December 30, 2009

Q&A: Controversial full-body scanners

Posted: 03:07 PM ET

(CNN) - The failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound passenger airplane on December 25 has raised questions about the need for the introduction of full-body scanners at all major airports.

The Netherlands said Wednesday it was installing the scanners at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where security staff failed to detect explosives being taken aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253.

How do these scanners work?

There are two types of device which offer full-body scans. Millimeter wave scanners use extremely high frequency radio waves which are processed by a computer to produce a detailed 3D image of air passengers. Backscatter scanners use high energy rays that - unlike X-rays which penetrate objects - scatter when they hit materials, allowing computers to render a detailed image and detect substances such as explosives and plastic weapons. Both scanners, unlike conventional X-rays, can strip away layers of clothing, accurately mapping the contours of the body, any prosthetics beneath the skin, as well as clothing and metallic and non-metallic objects.

How long does it take?

The scanning process takes between 15 and 30 seconds. Passengers enter a small booth or archway and raise their hands while radio waves target them from all directions. It may take slightly longer for airport staff to review the images produced and - given the level of detail, more passengers may find themselves subjected to follow-up security checks as a result.

Why are they controversial?

Privacy campaigners say the scanners produce "naked" images of passengers which represent an unnecessary violation. They say the process is humiliating, and despite pledges that the images will not be stored or used elsewhere, it could be open to abuse - particularly with scans of celebrities. Although the U.S. Transportation Security Agency, which is installing the scanners in many airports, insist the equipment does not capture details of face or produce images of a quality that can be deemed compromising, opponents say the technology is still capable of this and may be utilized in the future.

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Filed under: Airline Industry • Larry King Live • Terrorism

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Vidar1   December 30th, 2009 3:21 pm ET

I agree with all the major news anchors and guest experts on this subject . We need to at least start using body scanners–the time for debate is over. In fact, we need to do much more than this to make us completely safe.

Personal preferences and modesty must be sacrificed to keep us all safe while traveling! It is such a small sacrifice when you consider the consequences of one crazy terrorist getting through security checkpoints.
Think of innocent children being killed because people may be worried about security officials seeing their bodies!

The additional measures must be taken immediately as well. I think we can all predict what the next attack will entail and in fact what the most vulnerable point is in our security systems and procedures–rectal and esophageal smuggling of explosives. THIS IS NO JOKE. THINK OF IT. IT IS OBVIOUS.

Indeed, it has been proven that x-rays can’t even detect plastic explosives brought through checkpoints in this manner! The only answer is manual physical inspection. Scientific research, and clinical experience, proves that up to 6 ounces of solid material can be hidden orally, and up to 6 pounds rectally! Six pounds is enough to even bring down buildings–another place for this new screening. Oh my God!

The answer is simple. Since visual inspection and remote technology is ineffective in this regard, the plain answer is the use of probes by the airport and even building security personnel. Experience from the adult entertainment industry can immediately yield us the data we need to determine normal length and width capacities. Children, of course, would require some study, although Senator Barney Frank may have some more information to help us in this regard.

Furthermore, we need to guard against terrorists working in cahoots with each other–that is to say ground personnel doing the smuggling, and another person doing the assembling and igniting. Again, the answer is simple, and much research has already been done at the university level on this subject. Administering Rohypnol –otherwise know as “ruffies“–to all passengers prior to boarding will prevent this caveat as well–the terrorist would just be too out of it to function. As noted, fraternity brothers have done extensive practical research on the correct administration of this substance.

Of course, using the rectal and oral probes in coordination with the ruffies will yield the best results. Perhaps best of all, passengers won’t even complain about the process–because they won’t be able to remember it. A true win-win scenario. This could even be a boon to the security industry which often struggles with employee recruitment.

We need to remember that body scanners need to be included. Eventually, this could be the ultimate solution. These scanners utilize high frequency radiation that many studies indicate cause DNA breakage–ergo, travelers will eventually be unable to reproduce and will die rapidly of cancer, thus solving the security problem entirely.

I am not quite convinced yet, but I think the next logical stage to even increase our security would be to assign each citizen the name of one other citizen to surveil. We could even give prizes to people who turn other people in for suspected terrorist activity–especially wrong thinking.

Truly, it was a fool who was quoted as saying that if we, as a country, sacrifice liberty in pursuit of security, that we would have neither–or lose both. I think his name was Ben Franklin. The fact is that we can have it all. I haven’t even mentioned taser-collar technology–it could add to the whole arsenal of anti-terror weaponry.

Go ingsoc! Go oligarchs! Go corporations! Go military-industrial-pharma complex!



Dodie   December 30th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

What If the corruption is from within, would full body scanners work? Everyone needs to ask themselves... why Yemen? Why this country? Could it be due to large amounts of potential oil in that country? Could it be due to the strategic location of that country? Yemen being one of the flanks of the oil chokepoint from the Red Sea.” Just follow the money trail and you will find your answer!

A. Smith, Oregon   December 30th, 2009 6:36 pm ET

There is ample concern about the tiny dosage of high frequency radio emissions from a Cell Phone next to your head. These 3D Scanners use thousands of times more EMF to perform a single routine full body scan.

Frequent fliers including many on the staff of CNN would undergo hundreds of 3D Full Body scans each year and perhaps a thousand during their lifetime. I don't see how that doesn't translate into a medical problem down the road for those exposed to 3D Full Body scanners over and over again as they frequently fly to multiple destinations.

Deviant Muslim MD's sooner or later will likely begin surgically implanting plastic explosive blocks or Petn fitted into a plastic enclosure in the Muslims stomach or kidney cavity. These 3D Full Body scanners would not reveal that.

Xray or Fluoroscope exams would penetrate the subjects skin and organs revealing what if anything is surgically implanted inside that individual, however running passengers thru Xray or FluroScope machines like cattle would carry a terrible price on possible mutagen damage, especially on frequent fliers.

Ultrasound is a relatively slow procedure not suited for cattle runs of passengers thru such a body scan. Ultrasound however does penetrate the skin and reveal the organs inside the body.

Muslim bombers realize that bombs implanted inside the body are going to be currently undetected. Without much effort, no bomb sniffing dog nor bomb swab machines would find any trace of explosives outside that person's body because it would be completely inside the Muslim bombers body.

It might be possible for a Los Alamos type lab effort to design a scanner which produces a tiny pulse of radio energy which is specifically designed to be absorbed or reflect off of Nitrogen Compounds (99% of all explosives have large amounts of nitrogen compounds) and then measure the amount of absorption or reflection to determine if a more invasive (Ultrasound or back scatter Xray) scanner is needed in order to process that passenger.

marty43   December 30th, 2009 10:15 pm ET

Larry, we are being told that air travel will so much improve with the introduction of super jumbo planes ! Has anybody ever thought about screening 600+ passengers to ready an Airbus A380 for departure from Europe to North America ?

rick   December 30th, 2009 10:41 pm ET

To bad flight 253 terrorist didn't have a (I have a bomb) Tshirt on. american security may have caught him.

A. Smith, Oregon   December 31st, 2009 1:03 am ET

The FBI Director should immediately go before the American people and explain why the man that was seen by closed circuit security cameras at Amsterdam's International Gate and by two creditable witness's, one who is a US Attorney as sneaking the Nigerian Muslim butt-bomber past Amsterdam's security checks and onto a International Flight to America without a passport, Is NOT on the FBI MOST WANTED FUGITIVES LIST.

Donald Allen   December 31st, 2009 7:59 pm ET

well I see CNBC and I here what they say but do they rely no what there saying or they telling the craft and Way sued they rely care about the real craft of life it about making a buck and that is all I here and how care what they think PS Larry at lest they think they no what there saying OK well I say the act of what they say you no I Believe in what is wright no just what they say you no what I see what I see wen I see it not ween they take it you no what I no what they say is not true see you Larry King see you about the real turf Donald L Allen they need to slow down it well not work like they think

robert (speedy) Gonzales   December 31st, 2009 9:57 pm ET

You would think with americans obsession with the human butt that it would be the last place to hide a bomb! Hey, how about boob bombs? With all the plastic implants and the desire for the 40 inch chest a terrorist could hide a nuclear devise in Dolly Pardon or better yet an entire set of weapons of mass destruction in the mouth of Rush Limbaugh. Scanners the next You Tube sensation. Dude is that mine, it'a much bigger in real life. Happy New Year!!!! I found true happiness in a book called the Bible-It preaches love above all for everyone, rejoice in Faith. Family, Friends and treat all as you wish to be treated!!!!!

Diane Wilson   January 1st, 2010 5:43 am ET

What is more important? Your privacy or your life?
This is not the time to be coy.

Donald Allen   January 1st, 2010 11:55 am ET

well it about the well ween or they gonna learn sum people don,t want to trad they just want to have there own Business you no I don,t get it way don't they here you ween you speck or they that dumb or what or they just looking four a way to rip you off over and over what what is that or how can you sell something to sum one and than turn around and take what they have four it tell me I want to no if you bay a paint program and than you clam what they do with it what good is it you sued not all a program and than try to clam what they or doing I want the world to get a life if the Rufe were none it wood not be the way it sen no way I hop you can get them to here the real Rufe Rufe you no I see how it sued be but can you tell them and get them to no what you or saying you see Larry see you Donald L Allen

Donald Allen   January 1st, 2010 12:00 pm ET

yes Larry I tell them I don,t sal or trad but do you think they here it no they just keep hacking my computer all day all night I get so tired of it all don,t you it like a joke you have not herd yet and so ween we find sum one how no what the word Business mean we well get sum were I don,t sal or trad my work so that mean I own it they do not I do Donald L Allen PS no mater if I have A PHD or not see you Larry

Michael OMOREGBEE   January 1st, 2010 4:09 pm ET

I am shocked and dismayed that Republicans are not talking intelligent these days because they are hanging on to every word that the administration member happened to say and in most cases he or she did not say; quite frankly people are laughing at us all over the world and thinking if this is what democracy has to offer, they might as well forget it. Instead of us celebrating the fact that the Nigerian terrorist did not bring down the plane with 255 of our citizens on board, no, we are quibbling about after might initial reactions about the president and his cabinet trying to score political points and in some cases our leaders are making things up to scare citizens to the core and telling our enemy that we are scared and vulnerable. Furthermore, we are telling our enemy what we are doing to fix the problems. Someone is forgetting that these enemies of ours are a living being just like us, formidable harden battle predictors, they can think exactly like us and can always come up with the counter measures to punch holes in our defensive lines. Not to undermine the severity of the Christmas day attempt attack with primitive technology. Nevertheless, what are we going to do when these people become to too highly advance in their bomb making technologies and delivery mechanisms? I predict this would happen sooner than we know it through biotechnology, and I sincerely believe is time for a peaceful resolution to all of our political and ideological differences as to end this unending conflict around the world, otherwise we are heading to world war III or total bankruptcy for the United States. I am 48 years old Republican, and I lost my job July of 2007 and I still not have a job. I have a Master's degree in International Relations, and I am about to complete my PHD in health care administrations. I still believe in America, and is my home, and no matter the difficulties, I will hang on to my country and people. My word of wisdom to you out, a Lion does not tell his prey that he is coming to dinner…it just shows up for dinner.
Modesto, California.

James C. Taliaferro, M.S., QMHP   January 1st, 2010 8:26 pm ET

Simple: if it helps to deter terrorism and death with minimal invasivesness (come on lets not exaggerate the image it produces) then I am all for it. Those complaining are for it too since it means the difference between their loved one traveling safely and returning safely. GET REAL. There are those who complain if the security is too lax then there are those who complain that it's too much. Err on the side of good judgement.

James C. Taliaferro, M.S., QMHP   January 1st, 2010 8:26 pm ET

and safety!

Diane Wilson   January 2nd, 2010 10:59 am ET

Can I suggest that Donald Allen gets a prize for the most illiterate writing that ever happened?

Ted   January 2nd, 2010 12:38 pm ET

@ Donald Allen

I know you can do better, so please stop this nonsense with your terrible writing. There are very important subjects to discuss so either be serious or bother someone else.

nestra   January 2nd, 2010 7:19 pm ET

I am against. Stop invigilation.

nestra   January 3rd, 2010 10:58 am ET

This is not about safety. Keep your mind open.

What if you wake up and…

there is no light…
the sun is cold like ice and the moon doesn`t seem to be the same either…
the world is dominated by the kingdom of darkness in the shape of star…
the “black” panther is in power and the unicorn is his faithful servant…
there is a great pyramid with two columns and three doors built in the middle of the big boot...
the mission of the Mad Hatter is complete and a big Triangle hangs over the globe…
the Wicked Witch of the West using Hg and F has enslaved Dorothy…
there are Liberty, Equality, Fraternity instead of Faith, Hope and Love…
there are no countries, no children, no hope and joy, only butterflies…

It all means that you woke up too late

Read between the lines. I`m done.

Dodie   January 3rd, 2010 7:07 pm ET

@ nestra

What you say flows down the same path as ........

None are more hopelessly enslaved……..

Than those who falsely believe that they are free………

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