Regarding the TSA Body Scanners

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

Regarding the TSA Body Scanners

Dear Tasher:
Thank you for writing me with your thoughts regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new enhanced security screening techniques. As a fellow traveler frequently making the journey between Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District and Washington, DC, I have first hand experience with the TSA’s current security screening procedures and understand your concerns.

As you know, the TSA began deploying Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) units to airports in March of 2010 in response to the failed attempt to blow up flight 253 en route to Detroit by the “Christmas Day Bomber”, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab. Abdulmutallab was able to smuggle explosives onto the plane by sewing them into his underwear which were undetectable by traditional metal detectors. The new AIT units use millimeter wave or backscatter scanning to detect items a passenger may be carrying on their person. Questions have been raised about the safety of such scans, but a millimeter wave scan exposes a person to less radiation than a cell phone and a backscatter scan is roughly equivalent to two minutes of exposure a person receives as a passenger in-flight.

Other questions have been raised about the appropriateness of both the images produced by AIT scanning. Passenger privacy is protected by remotely stationing the officer reviewing the image. The officer who sees the image will not see the passenger and the officers who see the passenger will not see the passenger’s image. Images are not kept. Passengers may opt for a pat-down instead of an AIT scan.

The new pat-down procedures are thorough. There have been news reports about insensitivity or mistakes made by individual TSA agents, but the vast majority of pat-downs are conducted in as professional a manner as possible. Personal privacy and public safety are both of great concern and we in Congress must make sure there is a balance protecting both privacy and safety.

Personally, I don’t like these scans any more than you or most people do. However, in these tumultuous times stepped up security measures do seem to be necessary for our safety and security. I will continue to work with my colleagues to maintain oversight of the TSA’s security screening practices to ensure they are conducted respectfully and professionally.
Member of Congress

Dear Congressman Schrader, 
Thank you for your response to my letter regarding the TSA and DHS’s deployment of Advanced Imaging machines that are set to be implemented at PDX in the near future. I know it is concerning to you as frequent traveler how much this will impact not only you, but your family and constituents as well.Just because the TSA says the images are immediately erased and are not capable of being stored and printed doesn’t mean that is what will happen. Nowadays, technology and mass communication is taken advatage of all the time. Just look at Wikileaks and all the so called private and top secret information that is being released. What about the personal information of 26.5 million vets that were stolen from a laptop in 2006? What about the Federal Trade Commission’s admission that 110 people had their personal data stolen from two government laptops? What about the governments inability to protect nuclear facilities from being hacked by the Chinese? If they can’t protect the most sensitive data about national security, what makes you think they can protect my personal information and personal photographs? Not only that, but you may have heard of the U.S. Marshalls in the Florida Fedral Courthouse who saved 35,000 images on their scanner. Thankfully, the images weren’t backscatter technology but wave technology and therefore the pictures were too fuzzy to see details. But it just goes to show that you can’t just trust what the heads of these government agencies are telling us.Personally, I feel that the government wants the public to get used to the constant authoritorian and unnatural control that it tries to justify in the name of “peace and security”. It is no different in the past. When governments feel threatened they exort control over the populace by violating human rights and breaking down the human spirit. That’s what these machines do- they break us down. We are forced into these machines and made to stand like we are under arrest with our hands in the air while a person see’s beneath our clothes. This makes me mad as hell, because they are doing this to little 8 year old girls and boys. The public is being subjected to a peep show by airport employees. They are electronically strip searching young children and subjecting everyone to give away their fundamental human rights in order to fight terrorism! Essentially, these are electronic strip searches that not only violate privacy laws but must also break child pornography laws! Why do we have to get naked to defeat terrorists?I assure you that one day a child molester will be brought into court on charges of having naked minors stored in the hard drive of his personal computer. He will plead not guilty on the basis that the government already does the same thing. It sounds preposterous but is it not true?It is said that the body scanner images blur out the genitals because of privacy concerns. But this is contradicted by readily available images of male and female subjects that show high quality details of penises and breasts. The TSA does not blur out the genitalia because that limits the detection capabilities and prevents observers from seeings something hidden in the groin area. The TSA flat out lied to the public because they know that they will get away with it.You also mention the failed attempt to blow up flight 253 by the so called “Christmas Day Bomber”. You state that this incident was the reason why these machines were deployed across the United States. Yes, of course – stripping of rights is always justified by terrorism. What you probably don’t know is that these machines were already on-line and ready to be shipped out at a moments notice in the event of a “terrorist act”. This means that hundreds of AIT’s were already built and being stored somewhere and had nothing to do with that specific event of Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab and his failed bombing plot. In fact, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, represents Rapsican, the company which is selling these scanners to his formerdepartment.Have you heard of the Allied Pilots Association? It is the world’s largest association of pilots. They urge members to opt out of the scanners. This is no small group and they fear the radiation concerns regardless of biased scientific studies. Lastly, remember Sully Sullenberger? Well, he personally stated that he was against the body scanners and said that he thought it was a bad idea that pilots and flight crew were subjected to the new technology.Thank you for your time in reading this Congressman Schraeder. I hope that you will look into this subject more and at least reevalute your position on some of these isues. Best of luck! Respectfully, Tasher.

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