Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cancel the Backscatter Order

Due to a "calculation error" (i.e., incompetence), the radiation levels produced by backscatter X-ray body scanners was underestimated by a factor of ten. Back when the lower radiation level was being touted, we were being assured that the backscatter machine was no less safe than the millimeter-wave technology machines. Now we know that's false. So let's stick with millimeter-wave. Not only safer for passengers, but as millimeter-wave produces even better virtual strip search images it should provide for more accurate screening. And, of course, there's the issue of how well the backscatter machines will be maintained.

If we're going to pretend that the backscatter order is about anything other than handing billions of dollars to a well-connected company, it's time to cancel the order for new backscatter machines. But then....

I guess it's worth asking, have we confirmed that these machines actually would catch an "underwear bomber"? Because if they would not, what's their point again? (And yes, those questions are rhetorical, as if the machines actually would catch an "underwear bomber" their manufacturers and the TSA would be bragging up a storm rather than making nebulous statements about things being "unclear".)

1 comment:

  1. I guess I'll add, assuming the machine is properly maintained it would take a lot of scans to pose a material health risk; but given that the excuse for using both technologies - one is as safe as the other - has been exposed either as a display of rank incompetence or as a lie covered up by an "accidental" mathematical error, I see no reason not to go with the safer technology.