Monday, June 9, 2008

AIRPORT SCANNERS DO VISUAL STRIP SEARCHES OF PASSENGERS

THOMAS FRANK USA TODAY Body-scanning machines that show images of people underneath their clothing are being installed in 10 of the nation's busiest airports in one of the biggest public uses of security devices that reveal intimate body parts. The Transportation Security Administration recently started using body scans on randomly chosen passengers in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque and at New York's Kennedy airport. Airports in Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas and Miami will be added this month. Reagan National Airport in Washington starts using a body scanner . . .

The scanners do a good job seeing under clothing but cannot see through plastic or rubber materials that resemble skin, said Peter Siegel, a senior scientist at the California Institute of Technology. "You probably could find very common materials that you could wrap around you that would effectively obscure things," Siegel said.

Passengers who went through a scanner at the Baltimore airport last week were intrigued, reassured and occasionally wary. The process took about 30 seconds on average. . .

Steinhardt of the ACLU said passengers would be alarmed if they saw the image of their body. "It all seems very clinical and non-threatening - you go through this portal and don't have any idea what's at the other end," he said. . .

Passengers can decline to go through a scanner, but they will face a pat-down. Schear, the Baltimore security director, said only 4% of passengers decline.

In Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where scanners have been tested since last year as an alternative to pat-downs, 90% of passengers choose to be scanned, the TSA says.

Well said Amy and Nancee - the only way to heal this community is to build these bridges and realize there is no "us" and "them", but a community of people, most of which want the same things.

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