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The Sensible Body Scan Alternative

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-the-bus dept.

Transportation 354

An anonymous reader sends in a CNN article that looks at airport security from more reasonable point of view, suggesting that looking for every last micro-gram of potentially explosive material is a waste of time, since very small quantities of explosives are unlikely to significantly damage a plane. The author also recommends incorporating parts of the Israeli method of securing airplanes — look for the bomber, not the tools. Quoting: "Clearly everything should be done to prevent explosives getting on board an aircraft in quantities sufficient to cause structural failure and bring the plane down. But is it worth chasing lesser quantities that would result in zero or minimal damage? The enhanced pat-down that some find so offensive is designed to search for these small amounts. It often ends with a swab being taken to test for explosive residues. Technology does have a role to play, but imaging is not the solution. Operator fatigue sets in after short periods of time staring at computer images. That's why there are reports that contraband items have been smuggled through X-ray units used to scan carry-on bags. The aim should be to detect high explosive in quantities that are sufficient to cause significant damage. We don't need a machine that takes pictures of the human body. It makes more sense to develop a detector that clearly discriminates between high explosives and human tissue or water."

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354 comments

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Easy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34351974)

Have sexy agents of the opposite sex do the manual tapping method.

People will line up for the privilege. Some of them will even stand up for it.

Not profitable enough (5, Insightful)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 3 years ago | (#34351988)

The goal is to make money for government contractors and politcians, not enhance safety. Inefficient, ineffective solutions produce much more profit for government contractors and the politicians that support them.

Re:Not profitable enough (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352008)

Does anyone else sense something strange is going on with the apparently spontaneous revolt against the TSA? This past week, the media turned an "ordinary guy," 31-year-old Californian John Tyner, who blogs under the pseudonym "Johnny Edge," into a national hero after he posted a cell phone video of himself defending his liberty against the evil government oppressors in charge of airport security.

So far, all we know about "ordinary guy" John Tyner III, the freedom fighter who took on the TSA agents, is that, according to a friendly hometown profile in the San Diego Union-Tribune, "he leans strongly libertarian and doesn't believe in voting. TSA security policy, he asserts 'isn't Republican and it isn't Democratic.'" [Emphasis added.]

Tyner attended private Christian schools in Southern California and lives in Oceanside, a Republican stronghold next to Camp Pendleton, the largest Marine Corps base on the West Coast.

At least one local TSA administrator wondered if Tyner hadn't come to the airport prepared to create a scandal. Tyner switched on his recording device before even entering the checkpoint—and recorded himself as he refused to go through the body scanner. Most importantly, Tyner recorded himself saying, "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested!"—which quickly morphed on blogs into the more media-savvy tagline, "Don't touch my junk!"

According to the Union-Tribune, when asked if the TSA was set up by Tyner, the local administrator coyly replied, "I don't know that it was an actual set up—but we are concerned that this passenger did have his recording [on] prior to entering the checkpoint so there is some concern that it was an intentional behavior on his part."

Tyner scoffs at the suggestion of a set up. "I can't set up the TSA side of this action," he said. In an interview with The Nation, Tyner said he doesn't belong to any libertarian organizations and did not have any contact with anyone mentioned in this article until after he posted his encounter with TSA agents.

Strangely enough, just a few days before Tyner's episode, another self-described "libertarian," Meg McLain, went online telling almost the exact same story of oppression and attempted sexual molestation at the hands of TSA agents. McLain is an occasional co-host of a libertarian radio show out of a libertarian quasi-commune located in Keene, New Hampshire. As reported in the Washington City Paper, the libertarian "Free Keene" movement where McLain makes her home is yet another libertarian project tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, the prime backers of the Tea Party campaign, through the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Meg McLain almost became a national celebrity as the first victim of the body scanner/TSA molesters. On November 8, McLain was preparing to fly out of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, airport, when she claimed to have been the victim of invasive TSA molestation. According to McLain, when she refused to have her body scanned, the TSA agents supposedly started screaming "Opt out! Opt out!" and pulled her aside and "molested" her—specifically, they "squeezed and twisted" her breasts so hard that "it hurt." ("OptOut" is the name of a "grassroots" protest movement designed to tie up airports during the holidays—more on that later.) As she described it, "It's getting to the point where I feel more physically molested [by the TSA agents] than if some random guy actually came up and molested me. It's more intrusive than that." McLain also claimed that she was made to stand in an open area next to the metal detector, where every passenger could look at her while a TSA agent "screamed" at her, until, finally, she was handcuffed to a chair by a "dozen cops." McLain immediately called into the Keene libertarian radio show to tell her awful story, which was posted on YouTube, and spread virally after it was promoted on Drudge Report.

There was only one problem with McLain's story: she made it up. The TSA released video evidence showing that McLain wasn't molested, wasn't screamed at and wasn't attacked by a dozen cops and half a dozen TSA agents. In fact, other passengers don't seem to notice her, although a TSA agent does seem to be trying to comfort McLain, offering her tissues as the libertarian rebel breaks out crying.

By her own account, McLain was down in Florida visiting a pair of traveling libertarians who were spreading the word of libertarianism in what they billed as "Liberty On Tour," funded at least partly by Koch-backed organizations like "Students for Liberty." One of the libertarians that McLain met with, Peter Eyre, has spent much of the past five years on a variety of Koch payrolls: as an intern at the Koch-founded Cato Institute, a "Koch Fellow" at the Drug Policy Alliance and nearly three years as director for the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, home also to the Koch-funded Mercatus Center.

Re:Not profitable enough (1, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352080)

Oh, come on ... that post is longer than a line at the airport. I don't have time to read a post that's longer than the actual story. I opted out of reading it, felt myself up and moved on to the next post.

Re:Not profitable enough (-1, Flamebait)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352104)

And what the fuck is your point?

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352248)

I think it was someone trying to claim this is a "false" story. Or someone who really hates libertarians.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352260)

Does anyone else sense something strange is going on with the apparently spontaneous revolt against the TSA?

No.

Re:Not profitable enough (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352336)

So let's say it is a setup, what is the problem with that?

Rosa Parks did not randomly happen upon a bus, there is a long tradition of using the predictable actions of those in authority to get public support for your cause.

Re:Not profitable enough (5, Insightful)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352440)

OK, lets say everything you just typed is true.

Who cares?

The fact of the matter remains your rights as Americans are being trampled all over, and you're being treated like criminals regardless of whether you are one or not.

And your world image is suffering (again) because of it. And your tourism industry is no doubt feeling the effects of it, too.

Whether they're Libertarian, Democrats, or Republicans shouldn't matter. What the TSA is doing is wrong, and what you just typed is completely fucking irrelevant.

Re:Not profitable enough (3, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352028)

It's more than just the profit motive here, too. We can't racially profile in the US because thats racism, and that's not allowed. Additionally, we check for tiny quantities of explosives because where there's smoke, there's fire. That's how this works. It's virtually impossible to conceal explosives inside something without getting at least traces of dust on the outside, and so far that theory has actually managed to catch the few people who have been caught.

Whoever wrote this is an idiot. They're on the right side of the debate, but their maddeningly short-sighted arguments are damaging their position.

Grandma Mable gets scanned because the TSA isn't racist. My PS3 gets scanned because it'd be a great place to hide a bomb.

If they want a good argument, look on here a few days ago when someone argued that the security checks cost more lives than they save due to displaced travelers being pushed off airplanes and onto the roads. That's a solid viewpoint.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352094)

It's not racial profiling that is being suggested. Rather it is profiling based on behavior and personal history.

I'm not comfortable with the government keeping tabs on each citizen, where they go, who they talk to, and who they may be related to. That is what the Israeli profiling will bring to our country, and it is just as wrong as these scanners.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352218)

I actually using behavior profiling in the stock market. It is REALLY easy to pick out and it is really easy to take advantage of it. BECAUSE people are so darn obvious.

Behavior profiling being equated with racism is the problem and shows the lack of understanding because amateurs do it. If you really want to see behavior profiling in action take a look at "Lie To Me". Yes yes it is over dramatized (its TV after all), but in essence that is what they are doing and it is very sophisticated. What you seek is a reaction from the other person. That is why the one guy is always in other people faces. He pushes the point and gets the emotions going as most people cannot hide them.

Thus if you think behavior profiling is about keeping tabs on people you are actually really missing the point. Personal history in the context of the airport has very little to do with it.

Now if you think that big brother will come to America as a result because of the Israeli technique, sorry but it is already by you folks. Do some googling and searching and you will find that the US tracks quite a few people. It just does not do it publicly.

Re:Not profitable enough (2, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352246)

You know, all this talk of profiling, scanning, and the rest of the controversial methods makes me wonder: Why aren't we using sniffer dogs as our primary defence against bombs?

Dogs, especially those bred for it, can be trained to sniff out explosives. The article makes it clear there's a minimum threshold for a bomb big enough to structurally damage an airplane, presumably the dogs can reliably find something at or below that threshold.

So far as I know, nobody finds the dogs offensive or controversial. The scans and pat-downs are borderline sexual assault, profiling is either invasion of privacy or racism depending on what's being profiled (i.e. personal history or race). Getting sniffed by a dog doesn't have those problems.

Now, this won't help find guns. But a metal detector is adequate for those. Knives are a minimal problem, considering that most of them will also set off a metal detector, and irrespective of that, it's been pointed out there are no shortage of sharp objects already on the plane. And the only real use of a gun or knife on an airplane is hijacking it, something that the reinforced cockpit doors and paranoid post 9/11 passengers will prevent.

Airport security using luggage x-rays, passenger metal detectors and a few agents with trained dogs should be sufficient against all threats.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352310)

So far as I know, nobody finds the dogs offensive or controversial.

Muslims consider dogs and pigs "unclean." They've raised fusses about it to the point where our servicemen in Iraq can't bring a dog in to hunt down hidden exlosives even when terrorists have been cleared out of a Mosque.

Who have they ever caught? (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352154)

It's virtually impossible to conceal explosives inside something without getting at least traces of dust on the outside, and so far that theory has actually managed to catch the few people who have been caught.

Who's been caught by the TSA?

Not a single terrorist has EVER been caught by the TSA while trying to board a plane.

And if they thought your can of Coke was really a threat, then why don't they treat you like a threat when they find it? Instead they just demand that you throw the POTENTIAL LIQUID EXPLOSIVE into a garbage can next to them.

It is 100% bullshit.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352208)

Wish I had those points now

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352226)

I didn't say the TSA caught anyone. I just said that that method has worked, which it has.

So no one is caught but it works? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352282)

I didn't say the TSA caught anyone. I just said that that method has worked, which it has.

So the method that the TSA uses works because the TSA hasn't caught anyone by using that method.

But people are caught.
But not by the TSA.

Wanna buy a rock that prevents crocodile attacks?

Re:So no one is caught but it works? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352318)

Johnny builds a fence to eliminate his terrible Coyote problem. All his Coyotes are gone.

The TSA has a fence too, and no Coyotes. Can we rule out the fence as preventing the Coyotes?

Re:So no one is caught but it works? (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352384)

khasim has a rock that repels crocodile. khasim has not been attacked by crocodiles.

You do not have this rock!

I strongly advise that you purchase a crocodile repelling rock from him, as you apparently cannot rule out the rock as preventing the crocodile attacks.

The shoe bomber. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352424)

The TSA has a fence too, and no Coyotes. Can we rule out the fence as preventing the Coyotes?

Seems that the TSA does have "coyotes" so yes, we can rule out the fence as preventing them.

Particularly since, as I've stated before, the TSA is not catching ANY terrorists. Not a single one.

Now, you seem to be arguing that this is because the TSA is so effective that the terrorists just don't try any more.

But that is contradicted by the facts. The shoe bomber.

So your "logic" is that the terrorists don't even try except for the ones who do try and who elude the TSA and get onto the planes but that's only because the TSA stopped them which it did not.

Re:The shoe bomber. (0)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352466)

Wait... so the TSA caught the shoe bomber, therefore the TSA can't catch any terrorists?

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352354)

No it does not, my anti-terrorist rock is what is stopping the evil-doers.

Please prove otherwise.

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352238)

And if they thought your can of Coke was really a threat, then why don't they treat you like a threat when they find it? Instead they just demand that you throw the POTENTIAL LIQUID EXPLOSIVE into a garbage can next to them.

Well, duh. If the garbage can explodes when they throw your Coke into it then they know it was a bomb, otherwise you're free to go.

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352304)

While the ban of liquids is stupid and pointless, the fact that you Coke can isn't treated like a bomb is a very poor argument against it. The idea is that if the TSA is consistent about not allowing any liquids through the checkpoints then the liquids people have with them won't be explosives because no one will bother trying to sneak liquid explosives onto the planes.

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352366)

I hate to be the one to bring you this information so late in your life, but the human body has several areas that are used primarily for the storage of liquid. The TSA so far is not checking any of those.

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352390)

That's why they've introduced the body scanners. Please try to keep up, here!

Re:Who have they ever caught? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352508)

Those do not search the areas I am talking about. X-rays are never going to show you if what is in my bladder is urine or a liquid explosive with similar density.

Re:Not profitable enough (3, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352228)

Grandma Mable gets scanned because the TSA isn't racist

Grandma Mable gets probed and pulled aside for a "random bag check" because people like you are idiots and too damn stupid to understand the idea of focusing resources where they will do the most good.

The guy below says he is "not comfortable" with the government keeping "tabs" on citizens. I guess he's never applied for any job that required a real background check, where agents will actually go and interview friends, neighbors, past employers, etc. And I'm sure you and he both don't understand the level of infiltration and front-organization setups that go on in the incestuous relationship between US mosques, terrorist front groups (CAIR was founded by two Hamas members, "Islamic Society of North America" is a Muslim Brotherhood organization, half the "charities" in Dearbornistan MI are Hezbollah front groups, and so on).

Political correctness gone amok is getting to be more of a danger to us than the pedoprophet's followers are!

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352290)

I didn't say I agreed with pulling out Grandma Mable. I'm just saying that's the real justification.

I think it's always going to be a fight between the right of individuals not to be in the system, and the goddamned ease and efficiency of just putting everyone into the system. It'd be a heck of a lot easier if everyone just consented to Isreali-style background checks, but I'm not ready to take away everyone's rights like that.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352506)

Dearbornistan? Really?

Cover up, your racism is showing. Go back to Livoniaryan, MI.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352456)

'Additionally, we check for tiny quantities of explosives because where there's smoke, there's fire. That's how this works.'

Use a bit of explosive or just components and dilute it in alcohol and splash the entries to the airport with it, where all the people have to walk through it, instant chaos, security, none.

Re:Not profitable enough (1, Flamebait)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352060)

No, the goal is "security theater." Make people think you are doing something, even if what you are doing is worthless and pointless.

If we really wanted safety, we would follow the Israeli model. Catch the people flying single, with a one-way ticket especially. Extra scrutiny for those with connections to terrorist and fundamentalist organizations.

The problem with the US is that we are so hung up on "OMG PROFILING RAWR" and "waah we can't let muslims think we're against them" that we refuse to acknowledge the differences between Islam and every actual peaceful religion in the world, we refuse to acknowledge the teachings of Islam that make fundamentalism so easy to develop in the pedo's moon cult, and we refuse to acknowledge that a large number (majority or mere sizable minority, makes no difference) of them consider themselves to be "at war" with any non-muslim. There's a reason Islam considers the world broken into two pieces and calls them "Dar Al-Islam" and "Dar Al-Harb": the second means "domain of war."

We don't have to declare to be "at war" with them. They're at war with us merely for not being muslim.

This is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson himself reported to Congress, after meeting with Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (Tripoli's envoy to London): "The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

Isn't it nice how we have become so spineless that we now just roll over for them?

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352362)

So I read the CNN article comments. And they spewed crap about Muslims and how they are the problem and how Americans would be biased. I find this REALLY funny because of all the people that would be biased against Muslims would be Israeli's. How many people in Israel know people in close circles that have died at the hands of Muslim terrorists? I am betting everybody in Israel has. What about in America? How many people know people that lost somebody? Probably not many. So I think the Israeli's would probably have a couple of axes to grind against Muslims. Yet the security people do their jobs. Because they are trained... The employees are treated like humans... Not like bots that can be replaced and optimized with outsourcing or robots.

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

GSloop (165220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352494)


The problem with the US is that we are so hung up on "OMG PROFILING RAWR" and "waah we can't let muslims think we're against them"

So, exactly how do we racially profile?
You understand [I hope] that Muslim people can be peaceful, as well as radical.
You understand that Christians can be peaceful as well as radical.
You understand that Hindu can be peaceful as well as radical.

Any group, religious or not can be peaceful or radical and violent.

Next, you understand that Muslims, as well as Christians, as well as pretty much any other religion can be white, black, latino, asian, etc.

So, just how exactly are you going to "group" those people so we can scrutinize them?
Perhaps you've developed the "mind scanner" where we can examine your thoughts and determine if you're a threat or not.

Short of that, "racial profiling" is the hugest waste of time imaginable.

What you're advocating is exactly what is always done when you want to remove any barrier to treating some arbitrary group wrongly.

Those [jews/muslims/mormons/cathloics/protestants/insert target group here] are fundamentally different than us. They don't respect us, and need to be [bombed/gassed/forced into slavery/sent back to mexico/insert desired treatment here.]

In short, you are the perfect moron who either are sly like a fox, and want to treat others with no dignity and respect and this is a great way to do it, or you're just misguided, and shouldn't be allowed to reproduce, at least in a just world.

-Greg

Re:Not profitable enough (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352410)

It's also security done on the cheap. The approach described in the article is more expensive because recruting, training, and keeping a highly qualified work force costs more than letting poorly trained operators simply scan everyone. It's the cheapest, fastest way to give the impression something is being done; the old rule 'cheap, fast, good - pick two' applies here - security will not be good.

Worse, the money spent on these machines could be spent on hiring more and better trained TSA agents. Giving more people better jobs, while increasing security ... sadly it will never be done.

As you point out, the corps and their bought politicians would rather pump more money into a failed system than look at alternatives, because those alternatives would not enrich them.

Yes, because it's that easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352000)

Oh sure, we'll just get a trained counterterrorism specialist to look every single airline passenger in the eye every single day. Easy. Why didn't anyone else think of this?

EVERYONE CAN RELAX, THE WORLD IS NOW DEATH-PROOF!

ACLU will never let it happen (1, Flamebait)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352010)

The only way to do security of this type effectively IS the way other countries (like Israel) do it - and that is with profiling, of course the bleeding hearts here in the U.S will never stand for it, so we end up screening little kids, 80 year old invalids, and other unlikely candidates, because we are afraid of offending someone. It might not be 100 % but I'll bet it beats random checks any day of the week....

That's because profiling (like that) fails. (0)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352064)

The only way to do security of this type effectively IS the way other countries (like Israel) do it - and that is with profiling, of course the bleeding hearts here in the U.S will never stand for it, so we end up screening little kids, 80 year old invalids, and other unlikely candidates, because we are afraid of offending someone.

The day you exclude 80 year old invalids from the same scans as everyone else is the day that the terrorists start recruiting 80 year old invalids.

It might not be 100 % but I'll bet it beats random checks any day of the week....

You'd lose that bet. Random checks (really random) mean that the terrorists will never know who will be checked. So there is no way for them to "game" the system.

And "gaming" the system is exactly how we ended up with the shoe bomber and captain underpants.

Re:That's because profiling (like that) fails. (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352170)

as you recall both the shoe bomber and captain underpants were young Arab men, as were all the 9/11 terrorists. Easily detected under a simple profiling rule - check all young Arab men. Your assumption that it is not as good as random is only true if you assume that all people are likely terrorists which just doesn't pass any sanity test at all.

No, that fails as well. (0, Troll)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352256)

as you recall both the shoe bomber and captain underpants were young Arab men, as were all the 9/11 terrorists.

And yet Timmy McVeigh and the UniBomber weren't Arab.

Easily detected under a simple profiling rule - check all young Arab men.

Nice work. You should apply for a job with the TSA because you are operating under the same mental limitation as they are.

Stop trying to defend against the LAST attack.

If you check all Arab men, then the guy will just get his girlfriend to carry the bomb through security.

Here's a history lesson for you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindawi_affair [wikipedia.org]
Seems like your approach has already been gamed by the terrorists. Over 20 years ago.

Re:That's because profiling (like that) fails. (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352368)

They are all young Arab men because young Arab men are the easiest to recruit, not because they are the only ones who could be recruited. If you start profiling young Arab men, they can and will change the profile of their recruits.

great analysis, slashdot terrorism expert (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352422)

The underpants bomber was black, not Arab.

I'm surprised that a security expert like yourself doesn't know that. It almost seems like you are an ignorant know it all talking about things you don't understand.

By the way, engineers have been carrying out many terrorist attacks lately. Maybe we should profile people who have engineering degrees. Or libertarians.

Bottom line, I agree with you that we should single out races and and political ideologies for scrutiny and discrimination.

Re:That's because profiling (like that) fails. (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352510)

The day you exclude 80 year old invalids from the same scans as everyone else is the day that the terrorists start recruiting 80 year old invalids.

Which is why The Terrorists(tm) are now recruiting US Congressmen [nytimes.com] .

Re:ACLU will never let it happen (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352076)

the bleeding hearts here in the U.S will never stand for it, so we end up screening little kids

You think someone willing to blow up a plane isn't willing to use a child to smuggle his explosives: Worry less about bleeding hearts and more about rotting brains.

Re:ACLU will never let it happen (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352192)

The machines will kill 16 people a year in cancer deaths, terrorists don't get that many. We have here a cure that is worse than the disease.

Re:ACLU will never let it happen (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352090)

Absolutely correct. We have literally an army of trained interviewers who have the skills, and know how the opponent sounds. Many of them, currently, are underemployed. It would be a perfect union of skill and need, which would satisfy most requirements except one. When you screen people out, you make judgments based on a variety of factors. But since certain factors would be unavoidable certain elements in our country will fight screening as if we were going to use shamans and bone-casting to make the decisions. Thank the ACLU for the current mess, it's the only thing that satisfies their goals. Too bad for the rest of us.

And you are correct, I choose anonymity because I really don't need the headache that comes from the that same corner of the political spectrum whenever one of them decides to ride their hobby horse in my direction.

Re:ACLU will never let it happen (2, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352172)

Although profiling is effective, there are some douchebag law-enforcement officers -stereotypically mostly in the South, but when hear their victims talk it becomes apparent that they're pretty much everywhere- who ruin profiling for everyone, even the honest law-enforcement officers. We need other methods, because abuse of profiling in the US has been way too great in recent years to trust law enforcement to do it properly.

That's not to say that current methods are any better: they aren't, and should be discarded summarily. But a move to profiling just isn't going to work; a third option has to be found.

Re:ACLU will never let it happen (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352236)

The only way to do security of this type effectively IS the way other countries (like Israel) do it - and that is with profiling

Citation needed. For one thing, the security risks are actually pretty low. How many acts of terrorism on US airplanes have been successful since 9/11? Second, it seems to me that islamic fundamentalists from the middle east, who I'm assuming you're saying we should profile, are not the only security concern. Oklahoma City was a group of crazy white dudes. The underwear bomber was black.

So we should profile everyone who isn't Asian, Native American, or Latino? Seems like we're almost doing that now.

Re:ACLU will never let it happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352360)

I wish your fantasy ACLU actually existed. The real ACLU is busy fighting losing battles.

Forgetting one point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352016)

Anything less than a full rectal scan followed by cranial RFID chip insertion would be unAmerican. Go Freedom Fries!

Big problem... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352022)

The big problem right now is that billions were spent on getting the scanners that nobody wants to have used on themselves. So we have an "enhanced pat down" which primarily serves to push people into the scanning booth. Still, people are voting to have their children felt up and various body parts manipulated rather than getting scanned.

If they try to walk away from the billions spent on the scanners taxpayers (like me) will rightly be rather angry that this much was spent on something utterly unsuitable for the job and they are just walking away from it.

The only winning hand here is for them to convince the flying public that the scanners are the right way to go. Which is exactly what you can expect in the coming months.

Aloha airlines flight 243 (3, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352034)

Could the underwear bomber have done any worse than what happened on Aloha airlines flight 243 [aloha.net] ?

Re:Aloha airlines flight 243 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352048)

That was caused by high quality Boeing Aircraft !

Re:Aloha airlines flight 243 (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352126)

Actually, no. I was caused by Aloha Airlines failing to follow Boeing's instructions regarding metal fatigue - The aircraft had tens-of-thousands of duty cycles in a corrosive environment until the fuselage failed.

Re:Aloha airlines flight 243 (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352234)

Still only 1 fatality, showing the risk of bomb that blows off roof of airplane to be not unacceptably high.

Israel has an actual existential threat (1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352036)

America has no existential threat. Talking about "an alternative" is a waste of time and counter productive.

The alternative should be to dismantle the TSA, put every single person who works for it on trial for treason, and have them executed.

This particular agency has taken it upon itself to turn America into a police state where freedom of speech, assembly, and movement no longer exists. They do it under the guise of security, but it is unnecessary (and frankly incompetent) security. They use techniques which coerce citizens to give in to "less intrusive" measures by means of fear and intimidation. It's a damned shame, and Obama ought to be impeached for supporting this.

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352078)

The alternative should be to dismantle the TSA, put every single person who works for it on trial for treason, and have them executed.

Why stop there?

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352130)

The alternative should be to dismantle the TSA, put every single person who works for it on trial for treason, and have them executed.

Why stop there?

What are you going to do after they're executed, have them cut up into little bits and jump up and down on them, until you can think of something even more nasty to do?

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (3, Funny)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352262)

Send anti-gay religious wingnuts to protest at their funerals.

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352136)

The alternative should be to dismantle the TSA, put every single person who works for it on trial for treason, and have them executed.

The third can't happen, because the second wouldn't convict anybody. According to the Constitution you and I use to argue against them, only two things constitute treason: acts of war against the US, or aiding and abeting those who commit such acts. For all that can be said about the TSA, and pretty much all of it is bad, they still haven't managed to do either of these things yet, so there is no treason involved.

I applaud you for looking into the abyss, but the abyss is looking back into you, and you are letting it win. If you want to be better than what you're fighting, that starts with respecting their rights even if they do not respect yours.

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352350)

You could argue that the WTC crash was an act of war, say, of the Taliban that aided the responsible organization. The TSA is a main actor in helping to spread the terror that was the goal of that action. Hence treason.

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352490)

In the US spreading terror without killing people isn't called treason, it's called campaigning.

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352156)

The alternative should be to dismantle the TSA, put every single person who works for it on trial for treason, and have them executed.

But, but, I made a date with a TSA agent after a rather personal pat down. Now what am I supposed to do tomorrow night? I can't afford to buy a plane ticket every time I need to feel warm and fuzzy.

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352200)

You are a sociopath

Re:Israel has an actual existential threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352324)

Wow! Why are you people so whiny about this? You are not required to fly. Get over yourselves.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352042)

Crazy that it takes CNN to make sense of the situation, but yes!

Peter Rez (2, Informative)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352066)

The author of the editorial is Peter Rez, a physicist at Arizona State. As someone who has had an opportunity to take a couple of classes from this guy, let me say that he is very smart and reasonable, and while I don't always agree with what he has to say, I think it's definitely worth a bit of your time to read what he has written.

Be careful what you wish for (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352106)

The Israeli method relies on very talented people taking a very close look at the brains of the passengers. It's pyschologically intrusive, as opposed to see-how-fat-you-are intrusive. Regardless, I don't think the TSA could hire enough people with those skills to handle the much larger (than Israel) air traffic that wanders through the US. Even more importantly, the US public (well, the more vocal part of the lefty punditocracy, anyway) won't tolerate even the notion that, gosh, further scutiny of someone might be called for because of things like where they're traveling from, how they're dressed, what they appear to do (or not) for a living, how they appear to handle - culturally - where they are and what's going on around them ... you know: profiling. The Israeli system works as well as it does because they're ready, willing, and able to say that word out loud without collapsing in a quivering heap of politcally correct jello. The current administration prefers to have Grandma groped and full-body-scanned because the alternative is to talk - out loud - about how judgement about people would be required. And we can't have that, because it's wrong to form opinions about people from the clues they present in their bearing, manner, clothing, habits, transactional history, blah blah blah.

Re:Be careful what you wish for (1)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352244)

Regardless, I don't think the TSA could hire enough people with those skills to handle the much larger (than Israel) air traffic that wanders through the US.

The US has a much larger pool of people to draw from. I'd be willing to bet that Israel's air traffic per capita is far higher than the US's.

Re:Be careful what you wish for (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352312)

The Israeli method relies on very talented people taking a very close look at the brains of the passengers. It's pyschologically intrusive, as opposed to see-how-fat-you-are intrusive. Regardless, I don't think the TSA could hire enough people with those skills to handle the much larger (than Israel) air traffic that wanders through the US.

How about a free market solution? Make travellers pay for 'profiling service' from a government certified profiler / pre-screener, who will interview them for 1 to 2 hour or so, perform a full psychological evaluation, collect biometric and identification data, be paid for the service, and issue them a "Profiled traveller ID card" similar to a passport.

Who will receive cash bonuses from the government based on their accuracy rate.

Profiling service not provided as part of the screening process, the prospective traveller has to contract with a third party before their trip, and pay for the service. Airlines will be required to see proof of this, before they are allowed to issue tickets to the traveller.

Require travellers to get pre-screened within 30 days of their trip, which creates the database entry for them.

Then the less-trained TSA person just does a 3 minute follow-up interview after looking up their entry in the database, and storing the answers to questions about their specific trip.

The rest of the profiling work had to be done in advance, and the computer will make the decision what (if any) additional scrutiny is needed, based on the final screening session

Alternatively, the traveller can pay the TSA to perform a full body-cavity strip search in private, and skip the profiling step.

Eliminates full body scanners, lets the passengers be profiled at a comfortable time, and reduces taxpayer costs with respect to the scanning

Re:Be careful what you wish for (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352412)

Regardless, I don't think the TSA could hire enough people with those skills to handle the much larger (than Israel) air traffic that wanders through the US.

They'd just do it the way they are now - hire whomever is willing to do the job. The result would do little to help security, just like now. The better option is to just accept that planes will blow up once in a while just like people die in car accidents once in a while or are otherwise killed once in a while. Only start with these ridiculous measures when your security situation is as dire as that of Israel - even then it may not be worth it.

Re:Be careful what you wish for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352488)

won't tolerate even the notion that, gosh, further scutiny of someone might be called for because of things like where they're traveling from, how they're dressed, what they appear to do (or not) for a living, how they appear to handle - culturally - where they are and what's going on around them ... you know: profiling.

The average American doesn't "know profiling". When people in the US call for profiling, they're calling for only people who "look Muslim" to have to go through the scanners.

Israel is not the USA (2, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352146)

I don't think Israeli solutions will scale. It's a fine idea to look at what they do and mine it for good ideas, but you can't argue that what they do will necessarily work for anyone else just because it works for them. It may not be effective, or it may simply not be practical, when applied elsewhere.

Re:Israel is not the USA (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352298)

Perhaps the Israeli solution should be scaled up. How many screeners per passenger are needed in Israel? How many would it take to activate the same sort of system here? How many screeners per passenger is the US system already using? Last but not least, when considering the whole: how effective (partly based on the above comparisons) is the Israeli system compared to the US' ?

Worldly TSA agents (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352148)

" the Israeli method of securing airplanes — look for the bomber"

How can I say this without sounding racist? Oh well here goes - The average uneducated American( without tertiary and beyond) is not very worldly. I am not American. I have traveled extensively.

It is little wonder. While things may have changed a bit, some years ago I was watching television in Minneapolis and the Newscaster says "Moving to international news - Bill Clinton is in Arkansas this week....". While I laughed out loud at that, it is somewhat indicative. Even the father of the recent child pat-down video said similar - inferring that they were basic people trying to do a job that needed skills that was beyond them. He stopped short of saying similar to quote from Blazing saddles re the common people: "You know? Morons".

The israeli "TSA" agents are usually tertiary qualified, highly trained, or from police type jobs(and with all the rest of the qualifications then piled on top). Given that the job required a high level of "worldliness", an awareness of cultures etc, the TSA could have an uphill battle sourcing resources, or having to realize a paradigm shift. And what to do with the current batch of TSA agents?

The TSA may be incapable of implementing such drastic change.

Re:Worldly TSA agents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352454)

Hire anthropologists and sociologists straight after their first stint at college. Give them a use for their useless undergraduate degrees.

If only there were some device to do this (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352152)

If only we had some sort of device that could detect bomb materials by smell and could easily be used around humans. Perhaps some sort of animal that could be used for this purpose, these could then be stationed in airports and detect this material at the entrances or at the security checkpoint. Then we would not need invasive groping or X-rays and we would be able to detect even material a subject has swallowed. I realize this is only a dream, but one day we will surely have it in our power to produce such a creature.

Design the security walk for that. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352198)

Instead of going through a scanner, walk through the metal detector and a fan blows over you and into a kennel of trained dogs.

Since the fan is blowing your stink to the dogs, you don't have a problem with allergies.

Then you just need to keep rotating the dogs so that someone cannot come through with something that will damage their noses to cover for the next guy in line bringing through a bomb.

In fact, they should randomize the check points so that the terrorists will never know who will be going through which checkpoint in what order.

Re:Design the security walk for that. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352216)

I figured the allergy risk was pretty low and we can give out free claritin, but your idea is even better.

Re:Design the security walk for that. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352382)

Instead of going through a scanner, walk through the metal detector and a fan blows over you and into a kennel of trained dogs.

Can trained dogs detect materials thermal vacuum sealed in thick plastic, so there is no residue to smell? I don't think so.

Some TSA person just has to come up with some theory of how it might one time not work, and they won't do it.

Much the way some TSA people have come up with some theory of how profiling might not work in some situation

Re:Design the security walk for that. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352394)

They can and do. Check out some of the stuff drug dogs find all the time.

Yep! (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352476)

I think that the reason that the TSA would not be happy with this idea is that the TSA seems a LOT more focused on technology as a "solution".

But that makes sense. How much money is there in training dogs as opposed to selling/maintaining/upgrading new scanning machines?

Re:If only there were some device to do this (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352220)

That many dogs and handlers, on duty for millions of passengers, is not only also not fool-proof, but is fantastically expensive. If you know people in that line of work, you'll understand.

Re:If only there were some device to do this (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352286)

The same complaint can be made of the scanners and gate rape.

Re:If only there were some device to do this (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352326)

In that they are not 100% reliable, yes. A huge army of dogs, handlers, and their support system would be more so. Not to mention the people who inevitably freak out about the dogs, and sue over having been "menaced" by them, just like they're calling pat-downs "sexual assault."

Re:If only there were some device to do this (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352426)

So put the dogs in a separate room and use a fan to move the air towards them. If you are not a doctor or my girlfriend you should not be touching my balls. No being paid a couple dollars an hour more than mall security and with less training does not make you a person who should be scrutinizing my testicles.

No sudden attack of common sense in Congress (4, Insightful)

echucker (570962) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352188)

Why you ask? Because the first person to point out how useless all of the scanning is will be singled out as anti-American by their opposing Congresscritters. Same problem when it comes to common sense with child porn laws and sexting by those under the age of 18. If you don't throw the book at the offender, you're not "thinking of the children!"

But is it worth chasing lesser quantities... (1)

bool2 (1782642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352222)

"But is it worth chasing lesser quantities that would result in zero or minimal damage?" If 10X of a bad substance is your damage threshold and 2X is your detection threshold then all Terry Terrorist has to do is smuggle X ten times.... stashing it somewhere after security. On the 10th time he picks up 10X after passing security and boards a plane. Boom.

Bomb Sniffing Dogs (5, Insightful)

bkmoore (1910118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352242)

The most effective detector for hidden explosives is the bomb-sniffing dog. My unit used dogs to great effect in Iraq, and yes we did find bombs and hidden explosives on people, in cars, buried in the ground or in houses. Dogs can even sniff explosives from several meters away. So all the passengers would have to do is walk by a bomb dog and his handler on the way to the airplane. If the dog signals a positive, then that passenger could be taken aside for a more detailed search. An indication from a trained working dog is legal grounds for probable cause to search a person.
Dogs are so effective that DARPA even has a challenge to come up with a machine detector that could match a dog's nose. So far, no one has won the prize. I admit that dogs do have limitations such as needing rest, food, water and play time. But those limitations can be easily overcome with a little careful planning and cycling dogs in and out. The DEA and the US Customs services already use dogs at airports to screen luggage for drugs or illegal animal trade. So many airports probably already have the infrastructure to attend and care for working dogs. I honestly do not know why the TSA hasn't even openly considered bomb dogs as an acceptable alternative to full-body scanners. The TSA is obviously aware that the military and police have been using dogs effectively for many years.

Re:Bomb Sniffing Dogs (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352334)

An indication from a trained working dog is legal grounds for probable cause to search a person.

See, I have a problem with that. I know and fully understand that dogs are VERY good at detecting odors and don't have legimitate false positives all that often (no citation on that). Good tools for the job.

The problem is that they can be induced to indicate by the trainer. It's like having a radar gun with a secret button that displays 96mph on the display no matter what the actual speed is. There are countless, countless reports of a dog alerting on some "suspicious" guy for drugs, no drugs are found, but lo-and-behold other illegal stuff just happens to be found in the search.

Dogs have a root password, and it is their handler's will/direction.

Re:Bomb Sniffing Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352380)

There''s less profit in training dogs than selling imperfect, potentially harmful, magic boxes..and less fun that commanding your own personal army of part-time rent-a-cop/former-walmart-greeters

Re:Bomb Sniffing Dogs (2, Insightful)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352472)

Because dogs are less invasive they don't signal that "something is being done". Actual security does not seem to be the goal here.

Israeli system cannot work in the USA (2, Insightful)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352268)

FTA , "they never suffered any delays after interviews" - How many passengers do they serve a day? Can you imagine putting such a system in JFK?? I dont support the current pat down or radiation therapy , but the Israeli scheme is not scalable to US levels. Besides, I feel that attacks on Israel have been crude and their system works well to avoid them. The US fears of more sophisticated attacks ( or atleast wants us to fear ) and hence wants a nothing-suspicious-left-behind strategy. To summarize, I think it is easy to study the Israeli system and come up with a way to beat it!

Ah, but... (you knew there was a "but") (1)

Loopy (41728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352278)

Israel's system works because they profile.

Re:Ah, but... (you knew there was a "but") (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352308)

That would fail on the testicle-burner, he was a black guy.

Apples and Oranges (1)

scheme (19778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352338)

The comparison isn't very apt or fair. Israel has a single airport to protect, the US has something on the order of 100. Add in the fact that unless you're an Israeli Jew or part of an established, organized tour group, you can expect a 3-4 hour wait and it quickly becomes infeasible to do something similar in the US without making air travel a very painful process. There's things the Israelis do that probably should be adopted in the US, such as having the secure, bomb resistant areas for checked luggage and interviewing areas so that potential alarms don't result in the evacuation of the entire terminal. However, I don't think turning a flight into a 3-4 hour ordeal to board for anyone that isn't white and christian is going to fly in the US.

Failure of the Israeli Method (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352418)

As much as I admire the success of "the Israeli method of securing airplanes" on a day-to-day basis, it has failed abysmally in the decade-to-decade time frame. Not because it has permitted planes to be hijacked or blown up, but because it is still in place after so much time. It (along with the quality of the Israeli armed forces, its nuclear arsenal, and the insufficiently qualified support of foreign governments) has served as a kind of "enabling behavior", making it possible for the Israeli government to maintain hostile relations with its neighbors and even so many of its (non-Jewish) subjects. I'm not saying that the political situation in the Middle East is entirely (or even mostly) their fault. But their ability to make a state of war tolerable enough to live with decade after decade has kept them from finding a real solution. (Obligatory geek reference: ST:TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon".) Likewise, the US government's efforts to make its "war on terror" tolerable for its people to live with - with no planes blowing up or other experiences of "war on US soil" - enable it to avoid dealing with the real root causes of this problem. Not Islam. Not Iraq or Iran. Not Israel. Running with the "i" theme I've got going here, I'd call it "industrial imperialism". If we want air travel to be safe - if we want our people to be safe - we need to look at that, not individuals' skin color or body cavities or religion.

Professionals (2, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352436)

The problem is that the TSA will not hire professional staff. This would be staff trained in the art of eliciting telling responses and observing telling behavior.The reason, as has been stated, is that the TSA is a jobs program created by the Bush administration to absorb unskilled workers from the labor pool, particularly those that could not be absorbed through the existing military employment program.

The long lines are going to stay, as this gives observers time to analyze the people, and the people to get jittery. The person who checks tickets will stay, as a well trained skill worker there is the best line of defense. The current protocol is quite useless, as at least a minute of questioning will be necessary.

Bag scanners with neutron bombardement will detect explosives and weapons. We must invest in software to make these detections automatic and reliable.

Full body scanners are useless. The underwear bomber would have been caught if professionals were observing and procedures were followed. Random nuetron scans of humans will detect explosives.

If we want security, there is simple means to minimize explosions. Cargo holds can be kept in vacuum or flooded with Argon. If as the DoHS says passengers require assurances, we can all fly sedated in a 10/90% oxygen argon mixture.

Otherwise, cockpit doors must remain closed. Passengers are not going to scared by a few people with knives knowing they are going to die anyway. Small quantities of explosive may cause panic, but won't take down a plane if the pilots are secure.

Behavior Profiling (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352474)

Until we have idiot-resistant, hard-to-spoof, low-false-positive and cost effective chemical sniffers for explosives and NBC weapons, we will have to rely on other methods.

The behavior profiling methods used by the Israelis are effective, but rely heavily on experienced and highly motivated screeners. A computerized implementation of these methods might be combine facial recognition (for known threats), eye tracking and full body motion detection to characterize behavior and identify atypical behaviors for further screening. Voice monitoring might also permit some assessment of stress levels. Of course, those with nervous ticks or Parkinsons may have to submit more often to supplemental screenings. If you were stressed out from a bad day, it just might get worse. Nothing's perfect.

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