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TSA Interested In Purchasing Dosimeters

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the for-the-doers-not-the-doees dept.

Security 117

OverTheGeicoE writes "TSA recently announced that it is looking for vendors of 'radiation measurement devices'. According to the agency's Request for Information, these devices 'will assist the TSA in determining if the Transportation Security Officers (TSO) at selected federalized airports are exposed to ionizing radiation above minimum detectable levels, and whether any measured radiation doses approach or exceed the threshold where personnel dosimetry monitoring is required by DHS/TSA policy.' A TSA spokeman claims that their RFI 'did not reflect any heightened concern by the agency about radiation levels that might be excessive or pose a risk to either TSA screeners or members of the traveling public.' Concern outside the agency, however, has always been high. TSA has long been criticized for its apparent lack of understanding of radiological safety, even for its own employees. There has been speculation of a cancer cluster, possibly caused by poor safety practices in baggage screening."

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117 comments

I hope they find some... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38620984)

Don't want to be mean but I think it would be really really really cool if they find plenty of radiation.

Re:I hope they find some... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622488)

I wish I could you mod you up. You have to love the irony. My question is, "its ok to expose millions of americans to radiation, unless they work for the TSA?"

Re:I hope they find some... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625024)

They aren't worried about the people that go through yet, they're only worried about the people standing next to the machines all day.

Finding they've irradiated all their workers would be a good thing for the public.

The question is...did they not bother to find this out before the machines were deployed? Assuming they're safe, do they not go around the area with Geiger counters after installation to make sure they're installed correctly?

Re:I hope they find some... (4, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622606)

This might be a great talking point for those flying the friendly skies: "Gee, I've heard you guys have to wear dosimeters now. Are they still trying to tell you it is safe for you to operate this 40 hours per week? I don't envy your situation...heh, are you guys unionized?"

unionized (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38625086)

"Hey, are you guys unionized?"
"No, we're exposed to ionizing radiation."

Karma? (-1, Troll)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38620992)

One could only hope.

Re:Karma? (5, Insightful)

cjb-nc (887319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621016)

How exactly does proving that standing around a bunch of X-ray equipment causes radiation exposure hurt those whose policies put those people there in the first place? No karma. Not hardly. OSHA should have been all over this from day one, to protect these employees.

I am a little disturbed they want to (appear to) do their own testing in this manner. I seriously doubt we'll see honest results out of the TSA management. Once again, OSHA needs to run this. Self-reporting will only toe the party line, that the machines are perfectly safe.

Re:Karma? (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621056)

Yep. They'll just go back and ask for more "emergency funding" to replace all the machines with more expensive ones.

Even if the dosage is 'safe', the chances of it giving you cancer are still HIGHER than those of being blown up by a terrorist. Just saying.

Re:Karma? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621114)

trout007 doesn't understand karma. He's like one of those dipshits who gets laid off from a Fortune 500 company and goes back and shoots the receptionist, a rent-a-cop and the janitor. They just want to lash out in anger so much that they don't even see that they're doing it wrong.

Re:Karma? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621188)

Yes it would be Karma if the people using X-ray scanners to irradiate people against the 4th amendment got high dosages of radiation.

Re:Karma? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621428)

I think the early point was it would be Karma if the scanning machine reached across the continent and gave various politicians and TSA leadership cancer as THEY are the ones making the decisions not if the person paid $8 / hour to stand next to the machine and make sure you put your keys in the little bowl before passing through got cancer. Again, I'm not sure you truly get the idea of Karma.

Re:Karma? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621942)

I agree with Trout007, the politicians aren't the only problem, if people refused to work for the TSA there would be no TSA abuses of power. It's the fact that all those pedo freaks and general scum are willing to work for the TSA that we have problems.

A government agency that can't get employees has an extremely limited ability to commit acts, good, evil or otherwise.

Personally, I don't really care what happens to a bunch of perverts, it's they're own damn fault for being willing to stand near the equipment.

Re:Karma? (2)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625016)

I couldn't agree more. My method of contributing to the solution of this problem (the existence of the TSA) is to make their day just a little bit worse, in hopes that I can tip them over the edge into resigning a job that no honorable man or woman should hold. So I offer job counseling: "Isn't there a concentration camp you should be guarding?", or "You know, male prostitutes generally enjoy more respect and job satisfaction than a TSA employee". On my last walk through the X ray chamber, they wanted to grope me because their machine had detected "anomalies" on my body. (It was my metal suspender clips; I politely offered to take them off, hold up my pants and walk through the machine again. They said this was against the rules...I had to get the rubber glove treatment. That's when I got...kinda mean.) The first thing I did rather surprised me: informed that I would be groped, I said "hell no!".

Of course this put me in an untenable position—I was visiting my eighty one year old aunt in the Old Country, and for her, I had to get on that damn plane. Besides, my daughter was with me. I was eventually going to have to climb down, but how? Then they gave me an opening: they threatened to call the police. (In case you don't know it, these poor jerks don't even have police powers—they cannot arrest you.) I said "great"! I want you to call the police. I am not afraid of the police." When the cop came, I made a big deal out of how glad I was able to see a real police officer, and how I respected his job (effectively playing him off against the TSA grunts). I asked him to search me. Unfortunately, that didn't fly, but he did offer to witness the search to make sure everything was on the up-and-up. I took the deal because I had to fly...had this been a recreational trip, I would have found out what happens when you really refuse the grope.

I couldn't help but notice how surprised the TSA grunts were when I refused the grope. Do most people just quietly submit to this violation of human dignity and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

Please don't think I was having fun. It has gotten to the point where I get the sweats just thinking about going into an airport. I do not enjoy verbally abusing people. I would have much preferred just to go get on my plane without any fuss. Somehow, I feel a moral imperative to not submit quietly to things I know are wrong. Do not go gently into that night, my friends.

Re:Karma? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623852)

But those people "paid $8 / hour to stand next to the machine and make sure you put your keys in the little bowl" are part of the problem.

To coin a phrase- 'If there were no soldiers, the Generals wouldn't be able to wage war.'

Re:Karma? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621894)

How exactly does proving that standing around a bunch of X-ray equipment causes radiation exposure hurt those whose policies put those people there in the first place?

It's OK to cheer when the good guys plug the bad guys even though they're just foot soldiers. They depend on our obedience for power.

Re:Karma? (3, Interesting)

schroom5 (68971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621026)

Really? Karma? I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, no matter what. Most of these "guards" are just your average woefully ignorant citizen of America. They believe what the TSA tells them since they don't know any better and don't have the means to think otherwise.

Re:Karma? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621036)

So they are just obeying orders?

Well I'm a federal employee too and I had to take this little oath.

"I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

really?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621062)

So they are just obeying orders?

Well I'm a federal employee too and I had to take this little oath.

"I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

So, please tell us why federal employees have no problem violating the Fourth Ammendment?

Re:really?! (4, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621084)

That way my point. Your oath to support and defend the Constitution should prohibit you from following orders for illegal searches.

Re:really?! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621446)

That way my point.

What is 'That'? Which way? Your point?
What are you trying to say?

Your oath to support and defend the Constitution should prohibit you from following orders for illegal searches.

No, that only offers protection from obeying lawful orders, which are affirmed by the courts, which is the issue at hand. Lawful orders are what the courts say they are.

In this case, so far, the courts are backing the TSA, and that is the problem.

Re:really?! (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622072)

Courts are always right. No innocent man has ever went to jail, right? When a court backs illegal activity the court needs to be changed. Also why are judges not elected instead of appointed?

Re:really?! (1)

conlaw (983784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625626)

"why are judges not elected instead of appointed?"

Because elections require campaigns which require funds which then tend to influence the candidates in favor of those who provided the funds, which hurts the impartiality required of judges. The best system is one in which judges are appointed but then have to run for retention every so often (4 years is typical). That means the electorate can get rid of the really bad judges but it's not a popularity contest to choose a successor.

Re:really?! (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626210)

require funds which then tend to influence the candidates in favor of those who provided the funds, which hurts the impartiality required of judges.
So an appointed judge would not be influenced by his crony that appointed him? Someone can do a lot of damage in 4 years.

Re:really?! (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623014)

Here is why I disagree. The US Constitution is about 10 pages and a pretty easy read. I don't need a judge to tell me what it means. Here is the critical part. I will always take the side of liberty. So if a judge rules that the government has more power than Constitution says I'd side with the Constitution.

Dred Scott anyone?

Re:really?! (1)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625976)

Bingo.

I hate it when people repeat doublespeak like: "the complexities of constitutional law", and so forth. What I think a lot of people forget is that many of the founding fathers were, themselves, lawyers. It seems obvious that if they had intended for that document to be by lawyers and for lawyers, they were more than capable of writing it in incomprehensible (to a normal human being) legalese.

The fact that they wrote the constitution in plain and simple english says to me that it is a document meant to be read and understood by the common people. And that phrases like "shall make no law", "no warrants shall be issued", and "shall not be violated" really do mean what they say. And in the plain and simple english in which the founding fathers chose to write the constitution, those are fairly simple booleans.

So yes. Every single individual TSA minion, who chose to take up a career of violating the rights of the people without probable cause, is also at fault. Maybe they're not guilty to the same degree as the politicians who hired them. But they still made the choice to be where they are and do what they do. And that makes them contemptible loathsome scum who deserve any unpleasantness that the people can find to inflict upon them.

Re:really?! (5, Interesting)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621160)

From the Wikipedia article on the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (yeah, I know, I know...):

Definition of "search"
In Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that a search occurs only when 1) a person expects privacy in the thing searched and 2) society believes that expectation is reasonable. In Katz, the Supreme Court ruled that a search had occurred when the government wiretapped a telephone booth.[20] The Court's reasoning was that 1) the defendant expected that his phonebooth conversation would not be broadcast to the wider world and 2) society believes that expectation is reasonable. This is a threshold question in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, since the Fourth Amendment only protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. If no search or seizure has occurred, the court ends its analysis.

Stop and frisk
Under Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968), law enforcement officers are permitted to conduct a limited warrantless search on a level of suspicion less than probable cause under certain circumstances. In Terry, the Supreme Court ruled that when a police officer witnesses "unusual conduct" that leads that officer to reasonably believe "that criminal activity may be afoot", that the suspicious person has a weapon and that the person is presently dangerous to the officer or others, the officer may conduct a "pat-down search" (or "frisk") to determine whether the person is carrying a weapon. To conduct a frisk, officers must be able to point to specific and articulatory facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant their actions. A vague hunch will not do. Such a search must be temporary and questioning must be limited to the purpose of the stop (e.g., officers who stop a person because they have reasonable suspicion to believe that the person was driving a stolen car, cannot, after confirming that it is not stolen, compel the person to answer questions about anything else, such as the possession of contraband).[21]

So, clearly travelers

  1. 1) Have no "reasonable expectation of privacy"
  2. 2) Should understand that traveling by air constitutes "suspicious" and "unusual" conduct

Personally, I think we should hit 'em where it counts the most: in their pocketbooks. If all travelers simply chose another mode of transportation they would VERY rapidly find themselves with several quite influential allies: the airlines, the "hospitality industry", etc. (and yes, there ARE practical alternatives, at least for "domestic" travel: driving is still possible despite our rapidly deteriorating network of interstate highways and besides that people just don't ask themselves this [tqn.com] question enough anymore anyway!)

Re:really?! (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621198)

Well most of the public is against these scanners an don't expect to have to strip or the electronic equivalent to board an airplane.

And just wanting to fly isn't a suspicious activity. What next walking down the street while black?

I do agree though with your solution. I have not flown and refuse to do so since the TSA was created.

Re:really?! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621852)

Well most of the public is against these scanners an don't expect to have to strip or the electronic equivalent to board an airplane.

Would that this were true. But I think people are so afraid of "terrorism," and watch too many spy movies and want to pretend they're secret agents when they're on vacation, that they accept the current situation without reservation.

In conversations with family members and peers, a constant question comes up, "Well, what do you want to do, you have to have a search."

They don't care that once we get to the steady state, the scanners will kill more people every year than terrorists have killed in the last ten. They don't care about the person-years wasted waiting in line for, and going through the procedures.

Re:really?! (0)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621416)

Unless you want to pay for my cruise to Hawaii, choosing another means of transport is not reasonable.

Re:really?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621610)

Well, the TSA seems to anticipating your idea, they are insinuating themselves into ALL modes of transportation including public mass transit and roving patrols on highways (VPER teams) DHS and TSA seem to be determined to roll back our right of free travel to something that resembles Soviet era "papers please" restrictions.

I'm not a least bit surprised that TSA agent may be operating radiologic equipment in a manner that endangers their health. They employee folks that are not the most educated and indoctrinate them with TSA line "our scanning equipment is totally safe, the amount of radiation you receive is less than ..." If they believe that the equipment is totally safe then why should they worry about cutting a few corners on the safety procedures?

Re:really?! (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621976)

That's mostly inevitable when you allow one agency to both define the problem it's there to solve and solve the problem. Without something to force the agency to restrain its growth you're not generally going to see it stopping.

Re:really?! (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621642)

Driving is definitely possible, but with the high cost of gas these days, it's not really that much cheaper than flying. Even if you pack all the food you'll need along the entire trip, you're still going to need a place to sleep at night. Now, I've done my fair share of cross-country road-trips, and I've spent many a night sleeping in my car at a rest area, but that's not really an option when you've got a family in tow. You could also camp, rather than stay in hotels (which we did a lot when I was a kid; I grew up an Army brat and moved constantly) but most people I've met aren't into camping their way across the country.

Trains aren't an option, either...they cost just as much as a flight; take the same, if not more, time to reach a destination (passenger trains regularly get stopped so that freight trains can pass them, for hours at a time sometimes) and honestly, unless you're going to a major city, odds are very high that the "train station" you're going to end up at is going to be a platform in the middle of nowhere with no place to rent a car, eat (unless you count vending machines or, if you're lucky, a gas station), or do anything really beyond wait for someone to come pick you up. Our rail infrastructure fucking sucks for long haul passenger runs. There are only a handful of routes left that even go cross country anymore. If we had real euro-style high speed rail that wasn't constantly being stopped for mile and a half long freight runs creeping along at 40 mph it would be more realistic of an option, but as it stands now, it's really not. I took Amtrak a few times as a kid and I just won't do that anymore until there are major improvements. The only up-side is the fact that you get a more comfortable seat.

Besides, TSA is moving to trains, so if you're trying to avoid having your rights violated, don't worry, they're going to violate them there, too. [tsa.gov] TSA is also starting to branch out to the highway as well, so no buses, either. [tsa.gov] You won't even be able to go to a sporting event or other large crowd event without the TSA being involved soon. [usatoday.com]

Like it or not, the TSA is going to be pretty much everywhere. I'm sure that at some point in that not-to-distant future trying to avoid the TSA in itself will be a reason to be suspicious. We're literally going to have to stay in our homes or walk from point A to point B to avoid a possible search...

That 4th Amendment sure was cool, wasn't it? I'm gonna miss it....

Re:really?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621760)

Personally, I think we should hit 'em where it counts the most: in their pocketbooks. If all travelers simply chose another mode of transportation they would VERY rapidly find themselves with several quite influential allies: the airlines, the "hospitality industry", etc. (and yes, there ARE practical alternatives, at least for "domestic" travel: driving is still possible despite our rapidly deteriorating network of interstate highways and besides that people just don't ask themselves this [tqn.com] question enough anymore anyway!)

Well. they haven't YET started setting up traffic stops. Except maybe in Arizona and Alabama. But if it's alternative travel you want, forget the bus system and Amtrak. And, sadly, the Boston subway system.

Boycotting the airlines is a start, and one that I've done ever since 9/11, but the rot has spread too far and too deep and isn't slowing. It's time to stop taking baths and haircuts, join the "smelly hippies" and Occupy Something.

And, of course, vote out every (censored) public official that doesn't swear an oath to return the USA to the status of a Free Country. A pledge that should be FAR more important than Grover Norquist's.

Re:really?! (5, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622172)

Amtrak is actually pretty good when it comes to the way they handle the TSA. Last time the TSA tried to search random passengers, the Amtrak Police had them escorted off the premises nationwide, and they were banned from Amtrak for a substantial period of time.

The Amtrak leadership is well aware that the only reason their ridership has been skyrocketing the past few years is that they don't put passengers through that bullshit. Riding Amtrak sends about as clear a message as you can send, and short of an explicit Congressional order mandating it, you're not going to see them allow the TSA to pull a power trip any time soon. To the extent that they are there at all, it is entirely at the discretion of the Amtrak Police.

More to the point, even the TSA has to be aware that they aren't useful when it come to trains. If a terrorist wanted to blow up a passenger train, there are approximately 21,000 miles of track that carry Amtrak passengers, and all it takes is one bomb on a trestle somewhere to kill an order of magnitude more people than you could kill with any bomb on the train itself. No terrorist is stupid enough to be a suicide bomber when they could achieve a bigger result (and a much longer-term disruption) by being the non-suicide kind, and any politician or other government official who believes otherwise is too dump to flip burgers.

In short, the TSA is about as useful to Amtrak as a tiger-repelling rock. Amtrak knows this, so they aren't afraid to tell the TSA to get bent when they step out of line.

Re:really?! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622894)

Err... too dumb. I don't know how I made that typo.... A hazard of posting on not enough sleep, I suppose.

Re:really?! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623686)

Yet even Amtrak has stupidities like making it practically impossible to purchase a ticket without using some form of identification at some point in its use.

Re:really?! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624378)

I've never provided identification when buying a ticket online, unless you consider a credit card number to be identification. And in theory, you have to have a valid photo ID to travel, but I've never had anyone ask for it except when checking baggage.

Still, on a pointless security scale that ranges from "valid photo ID required" to "must walk through the naked porn scanner", I'll take "valid photo ID required" any day. Just saying.

Re:really?! (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624992)

It's not that I don't believe you, quite the opposite really, but I'd like to see an article or something to back this up. I've had people claim that we need to have TSA style checkpoints everywhere or "the terrorists win" or something just as terrifying. When anyone tells the TSA to get bent that's news to me and worthy of saving for posterity.

Re:really?! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622324)

I can't speak for Alabama, but there are no traffic stops in Arizona. There's "immigration sweeps", but these are looking for people who have something obviously wrong: driving without headlights at night, broken taillights, not using turn signals, etc. You can get pulled over for these things anywhere, at any time, by any police officer since they're rules of the road; the Sheriff here just makes use of that fact to target a specific population, since that population has a higher-than-normal incidence of broken things on their vehicles and bad driving habits.

And given how anti-Obama this state is, and how much friction there's been with the Federal government lately over the immigration issue, I'd like to see the TSA try to set up traffic stops here, just to see the fireworks fly. There's a bunch of nuts here with serious weaponry; they could very well decide that's the last straw and start shooting at the TSA.

Re:really?! (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624786)

I can't speak for Alabama, but there are no traffic stops in Arizona. There's "immigration sweeps", but these are looking for people who have something obviously wrong: driving without headlights at night, broken taillights, not using turn signals, etc. You can get pulled over for these things anywhere, at any time, by any police officer since they're rules of the road; the Sheriff here just makes use of that fact to target a specific population, since that population has a higher-than-normal incidence of broken things on their vehicles and bad driving habits.

Yes it's the same in Alabama, except the excuse is looking for drunk drivers, or druggies, people whose licenses have been suspended with no recourse for bullshit offenses, or any number of other scarey bogeyman we don't want on the roads. We do have roadblocks here, everywhere in the summer, and they are always set up at the most convenient places to maximize revenue and ensure they are difficult to avoid.

TSA is flexing its muscles in Tennessee, pulling over people on the Interstates, which is the last safe refuge from the local thuggery. More VIPR teams coming soon to a freeway near you.

Sad (and scary) times in this nation.

Re:really?! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625096)

Yes it's the same in Alabama,

Doesn't sound the same at all. As I said before, we have NO traffic stops in Arizona. None. If you drive without breaking any rules of the road, you will NOT be pulled over. There are no traffic stops looking for "undesirables".

What we do have is sheriff's officers looking for people breaking the rules of the road, and then pulling them over and asking them if they're here illegally. That's quite a bit different from a traffic stop. Granted, most people break a rule at some point, but there's a big difference between someone driving with unbroken taillights, non-expired registration, under the speed limit, using proper turn signals, etc., and someone who has non-functioning lights, doesn't use turn signals, etc. Simply put: if you don't commit any infractions, they're not allowed to pull you over. This is the same in all 50 states, and is the way it's been for many decades of traffic law enforcement: if you drive at night with your lights off, expect to be pulled over if a cop sees you.

Now obviously, when they're concentrating on certain areas and being very zealous in looking for every little infraction, that's different from business as usual, but cops are allowed to look for infractions, and this is totally different from being routinely stopped at a checkpoint. The only places I've ever been stopped at a checkpoint are 1) crossing the US/Mexico border, coming into the US (but not the reverse), 2) I-8 at the California border (going into CA only), where you have to stop and tell them you're not carrying any fresh fruit, 3) before crossing the Hoover Dam after 9/11 but before they built that new bypass bridge, and 4) various random places in the gestapo state of Virginia in the 90s where they routinely stopped drivers at night looking for drunks. I've never seen nor heard of a checkpoint in Arizona, aside from the border crossings (which are Federal anyway) and that Hoover Dam checkpoint looking for bombs.

Re:really?! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625970)

And I suspect in Maricopa County, the cops look extra hard at tanned skinned people's driving, looking for an excuse to pull someone over.

Re:really?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622342)

The TSA also performs searches at train/subway stations, truck stops, bus depots, and so on. They don't have the same level of coverage yet, but simply choosing other modes of transportation does not protect you from illegal search and government-sanctioned sexual assault.

Re:really?! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622582)

Actually, it does. Unlike airline flights, most train tickets and bus tickets are refundable and changeable. Therefore, the TSA doesn't have nearly the ability to force people to agree to be searched that they do in the airports.

Also, I'm pretty sure the TSA has no legal authority to detain you anywhere other than an airport (and it is dubious even there), which means in the worst case, you just call a cab and beat the bus/train to the next station. That's not so easy with an airplane that doesn't make stops every few miles.

In effect, their enforcement power is near zero everywhere but on airplanes, and the sole reason they have so much power on airplanes is because the airlines allow them that power. That's why I no longer fly unless there is no alternative mode of transportation available. Screw the airlines. Those who are complicit with tyranny are guilty of it themselves.

Re:really?! (1)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625634)

If all travelers simply chose another mode of transportation

Now just explain to me how I can achieve this and I will happily comply. Any time train or driving is a viable option (i.e., up to 6-7 hours drive) I will, of course, take that option. Even if it costs more. But unfortunately I have to draw the line at 18+hr driving trips.
If only they had at least one airline that flew using the 90s security... I bet that airline would have plenty of business. But at the moment TSA is a monopoly that cannot be avoided. Can't vote with your dollars against a monopoly of a non-luxury good. Almost the same with internet (no phone line here, so only one non-optional choice).

Re:really?! (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621194)

Because the ones that do have such a problem don't become federal employees, or at least don't stay as federal employees very long.

Re:Karma? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621954)

So, we should stop prosecuting Nazis that were only following orders and issue formal apologies to the ones that weren't issuing the orders?

Cancer sucks, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for anybody that got cancer as a direct result of following criminal orders and sexually abusing random citizens.

Re:Karma? (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622050)

That's what the Nazi's said. Ignorance is your own fault not someone else's. Following orders is no excuse for doing something wrong.

Re:Karma? (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624062)

Karma is blind to intent.

Re:Karma? (2)

SpockLogic (1256972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621058)

Another minor act in the continuing "Security Theatre".

Re:Karma? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623118)

Especially when you look at the reality.

On 9/11 the only thing the terrorists had were boxcutters. You could sneak a sharpened glass or ceramic knife today to do the same damage. The reason 9/11 was possible is because the FAA policies trained flight crews to submit to the terrorists demands. I'm sure the flight crews that weren't killed were helping the terrorists herd the passengers into the back telling everyone it will be alright against everyone's natural instincts. It wasn't until people on the last flight found out what was going did they do something about it.

To prevent another 9/11 all you need to do is.
Reinforce the cockpit doors.
Arm the pilots if they want.
Keep the metal detectors.
Work on explosive sniffing tech.

Then anything that got by the passengers would take care as a means of self preservation which we have seen over and over again.

An eye for an eye (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621130)

More like physics. If you use an equipment to irradiate others, you will get some of that radiation too.

Re:Karma? (3, Informative)

lophophore (4087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621400)

The TSA agents are people, people that need a job. Just because their job make your airport visit a little less comfortable does not mean you should wish cancer or infirmity on them. Bad Karma on you, I say.

They absolutely should be wearing dosimeters. OSHA should be all over this, but that would be like your cop uncle giving your dad a parking ticket.

As far as the policy goes, I agree with Bruce Schneier, it is "security theater" and I don't believe it is effective.

read this: http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/safety-and-security/2007/03/Inside-Job-My-Life-as-an-Airport-Screener.print [cntraveler.com] to find out what it's like on the other side.

"Within an hour, two of the three lanes at our location are shut down because of possible radiation leakage from the X-ray machines—an inspection reveals that the heavy flaps which seal the compartment are defective. A co-worker who's been on the job since before 9/11 tells me that screeners used to be given dosimeters to measure their exposure to radiation but that the devices were eliminated in a cost-cutting measure. We were told in training that OSHA has determined that our exposure levels are acceptable, and that is the last time I hear it mentioned. It takes days before the machines are back up and running."

Re:Karma? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622022)

Ultimately, they're felons or at best guilty of committing misdemeanors. It's not just a job, it's a job where they're being specifically paid to break the law and with great frequency.

10 years later... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38620998)

Only took them how many years?

Solution... (1)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621020)

Ask Slashdot!

Good. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621030)

No job is so important, and no service is so urgent, that we cannot take time to perform our work safely. The question is, why weren't these put in when the body scanners were first put into use?

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621064)

What does this have to do with body scanners? You must realize that x-ray machines have been used for luggage and carry-on bags for years and years, and pre-date the TSA taking over operations. It is amazing that they were ever able to put them in place without requiring dosimeters badges for employees in case of leaks from the devices.

Re:Good. (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622200)

Well, because a leak in a device is abnormal, and people may be exposed without knowing. But radiating people directly and intentionally is certainly another matter. I know both have consequences to the "radiated", but the second one has a bigger legal consequence for the TSA.

Better late than never? (2)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621038)

More like "I'll believe it when I see it" -- someone somewhere (probably the DOJ) will "realize" that just admitting the possibility there's any risk of cancer from their "radiation scanners" [naturalnews.com] opens them up to a zillion liability suits and the iron wall will come back down because denial is their chief weapon. That and fear, of course ('cause it sure ain't surprise...or a ruthless efficiency [youtube.com] , etc.!!!)

Re:Better late than never? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621096)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity#United_States [wikipedia.org]

A bit more powerful than denial.

Re:Better late than never? (2)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621224)

Re:Better late than never? (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623178)

But any information about how the security equipment works could compromise our security and thus fall under the umbrella of "state secrets", right? And the manufacturers of the equipment will get the same sort of deal the telecoms got for their participation in the alleged-and-unofficially-confirmed wireless wiretapping incident.

Re:Better late than never? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623314)

Probably in this case too. "torts committed by persons" So people could sue the government if a TSA agent knowingly injures them. A lawsuit over the scanners would have to prove that a person knew installing scanners would hurt the public more than not installing them, but made the decision to have them installed.

In the end, the asshats will point to some sort of congressional authorization and invoke sovereign immunity.

My original point was that the government has better weapons than denial. Plain ol' "F%$# You!" is their favorite.

Re:Better late than never? (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621324)

"Sovereign Immunity" is nothing more than the government denying responsibility for some action it takes. Usually this works to everyone's advantage (government would grind to a halt under the crushing weight of lawsuits over mangled front-end-alignments by potholes in the nation's roadways, for instance) but when a double-standard set up by government allows one arm of the government to act in a manner that willfully disregards the rights and/or safety of the people in general (let alone the government's own employees) while simultaneously requiring (through another arm of that same government) those same activities to be strictly monitored and regulated when performed by private industry, then we should all cry "Foul!" (and no, I'm not calling for the deregulation of private industry, btw -- I simply think it would be nice for us to all play by the same rules. Congress included!)

Spending to solve spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621368)

How convienient. Another justification for spending which -- NOT so ironically in the business of government -- will be used to "fix" a failure born of prior spending.

At the top of the pyramid, of course, it hardly matters where the money goes or whether you "succeed" or "fail". What matters is that the money passes through your hands, giving you a chance to leverage that cash flow for personal gain.

Re:Better late than never? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621386)

Eh, technically this only applies to the minority of full body scanners used by the TSA. The more numerous scanners are millimeter wave, which utilize millimeter length radio waves (yes, technically still "radiation" but no with regards to common medical usage of the term) that are non-penetrating to the skin.

It's about like standing in front of a radio - or surrounding yourself with radio frequency emitting devices (such as cell phones, computers, monitors, televisions, printers, power lines, etc, etc, etc.)

Of course, given how many people from Slashdot take positive glee in the concept of TSA employees getting cancer from their foul and nefarious acts (y'know, getting a job they probably like less than you do because hey, it's better than starving on the streets) I don't see how that will make much of a difference to any of the commenters...

Re:Better late than never? (2)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623250)

the concept of TSA employees getting cancer from their foul and nefarious acts (y'know, getting a job they probably like less than you do because hey, it's better than starving on the streets)

Is this the excuse that the guards of concentration camps used?

In other words, how many other people one should be willing to hurt or kill to feed his family?

Or I can put it in another way. What is the minimum salary that can convert Mahatma Gandhi into someone like Carlos the Jackal [wikipedia.org] ? The pay of a hired assassin is pretty good, and if they want they can give it all to charities and feed many hungry children in Africa.

From the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621052)

...what-do-you-expect-when-paying-people-who-don't-know-who-Rutherford-was-$10-per-hour department.

About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621086)

We were involved a significant amount with the TSA (and FAA before), and was amazed that other countries made it mandatory to require the badges, but the US firmly said no. When we asked why that was 'cost,and it might confuse people if the badge showed something that wasn't really a problem'.

Re:About time (4, Funny)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621126)

Umm. That badge showing something is actually a problem. Yes, yes, I'm totally explaining your joke.

I'm totally for the dosimeters since our heroic not-quite-officers-of-the-law TSA employees are subjected to MASSIVE radiation due to the oodles and oodles of dirty nucular bombs being smuggled into the US. If the badges show anything then I'm fairly certain this will be the explanation. Why haven't they found anything? Because they do not have enough authority and the damn liberals hold our beloved TSA Nightwatch back. Illigal immigrants smuggly dirty bombs past our borders using sophisticated anal concealment methods. That's at least a pound per trip per border crossing.

Also we need new uniforms. With skulls on them.

endofrant

Re:About time (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625004)

Also we need new uniforms. With skulls on them.

Would these be actual skulls or just images of them? Are we talking human skulls or would the skull of an animal do? How about the skull of a bald eagle? We've killed just about every other symbol of freedom in this country so, why not?

Free Screenings? (1)

teknx (2547472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621090)

Perhaps they can start offering free screenings for testicular and breast cancer. They are going to be grabbing them anyway.

I can't say I feel too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621100)

It's sort of like the guards at the gas house getting a taste of their own poison....

Let them get cancer. (2, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621136)

And don't be shy about calling them traitors to their faces.

Aboutface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621138)

So, they went from refusing to allow employees to wear dosimeters and claiming that the machines were "proven safe", to buying a bunch of them?

http://tsa.afge.org/workerscomp.cfm

http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/06/tsa-cancer-cluster-myth-buster.html

Re:Aboutface. (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621156)

The same thing with shoe xrays [museumofquackery.com] . Proven safe for kids. Banned 20 years later.

There's a cheaper way (0)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621162)

Expose them to a lethal dose (in the 10 Gy range), and tell them "Well, that's what it feels like. Now you've got 2 weeks left to work. Move on." Of course they'll be bleeding and losing hair and fingernails and vomiting and shitting all over, but that should hardly be an impairment in their line of work. 15 days later they can do the next batch and so on. Come on, whatcha waiting for? Wave your flag chantin "USA! USA!" and walk into the irradiation booth. It's the PAH-THREE-OWTIK think to do!

mo3 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621208)

FUCKINg USELESS

Dosimeters? (0)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621216)

Surely if they're being exposed to X-rays a film badge would be a better idea?

Re:Dosimeters? (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622242)

Surely if they're being exposed to X-rays a film badge would be a better idea?

Film badges are one common type of dosimeter.

Har har (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621228)

There has been speculation of a cancer cluster, possibly caused by poor safety practices in baggage screening.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of folks.

They don't wear them already? (3, Informative)

Pirate_Pettit (1531797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621366)

Even hospital personnel with only occasional, incidental proximity to x-ray devices wear film badges. I'm honestly surprised that people operating technology that emits ionizing radiation aren't wearing exposure devices already!

Instead of x-ray machines and dosimeters (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621480)

The TSA should consider that dowsing rods and e-meters would be just as effective for the purpose of screening passengers, and much safer all around

Re:Instead of x-ray machines and dosimeters (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622046)

This is for protecting the TSA workers, not for scanning transit passengers.

I would strongly urge they use special bubulous rectal dosimeters. Then, every passenger can thank them, shake their hand, and commend them on the sacrifice they make to keep travel in America safe.

Back scatter (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621514)

Maybe those back scatter x-ray devices aren't as safe as the TSA says they are.

Re:Back scatter (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626308)

Maybe if those idiots who allowed them in didn't operate with blinders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blinders [wikipedia.org] on they might have thought about things for a bit.

What could possibly go wrong with exposing airline workers to radiation, hmm, cumulative effects, airport radar, aircraft radar (radar altimeters), xray machines, plus of course the workers exposure to random events like dental and other xrays. Now what could possibly go wrong with adding eight hours of backscatter xrays to that load.

Hey, TSA (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621594)

Why don't you waste a few billion on some of these?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADE_651 [wikipedia.org]

Oh wait, you already have? Not fucking surprising, you bunch of brainless fuckwits.

No-bid contract? (3, Insightful)

zwede (1478355) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621692)

And this being the TSA I bet the dosimeters will be purchased under a no-bid contract from some politician's buddy at the low cost of $100,000 each.

Re:No-bid contract? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622276)

The cynic in me says that they'll probably also be of a kind that doesn't change color until you've gotten a fatal dose....

Re:No-bid contract? (1)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625816)

> they'll probably also be of a kind that doesn't
> change color until you've gotten a fatal dose....

Considering who will be wearing them, I have to ask...

So?

TSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38621820)

We dont have the budget for this. Hire people smart enough to follow the rules and you wont have a problem.
We have had baggage handlers for years with no problems.

Or let them learn the hard way. could not happen to a nicer group of ass holes.

North Korea has something like this (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621888)

In times of famine, anyone in the military gets dibs. (Keep in mind, 5% of the total population is in the Korean Peoples Army)

The TSA employees are the ones to reach out to (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622202)

Forget the bureaucrats, the people to talk to about this are the TSA workers doing the screenings, since they're the ones (a) making minimum wage; and (b) facing death from cancer. When you fly, opt out of the scanner and request a groping, and then talk to the TSA worker while they're feeling you up. Talk about the JHU cancer study; talk about the finding that the backscatter machines unzip DNA; talk about the fact that no one's wearing dosimeters; talk about the fact that many of the X-ray machines have been found to be leaky beyond manufacturer tolerance; talk about the fact that people excuse all this because the public is only exposed for a few seconds to a minute at a time, but no one ever thinks about the workers; talk about the fact that they should contact their union reps about OSHA regulations- except, oh, wait, they aren't allowed to form unions.

If all of the employees are starting to raise a fuss and filing lawsuits, that'll get more traction than trying to lobby some senator who (i) flies on a private plane and bypasses security; and (ii) has several million dollars of stock invested in the companies that make the machines and gets campaign donations from their executives.

WTF? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623622)

How do the personnel who work with ionizing radiation NOT have dosimeters already? I'm a graduate student at a state university who works with X-ray diffraction (XRD) occasionally. To just TOUCH the XRD equipment, I had to have ~6 hours of 'ionizing radiation safety training' plus a required dosimeter to track how much radiation I had been subjected to.

The fact that these people have been working around ionizing radiation without any documentation of how much radiation they have been exposed to is troublesome. Even if they are TSA/Nazi/Gestapo jackasses, they're still people in the end.

Mini Ask Slashdot - Dealing with TSA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624294)

I suppose I also could have posted this in the other recent TSA article [slashdot.org] . I'm flying to the US (Newark) for the first time in years (last time wasn't long before 9/11), and given everything that's been written about the TSA over the last while, what advice do other Slashdotters have about dealing with them at the airport?

I'm thinking especially, what kinds of potentially dubious scanners does one encounter these days, and is it practical to refuse any without undergoing a particularly intrusive search or being rendered somewhere unpleasant? I'm not a card carrying tin foil hat wearer but I've heard from someone in the know recently that it's unwise to even stand within line of sight of the ends of a bog standard x-ray bag scanner, so I'm not relishing having to drag myself through anything scanny.

I'm only likely to have an iPhone/iPad and the usual bits and pieces in hand luggage, but I'd like to avoid having my person, bag and devices unnecessarily probed if possible. Given what I've read about TSA people skills recently and the fact I'm a foreigner (albeit a white European), I'm also loathe to kick up any fuss unnecessarily.

So, any tips?

Re:Mini Ask Slashdot - Dealing with TSA? (3, Informative)

zwede (1478355) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624468)

My only experience with the scanners was the Dallas International airport. I just politely told them I'd like to opt out of the scanner. The guy pointed me over to another guy and told him I was an "opt-out" in a loud voice. Several people in line looked surprised there was such a thing as "opt out" (sigh). I got a pat down without any junk-grabbing and I was on my way in about 30 seconds.

Re:Mini Ask Slashdot - Dealing with TSA? (2)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625682)

Several people in line looked surprised there was such a thing as "opt out" (sigh).

I too find it sad that so many people go in as sheep. There is no way these scans are a good thing for your health.

I got a pat down without any junk-grabbing and I was on my way in about 30 seconds.

You don't have enough data, my friend. While I do find the pat downs reasonably professional (just pointless), I do have some other data points for you:
Once, a TSA employer tried to explain to me how media portrays them unfairly and how these are "new" safer machines.
Even better, once I spent about 5-7 minutes waiting for a same-gender agent to come over and give me a pat down. I was standing at the entrance, waiting, while my brand new expensive laptop was sitting on the other side OUT OF MY BAG and in a SEPARATE BIN at the end of the baggage x-ray belt. I wonder if these accidental delays are a lesson for opt-outs? Who would be responsible if someone took it? I couldn't see my laptop from where I had to stand.

Impossible! (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38625836)

There's absolutely no evidence of any relation between exposing people to radiation for silly reasons and cancer! Oh, wait...
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