Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a leading privacy group, has
asked a federal appeals court to suspend the U.S. government's program
of introducing full-body imaging machines at airports.
the group, the imaging machines constitute a suspicionless search
of all airport travelers in an extremely invasive way so
invasive that it violates the reasonable standard contained in the
challenge aside, EPIC also charges that the Department of Homeland
Security, in rolling out the devices, violated a host of bureaucratic
policies requiring public review, including the Administrative Procedures
Act. What's more, the group claims the machines, among other things,
violate the federal Video Voyeurism Prevent Act, which protects
against capturing improper images that violate one's privacy."
at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) sent a letter
to the White House Office of Science and Technology in April warning
of potential health risks including skin cancer from
the scanners, which distribute a dose of radiation to the skin and
There are about
350 full-body scanners being used in close to 70 U.S. airports,
and that number is expected to increase to 1,000 scanners by the
end of 2011.
scanners because they give a graphic image of your body, including
genitalia and other personal effects like sanitary
napkins, the devices are raising privacy and health concerns
among frequent travelers and pilots groups alike.
is also causing outrage. Those who opt out of being scanned must
now submit to a far more intrusive form of pat-down, and a large
number of horror stories have already surfaced, where people of
all ages have been humiliated, or worse, during these 'enhanced'
numbers of people are expressing their outrage over being submitted
to full-body scanning. Already the U.S. Travel Association has received
hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from angry travelers who say
they will stop flying until the scanners are no longer in force.
Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has also sought a court order
to stop the use of the scanners, citing privacy and health risks
and calling for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
to conduct a public rule-making to assess the safety and security
give the government a great deal of latitude in airports, but it
is not unbounded, and the current screening procedures the
digital X-ray cameras called "body scanners" and the genital-groping
searches called "pat-downs" have never been reviewed by a
Is a court
really prepared to say that in the absence of suspicion, these search
procedures which the law would otherwise treat as sexual
battery are "reasonable"?
… No other
country in the world subjects its air travelers to the combination
of screening procedures that Americans are being asked to endure."
for US Airways and American Airlines have also urged their pilots
not to submit to Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) screening due
to potential health risks and privacy issues.
efforts are also underway, with one online group at the Web site
WeWontFly.com likening the scanners
to a strip search.
opposed to the full-body backscatter X-ray airport scanners on grounds
of health and privacy. We do not consent to strip searches, virtual
or otherwise. We do not wish to be guinea pigs for new, and possibly
dangerous, technology. We are not criminals. We are your customers.
We will not beg the government anymore. We will simply stop flying
until the porno-scanners are history."
There are also
concerns that the images from the scanners could be saved, an assertion
the TSA denies. However, reports have already surfaced of workers
saving such images and using
them to humiliate colleagues.
Agents Be Allowed to Sexually Violate Passengers?
You can opt
out of the full-body scans at this time, but doing so means you
will be subjected to an "enhanced physical pat-down" during which
TSA agents use open hands and fingers to search your body physically,
including your breasts and genital area. Previously, agents would
use only the backs of their hands during pat-downs.
Some of the
horror stories now emerging are causing a fury, and rightfully so.
Is there no
limit to how far TSA agents can go when frisking passengers?
Take the case
of a female flight
attendant who was forced to pull out her prosthetic breast,
for example. Several other women have reported feeling shocked by
what they call "sexual violations," including having their labia
groped without warning. TSA agents have even been accused of treating
young children in such a way that they'd be brought up on child
molestation charges had it not occurred in an airport.
video contains several examples of such outrageous cases.
"I am a
good American and I want safety for all passengers as much as the
next person. But if this country is going to sacrifice treating
people like human beings in the name of safety, then we have already
lost the war."
to Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic,
these 'enhanced' tactics are purposelydesignedand intended to be intimidating and humiliating, in order
to stop you from opting out of the scanner!
Need to Fly?
Submit to Humiliation or Face $11,000 Fine
even worse, not to mention bizarre, once you're at the security
check, there's no turning back; you have no choice but to submit
to either, or both, of the new and enhanced security techniques,
according to the TSA.
Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial
airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses
to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be
allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the
airport," the Sun
will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA
and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines
up to $11,000 and possible arrest."
Opt Out of TSA Screenings
It's a little-known
fact that airports are not required to use TSA screenings at all.
They can opt-out of such programs altogether – including the body
scanners and "enhanced pat-downs" and hire private screening
the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and
sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who
will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.
of the authors of the original TSA bill, has recently written to
the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt
out of TSA screening.
TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become
a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees,"
Mica writes. "As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal,
and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports
across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided
choose not to hire private screeners out of liability concerns if
a terrorist managed to get through, and there's no way to know right
now whether such changes would make airport screening any safer
or less intrusive. Still, it's an option that many do not realize
in Florida may ditch TSA. According to Larry Dale, president of
the Sanford Airport Authority in Orlando, says the change to a private
screening company was approved on Oct. 5, CNN
contractors must still follow TSA security guidelines. According
to TSA spokesman Greg Soule:
airports are regulated by TSA whether the actual screening is performed
by the TSA officers or private companies. The TSA sets the security
standards that must be followed and includes the use of enhanced
pat downs and imaging technology, if installed at the airport."
may, however, be more careful about the professionalism and courtesy
of their employees, compared to TSA. According
to Larry Dale, "research shows that using a private security
screening company would be more efficient and more enjoyable to
May Cause Cancer
The other glaring
issue posed by the TSA scanners has to do with your health and their
use of controversial backscatter technology, which projects an X-ray
beam onto your body.
X-ray uses ionizing radiation, a known cumulative health hazard,
to produce images of passengers' bodies. Children, pregnant women,
the elderly, and those with defective DNA repair mechanisms are
considered to be especially susceptible to the type of DNA damage
caused by ionizing radiation. Also at high risk are those who have
had, or currently have, skin cancer.
radiation's effects are cumulative, meaning that each time you are
exposed you are adding to your risk of developing cancer. Since
the dosage of radiation from the backscatter X-ray machines is absorbed
almost entirely by the skin and tissue directly under the skin,
averaging the dose over the whole body gives an inaccurate picture
of the actual harm."
from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) sent a letter
to the White House Office of Science and Technology echoing the
concern that radiation from the scanners could damage skin and underlying
tissue, potentially leading to skin cancer.
The White House
Office responded that the technology had been tested extensively
for safety, but the scientists noted numerous flaws in the response
and are currently preparing a rebuttal.
radiation beam from the scanners concentrates on your skin, researchers
believe the dose may be up to 20 times higher than is being estimated.
Online reported, Dr. David Brenner, head of Columbia University's
center for radiological research, also noted that about one in 20
people, including children and people with gene mutations, may be
at increased risk as they are less able to repair the DNA damage
caused by the x-ray scan.
Even the U.S.
Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) recognized the potential risks,
especially from frequent exposure. As CNN reported, Capt. Mike Cleary,
president of the USAPA wrote:
on currently available medical information, USAPA has determined
that frequent exposure to TSA-operated scanner devices may subject
pilots to significant health risks."
Harmful Ionizing Radiation
Some of the
TSA's full-body scanners subject your body to small doses of ionizing
creates charged ions by displacing electrons in atoms, even without
heat. Examples are radiation emitted from radioactive substances
in rocks and soil, cosmic rays of the sun, and radiation from man-made
technology such as x-ray machines, power stations, and nuclear reactors.
is a uniquely potent mutagen due to its ability to wreak havoc upon
your cells and their genetic code.
are unable to repair the very complex genetic damage done by x-rays.
Some of the mutated cells die, but others do not, and the cells
that go on living have a proliferative advantage giving rise
to the most aggressive cancers.
other mutagens, x-rays have access to the genetic molecules of every
one of your internal organs, if the organ is within range of the
x-ray beam. Even a single high-speed, high-energy electron, set
into motion by an x-ray photon, can bounce around and cause you
That is why
there is no safe dose of x-rays.
effects of radiation are cumulative, which means that every time
you walk through an airport scanner, you're adding to your dose.
If you fly frequently or you're exposed
to other forms of radiation through CT scans, mammograms and
other medical procedures, you could easily be on radiation overload.
Fears of Radiation
Exposure May Be Overblown...
It is important
to place this radiation exposure risk in its proper perspective.
at the reported numbers.
an airport x-ray scanner produces .02 microsieverts of radiation.
But REMEMBER you are only getting them because you are going on
a flight. Nearly everyone forgets that when you fly there is also
ionizing radiation exposure. In fact on a typical transcontinental
flight at 30,000 feet you will be exposed to 20 microsieverts of
That is one
THOUSAND times the dose you receive from the scanner.
So if you are
willing to accept the risk of air travel radiation how could you
possibly justify concern about these scanners?
said that this past year I became aware that the way to reduce your
air travel radiation by 99 percent is to fly at night. Just as it
is impossible to get a suntan at night, you will avoid virtually
all of the radiation when you fly at night.
That is why
I nearly fly exclusively at night now, or as far away from noon
as practically possible.
I also take
2 mg of astaxanthin every day, which is believed to radically limit
damage from ionizing radiation.
understand the main point of this article: the REAL health danger
is from CT scans, which is FIFTY THOUSAND times the radiation dose
of one of these scans. You would have to have one scan every day
for 136 years to equal the radiation of one CT scan.
The issue of
whether or not the alternative – being groped and potentially humiliated
during an 'enhanced' pat-down – is warranted, or even legal, is
another issue altogether…
Works if We Aren't Being Lied to
that this calculation and risk proposal is based on the reported
radiation levels. If we are being lied to then all bets are off
and we need to reanalyze, but if the numbers are accurate you would
have to have to have 100 scans to equal the radiation exposure of
one daytime flight.
is NOT the Only Health Hazard of Full-Body Scanners
"the radiation dose is likely the least of the problems with airport
screening," according to Dr. Jane M. Orient, M.D. In her article
for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS),
she details what the medical community considers to be the REAL
health hazard of full-body scanners, namely the use of low-energy
an ingenious low-energy backscatter technique, which is apparently
wonderful for identifying explosives in cargo. Since the radiation
doesn't penetrate far, it wouldn't affect an unborn baby. But it
does concentrate the dose in the skin.
warn that this effect has not been properly studied, and one nuclear
medicine expert told me that he is going to opt out of the scan.
I think this much is clear: if you had a deadly disease, and the
scanner were an FDA-regulated device that might save your life,
your doctor wouldn't be allowed to use it, because of inadequate
scientists who recently spoke with CNN point out the potential for
backscatter technology to cause fatal skin cancer. CNN
of harmful radiation exposure from backscatter scans is very small,
according to David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological
Research at Columbia University and a professor of radiation biophysics.
said he is concerned about how widely the scanners will be used.
think of the entire population of, shall we say a billion people
per year going through these scanners, it's very likely that some
number of those will develop cancer from the radiation from these
scanners," Brenner said.
cancer would likely be the primary concern, he said. Each
time the same person receives a backscatter scan, the small risk
associated with the low dose of radiation is multiplied by the number
TSA says each backscatter scan emits radiation equivalent to just
two minutes of cosmic radiation at altitude.
a professor of physics at Arizona State University, disagrees. Rez
has independently calculated the radiation doses of backscatter
scanners using the images produced by the machines.
to the conclusion that although low, the dose was higher than they
said," he said.
his analysis, Rez estimates each scan produces radiation equivalent
to 10 to 20 minutes of flight.
probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that
of being killed in a terror attack are roughly the same, he said.
About one in 30 million.
both incredibly unlikely events. These are still a factor of 10
lower than the probability of dying in any one year from being struck
by lightning in the United States."
to Gain Financially from Full-Body Scanners?
As in so many
other instances, our legal and civil rights system is being willfully
manipulated and trampled for the sake of private and corporate profits.
In this case,
the former homeland security chief and co-author of the PATRIOT
act, Michael Chertoff, is now the primary promoter of full-body
scanners, and is a paid consultant for the companies that sell them!
"… if your
doctor had an ownership interest in the scanner, he might go to
federal prison for referring you for a scan. These anti-kickback
laws, however, do not apply to the influential government cronies
who stand to make a fortune from the scanners."
It's just the
latest in a very long line of blatant conflicts of interest and
corporate agendas that have, and continue to, erode our personal
freedoms in the name of "security."
What Can You
do if You're Planning to Fly?
As for the
level of health hazard, I sincerely believe the most significant
risk you have when flying is due to ionizing radiation but NOT from
these scanners; it is from actually flying at 35,000 feet. We were
never meant to be living this high above the ground
So what can
solution is to fly at night or at least avoid flying from 8 a.m.
to 5 p.m., with noon being the worst. If you fly at night you can
reduce your radiation risk by 99 percent because nearly all of the
radiation from the sun is being blocked by the earth.
If you are
unable to fly at night for whatever reason the next best solution
I have found is to use the most potent lipid-soluble free radical
antioxidant I know of, which has been shown to virtually eliminate
the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It also
helps prevent sunburn.
And just what
antioxidant would that be?
It is astaxanthin,
which is carotenoid extracted from a marine algae. The typical dose
is 2 mg, but the key is that it needs to be taken for about three
weeks before your radiation exposure.
This is not
only helpful for exposure to high-altitude radiation but any radiation
from the airport scanner or even CT scans, which are 10,000 times
If you opt
for the pat-down, keep hygiene in mind.
also brought this issue up in her AAPS article:
about the transmission of scabies, crab lice, bedbug larvae, and
all manner of germs by TSA gropers? Do they change gloves and wash
their hands between subjects, as hospital personnel must do?"
eye-witnesses, TSA agents do not routinely change gloves between
each passenger… So, the obvious remedy would be to insist the agent
puts on a fresh pair of gloves before touching you and your child.
As for the
humiliation factor that these enhanced TSA security checks present,
I would encourage you to contact your local government officials
and state representatives, or join the "We
Won't Fly" campaign.