Airport Scanners: Full-Body Screening Machines

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Airport Full-Body Scanners
Integrating full-body scanners in airport security has been a popular topic since the “Christmas Bomber” on December 25, 2009 (“Airport Scanners”). There are two types of full-body screening machines: The millimeter wave machine, and the backscatter machine. The backscatter machine is the most recent one, with 150 or more scheduled for airports in the US this year. They work the same as low-level x-ray machines that emit electromagnetic waves, and produce a detailed image of the person’s body (JetSetCD). This type of security has not been proven to be 100% effective, therefore the use of these machines is unjust and do not justify as an effective tool to counter terrorism.

There are currently about 385 full body screening machines being used in 68 different airports in the US (“AIT”). This is the most extensive security measure beside the traditional pat-down or sniffing dog. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The machine produces a 360 degree view that can be zoomed in to see something as small as a nickel or dime, yet they cannot spot something hidden in a body cavity”(qtd. in ”Debate”). Therefore a terrorist or suicide bomber can easily hide a bomb anywhere in their body and will go undetected. Additional tests performed at Quinetiq prove that plastics, chemicals and liquids may still go undetected. If body-scanners are needed within airport security now, the possible need for a “cavity search” could arise in the near future.

Full-body scanners are able to see through clothes of all passengers. Most images appear as a film negative, but show the shape of a completely nude body. This is equivalent to a virtual strip search and will deter many individuals from flying due to fear of cultural or religious disregards (“Airport Scanners”). After the initial scan the images are viewed at a remote location and are believed to be deleted. The machines include hard drives, internet connectivity, and USB ports which allow images to be...
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