TSA Concedes Failure of Full Body Scanners

TSA’s Iraqi Information Minister, Blogger Bob, addressed the new video “making its way around the interwebs” about why full body scanners actually make us less safe. His words were telling. Let’s go through them, one sentence at a time.

I watched the video and it is a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures.

Even if the video was crude (as in not professionally produced), it did not “allegedly” show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures, it did exactly that. Mission accomplished.

For obvious security reasons, we can’t discuss our technology's detection capability in detail…

Why? Is the technology so prone to infiltration that you cannot even share what exactly makes these über-expensive machines necessary to protect our national security and traveler safety? If the machines really worked, I would think the TSA would be happy to show exactly why and how they worked.

…however TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior to rolling them out to the entire field.

Only in the case of the nude-o-scopes, you did no such thing—see this report from the Government Accountability Office.

Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs. It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM.

Ooh, bringing on the scare tactics. Without the full body scanners, I guess we’d just have things going “BOOM” on airplanes all the time. But I am just curious why Blogger Bob chose not to mention the woman in Dallas who smuggled a handgun through a full body scanner five times by placing the weapon in her bra. I wouldn’t call that “extremely effective.”

With all that said, it is one layer of our 20 layers of security (Behavior Detection, Explosives Detection Canines, Federal Air Marshals, , etc.) and is not a machine that has all the tools we need in one handy device. We’ve never claimed it’s the end all be all.

And there, folks, is the concession. Here we have the TSA conceding that these machines are not all they cracked up to be. Notice he never actually disputes that items can be smuggled past a security checkpoint using a full body scanner. Quite different than John Pistole and Janet Napolitano testifying before Congress that these devices were necessary and much more effective than a metal detector.

However, our nation's aviation system is much safer now with the deployment of 600 imaging technology units at 140 airports. It is completely safe and the vast majority use a generic image that completely addresses privacy concerns. Also, keep in mind that is optional. Anybody can opt out of the body scanner for a pat-down.

Talk about brilliant conclusory reasoning. After conceding the machines are prone to error, he still concludes that the U.S. aviation system is “much safer” with these new devices. Just because you say it, does not make it so.

If only George Orwell could have seen this coming...


The comments on Bob's TSA post you link to are so very much worth a read, are incredibly entertaining, and support your post.

Andre La Plume March 9, 2012 at 02:51 pm

Perhaps the woman's attributes were so impressive that the examiner was distracted?

Gunnar March 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Matthews, have u nothing else to do but obsess with the tsa?

@Gunnar: I have to deal with the TSA at least twice a week. I'll have to deal with them tomorrow at JFK and LAX and Friday in MIA, CLT, and SFO. Until they stop violating the Constitution and promote a sensible security policy, I will continue my crusade against them.

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