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Homeland Security: New Body Scanners Have Issues

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the many-tax-dollars-were-spent-to-reach-this-conclusion dept.

Privacy 181

Fluffeh writes "Although the DHS has spent around $90 million upgrading magnetometers to the new body scanners, federal investigators 'identified vulnerabilities in the screening process' at domestic airports using the new machines, according to a classified internal Department of Homeland Security report. Exactly how bad the body scanners are is not being divulged publicly, but the Inspector General's report (PDF) made eight separate recommendations on how to improve screening. To quiet privacy concerns, the authorities are also spending $7 million to 'remove the human factor from the image review process' and replace the passenger's image with an avatar."

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Not perfect???? (0, Troll)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939859)

Oh no! something isn't perfect so it must be a huge scandal! And they spent $90 million! Government could run for almost 30 minutes extra if they had that money back!

Re:Not perfect???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939897)

But still... Spend 90 mil, and don't even bother building a prototype, or testing it out on, I don't know, maybe just one at first?

Re:Not perfect???? (4, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939905)

When the imperfection means you can casually walk onto a plane with a pocketful of 12 inch blades [cnet.com] , then it's worth taking a bit of notice.

Re:Not perfect???? (4, Interesting)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940103)

How to stop a determined suicide bomber getting onto a flight with a device powerful enough to down the plane ... you can't it's impossible

All the security at airports does two things only :

1) makes the passengers feel safe enough so that they will continue to fly (this is debatable...)

2) deter all but the most determined and clever enough terrorists ...who hopefully the government are already aware of by other means

Re:Not perfect???? (4, Insightful)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940215)

You forgot

3) treats small children and little old ladies like terrorism suspects because their 15 minute training video neglected to mention that their standard issue plastic badge and 12-pack of Krispy Kremes are not substitutes for common sense.

Re:Not perfect???? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940397)

Right, because radicalized old ladies would never blow up a plane: they have too much to live for.

Re:Not perfect???? (3, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940859)

Right, because radicalized old ladies would never blow up a plane: they have too much to live for.

If you truly feel that "radicalized old ladies" are that much of a threat to our society, then please come forth with your blue-haired statistics before Congress.

Toss something in there about why we won't "think of the children", and you'll have a nice one-two whammy to hit common sense with.

Re:Not perfect???? (2)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941659)

Yes. The only reason any of us do not slaughter hundreds of innocent men, women, and children with a suicide bomb is because we have so much to live for. Very logical. That's why every suicide attempt always includes multiple homicides. Because if you're gonna die you may as well take as many people with you as possible. It's amazing that blowing yourself up in a particularly long and winding security line at the airport isn't more popular than it is. Thank god we have brave pedophile peeping tom pervs to protect us. They aren't working there to see naked 10 year old girls and touch people's genitals. They are there because they want to keep us safe. And anyone who questions that is a 'domestic extremist' who needs to be watched very closely by Homeland Security.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941537)

And most importantly: 4) Create a large, unsecured crowd, that would be ideal for a random bombing that would also effectively shut down an airport and possibly the nation (think O'Hare's security checkpoints bombed).

Re:Not perfect???? (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940519)

2) deter all but the most determined and clever enough terrorists ...

There's nothing particularly clever about beating security - the C4 goes in the same body cavities as people use every day to get drugs and cellphones into prisons.

Or if you prefer liquid explosives, just get several people with permitted-size bottles of liquid to go through and combine the liquid in a bigger bottle (or plastic bag) on the other side.

Or...any of many other obvious ways to do it.

As for determination...they're religious whacko suicide bombers. Enough said?

(All this assumes that terrorists are magically impotent if they can't get through Airport security, which is laughable...just bomb the queues for the scanners)

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940947)

3) Most importantly, it conditions American people to expect subjugation and humiliation when they are dealing with government officials.

As part of the larger pattern of US Corp/Gov't actions, it's the only answer that makes sense.

Re:Not perfect???? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940191)

Why? What's he going to do with them that he couldn't do on the ground?

You can't hijack a plane and crash it into a building anymore. That shit stopped working before 9/11 was even over. Why should I give a fuck if another passenger has a pocketknife? I don't care if they have a pocketknife on a bus, do I?

Re:Not perfect???? (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940727)

Perhaps you should be [canada.com] . Not that I really think people should be so worried about this kind of stuff. If the terrorists wanted to cause problems, there's so many other things they could blow up than air planes. Taking a bomb on a passenger train would probably cause just as much, if not more damage than taking one on an airplane.

Re:Not perfect???? (5, Funny)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940377)

When the imperfection means you can casually walk onto a plane with a pocketful of 12 inch blades [cnet.com] , then it's worth taking a bit of notice.

But at least they protect the other passengers from your dangerous insulin pump.

Re:Not perfect???? (4, Insightful)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939973)

The thing is we don't know how imperfect it is. Considering these machines allegedly broke a medical device in recent news. Considering that U.S. citizens are being made to go through humiliating procedures that these machines are a part of and may or may not work well? "Exactly how bad the body scanners are is not being divulged publicly" is a big thing.

Also $90 million? That is $90 million less towards the debt. That is $90 million that could be towards STEM promotion in education. That is $90 million that is money that could have been used as an incentive or subsidy to get businesses to hire more employees (if you believe in trickle down) or applied to the people directly (if you believe in trickle up). That $90 million could pay ~5500 people to work for one year at minimum wage.

Whether you think it could go elsewhere or no where, why spend it on a program that isn't working? That's just direct cost anyways.

Think about how many people fly. Let's make this easier, how many people fly for business. How much time is wasted going through this extra security that may or may not be working to suitable levels. Multiple that extra time by their salaries. That is another economic hit.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940013)

That $90 million would never go to education, or subsidies, or trickle up/down strategies. The government has a pathological need to avoid spending money where it's needed most, in favor of spending it on stuff like these body scanners that don't even work properly.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940113)

You know... since we could spend the $90 million on hiring subsidies that will really just fund companies that would be hiring anyway, or giving a single dollar to one third of the country's population, why not spend it elsewhere, like supporting America's technology industry? We could be funding the software and other engineers who are needed to fix the machines.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940653)

In this case, it won't mostly go to that- and it's being spent on a system with dubious use to begin with.

Sorry...it's money that could and SHOULD be spent elsewhere.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941139)

Yes, and let's break all our windows to give work to the glaziers.

Re:Not perfect???? (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941231)

Exactly. All government spending is just returning money to the public, in one form or another. It doesn't "create" jobs, it doesn't "subsidize" anything in the long run.

My point is that arguments about all the things the money could do are equally ridiculous. The one thing the money should do is never be collected from the public in the first place, but it's too late for that.

That is $90 million that could be towards STEM promotion in education. That is $90 million that is money that could have been used as an incentive or subsidy to get businesses to hire more employees (if you believe in trickle down) or applied to the people directly (if you believe in trickle up). That $90 million could pay ~5500 people to work for one year at minimum wage.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941319)

WAT? You do realize that I was making fun of you by using the broken windows fallacy?

Investing in STEM education is an actual investment in the productivity of our nation. Paying glaziers to fix our windows is not an investment.

Teach a man to fish. Give a man a fish. Teaching a man to fish is useful. Just giving him fish is not as useful (unless, of course, not having fish is the only thing holding him back.)

Re:Not perfect???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39941709)

Teach a man to fish. Give a man a fish. Teaching a man to fish is useful. Just giving him fish is not as useful

Depends. Maybe we have too many fish and they're stinking up the place. Give a few away, suddenly things are smelling better.

Re:Not perfect???? (0)

shock1970 (1216162) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940655)

These machines are in the Philadelphia airport. My first time going through one, I didn't know that I had to remove *everything* from my pockets. It was sensitive enough to pick up my wallet in my back pocket which contained no metal other than what is found inside of credit cards and my Patco FreedomCard train pass. It also picked up my belt buckle... small and thin... not one of those WWF styles.

What the TSA people saw on the monitor was a mono-color human silhouette, with little squares of another color indicating the general area of where the questionable items were on my person.

I was asked if I had anything on my person, and I was patted down just in those areas identified on the monitor. My hands were also swabbed for a particle detector. After that, I was allowed to move on.

Overall, I think the machines worked fine. And while the $90 million spent on machines is a lot of cash, that money went to pay people who did good work in manufacturing the machines, assembling parts, writing code, provided maintenance of the buildings they were built in and so on. It wasn't just thrown out the window. That money went to working individuals who will pay taxes on that money who will give the government an opportunity to pay off the national debt. Furthermore, if those $90 million machines prevent just one terrorist plot that may not have been picked up by the previous generation of detectors, then it will have paid for itself multiple times over.

IMHO, not perfect but good enough.

Re:Not perfect???? (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940799)

The thing is , it wont stop the terrorist plan that accounts for these machines. The machines stopped you from wearing a belt buckle and carrying your train pass through. There are documented cases of metal blades getting through. Fortunately the blades ( and your belt buckle ) were not intended for maicious use. It is also forutnate that in both of these cases the hardened cockpit doors would have prevented a major tragedy that is only possible on or with an airplane. You could use the knife to hack up people in a confined area, but you can also do that in a shopping mall or high school.

If you want to just call this a jobs program for all those tax payers, then that is fine, but there is no reason to actually use the crap that those people have built.

Re:Not perfect???? (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941203)

It was sensitive enough to pick up my wallet in my back pocket which contained no metal other than what is found inside of credit cards and my Patco FreedomCard train pass. It also picked up my belt buckle... small and thin... not one of those WWF styles.

Notice that all of those things were on the front or back of your body. Anything on the side - where your body is not a backdrop to provide contrast - is practically invisible to the machine.

if those $90 million machines prevent just one terrorist plot that may not have been picked up by the previous generation of detectors, then it will have paid for itself multiple times over.

What if they don't make any difference at all? You know the TSA has not caught one single terrorist since the creation of the agency. Not one. They have, however, really decimated the dignity of the american traveler.

Re:Not perfect???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39941073)

how many people fly for business. How much time is wasted going through this extra security that may or may not be working to suitable levels. Multiple that extra time by their salaries

If I was getting paid while going through "security" then I might be willing to start flying again. My pay only starts when I arrive on site, and stops when I leave the building. Actually it's still not worth it at my current wages.

Re:Not perfect???? (4, Funny)

evilRhino (638506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940379)

Just think of it as an oncology research subsidy. Having a larger patient pool will mean more demand and also more research subjects.

Re:Not perfect???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940513)

This. I am waiting to see the rate of corneal cancer start to climb. In the meantime, I fly as seldom as I possibly can, and when I do, I ask for the pat-down. The TSA agents so far have been far more respectful of my anatomical integrity (and dignity, in fact) than some unproven scanning device ever could be.

Re:Not perfect???? (2)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940707)

it is fun to dismiss this so casually, but when you look at the fact that the company that was awarded the money is tightly integrated, if not owned outright, by former members of government, then this becomes corruption of the highest order. Just by having a few friends in good places, you can get a $90 million contract for things that dont do their primary purpose as well as what was already in place. In government terms, this isnt a huge amount of money, at the personal level of the crooks pushing this scam on us, it is an enormous amount of MY money. Hang them I say

TSA unable to find CmdrTaco's cock. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939875)

Using intensive scanning methods, agents were unable to find the penis in the groin area of Rob "CmdrTaco" Medla. "It's either too small to be seen with our instruments, or he had it removed," said one official. Speculation abounds on the declining "new" site, Slashdot, as to where CmdrTaco's cock may be. Fluffeh [slashdot.org] speculates in may be in Soulskill's enus.

Another DHS Fail (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939885)

This is getting to the point of ridiculousness due to the another article bringing up issues with the body scanners. The public really needs to send letters and sign petitions in mass to get rid of this expensive cancer causing paper weights.

Re:Another DHS Fail (4, Interesting)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941527)

Cancer causing is 100% correct. A friend of mine is a radiation oncologist. He has worked with every type of radiation emittable by a machine for many, many years. He knows the effects of all types of radiation on human flesh, it's his job. He uses various types of radiation to cure cancer and a host of other maladies. The man is an expert.

He also refuses to step into one of the scanners, and he has advised me and everyone he knows to avoid stepping into them.

'nuff said.

Re:Another DHS Fail (1)

x0 (32926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941675)

This is getting to the point of ridiculousness due to the another article bringing up issues with the body scanners. The public really needs to send letters and sign petitions in mass to get rid of this expensive cancer causing paper weights.

I'd go so far as to say shitcan the entirety of the TSA. Apart from violating the 4th amendment, they are useless security theatre with no redeeming qualities.

m

Oooooo! I have an idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939899)

I think the DHS should allow folks to pay to have their own avatars for screening. It would raise millions! And there are plenty of choices! [google.com] and of course there are these [google.com] .

Re:Oooooo! I have an idea! (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939919)

Actually, they're hiring Cameron to replace the images with the blue guys from Avatar.

Re:Oooooo! I have an idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940247)

We should just hack the system so that everyone gets an Osama Bin Laden avatar. That should spice things up for 10 minutes or so while the airport gets locked down...

Re:Oooooo! I have an idea! (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940783)

So does the average TSA agent view Bin Laden's killing the same way that they probably view the moon landings?

Re:Oooooo! I have an idea! (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941165)

Please, they'll see an Arabic man with a beard and turban, they won't care who it is.

Re:Oooooo! I have an idea! (1)

FingerDemon (638040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941223)

So, I choose the Dr. Manhattan avatar and the whole things starts all over again.

Human Factor (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939907)

When they said they were removing the "human factor" I assumed that meant they were removing the TSA agents looking at the images and replacing it with some kind of image analysis software... not slapping the equivalent of a black bar over the naughty bits.

Also, I'm surprised they only estimate it to cost $7 mil... seems like it's not enough for sufficient profits even with the inevitable budget overruns.

Re:Human Factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939953)

Personally, I support the idea of replacing the TSA agents with fictional characters from Avatar. That makes more sense than the security theater we've been engaging in.

Re:Human Factor (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940041)

isn't the whole point of the scanner lost though if you overlay something on top of the pics?
the point of the scanner would be to see the naked body - but if you don't want that, why bother with the new scanner in the first place?

and imho certifying for the scanners would be a higher concern, no?

Re:Human Factor (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940701)

I always wondered why they can't distort the images like a hall of mirrors or something. That would be easy to do.

Re:Human Factor (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941213)

Supposedly Automatic Target Detection is software that analyzes the raw images themselves looking for anomalies. In Germany they found the system to result in something like a 50% false positive rate. So it's far from perfect. But the idea is to shut down the peep/perv/wank booths and replace the horny human pedophiles wanking to real images of little girl vaginas with a relatively indifferent computer program which won't be quite as titillated by thousands of naked bodies everyday. Of course the TSA is not exactly known for their honesty. Some believe that the peep booths will continue to operate and that the cartoon body would just be for show.

Privacy concerns (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939917)

I certainly hope replacing the passenger's naked photo with a paper doll isn't enough to "quiet" the privacy concerns [about.com] .

Re:Privacy concerns (3, Insightful)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940129)

I never quite understood this privacy thing. What is the problem of someone watching a shadow image of your genitalia? Even if some agent chuckle a bit at your not-so-male panties or broccoli-shaped penis, what is the matter? Probably this sort of thing gets boring after some days having to look at this machine...

Re:Privacy concerns (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940241)

My point was that the principle of searching travelers without probable cause is far more offensive than being viewed naked.

That said, there is no reason to believe it's just one pervert viewing your naked picture (or the naked picture of your kids). The scanners capture digital images which can be easily stored or transmitted in several ways, the most obvious of which is pointing a smart phone's camera at the monitor.

Re:Privacy concerns (0)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940747)

I think everybody agrees that some kind of probing is needed. I prefer to show at once that I am not carrying nothing dangerous to other passengers rather then having to take out my shoes or the belt that hold my trousers (and then incurring the risk of having to show my actual body to the authorities).

Besides, I still don't see reason in your argument. You don't say, for instance, what actual harm such imaginary pervert can do to you or your kids. I think what makes people feel uncomfortable is the idea that there could be someone enjoying the images on the other side of the machine. But the fact is that: (a) this is quite improbable, given the security measures on these agents; and (b) it is not much different from anywhere else (how difficult is to smuggle a microcamera inside the changing room of a children clothing shop?).

Re:Privacy concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940871)

I think everybody agrees that some kind of probing is needed.

Do we? Why?

You don't say, for instance, what actual harm such imaginary pervert can do to you or your kids.

You're teaching kids it's OK for people to photograph or grope them. You're also teaching them it's normal to receive cancer for the privilege of being treated as guilty until proven innocent.

it is not much different from anywhere else (how difficult is to smuggle a microcamera inside the changing room of a children clothing shop?).

There are two problems with this sentence:
- you're saying XYZ is bad, so it's ok if ABC is also bad.
- it's now kinda hard to explain to your kids why those cameras are bad, but the cameras at the airport are good.

Re:Privacy concerns (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941381)

I think everybody agrees that some kind of probing is needed. I prefer to show at once that I am not carrying nothing dangerous to other passengers rather then having to take out my shoes or the belt that hold my trousers (and then incurring the risk of having to show my actual body to the authorities).

Besides, I still don't see reason in your argument. You don't say, for instance, what actual harm such imaginary pervert can do to you or your kids. I think what makes people feel uncomfortable is the idea that there could be someone enjoying the images on the other side of the machine. But the fact is that: (a) this is quite improbable, given the security measures on these agents; and (b) it is not much different from anywhere else (how difficult is to smuggle a microcamera inside the changing room of a children clothing shop?).

No, not everybody agrees some kind of probing is needed. People really do have certain inalienable rights. Likewise, just because some people might have a pot farm in their basement or a meth lab doesn't mean the "authorities" should be able to enter anybody's house without cause.

It is a serious thing to surrender one's rights and it should only happen for serious reasons. Remember that not one thing the TSA does would have prevented 9/11. TSA is a knee-jerk reaction that costs a lot of money but in the end add very little additional security.

Re:Privacy concerns (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941645)

The scanners capture digital images which can be easily stored or transmitted in several ways,

But just to be clear, that's not theft.

Re:Privacy concerns (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940673)

Probably this sort of thing gets boring after some days having to look at this machine...

Why don't you ask the hot girls who have to go back and forth through the scanners [cbslocal.com] while they call a few more people over to have a look, "just to be sure".

Or the pedophiles [google.com] who've been arrested while in the employ of the TSA.

Just because you don't mind, or you think you'd get bored, doesn't mean everybody else feels the same.

Re:Privacy concerns (3, Insightful)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940883)

Cases of abuse have to be dealt with disciplinary actions, as with any other area of society. In any case, I doubt they are widespread. Also, pedophiles exist everywhere. For instance, there are numerous cases of pedophile teachers; but I doubt you feel uncomfortable to send your kids to the school.

Re:Privacy concerns (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940805)

I never quite understood this privacy thing. What is the problem of someone watching a shadow image of your genitalia? Even if some agent chuckle a bit at your not-so-male panties or broccoli-shaped penis, what is the matter? Probably this sort of thing gets boring after some days having to look at this machine...

Well, in what other context in your life would you essentially be strip searched? The answer is probably nowhere.

So, why do you feel we should subject ourselves to it at the airport? Why should we accept this bit of indignity on the basis that the high-school dropout with a one week training course watching it is probably bored by now?

You go ahead and feel free to get into it anytime you like ... me, I will continue to refuse to get into the damned thing. Largely because I simply don't believe them to be safe, and also because I fail to see why I should make it easy on them.

Re:Privacy concerns (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941191)

Because it's my right to decide who sees my broccoli-shaped penis and not-so-male panties, plain and simple just as it's my right to decide who touches those same things. Unless there is a clear and articulable suspicion of wrongdoing the government's supposed to butt out. Keep that camel's nose out of my pants, please.

Re:Privacy concerns (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941349)

I never quite understood this privacy thing.

Well you are certainly giving that impressiion.

What is the problem of someone watching a shadow image of your genitalia?

Please post one of these 'shadow' images you refer to so that we can see for ourselves how shadowy they are. In fact they resemble black and white photographs far more than they do 'shadows'. While the images are not as wank-worthy as those from the x-ray scanners you can still see quite a lot.

Even if some agent chuckle a bit at your not-so-male panties or broccoli-shaped penis, what is the matter?

The problem is that not everyone wants to display their naked body in order to exercise their basic human right to travel freely. Yes, I know you are going to launch into some speech about how the right to travel is not protected by the constitution, and that it is merely a privilege which the government generously allows as long as you abide by its rules and that we are lucky that the government allows us to even leave our homes. Yet another privilege which can be revoked at any time for any reason.

Probably this sort of thing gets boring after some days having to look at this machine...

It gets boring in the same way that men become bored with seeing naked women. In the same way that porn gets boring. I'm sure you are right. I'm sure that there is not a single TSA employee who has ever been aroused by the images of a beautiful naked girl on the screen.

Re:Privacy concerns (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941393)

To me, these scanners are the digital age equivalent of strutting someone around naked with a black bag over their head. That the person isn't easily identifiable doesn't change the fact that it's degrading, humiliating, and strips us not just of our clothes, but also of our dignity.

Re:Privacy concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39941405)

Yeah, what is the big deal with a search-without-probable-cause on ordinary citizens trying to exercise their right of free movement? The only possible issue is whether our junk is on screen or not, right? No deeper concerns there at all.

Been saying since day one (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939939)

If this is not like the technology "displayed" in Total Recall it will never be acceptable.

How did these officials ever think the technology as deployed was even remotely acceptable? Yet people never seem to get the hint that the bigger the government the less it really has to care.

Re:Been saying since day one (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940681)

How did these officials ever think the technology as deployed was even remotely acceptable?

People can convince themselves of all sorts of things when they stand to make a nice profit.

how to profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939965)

1. introduce stupid, useless, expensive technology
2. profit
3. fix it
4. profit
5. it is useless after all
6. goto 1

Avatar (3, Funny)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939967)

Do we at least get to customize our avatar as one can on many websites?

Re:Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940083)

I vote for a South Park theme, although most of us would be Kenny ...

Re:Avatar (3, Insightful)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940101)

No, only one avatar is available.

It is decidedly suitable [kym-cdn.com] .

Re:Avatar (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941109)

Actually, the TSA is also working on a micropayment system, where you can purchase one of hundreds of different avatar designs to display on their scanners, for a very reasonable fee.

Re:Avatar (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941409)

And for a bit more they can sell you some of the raw nude images of the most attractive young girls they recently scanned. For even more money you can opt to have a very thorough genital groping from a beautiful female screener. A former model hired just for that purpose. With these sorts of measures these expensive machines might actually pay for themselves eventually.

Re:Avatar (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941457)

They are working a deal with Nintendo to import your Mii

GtubgiRl (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940009)

And so we beat on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940029)

boats against the tide....

One less thing for us to worry about.

Until the next thing for us to worry about, and there will always be another thing.

Always.

Forever

Body image issues? (1)

simplexion (1142447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940063)

Dad joke win!

I was gonna write something... (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940081)

... along the lines of "if they did this avatar thing from the beginning the TSA maybe would have only earned half the animosity they deserve" and go on about how sometimes focus groups actually work that might bring out, you know, glaring errors in design.

But you know what? That doesn't fucking matter. What matters is that the American Public is crisis fatigued out. I am crisis fatigued. I turned on the news yesterday to find out that we discovered another underwear bomber and that the design was "sophisticated" and a dog and pony show was trotted out on the Today show by the fucking CIA.

I want you, every one of you, to ask yourselves, when was the last time the CIA did intelligence press releases? It's like science by press release - you get bogus shit like cold fusion because what it's really about is someone trying to stoke his budget.

And that's what it's all about. It's just corporate welfare and agency empire building, marketed through fear. On a societal level I can't think of anything more evil except waging war through bogus excuses all the way from the Gulf of Tonkin to GWB's "weapons of mass destruction" bullshit.

And we're going to shovel good money after bad because so many honest, hard working people are just trying to get through life without increasing the rage factor and generating more heart disease worrying about shit like this.

Jeg opgiv.

I am so disheartened.

--
BMO

Postscript:

About sophistication:

The fucking Soviet Union of the 1980s could launch nuclear tipped missiles and have them explode over a US city with an accuracy of a couple of feet and this was entirely credible. Comparing the war on terror enemies to the enemy of the Cold War, I do not find any fucking sophistication. Yesterday's announcement of more underwear bombs paired with the word "sophisticated" made me want to scream. What an abuse of language. What fucking Newspeak. What fucking doublethink.

Re:I was gonna write something... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940367)

As someone who grew up in the 1960s, in Canada (that is, right smack in between the US and the USSR, as the ICBM flies...), I completely agree with you about the credibility of the threats, then and now. The danger posed by a few savages whose idiotic religion tells them to blow up their underpants doesn't come anywhere near justifying the sort of police state that certain supposedly civilized countries seem determined to create. The right response is probably laughter and ridicule.

Re:I was gonna write something... (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940619)

What an abuse of language. What fucking Newspeak. What fucking doublethink.

What a fucking awesome rant! Preach on, bro! My kingdom for a mod point.

Re:I was gonna write something... (4, Insightful)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940669)

I turned on the news yesterday to find out that we discovered another underwear bomber and that the design was "sophisticated" and a dog and pony show was trotted out on the Today show by the fucking CIA.

I want you, every one of you, to ask yourselves, when was the last time the CIA did intelligence press releases?

This alone tells you that it's bullshit. Does anyone expect the CIA to play it straight? These guys invented "cannot confirm or deny", so when they confirm on national TV, you know it serves an agenda. Good post!

Separation of Church and State (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941433)

That's the problem with separation of church and state. The government cannot use religion to inflict fear to get people to conform, so they have to resort to other tactics such as the war on terror. When people in power keep people in fear, the people in power can pretty much do whatever they want, whether church or state.

Re:I was gonna write something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39941497)

They'd like you to think they thwarted a plot that would have happened if not for them. The truth is coming out now that an "informant" was PAID to go get the bomb built. Once again, we've been saved from a plot initiated and prodded along by our own people.

Deficit solution (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940105)

To help pay off the deficit, the TSA is now offering lead-lined paper bags to cover your face when going through the strip search machine. At an affordable $15 a piece, it is a small price to pay for privacy.

Avatar (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940205)

"To quiet privacy concerns, the authorities are also spending $7 million to 'remove the human factor from the image review process' and replace the passenger's image with an avatar."

http://www.imaxmelbourne.com.au/images/uploads/Avatar/Avatar-BIG-1.jpg [imaxmelbourne.com.au]

"Sorry, buddy, you're gonna have to check that bow."

Devil's Advocate (2)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940257)

I 'll play devil's advocate below- so, under the assumption that the TSA and their paraphernalia are vital in present-day USA:

.. spending millions [..] upgrading magnetometers to the new body scanners ..

As most of you probably know, the "new scanner" operates at the THz range: that wavelength is being exploited because a) it "sees" through clothes and b) it gives a nice contrast.

A little more detail: the incoming radiation mostly penetrates clothing both in its way in and out -- i.e., penetrates clothing in its way in, does not penetrate skin and instead gets reflected back, it then passes again through clothing on its way out and gets registered on the machine. Now, other material (say a ceramic knife, that does not register in the magnetometer) or a "suspicious" looking box strapped on the body, will reflect the incoming THz radiation but on a different way: by taking advantage of this, a contrast image can be constructed, and what is not skin becomes conspicuous. So you can obvisouly see why this is something an authority appreciates, and you would be in denial if you don't believe that the scanners are here to stay. Sorry, but now they have established their foothold in reality, so you have to learn to get used to them being around for quite a while.

.. spending $7 million [to] replace the passenger's image with an avatar

Okay, now I am done playing advocate- my points:

a) $7 million for software development seems a lot in the expensive side, or so I think. Anyway the federal budget for toilet paper is probably higher. And

b) most importantly, couldn't that had been implemented from the start of the project, out of respect for the citizen? I mean, how hard can it be? Is there a reason why this "extra humiliation" factor had to linger around for so long?

c) I wouldn't hate TSA so much: the guilt will be hard to cope with once the cumulative radiation damage becomes apparent on its not very bright staff. I don't think there will ever be a concensus regarding the damage one gets (or not) from the respective radiation: just see how after more than a decade the cellphone radiation is still supposed to be under debate, and how results are "inconlcusive".

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940939)

c) I wouldn't hate TSA so much: the guilt will be hard to cope with once the cumulative radiation damage becomes apparent on its not very bright staff. I don't think there will ever be a concensus regarding the damage one gets (or not) from the respective radiation: just see how after more than a decade the cellphone radiation is still supposed to be under debate, and how results are "inconlcusive".

The tens of millions that Chertoff personally made (billions for his company, and he gets a cut) from selling the backscatter X-Ray scanners will assuage a lot of guilt.

(I believe the microwave ones are harmless to both operator and passenger - the operator is shielded, and the energy deposited to the passenger is insufficient to heat the cornea. They're just as ineffective and overpriced, but the risk is likely negligible.)

I can almost hear the interview process now: So the business plan is to recruit people from ads on pizza boxes, we give them access to machines that produce ionizing radiation, and because they're not intended for a medical purpose, we can use that loophole to deny them dosimeters - the same way we do for the operators of the real X-ray machines that the luggage goes through? And I get paid how much? Woohoo!

Unlike professional politicians who use their office to gain access to funnel money to favored vendors who reward them with cushy jobs after their term in office, I'm not even a sociopath, and I'd have made that tradeoff in the blink of in eye.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940941)

So what you're saying is I need a skin covered knife?

Re:Devil's Advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39941431)

*Snikt*
Way ahead of you, bub.

Re:Devil's Advocate (3, Informative)

thegreatemu (1457577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941001)

As most of you probably know, the "new scanner" operates at the THz range

If only that were universally true. The THz or millimeter wave scanners are in use in some airports, and I have no problem going through them, although sometimes I opt out out of patriotic duty to make life difficult for TSA.

The problem is that most US airports in fact have the x-ray backscatter scanners. Now, I know that if the device is operating within it's design parameters, the dose you get from it is significantly less than the one you get from actually flying. But even before you start to include factors like a) the dose is concentrated all in the outer skin layers b) it's being operated by a high school dropout, the design dose is NOT ZERO. When you have two technologies, one of which uses ionizing radiation and one which doesn't, yet they accomplish the same goal, why in all the hells would you choose to subject everyone to ioniziing radiation?

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941011)

b) most importantly, couldn't that had been implemented from the start of the project, out of respect for the citizen?

(emphasis added)

That made me laugh in a sad, sad way. I wouldn't even say that respect for citizens seems low on their list of priorities, rather it seems the opposite is quite important to them.

i feel sorry for the guys watching the screen (2)

cornjones (33009) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940265)

I know everybody is hung up on 'oh noes, that tsa screener is going to see a blue image of my naked body'. Am I the only one that feels sorry for the guy/gal that actually has to sit all day and watch naked blue bodies? for every swedish bikini model that passes, i you have at least 10 overweight slobs. How can the screener ever have sex again after staring at these blobs going by day in, day out?

Re:i feel sorry for the guys watching the screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940851)

How? Like it was said in a previous report: they change the ratio by making the bikini models go twice or more in the scanner because "the image is blurred"

The terrorists win (4, Interesting)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940269)

I doubt al Qaeda had any intention of this bomb going off. They put it in somebody's underwear, just so Americans would now have to strip to get on a plane. Government officials need to stop going on TV and saying that the terrorists "hate freedom." Because they do. And if the terrorist's goal is to attack freedom, guess what, government? YOU'RE LETTING THEM WIN. Put an X-Ray machine, a Geiger counter, and a dog at every terminal in the country. That's it. When the terrorists have a bomb that isn't made of metal AND is made of a chemical the dog can't detect, send a sample of that chemical to every airport in the country, and teach the dogs to smell that too.

Have Issues? (2)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940299)

I have issues! And no one is giving me $90M to fix them...

Re:Have Issues? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940971)

I have issues! And no one is giving me $90M to fix them...

You did not reach the minimum number of 666 points on the G&C (Greed and Corruption) scale. I'm sorry sir, but you failed to qualify for the special edition "bailout" checks.

Re:Have Issues? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941211)

dammit

No more TSA... (3)

athlon02 (201713) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940301)

Yet ANOTHER reason to get rid of the TSA. We waste dollar after dollar on that stupid agency. And according to their own stats, we're no safer now than in 2001. Moreover, from a constitutional standpoint:

1. The Federal govt has the right to secure the borders -- this is the job for border patrol, NOT the TSA
2. Inter-state flights - not within Federal jurisdiction
3. That leaves flights that go across state lines, but do not leave the US.

The only place where the TSA arguably should have any authority is #3. And if we do #1, #2, and track & deport known terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, then the need for #3 becomes very minimal.

Let's face it, the TSA is filled with a bunch of inept, under-achieving goons, who have shaky justification for their jobs (at best) and should be replaced with private security companies. Such companies could be under appropriately laws to make sure they can be prosecuted for violating the 4th amendment, civil liberties, etc. and they'd have plenty of incentives to do things right...

OK, rant ended.

Re:No more TSA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940549)

You mean: inTRA state flights.

"Underwear bomb" a euphemisim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940475)

I've seen mainstream news reports referring to the Abdullah al-Asiri assassination attempt on Mohammed bin Nayef as an "underwear bomb" when it's generally accepted to have been a body cavity ("in da butt") bomb. It makes me suspicious that this latest report of a new, improved underwear bomb is a similar euphemism by the major news sources. Certainly none of these expensive scanners could find something that isn't even really in the underwear...

I don't believe them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940659)

I think this is more lies from the TSA. If your going to eliminate the 'human factor' then why do you need to replace the image with an avatar? Why not just remove the display that shows the image?

Right way to remove 'human factor':
Image sensors create a naked image of you, computer analyzes it, sounds alarm if your a threat, the image isn't stored, and there isn't any hardware (display) to show the image while it's being analyzed.

Wrong way (the new TSA way):
Images sensors create a naked image of you, computer transforms naked image into an avatar, naked image is analyzed by computer (analyzing the avatar wouldn't produce as accurate of results as the original image), avatar is displayed on a screen that isn't viewed by anyone because the human factor has been removed.

The TSA is retarded, lying about removing the human factor, or most likely, both.

Anybody else hear the song .... (1)

skogs (628589) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940711)

Do you want to date my avatar...

Perhaps this will increase the job satisfaction and reduce depression amongst TSA screeners. Seriously...who would want that job? For every 1 person they might want to see naked and put their hands on...they are required to look at and feel up a hundred more that they would rather just run away from.

Ever wonder if the bomber WASN'T a double agent? (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940841)

I mean, what a great mind-fuck to AQ. What if they caught the guy, stuck him in a cell in a friendly country, then decided that they'd do a little psychological warfare and said this guy was a double agent all along. I mean, if there aren't any embedded agents, why not freak them out and have them wondering how many people are working for the other side?

And it seems odd that they out a double agent as intentionally one, not just some poor schmuck that got compromised.

Or maybe not... (1)

jdev (227251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941163)

This is the same thing that the TSA previously dismissed as "some guy" making a "crude attempt" at getting around screening procedures. At least they are acknowledging it now.

http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/viral-video-about-body-scanners.html [tsa.gov]

They have also said that these things are completely safe despite inadequate testing. Or that there are sufficient procedures in place to protect people's privacy. I wonder how long it will take for them to change their minds on that too.

Hilarious Press Release (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941263)

The BBC report on it is so sensational that it's reminiscent of Monty Python's "How not to be seen": "This is what could have happened if the underwear bomber had succeeded.... BOOM!" Priceless.

The guy didn't have a target, had no target or plane ticket. It was,"Even more sophisticated than the last one!" Ah yes, more sophisticated because it used a shiny silver button instead of a switch? Yes let's all get worried.

Black background? (1)

bigtech (722116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941713)

Why don't they change the background to some pattern rather than solid black? Wouldn't that eliminate the problem where you strap something on your side and it doesn't show?
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