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Rapiscan Backscatter Contract Terminated - Units to be Removed

Friday, January 18, 2013
ATR Monitor

ATR Monitor After Alarm

You may remember us blogging about new privacy software. we rolled out for the L3 Millimeter Wave body scanners. It’s called Automated Target Recognition (ATR), and with the use of this software, our officers no longer see an image of the person being screened. This is what our officers see if the passenger alarms:

You can read more about the ATR software here.

Congress mandated as a part of the The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that all TSA body scanners should be equipped with ATR by June 1, 2012 (There has since been an extension to June 1, 2013).

At this point, all Millimeter wave units have been equipped with ATR, but even with the extension to 2013, Rapiscan was unable to fulfill their end of the contract and create the ATR software that would work with backscatter units. As a result, TSA terminated the contract with Rapiscan in order to comply with the congressional mandate.

All Rapiscan AIT units currently operational at checkpoints around the country, as well as those stored at the TSA Logistics Center, will be removed by Rapiscan at their expense and stored until they can be redeployed to other mission priorities within the government. Most of the backscatter units being removed will be replaced with millimeter wave units. The millimeter units will be moved from the inventory currently deployed at other airports and from an upcoming purchase of additional millimeter wave units.

By June 1, 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput. This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security.

As always, use of this technology is optional.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

How many new backscatter scanners has TSA contracted to buy?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So when do we the taxpayers get a refund of the tens of millions of dollars spent on these units, which a mere two years after purchase are being scrapped?

Submitted by Anonymous on

GREAT! DOWN THE TSA AND ALL THE PORNO TYPE SCANNERS!

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is unfair to all travelers to condemn us to five and a half more months of the backscatter units. They should all be disconnected immediately and replaced by regular scanners until better non-intrusive scanners are available. Nobody should be subject to the invasion of privacy inherent in the backscatter units for one more day.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How could we know for sure that is the image TSA would see and not another nude picture? When the body scan machines first came out, they showed those blurred, headless pictures on every news station trying to convince us that is what they would see. Then as the months went on, more pictures and the truth started coming out that they were seeing naked pictures. How is this particular machine any different?

Submitted by Anonymous on

U don't see naked body the image is in front of u with a YELLOW box telling u what area to pat down.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Obviously by the comments here, some of these people are basing thier opinions on what they have "heard" instead of seen or verified. These machines have the picture directly outside the machine so that the screener and the passenger see the same image - the "Gumby" image. There is no other screen.
"Disconnected immediately and replaced by other scanners" - Um, I dont believe there is a company in the world that is equipped to replace these immediately - at any type of negotiable cost - to meet the specifications of TSA, Congress and the traveling public, now people may be subjected to the longer lines and wait times with more pat downs because the company that supplied them could not meet the requirements. BUT I am sure that TSA will get blamed for this - somehow.
Personally, glad to know that my family is safe when they get on a plane because the other passengers traveling with them are screened.
Keep your chin up TSA - some of us appreciate your efforts!

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Your very own words from 4/15/08, Bob:

"These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody."

Ready to eat those words yet? Ready to admit that you were not being honest?

screen shot

Submitted by Anonymous on

The very fact that the backscatter machines were ever deployed is a national disgrace that no American should soon forget. I suggest that you keep these machines and use it to scan TSA employees at the end of their shift.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

You're telling us that "most" of these vile machines will be replaced with MMW. What about the remainder of them?

Will they be replaced by backscatter machines produced by American Science?

Backscatter, even with ATR, is unacceptable.

You left a good deal out of this thread, Bob.

screen shot

Submitted by Adrian on

You said most of the Rapiscan backscatter machines will be replaced with MMW units (presumably from L3). Some news articles say they will be replaced with x-ray backscatter machines from American Science and Engineering, which already has software that blur/fades the anatomical detail. Since backscatter x-ray devices in genreal still have health and privacy concerns, require more people to operation, require remote viewing room, are more expensive to procure, are more expensive to maintain, aren't any better than MMW in terms of false positives and false negatives, then why not stick with MMW (and WTMD)?

Will new machines be purchased and put into service before or after the TSA complies with the court order to comply with the law the TSA started violating in 2009 when they put whole-body imaging into use as a primary screening method without an appropriate hearing and public comment period?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Re: the 2 anonymous posts (1-18; 9:10 PM & 1-19; 12:54 AM)

Everyone knows (EVEN BLOGGER BOB) our government is far from perfect and makes many, many mistakes. Well, the same holds true for some of the folks posting on this forum.

Mistake 1:
Nobody is "subject to the invasion of privacy inherent in backscatter units" if they don't want to.
Everyone has the right to opt out.

Mistake 2:
The machines never displayed "nude or naked pictures." They are NOT pictures - not even close!

Some people that do not know anything about these machines will read these misleading posts and believe them.

Misinformation is just as bad when it comes from citizens as it is when it comes from the government.

Submitted by Laura Monteros on

Though I have a concern about these units, I want to state another concern first: all the anonymous comments. Please sign your comments.

My concern is about the units being redeployed, as stated in paragraph 5. Where? What "other mission priorities"? Will we be notified when we go through one that the images are graphic?

Bob, I know you are the target of a lot of anger, but sometimes this could be dispelled if you would respond to the kinds of questions people post.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...As always, use of this technology is optional."

Then why is is the *first* option used in many airports? Why are so many people directed to these machines when the Walk-Through-Metal Detectors are more efficient, more effective, and cheaper to own and operate?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I thought these didn't produce a naked image Bob? Looks like a puffer scandal all over again.

How long before we find out that the L3 scanners have a big problem. Or are you going to insist these are fine despite your 0-2 record?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Mistake 1:
Nobody is "subject to the invasion of privacy inherent in backscatter units" if they don't want to.
Everyone has the right to opt out.

Firstly, passengers who opt out often are made to go through a lot of hassle. Pulled out of line, made to wait in a glass box, etc. Of course, there is also the issue of the time involved.

Mistake 2:
The machines never displayed "nude or naked pictures." They are NOT pictures - not even close!

Not true at all. See for yourself:
 

Submitted by Wintermute on

Anonymous said...

"Mistake 1:
Nobody is "subject to the invasion of privacy inherent in backscatter units" if they don't want to.
Everyone has the right to opt out."

Except then they get the full grope... A false choice is NOT a choice at all.

"Mistake 2:
The machines never displayed "nude or naked pictures." They are NOT pictures - not even close! "

Not pictures? The dictionary begs to differ:

pic·ture
/ˈpikCHər/
Noun
A painting or drawing.

"Some people that do not know anything about these machines will read these misleading posts and believe them."

And some TSApologists will claim facts as mistakes and then have them easily debunked.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's nice to see the backscatter machines with the health risks and naked images are being removed. It's too bad the MMW ones aren't being scrapped with them. How much money has been wasted on the unsafe and invasive scanners? Look at this week's found item roundup. None of those items were found by the scanners.

This doesn't help me much. I wear an insulin pump and they can be damaged by the MMW scanners. Everytime I fly and get selected for the scanners, I have to involuntarily opt-out. That results in the full body "enhanced" patdown. It doesn't seem right that I have to be touched in very sensitive areas that only a doctor or my wife should be touching, just because I'm diabetic. It feels like the TSA has declared war on diabetics.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Are you actually going to obey the law this time and give the public the opportunity to comment on this switch? And give us info about the machines replacing the Rapiscan machines?

And I assume those who are talking about the right to "opt out" are referring to the "right to be assaulted by a government employee." In other words, something that doesn't solve the controversy at all, really.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So all of the times that you said the rapiscan images being safe for preschoolers was not true?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I based my opinion on what Blogger Bob wrote. The images could be happily viewed by innocent preschoolers.

Anonymous wrote: Obviously by the comments here, some of these people are basing thier opinions on what they have "heard" instead of seen or verified.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Once Rapiscan machines are gone I and my family will be back to flying again. My friend who has his Ph.D in Physics and works with x-ray technology told us of the dangers of the Rapiscan machines when they came out. Haven't flown since.

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

"Most of the backscatter units being removed will be replaced with millimeter wave units."

Why will any be replaced with unsafe backscatter units? I feel safer about millimeter wave then back scatter but opt out of both as I'll alarm it anyway. That’s no different than when I worked airport security in the 80’s fresh out of high school and someone opted out of the metal detector. Some people had to due to metal in their body. I was never rude to anyone opting out of the metal detector and don’t understand why screeners are frequently rude to me when I opt of AIT. The AIT does not like scarring and odd body shape. That’s not something I can help about myself.


"Nobody is "subject to the invasion of privacy inherent in backscatter units" if they don't want to.
Everyone has the right to opt out."

Australia as I found out does not allow anyone to opt out of AIT but they only use millimeter wave. They’re stated rationale on this is it is safer then backscatter and they don’t want to subject people to the invasive pat down TSA does. TSA by using backscatter as the primary screening method puts it up to the public to figure out which is which if they have legitimate concerns about the safety of backscatter. Have you tried opting out? TSA insists several different ways that AIT is optional but when you try it frequently you get a screener making that an intimidating experience before they lay a hand on you. Possibly they don't like doing pat downs. I wouldn't want to do the enhanced pat down on someone either. If I had the job now that is something that would make me tender my resignation. Then again maybe I’d have been fired for trying to give correct and dignified screening to special needs passengers. (Didn’t swab the feeding tube. Didn’t burst the saline bag. Didn’t burst the colostomy bag. Didn’t strip search the old man. Didn’t threaten a child to make them be quiet. What is wrong with this guy?) I bet TSA has lost a lot of good people over this. I hope you are keeping a record of people mentioning this in their exit interview.

"These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody."

I am not at all shocked Bob said that although I did follow the link to confirm it is true. I think most screeners would pull their kids out of that preschool.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The scanners are optional, but here are your options after opting out. One option is to not fly. The other option is to endure a degrading, invavsive, humiliating, full body patdown with repeated genital contact. Those alternatives are terrible.

Opting out of the scanners is worse when you have to involuntarily opt out due to medical reasons. Not only do I have to submit to the enhanced patdown, I usually get a lecture about how great the scanners are and that I'm a fool for opting out.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Who at TSA is going to take responsibility for this spectacular waste of tax payer resources and invasion of privacy for innocent American citizens? When you make a mistake that costs millions of dollars, someone needs to lose their job.

Submitted by Tracy on

So Bob does this mean that when I go through security at airports where the Rapiscan backscatter machines are installed, I will find them all roped off and only the walk through metal detectors in use?

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's funny how people think that flying is a "Right" when it's actually a privilege. You do have the "Right to Travel" but the method you use is your choice and is a privilege (unless you choose to walk). If you don't like airport security then use your right to travel and choose another method!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Shouldn't the TSA have thought about the privacy issues before installing all of these scanners? This seems like a huge waste of money, even if they are reused elsewhere. There are costs involved with removing these scanners, reinstalling new scanners, transporting the old scanners to their new location and installing them.

It seems like the TSA overreacts to any incident or threat and that is why these scanners are being removed. It's such a waste of money.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The privacy issues didn't bother me as much as the health issues with the backscatter scanners. I felt like I'm punishing whomever is looking at my naked image.

The fact that these machines used x-rays scares me. I don't care how many times I'm told about the low levels of radiation. The fact is that x-ray exposure is cumulative. I don't trust that the machines are calibrated properly or that the TSA worker operating the scanner would know if the radiation power is exceeding specified levels.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am extremely confused. Congress stopped the old machines because they showed naked images? yet, your blog said the images could be shown to preschoolers who subscribed to Readers Digest? Which is it?

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Laura Monteros sez - "Though I have a concern about these units, I want to state another concern first: all the anonymous comments. Please sign your comments."

We allow people that wish to comment anonymously to do so without any problems. Not all people are comfortable posting their information, and we respect that - hence the anon posting capability. If you chose to post under the Anon handle, we would welcome your comments as well.

To all Anon, please continue to post as you feel most comfortable. If you wish to sign your posts like some of our regulars, please feel free to do so. If you feel more comfortable with the Anon handle, there is no pressure to change that process. Thank you all for your commentary.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

Anonymous said:

"Another satisfied TSA customer."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/opinion/airport-behavior-screening.html

Following the link on the article to TSA Expermints with Behavior Screening part of me wants to cheer that maybe TSA has woken up to the fact that 99.999% of travelers pose no risk. The part that makes me want to scream is why this isn't it the norm except for a few randoms and people that raise some concern. The cynic in me says not enough people ponied up the dough to use Pre Check so like the friendly neighborhood dealer TSA is giving you a free taste hoping you'll be hooked and pay.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
You do have the "Right to Travel" but the method you use is your choice and is a privilege (unless you choose to walk). If you don't like airport security then use your right to travel and choose another method!

Firstly, the DHS (parent organization of the TSA) already has backscatter x-ray vans that can scan pedestrians as they drive by. So even walking is not safe.

Second, what 'other method' can I use to get from, say, New York to Los Angeles for a meeting tomorrow? What 'other method' can I use to get from the USA to Europe, or Asia??

Yes, I can take a boat, but that adds days or weeks to my trip. The only practical way to travel over long distances is flying. Saying that it's theoretically possible to walk/swim somewhere is technically true, but practically worthless- it'd be like saying "You can say anything you want... in a whisper in bed with the covers pulled over your head... so you technically have freedom of speech, so shut up!"

Submitted by Anonymous on

West, then when the TDC at SFO demands that I say my name after handing over my ID, can I say that I am not comfortable saying my name in a public space?

What security value is added by the "name game"? What is the security value of showing ID in the first place? If you and your bags are screened, who cares who you are? Why should the federal government be doing the revenue-protection work of private airlines?

Submitted by Wintermute on

Anonymous said...
It's funny how people think that flying is a "Right" when it's actually a privilege. You do have the "Right to Travel" but the method you use is your choice and is a privilege (unless you choose to walk). If you don't like airport security then use your right to travel and choose another method!

Actually, the right to travel by air is codified in law. I can look it up and site the exact law if you'd like, but it's a quick google away...

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Shouldn't the TSA have thought about the privacy issues before installing all of these scanners?

It's such a waste of money.

January 21, 2013 at 4:55 PM
................
TSA did think about the privacy issues.

TSA's solution was to lie to the public both here and in every other media available to TSA.

TSA is more competent in wasting our tax dollars than any other function TSA should be doing.

Submitted by RB on

Does TSA have a comment on the

Hebshi v. United States

lawsuit since TSA employees are being individually named in the suit?



Submitted by Toby Crane on

You have to realize that the security companies are trying to compete with all the other ones and it makes things a little more difficult. Thanks for sharing this information.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wintermute said...
Actually, the right to travel by air is codified in law. I can look it up and site the exact law if you'd like, but it's a quick google away...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_movement_under_United_States_law...
"Regardless of the constitutionality of laws passed post-9/11 with respect to freedom of movement being a privilege, all U.S. citizens have the right to travel or move within and between the 50 states without the requirement of submitting to a search of one's person or property prior to travel or movement.[26][27]"

[26] Lindquist, DiAnn, Esq. "The Constitutional Right To Travel." The Liz Library.
[27] Vieira, Dr. Edwin Jr., Ph.d, J.D. "Tripping Up The TSA." http://www.newswithviews.com June 28th, 2011.

Submitted by Matt Bille on

"Use of this technology is optional..." Doesn't it bother you at all that this statement is false? When flying is the only way to do business, and the only alternative offered is repulsive, how again is it optional?

Submitted by RB on

Did TSA, any of its employees, or other TSA representatives officially misstate anything about the quality of the images produced by Backscatter Whole Body Imagers?

Bob?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The people that bash the TSA are the same ones after 9/11 complained that the govt didn't do enough to prevent it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Use of the technology is optional. Here are my options as a diabetic:

1. Don't Fly (not really an option)

2. Use the scanner (backscatter or MMW) and risk damaging my insulin pump, a life sustaining device that costs $5,000+ (again, not really an option, plus the pump will be detected by the scanners leading to a patdown)

3. Involuntarily opt out of the scanners and get subjected to an invasive and degrading patdown, where I get touched in areas that only a doctor or my wife should touch. (Sadly, this is the only option)

I have no problem using the metal detector and having my pump swabbed for explosives. I didn't have a problem going through security between 9/11 and when the scanners were installed. No planes fell from the sky during that time either. Whatever happened to the hand held metal detectors? They seemed to work just fine and were not invasive.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why were TSOs screening inauguration attendees?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAVZgozTIuA

Why is the TSA so over-staffed that it can send its employees to non-transportation venues? The last I checked, the Washington Monument did not have wheels.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
The people that bash the TSA are the same ones after 9/11 complained that the govt didn't do enough to prevent it.

January 22, 2013 at 7:56 PM
....................

Evidence to support your statement?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said: "Will new machines be purchased and put into service before or after the TSA complies with the court order to comply with the law the TSA started violating in 2009 when they put whole-body imaging into use as a primary screening method without an appropriate hearing and public comment period?"

This is exactly what I want to know. Why is TSA compounding their failure to conduct the required formal public comment process by spending millions on more scanners?

Anonymous said: "It's funny how people think that flying is a "Right" when it's actually a privilege. You do have the "Right to Travel" but the method you use is your choice and is a privilege (unless you choose to walk). If you don't like airport security then use your right to travel and choose another method!"

Why do people keep asserting this as a defense of TSA's airport procedures? TSA shows up at bus and train stations and highway checkpoints, too. You might even see TSA at a major sports or cultural event! Examples of TSA's non-airport presence can be found in these articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/06/opinion/don-phillips-tsa-vipr-teams/index....
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/20/nation/la-na-terror-checkpoints-...
http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/02/screening-of-passengers-at-savannah.html
http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/06/tsa-swarms-8000-bus-stations-pub...
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/04/tsa-trains-super-bowl-vendors-to-sp...
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/28/travel/tsa-vipr-passenger-train-searches/i...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/apr/18/tsa-missi...

The LA Times article includes an interesting quote: "Department of Homeland Security officials have asked Congress for funding to add 12 more [VIPR] teams [in 2012]." This expenditure only exacerbates TSA's failure to conduct the required formal public comment process.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Anonymous said...
The people that bash the TSA are the same ones after 9/11 complained that the govt didn't do enough to prevent it.
January 22, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Wrong. That's a logical fallacy you're trying to use to say anyone who is critical of the TSA shouldn't be taken seriously. It's a ridiculous statement I've seen over and over by people who just can't handle anyone being critical or commenting about government policies, procedures, or laws.

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