March 8, 2012

The TSA steps in it again

Blogger Jonathan Corbett, of TSA Out of Our Pants, is an engineer, a Smart Guy.  Mr. Corbett sued the TSA for 4th Amendment violations in 2010 when they started to get all touchy-feely and began using the instant nude machines.  His case is headed to the Supreme Court.

More recently, Mr. Corbett conducted an illuminating experiment.  He went through airport security with a metal box on his person.  A box large enough to contain explosives, blades or other Bad Things.  The box was undetected.  There is video on his blog.  Go watch.  What he has figured out, that the Bad People obviously know, is that the scanners only detect metal objects that are on the body.  Mr. Corbett sewed a hidden pocket on a loose fitting shirt so that the metal box was never against his body.  When scanned, the black image of the metal box blended in to the black of the background image shown on the scanner screen.  Here is a photo for clarification.  Somewhere within the green circle, there is a metal object.

This is a little NSFW, so click to see it bigger.

The TSA is 'downplaying' the incident. Holy Crap! I would have thought they would be hauling Mr. Corbett to the hoosegow for revealing their billion dollar folly. The TSA has a blog, as well. Blogger Bob Burns answered Mr. Corbett's video on their site.
A video is making its way around the interwebs this morning from some guy claiming he figured out a way to beat our body scanners (imaging technology).
I watched the video and it is a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures.
For obvious security reasons, we can’t discuss our technology's detection capability in detail, however TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior to rolling them out to the entire field. Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs. It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM...
There is more, but it is just as comical.  The thing about this spin piece that got my attention was the line about extensive testing in the lab.  Just this afternoon, Shepherd Smith was talking to some experts on the Fox News radio, about these scanners and their safety.  The study that the TSA uses to tout the safety of their scanners was conducted using a machine that was built specifically for labratory testing, not a field production model.  There hasn't been a comprehensive study of the machines being actually used in the field, with the daily use calibrations, settings and radiation emissions that we are all exposed to.

If you haven't flown lately, this issue might be waning.  Don't let it.  It is potentially harmful to our health, it is invasive, violates our rights, hasn't stopped any terrorists, and the costs are out of control.  

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