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Rapiscan's Backscatter Machines May End Up In US Federal Buildings 171

Posted by timothy
from the why-waste-such-a-valuable-resource dept.
McGruber writes "The Federal Times, a weekly print newspaper published by Gamnett Government Media Corp, is reporting that the Rapiscan Systems 'backscatter' passenger screening machines used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration will likely be redeployed to federal buildings. Rapiscan System's backscatter machines have exposed passengers to radiation since they were first installed. As previously reported on Slashdot, TSA decided last month to stop using the machines because the manufacturer was unable to make changes to the machines that were mandated by Congress. Now TSA is attempting to sucker another federal agency into taking the nude-o-scopes."
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Rapiscan's Backscatter Machines May End Up In US Federal Buildings

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  • Congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @09:26AM (#42849837)
    What better place for people to exposed to needless cancer risk from ionizing radiation concentrated just below the surface of their skin than the place that voted for this?
    • Re:Congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @10:23AM (#42850083)

      http://wh.gov/pu7x

    • Re:Congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @10:39AM (#42850183)
      Of course, you realize that the Congressmen would simply exempt themselves from using these scanners (of course, not due to any negative health effects this machines certainly don't have, but because it would take up too much of their valuable time that is better spent selflessly serving their country). The only people that would be subjected to these scanners would be the tourists and school kids coming in for a tour or to watch a congressional session.
      • Re:Congress? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:01AM (#42850295)

        It makes sense... I work in a government building that is also a tourist attraction. Every day I scan my ID card and breeze through the turnstiles while children, old ladies, and lawyers/lobbyists have to queue up and go through the X-Ray machines. I always smirk when I pass a group of lawyers... yeah they may be getting paid $50/minute and have a suit that cost more than my car but they still gotta take off their belt and surrender their precious cell phones like everyone else...

        • by cellocgw (617879)

          I work in a government building that is also a tourist attraction. Every day I scan my ID card and breeze through the turnstiles while children, old ladies, and lawyers/lobbyists have to queue up and go through the X-Ray machines.

          So, what you're saying here is that you're a Soviet mole who's taken the time to establish bona fides, and one of these days you're gonna slide right into said building and cause horrible mayhem?

          While I'm joking about you personally (I'd feel really bad for a few minutes if you got tooken off to Gitmo on the basis of this post), it just shows once again how pointless the fundamental security approaches in place are.

      • Re:Congress? (Score:5, Informative)

        by LMariachi (86077) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:51AM (#42850621) Journal

        Congress members are already exempt from security screening at the Capitol and their other office buildings. See here [wikipedia.org] for a relevant funny story, if your definition of funny includes a *headdesk* and general despair for the country and the human race in general.

    • The internet will be officially dead when nude scans of Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnel are posted...

      • The TSA folks have apparently been passing around X-ray porn for a while, in spite of official claims that the machines don't support it. And the standard images of the naked TSA official that they keep putting in press releases are low-res newspaper-quality versions, not the full resolution that the actual operators can see if they want.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        As a resident of Maryland, I think I'd prefer noodz of Pelosi to noodz of our senior senator [blogspot.com].

    • Re:Congress? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:32AM (#42850473) Homepage Journal

      My first thought matched your post. But - Federal Buildings aren't exactly the halls of congress, or even Janet Napolitano's office.

      People enlisting in the armed services traditionally have gone through preliminary indoctrination / induction procedures in federal buildings. A lot of vital statistics stuff is found in federal buildings. FBI offices, ATF offices, federal marshall's offices, and more. The Federal Building in Oklahoma City that was bombed was targeted because the ATF and FBI were located there. Few, if any, of those various federal employees had anything to do with approval of these machines.

      Worse, the public is still being exposed to this crap.

      Congress needs to just mandate that the damned things are destroyed. End of story.

      Congress really ought to just grow some balls, and decide to get rid of TSA and Homeland Security. I've seen nothing to suggest that they have improved on security in the United States. Fund the border patrol, and allow them to do the jobs they have been mandated to do since day one. And, Customs, as well. Keep the Air Marshalls, but put them under the authority of the FBI.

      We've gone so horribly wrong, and Homeland Security is the center of all that wrongness.

      • I was hoping that they could go into prisons instead of being destroyed. But only prisoners and their scumbag visitors have to. Go through them. Prison staff and lawyers get safe ones when they need to be screened. Actually scratch that, send the lawyers through the back scatter too.

      • If you were paying attention a decade or two ago, Federal court buildings and many state and local court buildings all got metal detectors in a big hurry after some judge got shot by somebody who didn't like a decision they'd made.

        • Yes - but you do realize that "Federal Court" and "Federal Building" are not exactly synonymous?

          I started googling for more info, and found this PDF:
          http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R41138.pdf [fas.org]

          Among odds and ends I found were a "federal building and post office", and several "federal building and federal court". The Pentagon and the US Supreme Court are both federal buildings. It seems that my own definition wasn't very accurate - even some warehouses are classified as federal buildings!

      • mod parent up
    • Seems fraternities could fund their parties by selling the pictures.
    • What better place for people to exposed to needless cancer risk from ionizing radiation concentrated just below the surface of their skin than the place that voted for this?

      Yeah, but do the feds get to bypass the scanner with a badge/id? Laws are only for the peasants; why should scanners be any different?

  • What a fucking waste of money
  • So is it Rapiscan as in "add" or Rapiscan as in "ape"?
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @10:22AM (#42850075) Journal

    At the pre-launch meeting:

    VP of marketing: we have several suggestions for the product name
    CEO: it doesn't really matter, the sale is a shoe-in. We could call it anything we want.
    Product manager: O RLY!?

  • News at 6 from North:

    In the land of the free and the home of the brave, people are so afraid terrorist attack, they have decided to give up their own liberty (and possibly their health) in exchange for (a possibly false sense of) security.

    .....

    I think that might be how the rest of the world perceive the new USA.

  • Adult movie theaters should be snatching (pun intended) these things up. New 21st century peep show technology!
  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:35AM (#42850491)
    The only thing more disgusting than Congress would be an image of Congress, nude.
  • As long as every official is FORCED AT GUNPOINT to go through them. Every single senator, Secretary, Tzar, even the President needs to be forced to use them at gunpoint like all of us have had to.

    And every single one of the police force and security forces as well. they get the exact same treatment that is forced upon the rest of us.

  • Still lying (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @01:13PM (#42851239) Homepage

    TSA still claims that NIST evaluated the machines and declared them safe even though NIST has plainly stated that it did not and can not.

    • With the radiation dose equal to a few minutes of flying at 35,000', use of the system poses less of a risk than the flight.
      • by radtea (464814)

        With the radiation dose equal to a few minutes of flying at 35,000', use of the system poses less of a risk than the flight.

        The dosimetry that generates this number is inappropriate for this kind of machine. [tjradcliffe.com]

        Short version: the dosimetric standard used by the company to claim these devices are safe assumes that the incoming x-rays are absorbed uniformly over the whole body, but in fact they are primarily absorbed in the skin. The skin dose is therefore much higher than the meaningless and irrelevant "whole body dose" that the dosimetric rig used measures.

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          The measurement is actually the same either way. It's just measuring total dose, regardless of how that dose is distributed (that's total quantity of radiation, not per voume). That's perfectly fine if you happen to know how the dose is distributed (or if it doesn't matter). Based on data for X-rays of that frequency, it's easy to work out the dose distribution in a human with respect to skin depth. IIRC, the skin region gets about two orders of magnitude higher dose per unit volume than if the radiation wa

      • by sjames (1099)

        That isn't relevant to my statement at all. TSA claimed NIST somehow vouched for the things, but NIST has stated the opposite emphatically.

        As to your claim, that has also been debunked. The radiation from the flight mostly passes through without an interaction. That which does interact does so through the entire volume of your body, spreading the dose.

        In contrast, the X-Rays from the backscatter device all interact at a very shallow depth (necessarily), so the dose is confined to the volume near the surface

        • You apparently don't know the difference between radiation flux and radiation dose. Dose, by definition, takes into account the interaction (or lack thereof) with matter, where a lower interaction rate for a given flux will result in a lower dose. In addition, the dose units "REM" and "Sieverts" also take into account the different biological effects of different radiation - a given energy deposition in tissue from neutrons will have a higher dose than a given energy deposition from gamma rays.

          You're also

          • by sjames (1099)

            If I'm confused, so are a large number of concerned radiologists, oncologists, and physicists. Google is your friend.

            If they were THAT attenuated before they hit the skin, they wouldn't be able to produce the objectionable images they are so well known for.

            It is the TSA that is confused about dose vs. amount of energy thrown at something. They looked at the energy, compared it to the energy of background radiation and naively said, cool! It's safer than mother's milk. Had THEY taken actual dose and biologic

            • By the time the X-ray beam goes through the plastic wall between the source and the person being scanned, the X-rays with energies low enough to have significant photo-electric interactions with the primary elements of skin, namely H, C, N & O will have been attenuated. That leaves Rayleigh or Compton scattering for the primary interaction. Keep in mind that the cross-section for 180 degree Compton scattering is fairly constant to close to 50 keV, requiring Z's to be in the mid-20's for significant phot

  • No doubt some TSA officials are investors in Rapiscan. So there's no way that company will be taking a loss on these things.

    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      No doubt some TSA officials are investors in Rapiscan. So there's no way that company will be taking a loss on these things.

      Now we just need a way to check whether this is true or not.

    • Chertoff, the former Homeland Security secretary, has spent years explicitly pushing [washingtonpost.com] Rapiscan in airports. His security consulting agency includes a client that makes the machines.
  • I was thinking I'd buy up all the old machines at bargain basement prices and then sell them to companies that do ore-employment drug testing.

    A common way to beat a drug test is to smuggle in clean urine, say, in a condom taped to your thigh. If people had to be naked-imaged first, this would be quite difficult.

    If these machines can't be used to fight terrorism, my company could facilitate their use fighting the war on drugs. And make a tidy profit too.

  • Not only are these scanners a very expensive waste of money as they fail to detect what they're supposed to detect, they're also a health hazard. Please stop this overpriced security theater and use the resources to actively prevent wannabe-terrorists from becoming the real thing. That's much more effective on every level. I mean even if the scanners actually work, what's to prevent a terrorist from setting off a bomb in the queue of people waiting to be scanned...? - By removing the terrorist of course. i.

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