New scanners mark 'victory' for lobbyists

The new "naked scanners" at the airport can't spot stuff inside body cavities, meaning that any terrorist with an explosive buttplug can wander right through, his unusual gait notwidthstanding. Why would such limited machines have been bought at such massive expense, given the inevitable outcry over their invasiveness? Because well-connected lobbyists worked awfully hard to convince politicians otherwise. [Washington Examiner]


  1. I still can’t believe that a company called Rapiscan makes devices to take naked pictures of travelers for the government. I mean, Rape-I-Scan? Really?

  2. This truly is the definition of security theatre.
    I’ve worked at airports with access to secure areas and can tell you right away that any group that is willing to put their terrorists-to-be through flight school in another country has the ingenuity to get past this silliness. Cleaning crew, security workers, paper pushers, baggage handlers. These people are all invisible at an airport, and this is where threats are likely to come from in the future.
    Another 9/11 is not going to work because passengers and crew won’t allow it. Anybody doing something suspicious with liquid bombs or combining electronic trigger elements is going to get hammered down by a hundred passengers and possibly axed by the pilots. THAT is a level of security. Us not standing for any shit is what gives some level of safety now.

    The weakest point of the security theatre is now the security guards themselves.

  3. Can someone point out to me exactly WHERE it says in that first link that the thing can’t see stuff inside body cavities? Is this implied because of the nature of the backscatter machine imaging techniques?

    It’s not made explicit, and if you’re going to link to something like that as evidence, you might as well explain exactly how it supports your argument.

    1. “exactly WHERE it says in that first link that the thing can’t see stuff inside body cavities?”

      The part where it says “The scanners can’t see inside body cavities.”

      More on this at Wired:

      And a the NYT, when backscatter machines were being proposed a few years ago:

      “Because of concerns about radiation, body scanners are designed not to penetrate the skin. All that’s needed is someone heavily overweight to go through the system, he said. I won’t quote him directly on the details; suffice it to say he posits that a weapon or explosives pack could be tucked into flabby body folds that won’t be penetrated by the scanner.”

      1. yes, and the part where it says that the scanners use millimetre waves. Those do not penetrate much at all and get scattered by the water content of (approximately) the first 0.1 millimetre of your skin.

        That’s just how the science of it works…

  4. Explosive Buttplug – I saw them live at the Filmore back in ’78. They blew the doors off that place, and when the show let out, people stormed the streets and turned cars over and set policemen on fire. It was a good old fashioned mayhem. Boy, I miss those days.

  5. It’s a fact that these backscatter scanners cannot penetrate skin. As arikol said, this is 100% Security Theatre. Nothing of value is actually being done, and Bin Laden has got to be guffawing in his cave about how much his 10 year old attack is still costing this country.

  6. It should not be forgotten that a major player pushing for installing the imaging machines was former DHS Secretary Chertoff.

    In the aftermath of the failed Christmas day bombing, the press unevenly noted that Chertoff’s consulting group was supporting the manufacturer of these full body scanners: for example, see the editor’s note pinned to the bottom of this NYT article:

    @Oldboy: It’s mentioned in the GAO report that’s cited by the Examiner columnist. If the technology wouldn’t be able to find the material on the Christmas day bomber, there’s really not much of a chance of it also finding it inside a body cavity.

    1. Oldboy, if you still haven’t spotted it, it’s in the paragraph that starts with the sentence “An inspector in another room views the picture on a monitor.”

    2. Ctrl + f and typing in terms you are looking for in an article is really handy. You don’t have to fish with your hands (or eyes, in this case).

  7. Lest this turn into mock the fatty, I remind you that roughly 50% of the population have two fat folds hanging off their chests. So anyone with tits could conceivably hide explosives underneath them. Especially with so many of us avoiding the underwires that set off the metal detectors.

    1. Hence why their “enhanced patdown” technique involves groping and twisting the breasts of women. Or, that’s their justification anyway. It kind of seems like they just want to be paid to legally fondle and assault people.

      Awesome. :(

    2. Theoretically, if a woman was on a suicide mission, couldn’t she have a sympathetic surgeon hollow out her breasts to stuff explosives into? At the very least, get some implants and fill them with a damn sight more than 20oz of liquid explosive.

      Hell, how much space is left inside the human body if you surgically remove everything you won’t need to survive for 48 hours or so? Get someone with a nasty accident in their near past to explain nasty scars and metal implants(for detonators), stuff them full of a few kilos of explosive(I dare say you could get a couple dozen with some particularly dense stuff and aggressive pruning), get them on board and detonate them. Seriously, cut out the stomach, spleen, at least one kidney, most of the intestinal tract, prostate/uterus, they’ll live long enough to deliver the payload.

  8. Everybody, take a year out from travelling abroad (especially on aircraft) and just watch the airlines/security/banks/government squirm.

    But it will never happen so you just have to live with it.

  9. Let me get this straight. They use the rape-i-scan, which does nothing but show us naked. They invasively fondle us. If you’re lucky, they’ll probe your body cavities too. Does TSA = Twisted Sex Addicts?

    1. Well that’s a suit waiting to happen, isn’t it? In fact, why isn’t it already happening? I want to put money into some poor amputee’s legal fund.

  10. I’m incredibly frustrated that I bought tickets to visit Africa mere days before finding out about these new measures. It’s literally taking all my funds to get there, and I want to go enough that I will bear these new “security” measures. But I WILL opt-out–and have enough time for myself to do so.

    I’m sick of being assumed guilty-until-barely-decided to sort of be innocent. I’m watching my civil liberties being drained away annually. I’m pissed, USgov’t. You’re failing at pretending to be a free country.

  11. I do wonder if one could create a “fat suit”, or simply underwear, that have the same reaction as skin to the scanner.

  12. I was reminded today why I hate TV news while at lunch (I couldn’t really avoid watching it since it was on at the restaurant I was at).

    Just to be clear, the news isn’t helping on this. This was on HLN (part of CNN). They were talking about the recent guy who got threatened with a $10,000 fine, and the two newscasters were basically giving the same tired “whatever it takes to protect us” bullshit and suggesting the guy was just looking for his 15 minutes of fame by rebelling.

    It was this douche:

    They even went to facebook comments of all things to make their case, cherry picking the ones that supported their statements about making us safer.

    The only comment he mentioned that was reasonable was from a breast cancer survivor that didn’t feel comfortable with the procedures, but regardless, the rest of it was practically an ad for the scanners defending the bullshit.

    It hurts my brain to watch such dumbed down crap.

  13. On a side note, does anyone know of a safe material that can be invisibly applied to fabric to send secret messages to the viewers in the back rooms? It would be fun to mess with them.

    1. i suspect any material that is more reflective then skin can work (would show up brighter on the scan). Iirc, the scanner can pick up even a ceramic knife blade, so perhaps something like that?

  14. It seems to me the TSA is the Theatric Security Applier. They apply theatric security to our air travel. Feel free to use this reading of the acronym in all contexts the TSA’s name would normally be used in, like this sentence.

  15. It’s certainly possible for bodies of information to be addictive that are transmitted to our minds in non-chemical ways. Just take a look at the Wiki Walk phenomenon ( ); another is the objective of scientists and religious figures: To understand our world better. Why does this happen? Curiosity, of course.

    In other news, the government has decided to ban curiosity…

  16. These body scanners are a waste of time. The terrorists won’t try the same thing again. Enough explosive material to bring down a plane can easily be brought aboard in body cavities. Drug smugglers have been sneaking illicit materials aboard planes and through customs in this manner forever. Does the government really believe the terrorists won’t think of this simple, widely used ploy to foil the body scanners? Duh…
    What’s next? Will the TSA be doing passenger body cavity searches?

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