Saturday, December 02, 2006

Virtual strip search coming your way

Word up if you're a traveler. I first covered this story a year and a half ago when Chertoff pronounced he was going to install these x-ray machines in airports and "doesn't want an 'endless debate' over privacy issues." Well, just in time for the holidays, the TSA announced that one machine will be up and running at Sky Harbor's Terminal 4 by Christmas. They're expected to be installed in other selected airports by early 2007.

I find it interesting that the agency isn't going to release information on the technology until later in the month. Could that be because...
The $100,000 machines bounce low-radiation X-rays off a person's skin to produce photo-like computer images of metal, plastic and organic materials hidden under clothes, says American Science and Engineering.
What with all that radiation poisoning the news, it's probably not a good time to tell people they're about to be subject to searches that requires the use of it. What else they won't tell you is this system has almost nothing to do with terrorism. It's about finding drugs. Customs already uses it on suspected drug mules and it's used in prisons for drug detection.

They've figured out how to blur nipples and pubic hair to make the virtual strip search more palatable to the public and for now it's only going to used as a secondary search method, with an option for a pat down instead. But it's only a matter of time before we all will be expected to march through one to get on a plane, just like common criminals. I'm betting they won't catch many guns but they will probably catch a whole bunch of people with a couple of grams of pot in their pocket.

And if you've traveled in or out of the country since 2002, the latest super secret domestic surveillance program was just revealed. You've been assigned a terrorist rating number. They're going to keep it on record for 40 years. It's based on a whole bunch of data including your credit records and seating and meal preference. You can't see it but if you ever need a security clearance, a whole bunch of agencies, foreign governments and private contractors will be able to access it. Why doesn't that make me feel more secure?


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