Study finds TSA scanners don’t work

Professors Leon Kaufman and Joseph Carlson of the University of California at San Francisco have issued a stunning report in the Journal of Transportation Security.  In this alarming report, the two University Professors explain that the backscatter x-ray scanners that are now being employed by the Transportation Security Administration are easily foiled.  As has been predicted by many other security experts, these two Professors have certified what many have long suspected; the scanners don’t work as advertised and can easily be bypassed.  They explain that dangerous weapons can be disguised so that they are not visible by the scanners.  Worse yet, every person scanned is now subject to a virtual strip search.  And for what?  Apparently for nothing.

The Journal of Transportation Security isn’t just a conventional “news source,” it is a collegiate level peer-reviewed journal.  This means that the information provided in this article by these two Ph.D.’s has been reviewed and certified by a group of other Ph.D.’s.  This article should carry a lot more weight than just any news article that you might read on the internet or see on TV.  The article explains that objects are more likely to be observed if on the sides of a person where they can reflect back x-rays.  Objects that are on the front or back of a person’s body (on their stomach or back) are less likely to be seen and will only be seen if they have sharp edges.  The TSA loves to show photos (like the one below) of all sorts of weapons that can be seen with the scanners.  But, ALL of these weapons can be detected by metal detectors and bomb sniffing technology that is not being employed.  Perhaps the folks who make the bomb sniffing devices didn’t bribe, ahem, I mean lobby the government enough.

The article explains that it would be quite easy for someone to smuggle a large amount of plastic explosives onto an airplane bypassing the scanning machines. 

If the scanners are so heavily relied on and they can be so easily foiled, doesn’t relying on them not only invade our privacy but doesn’t it also put us in danger?  Rather than looking for terrorists, the TSA is so busy scanning people who their attention is drawn away from other threats.  Perhaps if the TSA wasn’t so busy scanning people this week they would have noticed that an intruder hopped the fence and climbed into an airplane at a busy airport.

In the report, the authors show how an oject even as large as a handgun can be missed by the scanners:

The report states that a third of a kilo of high explosives could be snuck past the machine.  That’s about 3/4 of a pound of C4 or PETN enough to take down a 747.  While the TSA is wasting their time with inadequate technology, terrorists will likely just jump the fence and put the bomb in the landing gear well of the plane.  The TSA should focus its efforts on the terrorists, not legitimate passengers.

Don’t just give up your liberty without a fight.  There is no good reason for these invasive searches, they do not make us safer.  They only allow the government more and more control of our lives; they allow the government to pervasively snoop right into our pants to view our private parts.  There are better ways to provide airport security.  The three-ring circus that the TSA is running is not the answer.

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