USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

Which is it: Millimeter Wave or Backscatter?

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
imaging

As TSA continues to deploy new technology, some people continue to be confused about whole body imagers. Millimeter wave, backscatter, privacy filters… it all adds up to a confused traveling public.

Since one of our readers asked about the difference between millimeter wave and backscatter images in a previous post and we’ve also seen other blogs get the two confused, we thought we’d put the correct information and images out there to clear up any misinformation. Both millimeter wave and backscatter fall under the classification of whole body imaging, which gives security officers a virtual image of a passenger that highlights potentially dangerous items.

Here’s the lowdown on the two technologies:

How millimeter wave works:

Beams of radio frequency (RF) energy in the millimeter wave spectrum are projected over the body’s surface at high speed from two antennas simultaneously as they rotate around the body.


The RF energy reflected back from the body or other objects on the body is used to construct a three-dimensional image.

The three-dimensional image of the body, with facial features blurred for privacy, is displayed on a remote monitor for analysis. The image is not saved – once it’s off the screen it’s gone forever.

 

This is the millimeter wave image a security officer sees:


A millimeter wave machine looks like this:;

Here ’s how Millimeter Wave imaging works (WMV, 3.4 MB).

Here’s how Millimeter Wave technology detects threats (WMV, 3.4 MB).

How backscatter works:

A narrow, low intensity X-ray beam is scanned over the body's surface at high speed.
The technology relies on the X-ray radiation that is reflected back from the body and other objects placed or carried on the body, where it is converted into a computer image, embedded with a modesty filter and displayed on a remote monitor.

Passengers will walk up to the backscatter unit, assisted by a transportation security officer and remain still for several seconds while the technology creates an image of the body.
Images will be deleted immediately once viewed and will never be stored, transmitted or printed (the passenger imaging units have zero storage capability).

This is the backscatter image the security officer sees:
Click here to see a demonstration of backscatter (2Mb, wmv).

And while we’re at it:

Because we see it time and time again, we wanted to clear up another bit of misinformation. This is a raw backscatter image with NO privacy algorithm. This is NOT what security officers see – this image was used to show what the capabilities of the technology are.

 

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh, my, here we go again: the front image of what the backscatter sees, please. One would have thought that you have had enough intelligence to not post just a rear image. However, since this is the TSA we are dealing with, I guess it’s understandable.

To tsa loves you:

I’m taking the liberty of bumping your post re quote from Kippie from the cartoon thread to this one; hope you don’t mind and thank you for your research:

"KH: We're still evaluating backscatter and are in the process of running millimeter wave portals right alongside backscatter to compare their effectiveness and the privacy issues. We do not now store images for the test phase (function disabled), and although we haven't officially resolved the issue, I fully understand the privacy argument and don't assume that we will store them if and when they're widely deployed."

Non-weasel worded translation: go back to every single assurance any blogger has given us and add "...for the test phase" to the end of it.

As for the person who opined that some people must have a lot of time on their hands: One never has enough time when trying to keep government agencies honest; it’s almost a full-time job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ok, so what is the difference between microwaves and millimeter waves? Aren't you just using fancy microwave machines?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So we know the backscatter scans are capable of high definition images, and are not allowed to see what kind of images the screeners are seeing. How do you expect us to believe they are actually only looking at the cartoon version? Even the privacy assessment by the TSA says the quality of the images may change, giving us no guarantees.

Bring the image viewing out where the person screened can see it, or I, for one, will not go through with this.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If they start using these X ray machines I will never fly again.
I dont care what you say,,it a gross invasion of privacy.

Submitted by Anonymous on

All the world is a conspiracy to the ill informed. So many assumptions are made with no proof to back them up. If you do not intend to harm anyone on an airliner than you should have nothing to worry about.

The intelligent traveler understands the need for such devices and welcomes them as a means to ensure our safety.

Submitted by Dave Nelson on

OK, Kippie, here you go again. We, the people, demand to see the EXACT image that your screener will see -- front and back in the exact resolution.

After all, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, right?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can you provide information on the radiation dose from the backscatter machines-- along with comparisons to transcontinental flights and lung x-rays?

Submitted by Lynnie on

Anonymous said:

"The intelligent traveler understands the need for such devices and welcomes them as a means to ensure our safety."

WRONG! The intelligent traveler knows it's nothing but theater for the benefit of Ma and Pa Kettle. Which one are you, Ma or Pa?

Submitted by Cat on
Can you provide information on the radiation dose from the backscatter machines-- along with comparisons to transcontinental flights and lung x-rays?

Backscatter X-Ray machines work by reflecting weak particles from your skin. The x-rays do not penetrate your skin (which is why the image, raw, looks like it does) or any dense objects that may be concealed under clothing.

I Am Not A Doctor, and I Do Not Work For the NRC or NIOSH or OSHA, however the exposure from these (and all other x-ray generating machines the TSA uses) does not exceed the amount of radiation you may get in front of an old Cathode Ray TV. TSA employees, who are occupationally exposed a lot more than passengers, don't even get dosimeters.

(And some of them are upset about that, too.)
Submitted by Abelard on
If you do not intend to harm anyone on an airliner than you should have nothing to worry about.

Does this philosophy only apply to air travelers? Because I could use the same "wisdom" to demand to know why you feel it necessary to have blinds or curtains on your windows at home. After all, what could you possibly be doing in there that would cause you worry if someone saw you?
Submitted by Anonymous on

To be Stripped Searched either virtually or physically is an excessive measure to ensure safety.

Reserve this for situations that cannot be resolved by other less invasive or demeaning methods.

To the poster who said, "The intelligent traveler understands the need for such devices and welcomes them as a means to ensure our safety."

I guess you would have no problem with non-LEO federal agents entering your home at anytime so ensure your safety.

TSA has over-stepped their authority. They still do not protect the airport, aircraft and passengers from threats introduced by cargo,vehiclesor employees entering the airport. They do not protect checked baggage from having contraband introduce after being inspected.

The real security holes are so large that passenger threats are a very small problem since cockpit doors remained locked regardless of what happens in the cabin.

Yet TSA spends a large amount of manpower to inspect ID's which provide little in the way of improved security.

TSA is mis-managed and until an overhaul of the agency happens no significant improvement in real security will happen.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So are Shampoo and Coke Hazmat or aren't they? And if they are, why aren't they treated like Hazmat? Stop ignoring these questions.

I don't think it's kosher putting the MMW screen in some far-off room... if these images are G-Rated, there should be no problem letting other people in line possibly see them. You say the separate screening room is for our privacy, but why do we need privacy if the images aren't revealing? Personally, I'd rather get a good look at what the agent is seeing of my body. What with all the contradictory info available, I'd prefer to observe the truth for myself. I certainly don't trust TSA to be straight with us. The contents of your carryon (still in view of other people in line via the X-Ray machine screen) are just as private as the shape of your body, if you ask me. Possibly more so since, the shape of someone's body is viewable without the need for special equipment. Still, X-Ray, Public, MMW, Private. Hmmmm... I wonder why?

Btw, I was very happy to hear about feedback forms being available at security. It's a step in the right direction towards better accountability. I imagine the next time I fly out of Boston, unless the security situation there is very different than last time I flew, the TSOs there will get a much-deserved smackdown

Submitted by Anonymous on

The blog publishing issues are resolved. We are a little short-handed regarding moderators. So comments may take time to be approved. ~Neil 12 days ago


-------------------------
No Neil they are not! Gripes and Grins is still messed up.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Through sheer insistence, we finally got the front and back male and female MMW images. How about insisting now to change something in TSA procedures?

I suggest the form of full body scans. They are still being implanted, so policy is more easily changeable. Many of us have suggested the screeners be seen in the general screening area. It is our right to be able to see the persons seeing our images, as well as the images themselves.

CHANGE THE SCAN PROCEDURES AND BRING THEM OUT INTO THE OPEN!

Submitted by Jonjacobjingleh... on

Anonymous said -- "If they start using these X ray machines I will never fly again."

Well anonymous, since the machines have been operational, in some cases for over a year, (thanks for being so informed) I thought I would help you out.

Amtrak - 800-USA-Rail or
www.greyhound.com

Submitted by Anonymous on

"All the world is a conspiracy to the ill informed."

And once you are well informed the world is a vast conspiracy of power hungry people looking to expand their power.

Of course the only truly successful conspiracy is the one we have not heard of.

The lust to control people was never made a sin. But then it wouldn't be, would it?

,>)

T. Saint

Submitted by Anonymous on
Dave Nelson said
"OK, Kippie, here you go again. We, the people, demand to see the EXACT image that your screener will see -- front and back in the exact resolution.

After all, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, right?"
Code of Federal Regulations 42 1520.5(b)(9)(iv) protects as SSI "Any electronic image shown on any screening equipment".
The purpose of this rule is to prevent terrorists from learning ways to obscure prohibted items, from identifying strengths and weaknesses of various screening systems.
The United States is not the only country protecting these images. Every nation that has deployed this equipment has provided only a very limited number of sample images. All other countries who are signatories to ICAO protect screening images. This is not some random decision made by TSA (and FAA before it). It is a security related decision that all other countries have also reached.
Submitted by Sandra on

Bumping from the thread on cartoons wherein some TSA apologists were trying to convince others that the TSA is not as disliked as it is, here's a quote from a J.D. Power survey on customer satisfaction with the airport experience:

"In particular, customer satisfaction with the security check aspect of the airport experience has declined considerably since 2007.

"Service inconsistencies in the security check process from airport to airport are particularly frustrating for customers, who report lower satisfaction with the professionalism of security staff and the ability of the security check process to make them feel safe, compared with 2007."

Submitted by Anonymous on

Other countries may protect their images, but at least in England the scanned person sees his/her own image and the person analyzing it. Much better than the seedy system in the US where you can´t see anything (and can´t complain if something is not correctly done).

Submitted by Bob on

The front and rear backscatter images have been posted. The omission was simply an oversight.

Thanks,

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for posting front and back images with the "privacy filter". Can you explain why the filter allows you to see the person´s navel but not nipples? Seems strange to me.

Can you assure us these will always be the images viewed? Can we see our own images, please?

Submitted by Dave Nelson on
Code of Federal Regulations 42 1520.5(b)(9)(iv) protects as SSI "Any electronic image shown on any screening equipment".


Wait a minute. When the TSA pushed through this CFR (without public comment, by the way), the only imagery they had was from the X-ray. We're waiting for the notice of proposed rule-making in order to update the CFR. I'm sure they'll get to it right after they respond to lost baggage claims.

Kippie is the SSI authority for SSI release (unless he has delegated it). If he really was transparent, this would be a no-brainer.

The purpose of this rule is to prevent terrorists from learning ways to obscure prohibted items, from identifying strengths and weaknesses of various screening systems.

I don't seem to recall this in writing. Nonetheless, it's one heck of an assertion. I guess this makes the blog images and the blog itself and every computer on Planet Earth that has accessed the blog SSI-high, right?

All other countries who are signatories to ICAO protect screening images.

Big deal. Countries have done lots of things in order to comply with US extortion. I haven't found this criterion as a condition of ICAO membership.

Guess you've never met a threat that you didn't like.
Submitted by Marshall's SO on

"The front and rear backscatter images have been posted. The omission was simply an oversight."

Want to tell us another fairy tale, Bob?

If anyone believes him, I have a bridge I'm willing to sell - cheap.

Submitted by JD on

This whole thing is BS. The so-called "Department of Homeland Security" is BS. My experiences as a Marine returning from Iraq have shown me that the TSA is nothing but a show and a farce. Semper Fi

Submitted by Anonymous on

How about addressing the request to bring the persons analyzing images out into the open? It would bring peace of mind to all of us that the images generated are, indeed, not used inappropriately.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"U.S. air travelers are deeply frustrated and avoiding flying, says a new survey by the Travel Industry Association. They're so fed up that they avoided an estimated 41 million trips over the last year, estimated the TIA, costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars."

"Travelers' top concerns are delays, cancellations and inefficient security screening."

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Marshall's SO said...

"The front and rear backscatter images have been posted. The omission was simply an oversight."

Want to tell us another fairy tale, Bob?

If anyone believes him, I have a bridge I'm willing to sell - cheap.

The images were up in less than two days, for a government entity two days is lightning fast.
Submitted by Trollkiller on
JD said...

This whole thing is BS. The so-called "Department of Homeland Security" is BS. My experiences as a Marine returning from Iraq have shown me that the TSA is nothing but a show and a farce. Semper Fi

Thank you for your service.

Things could be worse, the TSA could have hired Blackwater to run the security.
Submitted by Buffalo Native on

I guarantee that within hours of this technology being employed TSA employees will be watching high resolution images of attractive young women - protestations of TSA notwithstanding..

Submitted by TSA TSO NY on

Buffalo native said...
"I guarantee that within hours of this technology being employed TSA employees will be watching high resolution images of attractive young women - protestations of TSA notwithstanding..

May 31, 2008 10:56 AM"

And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied, will continue to post no matter how transparent the policies become!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Personally, I'd rather get a good look at what the agent is seeing of my body. "

That's actually a great idea! Have moniters facing the person being scanned. You know somebody, somewhere is not going to empty their pockets. By showing them the image the TSO is seeing, maybe it'll spped up the process.

Or not. I can't tell you how many times the person infront of me forgets his cell phone and sets off the metal dector. They always looked shocked! Geeze, a cell phone is made of metal?

Submitted by Axendra on

Interesting read, I quite liked looking through your blog.
I had seen a little on it before so it was rather interesting reading about it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

tsa tso ny said: "And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied, will continue to post no matter how transparent the policies become!"

We are asking for more transparency, and are being ignored! Please bring full body image viewers out into the open!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

mnhI like how people call TSA "non-LEOs" as if that would make influence the situation one way or another.

Would you be more willing to be scanned if the TSO had a gun on his hip?

Seems like those who complain about the security being "security theater" are most subject to visual impact above all other.

Oh, and if the US has such bad security and it's only purpose is "to represent"... can you please indicate which country is doing it right? (Israel doesn't count, their security is WAY too intense for what is needed here) Because from my travels, I've noticed, that while the TSA leaves a lot to desire it is still the airport security with the highest trained and most effective security methods...

I can walk through most countries' airport security with a huge ACME bomb and they would probably let it through.

Seriously, there are approximately 300 countries in the world... which ones have better SECURITY, not better customer service, than the TSA?

If TSA is bad but is still better than 299 countries in the world, and let's even say that the UK and Israel is better, the top 1% isn't too shabby.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I like how many people here think the TSOs are salivating over the idea of watching fuzzy, black and white low resolution scans of a person holding their arms up in which you are not even allowed to compare the scan to the person.

Honestly, it takes less than 10 seconds to find porn on the internet people, 10 seconds.

Seeing a fully clothed person is much much more exciting than that guys... give me a break.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA TSO NY said...
Buffalo native said...
"I guarantee that within hours of this technology being employed TSA employees will be watching high resolution images of attractive young women - protestations of TSA notwithstanding..

May 31, 2008 10:56 AM"

And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied, will continue to post no matter how transparent the policies become!

May 31, 2008 3:35 PM


Hey TSO NY, your the TSA Expert who said if a medical item didn't have a perscription it wouldn't go, aren't you? Yeah, that was you, want me to pull up that post?

And you change the rules as you see fit.

You have the gall to question others?

No wonder why you guys get so much respect!

Submitted by Anonymous on

tsa tso ny: "And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied, will continue to post no matter how transparent the policies become!"

As they have every right to, and very much should. Any move away from transparency is a move toward control.

Anonymous: "I like how many people here think the TSOs are salivating over the idea of watching fuzzy, black and white low resolution scans of a person holding their arms up in which you are not even allowed to compare the scan to the person."

Who says they're fuzzy? The machines are capable of storing extremely clear pictures. We have only the TSA's word that those capabilities will not be used. Or rather, they aren't being used, for the test phase.

As for porn in ten seconds, I have only pity for any TSA agent seeing me naked. It's my ten year old niece I'm concerned for.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Here's a blog post which doesn't succumb to EPIC's backscatter hysteria. Why don't we hear more from the TSA Privacy Officer? Unlike the blog spokescritters (nothing personal, Bob), he seems to know what he is talking about. Plus, he came from Francine's Chief Counsel shop, and we know her posts have always been well thought out.

http://www.jeremyduffy.com/tsa-at-the-cfp-conference/

Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote TSA TSO NY: "And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied, will continue to post no matter how transparent the policies become!"

Thank you for being a poster child of why your agency is ranked with the IRS as the worst federal agency.

"Morons" like us will be satisified when you can pass red teams tests at 80% or better rather than fail them 80% of the time.

"Morons" like us will be satisified when TSA realizes its role in breaking air travel.

"Morons" like us will be satisified when TSA spends its money on better technology, training, and professional people rather than focusing on smurf uniforms that make you look like wannabe cops, PR spin, and mood lighting.

"Morons" like us will be satisified when TSA actually keeps us safe rather than just tries to make us feel safe. And even at feeling safe, TSA is starting to fail miserably.

Yes, the curtain is finally starting to be pulled from the TSA show.
Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from anonymous: "Here's a blog post which doesn't succumb to EPIC's backscatter hysteria. Why don't we hear more from the TSA Privacy Officer? Unlike the blog spokescritters (nothing personal, Bob), he seems to know what he is talking about. Plus, he came from Francine's Chief Counsel shop, and we know her posts have always been well thought out."

So what exactly makes Francine and her crew more trustworthy than someone like EPIC? Quite honestly, lawyers are paid to justify whatever position their employer or client wants them to defend. Just as a lawyer can make up an argument, another can make up a counter argument then a judge has to decide.

I've seen a lot of well thought out posts on here that have been blown off because they're not cheerleading TSA.

EPIC and other organizations are exactly right here: these are virtual strip searches and they go well beyond the means of an administrative search. Cops can't even strip search without an articulable reason. Showing up at the airport to take af light is not an articulable reason.

All we have is TSA's word that these "fuzzy" pictures are being shown. They admitted that much more detailed pictures can be taken ... they're just "disabled." Given the average TSO, I don't trust them.

I don't trust them when they say they're safe when that's still up for debate.

I don't trust them period.

Quote from anonymous: Would you be more willing to be scanned if the TSO had a gun on his hip?

Great. Give already chest thumping and power tripping TSO's a gun to make them feel like wannabe cops even more? The smurf uniforms and badges already make them feel like that even more than before. And given the mentality of a lot of screeners on here, I don't trust them not to exceed the scope of their limited authority even more than they have coplike uniforms.

Quote: "Seems like those who complain about the security being "security theater" are most subject to visual impact above all other."

It's more than just visual when the theater aspect amounts to harassment without a quantifiable benefit to security.

Oh, and if the US has such bad security and it's only purpose is "to represent"... can you please indicate which country is doing it right? (Israel doesn't count, their security is WAY too intense for what is needed here) Because from my travels, I've noticed, that while the TSA leaves a lot to desire it is still the airport security with the highest trained and most effective security methods...

Japan. I get thru security quickly, efficiently, and am treated well to boot. Never happens in the US anymore. They have technology to detect liquids and have had it for sometime. The lunacy that has to be dealt with there is imposed by other governments such as the US so they have to comply if they want to fly to the US. Yes, enforcing our "high" standards drags security down at other airports across the world.

Quote: "I can walk through most countries' airport security with a huge ACME bomb and they would probably let it through.

A terrorist can walk thru most US airports and be let thru too 80% of the time. What's the difference, except we're harassed more along the way and have to wait longer for the privilege?

Quote: Seriously, there are approximately 300 countries in the world... which ones have better SECURITY, not better customer service, than the TSA?

Customer service is inextricably tied to security. It's a key part of it. TSA provides neither security nor customer service ... only hassles and the illusion of security on a good day.

People will at least feel safer if they're treated better. I think Japan does a better job at security overall. Maybe they don't. But the impression I get going thru security there is that they know what they're doing and they're efficient. Maybe it's an illusion, but I feel safer getting on a plane there than I ever have in the US.

If TSA is bad but is still better than 299 countries in the world, and let's even say that the UK and Israel is better, the top 1% isn't too shabby.

If TSA is cream of the crop and other nations are worse, then God help us all.

Robert
Submitted by Anonymous on

"Robert Johnson"

Maybe they were being polite but I've had a couple tell me the security in Japan is a quick glance and a nod and they felt safer going through the US security.

I admit I know little on the subject... he he, I guess I have an excuse to travel to Japan now.

At to the places I travel to oftenly (JFK and back to MIA, Brazil and Buenos Aires Argentina) I've found the TSA to be the best in my opinion, even though it's popular to bash it... I mean the IRS is the most hated agency... that tells a lot about people...

The IRS don't do their job poorly, their job is to collect income tax, but maybe people complain about the TSA because it's inconvenient, people used to hate the DMV, but now that most of their stuff can be online, people don't hate it as much.

And in this country we do have private security companies that are not TSA, but must follow the security procedures and wear the uniforms, like San Francisco and Key West and they actually have a WORSE public opinion than TSA airports...

Sometimes I think the only way to satisfy some people would be to scrap the TSA completely and put a person that is all smiles and just asks "Are you a terrorist?" and if you say no you just get to walk into the plane...

I guarantee a lot of people would be saying "OH MY GOD, THE SECURITY HERE IS SO GOOD! I FEEL SO SAFE"...

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA TSO NY said the following,

"And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied....."

TSA TSO NY also said,...

"that may be true, but without a prescription it doesn't go."

and

"It's all well to know the rules, but when you're on the checkpoint sometimes the rules get "changed" to suit the situation."

and

"TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."


So TSO NY, now that all passengers are morons per your standards do you still stand behind your words that have been saved for all to see?

Just wondering who the moron really is!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
TSA TSO NY said the following,

"And I guarantee that morons like you who will never be satisfied....."

TSA TSO NY also said,...

"that may be true, but without a prescription it doesn't go."

and

"It's all well to know the rules, but when you're on the checkpoint sometimes the rules get "changed" to suit the situation."

and

"TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."


So TSO NY, now that all passengers are morons per your standards do you still stand behind your words that have been saved for all to see?

Just wondering who the moron really is!

No need to wonder . . . it's as clear as the MMW image before filtering.

Submitted by MoiN on

Buffalo native said...

I guarantee that within hours of this technology being employed TSA employees will be watching high resolution images of attractive young women - protestations of TSA notwithstanding..

--

I kind of second that :D

Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Anonymous: Maybe they were being polite but I've had a couple tell me the security in Japan is a quick glance and a nod and they felt safer going through the US security.

That's a gross oversimplification. Security is quicker ... partly because they have appropriate staffing, and a lot of because they don't require the song and dance that TSA does. Liquids are quickly tested using a machine (technology TSA says doesn't exist). Same metal detectors and x-rays. No barking, no shoe removal, long lines. They seem to believe that good and effective security doesn't have to be a big show ... and they're right.

Quote: I admit I know little on the subject... he he, I guess I have an excuse to travel to Japan now.

I'd recommend it for more than that ... it's a wonderful place to visit.

Quote: At to the places I travel to oftenly (JFK and back to MIA, Brazil and Buenos Aires Argentina) I've found the TSA to be the best in my opinion, even though it's popular to bash it... I mean the IRS is the most hated agency... that tells a lot about people...

I agree that there are worse places in the world. That doesn't make TSA automatically the best though.

Quote: "The IRS don't do their job poorly, their job is to collect income tax, but maybe people complain about the TSA because it's inconvenient, people used to hate the DMV, but now that most of their stuff can be online, people don't hate it as much."

Of course no one likes paying taxes. That said, if an issue arises with the IRS, I have a clear recourse and there's accountability within the ranks. TSA offers none of these.

Quote: And in this country we do have private security companies that are not TSA, but must follow the security procedures and wear the uniforms, like San Francisco and Key West and they actually have a WORSE public opinion than TSA airports...

I've generally had better experiences in SFO than in other places. A lot depends on how management runs things. Screeners are also more likely to be held accountable at a private company where they don't have the red tape in getting rid of bad apples.

Quote: "Sometimes I think the only way to satisfy some people would be to scrap the TSA completely and put a person that is all smiles and just asks "Are you a terrorist?" and if you say no you just get to walk into the plane..."

People generally acknowledge the need for security. TSA just isn't meeting it.

Security wasn't what failed on 9/11. It was letting the hijackers into the cockpit that failed. Boxcutters weren't prohibited at the time ... don't think they necessarily should be since knives can be found in premium cabins anyway and with reinforced cockpit doors, no one's going to cut thru that with a knife.

That's not saying security didn't need to be improved ... it did. Thing is though, it hasn't changed much except a lot of the people are just wearing federal uniforms now and largely the same technology is being used then. Additionally, we have much longer lines which creates a soft target for a terrorist to bomb. No one needs to get on a plane to wreak havoc on the aviation system ... just send some suicide bombers into the long lines TSA creates at a few airports across the nation and boom. Does that really make us safer or is it just shifting the threat from inside the "sterile" area and out to the public area?

Quote: "I guarantee a lot of people would be saying "OH MY GOD, THE SECURITY HERE IS SO GOOD! I FEEL SO SAFE"..."

I'd love to be able to say that about our security. Of course, you're also going off a second hand assumption of Japan when you even state you have NEVER been there.

Funny thing is, I see just as many planes falling out of the sky in Japan as I do in the US. Do you really mean to say that the Japanese are just lucky and here it's because we're so good?

Robert
Submitted by Ayn R Key on

You forgot to include my explanation of the difference between microwave, milimeter wave, and x-rays. I thought that gift to you would be included in a "yes this is safe" portion of posts from now on whenever you discuss these technologies.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Milimeter waves, micro waves, and x rays.

All of these, as well as visible light, are on the electromagnetic spectru. The difference between them is wavelength or frequency. Higher frequencies are lower wavelengths, and vice versa. The two key features of any radiation are frequency and amplitude. In colors it is represented by the different color being the frequency, but the brightness being the amplitude.

Both miliwaves are similar to microwaves, but have a different wavelength / frequency. Both of them are lower frequency than infrared, which is lower than visible light. Microwaves of certain frequencies are used in communication technology, and of other frequencies in cooking.

The key feature of all frequencies lower than visible light is that the radiation is non-ionizing or non-lingering. That means the exact moment the radiation source is removed there is no more radiative energy. That is why it is safe to eat food from the microwave. All of the energy has been either disappated or converted to heat. None of it continues to be present to irradiate other objects.

The only danger of microwave and miliwave radiation is the amplitude. If there is sufficient of it, it will cook you. Since our bodies are largely water, we are susceptible to this if the dosage is large enough. It could cause fluid filled organs to boil or even burst (and cause blindness as a result) and it could even cause individual cells to boil and then burst. It is likely that long before it got to that point you would be aware of the harm, because you would feel unusually warm. The TSA, while it employes these frequencies, does NOT employ these amplitudes. Their technology is safe.

Our bodies can even absorb a certain amount of excess, which is why we can go outside on warm days without immediately boiling. Instead we get a tan.

All microwave and miliwave radiation do is excite individual molecules causing them to vibrate faster (which means they are hotter).

This is very different from x-rays, which our luggage goes through but we don't. In the case of x-rays the frequency is so high (the wavelength so low) that scientists initially named these "rays" instead of "waves" until it was discovered that they are also waves.

High frequency radiation is dangerous no matter the amplitude, so if the TSA were to use full body x-rays that would be cause for full scale riot and revolt. Doctors use very brief exposure at a very low amplitude in an effort to make this unsafe process as safe as possible.

The key to this is that high frequency radiation IS lingering, it remains after the source is removed. If exposed to gamma rays, and then the source removed, a geiger counter will etect those gamma rays to whatever was so exposed. At lower frequencies it only breaks molecular bonds (which causes mutations in our cells) and at higher frequencies it breaks up atoms themselves. That is why it is called "ionizing radiation" because of the effect it has on the atomic structure itself. X-rays are the safest of the bunch, and dangerous in themselves, which is why all areas that don't need to be exposed while you are at the doctor are covered in lead.

So high frequency radiation breaks atomic bonds and remains to continue doing damage long after it is removed. Thankfully the TSA doesn't use that. What the TSA uses is physically safe, even if 4th and 5th amendment issues say it is politically and constitutionally unsafe.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

One final note, one thing the TSA hasnt addressed. You've admitted this technology has the capability to give overly clear and revealing images. You've said you've downgraded it to make sure our pirvayc isn't invaded. What guarantees do we have to ensure that the downgrades aren't re-upgraded? I know the line TSO can't do it, but that doesn't mean that others in the TSO can't do it at some future point without telling us - in the name of security, of course.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"JUST SAY NO"

That is my answer to the TSA with these new machines. I will not go through one and will advise all I know to not go through these. It is time that TSA targets the very small group of real potential suspects and quits trying to remove all rights from everyone else.

"JUST SAY NO"

Submitted by Anonymous on

1. Being Muslim, Ill be blunt and honest. Most Muslims who are conservative and who you would want to check more would have a huge problem with this screener based on religious and moral views. They would much rather be patted down by someone of their own gender. If you wanted to use this imaging against people who are potential hijackers, particularly Muslim fundamentalists, you need to ensure that there is both a male and female screener. That would make a lot of the privacy and moral things a non-issue.
I myself would ask to be patted down for religious reason unless I was told that the screener was male.

2. I was told that plastic can hide parts from this screener. that issue should be addressed.

Pages