Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Money for nothing...

The naked truth about scanners

Some parties are suing the government over the new machines, claiming an unreasonable invasion of privacy, while others claim the machines expose people to too much radiation, which the government denies.

Most people, however, accept it as just another agony associated with flying (along with fees to check baggage and crowded luggage bins).

And, after all, the machines are worth it because they detect explosives.

Except they don’t. As it turns out, the machines don’t detect explosives at all. They detect images on your body that shouldn’t belong on your body.

“It’s not an explosive detector; it’s an anomaly detector,”
Clark Ervin, who runs the Homeland Security Program at the Aspen Institute, told the Post. “Someone has to notice that there’s something out of order.”

Which means those security employees who stare at the screens have to be sharp enough and well-trained enough to detect things that are abnormal. (And some experts think that if the explosives are flat and pancake-shaped and taped to your stomach, they could not be detected anyway, because the picture would look too normal.)

The machines cost $130,000 to $170,000 each, and by 2014, the federal government will have spent $234 million to $300 million for them.

Which would be a bargain if they actually did something besides embarrass people. In May, a TSA screener at Miami International Airport who went through a full-body screening as part of his training was arrested for beating a co-worker with a police baton after co-workers made fun of the size of his private parts.

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