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Censorship United States Your Rights Online

TSA 'Warning' Media About Reporting On Body Scanner Failures? 465

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-don't-have-anything-good-to-say dept.
OverTheGeicoE writes "When anti-TSA activist Jonathan Corbett exposed a severe weakness in TSA's body scanners, one would expect the story to attract a lot of media attention. Apparently TSA is attempting to stop reporters from covering the story. According to Corbett, at least one reporter has been 'strongly cautioned' by TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz not to cover the story. If TSA is worried that this is new information they need to suppress to keep it away from terrorists, that horse may have left the barn years ago. Corbett's demonstration may just be confirmation of a 2010 paper in the Journal of Transportation Security that concluded that 'an object such as a wire or a boxcutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible' to X-ray scanners."
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TSA 'Warning' Media About Reporting On Body Scanner Failures?

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  • Warned about what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:07PM (#39295659)
    What where the consequences they where threatened with?
  • by macaran (766186) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:10PM (#39295691)
    I would kind of suspect they know terrorists are already aware of the vulnerability, more likely they just don't want random Joe smoe smuggling a miniaturized gun onboard because he can, and then having an armed civilian on the flight if something goes wrong in the air.
  • Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by casualsax3 (875131) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:10PM (#39295697)
    Aside from just scrapping them entirely, wouldn't this be a non-issue if they just had the traveler rotate 90 degrees and repeated the scan?
  • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes.gmail@com> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:11PM (#39295699)
    They're probably appealing to a sense of patriotic responsibility to keep it hidden. The old "Loose Lips Sink Ships" mantra. I call BS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:12PM (#39295705)
    I imagine it was more the TSA spreading disinformation, telling the media outlets that there was nothing to worry about.
  • by zlives (2009072) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:12PM (#39295709)
    or that we the sheep might object to yet more tax dollars spent on perceived security...
  • Re:Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes.gmail@com> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:13PM (#39295715)
    Oh sure. So you're advocating doubling the radiation dosage from a device that more than a few radiation experts are concerned about. Various pilot unions are very concerned about the amount of radiation their members are being exposed to.
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:16PM (#39295739) Homepage Journal

    Guantanimo? Enemy combatants? Declared enemies of the state by the Pres., shot in the head and buried in an unmarked grave?

    Unlikely, yes. But now "legal" under Bush/Obama.

  • by zippo01 (688802) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:16PM (#39295743)
    Conversation between TSA and reporter. TSA:You really don't want to run that story about the billions wasted on ineffective airport body scanners. On a side note I hear Guantanamo Bay is nice this time of year, me and the wife are thinking of taking a trip. Reporter: Don't I have constitutional rights of free speech and what not. TSA: Don't worry about that. I mean, we ignored them when we put the scanners in anyway, didn't we. Reporter: Oh yeah.
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:17PM (#39295753)
    not only are they searching people without probable cause, the airlines should be left to police themselves so the tax payers wont have to pay for it, let the airline customers pay for it...

    I will stay away from the airports if the TSA stays out of my pants, and I refuse to step in to your xray cancer machines.
  • by forkfail (228161) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:17PM (#39295755)

    When a three letter agency cautions you with unspecified malice, even if they can't (yet) drag you out of your house at night, you know they can make your life difficult...

  • Re:Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by casualsax3 (875131) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:18PM (#39295769)
    No, I think the entire program should be scrapped both because of the health hazards, and because it's a gross invasion of privacy. If they're hell bent on keeping it around though, the least they could do is make it work properly. I'd rather be exposed to a double dose of radiation if it actually made me safer, as opposed to the status quo which is one shot for theater's sake.
  • Where is the text? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:31PM (#39295891) Journal

    I'm interested to see the text of this email. It's hard to judge just how egregious this behavior is without seeing the actual text.

  • by BoberFett (127537) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:31PM (#39295895)

    You don't think the airlines have a vested interest in keeping their planes from falling out of the sky?

  • Re:Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:31PM (#39295897)

    Even if it was working as advertised, was free, didn't inconvenience you at all, wasn't an illegal search, and didn't have health risks... would it actually make you safer?

  • Re:Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:34PM (#39295931)
    A double dose of cyanide will completely prevent any future terrorists from harming you.
  • by fnj (64210) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:38PM (#39295961)

    The TSA needs to be disbanded at once with prejudice. It is nothing but kabuki theater masking fascism. It has no place in the America of our founders.

  • by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:39PM (#39295973) Homepage Journal

    The "having you killed" suggestion is overblown, but I'm sure the TSA could realistically add you to No-Fly lists, just because.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:47PM (#39296045)

    Use the fucking metal detectors that are already there! They work great. They'll pick up any gun, even a small one. No, there is no gun that has no metal in it (nor bullets). What's more metal detectors are 100% within the range of TSA intelligence to use: Green = person ok, go through. Red + beep = person not ok. Even the untrained morons in the TSA can deal with that. The scanners though, they require knowledge an interpretation. You are presented with an image and you have to interpret it.

    That is why so many people get sent for patdowns. Not because they found something but because they can't tell what they fuck they are looking at. They can't interpret the results.

    The answer is in what they already have. Metal detectors work great. There's a reason why people like, say, the Secret Service uses metal detectors, and not these scanners.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:48PM (#39296047) Journal

    What terrorists?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:48PM (#39296049)

    Totally by coincidence your tax returns get audited. If you have kids, child protection services shows up at your door with complaints about child abuse. Every time you do a rolling stop a cop is right there to give you a ticket. As a journalist, every time you try to attend a press conference there seems to be no more space left, sorry. Your usual contacts at the police force run out of scoops to feed you. If you try to cover a protest you're one of the first to be arrested. The list goes on... None of which has any relation to the fact that you covered an "unpopular" story, of course.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:52PM (#39296075)
    yes i do, thats why airline security should be privatized and run by the airlines themselves at the expense of the airlines/customers and not the tax payers, the TSA is just another expensive bloated ineffective bureaucracy we all have to pay for
  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @07:56PM (#39296105)
    Could he have ever imagined the repercussions of his attack. On so many levels, from more government ie: the dept of Home land security, to the ridiculousness of what we have to go through to fly. The whole country (or at least government) running around worrying about terrorists and the incredible expense it incurs. Our image around the world.... It goes on and on. He single-handedly turned the the U.S. into a near bankrupt, joke.
  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:03PM (#39296155)
    Actually, they cant. But they could recommend to Homeland Security that you be added, and odds are they would just rubber stamp it.
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:06PM (#39296191)

    Obama is president, which means government is bad. As soon as a Republican is in the White House, government will go back to being good.

    That is, according to Fox.

  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:08PM (#39296217) Journal
    didn't you listen to Bush.

    they hate us for our freedoms

    if we eliminate all our freedoms they won't hate us anymore
  • by ks*nut (985334) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:13PM (#39296257)
    The America of our founders? You mean the one that practised slavery and genocide. Is that the wonderful past you are referring to? Be careful what you base your opposition to TSA on.
  • by pkinetics (549289) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:19PM (#39296299)

    10k names is a small number to search against. Takes seconds on a properly implemented and maintained db and app.

    My point is that the TSA doesn't give a rats arse how many people on the list there are. They would be just as happy if there were 100k, even if it meant there 95% false positives. It would just mean more justification for their existence.

    Never assume a bureaucratic organization will always exist for the sake of the people. It eventually evolves to the point where its existence is its existence.

    Plants need electrolytes because plants need electrolytes.

  • by Stormthirst (66538) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:19PM (#39296719)

    Never the less, a properly maintained DB and app will still render the numbers largely irrelevant.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:38PM (#39296791)

    And here I was, thinking it was a two party dictatorship...

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:40PM (#39296811)

    You should watch Fox News from time to time. Been watching the real news shows again, right?

    Please, tune in to the propaganda, you're getting so out of the loop.

  • by russotto (537200) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:43PM (#39296831) Journal

    What where the consequences they where threatened with?

    Reporters might find it hard to advance in their profession when they're on the no-fly list.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:03PM (#39296973)

    Anyone here who doesn't know yet that the whole TSA is mostly a job creation project? No? Good.

    Let's be blunt and honest here: These people have close to zero training in security, they have near zero training in the technology they use and they are most certainly not chosen for their people skills, their intelligence or their ability to work efficiently.

    If they had ANY of those qualities, they could have a real job!

    It's a job creation program for people who are generally unemployable.

    Gee, I hope I didn't just spill a national secret...

  • Re:False Modesty (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:17PM (#39297063)

    Oh, that's easy to explain. There are a few factors that get the people's panties in a knot.

    First, it's the whole security theater. A system that is proven to be flawed to the point of being utterly and completely useless, but expensive. And we have to foot that bill. We have to pay for those scanners, the TSA goons, the whole theater and its cast and crew. And we don't even like the show one bit, it's tedious and they keep playing the same bit for a decade. Even Cats was boring after that long.

    Second, the threat of cancer. Or rather, the fact that we don't get to hear whether there is a threat. Why not? Why are we being subjected to a procedure that is flawed and not able to accomplish its intended goal, while at the same time being possibly dangerous to your health? See, people could and would accept it if there was a benefit. We know that we could die in a car crash, still we drive with cars. The good (being able to get from A to B fast) outweighs the bad (the chance of dying because some drunk idiot hits my car). This is not the case here. There is no good (intended goal not being met) while there might be a bad (threat of cancer).

    Third, the time loss. When I was young (yeah, get offa my lawn) it was enough to get to the airport about 30 minutes before your flight, at least if it was a domestic flight. Today you better get there a few hours early. And if you plan to go international, consider spending the better part of your day on the airport. This is by no means in any relation to the gain. Which is essentially zero.

    This is what the rage is about. Not that we get groped. Actually, the whole point is that we'd PREFER to get groped to being scanned. But only as much as we'd prefer being shot to being crucified.

  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:32PM (#39297187)
    Um, TSA is a branch of Homeland Security. They don't need arrest powers, they just pass the request up the line and whoever is disappeared.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:58PM (#39297327)

    Wrong? I think it's irrelevant.

    The problem for them wouldn't be keep 10,000,000 people off of planes, it would be telling those 10,000,000 people that they can't fly. And even if you do manage that, TSA would have serious issues getting revenue if the air carriers can't put people in the seats.

  • by shiftless (410350) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:11PM (#39297403) Homepage

    By the time you get to the point where they'd put 10M names on the No Fly list, there will be MUCH more worse punishments ready and lined up for a good portion of those 10M. The No Fly list will then only be for low level people, like nobodies who criticize the government, not Somebodies who need to be Locked Away out of Sight and Punished.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:18PM (#39297437)

    That's actually pretty accurate.

    In the 90s of the last century, the US were the big winner of the cold war. The Soviet Union folded and Russia snuggled up with the US. Former East Bloc countries in Europe trampled over each other in the desperate attempt to be the first to get a foot into NATO, China was pretty happy to have a business partner, India was happy to be an outsourcing partner, the Middle East was ok with the US, after all the only country there the US smacked about was the one that didn't want to create an Islamic nation, in general, the only countries that weren't in love with the US were North Korea and Cuba. And, bluntly, who gives half a crap about them? And the rest was pretty swell too, the industry powerhorse of the world, the pinnacle of freedom and opportunity, everyone's darling. For real.

    Now, twenty years later, the US are in a crisis, nationally and internationally. Debt skyrockets because of military expenses, industry struggles and China is laughing their ass off while shipping cheap crap over, internationally the US are seen as the schoolyard bully that everyone only plays nice with because they fear to be the next to get smacked about... The US sure went a long way downhill.

  • by Fjandr (66656) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:30PM (#39297501) Homepage Journal

    That only works when the conditions exist where people are drawn to the extremist teachers out of desperation and/or complete lack of hope for the future. It's the people who are already marginalized who are drawn to that sort of rhetoric. If you work on the root of the problem (the marginalization), the pool of potential terrorists gets drastically smaller.

  • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:51PM (#39297589) Homepage Journal

    Of course it's BS. Think about it. Before this stuff, you couldn't get that easily on board with a gun or box cutters. Now it's become *easier* than before. Streamlined access for terrorists and undercover government peeps, PITA for the rest. That's what taking a long hard look at this would reveal, it would make a whole lot of bluffs quite obvious. It threatens a house of cards. So.... who are these clowns to give advice to anyone? They should shut the fuck up, say "thank you" and "sorry", work until they paid the money they squandered back, and then go to jail for life. That would be the *beginning* of something remotely sensible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @01:49AM (#39298131)

    You have a weird definition of "they can't".

  • by houghi (78078) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:39AM (#39298591)

    What happens if/when there are 10,000,000 names on the Do Not Fly list?

    Then they will just need more people to handle those that try to fly. Or they will ask for other measures that are just as ridiculous as they are now, like random searches anywhere, because you know, bridges and tunnels can be targets too.
      This is not about the do-not-fly list. This is about them wanting complete control over everything and everybody and they will not stop before they have it. The question is when you, The American Public, will stop them.

  • Re:Not exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:50AM (#39298655)
    It'll be MySQL running on Windows Server 2008 r2, on virtualized clusters with one VM per blade, tied in to an iSCSI SAN implemented by the highest bidder (after the deciding manager on the RFP eliminates all other bidders for lack of confidence in their ability to deliver the requirements). And yes, I've been lowest bidder on a government contract and got eliminated because the higher bidders argued it couldn't be done for as little as my bid (which it could have, but not when the massive players, EDS and the like, get in the mix). No, I'm not bitter as a businessman, but bitter as a taxpayer, knowing that, from what I've seen, most contracts go to one of the highest bidders (who goes over budget anyway and is still a preferred vendor, getting more after never having hit the budget, even with having the largest bid).
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday March 09, 2012 @05:45AM (#39299115) Homepage Journal

    With so many citizens on the dole do you really expect them to care?

    It is happening to OTHER people. Not them. That is how they think. The government if giving them money to eat, giving them money when they don't earn any, giving them money if they don't make enough, paying for their health care, their transit passes, and their cell phones.

    Do you think they don't mind giving up stuff, the trade off seems to be only inconveniencing people who are flying, you know those who have their own money. You are out of touch with how many people think now

  • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday March 09, 2012 @08:41AM (#39299967)

    That's right. American citizens are being disappeared by the government on a daily basis. Apparently either their friends and family never notice or Big Media is in on it and so you never see a story about it...

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday March 09, 2012 @11:32AM (#39301681)

    QUOTE: "(Abbott) told me in a very stern voice with quite a bit of attitude that they were not going through that X-ray," security officer Sabrina Birge told police. Birge said she told Abbott that the machine was "not an X-ray"

    Except 3/4 of the machines are indeed X-ray machines. And if they experience a mechnical failure, can hit passengers with lethal doses. I'm not sure I trust the machines either.

    QUOTE:"After Abbott refused to cool her heels - she allegedly attempted to try to shoot video of the agents with her cell phone - cops cuffed her and hauled her off to jail."

    The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that citizens have a first amendment "right of freedom of the press" to record the actions of government officials in public venues. Including with a camera, an audio recorder, or the old-fashioned way of writing it down on a tablet. This woman should never have been arrested.

    Assholes.

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