Body scanner ineffective to single out hazards. No safe dose of ionizing radiation. THz waves rip DNA, harm health of billions
BBC: Ben Wallace, an ex Army officer & former overseas director in the security & intelligence division at UK defense firm QinetiQ - one of the companies making the full body scanner technology - said, the "passive millimetre wave scanners", which QinetiQ helped develop, probably would not have detected key plots affecting passengers in the UK in recent years. Mr. Wallace said the scanners would probably not have detected the failed Detroit plane plot of Christmas Day. He said the same of the 2006 airliner liquid bomb plot and of explosives used in the 2005 bombings of 3 Tube trains and a bus in London.
Airport body scanners would be "unlikely" to detect many of the explosive devices used by terrorist groups, a Tory MP has warned. Ben Wallace, who used to work at defense firm QinetiQ, one of the companies making the technology, warned it was not a "big silver bullet".
The explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned. Officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation. The claim severely undermines Gordon Brown’s focus on hi-tech scanners for airline passengers as part of his review into airport security after the attempted attack on Flight 253 on Christmas Day. The Independent on Sunday has also heard authoritative claims that officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.
Los Angeles Times: "It is a whole-body image, and they can spin it 360 degrees. And they can zoom in and see something as small as a nickel or dime, but they can't spot something hidden in a body cavity. A good old-fashioned sniffing dog is more effective." If the scanners become standard, "the terrorists will adapt to it. What will we do the next time if someone inserts an explosive in a body cavity and takes it out in the bathroom of the airplane?"
Rep. Jason Chaffetz said the body scanners give an explicit view of a naked person. "It is a whole-body image, and they can spin it 360 degrees. And they can zoom in and see something as small as a nickel or dime," he said. "But they can't spot something hidden in a body cavity. A good old-fashioned sniffing dog is more effective."
ACLU lawyers said air travelers should not have to face the prospect of exposing potentially embarrassing medical details, such as colostomy bags or mastectomy scars or their use of adult diapers.
If the scanners become standard, "the terrorists will adapt to it," said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert in the ACLU's Washington office. "What will we do the next time if someone inserts an explosive in a body cavity and takes it out in the bathroom of the airplane? At some point, we need to draw the line on how much privacy we are willing to give up."
Despite their disagreements, the defenders of privacy and advocates of increased security agree that a better use of information should permit the government to focus its screening on the individuals who pose a threat.
"We clearly need to move faster to a point where we're looking for terrorists, not just weapons," said Baker, a Washington lawyer and formerly general counsel to the National Security Agency. "And the key to that is having more data and using it with more discretion in screening passengers. The current system condemns children and grandmothers to intrusive screening without any assurance it will catch sophisticated terrorists."
Discover Magazine: Full body scanners can’t see inside your body. Generally, the machines can’t find items stashed in a body cavity. So the scanners wouldn’t stop at least one common smuggling method used by drug traffickers
1. Manufacturers aren’t willing to fill orders. According to a spokesperson for Smiths Detection, a manufacturer of millimeter-wave body scanners, the scanner technology has not yet been certified as fit for purpose by national governments – and manufacturers will not invest in mass production until it has [New Scientist]. Until the TSA and the European Union certify the technology, don’t expect manufactures to rush into production, seeing as how the scanners cost around $125,000 each.
2. They won’t actually catch that many threats. According to a spokesperson for QinetiQ, another body scanner manufacturer, airport body scanners would be “unlikely” to detect many of the explosive devices used by terrorist groups [BBC News]. QinetiQ said the technology probably wouldn’t have detected the Christmas day underwear bomb. Neither would the scanners have caught the explosives from the 2006 airliner liquid bomb plot, nor the explosives used in the 2005 London Tube train bombing. The body scanners aren’t very useful for detecting liquids and plastics and can only help spotlight irregularities under a person’s clothes, said the spokesperson. Singling out every irregularity for further screening will place a heavy burden on airport security (read: bring a pillow with you to the airport).
3. The scanners may violate child pornography laws. A trial run of the scanners in Britain was only allowed to proceed after children under 18 were exempt from screening. The decision followed a warning from Terri Dowty, of Action for Rights of Children, that the scanners could breach the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal to create an indecent image or a “pseudo-image” of a child [Guardian]. It’s not clear if children would continue to be exempt from screening should the scanners become widely used, or where the United States stands on screening children. (And then there’s other types of pornography to worry about–imagine the media frenzy that would ensue should a celebrity body scan make its way to the tabloids. The images are not supposed to be stored after their creation, but many critics say the security personnel analyzing the images are poorly monitored to ensure the scans are disposed properly.)
4. Other countries won’t use them. A year ago, Germany said “nein” to the idea of using full body scanners in its airports, saying the technology is little more than security theater. There is some indication that the German government has recently softened its stance, but its new position has a lot of “ifs.” German Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière said he is ready to introduce full body scanners if they are safe and “fully guarantee” the privacy rights of passengers. Wolfgang Bosbach, Bundestag interior committee chief, told Germany’s Tagesspiegel: “If this technology [full body scanners] has demonstrated its usefulness in practice, i.e. it works reliably and is quick, we should use it” [Christian Science Monitor]. See reasons 2 and 3 above.
5. Full body scanners can’t see inside your body. Generally, the machines can’t find items stashed in a body cavity. So the scanners wouldn’t stop at least one common smuggling method used by drug traffickers [New York Daily News]. It’s not hard to imagine terrorists following in drug smugglers’ footsteps–in fact, one already has. In September, an Al Qaeda suicide bomber hid explosives in his rectum in an attempt to kill a Saudi Prince (but because the bomber’s flesh absorbed most of the blast, he died and the prince survived).
The bottom line? Playing catch-up with evildoers probably won’t do much good, which is essentially what the TSA is doing with its embrace of full body scanning technology –along with its current rules about liquids and removing one’s shoes, for that matter.
infowars.com: "The millimeter wave scanners emit a wavelength of ten to one millimeter called a millimeter wave, these waves are considered Extremely High requency (EHF), the highest radio frequency wave produced. EHF runs a range of frequencies from 30 to 300 gigahertz, they are also abbreviated mmW. These waves are also known as tetrahertz (THz) radiation." "The force generated from tetrahertz waves is small but the waves can 'unzip' or tear apart double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the DNA that could interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That's a jaw dropping conclusion."
Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California, Berkeley, maintains that there is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. Gofman argues that radiation from medical diagnostics and treatment is responsible for 50 per cent of cancers of 60 per cent of heart disease cases amongst Americans.
In the UK, the level of detail produced by the body scanners is such that their implementation would break child pornography laws, specifically the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal to create an indecent image or a "pseudo-image" of a child. "They do not have the legal power to use full body scanners in this way," said Terri Dowty, of Action for Rights of Children, adding there was an exemption in the 1978 law to cover the "prevention and detection of crime" but the purpose had to be more specific than the "trawling exercise" now being considered," reports the Guardian.
Approaching the issue from a health angle, despite official assurances that the scanners are safe, there are many concerns about the physical impact of firing radiation at the body, especially if the individual has had previous x-ray scans, mammograms, or is a frequent flyer. Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California, Berkeley, maintains that there is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. Gofman argues that radiation from medical diagnostics and treatment is responsible for 50 per cent of cancers of 60 per cent of heart disease cases amongst Americans.
Austrian Times: Austrian Petzner said the "extremism in some countries" needed to be brought under control first. "Body scanners are nonsense and a health risk," he added. Greens MP Peter Pilz said his party would "strongly object" the body scanner plans. "Austria must not become a surveillance state," he said.
There are two types of scanners we will have to endure at the airport; the millimeter-wave scanner and the ‘backscatter’ X-ray scanner. Both emit ‘high-energy’ radiation and are dangerous. Body scanners have revolutionized the practice of medicine and has saved many lives, but we must question the government’s mandate to have people endure high-energy radiation in a non-life-threatening situation. We must protest the use of full-body scanners on children and young adults as they are at greater-risk of developing brain tumors and cancer from these machines. Cancer and tumors especially in the young will likely increase as more body scanners are being installed on a nationwide scale. There is just no “safe” dose of radiation, 50% of America’s cancers are radiation-induced.
CBC: The other enhanced body scanner uses a technology known as "backscatter." Low-level X-rays produce the same kind of "see-through" images that millimetre wave technology produces. Backscatter images resemble a chalk etching. Again, the technology can be adapted to obscure faces. Unlike medical X-rays, the X-rays used in backscatter technology bounce off the skin, revealing what's under your clothes, but not what's under your skin. Medical X-rays go through the body, revealing bones and internal organs.
Airport body scanners not only show you naked, they also have the potential to wreck your DNA. The body scanners use terahertz waves to show your privates and terahertz waves rip apart DNA. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes, paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and “frisk” people at distance. The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material. they don’t travel far inside the body.
The Telegraph, India: Professor Rolf Michel, the head of the Commission on Radiological Protection which is part of Germany’s environment ministry, warned against any airport scanners that use X-rays on humans. Long-term exposure could cause cancer, he said. And he also remained concerned about the full-body scanner, which uses radio waves rather than X-rays. “Up until now we have had little information as to whether these could be dangerous. At the moment there is intensive research underway to find out if we need to be worried about biological affects,” he warned.
Photos courtesy of PrisonPlanet.com
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