“No wonder you’re having nightmares. You’re always watching the news.” – Lori in Total Recall
By Thomas Frank at USA Today:
Body scanners that look under airline passengers’ clothing for hidden weapons could be in nearly half the nation’s airport checkpoints by late 2011, according to an Obama administration plan announced Monday.
The $215 million proposal to acquire 500 scanners next year, combined with the 450 to be bought this year, marks the largest addition of airport-security equipment since immediately after the 9/11 attacks. There are only 40 body scanners in a total of 19 airports now.
“It’s a move in the right direction,” aviation-security consultant Douglas Laird said. “We need to scan all passengers.”
The push for more scanners accelerated after the failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb an airliner near Detroit. Suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded Flight 253 in Amsterdam after walking through a metal detector with powder explosives hidden in his underwear, authorities say. Police allege he tried to trigger an explosion by igniting the powder, which caught fire but did not cause any serious damage before Abdulmutallab was subdued by the crew and passengers.
Privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg called the scanners “a deeply invasive intrusion” that would inconvenience millions of innocent travelers with screening that takes longer than metal detectors. “We’ll have another Homeland Security Department program for the war on terror used almost exclusively on Americans,” said Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Laird said the administration should emphasize installing body scanners in major European airports “because that’s where the threats come out of.” European countries such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are adding the scanners. Countries such as Germany and Italy are considering the technology, which creates black-and-white images of passengers under their clothing…
[continues at USA Today]