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  • Guest 123
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  • Guest 123
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  • Guest 123
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    November 22, 2010 -- The federal body in charge of airport security is resisting changes to its new body-scanner technology in the face of a media storm of protest that has become the latest issue of the moment for the American right. Protests about the intrusiveness of the new all-body scanners, and about the manual pat downs that are given to travellers who chose to avoid the scans, has reached fever pitch in recent days. A "National Opt-Out Day" is being organised for Wednesday, one of the busiest flying days of the year on the eve of Thanksgiving. The protest has the potential to cause considerable delays as the pat-down procedure takes much longer than passing through the scanners. The federal authorities are trying to stand firm against the increasingly shrill debate about airport security, insisting that the new technology is a necessary balancing act between public safety in the wake of the terrorism threat and respect for individual privacy. In a statement, the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), John Pistole, said that refinements would continue to be made to the screening procedures "to make them as minimally invasive as possible while still providing the security that the American people want and deserve". But he also reminded people of the attempt by the so-called "underwear bomber" to blow up a jet over Detroit last Christmas Day and that "the terrorists allegedly behind the thwarted cargo attempt last month are out there bragging about how they will strike again".

    The furore over the body scanners and pat downs is another example of the changing focus of conservatism in the U.S. Since 9/11 the emphasis of conservatism was heavily weighty towards security, and more libertarian voices stressing the freedom of the individual were drowned out. Now those voices have been given renewed clout as a result of the Tea Party movement that has had a strong libertarian streak. The current pat-down controversy has, like the Tea Party generally, been given huge impetus by the rightwing media. Fox News has been leading on the subject, as has the Drudge Report which for several days has been dominated by links to airport security horror stories. Those have included the story of Cathy Bossy, a breast cancer survivor, who opted out of the body scan only to be told to remove her prosthetic breast during the pat down. Then there was Thomas Sawyer who was covered in his urine after a pat down tore the urostomy bag that he carries as a result of bladder cancer. Further anger has swirled around video footage of a young boy made to take his shirt off during a pat down that has gone viral on YouTube. Against that, the TSA points out that fewer than one in five of the 2,100 security lanes in U.S. airports are equipped with the new body scanners, and even in those cases pat downs are rarely administered should an alarm be sounded or the traveller opt out of the screening process.



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  • New_Friend
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    yikes! I have to face one of these monsters for the first time soon, and after reading through this thread, I think I'll just plan to add another hour of "transit" time and opt for the pat-down instead. Thanks for the postings.

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  • Guest 123
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    November 16, 2010 -- The United States Transportation Security Administration has recently come under scrutiny for, among other things, its use of X-ray full-body scanners in airports to see through clothes and to detect non-metallic explosives. But are they safe? A group of UC-San Francisco professors recently raised a number of safety concerns regarding these scanners. While the Obama administration attempted to address these worries, its assertion that the scanners are safe appears to fall short. The TSA has slowly been implementing the use of X-ray scanners in airports (so far, 38 airports have 206 of the machines) in order to see through passengers' clothes and check them for explosive devices. Officials have asserted that the machines are okay to use on the basis of the everyday use of X-rays in medical offices. However, a group of four UCSF professors pinpointed several important differences between the medical X-ray machines and those used in airports. They described the issues in a letter to Dr. John P. Holdren, the assistant to the president for science and technology.

    A normal X-ray image is a familiar sight—depending on the exposure, an X-rayed person typically appears only as a skeleton. This is because the X-rays used in those machines penetrate the skin and can only be absorbed by bone. Unlike a medical X-ray, the TSA X-ray machines are a sci-fi fan's dream: they are lower-energy beams that can only penetrate clothing and the topmost layers of skin. This provides TSA agents with a view that would expose any explosives concealed by clothing. But according to the UCSF professors, the low-enegy rays do a "Compton scatter" off tissue layers just under the skin, possibly exposing some vital areas and leaving the tissues at risk of mutation. When an X-ray Compton scatters, it doesn't shift an electron to a higher energy level; instead, it hits the electron hard enough to dislodge it from its atom. The authors note that this process is "likely breaking bonds," which could cause mutations in cells and raise the risk of cancer. Because the X-rays only make it just under the skin's surface, the total volume of tissue responsible for absorbing the radiation is fairly small. The professors point out that many body parts that are particularly susceptible to cancer are just under the surface, such as breast tissue and testicles. They are also concerned with those over 65, as well as children, being exposed to the X-rays.

    The professors pointed to a number of other issues, including the possibility that TSA agents may scan certain areas more slowly (for example, the groin, to prevent another "underwear bomber" incident like the one in December 2009), exposing that area to even more radiation. But the letter never explicitly accuses the machines of being dangerous; rather, the professors encourage Dr. Holdren to pursue testing to make sure that the casual use of these X-rays is safe. Dr. Holdren passed the letter on to the Food and Drug Administration for review. But, in the FDA's response, the agency gave the issues little more than a data-driven brush off. They cite five studies in response to the professors' request for independent verification of the safety of these X-rays; however, three are more than a decade old, and none of them deal specifically with the low-energy X-rays the professors are concerned about. The letter also doesn't mention the FDA's own classification of X-rays as carcinogens in 2005.

    The letter concludes that "the potential health risks from a full-body screening with a general-use X-ray security system are minuscule." But the increased surface area and volume of absorption area, plus the frequency with which many people travel, suggests that this use at least bears further scrutiny. U.S. pilots' associations have also encouraged their members to opt for the pat-down in the meantime. Of course, these pat-downs have recently become rather invasive, so now travelers must choose between a little irradiation and being felt up by a non-doctor. However, the TSA does have a potential solution in hand. Of the 68 airports scanning for explosives, 30 are using millimeter-wave scanners that don't use X-rays at all; they hit the surface of the body with safer radio waves. If the TSA committed to using only this type of equipment, it could avoid the safety concerns regarding the X-ray full body scanners completely.

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  • Guest 123
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    الحكومة الإيطالية ستتخلى عن المراقبة الجسدية بالسكانير التي كانت تحت التجربة منذ 6 أشهر في عدة مطارات. معتبرة أن التفتيش طويل وغير مجدي، حسب ما نقلته أمس جريدة ''إلكوريري دلا سيرا'' الإيطالية. وتم توقيف ''سكانير'' روما وفنيسيا وبالرمو ويرتقب توقيفه كذلك بميلانو. ويعاب على الأجهزة بعث شبح للراكب لا تظهر الأعضاء التناسلية التي قد تستعمل لإخفاء المتفجرات والأسلحة، بالإضافة إلى طول التفتيش الذي يدوم 30 ثانية لكل راكب طرحت أيضا إشكالية نجاعة تلك الأجهزة. وصرح رئيس سلطة الطيران المدني الإيطالي، فيتو ريجيو، للجريدة: ''لم نتحصل على نتائج بالسكانير الجسدي، خاصة وأننا نضيّع الوقت أكثـر من التفتيش العادي''. وكانت إيطاليا اشترت أجهزة سكانير من الشركة الأمريكية ''الـ 3 كمونكيشن'' بقيمة 150 ألف أورو لكل قطعة، فيما كلفت تجربتها 2 مليون أورو. اتخذ قرار استعمال السكانير من طرف وزير الداخلية روبرتو مروني بعد محاولة تفجير الطائرة القادمة من أمستردام والمتوجهة إلى دترويت، ليلة عيد المسيح، حيث قام نيجيري بإخفاء مفجرات في ملابسه وتم توقيفه على يد الركاب، لكن المحاولة أحدثت هلعا كبيرا في أوساط الملاحة الجوية العالمية.

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  • Ruks
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    is anybody actually surprised by this?

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  • Guest 123
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    Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post

    March 24, 2010 -- A Heathrow security guard faces the sack after a woman colleague reported him for using a body scanner to take “naked” pictures of her. Airport bosses have launched an investigation after John Laker, 25, was alleged to have used the device meant to detect bombs and explosives to look at a fellow employee's breasts. Jo Margetson, 29, reported the guard as saying “I love those gigantic tits” when she walked through the X-ray machine, and then said he pressed a button to take a revealing photo. Ms Margetson has taken leave following the incident. She said: “I can't bear to think about the body scanner thing. I'm totally traumatised. I've spoken to the police about it. I'm in too much of a state to go to work.”

    Mr Laker is the first airport worker to have been allegedly caught abusing the body scanners, which were introduced by the Government in the wake of the Christmas Day bomb plot by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The machines work by producing full-body “nude” images of passengers to locate hidden weapons or objects and give detailed outlines of the genitalia. Civil rights campaigners, who have opposed the devices for invasion of privacy, said the case highlighted the potential for abuse and they should be withdrawn immediately. Heathrow and Manchester airports already have the scanners, with Gatwick and Birmingham to follow this year.

    Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This latest case serves to highlight the massive problems behind the Government's speedy roll-out of the body scanner. There needs to be much more thought — how are those being employed being trained and vetted and how dangerous is the radiation these machines produce? Until that is done, Big Brother Watch is campaigning for a complete suspension in the national roll-out of airport body scanners.”

    Heathrow refused to confirm whether Mr Laker has been suspended from his job while the investigation is conducted. A spokeswoman for airport operator BAA said: “We treat any allegations of inappropriate behaviour or misuse of security equipment very seriously and these claims are being investigated thoroughly. If found to be substantiated, we will take appropriate action.”

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  • Guest 123
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    Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post

    March 24, 2010 -- Police said Wednesday they have warned an airport worker who reportedly made a crude remark about a colleague's breasts as a newly-installed security scanner took a full body X-ray of her. Jo Margetson, 29, walked into an X-ray machine at London's Heathrow Airport by mistake before the incident allegedly took place - and told The Sun newspaper she is now "totally traumatised".

    The reported incident, the first such complaint since the machines were introduced earlier this year, has highlighted privacy concerns about the use of full body scanners at British airports. Heathrow and Manchester airports has been using them since an alleged bid to blow up a U.S.-bound jet on Christmas Day was foiled, while the U.S. and The Netherlands are among other countries where they are being installed.

    When asked about the story, a spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said: "Police received an allegation regarding an incident that happened at Heathrow Terminal 5 on March 10. "A first instance harassment warning has been issued to a 25-year-old male." Airports operator BAA, which runs Heathrow, added that it was investigating the allegations. "If these claims are found to be substantiated, we will take appropriate action," a spokesman added.

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned the government that the scanners could run counter to the right to privacy enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. "When privacy-invading machines like these are installed at our airports, abuses like this are inevitable," said Alex Deane of campaign group Big Brother Watch.

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  • Guest 123
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    March 24, 2010 -- An airport worker allegedly caught ogling images of a female colleague in a full-body scanner faces the sack after being given a police warning for harassment. The Heathrow worker, named by The Sun newspaper as 25-year-old John Laker, allegedly made lewd remarks to colleague Jo Margetson, 29, after she entered an X-ray machine by mistake. She reported the matter to her bosses and to police. A spokeswoman for BAA, which runs Heathrow, said: "We treat any allegations of inappropriate behaviour or misuse of security equipment very seriously and these claims are investigated thoroughly. "If these claims are found to be substantiated, we will take appropriate action."

    The new full-body scanners are being rolled out across UK airports following the failed Christmas Day bomb plot to blow up a jet over Detroit in the U.S. Their introduction has been opposed by some groups who fear the revealing nature of the images the scanners provide could breach people's rights. The question of privacy was raised in a report on airport security by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. The committee said: "Having witnessed these full-body scanners working at first hand, we are confident that the privacy concerns that have been expressed in relation to these devices are overstated and that full body scanners are no more an invasion of privacy than manual 'pat-downs' or searches of bags."

    One of the bodies that has questioned the legality of scanners is the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Responding to the Home Affairs Committee report, the commission said: "We believe there is a risk that the way body scanning was introduced in UK airports breaches discrimination law, as well as breaching passengers' human right to privacy."

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  • Guest 123
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    Originally posted by Ruks View Post

    its strange that in the usa, they have the option to have a physical search instead. why can't it happen here?

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  • Ruks
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    i read about the two women who refused the scanner a while ago, i think its great and they have the courage of their conviction. i hope there are many more people who do the same, otherwise it would be a shame.

    its strange that in the usa, they have the option to have a physical search instead. why can't it happen here?

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  • Guest 123
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    March 3, 2010 -- A Muslim woman was barred from boarding a flight after she refused to undergo a full body scan for religious reasons. The passenger was passing through security at Manchester Airport when she was selected at random for a full-body scanner. She was warned that she would be stopped from boarding the plane but she decided to forfeit her ticket to Pakistan rather than submit to the scan. Her female travelling companion also declined to step into the scanner, citing “medical reasons” for her refusal.

    The two women are thought to be the first passengers to refuse to submit to scanning by the machines, which have provoked controversy among human rights groups. They were introduced on a limited basis last month at Heathrow and Manchester airports in response to the alleged attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day using explosives concealed in his underpants.

    The X-ray machines allow security officials to check for concealed weapons but they also afford clear outlines of passengers’ genitals. They are due to be introduced in all airports by the end of the year. Civil liberties campaigners have said the scans represent an invasion of privacy and their introduction may yet be challenged by the Human Rights Commission. Trevor Phillips, head of the commission, has told Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, that there are concerns over passengers’ privacy and an apparent lack of safeguards to ensure that the scanners are used without discrimination.

    Sources at Manchester Airport have said the two women were due to board a flight two weeks ago when they were turned back at security. No other passengers had objected to the checks and about 15,000 have so far submitted to the piercing eye of the £80,000 Rapiscan machine at the airport’s Terminal 2. The second female passenger was said to be concerned because she had an infection. They may be the first to be turned back for their refusal to be scanned, though a spokesman for Heathrow said it could not comment on individual cases.

    At Manchester, a spokeswoman said: “Two female passengers who were booked to fly out of Terminal Two refused to be scanned for medical and religious reasons. In accordance with the government directive on scanners, they were not permitted to fly. Body scanning is a big change for customers who are selected under the new rules and we are aware that privacy concerns are on our customers’ minds, which is why we have put strict procedures to reassure them that their privacy will be protected.”

    Last month, Lord Adonis stressed that an interim code of practice on the use of body scanners stipulated that passengers would not be selected “on the basis of personal characteristics”. He said that images captured by body scanners would be immediately deleted after the passenger had gone through and that security staff were appropriately trained and supervised.

    Objectors to the scanners, and indeed the two women who forfeited their flight last month, have an unlikely ally in Pope Benedict XVI, a man who is likely to be waved through airport security for the rest of his life. Last month he told an audience from the aerospace industry that, notwithstanding the threat from terrorism, “the primary asset to be safeguarded and treasured is the person, in his or her integrity”.

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  • Guest 123
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    Mardi 23 Février 2010 -- Un scanner corporel a été expérimenté à partir d’hier à l'aéroport de Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle sur les vols en direction des États-Unis et, comme le révélait lepoint.fr début janvier, sur la base du volontariat uniquement. “Un nouveau portail de sûreté rapide et confortable pour le passager : le portail à ondes millimétriques”, autrement dit un scanner corporel sera installé en test au titre “des mesures de sûreté complémentaires sur les passagers à destination des États-Unis”, a indiqué la Direction générale de l'aviation civile (Dgac).

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  • Guest 123
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    February 11, 2010 -- Saying that body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslim-American groups are supporting a "fatwa" — a religious ruling — that forbids Muslims from going through the scanners at airports. The Fiqh Council of North America — a body of Islamic scholars — issued a fatwa this week that says going through the airport scanners would violate Islamic rules on modesty. "It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women," reads the fatwa issued Tuesday. "Islam highly emphasizes haya (modesty) and considers it part of faith. The Qur'an has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts."

    The decision could complicate efforts to intensify screening of potential terrorists who are Muslim. After the Christmas Day bombing attempt in Detroit by a Muslim suspect from Nigeria, some have called for the use of body scanners at airports to find explosives and other dangerous materials carried by terrorists. Some airports are now in the process of buying and using the body scanners, which show in graphic detail the outlines of a person's body. But Muslim groups say the scanners go against their religion. One option offered to passengers who don't want to use the scanners would be a pat down by a security guard. The Muslim groups are urging members to undergo those instead.

    Two members of the Fiqh Council are from Michigan, Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn and Imam Ali Suleiman Ali of the Canton Mosque. "Fiqh" means Islamic jurisprudence. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has a chapter in Michigan, says it endorses the fatwa. "We support the Fiqh Council's statement on full-body scanners and believe that the religious and privacy rights of passengers can be respected while maintaining safety and security," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of CAIR. A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Administration was not available to immediately comment.

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