Saturday, January 09, 2010

TSA Voyeurism

As any engineer can explain, any capability that has been downgraded can be re-upgraded. Any capability that has been disabled is a capability that can be re-enabled. And that applies to the whole body imaging technology of the Transportation Security Administration.

Images that had been approved by the TSA were released showing more detail than had been previously admitted to, causing a reaction described here, but it turns out the images were far more revealing.

First there was a video released to Liveleak showing that the TSA has the ability to magnify those downgraded images, providing much more detail than the released sample images. What, exactly, does the TSA need that much resolution for? To count body hairs?

Then there are the images revealed by Stephan Kinsella at the Lew Rockwell blog.

A not suitable for work image

According to the TSA, the Whole Body Imagers do not reveal very much detail. The images are safe for Reader’s Digest and could even be posted in pre-schools. That is an exaggeration for even the downgraded images. That is an absurdity for the images that the Screener actually sees.

It is fascinating that these better images came out now. First the TSA had one of their security screening manuals leaked. Then they allowed the Nigerian crotch-bomber to fly – while it is true that the flight did not originate in the United States, the United States government received and approved the passenger list before the plane even took off. Then to respond the TSA harassed some bloggers and got caught. Then these more revealing images were released, including a video.

While Britain is undergoing a rather unfortunate bout of sex predator hysteria, causing parents to be considered suspects just for wanting to see their own kids in a school play, the hysteria there has had the beneficial side effect of having the government declare that the machines cannot be used on children. The TSA has admitted that minors are subject to full screening.

Finally, in spite of the many pronouncements about the medically safe millimeter wave technology being used, it appears that the TSA is also deploying unsafe X-Ray technology along side the millimeter wave technology, and that the person being screened is not likely to know which is being used. The only issues with millimeter wave technology are legal and constitutional. The only issues with X-Ray technology are legal, constitutional, and medical!

The TSA is being shown to the public for what it is, and it is ugly.

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