"The Itemiser is already being used in pubs in England where concerns have been raised about the possibility of customers getting a positive reading simply by touching a surface where there are traces of drugs.
But a spokeswoman for the SCDEA said the device was able to tell the difference between this type of contamination and drug use." (from the BBC article)
Whether that's really true or not, I don't know. Although the story as a whole is worrying, I'm willing to believe that the people behind the technology aren't completely stupid. Knee-jerk reactionary statements don't really strengthen a case - and we really do need to make the case for civil liberties as strongly as we can.
In other news, I had my bag searched in Embankment station shortly after the London bombings a few years ago, under no grounds other than that they were 'being really careful and searching anyone with a big bag' or something, IIRC. I can't remember if they told me I absolutely must comply. They were ever so polite, though ;-), and they did give me a form.
@John F***ing Stepp
The States have been looking a bit like they could turn into a police state from where I'm sat, with things like the Patriot Act...
I've read some bad accounts from the US on forums. Someone apparently got a house visit from police armed with automatic weapons after they'd been seen taking some photos of aircraft or something. They'd literally just been taking pictures of planes from public property and were covertly followed back to their flat which was later searched by armed police on grounds of suspicion of terrorism. They mentioned that they happened to be black, and the really scary thing was that they actually said they didn't mind! Unfortunately I can't find the link I saved to this, and it was just a post on dpreview forum; season appropriately. It seems almost too farcicle for words now and hardly worth posting - I wish I did at least still have the link.