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Scanners that see through clothing installed in U.S. airports

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Security scanners which can see through passengers' clothing and reveal details of their body underneath are being installed in 10 U.S. airports, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday.

A random selection of travelers getting ready to board airplanes in Washington, New York's Kennedy, Los Angeles and other key hubs will be shut in the glass booths while a three-dimensional image is made of their body beneath their clothes.

The booths close around the passenger and emit "millimeter waves" that go through cloth to identify metal, plastics, ceramics, chemical materials and explosives, according to the TSA.

While it allows the security screeners -- looking at the images in a separate room -- to clearly see the passenger's sexual organs as well as other details of their bodies, the passenger's face is blurred, TSA said in a statement on its website.

The scan only takes seconds and is to replace the physical pat-downs of people that is currently widespread in airports.

TSA began introducing the body scanners in airports in April, first in the Phoenix, Arizona terminal.

The installation is picking up this month, with machines in place or planned for airports in Washington (Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International), Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit.

But the new machines have provoked worries among passengers and rights activists.

"People have no idea how graphic the images are," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU said in a statement that passengers expecting privacy underneath their clothing "should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane."

Besides masking their faces, the TSA says on its website, the images made "will not be printed stored or transmitted."

"Once the transportation security officer has viewed the image and resolved anomalies, the image is erased from the screen permanently. The officer is unable to print, export, store or transmit the image."

Lara Uselding, a TSA spokeswoman, added that passengers are not obliged to accept the new machines.

"The passengers can choose between the body imaging and the pat-down," she said.

TSA foresees 30 of the machines installed across the country by the end of 2008. In Europe, Amsterdam's Schipol airport is already using the scanners.

© Wire reports

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

66 Comments
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Besides masking their faces, the TSA says on its website, the images made “will not be printed stored or transmitted.”

This should read: "will not OFFICIALLY be printed, stored or transmitted."

Considering the lucrative and creative nature of porn, it's only a matter of time before the TSA gets sued over someone snapping a cell phone pic of a hottie going through the body imaging machine and then putting said pic on the internet.

Taka

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Hmmm... I guess that there are two machines, one for men controled by men and one for women controled by women. So I dont see so much problem. Every time I pass for New York, I hate taking my shoes of and the pat-down if I forget something metallic on my clothes and the metal detector buzz.

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I used to take connecting flights through the states on my way home to visit my family. For the last two years I've been paying the extra charge for direct flights. I really used to enjoy short layovers in different cities but never again. Passing through US immigration has become so painful that I refuse to go through it anymore.

I wonder how many other people have stopped using American airports as well?

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thundercat

I wonder how many other people have stopped using American airports as well?

Perfectly fine with me. Just means fewer crowds and shorter waits for those of us that do use US airports...

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US immigration has become so painful that I refuse to go through it anymore.

I have to agree. People having a residence permit or a visa may get through without problems, but for those who just need a connection, being treaded as if we were attempting to illegally enter US territory feels really insulting on the long run. I mean, once I almost missed a connection even though I had a whole hour... which I spent answering that no, I did not intend to work illegally in the US, that no I have never belonged to any communist group, that no I have never had any mental disease or killed anyone... then having my bag searched, along with my shoes etc...

Now on top of all that, you will have to imagine that one of those guys is staring at your wife's everything because she was picked to get through one of these machines.

Yes direct flights look more and more like a very fine alternative...

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How to get job as a scan operator? How safe is data? Do they also use scanners for President and his wife? Will airport emloyees allow their wife/daughter to use airports with these machines?

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Thundercat -

I have a feeling you and I are countrymen. I'll never go through the US on the way home again either - I have no great desire to be barked at like a dog. Also, while I work for a US company I've resisted heading "back to home office" for the same reason. Rude, ignorant, staff at the airports are something I want less of in my life. To top it off, last time I flex through LAX my luggage was opened and my laptop stolen. Nice.

And for USNinJapan2 - thanks for summing up the childish, rude, and xenophobic American attidude so clearly. Under your logic, with a little more time hopefully no non-American will ever visit your sad little country again.

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I'll never forget the first time I was patted down by a female security officer in Narita.... I returned to the US after 8 years abroad only to be treated like a criminal and given the 3rd degree at LA international airport. I finally became board with the whole procedure, looked at the officer behind the counter, and stated "why thank you, yes, it is good to be home." He appologized and let me through. Now I work for the government, in a different capacity, and can somewhat understand the man's attitude; you can only deal with so much negativity on a daily basis before it begins to affect you. I was pulled-aside in Narita on my first entry into Japan and shoved into a tiny room for several hours because someone at my future employer accidentally scribbled on the entry document.....I was forced to write an appology to the Japanese government before they would allow me to enter. I guess my point here is that, silliness happens at entry points into every country in the world and to say some of the knee-jerk things that are being said here is not only childish but irresponsible.

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I guess my point here is that, silliness happens at entry points into every country in the world and to say some of the knee-jerk things that are being said here is not only childish but irresponsible.

I don't know if it's childish or irresponsible... I do feel it is a bit off-topic. Yet, this kind of thing never happened to me in Canada, Japan, Spain, China, Netherlands... My feelings might be biased, but my experience tells me this was nearly systematic in the US. The only other airport which can make me feel nearly as bad is France's CDG.

Can a machine exposing your genitals to complete strangers make you feel any better ?

I usually travel in economy class, with sometimes up to 3 connections with up to 30+ hours from departure to final destination. It is very stressful both for your body and mind. Feeling mistreated in such occasions is just making it much worse.

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I guess after they get a good look at someones nethers their face becomes unimportant. And I am really hating the idea of going back after tripping threw the middle east.

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Incredible to see the hysterical reaction in America to 9/11.

Staff at Homeland Security with its mega budget must be laughing in the aisles at the cr*p they are dishing out to hapless Americans and foreigners.

No wonder tourism to America has dropped off a cliff.

I love flying home - the worst I'll get is a "And what is inside this [kanji covered Japanese food] package, sir?"

I get treated with respect, although entry procedures admittedly have been tightened, it is nowhere near to the extent they have in the States.

U.S. airport authorities are even screening all those elderly grannies and school kids - because, hey! - they're all potential terrorists according to to the U.S. government.

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Just imagine that you are passing through some remote jungle in Amazon and...you may not feel that embarrassed. Installtion of Scanners is totally undesirable.

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Why do they keep introducing increasingly strict security measures, even when there hasn't been a terrorist attack in the US since 9/11?

The terrorists certainly achieved their objective - the amount of time and money that has been spent as a result of 9/11 is ridiculous.

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Perfectly fine with me. Just means fewer crowds and shorter waits for those of us that do use US airports...

Nice, glad to see you raising the intellectual level of this conversation. What do you mean 'fewer crowds' and 'shorter waits'? You are already using the American Citizen only line, aren't you? I'm guessing that either way the crowds and waits will always be the same. The crowds and waits will be thinning out in the 'other' line. The Non-Citizen line will be getting shorter and shorter while you are waiting to have the family jewels scanned.

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Long airport queues and ridiculous amounts of money spent on "security" is just another shining jewel that will be added to Bush's "legacy."

And, just in case any posters ask, no, George Bush is NOT running for a 3rd term :-)

A Happy Non-American

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“...passengers can choose between the body imaging and the pat-down”

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RedMeatKoolAid - remember the time passengers were able to choose between showing ID or the pat-down before when boarding the plane? Good times, good old times...

I wonder how much longer the choice will be available, boiling the frog alive, and all that...

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The 'alternative' is a pat down? And that's so much better, is it?

Here's my question: What is the necessity of this procedure? What will be gained?

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keshii - "What is the necessity of this procedure?"

A: Americans need to be kept safe from the wild-eyed hordes of bearded shrieking terror-Grannies running amok throughout America as we speak.

"What will be gained?"

A: Security Of The Homeland and protection from bearded shrieking terror-Grannies.

Next question?

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ultradodgy

And for USNinJapan2 - thanks for summing up the childish, rude, and xenophobic American attidude so clearly. Under your logic, with a little more time hopefully no non-American will ever visit your sad little country again.

No that's not at all what I'm saying. I have nothing against people of other nationalities (yes even Candadians) who live in, work in, or visit the US. I however don't appreciate foreigners, like you evidently, that whine and bitch about security measures we choose to implement in the US. There have already been a few here at JT who have sworn never to visit the US again. If a simple and anonymous scan like this really bothers you that much, then by all means please choose not to fly through US airports. I obviously don't want potential foreign tourists to be scared away by stringent security measures like this, but I honestly don't think that sensible people choose one holiday destination over another because of the nature of immigration or airport security. As for foreign travelers like thundercat who evidently can't stand flying through a US airport, why should I care whether he goes out of his way to avoid it? It simply means one fewer irritable traveler in line in front of me. He's happy and I'm happy. Despite your attempt to make it so, there's nothing personal about it.

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No, but seriously, this ridiculous new procedure is the spawn of an out-of-control U.S. government, that through well documented spin and childish repetitive propaganda, has managed to successfully brainwash the majority of Americans into believing that "security" takes precedence over pretty much everything except food, drink and the right to bear arms.

In my book, it's overkill, but it is a likely irreversible reaction to the completely wrong-headed invasion of Iraq, which has created an entirely new generation of people who will gladly kill Americans at the drop of a hat.

If even one of these scary guys gets through Customs and blows something up, the blowback against the airport in question and Homeland Security will be savage, hence the "need" to pat down, x-ray and now peer through passengers’(including bearded shrieking terror-Grannies) clothing.

It's hard to feel sympathy for Americans on this one.

Voting Bush in the second time is turning out to the one of the worst collective decisions Americans have ever made.

Nb: In case anyone is unaware, President Bush is not - I repeat NOT - running for a 3rd term. :-)

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No, but seriously, this ridiculous new procedure is the spawn of an out-of-control U.S. government, that through well documented spin and childish repetitive propaganda, has managed to successfully brainwash the majority of Americans into believing that "security" takes precedence over pretty much everything except food, drink and the right to bear arms.

Certainly at least part of the problem is that Americans will do everything to make the country secure except compromise the right to bear arms. In any case, two-thirds of Americans don't even own passports so you can't expect such people to care about customs procedures.

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I honestly don't think that sensible people choose one holiday destination over another because of the nature of immigration or airport security.

Must be I'm not sensible, then. Oh well.

I would have thought it was more sensible to choose a holiday destination where they actually welcome visitors, instead of treating folk like terrorists. Who wants that kind of hassle at the start of a holiday?

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thundercat

Nice, glad to see you raising the intellectual level of this conversation. What do you mean 'fewer crowds' and 'shorter waits'? You are already using the American Citizen only line, aren't you? I'm guessing that either way the crowds and waits will always be the same. The crowds and waits will be thinning out in the 'other' line. The Non-Citizen line will be getting shorter and shorter while you are waiting to have the family jewels scanned.

The new scanner, which is the subject of this article and thread, will be implemented in the SECURITY checkpoints, not immigration. Last time I checked you and I and everyone else line up in the same lines to pass security. So, if someone like you chooses to go out of their way and pays extra to avoid connecting through a US airport, it means that the security line I'm standing in is one person shorter. Same goes for the lines at other airport services like eateries, bars, cafes, etc.

As for the family jewels, as you put it, do you really have a problem being scanned anonymously like this? Some security officer, who'll never know who you are and who you'll never see again, sees a digital image of your body. This really bothers you that much? This scanner is nothing compared to bathing naked in front of strangers at an onsen, or do you have a problem with that too? I honestly don't see what the big deal is...

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cleo

Going through immigration and security probably comprises less than 1/1000 of your time on a vacation. If something that minor keeps you from visiting a country I do question your judgment.

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I'm going to stick a large sausage in my pants when I go to the States next time. Maybe with a little plastic head of George Bush on top of it.

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excellent...i think i'll take a bit of viagra on my next trip home and give them a real show

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This scanner is nothing compared to bathing naked in front of strangers at an onsen

Whether you go to an onsen or not is the individual's choice - and the iddy biddy towel is all-important. Dunno about in the men's section, but in the ladies' bit of the onsen the ladies make good use of that polite little towel.

Going through immigration and security probably comprises less than 1/1000 of your time on a vacation. If something that minor keeps you from visiting a country I do question your judgment

If I've just spent hours and hours flying over, yes, in terms of time, it's nothing. But there are hundreds of countries in the world that I haven't visited yet, that are friendly and willing to welcome me with open arms. That puts the surly 'show it all, lady' sourpusses right at the bottom of the 'must visit' list. .

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I'd still rather not trade my freedom for the one in how many millions of a chance that a fundie nutter will be blowing up the plane I'm on...

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May 21, 2007 -

"AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Airline passengers barely blinked at using a new security scanning system this past week that essentially lets guards peer beneath their clothes, a spokeswoman for Amsterdam’s airport said." http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/177-fliers-at-amsterdam-schiphol-airport-shrug-at-new-scanner

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well, I don't like this one bit. I am tired of this security stuff at the airports these days.

however, we just heard of a Japanese airport security where the guy actually put drugs into an unsuspecting passenger and forgot which passenger.. I think I will take the scanner over the finding the drugs.

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Whatever it takes to prevent the next suicide murder martyr to blow up a plane. I am all for it.

To those who complain: Direct your bickering to the religion of peace.

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Good Lord ,with this kind of machines I am sure Asian women,ME women will think and think and think... and then go somewhere else for their holidays.

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WilliB,

I'm sorry, but I'm not prepared to pull down my pants and bend over to Islamic terrorists and basically show them once again that terrorism "works".

I'd much rather keep my freedom and dignity whilst running the million to one chance of getting blown up.

Besides, all the resources the West is putting into counter-terrorism should mean they're catching the red-eyes fundies long before they're queuing for a plane...

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...well, unless they're shooting an un-armed man in the face eight times in error that is!

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I have to agree that the security procedures being dreamed up are just a bunch of insecure pencil necked pinheads running amok. These people worship "security" like it's some sort of god. Their paranoia is costing millions in lost time and added equipment, etc. In the meantime there are gaping holes in airport security for staff and the perimeter that are big enough to drive a truck through.

Of course I remember the old days at Narita when you had to run the gauntlet of body-armored cops with the big sticks just to get into the airport. But that security extended to all levels of airport operation.

There is such a thing as giving up liberty in the name of security. Was it Franklin who said "those who sacrifice liberty to gain security shall have neither in the end."

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Madverts:

" I'm sorry, but I'm not prepared to pull down my pants and bend over to Islamic terrorists and basically show them once again that terrorism "works". "

But you are. All these bizarre and increasing harrassments that are necessary for public travel are a direct result of islamic terrorism. They threaten, they occassionally succeed, and our governments pump endless amounts of money into ever more protection.

" I'd much rather keep my freedom and dignity whilst running the million to one chance of getting blown up. "

You wouldn`t say that if you are in the plane that gets flown into a building, or friends are.

" Besides, all the resources the West is putting into counter-terrorism should mean they're catching the red-eyes fundies long before they're queuing for a plane... "

They are catching them. But for everyone they catch, thousands of new ones are indoctrinated, right in your country too. Unimpeded, in the name of religious freedom.

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SushiSake3:

" No, but seriously, this ridiculous new procedure is the spawn of an out-of-control U.S. government, "

No, it is not.

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"But you are."

No, I'm protesting it. In defending these draconian security measures however, you yourself are willing dropping your duds to Islamic terrorists.

If the counter-terrorism people were doing their jobs properly, we wouldn't need to have our gibblets touched up at the airport on the (I repeat) million to one chance of a fundie atack.

I remmeber shortly after the Blair government literally made up a shrieky threat about "liquid explosives" and shut down some of the worlds largest airports. My wife and I were at the airport getting a flight from the countryside in France to another field in the UK and I remember the scandal she kicked up as they took her Prada perfume to the bin along with anything else they deemed "dangerous" from her handbag.

If you want to live in the paranoid Bush world and give the terrorists what they want by living in perpetual fear of them, then go ahead mate.

I personally don't want to give the bastards the time of day.

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Typo - "you yourself are willingly dropping your duds to Islamic terrorists."

Sorry.

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Hey, better than a pat down or a strip search, in my opinion.

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Madverts:

" No, I'm protesting it. In defending these draconian security measures however, you yourself are willing dropping your duds to Islamic terrorists. "

There is nothing "draconian" about a scanner at an airport. Draconian is to behead a cartoonists in the street, to blow up busses and undergrounds, or to fly planes into buildings. If you had the guts you claim to have you would read a Mohammed cartoon or just wear a Jewish cap in one of the islamic suburbs of todays European cities.

It is easy to be bash Bush, it does not come with death threats.

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WilliB ( 11:21 PM ) - Exactly, exactly!

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willieb,

Shrieking about what Islamic fundie's get up to in the middle east has nothing to do with the topic, nor our way of life.

"If you had the guts you claim to have you would read a Mohammed cartoon or just wear a Jewish cap in one of the islamic suburbs of todays European cities."

Heh, what rubbish. I live in Europe and laugh daily on JT at the Americans who claim this happens here. This isn't a question of bashing bush - it's a question of caving into the terrorists through fear;

This is what they want, and what you are clearly prepared to do for them and even defend it vehemently.

Someobdy already mentioned the Franklin quote. It's truer today than ever.

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Perfectly fine with me. Just means fewer crowds and shorter waits for those of us that do use US airports.

And less money, Sherlock.

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thundercat

What specific improvements do you recommend?

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Madverts

I'd much rather keep my freedom and dignity whilst running the million to one chance of getting blown up.

I sentiment I concur with. I think the trouble arises for many when we consider the million to one chance of our children getting blown up. Yes, its irrational, but there you are.

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"I think the trouble arises for many when we consider the million to one chance of our children getting blown up. Yes, its irrational, but there you are."

Nobody wants that, but the meaning of the word "terrorist" couldn't be any simpler. They wish to instill terror into the minds of other people to achieve a political agenda. Not only are they proving that it works as in the case of this article, I'm getting shrieked down by those that would bend-over to the terrorists because I refuse to fear their despicable tactics.

If America had responded differently to 9-11, I have no doubt that Islamic terrorists would not have the platform to shriek from that the so-called war on terror has now given them.

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Madverts - "I'm getting shrieked down by those that would bend-over to the terrorists because I refuse to fear their despicable tactics."

Damn good point!

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I agree with you. Only I'd say, If BUSH had responded differently to 9-11....

Bingo!

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My apologies then, Dan. Yes, if Bush had, indeed.

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Actually the invasion and occupation of Iraq was planned by the Neocons before 9-11 and they used that as a trigger by ratcheting up the fear index in the USA. This see-thru jazz at airports is just another example. Why are only 5% of containers entering the US inspected? THAT'S where Al-Qaeda will strike, if and when. Then martial law, suspended election, chaos.

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I've seen sample images from these scanners. Remember the woman who demonstrated the technology to security officials at airports? The images are really nothing to be upset over. Unless you're the type who refuses to take off your religious mask so your face can be seen in your driver's license photo.

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Madverts

Nobody wants that, but the meaning of the word "terrorist" couldn't be any simpler. They wish to instill terror into the minds of other people to achieve a political agenda.

Papawhale

Actually the invasion and occupation of Iraq was planned by the Neocons before 9-11 and they used that as a trigger by ratcheting up the fear index in the USA.

You wouldn't dare accusing Bush's government of terrorism... would you?..

Are those "security" devices another kind of tools used to "ratchet up the fear index in the USA"?

Could someone remind me what are the odds of dying in a terrorist attack? In a plane crash? In a car crash?

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USN2, Sorry, you are right. Didn't have my thinking cap on straight yesterday.

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DanManjt,

I would suggest improving the systems that are already in place. It seems that the 'improvements' in secruity are being developed faster than people are being trained to use or implement them.

How about improving the working conditions for the people working in airports? Seems that the bottom of the barrel is being scraped to staff secruity personnel at most airports I've been through.

Even really simple rules are still being ignored. A few weeks ago at an airport in Toronto I was passing through the metal detectors when I saw an elderly man being stopped because he had a small knife on his key chain (probably 5cm to 6cm long). The inspectors were going to take the knife away until he said 'C'mon, I've had that knife for the past 50 years. You can't take it away from me now.' and guess what? They let him on the plane with it. It doesn't seem like much but who knows what this guy is up to. He could just as easily pass that knife off to someone else once past the check point.

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No copy of you from the people that brought you IRAQ has weapons of mass destruction. If you believe that you believe that the MOON is pink. or you have a mental problem.

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Most people here are taking it way out of context, so what if they introduce new measure to provide all passengers security! You are giving the option of the pat down or the scanner, your choice, s&$* I'd take the scanner if it only took a few seconds of my time, I sure do hate taking off my shoes. This doesn't just happen in the U.S. for those who insist on just saying its U.S this and U.S. that......I agree with USNinjapan, its prior to entry (AT THE DAMN CHECK POINT), less of a wait for me in the line. You don't want to fly into the the U.S, fine with me too.

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I'm not going to repeat myself, there's enough said on the topic already, but the thing is these measures do not provide security. I repeat: they do not provide security. People are told they do, but it's at best a misstatement and at worst an outright lie. What they provide is illusion of security. You can't accept anything with "it's for security!" label on it. If someone told you that anal cavity searches will be mandatory FOR SECURITY - "We have to check if you're not harboring dangerous Islamic terrorist behind your sphincter. Or bombs! Or child pornography! It's for your protection! And think of the children!" - would you submit to it?

Anyway, please, just think logically and try, just try not to let emotions cloud your judgment... Over and out.

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Cool, but for seeing under clothing, Japanese mirror technology is miles ahead.

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What, I have to show the sausage now to get into the poor ol' paranoid usa?? Is that a stick of dynamite in your underpants or are you just glad to be here in the usa??

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Cleo, on the search thread I thought you were saying you had nothing to hide.

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Papawhale:

" Why are only 5% of containers entering the US inspected? "

Let me guess a stab in the dark: Because you and the other consumers/voters are not willing to accept the decrease in living standards such an enormously expensive program would cause? Or would you be willing to part with those mountains of cheap consumer goods from all over the world that are stacked in your local shopping mall? You tell us.

But it is impressive to hear that you are precisely informed about how Al-Quaida will strike next time. So much knowledge, so many secret sources.

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This scanner is nothing more than a measure to condition people to ever increasing surveillance. It has nothing to do with security against terrorism.

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Given the option of a patdown or scanner, I would definitely choose the latter. After going through my third airport patdown (first two were random selection) I had to wait five minutes for a female TSA agent to appear. Then the patdown took another few minutes. All of this was caused by a barette I had forgotten to remove from my hair. I could have used those ten minutes to purchase more water bottles and use the washroom.

Question - How many of those who object to the scanner have at one time posted an inappropriate image of themselves on the internet?

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just thinking a little, didn't Machiavelli write a great little treatise called "The Prince" on how to run a totalitarian state? If I remember correctly, one of his ideas (based on Roman history as well as his contemporary politics) was that by removing rights & liberties from the citizens of a place that they would accept more & more loss of freedom until the populace become quite willing sheep? It seemed to work okay for Germany in the 30's too... So many things done in the name of the common good...

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