Security Theater: Engineer Shows TSA Nude Scanners are Useless, Sues TSA
March 7, 2012 1:08 PM
comment(s) - last by
(Source: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Warner Bros.)
Scanner couldn't even perform as well as a basic metal detector, but it's good at looking at your genitals
Body scanners are a controversial tool that's currently being installed at airports worldwide -- particularly in the U.S., where the government has paid contractors such as Rapiscan and Brijot hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy over 500 of the devices. In the U.S. the deployment has reportedly been pushed by illicit financial ties, such as former
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
's (DHS) chief Michael Chertoff's financial relationship with Rapiscan, who
paid off the chief
for his "consulting services."
Ex-DHS chief Michael Chertoff accepted payments from Rapiscan, even as he was promoting paying the contractor millions of dollars in body scanner contracts. [Image Source: DHS]
Meanwhile, there have been reports of
U.S. Transportation Safety Administration
(TSA) officials abusing the devices to
make fun of peoples' genitals
. And reports
also indicate health risks
and the possibility that the DHS may be
storing nudes scans of people
for later reference.
But the most damning piece of evidence against the scanners yet may have just landed, delivered by college-educated engineer Jonathan Corbett, who runs the blog "
TSA Out of Our Pants
Mr. Corbett has identified a weakness in the device, which essentially renders them useless. He noticed that both the older backscatter machines and the new millimeter wave scanners, chose the color of spotted solid objects as identitical to the background, allowing techs to spot items hidden against the body (colorized as white), such as weapons or bomb-making chemicals. So he decided to see what happened if a secret pocket was stitched into a shirt, well off of the body.
Body scanners rely solely on contrast -- making them useless if the weapon or bomb-making supply is held off the body, tests have shown. [Image Source: TSA]
He tested the theory using a metal case stored inside a secret pocket. Had he put the object in his chest pocket, it would have been spotted in the scans and he would almost certainly have been detained. But by using the secret side pocket, which was not contrasted in the image against his body, he eluded both the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport's backscatter machine and the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport's newest millimeter wave machine.
to top UK news site
, "While I carried the metal case empty, it could easily have been filled with razor blades, explosives, or one of Charlie Sheen’s infamous seven gram rocks of cocaine. With a bigger pocket, perhaps sewn on the inside of the shirt, even a firearm could get through."
The metal case would have been detected by the old security checkpoint of a decade ago, as it had metal-detectors. However, the new checkpoints largely have no built-in metal detection of on-person objects, relying solely on full-body scanners and occasional pat-downs (which Mr. Corbett did not receive).
Cleverly, Mr. Corbett video-taped his clean scan, by putting his camera, running, on the conveyor belt and allowing it to travel through luggage X-Ray scan, spotting him on his way out.
Jonathan Corbett -- an engineer-turned blogger -- has presented compelling evidence that body scanners decrease security and are ineffective at fighting terrorism. He is suing the TSA
[Image Source: Jonathan Corbett/Mail Online]
"Now, I'm sure the TSA will accuse me of aiding the terrorists by releasing this video, but it's beyond belief that the terrorists haven't already figured this out and are already plotting to use this against us. It’s also beyond belief that the TSA did not already know everything I just told you, and arrogantly decided to disregard our safety. The nude body scanner program is nothing but a giant fraud."
In the past it was shown that less-dense objects like plastic guns or low-density explosives
could be missed in backscatter images
. However, this is the first compelling proof that millimeter wave designs are also useless -- another prop in the government's expensive game of "security theater" -- a game that has been potentially motivated by financial corruption.
Mr. Corbett recalls thinking when he first envisioned the work-around, "It can't possibly be that easy to beat the TSA’s billion dollar fleet of nude body scanners, right? The TSA can't be that stupid, can they?"
Summarizing his findings, he comments, "Unfortunately, they can, and they are."
An engineer has offered evidence that the TSA and DHS have recklessly endangered hundreds of thousands of Americans by promoting a false illusion of security with body scanners.
[Image Source: Corbis]
The TSA has refused to comment on these developments.
Video of the incident can be found here:
Google Inc.'s (
) YouTube (the host) has rated this video 18+ as per its "
", although it does not contain any profanity or any ostensibly inappropriate content.
Other threats to the effectiveness of the devices are also looming. Recently, terrorists in Saudi Arabia have resorted to increasingly complex methods for disguising improvised explosive devices, such as inserting bombs in their rectal cavities [
]. The question becomes whether the TSA will go as far as ordering "cavity searches" of travellers, in addition to
genital-region pat downs
of everyone from children to the elderly.
The embarassment for the TSA and DHS -- and the Bush and Obama administrations that supported the scanner rollout -- is unlikely to fade any time soon, though. Mr. Corbett has taken the bold move of
[PDF] the TSA for the scanner rollout, which he complains was a waste of money that decreased security versus traditional metal detectors and pat-downs.
TSA Out of Our Pants [press release]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Easy Fix
3/7/2012 2:27:57 PM
The background of the image is black because there is no backs-scatter coming from it. It's not just an arbitrary choice some programmer made, it's an inherent flaw in the system.
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
TSA Patdown Leaves 6-Year Old in Tears, Gov't Defends Actions
April 14, 2011, 10:01 AM
TSA Worker Assaults Boss After Body Scanner Reveals Genitalia
May 7, 2010, 1:50 PM
DHS Begins Mass Rollout of Airport Scanners Despite Health, Privacy Risks
March 8, 2010, 10:30 AM
Britain Embraces Controversial Scanners, Implements "No Scan, No Fly" Policy
February 2, 2010, 10:01 AM
TSA Called Out on Full-Body Scanner Storage Capabilities, Health Risks Revealed
January 12, 2010, 10:09 AM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Most Popular Articles
Why the U.S. Won't be Able to Ban Google's New Huawei Marshmallow Flagship Phone
October 3, 2015, 5:27 PM
Microsoft Band 2 Stays Focused on Fitness, Debuts Oct. 30, Priced at $249
October 6, 2015, 9:16 PM
Microsoft's HD-500 ("Display Dock"), the Magic Sauce Behind Continuum
October 6, 2015, 5:30 PM
Apple's First Fixes to iOS 9 Land w/ iOS 9.0.1 Release
September 23, 2015, 6:11 PM
Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL Finally Launch, w/ Windows 10, Liquid Cooling
October 6, 2015, 3:35 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information