Naked Body Scanners: Monumental Cover Up Exposed
Feds admit they lied over storing images, why
trust them over safety, functionality and efficiency
of radiation-firing machines?
the height of the furor over airport body scanners earlier this
year, the TSA publicly stated that it was not possible to store,
record, transmit or print out the images that show in detail
the naked bodies of men, women and children that have passed
through them. At the time we presented
evidence to the contrary. Now it has been conclusively
proven that the TSA and other federal agencies using the scanners
flat out lied to an unwitting public.
McCullagh of CNET reports that "The U.S. Marshals
Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved
tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave
system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse."
The proof comes in the form of a letter
(PDF), obtained by The Electronic Privacy Information
Center (EPIC), in which William Bordley, an associate general
counsel with the Marshals Service, admits that "approximately
35,314 images...have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine"
used in the Orlando, Fla. federal courthouse.
EPIC says it has also obtained more than 100 images of electronically
stripped individuals from the scanning devices used at federal
courthouses. The disclosures come as part of a settlement of
an EPIC Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S.
the manufacturer of the body scanning equipment in question,
also admits that its machine can store up to 40,000 images and
has filed two further lawsuits against the Department
of Homeland Security over the scanners, claiming that the DHS
has refused to release at least 2,000 images it has stored from
scanners currently in use in U.S. airports.
EPIC's lawsuit argues that the body scanners violate the Fourth
Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable" searches,
as well as the Privacy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act,
and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, referencing religious
laws about modesty.
The group points to a further
document (PDF) it has obtained from DHS showing
that the machines used by the department's TSA are not only
able to record and store naked body images, but that they are
to do so.
The TSA has now admitted that this is the case, but claims
that it is for training and testing purposes only, maintaining
that the body scanners used at airports cannot "store,
print or transmit images".
"In complying with our Freedom of Information Act request,
the Marshals Service has helped the public more fully understand
the capabilities of these devices," EPIC President Marc
Rotenberg said in a statement. "But the DHS continues to
conceal the truth from American air travelers who could be subject
to similar intrusive recorded searches in U.S. airports."
The TSA and the DHS have consistently lied about all aspects
of the body scanners, from their very inception.
As we have previously documented, the plan to implement the
scanners on a mass scale was in the works well before the Christmas
day attempted bombing incident. In October last year the TSA
announced plans to expand the passenger electronic
strip search program. In November, EPIC filed its first FOIA
lawsuit challenging the DHS's failure to make public details
about the agency's Whole Body Imaging program. On December 17,
just one week before the failed bombing, EPIC filed its second
lawsuit against the Department of Justice concerning the use
of the screening devices.
In an effort to downplay the intrusion of privacy they really
represent, the TSA has routinely claimed that the images produced
by the scanners are “ghostly” or “skeletal”.
The passenger's face is blurred and the image as a whole "resembles
a fuzzy negative," the TSA
spokeswoman Kristin Lee told the media last year,
prior to the underwear bombing attempt.
"It covers up the dirty bits," James Carafano, a
homeland security expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation
the Washington Post in January.
Former Department of Homeland Security official Stewart Verdery
the notion that the machines produce detailed naked
images, describing them as not "the type of image that
is going to make a thirteen year old boy very excited".
Manchester Airport in the UK has
also rejected claims that the scanners invade privacy,
claiming that because they use X-rays "they do not make
These consistent claims are clearly contradicted by readily
available examples of the body scanning images that show high
quality detail of naked male and female bodies.
Furthermore, if there is no capability for the devices to
save, distribute and print images, then how on earth have news
organizations obtained print outs of such images like the one
Journalists who researched trials of the technology reported
that the images made
genitals “eerily visible”.
German Security advisor Hans-Detlef Dau, a representative for
a company that sells the scanners, admits
that the machines, “show intimate piercings,
catheters and the form of breasts and penises”.
on the TSA’s own website produced by backscatter
devices also show that genitals are visible.
The claims that sensitive body parts will be blurred out is
also bunkem. When they were first being installed, Australian
authorities admitted that the machines don’t
work properly if sensitive areas of the body are blurred out
– a fact that the British
government later also admitted:
Cheryl Johnson, general manager of the Office of Transport
Security, said:' It will show the private parts of people,
but what we've decided is that we're not going to blur those
out, because it severely limits the detection capabilities.
The level of intimate detail captured by the scanners prompted
the passage in the House last year of an
amendment brought by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to
ban "strip-search" imaging at airports, a proposal
he has reiterated
his support for since the failed bombing attempt.
"You don't have to look at my wife and 8-year-old daughter
naked to secure an airplane," Chaffetz said at the time.
"You can actually see the sweat on somebody's back. You
can tell the difference between a dime and a nickel. If they
can do that, they can see things that quite frankly I don't
think they should be looking at in order to secure a plane,"
Chaffetz told the House.
Across the pond in Great Britain, the Equality and Human Rights
Commission (EHRC) wrote a letter to the UK government recently
warning that the use of the scanners constitutes
a breach of privacy laws.
Multiple incidents over the past months have proven that the
TSA and other airport security authorities worldwide have been
engaging in a monumental public relations cover-up by suggesting
the machine do not show crisp images of naked bodies.
In May it was reported that a TSA worker in Miami attacked
a colleague who had made fun of his small penis
after he passed through a scanner device. A similar controversy
unfolded in March when an airport worker at Heathrow was
caught ogling a a female colleague's breasts after
she passed through one of the devices, commenting, “I
love those gigantic tits”.
Perhaps the most significant factor here, the smoking gun that
proves the authorities have lied about the degree to which the
scanners invade personal privacy, is their contradictory stated
need for new "privacy sensitive" machines.
"With full body searches becoming the norm at airports
amid terror threats, a Canadian engineer has invented a three-dimensional
scanner that doesn't violate passengers' privacy." reported
IBN Live in Toronto back in February.
"The new 3D scanner developed by Montreal-based William
Awad highlights metal or organic material on a human body without
showing the body outline under clothing, according to reports."
the article continues.
"But the current scanners at airports produce a three-dimensional
outline of the human body, raising a hue and cry over privacy
The Canadian inventor of the new machine, currently seeking
certification from the Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) in the US, expects sales to balloon. But if we are to
believe our governments' statements on the original scanning
machines, there should be no need for any new privacy sensitive
machine at all.
An article in yesterday's
Boston Globe again highlights this point:
The TSA is working with technology companies to develop software
that would show a generic paper-doll-like figure instead of
an actual image of a passenger’s body — and transmit
images only when a threat is detected.
The TSA plans to keep the current scanners in place until
less invasive software is available.
This serves as an admission that, despite previous claims to
the contrary, the scanners currently in place do indeed reveal
detailed images of genitalia, they are in
breach of child pornography laws and the images
produced by them are tantamount to criminal evidence.
It highlights the fact that the public was once again grossly
misled over the capabilities of the scanners now in place in
airports the world over.
Furthermore, any "privacy sensitive" versions of
the technology will not change a thing, as Marc Rotenberg, executive
director of EPIC notes:
"This will not solve the privacy issues," Rotenberg
said "because the images of travelers’ naked bodies
are still being captured by the machine."
Despite the fact that the machines would not have prevented
the Christmas Day bomber from boarding Flight 253,
according to their designers, and other security
experts who have dismissed
the devices as "useless", the mainstream
media for the most part has lauded
In an editorial in February, titled "There’s
nothing to fear from the use of full-body scanners at airports",
The Washington Post poo-pooed privacy concerns and stated that
the images produced by the scanners are fuzzy and blurred.
The Post joined scores of other corporate media sources in
it's unreserved praise of the body scanners. In a Globe
and Mail article, University of Ottawa professor
Mark Salter gushed over the virtual strip searches, concocting
twist of logic argument that the machines actually
increase privacy. This viewpoint flies in the face
of that of surveillance experts who note that the scanners will
do nothing to make air travel safer.
Of course, we shouldn't be surprised given that the vast majority
of the corporate media is owned wholesale by the very military
industrial complex defense contractors set to land
huge profits from the sale of thousands of the naked imaging
Another area where the government has consistently misled the
public over the scanners is regarding their questionable safety.
The TSA has stated that going through the machines is equal
to the radiation encountered during just two minutes of a flight.
However, this does not take into account that the scanning machines
specifically target only the skin and the muscle tissue immediately
The scanners are similar to C-Scans and
fire ionizing radiation at those inside which penetrates
a few centimeters into the flesh and reflects off the skin to
form a naked body image.
The firing of ionizing radiation at the body effectively "unzips"
DNA, according to scientific research by the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.
The research shows that even very low doses of X-ray can delay
or prevent cellular repair of damaged DNA, yet pregnant women
will be subjected to the process as new guidelines
including scanners are adopted.
Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety concluded
in their report on the matter that governments must justify
the use of the scanners and that a more accurate assessment
of the health risks is needed.
Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning,
according to the report, adding that governments should consider
“other techniques to achieve the same end without the
use of ionizing radiation.”
“The Committee cited the IAEA’s 1996 Basic Safety
Standards agreement, drafted over three decades, that protects
people from radiation. Frequent exposure to low doses of radiation
can lead to cancer and birth defects, according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency,” reported
at Columbia University also entered the debate
recently, warning that the dose emitted by the naked x-ray devices
could be up to 20 times higher than originally estimated,
likely contributing to an increase in a common type of skin
cancer called basal cell carcinoma which affects the head and
“If all 800 million people who use airports every year
were screened with X-rays then the very small individual risk
multiplied by the large number of screened people might imply
a potential public health or societal risk. The population risk
has the potential to be significant,” said Dr David Brenner,
head of Columbia University’s centre for radiological
Despite these fears, and the blatant violation of privacy laws,
and the consistent lies that the authorities have engaged in
over the machines, Janet Napolitano, head of the DHS, recently
announced plans to expand the full-body scanner program
Currently, 157 full-body scanners are in use at 43 airports
in the United States; by the end of the year nearly 500 are
planned to be in place. Next year, 500 more machines are scheduled
to be installed.
In the U.S., people can refuse the body scanner and opt for
an aggressive and intrusive hand-search, but people traveling
out of the UK and other areas of Europe don’t even get
the choice – they are forced
to go through the scanner if asked and cannot refuse
or they are banned from traveling. This policy seems to be slowly
extending into the U.S., however, given recent
reports from airport workers in El Paso, Texas
who say that everyone is now being put through the machines.
Despite all the spin that the expansion of the naked body scanner
program is being meekly accepted by a compliant public, more
documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal
that there have been more
than 600 formal complaints about the devices in
the last year.
Furthermore, the documents reveal anger at TSA officials for
refusing to offer passengers a pat-down alternative, as well
as forcing children to go through the machines.
More people in the United States need to follow this example
and lobby for states to pass laws nullifying use of the body
scanners as a threat to privacy, health, and a total violation
of human dignity, a virtual strip search.
The will of the people is being systematically eroded and incrementally
broken down. Airports are serving as reservations where the
fundamental right to privacy must be left at the door.
A culture of extreme fear has been engendered where the only
way to stay safe is to cozy up to big brother, a psychological
response akin to that of Stockholm
This is where the technological control grid plays such a key
role. Imagine if TSA agents were made to take women and children
and physically strip search them while they held their hands
aloft, the public would balk at such an abuse. However, with
the body scanning machines there is a divide that clouds the
process in futuristic technology.
If the public willingly accepts naked imaging x-ray machines
in the name of security, what comes next?
The former EU justice Commissioner says that
scanning inside people's bodies is an acceptable
proposal. The TSA is considering taser
bracelets that can deliver electric shocks to anyone
who steps out of line inside an airport or on a plane.
Passport control officers at airports are to be phased out
as new biometric
face scanning cameras are set to replace them under
UK border control measures that came into force last year. A
global biometric facial scan database
is the end goal of security authorities the world over.
Other proposals include placing the cameras in every
seat on aircraft and installing software to try
and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused
Passive brain scanners that pick up brain waves in order to
sense the behaviour of travelers have already been trialed in
airports. The technology known as "MALINTENT"
has been developed by the Department of Homeland Security under
a project lovingly called "Project
Hostile Intent". The following image is a
DHS Impression of the mindreader technology in action.
We are also being incrementally taught that what goes on in
the airports will be transferred
to the streets, schools, shopping malls, rail stations
and bus terminals.
The very body scanners we see being implemented within airports
now have already been extensively trialed
in railway stations in major cities.
The same technology is being considered by governments
for general use in cameras on the street. Once
accepted as part of everyday life in airports, it becomes much
easier to sell for use in all public places.
X-ray specs were once considered a pervert's fantasy science
fiction invention, now they have become a reality.
The development of all of this nightmare technology only emphasizes
the need for immediate
outright rejection of the mass implementation of
body screeners. If we continue to allow such gross attacks on
our liberties to succeed the onslaught will never end.
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