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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: Big waste of money
By MadMan007 on 3/9/2010 12:27:14 AM , Rating: 2
+1, that's exactly what I was thinking. Does anyone know the contractor on these?

RE: Big waste of money
By MadMan007 on 3/9/2010 12:27:59 AM , Rating: 2
And yes I know there are restrictions on contractors and contributions but with the recent Supreme Court decision I'm just saying...

RE: Big waste of money
By porkpie on 3/9/2010 12:53:49 AM , Rating: 1
Lay off the goofy conspiracy theories. Do you really not see why airport screeners want these machines? Are you blind? Can you not see the ultra-detailed high-res images they generate? Comparing them to just waving a metal-detecting wand over someone's tush is ludicrous.

I don't really support these security measures, but invoking bribery to explain the motivations here is real tinfoil hat material.

RE: Big waste of money
By MojoMan on 3/9/2010 10:15:51 AM , Rating: 2
It's not conspiracy theory if it's true, is it? :-) Come on, the supreme court just ruled that corporations can give unlimited campaign funds now, while you and I are still limited in our giving. This has just handed them an ENORMOUS amount of power. They have much more freedom than a regular citizen now.

If you don't think this is a nation of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations, you are not paying attention. I can tell you that a politician WILL BEND to who puts them in office. Direct bribe? Maybe not, but trust me, they know whose money got them elected, and keeps them elected.

Besides that, do you ever watch candidates to see what corporations some of these guys come from? VERY interesting, and VERY telling if you look into people's history and connections.

RE: Big waste of money
By porkpie on 3/9/2010 10:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
It's not conspiracy theory if it's true, is it?
Then prove it. So far all the evidence is against your little conspiracy theory, and you've had nothing but vague innuendo to support it.

the supreme court just ruled that corporations can give unlimited campaign funds now, while you and I are still limited in our giving.
Please don't spread disinformation. The Supreme Court ruled that a corporation, as an 'association of citizens' has the same rights of political free speech a citizen has. Period.

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