're legally barred from possessing a gun anyway.

"Another terror attack on a plane is unavoidable"

Yes it is. So what? Should we all consent to a 3-week background check. multiple body cavity searches and a polygraph test prior to boarding -- on the forlorn hope of preventing it?

RE: better than the alternative
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: better than the alternative
By ebakke on 3/8/2010 8:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
Based on his original post:
Personally (and I say this in all seriousness), I'd rather take the microscopic chance of being blown up in midair, than having to deal with these ridiculous security measures.
It sounds like his suggestion was that we do nothing. Just go about our lives. Maybe a simple metal detector or something, but if we're fighting the inevitable, then why fight?

Now, I personally don't know if that would work well. It seems like if we dropped the security requirements down significantly, then the number of attacks would rise proportionately. But who knows.

My solution as of late has been to skip flying all together.

RE: better than the alternative
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 8:35:23 PM , Rating: 2
"Still a stupid analogy."

Then why did you use it? You began the "police and fire" analogy; I merely debunked it.

"why don't YOU tell me what we should do?"

What should we do about old age? Or falls in the bathtub? Or venemous snake bites? Shouldn't we pass laws to prevent this loss of life?

The idea that every problem should be attacked by a mass of new government laws is a symptom of the liberal mind. I'm surprised to see you falling into that morass.

RE: better than the alternative
By Reclaimer77 on 3/9/10, Rating: -1
RE: better than the alternative
By siuol11 on 3/9/2010 8:44:50 AM , Rating: 2
I beg to differ about the "liberal mind" comment... These draconian security measures are being hyped just as much by the political right- you could go so far as to say it's their bread and butter. Laser planes anyone?

RE: better than the alternative
By porkpie on 3/9/2010 10:37:44 AM , Rating: 1
Beg all you want, but the liberal mind conceives of more government as the solution to all problems. Unemployment, poverty, education, heath care, energy, environment, racism, gay rights...the solution is always more and more laws.

In the area of crime and security, conservatives are also falling into that mental trap as of late...but it is indisputably and irrefutably the "bread and butter" of the liberal mindset.

RE: better than the alternative
By MadMan007 on 3/9/2010 12:18:29 AM , Rating: 2
What I would suggest is people stop being a bunch of vaginas and accept that

Another terror attack on a plane is unavoidable.

It's not as if airplane security threats are a new thing although the suicide aspect of it is. Especially given that these devices seem to mainly 'detect metal,' which was just like TOTALLY impossible before, this is just pure security theater.

RE: better than the alternative
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 6:52:05 PM , Rating: 2
"But you probably aren't for profiling either..."

Actually, I am. If we're going to engage in these pseudo-security measures, wasting time frisking Grandma Goldstein makes the situation even more ludicrous.

RE: better than the alternative
By adiposity on 3/8/2010 6:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
Fire departments:

Without them, a single house fire could easily destroy a whole block or more of houses, instead of being contained and possibly even saving the house. Entire cities could be destroyed every year without firefighters. For one person, the likelihood that a fire will destroy their home is low, right now. However, that number would be much higher without firefighters.

Police departments:

Um, this was a poor example. One of the things police do is enforce traffic laws. Without them, the number of car accidents (the thing that is supposedly more likely than all the crimes you listed) would undoubtedly increase. But police departments help to reduce the crimes you list. Without them, those crimes would surely be more common.

You have a major fallacy in logic here. The police and fire departments are already doing their jobs. That is why the likelihood of the various crimes and out of control fires is so low. Contrast that with the situation we are discussing: the likelihood of a terrorist blowing up a plane is already low, so why do we need to implement further scanning procedures? Additionally, I'm not sure what evidence we have that those procedures will dramatically reduce such a threat.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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