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EU voted down body scanners in 2008: "degrading measure". Concerns: Effective? Health? Dignity? Privacy? Heavy cost?

By WcP.Scientific.Mind - Posted on 11 February 2010

Cartoons. Top R: Sign in front of body scanner: ‘Remove All: shoes; belts; metal; dignity; rights’. Bottom L: ‘I hate it when fans of that Village People hit song step into the full body scanner!’
Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan - naked body scanners image of him were printed and circulated by airport staff

Craziness is not rare, neither is Crime. Else, there would be no need for law, law enforcement, etc. etc.. Does Fear lead to solutions, or to panic, shutting out common sense and wisdom? EU Justice Chief has the answer: "We have to have a very clear line on this. We must never be driven by fear but by our values."
MEPs not yet convinced about body scanners, await impact analysis: "legitimate questions"... "Technology has become the new religion in counter-terrorism"... "Violation of dignity"... "no matter how much technology you have, terrorists will manage to circumvent it"... "great cost implications" of using body scanners, and advised against "putting burdens on airport companies" (also tax payers?) without the certainty that such scanners would be useful.


EDRI: The European Parliament says no to airport body scanners 5 November, 2008: The body scanner is "equivalent to a virtual strip search" and "has a serious impact on the right to privacy...and personal dignity". British Conservative Philip Bradbourn MEP said that such scans "were a grave violation of the right of privacy and a degrading measure".
MEPs will not support the European Commission plans to include body scanning procedures within the airport security systems.

The new system planned by the European Union to be introduced in airports allows security personnel to see an outline of passengers' bodies beneath their clothes, in order to detect concealed objects more easily. The resulted image is similar to that of the naked body. The system already works in several US airports and has been tested in EU as well, in countries such as UK and the Netherlands.

In MEPs' opinion, the measure is "equivalent to a virtual strip search" and "has a serious impact on the right to privacy...and personal dignity". British Conservative Philip Bradbourn MEP said that such scans "were a grave violation of the right of privacy and a degrading measure".

Therefore, the MEPs intend to block the approval of the European Commission plans in this matter and, in a resolution passed on 21 October 2008, asked the Commission to carry out a fundamental rights impact assessment and to consult the Fundamental Rights Agency and the European Data Protection Supervisor. They also asked the European Commission to obtain medical expertise on the possible health risks of the technology.

"Travelers need to know exactly what the images display, their right to opt for an alternative search, and how they can have confidence that intrusive and sensitive images will not be misused. Although claims are made that the images are not of photographic quality, they seem to be quite explicit about portrayal of genitalia and intimate medical details like breast implants and colostomy bags" said Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford who also added: "Fears arise about the images finding their way into the press and onto the internet, maybe through payment to employees, unless bans on storage are strictly policed."

Irish MEP Mary Lou McDonald also considered the measure as "unnecessary, unjustified and invasive" and commented: "Much controversy has surrounded the introduction of body scanners into U.S. airports, and here in Europe there is neither appetite nor agreement on introducing the technology into member states.(...) International human rights and civil liberty groups have described body scanners as 'shameful, undignified and demeaning'. The idea that any member state parliament would subject its young and elderly to such an inappropriate experience when travelling is difficult to rationalise."

The resolution supported by a majority of MEPs said all aviation security measures, including body scanners, should "respect the principle of proportionality as justified and necessary in a democratic society".

European Parliament: Body scanners : MEPs not yet convinced, await impact analysis. "legitimate questions"... "Technology has become the new religion in counter-terrorism"... "Great cost implications"... "Violation of dignity"... "no matter how much technology you have, terrorists will manage to circumvent it"... underlined the "great cost implications" of using body scanners, and advised against "putting burdens on airport companies", without the certainty that such scanners would be useful.
Justice and home affairs - 28-Jan-2010 - 10:16 update

Joined-up information sharing is the first step towards preventing terrorists from boarding planes, reiterated Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate with EU Counter-terrorism Co-ordinator Gilles de Kerkhove on Wednesday.

Address "legitimate questions" –
"We should not start with a no or with a yes" on body scanners, said Simon Busuttil (EPP, MT), but address "legitimate questions" on "quite intrusive instruments". "We would like to know to what extent they would be efficient (...) Will passengers have to be at the airport three hours before the flight leaves?" he asked, also voicing concern for the health of passengers and airport workers.

"Technology has become the new religion in counter-terrorism" -
"I have the impression that technology has become the new religion in counter-terrorism. That's not the way" said Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, DE). "Connecting the dots is the main problem", he added. "Are bodyscanners useful? Isn't it a rearguard issue? What if a terrorist swallows the explosives?" asked Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL).

"Great cost implications" -
"We have enough data" said Ernst Strasser (EPP, AT). He said that priority should be given to evaluating the existing instruments and making sure that tools such as the Schengen information system and the Visa information system are made fully operational. "It is never possible to predict what a terrorist would do", said Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK). He underlined the "great cost implications" of using body scanners, and advised against "putting burdens on airport companies", without the certainty that such scanners would be useful.

"Violation of dignity" -
Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D, EL) asked if the visa waiver agreement with the United States didn't include a transfer of terrorist watch lists to Washington, and if there was reciprocity with Europe. Antigoni Papadopoulou (S&D, CY) asked "how did the US fail to deal with information? We deserve an answer on that". She expressed concerns about the possible impact of body scanners on health, especially for people wearing pacemakers, and on "the violation of dignity".

Cornelis De Jong (GUE/NGL, NL) said that "there is a great deal to be done in terms of prevention vis-à-vis third countries", and said that terrorism is also generated by "failure to deal with the Middle East problem". Andrew Brons (NI, UK) said that "military actions in Muslim countries" lead to radicalization, and that "we must have a genuinely neutral policy in the Middle East".

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
In the chair : Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)

Transport Committee MEPs, who also discussed the issue on Wednesday, agreed that no technology could provide 100% security against terrorism and that airport staff training and better exchange of intelligence between security authorities should remain a priority. They also questioned the efficiency of body scanners in detecting explosives.

The Commission should put forward proposals for the introduction of body scanners within the next six months, but only if all questions relating to health and privacy are properly addressed and the technology is proved effective, he said, adding that the European Parliament would be consulted beforehand on all these issues.

Mathieu Grosch (EPP, BE) told the Commission Director-General that the Transport Committee would require the technical information about the new scanners in order to assess their utility and potential health hazards.

Saïd El Khadraoui (S&D, BE) underlined that body scanners could only detect objects on someone's body, not inside it. His concerns were echoed by Eva Lichtenberger (Greens, AT), who asked: "if we start using these scanners, terrorists will simply start swallowing the explosives - then what do we do?"

Jacqueline Foster (ECR, UK) insisted on the need for better use of passenger profiling and intelligence sharing. "In the past, security authorities have been tipped off but have failed to act", she said. Philip Bradbourn (ECR, UK) agreed: "no matter how much technology you have, terrorists will manage to circumvent it." He quoted recent expert claims that body scanners would not have detected the bomb on the Amsterdam-Detroit terrorist, and said the problem lay in "systemic failure in exchange of information", as the US President had recently concluded.


Bomb-dumb body scanner, blind to hazards, make airlines more secure, or less? German scientist gets lots of explosives through

Canadian Press: Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble told The Associated Press in an interview: Airport body scanners, embraced by many in the aftermath of the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing, are a misguided solution to travel threats. The biggest travel threat facing the world now is passport fraud, according to the chief of Interpol - the millions of stolen documents that could be used by terrorists or criminals to travel worldwide.
"The greatest threat in the world is that last year there were 500 million, half a billion, international air arrivals worldwide where travel documents were not compared against Interpol databases," he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, where 2,500 business and political leaders are gathered in this Alpine resort. "Right now in our database we have over 11 million stolen or lost passports," he said. "These passports are being used, fraudulently altered and are being given to terrorists, war criminals, drug traffickers, human traffickers."

The solution, he said, is better intelligence, and better intelligence sharing, among countries. "You don't know the motivation behind the person carrying the passport," he said. If you're a terrorist, he said, "Are you going to carry explosives that are going to be detected? No."

Many U.S. airports use the body-scanning machines and airports in other countries are adopting them after Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear Dec. 25 on the Detroit-bound flight.

But Noble questioned "the amount of money and resources that go into these (body-scanning) machines."

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".

USA Today: Travelers worldwide could see longer security lines and more congested terminals because of body scanners. The scanners take about 15 seconds to check a passenger compared with "a few seconds" for a metal detector. Scans can take 40 seconds for passengers unfamiliar with the portal-style machines that are up to 6 feet wide. Canada's government suggested U.S.-bound travelers "arrive at the airport 3 hours in advance of their scheduled flight."
Full-Body Scanning: the technology has drawn considerable criticism related to privacy infringement and some questions about health concerns stemming from exposure to X-rays and other radiation. NBTA's poll of 152 travel managers asked respondents if new security directives implemented by TSA had raised "a new level of concern about the convenience or comfort of air travel." 48 percent said "no"; 36 percent said "yes." Fake left breast put fancy body scanner to the test
After I sauntered sleepily through the regular scanner at Denver International Airport, the guy motioned me into the clear, cylindrical, full-body scanner (aka, the Millimeter Wave). The woman there asked me to step on the yellow footprints and raise my arms above my head. She murmured into a headset to start the scan. There was a quick motion through the plexiglass. She asked me to turn, step on the green footprints and hold my arms straight out. Another scan. She motioned me out of the scanner and asked me to wait for word from someone in some secret room somewhere, someone looking at a vision of my body sans jeans, cardigan, turtleneck, etc. Hmmm... Then she said she needed to check something. And she began sweeping her hands around my left breast and rib cage. This didn't bother me all that much; in fact it made me smile. For one thing, I don't really have any feeling in my left breast. That's because it doesn't exactly exist. For six years now, it's been a composition of part of my lat dorsi (mid-back muscle) and a skin graft from my back, supplemented by a sac of silicone. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the result of a mastectomy and reconstruction, which in turn is the result of breast cancer... [But that’s just one case... Think how many people with surgical parts in their bodies...]

A friend in Tallahassee mentioned that friend of his had to lift his shirt to expose his colostomy bag to the TSA in Philadelphia. I'm happy I didn't have to expose anything to the scanning lady, and she should be too. Medical professionals I've met consider my surgical aftermath a work of art, but laypeople might be kind of weirded out by the oval skin graft and the way I can flex my breast (the lat dorsi still seems to work!). Then again, this is nothing compared to what my friend Diane goes through -- she has two rebuilt hips and two fake tatas, the latter courtesy of breast cancer...

diverting resources to a system of mass suspicion
"We should be focusing on evidence-based, targeted and narrowly tailored investigations based on individualized suspicion, which would be both more consistent with our values and more effective than diverting resources to a system of mass suspicion," according to a Jan. 4 statement attributed to American Civil Liberties Union national security policy counsel Michael German. Citing "security experts," German added that the explosive used on Christmas Day "would not have been detected by the body scanners. We shouldn't complacently surrender our rights for a false sense of security, and we should be very leery of being sold a device presented as a cure-all, especially when the evidence shows just the opposite." Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, when put in the body imaging machine, refused to be scanned. He said, "I'm proud that I stood up and said, no, I'm not going to do that."
Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz has said he was singled out and harassed at Salt Lake International Airport over the body screening technology. "I feel like I was a bit harassed," said Chaffetz. "I did everything - I went through the screening, I did the pat-down. After they cleared me, I suggested I would like to talk to a supervisor and boy, when I did that, they start treating you like you did something wrong."

Congressman Chaffetz feels his bill, passed in the House but not yet in the Senate, that allows body imaging only as a secondary screening, is why he was singled out. "He said, we know exactly who you are," said Chaffetz. "And I thought, ok, they're just harassing me, they obviously knew about my background, at least the supervisor did - and that's why they went to extraordinary lengths to take me out of one line and put me in the body imaging machine and I'm proud that I stood up and said, no, I'm not going to do that."

Huffington Post Comment by hardlyhikin:
...doesn't it seem that there must be a way to pre-screen people before they ever reach the airport? I mean, c'mon, isn't it ludicrous to search my seventy-two year old wife who has been a U.S. citizen for all her life, has borne four children here and who has never had a more serious infraction than a speeding ticket in her life? Do we really need to be screening EVERYBODY who gets on a plane? Couldn't we better use our resources by looking for other "markers" and investigating them before they ever get to the airport?

I know that's somewhat of a profiling dilemma, but doesn't it make more sense to look for the guy who is capable of doing the crime rather than everybody? If there's a rapist in your neighborhood do you expect the police to search for children under eight or old ladies over sixty?


MIT Tech Review: Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they've found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly 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.

"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."

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.

Dignity & Privacy Full-body airport scans? U.S. House Representatives Alcee Hastings, Tom Rooney, Robert Wexler opposed them in June vote
A considerable bipartisan majority of U.S. House members are on record opposing the widespread use of such scans in a vote that saw privacy concerns trump security measures. In June, the House voted 310-to-118 for an amendment by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, that would have prohibited whole-body imaging as a “primary screening” method at airports and banned “storing, transferring, or copying any images” from the scans. Naked Body Scanner Image of Film Star Printed, Circulated by Airport Staff
UK Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said last week that the images produced by the scanners were deleted “immediately” and airport staff carrying out the procedure are fully trained and supervised. “It is very important to stress that the images which are captured by body scanners are immediately deleted after the passenger has gone through the body scanner,” Adonis told the London Evening Standard.

Adonis was forced to address privacy concerns following reports that the images produced by the scanners broke child pornography laws in the UK. When the scanners were first introduced, it was also speculated that images of famous people would be ripe for abuse as the pictures produced by the devices make genitals “eerily visible” according to journalists who have investigated trials of the technology.

However, the Transport Secretary’s assurances were demolished after it was revealed on the BBC’s Jonathan Ross show Friday that Indian actor Shahrukh Khan had passed through a body scan and later had the image of his naked body printed out and circulated by Heathrow security staff.

Guardian UK: New body scanners break child porn laws
The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned. Images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to "virtual strip-searching".

A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of scanners which reveal naked images of passengers including their genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted. 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. Britain makes body scanners mandatory
The first children went through full-body scanners at Manchester airport Tuesday as Britain started making the controversial machines mandatory for secondary searches.

Great Cost Implications

MinnPost: According to Bruce Schneier, a Minneapolis-based security analyst, Congress is preparing to spend a "stupid" amount of money in an effort to fix a problem that isn't broken in an effort to solve an unsolvable problem. Schneier is a well-credentialed expert — chief security officer at BT, a best-selling author of several books on security, quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes and The Guardian.

"So we're having the discussion with full-body scanners now, and I'm going to tell you, this is stupid, the terrorists are just going to do something else," Schneier said. "The terrorists are just going to make a minor change in their tactics or targets."

Rep. Collin Peterson agreed. "We can't keep fixing the last thing that happened, we have to fix the problems at the start... We can't be reacting to the last thing, and spending a lot of money, because then the terrorists are winning."

"I think we've gone way overboard," Peterson said. "I think a lot of what goes on at the airport is for show. It's almost like we're harassing passengers so they feel better." Peterson, a pilot, would like to see differing security systems at different airports. For example, stringent airport screenings at dirt-runway fields would be impractical, he said.

The Fiscal 2011 budget recently released includes an additional $214.7 million to purchase and install 500 more machines, and another $218.9 million to pay for people to operate them. The budget is a must-pass document that starts with the president's baseline numbers and moves from there. If a member of Congress doesn't want something in it — say, [in addition to the 500 deployments that are already planned through 2010,] an extra 500 advanced-imaging scanners — they'll actually have to remove them by vote just months after an attempted terrorist attack that these machines might have prevented, and in an election year, no less.

European Parliament: Body scanners : MEPs not yet convinced, await impact analysis. "legitimate questions"... "Technology has become the new religion in counter-terrorism"... "Great cost implications"... "Violation of dignity"... "no matter how much technology you have, terrorists will manage to circumvent it"... underlined the "great cost implications" of using body scanners, and advised against "putting burdens on airport companies", without the certainty that such scanners would be useful.

Reuters: "Human beings have dignity and every measure has to be clarified first. Does it respect human dignity, does it respect privacy and does it respect health?" EU justice chief Viviane Reding told the European Parliament during hearings of nominees for EU commissioners. "We have to have a very clear line on this. We must never be driven by fear but by our values."


Images courtesy of There Is Strangeness in the Universe, Bob Krieger / Krieger cartoons,, and

Rep. Collin Peterson agreed. "We can't keep fixing the last thing that happened, we have to fix the problems at the start... We can't be reacting to the last thing, and spending a lot of money, because then the terrorists are winning."

I agree with your point of view, the analysis is very good.">cosplay wigs

Last Tuesday, Directors of the CIA, FBI and National Intelligence declared that an attack by Al Qaeda in the next 3 to 6 months “is certain!” Leon Panetta, CIA Director announced, “The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11. It is that Al Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect.”

Panetta’s statement does not take into account the ability to identify any terrorist whose goal it is to give up their life for a cause. Only when you are observing measurable emerging aggression can you identify a terrorist before they effect their violence.

The Center for Aggression Management discovered 15 years ago that there were two kinds of aggression: adrenaline-driven Primal Aggression and intent-driven Cognitive Aggression. The Primal Aggressor, in the extreme, is “red-faced and ready to explode,” the Cognitive Aggressor (the terrorist) is not. When a person, regardless of the culture, gender, education or position, rises to the level where their goal is to give up their life for a cause, their body looses animation and we see the “thousand-yard stare.” But it is more than this, the whole body and behavior looses animation and this is how we can identify them. The problem is that security and law enforcement are still looking for the Primal Aggressor (red-faced and ready to explode). Of course they are finding it difficult to detect these terrorist; a terrorist is a Cognitive Aggression; they are looking for the wrong person!

As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

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  • "Love the images on this blog..there are some interesting articles about health I noticed...we tend to run a 50/50 risk of a heart attack...I noticed when in the USA recently everyone seemed huge..they ate massive meals...I reckon that is one cause of heart failure...just my opinion..but yeah these articles can be worrying to some folk so just heed the advice...I know I will." - Mick (The Sunshine Coast, Australia; Aug 29, 2009)
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  • "Good blog - Everything from news to photography. Very informative." - "explicitmemory" (Texas, USA)
  • "Very informative site by prose and picture..." - Jeff (Michigan, USA)

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