Big Brother is Scanning You

Have you been through airport security lately? How are those new full-body X-ray scanners working out for you? Ask John Tyner. His story has now become almost legendary now. Tyner was planning on taking a flight to South Dakota out of San Diego but he never made it. Tyner had checked the TSA website before going to San Diego International Airport to see if it used the new full-body scanners because he didn’t want any part of them. The website said the airport did not have those scanners, so Tyler went ahead to the airport as scheduled.

When he arrived there, guess what? There was the full-body scanner. He opted out of the scan, but then was told that in that case, he would be getting a full pat-down search (which would include his genitals being groped). He refused to be felt up by the TSA officer and at that point supervisors were called over. I guess they figured that Tyner was a troublemaker because he didn’t want his private parts handled by security officers.

The security personnel told him that if he didn’t subject himself to these things then he simply wouldn’t be allowed to fly that day. He said that was fine and at that at this point, all he wanted to do was get a refund for his ticket and go home. He was escorted back to the ticket desk and was given a refund on his ticket.

But as he started to leave the airport he was stopped again by another TSA officer who told him that he was not allowed to leave because federal law states that once you begin going through a security check, you are not allowed to leave the security area until that check is completed. If he did leave, he was told, he would be facing a $10,000 fine. Tyner left and posted what happened to him on his blog. He has gotten more than a half million positive responses form people to date.

Across the country, passengers are steamed over being forced to choose scans by full-body image detectors or probing pat-downs. The choices appear to be either submitting to the humiliation and possible health risks of the X-ray scan, or the humiliation of a full body pat-down. Top federal security officials claim that the procedures are safe and necessary sacrifices to ward off terrorism attacks.

Homeland Security “Big Sister” Janet Napolitano says the imaging technology does not violate fliers’ privacy and that the scans pose no health risks. Really? Then why have pilot unions at two of the nation’s largest airlines been advising their members not to submit to body scanners at airport security checkpoints over what they see as intrusive or risky checks? Unions representing pilots at American Airlines and US Airways have advised their more than 14,000 members to avoid the scanners and instead get a pat-down from TSA officers.

In a USA Today article Napolitano wrote, “AIT machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy. They have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety.”

But, whoops, there seems to be a difference of option over at Johns Hopkins. Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has said that “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays.” He went on to say, “we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner.”

According to other numerous real “independent” scientists who continue to speak out over the health hazards associated with the x-ray technology, the body scanners are far from safe. John Sedat, a University of California at San Francisco professor of biochemistry and biophysics and member of the National Academy of Sciences, has stated that the machines have “mutagenic effects” and will increase the risk of cancer. Sedat previously sent a letter to the White House science Czar John P. Holdren, identifying the specific risk the machines pose to children and the elderly.

And as far as the scanners “protecting passenger privacy” nothing could be further from the truth.

“The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images,” Napolitano claims.

But the images that show in detail the naked genitals of men, women and children that have passed through the scanners CAN be transmitted and printed. Of course they can. Think about it, the government has to keep and store these images in the event of terrorists who have gotten past security and later have to be identified.

Napolitano summed up her attitude to all this by adding, “If people want to travel by some other means, they have that right.” In other words, we’re not FORCED to fly; we can always take a bus or something. Thanks, Janet. You’re all heart.

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