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

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 @08:07PM (#39295659)
    What where the consequences they where threatened with?
  • by macaran ( 766186 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:10PM (#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 @08:10PM (#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?
    • Re:Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Marillion ( 33728 ) <ericbardes.gmail@com> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:13PM (#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.
      • Re:Easy fix? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by casualsax3 ( 875131 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:18PM (#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.
      • I'm also worried about the amount of radiation my member is being exposed to!
        OK...but I am concerned that these machines are essentially operated by untrained people who have no concern at all for the safety of those passing through them. The machines themselves were produced for "national security" and as such were most likely granted all kinds of waivers to radiation safety regulations. I won't go through them and I don't trust TSA to be doing any kind of regular checks or maintenance on them, except wh
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:47PM (#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 Xandrax ( 2451618 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:15PM (#39295731)

    Much like the underwear bomber, TSA has this all planned out.

    1. Allow terrorist onboard with a weapon hidden at his side.
    2. Civilians on plane stop terrorist when he attempts to take over plane.
    3. TSA announces that the system worked.

    These "reporters" are clearly interfering with step #1.

  • by zippo01 ( 688802 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:16PM (#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 @08:17PM (#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 Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:20PM (#39295785) Homepage

    I remember back in 2002 I had this huge inner door house key, like really big old fashioned solid iron thing. It ended up being in my pocket as I walked through the metal detector, so I just clenched it in my palm thinking I'll have to show it anyway. Passed right through, not a beep. It was big enough it'd easily be the blade of a pretty good knife. And it beeped for some other passengers so it wasn't defective either. Of course this was after 9/11 so everybody was on their toes, I showed it to a friend and he was like "Seriously? You got to be kidding me..." but it happened.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PRMan ( 959735 )
      If the key were brass or bronze, there would be very little iron to pick up for a hunk of metal for that size and weight.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by asher09 ( 1684758 )
      Since I work in a lab, I use razor blades for many different reasons. I used to keep one in my wallet for convenience. Then I forgot about it when I went through security at an airport, and I got through it no problem with my razor blade on the flight! This was right after 9/11 like early 2002, I think.
    • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:56PM (#39296101)

      Man, I once got through with a few unused razor blades in my carry-on I had left there by mistake. I don't know if it was the cardboard covering or what, but they weren't even inside my bag, it was one of those backpacks with the mesh pockets and you could see them right through it. Got right through.

      Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, who is permanently disabled due to being wounded in Iraq, has 10 pounds of metal in her leg, and has to walk with a cane, she gets a ration of shit every single fucking time we go through the airport. They try to take not only her cane, but her damn knee brace every single time, saying it could be used as a weapon, but the best part is, when she complains and makes a scene, they always wave her through, which really makes me want to ask (if I wanted to end up in a windowless room when my plane takes off, that is): If it truly could be used as a weapon and is dangerous, why the fuck is complaining enough to get waved through? And if it's not, why the fuck do they stop her and try to take it from her every time she goes through security?

      The TSA is a fucking joke...

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:03PM (#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...

  • Where is the text? (Score:5, Insightful)

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

  • Not Surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:31PM (#39295901)

    I recently went through a major southeast U.S. airport. When I stated my desire to opt out of the millimeter scanner, the TSA agent tried to convince me otherwise. When I stated my desire to opt out again, she deadpan "joked" it is $20 extra screening fee for a pat down (but relented after a further exchange). I would not be surprised if supervisors suggested their agents try that to discourage as many people from opting out as possible to make the numbers look better in their favor.

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:38PM (#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 cygtoad ( 619016 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:45PM (#39296023)
    The TSA doesn't care if the backscatter scanner doesn't detect contraband. They don't even care if the terrorists know it. They don't want the general public at large knowing it because this kind of thing really messes up the security theater magic act. They also don't want to answer the accusations of exposing passengers to radiation for a less than perfect technology.

    I saw a sign in the airport las weekend. "The backscatter scanner exposes you the same amount of radiation as you receive in two minutes in the airplane". Yeah but think of it this way; standing on a beach on a sunny day would you accept someone telling you that you were going to get a sun blast equal to two minutes in the sun in two seconds? Radiation doesn't always hurt bit it is always harmful to your DNA. There is a reason heath care providers put a limit on the number of X-rays you get in year.
  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @08:56PM (#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 Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:08PM (#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 Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:45PM (#39296499) Homepage

      Could he have ever imagined the repercussions of his attack?

      He did. Read "bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America" [amazon.com]. This was written before 9/11, and includes many of bin Laden's own comments. He recognized that America was too strong to take down, and had to be weakened internally first. His plan was to destroy America's moral authority in the world. He wanted a more oppressive and heavy-handed America, to help build hate and opposition in the rest of the world. That was the objective of his terrorism.

      He succeeded.

      It's hard to remember now, but just before 9/11, the US didn't have any serious enemies. The big players, Russia, China, Japan, and the European Union, were on good terms with the US. The Middle East was intimidated, but reassured by the fact that, once the US was finished liberating Kuwait, all the US troops packed up and went home.

      If the US had simply focused on cleaning up the mess and finding bin Laden, we would have been far better off.

      • I wonder if it is even possible for the U.S. to return to a "pre 9/11" state/status. I loved my country back then, now, not so much. It saddens me greatly.
      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @12:18AM (#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 bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @02:57AM (#39298163) Homepage

        I have to agree with the posters above. In the 1990s, after winning the "cold war", the US was triumphant and popular. Apparently this went to the heads of the politicians. While there was brief talk about scaling back military expenditures (since they were not necessary anymore), instead the US scaled up, and started looking for places to use that military. 9/11 was a huge boon to those who wanted to go this way, and they have taken full advantage of it. The US now spends nearly as much on its military as the entire rest of the world combined. Internationally, the US behaves like a schoolyard bully - a bully utterly convinced of his own righteousness.

        What I find saddest about this whole situation: most people I know in the USA don't have the faintest inkling of this. "Look at all the good we do." "The Iraqis should be thankful we got rid of Hussein for them." Etc.. It's really unbelievable.

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