The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it is pulling all full-body scanners based on backscatter X-ray technology from US airports. In a terse statement issued on Thursday, the agency said it had terminated its contract with Rapiscan, the maker of the controversial scanners, because the company …
Homeland Insecurity is necessary to maintain the stock price of the Parallax Corporation.
Given the current issues with the Dreamliner, I'd be more worried about Boeing putting a time bomb under my seat.
Either that or someone with an old Dell laptop. Must be the same supplier ..
Place your bets...
Call me cynical but I see this as a point where something, somewhere just may coincidentally "happen" to a plane and these things will be back with a vengeance... without any opposition.
Re: Place your bets...
I'll see your bet, and raise you one "When something does 'coincidentally happen' to a plane, and someone posts evidence it was a psyop job to sway public opinion to want these things back with a vengeance - they'll be dismissed as a crazy tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy nut."
Re: Place your bets...
If I read it correctly, they are replacing X-RAY scanners with MMW scanners, which are non-ionising, I.E. don't fry your DNA... Where as these ones cause mutations EVERY time you use them, and that is fact (hopefully the mutations are minor as as most)
Where as these ones cause mutations EVERY time you use them, and that is fact
That *may* actually explain a lot about the US.
It's life, Jim, but not as we know it..
Why do these have operators?
So, the new machines put a splodge over a picture of a person if there's something suspicious. If there's no splodge, i assume the person is free to go? In which case (assuming that the sensors don't have a horrific rate of false positives) shouldn't you only need a few people for a bunch of scanners?
Re: Why do these have operators?
Presumably there is a horrendous rate of false positives.
It's certainly pretty high going by my experience of the mm-wave version with this "vague outline" software.
According to several researchers, the false negatives rate is also very high for X-ray backscatter.
I've not read any studies recently on mm-wave as implemented, and would guess that there hasn't actually been any - bad for the TSA business.
I came, I saw,
I got terminated.
they found anyone in the TSA with enough brains to find the 'on' switch
<<<still sulking after having the straps cut on his backpack to open and inspect it... despite the straps having handy 'press here to open' clips next to where they cut the straps.
I'm surprised no-one has thought of taping silver foil letters saying "FUCK YOU" on their chest before going through.
I rather suspect that lots of people have thought about it - then a few milliseconds later dismissed the idea as asking for BIG trouble.
Everyone has thought of it - most, fortunately for them, have reluctantly abandoned the idea.
OK, so you want to upset people who have basically no real higher authority, who can do practically anything they want in the name of what THEY term "security"?
There are 2 things that can happen: either they stop you from boarding or you'll get the rubber glove treatment, but with insufficient lubricant.
NOT a wise move, but let me know when you try so I can sell tickets.
Even XKCD got in on the act.
As Dara O'Briain once said, if flying means you have to show your genitals to a stranger behind a screen, it's probably safe to say the terrorists have won.
I always go for the free massage anyways, puts a smile on my face every time, especially when they kneel to do the trousers...
Make a point of not showering before taking any flight now.
... TSA was created, I considered getting in on the ground floor because I knew it would expand like a pyramid scheme, with those in the agency at the beginning benefiting the most from the expansion of it's responsibilities. That was from a purely mercenary outlook
However, rather than selling my soul to become some creepy version of a mall cop with weapons and the power of the Feds behind you, I started my own business instead.
These machines should be called "mikes", to commemorate Michael Chertoff (of Katrina fame) who lobbied for them,
No, the Katrina guy was the other Mike, Michael "heck of a job Brownie" Brown. Michael Chertoff was the guy in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, who left public service to set up lobbying group Chertoff Associates in order to continue, er, servicing the public.
If I recall correctly, the naked scanner project resulted from that incident where some halfwit with underpants full of fake explosive, but no passport or boarding pass, was assisted onto a US-bound plane by what appeared to witnesses to be an official with authority over the flight security personnel. Hmmm. Strange that we never found out who he was.
The little Mike (Brown) reported to the big Mike (Chertoff); they can share the glory for Katrina between them.
Tough Sh*t Ars****es
I fly a lot and I'd guess that 50% of the time I go through the backscatter machines they pick up something on my right knee ... but there's never anything there except my knee.
But what they miss every single time is that I have my hands placed flat against the ceiling of the scanner where the machine can't see anything in my hands. I'm over 1.8 m tall and the machines seem to be made for much shorter, obese people.
The fact is ... this is all just security theater - anyone willing to put up with a minor amount of discomfort could walk any number of weapons or explosives through any of these checkpoints that rely on backscatter detection simply be stuffing it up ... well I'll leave the rest to your imagination. TSA security is nothing more than a CYA move by the politicians and a major subsidy to the fat cats in the Military Industrial complex.
the USA late as usual, the UK switched to only MM wave with the privacy software quite a while ago...
I wonder if this is more due to the radiation risk than privacy... I know I would have refused to be backscattered with x-rays....
Yeah, it's EU policy on the health risks. The X-Rays are a risk, so the EU outlawed them. In the US, if some Wise Men conclude that, yes, there is a risk that the X-Ray dosage could have adverse side effects (especially to the operators), then obviously the impacted people would, in true American fashion, sue the government for amounts similar to the dept of Greece.
But if it is determined that, for completely unrelated reasons, that the machines are unsatisfactory, then obviously the manufacturer will remove them and no further investigation into health effects is needed, so no lawsuits will get filed.
And maybe Rapiscan gets a nice contract to do something less controversial, like X-Raying luggage.
The sad thing is...
...that the folks who should have been more worried than the passengers about the backscatter units - possibly even more worried than the flight crew - were the TSA employees themselves Don't get me wrong, the policies they are made to follow are ludicrous and their attitude can too often leave something to be desired. At the same time, in spite of the fact that it is indeed security theatre and a huge waste of taxpayers' money, I have nevertheless come across TSA personnel who were polite, respectful, and made the best of a stupid situation. Even that weren't the case, though, that doesn't mean it's OK to require anyone to work for hours and hours and hours right next to full-body x-ray scanners with man-sized opening on both sides and without even the most basic of dosimetry equipment - seriously, WTF??
Full disclosure - I am a boffin. I have worked with research equipment generating potentially dangerous amounts of x-rays for over a decade. The only reason I don't wear a badge when operating the unit I run the most these days is because it's fully enclosed, shielded, and as close to idiot-proof as you can get - you would have to be trying to get an exposure (and understand exactly where the multiple safety interlocks are and how to disable them) for anything bad to happen - that, or literally start destroying the shielding with power tools and a blowtorch. That said, I didn't take anyone's word for that, not even my own, and not even after I was done helping assemble the thing - we did a radiation survey, one that gets repeated on a regular basis.
Across the hall, there's another lab with x-ray equipment that is open - and you better believe they have dosimetry badges. For that matter, only the elder boffin who cobbled the equipment together from bits and pieces of other units gets to use it, and that thing still makes me nervous when I see the big red "X-RAY ON" light lit. Every institution I've worked at, you see dosimetry equipment, there are regular surveys, things are shielded and people's exposures are monitored. When you go for a radiological procedure at a hospital or doctor's office, you're always given shielding and the tech always steps being a shield as well, at which point they apply exactly the dose they mean to apply - no mystery about the amount of radiation.
Now, let's go back to the airport. Not once did I ever submit to the backscatter units. I remember one time a pretty reasonable TSA officer was doing the pat-down (which, in my view, was at least as embarrassing for him), and as he was working, I explained to him that I worked with x-rays professionally and that I had concerns about the safety of these units (some skin cancer in my family, the backscatter dose is concentrated in the skin so this idea that "the dose is insignificant" is bullsh*t - only true if you distribute it over the entire body, at which point they should be seeing my skeleton in their scanners). I then indicated that, in my view, he should be at least as worried, given that he's with the thing all day, and asked if they gave him anything to check his dose. "No," was his reply, and my shock and incredulity got him pretty quiet, I have to say. I told him I thought they should really do something about that to make sure he and his colleagues were safe, and wished him luck. I think I scared him a bit, and with good reason - I would not want to be in that position.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they've shown that the radiation leakage from a brand new, fully functional machine isn't much. How long does that unit stay brand new and fully functional in an airport environment, when operated by people without the foggiest idea of how it works and with very little concern for its well-being? How would these folks ever know if the thing started leaking harmful amounts of x-rays if there's not even a film badge around that gets sent for monthly analysis? I can't believe that's even legal. The TSA agents themselves should've been the loudest voices against this next to the pilots and flight crew. Nowhere else on the planet will you see x-ray generating equipment handle so stupidly. Why not get the fluoroscopes back out to look for shoe bombers, while we're at it...
Bottom line, X-rays are not to be trifled with, or projected about with wild abandon. You use them when you have a good reason, and when lower frequency radiation just won't do. At this rate, I get the feeling that the only reason we've not seen neutron backscatter (or better yet neutron activation) on passengers is due to difficulties in finding sufficiently portable neutron sources. In any event, I am happy to hear that we are getting back to the business of simply microwaving passengers instead.
Re: The sad thing is...
You'd have thought the TSA employee's union would ask the relevant questions (which may have satisfactory answers), wouldn't you?
Oh, wait, the Republicans legislated against the TSA staff being permitted to unionize at all...
Re: The sad thing is...
Sad but true :( While I've seen both the ups and downs of unions, it's clear that these folks needed a voice. I presume said politicians used an argument similar to the one Reagan applied to air traffic controllers to justify such a move... Well, since they're getting rid of these devices anyway, the only fitting thing to do would be to install them in the offices of the congressmen responsible for this - just as a precaution, of course.
Re: The sad thing is...
Remember the Therac 25? To be fair, though,that was *intended* to deliver ionizing radiation; if only they'd paid better attention to interlocks and time/dose limiting; A Safety classic.
What has got the TSA in a mess isn't SAR at mm wavelenghts, but our puritanical attitude about the human body. I'm not all that modest; myself, but should I transgress, people are likely to tell me "For gods sake cover up; you look disgusting."
No Sumo please; the uniform shows things best left unrevealed.. Where's my coat?
Re: The sad thing is...
You've hit the nail on the head. The units I use run software that, depending on your hardware configuration, could control the x-ray generator as well. That always made me quite nervous, because in my experience the software is notoriously buggy and prone to crash at random on occasion. For us it isn't a safety issue because our units are properly shielded and hardware-interlocked (as opposed to the Therac 25 and Rapiscan systems), meaning my biggest worry is blowing out an x-ray tube (or worse, melting the tube tower) and running up some serious repair / replacement bills - but that's still very bad for us here, so I am very happy to inform those I train that the one and only thing that controls the generator is the illuminated panel with the pretty buttons and knobs on it - nothing else. There are literally no connections between the data collection and x-ray generation systems, so the computer could explode and (barring shrapnel damage) the generator wouldn't skip a beat - and much better this way. This gets to the definition of the word "failsafe" - when a critical system fails, it must do so gracefully. Sloppy code may be overlooked on trifling matters like office suites and operating systems, but if you're going to write code of the sort that results in major damage, injury or death when it doesn't run correctly, there is no "try". If that's not comfortable, admit you're human and throw in a few well-designed hardware interlocks to be sure; end of story.
As to why people were up in arms in the first place, indeed, this is a rather sad comment on where we are. It's not the fact of being microwaved / x-rayed for no good reason that upsets most folks, it's that "they can see me nekkid, ZOMG!!!". Yes, I agree, it's an invasion of privacy that we shouldn't have to tolerate (though I feel sorry for anyone who gets aroused by the grayscale topographic maps these things produce) - but that could describe so many things the government does, especially in airports, and neglects the fact that there are more important things wrong here. In particular, it A.) doesn't accomplish its stated purpose of making us safer and B.) represents a health hazard for TSA agents, flight crew and passengers (unjustifiably so because of A).
PS - For the record, while x-rays are right out, I don't mind being microwaved a bit - my feet get cold followed the government mandated de-shoeing (it's like de-planing, look it up), so to be honest I would welcome the ability to up the podiatric dose in particular. I do mind the fact that it's a pointless, distracting and burdensome exercise that tax dollars are being spent to perpetuate, however. I've done my fair share of travel, and as a prior poster said, the Israelis do it right; why we refuse to learn from them is beyond me.
PPS - OK, no it isn't. There's good money to be made in security theatre. It does, nevertheless, piss me off.
Where can I get it on the action of getting $2.7m for failing to fulfill a contract?
I get that they have spent a lot of money trying to fulfill the contract, but if they haven't, why are they paid anything?
ATR is already in use at Manchester Airport and they actually let you see the scan of you. They seem to be prone to showing random blocky bits, outside of the body.
Your papers, sir.
These may come in handy on street corners to randomly screen passersby for firearms.
It might help.
I once got in hot water with them when they found a 9mm round in my pocket. It had gotten left in after a trip to the range and forgotten when I cleaned my pockets out, I had to explain several times it was my SHOOTING JACKET "a cammo US field jacket", and they finally let me go, after a half hour of terse explaining. It was still an unpleasant experience........
how's it going 2000 man?
welcome back to solid ground my friend.
I heard all your controls were jammed.
There is no such thing as "Security"!
No matter what any "Feel Good" Politicians may say, there is no such thing as security. Everything you see at the airpots and elswhere is there for the sole purpose of making passengers feel safe not to actually make them "safer".
There is no inspection method that can stop the concerted efforts of a dedicated group of terrorists because they will find a way to circumvent almost any security measures that can be put in place.
In almost all cases, searches pick up minor items that really have little to no impact on safety. Even people that had left guns in their luggage were not any actual safety risk because they were found to be just absent minded, not actual terrorists.
Apart from the failed underwear Bomber, I can't think of one that really had any potential here in the USA after 911. And they only caught him because he was trying to light the damn thing while in the cabin.
Using the profiling method of the Israeli's would garner better results of people who could be considered suspicious.
To my understanding, all domestic and international carry on and checked luggage already gets xray/MM Wave screening as well as swab testing for explosives. I hope the check the airfreight and captains and diplomatic bags the same way but nothing is ever said about those.
What more can you do?
Searching plump Grandma's and toddlers just doesn't get the job done. Swarthy looking fellows and their associates, coming from overseas and Mexico or Canada need MUCH deeper examination.
The one's I am really worried about did not fly here, they came across the border illegally by car, boat or by foot.