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  (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."

Michael Chertoff
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 scanner images
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.

He comments to top UK news site Mail Online, "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
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."

Airport travellers
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 (GOOG) YouTube (the host) has rated this video 18+ as per its "Community Guidelines", 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 [1][2]. 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 suing [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.

Sources: TSA Out of Our Pants [press release], [lawsuit], Daily Mail

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RE: But... But...
By tng on 3/8/2012 8:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
Their guns and ammo won't provide them with food or shelter unless they actually use them to threaten people, or kill things, or kill people, or all of the above.
Or, they protect your food and shelter from people who would take them from you?

Guns are not evil, but a small minority of the people who have them are. One of the greatest myths put out there by the current "police state" is that guns are inherently evil and should be banned. As seen by what has happened in the UK, that is a bad idea.

RE: But... But...
By tng on 3/8/2012 9:42:41 AM , Rating: 2
Can't beleive that I got rated down for that. Guns are just a tool. Any tool can be used for good or bad, the people who would rate me down probably have at least one screwdriver and just don't realize that you can use it to kill somebody.

RE: But... But...
By MrBlastman on 3/8/2012 10:03:08 AM , Rating: 2
It's surprising how many people are afraid of them and have no clue. My neighbor is from Britain and his mum was visiting one day. She happened to be ranting about how scared she was earlier in the day because she saw a neighborhood boy walking around with a BB Gun hunting squirrels.

She proclaimed, "I can't believe that is legal here! He must have been breaking the law! That's dangerous!"

I just sighed and shook my head, not wanting to stir the pot with her. A BB Gun. Seriously?


RE: But... But...
By Ringold on 3/8/2012 2:03:09 PM , Rating: 4
You didn't let out a big sigh of relief as you took a full-sized 1911 out of a holster and plopped it down on the table and said "Man, this thing chafes some times"? :P

RE: But... But...
By SirZ on 3/8/2012 11:04:14 AM , Rating: 2
Uh....what happened in the UK, a High School shooting with slingshots? Five victims? Three dead? </sarcasm>

Which side of the gun issue were you arguing for anyway?

BTW, I believe in the right to bear arms, though most don't deserve that right... military service should be a mandatory prerequisite for firearm ownership IMHO. Want to carry heat? fine, do it on the front lines first.

RE: But... But...
By Kurz on 3/8/2012 11:51:34 AM , Rating: 3
Umm... the primary reason for the right to bear arms is allow the citizenry to instill fear in our government.

RE: But... But...
By JediJeb on 3/8/2012 2:44:39 PM , Rating: 3
And in any would be invaders who would also need to plan how to deal with an armed citizenry.

RE: But... But...
By macca007 on 3/9/2012 8:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Any would be invaders? LOL
That is no excuse for needing to have guns, Which idiotic country would be fkn stupid enough to attack the greatest military power on the planet?
Don't think those countries would give 2 shits about being afraid of citizens carrying hand pistols or even high powered rifles.
Those would be invaders would just bomb the citizens back to the stone age, cripple infrastructure power/water,take over farms etc etc sure some could manage to go bush and live off land for a while but seriously 300,000,000 Americans citizens doing that aint gonna work for very long,End up turning on each other when things get scarce. lol
By all means carry a weapon to defend yourself/family, But seriously cut the crap about needing guns to defend against an invading army when your country has not only Nukes but the greatest fighting force on the planet, Almost an insult to those that serve thinking a Rambo with a gun can hold off another invading super power.

RE: But... But...
By fteoath64 on 3/11/2012 8:19:00 AM , Rating: 2
"the greatest fighting force on the planet".

The NDAA just made that greatest fighting force on the planet turn AGAINST You!. That is why. They determine who an "enemy combatant" is and it has no relevance to the truth, just whatever they have determined.

RE: But... But...
By rs2 on 3/8/2012 7:53:48 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say guns are evil, or that nobody should have them. I said that people who feel that "ALL they need" are bullets and dogfood don't exactly inspire feelings of safety in me. And I stand by that.

Everyone needs/wants more than just ammo and dogfood, and a person who has only those two things doesn't exactly have very many options in terms of how they're going to acquire the other things they want.

There's nothing wrong with people owning and using guns responsibly. However, the people who are so vehemently pro-gun as to assert that having every single person walking around with a concealed weapon on their person is a good idea that will increase safety are really not any better than the people in the "guns are evil" crowd. It's seldom wise to take the extremist viewpoint on either side of an argument. The best answer is typically somewhere in the middle.

RE: But... But...
By tng on 3/9/2012 2:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
...having every single person walking around with a concealed weapon on their person is a good idea that will increase safety are really not any better than the people in the "guns are evil" crowd.
Criminals like people who can't or wont defend themselves. Why would you take on someone who may have a firearm when there is a person down the street who doesn't?

In response to the UK comment, after the UK took all the guns off the streets and out of the hands of responsible owners, violent crime has not gone away. If you can't shoot someone, you use the next best thing, a knife. This has prompted UK officials to look into banning certain kinds of knives. Of course this will not stop people who will start using bats, and so on.

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