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Government Privacy Transportation United States

TSA Accepting Public Comments On Whole Body Airport Screening 223

New submitter trims writes "The TSA is now in the public comment stage of its project to roll out Advanced Imaging Technology (i.e. full-body X-ray) scanners. The TSA wants your feedback as to whether or not this project should be continued or cancelled. Now is your chance to tell the TSA that this is a huge porkbarrel project and nothing more than Security Theater. You can comment at http:///www.regulations.gov and reference the docket ID TSA-2013-0004." Note: the backscatter X-ray machines are being phased out, in favor of millimeter-wave systems; the linked documents give the government's side of the story when it comes to efficacy, safety, privacy, and worth. The comment period runs until June 24.
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TSA Accepting Public Comments On Whole Body Airport Screening

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 20, 2013 @11:19PM (#43507449)

    Years of delays, violating a court other many wondered what the heck was up with the TSA delaying this public comment.

    Now it's clear: They were waiting for a terrorist attack.

  • by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @11:48PM (#43507539)

    Are the TSA just going to say "We have listened to your comments, and are continuing to pursue security theater^W practices as they best "serve" our country", or is there some sort of accountability set up for what the comments are saying?

    It's nice to see that even right after the Boston bombing, the comments appear to still be 100% against AIT scanners.

  • by litehacksaur111 ( 2895607 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @11:49PM (#43507543)
    I am afraid that Michael Chertoff only made hundreds of millions with the old backscatter machines and needed even more government money, so his company decided to come out with some new units which the TSA will spend over a billion dollars to acquire. The military industrial complex will bankrupt us as Eisenhower predicted.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:20AM (#43507659)

    Letting your children grow up with their liberties pre-sacrificed for the appearance of security is just downright irresponsible. If you think terrorism is a major threat to them please take statistics classes or start crusades against the long list of more dangerous things first.

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ayertim]> on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:23AM (#43507671)

    Years of delays, violating a court other many wondered what the heck was up with the TSA delaying this public comment.

    Now it's clear: They were waiting for a terrorist attack.

    Give them some credit.
    They may also be looking for reasons to phase out millimeter-wave systems for super-duper-wave systems. These machines cost $250K/pop and don't do shit to detect anything. The contractors who made the first batch and then the replacement batch must be salivating already.

    Where do I sign up to deliver machines without any quality control? I can do it much cheaper.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:25AM (#43507673)

    But I will still not give up my liberty for my security. I will die for my Freedom and rights, including being a victim of an attack.

    So, you don't have a wife and children who depend on you?

    Does that mean people that went to fight Hitler didn't have children and wives? They did. They went to fight the Nazis to preserve security in the US and the western world for their kids and wives.

    Just like the GP, he's ready to die to liberty maybe so his/her children can enjoy some of it too. It is not just whether you survive, but whether the bits of the laws that survive you are worth it.

    PS. If you are so worried about getting blown up, perhaps you should be worried about getting killed by some moron texting on their phone while driving, or drunk/drugged driver, or some moron speeding and T-boning your car. Or if you have a gun, perhaps you should be worried that you will die because of that gun (98%+ of all domestic deaths are caused by a gun in the house, not by external gun).

    But perhaps you think you are special and statistics do not apply to you. That's what most people think too.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:27AM (#43507683)

    Now it's clear: They were waiting for a terrorist attack.

    And yet I couldn't find a single comment in support, even right after a terrorist attack, on the webpage, until about 10 pages in. And you know what? It'd still be a bad idea even if there was a boston bomber situation every month from now until doomsday. But you know what they say about our most inept public agency... "You can't cure stupid."

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:28AM (#43507685) Homepage

    "That all said, I find it mildly absurd that any security we don't like we just classify as security theater.. How on earth can we on one hand argue that Bush et al had ample warning and did nothing and then on the other bitch when they do something? "

    Here's the thing. They had all the information they needed to stop it - the problem was not too little information, it was too much. They had far more information than they had the capacity to analyze.

    So the response? Not to upgrade ability to analyze the information already collectable, no. Instead, let's collect a few thousand times MORE information. Let's throw a dragnet over anyone and everyone and store every email on the net forever, in case we need to search back through it later.

    This is security theatre. We all get used to being less free, to being herded around more like cattle, on the assurance it will make us more safe. It will not. The same agencies that HAD the information to stop the crime, but not the analytical facilities to recognise the fact in time, now have EVEN MORE info to sift through. The vast majority of it completely irrelevant to stopping terrorists - but a wonderful treasure trove for anyone looking for something to use against their political enemies.

    In the meantime the terrorists are even less likely to be detected, since we are throwing roughly the same analytic capabilities at a ridiculously expanded data set.

  • by elashish14 ( 1302231 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (4clacforp)> on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:49AM (#43507745)

    Having a family is not an excuse for being a coward. If anything, it's a reason not to be a coward, so you can set an example for others and the future.

  • by cervo ( 626632 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @12:52AM (#43507755) Journal
    In any case I found this fascinating article http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2012/06/19/what-israeli-airport-security-teaches-the-world/ [internatio...digest.org] that Israel does not have x-ray machines, or taking off your shoes to go in the airport. They have behavioral based interviews. And in the end everyone wants to blow up Israel, and yet I cannot remember hearing of planes crashing into buildings, or even being hijacked. It's really quite amazing. I would cut the security theatre and go do what Israel is doing.... Which seems to be behavioral based interviews and paying attention to how people act.

    Also they do a ton of screening on cars. In some US airports, the parking lot is right near the terminal. Drive in a car full of explosive material and you could do a lot of damage. Or even pull right up to the terminal unchecked for dropping bags. In some terminals you could even crash the car right through the glass doors and then go do something..... That's not security.
  • Re:Yes but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 21, 2013 @01:01AM (#43507787)

    backscatter, or millimeter?

    "Unnecessary" is the word you're looking for.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @01:02AM (#43507791)

    Would you like your kids to grow up in a world without freedom?

  • Re:Yes but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @01:17AM (#43507835) Homepage Journal

    ALWAYS opt-out.

    If they ask you why - which has happened to me in a very challenging fashion - say: "Because I want to."

    Plan an extra 20-30 minutes on your arrival. It never takes that long. Have everything empty from your pockets and take off a belt, if any.

    It's not as intrusive as the panicky say. Make sure you are clear that you want the screening in place, not in a private area.

    "And friends, somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in say 'Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.' And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

    And that's what it is, the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the guitar."

  • 4th amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @01:32AM (#43507903)

    The law disallows certain behaviors, regardless of technology empowering them. These scanners are unreasonable search of my person and effects. Traveling is not suspicious behavior.

  • by bradorsomething ( 527297 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @01:52AM (#43507971)
    My Comment to Them:

    "I travel about twice a month and have been a regular traveler most of my life, and because of this, the deployment of this technology has had a major impact on my life.

    This technology is not wanted by air travelers, and was put in place with less testing than the shampoo I am no longer allowed to carry through security. Experts have found that shadowing can cause items to slip through this screening, and these devices cannot detect anything inside the body. They have also created long, bunched up lines of people at airports, outside of the "secure" cordon, which would allow a terrorist to kill many more people than would be on a single airplane... and these deaths could ironically be attributed directly to the delays caused by these devices, which regularly slow the lines and require pat-downs when they don't read properly (my experience when waiting).

    Security at airports has become a reactive reflex which always fights the last threat. I am confident I am not the only tax payer who feels their money was completely wasted on these devices, whose only value, I feel, was to make some contractor rich, and get some person re-elected by convincing the under-informed that they were "safe."
  • by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @02:14AM (#43508025) Homepage
    This particular upgraded equipment is security theater because numerous experiments have shown that it's easy to smuggle very nasty things past it without detection, and with fairly little effort. Knives, molded plastic explosives (simulated, if I recall correctly), handguns, etc. have all been successfully concealed from this technology. There are plenty of articles on-line detailing how it was done.

    The purpose of these machines is to prevent those with malicious intent from getting dangerous materials onto a plane which they could use to hijack it and repeat the 9/11 approach. But since these machines have been shown to be remarkably bad at actually achieving this goal, going forward with the ludicrously expensive purchase and the continued privacy-invading operation of said machines is clearly not ACTUALLY making air travel more secure. However, it looks shiny, and to the average person who doesn't work with security and isn't used to thinking in "black hat" mode it can seem effective. Which is basically the definition of security theater.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @03:17AM (#43508175) Homepage

    Liberty has NEVER been something you "give up." You can't give it up while the next person keeps his. It is something everyone has or no one has. So to correct your statement, your liberty is being TAKEN with apologies and excuses given. So what you're saying is you're not accepting of their apologies or excuses. What follows is what you plan to DO about your liberties being taken.

    It's probably already too late for me to secure firearms -- I don't have any now but I might be attending the next gun show in my area. But I will be practicing my head shots because I am quite sure my next enemy will be wearing a vest and may even be wearing a riot mask. But a head shot at a riot mask will give someone cause to pause. I probably won't last long after that but still. I expect to be one of many.

    The government is not "the people" and I get offended every time I hear the government referred to in that way. (You know, "the people vs. ....") The people are the people and when government employees take arms against "the people" they become enemies of "the people." *I* am the people. I pay taxes. I work for a living. I harm no one. *I* am no one's enemy. And *I* will not be the one making the first aggressive moves. We've got a big problem building and I find it HARD to believe that anyone would feel safer with a bunch of uniformed jackboots walking around with "assault weapons."

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @03:21AM (#43508187) Homepage

    Two immigrants have had excessive contact with the FBI. It is well documented. Either (a) those immigrants were believed to be "okay" and passed into society after the FBI's scrutiny making them members of society here or (b) they are patsies sponsored by the FBI.

    We have more pictorial evidence of the "Craft" contractors being invovled than we have of these two immigrants. Think on what information is available instead of what you are told you should believe. The information available doesn't look like the information we are being given.

  • Filibuster it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @03:34AM (#43508213) Homepage
    Everybody here should enter the same comment: "I would like an independent body to calculate the cost vs. saved lives and compare it to other possible investments like traffic safety, cancer research, or promoting healthier lifestyles to school children."
  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @08:41AM (#43508905) Homepage

    That is definitely an issue. Israel only has two international airports, and spends quite a bit of money on security in general, with every citizen serving in the military.

    That makes the entire society far more security conscious, and military training means that people know how to follow procedures and generally stay alert. The fact that everybody serves in the military also means that the guards are diverse and not just those who couldn't find a job or get a scholarship.

    The result is that a security program that works in Israel will not necessarily work in the US, and certainly not with bottom-dollar security guards.

    Also, Israel has a lot of defense in depth. Maybe the airport security isn't as tight, but they have far more border security at drive-in points, and even checkpoints at places like malls. All of this makes it a lot harder to get weapons to the airport in the first place. There is also a much higher state of vigilance - when bombs have been planted on buses in the past they've generally been noticed resulting in immediate evacuation before they go off.

    Oh, and the last I heard El Al depressurizes every bag before putting it on a plane to set off altimeter-triggered bombs. So, some of the security is behind the scenes.

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @08:44AM (#43508915)

    Or if you have a gun, perhaps you should be worried that you will die because of that gun (98%+ of all domestic deaths are caused by a gun in the house, not by external gun).

    I'm in favor of gun control laws, but Jesus Christ that's a stupid claim to make.

    Here are the real statistics for cause of death [cdc.gov] and suicide is the most common cause of firearm related death. [bostonglobe.com], but suicide is only the tenth most common cause of death and makes up only 2% of the most common deaths and firearm related sucides are only about half of that [cdc.gov], so that would put them around 1%

    Perhaps you meant that 98% of firearm related deaths are due to the homeowner's firearm? Once again, no. Out of the 11,078 homicides in 2010, you're claiming that 10,855 were committed with the homeowner's gun and only 223 involved a gun owned by someone else.

    That is an insane claim to make and there is absolutely no evidence to back it up.

  • Re:Yes but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamgnat ( 1015755 ) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @09:56AM (#43509139)

    I take a bit of the opposite tact, as I prefer to be treated like a criminal in private rather than in full display of the public. That and it forces them to use additional resources, as now two people have to be monitoring the pat-down.

    There are two reasons I choose to do it in public. The first is that in private it's your word against a bunch of TSA screeners. There are no other possible witnesses and I don't trust them not to side with each other given that you've already irritated them by singling yourself out. I'm not saying they are going to be out to do anything wrong, but if there is an issue then you are on the wrong side.

    The second is that it is shocking how many people still don't understand they have an option (or have believed the FUD that it is some horribly demeaning and invasive process). By staying in the public space you help educate those that don't know.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.