millimeter-waveaef.jpg
I snapped this photo of a passive millimeter wave scan machine set up in the main entrance hall at Denver International Airport on Friday evening. The machine was swiveling back and forth, searching people who didn't even know they were being scanned. I'm sure some of the people scanned weren't passengers; they were simply coming to pick up or drop off friends and relatives.

I wanted to see if they would scan my 11-year-old daughter as she walked by so I walked over to the desk with the computer monitor on it. I got a peek at the monitor for a second or two before one of the bald guys to the left of the TSA agent jumped in front of me and said I wasn't allowed to look. I couldn't tell which person was undressed on the monitor.

If federal agents set up this system at a shopping mall, would people care?

The TSA's blog states that the scanner's monitor be placed in a "remote location":
A couple of bloggers have advocated for the officer viewing the image to be out in the public area. We specifically require the remote location to protect the privacy of passengers using the machine. We just don’t think it’s appropriate for other passengers, airport, airline employees or just anybody walking by to see the images, much less snap a photo with a camera phone or anything else and post that image to TMZ.com or who knows where. That’s also why officers are not allowed to bring anything, including phones, bags or other items into the remote viewing location.

102 Responses to “Millimeter wave scan machine at Denver Airport”

  1. Brad S. says:

    Takuan @28

    Do not for one moment dare to assert…

    Personally, I think he can dare to assert anything he darn well pleases. Sheesh. Little strong, dontcha think? Power corrupts, yet again.

  2. Thebes says:

    I suppose that the guy is in public because there was trouble with the staff jacking off while watching video of naked children?

    TechCafe- Civil liberties is just another way of saying restrictions upon government power. And our government is as greedy for power as any other. Unfortunately, given the fascist alliances between our government, big media, and big corporations- few people ever hear the suggestion that THEY should care. So, for even asking the question you are a controversial america-hating radical and must be searched for items which could be used to make a weapon (ie, anything) because you might be a home-grown terruhrist!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I took some more pictures in Denver and posted them to my blog:
    http://misanthropicme.com/2008/09/12/passive-millimeter-wave-scanning-and-privacy/

  4. Paula Wirth says:

    For the curious, here is the link to actual TSA images, using the millimeter wave scan machine:

    http://www.tsa.gov/blog/uploaded_images/TSA-Release-Images-2-050808-726403.jpg

    and with text:
    http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/05/you-asked-for-ityou-got-it-millimeter.html

  5. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    Next they will arrest Mark for trying to distribute child porn to TSA agents.

  6. Takuan says:

    well “Brad” – if that IS your real name – just read Thayan’s linked article. Especially the last sentence. Go on, it’s right up there in #25, ya lousy pinko crumb-bum.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I just got back from the Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport (MSP) and they have one of these coming in from the parking garage in the lindberg tunnel.

    I was creeped out & angered. It reminded me of the statistic that shows that cops kill more people than terrorists.

    knowing the way the bushies spend money this thing probably doesn’t even work, it looks like a cheesy science experiment.

  8. jso says:

    @25

    “Doctors there believe that the waves boost the immune system, act as an anti-inflammatory, and provide sedation and pain relief, all with virtually no side effects.”

    Sounds great, like snakeoil.

  9. Baldhead says:

    Arkizzle, i know that. it just seems that, for the last 7 years, the assumption has been that ONLY the planes were in jeopardy, explaining why they only inspect people who will be on the plane while it’s in the air- not even ground crew for said plane.

    I still firmly believe this is BS, since as far as organised terrorism goes, the TSA is the last, and least effective, line of defense. I’m inclined to let the FBI catch the terrorists because if they make it as far as the TSA screening area all they really have to do in order to kill a bunch of folk and shut down the whole airport is set the bomb off right there.

  10. ridl says:

    Yet another reason to STOP FLYING.

    As usual in this broken system, economic pressure has the best chance to actually force policy change. If airlines see a loss in business and are told over and over again that the massive invasion of privacy is the reason, they will change. As long as people keep flying because it’s “cheap” (not in actual cost – every time you take a cross-country flight you’ve puked about the equivalent of a years’ worth of driving an SUV into the changing climate – why I now avoid flying as much as I can) and convenient they have no reason to care about little things like civil and human rights.

    We don’t need to live at the pace we do. Take the bus (shudder – if you don’t live in the States and don’t know the horror monopoly that is Greyhound – be glad). Drive. Take the train. Use Craigslist and rideshare. Hitchhike. Videoconference. Sail. Found a Zeppelin startup and take over the world.

    Until they stop violating the social contract, STOP FLYING. Take on a little hardship and make a sacrifice, for Pete’s sake.

    • Anonymous says:

      ridl, you make so much sense it hurts. WE have the power. If everyone stopped flying tomorrow they’d rip these machines out so fast your head would spin.

  11. PNutts says:

    Why is it necessary to play the “children” card? This issue applies to everyone. Applying the extra (unnecessary) layer of emotion distracts from the real topic.

    It’s not about what the officer is doing under the table. It is about what a government is doing to/taking from you.

  12. bibliotek says:

    My question – what kind of alphabet stickers would work to show on the monitor my real thoughts about this scanning? Reflective tape? Tin foil lightly glued to my belly and back?? I already have a titanium implant in my noggin from a previous cancer surgery – one more thing for them to check out can’t be bad. And I would like it to say something v-e-r-y specific.

  13. Takuan says:

    if they can get you to give up flying, then trains and buses are next, then cars, then talking to your neighbor outside assigned work hours. This is an attack on freedom of association. The web is free right now so to some physical presence seems unimportant. Take it from old people; if they can deny you basic freedom in meatspace, the web is nothing at all to them to lock down next.

  14. arkizzle says:

    Baldhead, I fear you may have missed my sarcasm. More scanners is not the issue. At all.

    However I agree that if the TSA detects a bomb, it is probably too late.

  15. ankh says:

    Terahertz radiation increases genomic instability …[Radiat Res ...
    Terahertz radiation is increasingly being applied in new and evolving ... [Environ Mol Mutagen. 1999]; Do recorded doses overestimate true doses received by …
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18666810

  16. jimkirk says:

    @21, I agree that the social aspects of this technology are likely to be worse than any physical effects, but please, science is a dynamic process that is ever-revealing.

    To simply declare that we understand every aspect of EM radiation…at every power level? at every exposure period? at every wavelength? is tantamount to religion.

  17. Takuan says:

    wear a tinfoil raincoat to the airport with a sign “I do not consent to be irradiated”

  18. jso says:

    Heh, I did a bit of research on these. Since I work with microwaves and not millimeter waves I was unaware to the fact that you can use the black-body radiation of your target as the source of millimeter waves. Basically, anything that has a temperature above some (rather low) value will emit millimeter wave radiation. One technique to get a depth image is to utilize two sensors that receive in that range and scan the target. The resulting images (one for each sensor) can be analyzed using standard stereoscopic imaging techniques.

    TL;DR: This thing is like binoculars that can see millimeter waves (way, way, way infrared) that everything emits.

    If that doesn’t cut it, then its *magic*!!!

  19. Takuan says:

    muslims get to wear burkas under “freedom of religion”. Need to make some burkhas of stealth fabric,metallic fiber weaves, etc. and start some fringe religion that requires it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have been trying to research this new “safe” technology. I see comments on the manufacturers’ websites, and comments coming from TSA. However, I checked the FDA website. They do not have any information on it. Maybe I didn’t look far enough. But aren’t they the ones who are supposed to safeguard our health? I want THEIR seal of approval on it before I use it.

    And now a TRAIN STATION in New Jersey is forcing people to use it. Don’t want to? No pat down option- just no service.

  21. Enochrewt says:

    Bah, I’m a regular traveller at DIA, and I always use the back entrance for security. The main entrance is for suckers anyway.

    Still, if this thing is used at all, it should only be used on people going through the security checkpoint.

  22. Baldhead says:

    It seems to me that they’ve finally grasped that the airport as a general place might be a target as opposed to just the planes. Which as far as actual security goes, is a step in the right direction.

    now as for the civil liberties…

  23. arkizzle says:

    Baldhead, EVERYWHERE is a potential target. We’re gonna need lots more scanners..

  24. adodge says:

    Yeah, yeah, whatever. How do I build one at home?

  25. mdhatter says:

    Dear rest of the world.

    Please stop us.

    please.

  26. Ugly Canuck says:

    So the war on drugs now the war on terror marches on to its logical conclusion: state real-time monitoring of blood chemistry, with no protection of any personal secrets / any info whatsoever from Fed scrutiny at any time…no security for individuals.

  27. Anonymous says:

    The TSA says on http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/mwave.shtm

    that this is “as a voluntary alternative to a pat-down during secondary screening”.

    What Mark has posted here is not voluntary, and not secondary screening.

    I’m not American (thankfully) and the best I can do is refuse to travel to the USA while this kind of thing occurs. However, I can see so many reasons US citizens need to actively oppose this. Is there a blog dedicated to TSA abuses? Seems like it would never be short on content. Where does the ACLU stand re this one?

  28. Brad S. says:

    @35

    Takuan, if you could meet me halfway -perhaps somewhere in early adulthood, at least – oh, never mind. I’ll just suckle your infantile ego.

    Oh, mighty Takuan, poster of billions of meaningless posts on BB, deliverer of cheap ad hominem attacks, wielder of god-like moderator strength, your words cut me to the core and have annihilated any resistance I have to The Truth for which you speak. Yes, I am a lousy pinko crumb-bum. I know nothing. I must have meant to agree with #25, even though I didn’t read his posting. My message had nothing to do with just asking someone to take the forum-equivalent of a chill pill. I am crushed by your beating and will think twice before sharing my unwanted thoughts on the BB boards.

  29. Takuan says:

    has Obama promised to do something about all this?

  30. Cobol says:

    So, it’s been a while since I flew so I’m not up to snuff on all the current regs, and laws may be inconsistent from state to state, but what happens when I show up to pick up my wife or a friend at the airport while carrying a legally licensed and permitted concealed weapon and this thing sees me standing or sitting in the waiting area? Or, in the case of the Minneapolis parking garage device, if I’m in my convertible in the same situation and it sees a gun beneath my coat?

  31. Takuan says:

    aw gee Brad…I didn’t mean ta scare ya none… can’t we still be friends?

  32. Hexatron says:

    I’m with Mdhatter.

    I realize that no one can afford to do it, but it would be hilarious if European countries started using economic sanctions against us for human right violations, the way we do against everyone else.

    Or if we held the Olympics and countries refused to participate because of blunders like the Iraq War.

    I can dream.

  33. Takuan says:

    too bad the TSA has proven it can’t be trusted.
    So, L-3 has this:
    http://www.dsxray.com/pdf/ProVision_FactSheetJUN08.pdf

    which is ACTIVE not passive. The TSA PR on the web mentions ACTIVE. The tripod mount scanning head in the picture here is what?

  34. allen says:

    I’m in agreement that the terror of terror has gotten out of hand, and that this seems like a 4th-amendment violation in spirit.

    However- I think most of the posters here have an exeedingly inaccurate view of what passive millimeter wave imagery looks like, and a lot of the reactions have a heavy dose of future shock/ludditism mixed in with the fact that this is amounts to a random, unwarranted, and invasive search.

    http://www.sagosystems.com/NewFiles/sagointro_16.gif is an optimistic link to imagery gained from passive mmw sensors. People in motion with no calibration references will produce much muddier imagery. Passive mmw sensors are called passive because they record the existing millimeter radiation that comes off you and convert it to images. They pose no more physical threat to you than a camera without a flash.

  35. magnetite says:

    A simple solution to the problem of TSA agents using this technology to ‘see’ our underpants could be for a software filter to convert the images into a text adventure for them. Perhaps like so:

    >verbose

    Three travellers approach you. One is a BUTCHER FROM IDAHO, one is a SWARTHY FOREIGNER, one is an INNOCENT TRAVELLER.

    >use device on FOREIGNER

    The FOREIGNER is carrying in his inventory; a thermos flask, a fuse, and a suspicious-looking shoe.

    >arrest him.
    >use device on INNOCENT TRAVELLER.

    I’m sorry the word ‘innocent’ is not in my vocabulary. Please use another word.

    >look around.

    You are surrounded by angry Americans, all angry at the loss of their civil liberties.

    >restore

  36. arkizzle says:

    optimistic

    That’s funny Allen, because this is the image the TSA, themselves, have offered.

    Seems a while lot more accurate than the muddy image you showed. I mean, I can see junk and boobs in the TSA one..

  37. Digital Artz says:

    After 20 to 25 years of this kind of
    stuff most folks will be immune to
    privacy as i knew it in the 1940′s
    when still a child. Very sad ,as I live in
    NYC where my landlord legally put in
    cctv’s to watch his tenants in the public
    hallway to see who is actually living there
    and perhaps how many visitors they have and
    if they have usual job related daytime hours etc.

    Nice! ,Glad I will die of natural causes
    before all of us succumb to this.

    Now we have official undressing what the
    hell is next??

  38. EncarnacionFlor says:

    From the original post:
    “If federal agents set up this system at a shopping mall, would people care?”

    and from #80 Anonymous:
    “However, I can see so many reasons US citizens need to actively oppose this.”

    It is not that people (specifically, US citizens) do not care, it is just that they cannot do anything about it. To protest detainment is to bring more suspicion upon oneself, which then brings on more detainment. I too oppose this as a US Citizen and as a human. My theory as to why more US citizens do not oppose it is that public schools, at least in my 23.5 year lifespan, have always been places of little personal privacy. This trains a significant majority of US citizens from childhood to expect certain rights only on paper, but not in practice. Because of this, when these citizens enter adulthood, they do not desire after these “certain inalienable rights” because they have never had them in the first place. Now of course this is not always the case, but it is difficult for the minority to demand rights for all.

  39. Matt Sanderson says:

    This is my introduction to this technology. The 13-year-old in me who always wished x-ray glasses were real is slightly aroused by this. The remaining 90% of me is completely and absolutely horrified by it, however.

    I hate this country, sometimes. Too often. :(

  40. Ken4paul says:

    One advantage to the mm Wave scan is a faster, less intrusive passage through TSA security by people with metal knees and hips. My in-laws who both have metal knees passed through as fast as I did and I do not have any metal in my body except for gold fillings in my teeth. They were not subjected to the mandatory supplementary wand metal detectors and a hand pat down which can take more time especially if there is a long line of waiting queued up passengers with artificial knees. This was my first experience with the mm Wave scanners at the Denver airport on Monday, August 30. One complaint I do have is the fact that the TSA staff did not even verbally give me the option for the pat down rather than the mm Wave machine. They just pointed me to the glass enclosure instead of the normal metal scanner right next to it.

  41. Man On Pink Corner says:

    D y sll ppl rlz tht th sn s rrdatng t 600-nnmtr / 500-trhrtz lctrmgntc rdtn, vn s w spk?

    Seriously, get over yourself. As #23 says, the corrosive effect on the social fabric is more than enough reason to argue against making this technology part of everyday life. If you make up random boo-scares about stuff you have no earthly clue about, you lose credibility.

    And we need credibility.

  42. dainel says:

    mm wave does not penetrate skin. If I were to create a fake belly, and then cover it with animal skin, would I be able to smuggle in all sorts of disallowed materials?

    Is there any kind of clothing material that is opaque? We could use this to make underwear. Sell them to those expecting to pass through an airport with one of these machines. They’ll be pulled out for a full strip search, but we have already made our money. ;-)

    OTOH, if it’s really skin tight, maybe you couldn’t tell on the machine. Maybe we can make it out of real skin.

  43. pixleshifter says:

    @ bibliotek
    how about
    NO
    in foil, glued to an undershirt (vest).

    @ takuan
    given obama’s feigned ignorance of the NAU, I begin to think unfortunately, that he’s a very slick puppet

  44. panthersahib says:

    If I lived near one of these airports in the US I would hand out flyers to people waiting in line for the security check, letting them know how invasive the procedure is its potential danger.

  45. chromal says:

    I wonder how long until this technology is relatively inexpensive and in the hands of everyone.

  46. Outraged says:

    I contacted the ACLU about my unreasonable search at the Indianapolis airport last week. These machines are an unwarranted search. I’ve been conducting an informal poll among my colleagues and NO ONE KNOWS what these machines do. Once they found out, they were horrified. When the TSA says that 90% of the passengers preferred these, please consider that the passengers had no idea that there was an image involved at all. They assume is is a metal or explosives detector. I explained what it was to my mom, and she felt ashamed and violated. Why is the US using technology rejected by Israel, Australia, Germany, France… the list goes on? Why isn’t anyone as mad as I am about this?

  47. mdhatter says:

    “That’s also why officers are not allowed to bring anything, including phones, bags or other items into the remote viewing location.”

    Are they hauled off into a glass room for a few hours of interviews if they do?

    What about their sense of propriety? Do they have to leave that outside as well.

    I just hope they can undress my middle fingler, b/c they’ll see it if they ever point one of these at me.

  48. mgfarrelly says:

    How dare you interfere with our brave TSA agents scanning your child! Does she have a phone? Does she use “the internets”? Then she could be one of “them” sir. We cannot be too careful.

  49. justin says:

    Guess the guys in Denver didn’t get the memo. Who would have thought the TSA would be incompetent at following it’s own procedures?

  50. frankiez says:

    Once upon a time this was called “The land of Freedom”…

  51. E0157H7 says:

    I assume that this renders moot my usual practice of tucking my “Level 60 Terrorist” pendant under my shirt when I pick friends up from the airport. Bummer.

  52. jackie31337 says:

    @#61 wilco: “I’ll just save them the trouble and show up naked.”

    My thoughts exactly.

    @#7 “I’d love to see Improv Everywhere try something in an airport.”

    Specifically, I’d love to see them try showing up naked at the TSA checkpoint.

  53. Hans says:

    I would think that regardless of the precautions against public viewing, people have a reasonable expectation of privacy under their clothing. Maybe scanning before boarding a flight is constitutionally reasonable, but I don’t see how general public scanning without notification could hold up under constitutional scrutiny.

  54. jackie31337 says:

    Sorry for the double post. The comments have been eating my posts lately.

  55. Anonymous says:

    They should only allow eunuchs to operate the scanners.

  56. Darran Edmundson says:

    #18 writes, “They say ‘It is completely safe, non-invasive and does not store information.’ I wonder how they define non-invasive?”

    The radar beam bounces off of your genitals rather than penetrating.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I’d love to see Improv Everywhere try something in an airport. They could try different airports and publish the arrest rates.

  58. Anonymous says:

    As a large breasted woman (32gg in UK sizing) I have been inspired by the comments here to do some informal experiments and I can tell you that I can easily conceal small items under my breasts. Raising my arms and even jumping jacks did not dislodge the items, one of which was a “lipstick knife”. The only requirement is that i wear no bra, or one that doesn’t fit. So I fail the pencil test and won’t make it into Playboy, but I can make up for it by smuggling banned items onto planes, I suppose.
    I’m actually quite petite, my back is very narrow, and some of the eye-bogglingly obese people I’ve seen (sorry) I reckon they could get quite a lot of stuff under their breasts. Not just the women, either. The obese and/or well-endowed should be added to that ridiculous “could be a terruhrist” list. Don’t worry, I’m already a suspicious type, I’m Irish.

  59. Stefan Jones says:

    Glue tin foil letters spelling out “FUCK YOU TSA” to your undershirt.

  60. flamingphonebook says:

    I’m perfectly OK with anyone in an airport scanning me. I presume they take one look at me and want to see me naked.

  61. jan says:

    >techcafe , August 31, 2008 3:12 PM
    >does nobody give a shit about civil liberties >anymore?? have we all just given up?!

    what a wonderful world this would be if these TSA-agents (or any security people for that matter) would be the first to object and say: wait a minute, this stuff is way too invasive (instead of:wow- this is some need-o stuff, let me have a go)

    all these people behind their monitors; the invasion of our privacy has been turned into some kind of factorywork including the numbing and dumbing down of the employees. Be sure they won’t be asking any questions.

    the rot starts at the base.

  62. dove says:

    “If a country is governed with tolerance,
    the people are comfortable and honest.
    If a country is governed with repression,
    the people are depressed and crafty.”

  63. The Wiz says:

    How about if the TSA (almost looks like T&A!)guy watching the monitor is in a glass-walled room (two way mirror, etc) and can be seen by the public at all times. The public cannot see what is on his monitor, and he just has to realize that he’s being watched all day.

    Not a job for subconscious nostril evacuators.

  64. Takuan says:

    if they say it’s “safe”, they are lying.

  65. jso says:

    Mark, I don’t think its passive. Passive would imply there are an environmental source of these microwaves that are being detected. In addition the microwaves would have to have known characteristics about them in order to get usable information from them. I get the feeling that these are most likely active scanning radar.

    For fun, someone should determine the frequency band these guys operate at… ;P

    FWIW, I do work with microwave radar systems, but that really is about as good as saying “I speak English, therefore I know about everything spoken in English.”

  66. dougrogers says:

    Petite, narrow back, large breasted, Irish…. That’s girlfriend material. The Jumping jacks image put me over…

  67. Anonymous says:

    Millimeter wave technology is not all that bad. I’m a criminal justice major and we have to do a research project on contraband detection at our borders. The MMW’s don’t really get pointed at people. They are a machine that you can walk through much like the current metal detectors. It uses the waves to detect foreign objects on the body and project them back to be viewable on a screen. So, officers can see things like ceramic kitchen knives or plastic guns, things that may not necessarily set of a traditional metal detector. And the waves are about 100 times less harmful that using your cellphone. You get just as much radiation from this machine as talking on your phone for a minute or two.

  68. Lea Hernandez says:

    I like the Wiz’s idea.

  69. dougp says:

    You should send this to the TSA blog and see what they have to say about it since the way it’s set up violates their own rules.

  70. Anonymous says:

    For what it’s worth. The SP0-7 and the SPO-20 ARE safe and do not emit any waves of any kind. This thread started with someone wondering if, “they” would “scan” his daughter. And then went on to state that someone’s clothes were off on the screen. Active mmW systems can see though clothing by emitting mmW and looking for the reflection. For all active systems, the screener is remotely located. The SPo-7 and SPO-20 are passive systems which is only looking at the waves given off by a human…even your daughter. And no, I don’t work for the manufacturer.

  71. jso says:

    Takuan, I am willing to bet it is safe. There are two ways that EMF is dangerous:

    1. Ionizing Radiation, which starts in the Ultraviolet Light spectrum. WAY above radio waves.

    2. Thermal heating, in which you simply dump enough energy into a small area that it literally cooks that material.

    However, during writing this, I considered a different meaning to “safe.” Although the technology is safe, I don’t believe that it can ever be applied in a safe manner. That is, there is always the possibility of abuse and without proper precautions that invariably means there will be abuse.

  72. Takuan says:

    shall we see how many people get cellphone cancer in couple of decades? Jury is still out no matter what some scientists and engineers maintain. They MAY be right. They may also be WRONG. Considering the caliber of sadist the TSA employs, I’ll bet they use this as a weapon first chance they get.

  73. error404 says:

    So it’s kosher for the TSA to look at an 11 year old girl in the nip, but it is an affront for her Dad to look around the monitor and see that they are watching his daughter naked?

    Wow.

    Someone call Gary Glitter, he may have found a new career with the TSA.

  74. CherriB says:

    I believe the United States Constitution has a little blurb about property ownership. On US soil, I have control over my property.

    My body is my property and I will choose who sees it undressed, under what circumstances, when, and how. I have no idea how to avoid the scanner machines, except to not fly.

    I wonder if the American Civil Liberties Union will help in taking up the case of rape by law. I consider the invasion of my body without my permission as rape, not some fool assumption that I’m a terrorist or that anyone is for that matter. I am so tired of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption, believing that we are all evil until repeatedly proven to pass whatever litmus test is on the menu for the day.

    Why aren’t we SHOUTING dissent? What exactly is it that we’re afraid of? The big bad bully in the blue suit?

  75. wilco says:

    I’ll just save them the trouble and show up naked.

    By the way, last year at immigration (JFK) I heard the guy in front of me tell the officer ” If you treat people like this, only terrorists will bother to come the the US”. He was taken away for long talk it seemed.

  76. RichSPK says:

    “Remote viewing location” sounds like a location for “remote viewing” (insert link to wikipedia here).

    You need a flash mob to take pictures of the screen. They can’t block the whole mob without calling in reinforcements.

  77. Anonymous says:

    The TSA’s own blog has a write-up about this:

    http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/08/new-security-technologies-make-airport.html

    They say “It is completely safe, non-invasive and does not store information.” I wonder how they define non-invasive?

  78. Sean Grimm says:

    Someone should pat those terrorists on the back. A single devastating act of terrorism on American soil has done away with decades of fighting for freedom, assumed innocence, civil and human rights. Way to go. I feel bad for the UK because of their CCTV system and those scary biometric ID cards, but America seems to be taking more intrusive steps into the lives and privacy of anyone that walks on its soil.

    Whoever wins the next Presidential election, it would make me extremely elated if they disbanded the entire Department of Homeland Security. I’ve never been afraid of my own country and government like this before. There has to be a better way to be safe without sacrificing personal privacy or peace of mind.

  79. Chas44 says:

    At least the scanner operator doesn’t have one hand in his lap in the photo… that would be creepy.

  80. FoetusNail says:

    Hans @#6 – My thoughts exactly, there should be a line with signage stating those that cross this line consent to being scanned. No one without a ticket should be allowed across that line. That said, I don’t like this sort of thing, not at all. How long will it be before these things are in every mall?

  81. magnetite says:

    Asbestos was considered safe for a long time before it was exposed as a fearsomely dangerous material. We generally find out a long time afterwards that new technologies and materials aren’t so. My father worked as a mechanic during the days of asbestos clutch and brake pads and suffered for it.

    Is this scanning system omnidirectional? If so the employees of the TSA may help to end this foolishness by bringing civil suits against their employers for potentially damaging their health – seeing as they would be exposed to it far more then we travellers. Perhaps they’ll bring the TSA down from within. I hope for everyone’s sake that they do, and the whole mad circus is hoist by its own petard.

  82. semiotix says:

    Takuan,

    Come on. Shall we wait and see how many protons are really in an atom of sodium? Shall we wait and see if the flashlights that cops use are emitting harmful levels of dangerous visible-light-spectrum EM radiation? Shall we wait and see if the sun isn’t really going around the earth after all? No matter what some scientists say, the jury’s still out, depending on who you ask.

    These machines can cause horrible and unpredictable damage–to the social fabric. There’s the appropriate focus of your concern. I know the word “radiation” is spooky and scary and laden down with a century-plus of baggage, but try to keep a cool head. If radiation really scares you that much, for pete’s sake don’t fly in an airplane in the first place. Do you have any idea how much your cosmic-ray exposure goes up when you hit 30,000 feet? Cosmic rays–now THAT’s some ionizing radiation. A few transatlantic flights and you’ve had as much irradiation as a diagnostic x-ray at your local hospital.

    We understand the physics and the physiology of exposure to EM better than we understand how ice forms. Sure, there are always risks from the things you DON’T think to check for. Maybe those scans are disorienting migrating birds flying overhead, causing them to fly smack into jet engines–I don’t know. But in terms of what this and every other frequency will do to your body at a given intensity, yes, actually, they’ve checked on that. Science is a pretty cool thing–don’t throw it under the bus just to advance a conspiracy theory, especially when we don’t need one to tell us that the TSA is badly run.

  83. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure that clothing with metal fibers in it would deflect the waves. Now we just need more clothing companies to make such items.

    Tin foil lined underpants is the new tin foil lined hat.

  84. smonkey says:

    That thing is actively pinging you with rf radiation.

    http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/mwave.shtm

    That’s the cubical version but this one is definitely using active transmission and reception of some super tight waves.

    I think I just might need to make up some tinfoil letters that say “FUCK YOU” and stick ‘em to my undershirt.

  85. serth says:

    God, I just *now* made the connection of having these in both the Denver and Minneapolis airports.

  86. RikF says:

    How on earth can this be legal if it isn’t being used at a point of border crossing (an actual point of border crossing, not somewhere near one, in close proximity to, or just down the road from)? I know that constitutional rights regarding search and seizure are waived at the border, but do you sign them away by just being close to it?

  87. stevew says:

    These things can work passively, but the early ones had difficulty with moving targets. I’m with #11 and I’ll bet that they’re lighting up the scene.

    “… to shorten an exposure in mm-wave band of spectrum, you can just light up an object that you shoot.”

    Google “passive millimeter wave scan”

  88. Spikeles says:

    This reminds me of that scene in Total Recall, with the people walking past the screen and the scanners see the skeletons and weapons.

  89. Anonymous says:

    Terrorists win! “Land of freedom” R.I.P!

    I am very happy to live outside the USA. And believe me – I will never take a flight to the Bad New World.

    I pity on you all good people over there, behind an iron curtain…

    I am not sure that TSA blog is not censored, so I put the same comment here, hopefully it will appear. Greetz freedom fighters, dong give up!

  90. thayan says:

    I discovered that millimeter wave therapy is apparently being researched as to its health benefits, maybe the TSA just wants to cure everyone’s heart disease…

    http://www.temple.edu/temple_times/2-9-06/milliwaves.html

  91. Peter says:

    “That’s also why officers are not allowed to bring anything, including phones, bags or other items into the remote viewing location.”

    Of course, since it’s a ‘remote location’, we’ll have to take their word they’re preventing that. Can we insist that all employees going into the remote viewing room are strip searched and/or scanned by the machine before going in, to make sure they’re not carrying anything that can be used to carry out an image?

  92. techcafe says:

    does nobody give a shit about civil liberties anymore?? have we all just given up?!

  93. Bobdotcom says:

    You’re lucky they didn’t catch you taking a picture of the device. Who knows where you’d be right now? Guantanamo? Some hidden prison in eastern Europe? Under the White House?

  94. Takuan says:

    @21
    some aspects of physics may be reasonably well understood. Do not for one moment dare to assert that the biomedical understanding is comparable.

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