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  USA PrivSec Human Rights Analysis


TSA Invasion

Posted: 2011-02-10
From: Mathaba
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How could the TSA with its abominable body scanners have gotten so far with such blatant violations, abuses, and assaults on ordinary citizens? It`s time to ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS.


by Diana Lee

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has installed 315 body scanners - X-ray and radio-wave booths to perform virtual strip searches - at over 65 airports throughout the United States as of December 2010. Now the TSA has not only invaded the airports with these naked body scanners, it now has plans to expand to train stations, bus terminals, and road/highway checkpoints.

Under the pretext of fighting terrorism to protect lives, the TSA exerts more harm to society by controlling the traffic flow with the installation of digital body scanners on a mass scale - causing long lines and traffic delays, imposing psychological stress on travelers, endangering human lives with unnecessary radiation exposure, violating individual privacy, and assaulting human rights with impunity.

How could the TSA with its abominable body scanners have gotten so far with such blatant violations, abuses, and assaults on ordinary citizens?

It's time to ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS.

1. What started the U.S. government's plan of mass implementation of body scanners on law-abiding citizens?

The so-called Christmas "underwear bomber" incident in 2009 is given as justification for the federal government to spend billions of dollars on the new full-body imaging devices and push them to go viral at airports.

Notice the timeline of events:

- October 2009, the TSA announced plans to expand the passenger digital strip search program.

- November 2009, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed its first lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for failing to present public details about its Whole Body Imaging program.

- December 10, 2009, supposedly Christmas bomber Farouk Abdulmutallab failed the attempt to blow up Flight 253.

- December 17, 2009, EPIC filed its second lawsuit against the Department of Justice in regards to the use of the body screening machines.

2. How could any radiation screening be considered safe for people?

Claiming body scanners are safe, the TSA imposes airports to use the backscatter and millimeter devices to screen passengers for weapons and explosives. The backscatter machine uses x-ray radiation while the millimeter device uses radio frequency wave to create images of passengers.

Contrary to the TSA claims, four medical faculty members at the University of California, San Francisco, sent a letter to the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy pointing out potentially serious health risks to children, senior citizens and pregnant women. Even two pilots unions, representing 16,000 pilots or so, told their members to avoid full-body scanning.

The backscatter devices fire ionizing radiation that penetrates a few centimeters into human flesh and reflects off the skin to produce a naked body image. The small risk associated with the low dose of radiation actually increases by the number of exposures. Why? Because X-ray radiation accumulates in the body, according to Dr. Max Gerson, a cancer specialist. Worse still, ionizing radiation used in X-ray procedures has been proven to cause gene mutation.

Citing the IAEA's 1996 Basic Safety Standards agreement that protects people from radiation, the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety concluded in their report that governments must justify the use of the body scanners. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, voices his concern of unnecessary radiation exposure: "There is no good reason why [TSA] scans the head and neck, especially since you can't hide explosives there."

Moreover, CT scans ionizing radiation, similar to backscatter devises, may have contributed to 14,500 deaths and 29,000 new cancers each year, according to two studies published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009.

3. What is the full capability of a body scanner?

As the disclosure of the true capabilities of body scanners trickles in, the lies and deceptions of TSA are revealed.

Trying to downplay the intrusion of privacy, the TSA has routinely claimed that the body scanner produces a "ghostly" or "skeletal" electronic image as TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee puts it: "resembles a fuzzy negative."

However, readily available prints of the body scanning images clearly show high quality detail of naked male and female bodies. In fact, backscatter machines produce images on the TSA's website that make genitals distinctly visible.

In addition, TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said, "The equipment sent by the manufacturer to airports CANNOT store, transmit, or print, and operators at airports do not have the capability to activate any such function."

But, CNET reported that a full body millimeter device in a Florida federal courthouse did store more than thirty thousands of images for the U.S. Marshal Service - a division of the Department of Justice.

In fact, Department of Homeland Security’s 70-page document (PDF) , obtained by the EPIC in a lawsuit against the U.S. Marshals Service, reveals that the TSA body scanners are not only able to record, send, and store naked body images, but that they must be made to do so.

In defense, Koshetz declares, "TSA has not, will not, and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports."

Considering that the TSA being so reluctant in revealing the full capabilities of body scanners to the public and that lurking around the body scanners are military men and intelligence operatives, can anyone really TRUST what the TSA say and do?

4. What laws has TSA's body scanner program violated?

The TSA's body scanner program violates fundamental privacy laws, not to mention backscatter device threatens a large human population with health risks of cancer or death and endangers the human race with genetic mutation.

The TSA's body scanner program assaults all individuals - young and old, male and female - and strips personal freedom protected by the Privacy Act, the Fourth Amendment, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act.

The Privacy Act protects the privacy of individuals. The constitutional Fourth Amendment prohibits "unreasonable" searches that the body scanners perform as "virtual strip" searches. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects individuals or groups against government actions that unreasonably interfere with religious practices, such as Muslims have the right to refuse body scanning. The Video Voyeurism Prevention Act prohibits the intentional "capture [of] an image of a private area of an individual without their consent".

5. Who profits from the Naked Full-Body Scanner Boom?

Of course, the military industrial complex defense contractors are the ones making huge profits from the sale of thousands of the naked imaging scanners.

Michael Chertoff, who is the former DHS secretary under President George W. Bush and co-author of the USA Patriot Act (stripping individual rights), now heads the Chertoff Group that represents the defense contractor, Rapiscan Systems. In fact, Chertoff ordered the government’s first batch of the backscatter devices from Rapiscan in 2005.

Not surprisingly, Chertoff, one of Bush’s point men responsible for bringing America down to its present police state, pushes for body scanners that violate human rights and human decency. Days after the failed Christmas bombing attempt in 2009, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, 

Another manufacturer, American Science & Engineering, Inc., which specializes in X-ray technology, has developed numerous security products that includes scanners used in military and weapons applications, vehicle and cargo container inspection, as well as the widespread body scanners.

The other profiteers are none other than the former government officials. The Washington Examiner  gives a list of former Washington politicians and staff members that are in the "full-body scanner lobby".

6. What is the government's HIDDEN purpose for using body scanners?

Some governments in conspiracy with the United States are promoting the use of body scanners around the world. The very body scanners used in airports have already been extensively tested in railway stations in major cities.

One can suspect the government's secret agenda for using body scanners:

- to continue the lies about the phantom terrorists to justify its control over the masses

- to justify the stripping of individual rights and freedom for the sake of national security

- to identify who comes and leaves the country as well as tracking individual movements

- to build a grand database of all individuals living or staying in the country.

In conclusion, the mass distribution of the harmful body scanners throughout the land is turning America into a war zone. The fact that the U.S. is surrounded by two friendly nations (Canada and Mexico) and two vast oceans (the Pacific and the Atlantic) doesn't seem to deter the military industrial complex to fight an imaginary war against the invisible terrorists.

It's obvious that America is no longer the land of the free. And as the body scanners continue to spread to other parts of the globe, no place will be free in the future.


--Diana Lee is Mathaba author. Visit her website: UniOrb and UniOrb Blog
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