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Millimeter Wave Whole Body Imager Photos

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Friday, May 22, 2009
TSA logo

It’s tinfoil hat time. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to don your protective headwear and then I’ll begin.

[Intermission Music ]

OK. Let’s go… It’s been brought to our attention that the photos we provide of the millimeter wave (MMW) whole body imager (WBI) are different than the ones that CNN used in their article earlier this week. Yes, you are correct. They are different. One photo is a stock image given to us by the vendor and the other is a screen shot taken from a CNN video. Two different photos of two different people…

-Here is what 60 minutes saw , filmed and aired last December. Notice the part at 00:53 where Leslie Stahl says “To be frank, I thought I was going to see something almost pornographic and it’s not.” The video clip also shows the actual image on the screen as the officer sees.
-
Here is what CNN filmed.
-Here is what Salt Lake’s KSL TV filmed.
-Here are the stock photos that TSA uses on its web and blog pages.
-Here are the front and back images that CNN used in this week’s article.

Also, there is scuttlebutt that TSA is trying to be hush-hush about this technology. In addition to the links I provided above, here are all of the places we have talked about Whole Body Imaging here on the blog:

-The First Significant Deployment of Aviation Security Technology Since the 1970s
-Catch a Wave and Avoid a Pat Down
-Safety & Privacy Concerns Regarding the Millimeter Wave Whole Body Imager
-You asked for it...You got it, Millimeter Wave images.
-Pilot Program Tests Millimeter Wave for Primary Passenger Screening
-CNN Article: Airport security bares all, or does it?
-Will Children be Screened by Whole Body Imagers?

There you have it. (Remove hats now) Have a great holiday weekend.

Blogger Bob

EoS Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by RB on

OK. Let’s go… It’s been brought to our attention that the photos we provide of the millimeter wave (MMW) whole body imager (WBI) are different than the ones that CNN used in their article earlier this week. Yes, you are correct. They are different. One photo is a stock image given to us by the vendor and the other is a screen shot taken from a CNN video. Two different photos of two different people…

................................

The image provided by CNN is quiet a bit more revealing that the image provided by TSA.

You say the image from CNN is an actual screen shot from the Strip Search Machine.

If this is correct you knew that the image supplied by TSA was not an accurate depiction.

Thanks for clearing that up Bob!

Submitted by Anonymous on

*Sigh* I think some of the people that comment here are 12. "Some"

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, you have a lot of nerve making fun of people requesting some common sense and better management from TSA. In the meantime, TSA excesses are driving down airline revenues, and eventually, that will cost you your job. "Tin foil hats"? Back off. And listen up...if pax complaints about TSA are not taken seriously and addressed, you'll be sorry you spent your time being snarky instead of responsible.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for clearing this up. I think one of the gents is just a bit more well off than the other.

Submitted by Bubbaloop on

Who cares what images are the same or not? What we care is that they are images: That makes them inapprorpiate. Why not use technology that does not generate images and that can detect items in body cavities (metal detectors, puffers, etc)?

Any technology that uses images will always fall into the tampon paradox: If it can´t see a tampon, it is useless, if it can, it is too invasive and should not be used.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Shame on you for saying that anyone questioning TSA's dishonest behavior with regards to these strip-search machines is some sort of a paranoid loon -- particularly given that you're doing so in the same post in which you admit TSA has been providing inaccurate information regarding the images the strip-search machines produce.

Submitted by Anonymous on

When do you plan to address any of the dozens of questions people has asked about what steps TSA is taking to make sure citizens and screeners alike know that the virtual strip-search is not mandatory, and that citizens can refuse to be strip-searched?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, multiple posters at Flyertalk are reporting that TSOs are insisting that all of a traveler's shoes, including those in their bags, be placed directly on belts for screening. How do you reconcile this with Lynn's statements that citizens are merely advised to do place the shoes they are wearing on belts, not required to do so? Why are TSOs now demanding that shoes in carryon bags be screened on belts? How do you plan to deal with an increase in travelers unable to remove shoes for medical reasons, that is, because of allergies to stupidity?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, when will you post strip-search images at the same size and resolution they are seen by the machine's operator?

Why are you so afraid to answer our questions?

Submitted by Nate on

It's irresponsible for a government institution to link to a video ("Elevator music for Star Wars", apparently copied from Family Guy) that may have been posted in violation of copyright law.

Submitted by Alan on

Why does the official post have such a condescending tone? It's unnecessary and inappropriate.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA will probably start taking you all more seriously when you stop referring to them as "strip search machines." Oh, the drama!

And there are signs at the checkpoint indicting going through the whole body imaging machines is not mandatory. Not TSA's fault the public can't be bothered to read posted signs.

Submitted by George on

This post is exactly what I would expect. The TSA is yet again responding to legitimate public concerns and criticism with a barrage of smoke and mirrors.

I don't think even Bob can deny that the strip search machines are a public relations disaster, which will be added to various other public relations disasters they already have. The snarky condescension only makes it worse, since it shows once more the TSA's contempt for travelers.

What the TSA is saying amounts to this: We've decided to improve aviation security by strip searching every passenger who enters the checkpoint with a new very expensive scanner. We're putting some measures in place behind the scenes that are meant to address your privacy concerns. We say they adequately protect your privacy, so it's your own fault if you choose not to believe it. If you really have an unfounded paranoid fear of the WBI scanners, you can get to the airport a little earlier and ask for an old-fashioned pat-down. It's your choice. Do you want to fly today?

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
TSA will probably start taking you all more seriously when you stop referring to them as "strip search machines." Oh, the drama!
.......................
And perhaps we will give some credence to TSA when truth overrules spin.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"TSA will probably start taking you all more seriously when you stop referring to them as "strip search machines." Oh, the drama!"

No drama, just simple and accurate statements of fact.

"And there are signs at the checkpoint indicting going through the whole body imaging machines is not mandatory. Not TSA's fault the public can't be bothered to read posted signs."

Where are the signs posted, and how large are they? Do the signs include accurate images of the scans seen by the strip-search machine's operator, at the same size and resolution that the opreator sees? Are TSOs informed that the strip-searches are not mandatory? Is each passenger told that they can decline to be photographed naked by the government?

Why do these questions so upset Bob that he refuses to answer them?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, you can never win with many of these posters... no matter what the topic, and no matter you tone. If you take a serious approach, they nail you for that. If you take a light touch to a topic, they get you on that too. And so on.

On the other hand, many of the regular posters to this blog simply self-justify THEIR behavior, and delare you as being "snarky". I've noticed they seem to love that word - snarky - and apply it to you often, and at the same time blissfully ignore their terrible behavior and attitude.

However, when they do, on a few occasions, admit to their nasty attitudes they blame it on TSA. I don't know about you, Bob, but no one controls me that much. Was it Rousseau who said, and I will paraphrase: "I enjoy myself inspite of them". Maybe they should heed those words?

But what is sad is that some of those who post on this blog have declared that if someone does not agree with their opinion regarding TSA that person is either ignorant and/or naive. Wow. Stunning amounts of self-grandeur. This from people who claim to support democracy. This hyprocracy makes no sense to me.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Bob, when will you post strip-search images at the same size and resolution they are seen by the machine's operator?

Why are you so afraid to answer our questions?"

It doesn't matter what pics he posts, you won't believe anything short of a naked picture of someone is the "real" picture the screeners see. Since you won't believe anything posted,why do you ask the question?

Submitted by DoogieSD on

LOL... Great post Bob!... don't mind the haters, their bummed you might find their stash and their mellow will be harshed on their vacation in San Francisco.

Please keep up the good work! And please continue poke these trolls in the eye at every opportunity

Submitted by Robert Johnson on

Quote from Anonymous: "TSA will probably start taking you all more seriously when you stop referring to them as "strip search machines." Oh, the drama!"How can we take TSA seriously when it completely obfuscates what it does?

Calling it a strip search is callign it what it is. The ACLU has called it as such too - so it's not just us "tinfoil hat" types Bob's implying we are.

"And there are signs at the checkpoint indicting going through the whole body imaging machines is not mandatory. Not TSA's fault the public can't be bothered to read posted signs."Well, when the signs are placed away from it and you have to search AND TSA is not forthcoming about what it is, it IS the TSA's fault.

I've seen the sign at BWI. It's not in front of the sign - it's off to the side in such a way that it's not easy to see. Signs aren't any good if they're tucked off in a corner or out of the way. Furthermore, I saw no efforts made by any TSO's to educate people as to what was actually going on.

You can blame the public all you want. If TSA isn't telling people what's going on, what the machine does and that it's optional, there's a problem. There's even more problems if TSA is essentially bullying people into using the machines, threatening them with patdowns that will take longer, etc.

I'm going thru BWI tomorrow morning. I'm sure I'll see the sign tucked off to the side and TSA still not explaining the machine and implying that the optional patdown (if offered at all) will be worse than just being stripsearched.

Considering POTUS was at the archives yesterday where our most scared national documents are found, I find it ironic that TSA finds this fits within the constitution and that Obama's allowing stuff like this to go on.

Robert

Submitted by Anonymous on

re: Shoes

I just flew out of RDU and the TSA there didn't say 'please' or 'you have the option to' nope they said "All shoes MUST be placed on the belt NOT in the bins" after the attitude the document checker was giving everyone and they fact I just wanted to be home I didn't bother to ask why the disconnect between the 'published' 'official(????)' comments are contradicting the actions on the ground.....

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob:

What screening do the MMW operators undergo before starting their shifts to ensure that they do not have any cell phones/cameras/other imaging equipment with them before entering the screening room?

Since you say that images are deleted immediately after their use, how are they deleted? Is it a secure deletion in which the image is overwritten with junk data, or is it simply "deleted", leaving it vulnerable to being undeleted to anyone with the proper software?

What steps are taken to secure property while a traveller is in the MMR scanner?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Waste of money. You put passengers through this
"show" and let $5/hour janitors walk right around security. They couldn't be bought and all passengers are criminals.

See the disconnect here?

Submitted by Mike on

Here we are with the same old cry babies. If I said it once, I will say it a thousand times. If you don't like it, don't fly. You all act like the whole world is upset about this. The reality is eveyone is fine with it but a few. Some of you crying the loudest have admitted you don't even fly. And this has nothing to do with airlines making money. Their revenue is down because of the economy.

Submitted by Bob on

Just a reminder...

It's a holiday weekend. We won't be back to work until Tuesday. I might moderate a little when I get a chance, but as for right now, I'm off to the pool!

Have a great weekend.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Bob said...

Just a reminder...

It's a holiday weekend. We won't be back to work until Tuesday. I might moderate a little when I get a chance, but as for right now, I'm off to the pool!

Have a great weekend.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

If you go through one of the nude-o-scopes you will need to wear a shirt that says "I was in the pool!"
Submitted by TSO Jacob on

Anyone can opt out of using this technology. 1) There are signs posted at the airport that inform passengers of this fact. 2) At tsa.gov under Our Approach – Whole Body Imaging it is clearly stated that the use of this technology is voluntary. 3) This blog has repeated on many occasions that anyone can opt out of being screened by this device, just like you can opt out of being screened by the walk thru metal detector. 4) TV News reports and newspaper articles have stated these facts.

Submitted by TSO Jacob on

Bubbaloop said… Who cares what images are the same or not? What we care is that they are images: That makes them inapprorpiate. Why not use technology that does not generate images and that can detect items in body cavities (metal detectors, puffers, etc)?

Any technology that uses images will always fall into the tampon paradox: If it can´t see a tampon, it is useless, if it can, it is too invasive and should not be used.

Metal detectors detect metal, not explosives. Puffers are notorious for breaking down due to dirt and humidity at airports. No one has ever stated that this equipment can see inside people. It provides and image of the outline of their body. Your tampon paradox will only be solved if TSA hires a bunch of radiologists to perform screening functions.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Gee, Bob, I hope you come back all refreshed so you can answer some of the legitimate questions you've been dodging!

Submitted by Shanice on

I will never understand why people get so upset over this. TSA is here to protect our sky's for goodness sake...get over it!

Submitted by DCA TSO on
Why are TSOs now demanding that shoes in carryon bags be screened on belts? I have yet to do that & unless it comes straight from the top I have absolutely no intention of doing that. It just sounds ridonkulous.

Imagine, the plenty of women who fly through everyday who carry abou 15 pairs of shoes. If HQ says that women have to take those 15 pairs out of their bag just so I can see them separatley, they better have a darn good reason of doing so, otherwise I find it useless & selfish.
Submitted by Anonymous on

I wonder if Bob will have more tinfoil comments after the first reports of screeners being overheard discussing passengers' anatomy over their lunch break. But that's ok, after all Bob with his utterly unprofessional tinfoil hat comment has already demonstrated that the TSA has zero respect for the travelling public.

So why not let the grunts objectify the passengers. After all it's in the name of security theatre.

How about when the first images start getting passed around? Oh wait, that's right cameras will be banned from the screening room. And I'm sure every TSO that works in the screening room will be subjected to the same strip-search to ensure they're compliant.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I ran across this blog and from the looks of it, there are quite a few geniuses who enjoy whining about TSA like little girls, rather than coming up with their own solutions on how to keep a bomb off a plane. Let's hear it - - what's your suggestion? With today's available technology, how do you keep explosives off an airplane? Since the technology currently in use may not be perfect, let's just ask everyone to self-certify before they board a plane, stating they are not a terrorist, and that they are not carrying explosives. Would you send your mother on that flight?! Time to pull your head out and face a little reality.

Submitted by Trollkiller on

I hope you enjoyed your pool time Blogger Bob, now it is school time. (I am so punny)

As a photographer I am sure you are well acquainted with image manipulation.

The fact that the image released by the TSA is of a different person than the CNN image is of no consequence.

The reason you can see the penis and testicles on the CNN image is not due to anatomy but due to the image settings the operator was using.

Take a close look at the CNN image and you will see the brightness control is positioned at 100%, contrast is about 75% and the lighting is about 90%.

Human nature being what it is, I can guarantee that most if not all of the MMW WBI devices in the field are set to a similar setting to allow the operator to see every detail of the PAX.

The images released by the TSA most likely were made at the MMW WBI's default setting. The default images are completely benign compared to what the device is capable of producing and is producing on a daily basis.

Because the "normal" in field setting of the device shows much more intimate genital detail than the images posted on the signage, if you can find the signage, means the supposed 99% of the PAX that choose the MMW WBI are basing their "choice" on a lie.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hope everyone has a fantastic Memorial Day/ Week. Off topic: IDK what everyone else here is doing but I plan on having a cookout as well as taking time out of my fay to see some memorials.

Submitted by TwoPageAfro on

I can see where people are coming from when they say this is revealing. But it's a small price to pay for security.

Have fun at the pool! I know I will. :D

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

You're absolutely right, Bob. Everyone at TSA HQ is wearing a tinfoil hat. I'm surprised they let you tell us that though - isn't that information SSI?

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Bob, I know you cannot answer this question, but I want you to consider it anyway. Do you agree with the company line on the MMW scanners? We know the resolution can be improved, we know the images could (not can) be saved. We know they are much more graphic than originally argued. We also know you are required to parrot the company line whether you agree with it or not.

But do you actually agree with the company line? Don't answer that.

If you do agree, then you're doing everything correctly and I pity you. But if you do not, instead of making snarky comments about tinfoil hats your time would be better served saying "I understand you have concerns and I will take these concerns to TSA management."

If you do the latter it would reveal that one can work for the TSA and still have a conscience and a respect for the fellow human being.

If you do the former it shows that the case truly is hopeless and senior blog responsibility should be turned over to someone a lot less jaded who would then use this blog for its intended purpose - TWO direction communication.

Please consider the question - do you agree with the company line?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Congratulations to the TSA leadership types, you should be proud.

Of 216 Federal Agency Subcomponents
TSA rank at 213 of Overall Index Scores for Employee Satisfaction and Commitment only beating out the FAA, National Drug Intelligence Center and the Office of Postsecondary Education for the coveted bottom spot of all scored agencies.

Good job TSA!

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Nate said...
It's irresponsible for a government institution to link to a video ("Elevator music for Star Wars", apparently copied from Family Guy) that may have been posted in violation of copyright law.

May 22, 2009 2:24 PM

Hush, the clip falls under fair use.

Please stick to real issues.
Submitted by Trollkiller on
Anonymous said...
I ran across this blog and from the looks of it, there are quite a few geniuses who enjoy whining about TSA like little girls, rather than coming up with their own solutions on how to keep a bomb off a plane. Let's hear it - - what's your suggestion? With today's available technology, how do you keep explosives off an airplane? Since the technology currently in use may not be perfect, let's just ask everyone to self-certify before they board a plane, stating they are not a terrorist, and that they are not carrying explosives. Would you send your mother on that flight?! Time to pull your head out and face a little reality.

May 24, 2009 4:01 PM


I suggest you poke around the blog a bit more before deciding that solutions have not been offered.

To help bring you up to speed the following solutions have been offered by the posters to this board in order to increase security.

1. Screen ALL that enter the sterile area including TSOs and airport workers. Screen all that leave the sterile area including TSOs and airport workers.

2. Secure ALL luggage after screening. If an item can be stolen from a bag and item can be placed in a bag. A simple strapping machine can fix this hole on the cheap.

3. Properly inform passengers as to what the MMW WBI does and how it works so they may make an informed consent. Those that refuse the MMW WBI get patted down.

4. Dump the illegal parts of the TSA's "procedures" like the forced ID verification, the SPO-7 and dump the worthless parts of "procedures" like the failed BDO program. Take the money from those bad parts and put them to better technology like puffers that work.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
*Sigh* I think some of the people that comment here are 12. "Some"

May 22, 2009 1:07 PM
-----------------------------------
I couldn't agree more! The one's that keep harping about thier questions not being answered are the worst. It doesn't matter how many times or how you answer the question they have the same response. I suspect it's because it's not the answer they want. In truth I believe there are only one or two of these folks using several post names to make it seem as if there are more of them.
----------------------------------
DoogieSD said...
LOL... Great post Bob!... don't mind the haters, their bummed you might find their stash and their mellow will be harshed on their vacation in San Francisco.

Please keep up the good work! And please continue poke these trolls in the eye at every opportunity

May 22, 2009 6:28 PM
----------------------------------
YOU MAY HAVE HIT ON SOMETHING! :>)
----------------------------------
As a frequent traveler I would just like to say THANK YOU TSA for all you do to protect me and my loved ones... Thank you too Blogger Bob and Staff.

Submitted by Mr Gel-pack on

At least the failed ETD puffer machine program was objective. It's high false alarm rate and maintenance problems are inherent in a 1-in-a-billion event detection problem.

On the other hand, this MWW imaging program still relies on visual inspection. If you tune/desensitize your operators to have a manageable false-alarm rate on 2,000,000 people per day, you will tradeoff your ability to detect the 1-in-a-billion terrorist. The statistics will work like your BDO program: Your MWW visual search will trigger on the the most MMW-unusual 0.01% of passengers, and find that only 1% of those are "artfully concealing" some non-dangerous item, while reducing the problem of the 1-in-a-billion terrorist to blending in with the 99.99% non-MMW-unusual people.

Submitted by TSO Jacob on

In response to Trollkiller’s solutions…

1. Great idea. The only problem we face is the increase to TSA’s budget due the massive increase in workforce. As a rough guess based on the airports I have worked at we would need to take our screening workforce from about 40,000 up to around 60,000.
2. Good idea. The only downside is that bags are actually easy to get into, for instances zippers can be popped and then resealed.
3. Done it. Please refer to my comments on May 23, 11:54 am. The information is out there.
4. ID checks have always felt like a cheap version of security to me, SPO-7 I don’t know what you are referring to, and the BDO program does work.

I know the public doesn’t see the value in the BDO program, many TSO’s feel the same way. If you examine how the international community conducts security, places that are frequent targets of terrorism often use programs similar to the BDO program. For instance, Israel, with all the threats that they face why would they allow their security forces to use useless techniques. By the way, Israel also performs multiple ID checks as you pass through their security, there must be something to the ID checks.

Submitted by MarkVII on

I second Trollkiller's post from May 26, 2009 5:08 PM.

Many of us have offered very specific, actionable suggestions to improve the TSA's operations in general, and both the checkpoint experience and baggage security in particular. Most of these suggestions have been ignored. Some have been dismissed with no indication that they're been given any real thought. A token few have been implemented, but not enough to address the systemic problems with the TSA.

That's why the frustration level is as high as it is. It's also part of the reason the TSA is more than a little short on credibility, leading to the skepticism regarding what they do and don't do with image from their WBI machines.

Mark

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Dump the illegal parts of the TSA's "procedures" like the forced ID verification"

Trollkiller, what do you make of The Intelligence Reform & Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Sec. 4016 (c) (2), which is where TSA is mandated by Congress to insure the identity of anyone who flies?

Submitted by MarkVII on

One thing I'd like to know --

Since I'd have to empty my pockets before entering a WBI imager, what procedures are in place to keep my belongings in sight and protect them from theft?

Under the old WTMD procedures, I could keep my ID, cash, a credit card, and boarding pass on my person. That way, if my carry-on got stolen, I'd still have money and my "papers". Under an "empty pockets" procedure, if my bag got stolen, I'd have literally nothing but the clothes on my back.

I'll be interested to see if / what the answer is.

Mark

Submitted by TSORon on

Greatest post of all time. Thanks Bob, I nearly fell out of my chair reading that.

Now, if we could just get people to stay on-topic, life would be grand.

Submitted by HappyToHelp on

TK said...
“Screen all that leave the sterile area including TSOs and airport workers.”

Not to be a Debbie Downer but the plan of exit screening would need a change to the law. All one would have to do is refuse to partake in exit screening and be escorted out of the sterile area. Then, you would have the question of what is a prohibited item in the non-secure area of the airport?

Just wondering what your ideas on this subject are.


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by George on

@Mark VII: "Under an "empty pockets" procedure, if my bag got stolen, I'd have literally nothing but the clothes on my back. I'll be interested to see if / what the answer is."

This is my real concern about the WBI scanners, for the exact reasons you mention. I've raised it several times here, as have a few other people. I've used the "got feedback," which has gone unacknowledged. So it appears that the TSA's answer is to ignore it. Since the Security Experts at headquarters who made the decision to deploy the scanners didn't think of it, it obviously can't be important.

And besides, the TSA's job is primarily to protect aviation from terrorist threats, and secondarily to notify the police of any other violations they happen to discover during screening. The security of passengers' belongings is entirely outside the TSA's mission and definition of security. The TSA bears no responsibility for loss or damage to passengers' property, even when that loss or damage is caused or facilitated by the the TSA's screening procedures. So if someone ever does make a fuss when the tray or bag containing their wallet is stolen during WBI scanning, the TSA will issue a press release denying any responsibility and reminding passengers that they are responsible for securing their belongings.

And they wonder why we have so little regard for the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSORon: Now, if we could just get people to stay on-topic, life would be grand.

We are on-topic. The WBI scanner is a strip search no matter how the TSA wants to spin it or evade the truth. And TSA employees take every possible opportunity to show their complete contempt for us with condescending posts and comments.

How much more on-topic can you get?

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