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‘Naked machines’ headed for airports

By   /   January 5, 2010  /   News  /   7 Comments

Oklahoma City expected to add body imaging machines at Will Rogers World Airport; Tulsa’s already in place

OKLAHOMA CITY – Will Rogers World Airport will get full body scanners like the one at Tulsa International, though at least one area resident says the “naked machines” will be enough to keep her from flying.

Following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253, the federal Transportation Security Administration has ramped up plans to make sure airline travelers are thoroughly searched and even scanned in new machines.

Some travelers are not thrilled with the idea of having to go through the body scanners, or “naked machine,” as Norman resident and activist Kaye Beach calls them.

“The way I understand it, they have capability to record (the image), though they say they don’t. I’m sorry, but the ‘trust us’ route doesn’t work.”

 “The airport route has gotten to be such a hassle and uncomfortable that I will pretty much not fly, unless there’s an emergency,” Beach said. “I will never go through a naked machine and my daughter will not go through a naked machine. It’s definitely altered my habits. I used to like to fly and liked going to airports. Not any more. I feel like a criminal going through there.”

Beach said that she is suspicious of people like former Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff who advocate body scanners and have interests in a company, the Chertoff Group with a client that makes the machines, according to The Washington Post.

A report out of Britain’s Guardian newspaper notes that detail may break child pornography laws there.

“It’s not about security. It’s about making these corporations billions of dollars. Would these scanners have even picked up the underwear bomber’s little rig there?” asked Beach.

Beach said “It’s a power thing. It’s a dignity thing.”

 “It’s an affront to my dignity. This is America. We are not prisoners,” she said.

Karen Carney, spokeswoman at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City said the airport is “on a list of airports” set to receive one of the body imaging machines, similar to the machine already in place at Tulsa International Airport.

Oklahoma Watchdog called Alexis Higgins at Tulsa International Airport seeking comment about the body imaging machines, but she referred all questions to the TSA.

“We haven’t had a lot of people calling about it,” Carney said. “We know there’s been a lot of discussion about it in the media.

Carney confirmed that passengers can opt out of going through the body scanners.

“It will be interesting to see how (the TSA rules) will change because they will probably change,” Carney said.

Andrea McCauley, spokesperson for the TSA at their Dallas-Fort Worth office which oversees the airports in Oklahoma City and Tulsa said during the first part of this year 150 RapiScan body imaging machines are expected to be installed at airports across America.

And there are already plans for hundreds more.

“We have funding for 300 additional body imaging machines,” McCauley said.

 “They’re a very safe technology,” McCauley said. “The waves are less than talking on a cell phone for 10 minutes or when you take a typical airplane flight.”

Asked about concerns travelers’ naked bodies will be viewed by TSA agents in a hidden room, McCauley said TSA “takes these concerns very seriously.”

Privacy filters will be implemented “to ensure passengers’ privacy,” McCauley said.

“It’s absolutely optional,” McCauley said of passengers having to walk through the body imaging machines. “We understand some passengers don’t feel comfortable passing through them.”

Asked if passengers will be further scrutinized if they opt out of going through the body imaging machine and simply prefer a pat down, McCauley said they would not be treated any differently.

Both millimeter wave and “backscatter” technology will be implemented, McCauley said. Millimeter wave technology beams millimeter wave radio frequency energy over the surface of the body at high speed. This creates a three-dimensional image, showing the passenger’s naked body – genitalia and all – although facial features are blurred.

Backscatter technology uses low level X-rays to create a two-sided image. According to TSA.gov, they are testing backscatter with an algorithm applied to the entire image to “further protect passenger privacy.”

UPDATE (Jan. 6, 2010): Oklahoma Watchdog has been noting that a number of newspaper columnists have been supportive of the intrusive body scanning technology. Clytie Bunyan, business editor at The Oklahoman, wrote earlier this week that “Travelers should prepare for scans.” Bunyan argues that if travelers are made to feel safer by the use of these machines, then so be. “Some are complaining that they’re too intrusive – an invasion of their privacy. Who cares?”

Well, Ms. Bunyan, a lot of people care. They actually care about their dignity and rights as a human being. Why are passengers having to pay for the shortcomings of the government when every red flag was waving when it came to the terroristic inclinations of Umar AbdulMutallab? Ms. Bunyan, you are giving into tyranny far too easily. Such a shame.

And then there is Lyn Cockburn’s column at the Edmonton Sun. I note this Canadian paper because I just experienced the invasive searches at the Calgary International Airport last week, following a trip to the Canadian Rockies. Ms. Cockburn, in her column headlined “The naked truth is it makes us safer,” writes that the body scanners are important, if they stop the “terrorists.” Ms. Cockburn said she is “happy to contribute my butt to airplane security” and has no problem with strangers viewing her naked body on a screen. She writes: “(I)t will only be viewed by a trained employee in a nearby – and enclosed – booth. This employee will never see your face.” An article in the Edmonton Sun notes that “Airport body scanners ‘good in the long run.'” The Canadians, it appears, have simply given up.

But then the calls for scanning are going even further, with a former European Union justice commissioner calling for passengers to have their insides scanned, in case a terrorist swallowed a capsule that can make the jihadist a “human bomb.” It’s clearly getting out of control.

By Andrew W. Griffin

Oklahoma Watchdog, editor

Posted: January 5, 2010


Copyright 2010 Oklahoma Watchdog


Andrew formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Tom Kruecke

    Let me see, The authorities don’t see the “inteligence” hitting them between the eyes, so the solution is to invest millions in an assult on the flying publics dignity. complient public + incompetent authority = absurdity. We have been invaded by idiots!

  • http://oklahomawatchdog.org Andrew Griffin

    Exactly, Tom. Thanks for reading!

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  • Randal Tucker

    I am distressed by the fact that many of these machines were ready to go, waiting in warehouses prior to the perceived false-flag event that precipitated their immediate implementation. Seems as though the hegelian dialectic is rolled our way…again. Crisis…Fear…Solution. Give me a break; every free thinking citizen should opt out of this blatant affront to your civil liberties. This has gone too far! Perhaps…this is not about flight safety after all. Perhaps this is more about getting your 3D body map to go with the DNA file collected on every american citizen for the past 36 years. Wave-millimeter cameras are going up around the world. Orwell was only off 30 years. Gosh, this is gonna be fun.

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  • Mike

    I wrote wrwa@okc.gov and suggested that they use a private screening company instead of TSA screeners at Will Rogers World Airport. Ms. Carney responded, so I know emails sent there are being read. I encourage you to do the same.