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Full Body Scanners Do Not Lead To Safer Travel

1107 words - 4 pages

Why should anyone including my 3-year-old daughter unnecessarily be exposed to cancer causing X-ray beams in a full body scanner? Or have a total stranger run his or her hands up and down my daughter's body for a full pat-down upon refusing the scan? Most enraging is that the scan can be done without my knowledge. Full body scanners should not be used in United States airports. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), on November 20, 2010 implemented the use of 385 scanners, otherwise know as advanced imaging technology in 68 airports to include Denver International Airport. The TSA is using these machines supposedly to ensure safer travel and be steps ahead of security threats.
According to the TSA, as a preventive measure, scanners where rapidly deployed after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed attempt at blowing up an aircraft with pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN sewn in his underwear December 25, 2009. Former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff claimed that if Abdulmutallab had gone through screening or a full pat-down, the explosives would have been discovered (Eggen, DeYoung and Hsu 2). The TSA also claims that not all explosives or explosive devices can be detected through metal detectors.
The scanner machines cannot detect explosives such as the type that Abdulmutallab had concealed. Abdullah Ansieri had a detonator and explosives hidden in his rectum when he tried to kill Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism chief, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Ansieri was Saudi's most wanted man and managed to get through two rigorous airport screenings and Saudi Secret Service, who defend royals by any means necessary. Professor Clive Williams a counter-terrorism expert of the Australian National University said the machines would not detect bombs implanted in bodies or powdered explosives hidden in underwear (Heasley 1). The two types of scanners currently being used by the TSA are backscatter imaging technology and millimeter wave imaging. The backscatter imaging is an X-ray beam bounced off the skin. Millimeter wave imaging bounces of electromagnetic waves off the skin as well. Being that both technologies do not penetrate the body, explosives hidden in body cavities or surgically implanted, go completely undetected (Heasley 1).
Since the technologies being used only bounce waves of the body surface, this leaves then skin highly exposed to concentrated amounts of radiation. Health side effect studies of full body scanners have been labeled classified and inaccessible to the general public. Four professors from the University of California- San Francisco, whom are well respected cancer, X-ray crystallographers and imaging experts stated in a letter to the Obama administration that, “The low-energy rays do a “Compton scatter” off tissue layers just under the skin, possibly exposing some vital areas and leaving the tissues at risk of mutation. When an X-ray Compton scatters, it doesn’t shift an electron to a higher energy level;...

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