Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Hi-Tech Scanners Would Not Have Detected the Underpants Bomber

Many are advocating the new "millimetre-wave" body scanners as the ultimate preventive measure to stop attacks such as the one attempted by the underpants bomber. These scanners use waves to create a three-dimensional virtual naked image of passengers. They have been opposed by some due to privacy concerns. A British expert who helped develop the scanners for airport use claims they wouldn't have detected this type of device anyway. Think about it for a minute. If the devices don't see clothing, they don't see low density objects such as powders and chemicals. They are designed for higher density objects such as metal knives, guns and dense plastic such as C4 explosive. This leaves us with a couple options. We can show up at the airport wearing hospital gowns and prepared for a body cavity search or we can start profiling passengers like the Israelis do. The Israelis haven't had a successful airline attack in decades, but they do profile and conduct extensive interviews of some passengers.

The Independent reported:
Since the attack was foiled, body-scanners, using "millimetre-wave" technology and revealing a naked image of a passenger, have been touted as a solution to the problem of detecting explosive devices that are not picked up by traditional metal detectors – such as those containing liquids, chemicals or plastic explosive.

But Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP, who was formerly involved in a project by a leading British defence research firm to develop the scanners for airport use, said trials had shown that such low-density materials went undetected.

Tests by scientists in the team at Qinetiq...

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