ProPublica: Almost half of Americans oppose scanners

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Sunny Goth, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Did you try this one?

    You could also try putting a space or two in the string so it doesn't get seen by the host site. bit._ly/_TravelUndergroundTSAabuses

    Be sure to remove the hyperlink if copying from Word.
  2. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yes, that was the first one I tried (not "tinyurl," which I just realized was what Mike asked me; I typed the one).

    And in subsequent tries I removed all hyperlinks, hints of hyperlinks, and just typed plain words as indicated above. None of them posted.
  3. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    So, is McChellian a TUGer operating under a different handle or have all our efforts to associate the word "clerk" with TS"O"s finally started to pay off?
    Fisher1949 likes this.
  4. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    Fisher1949 and CelticWhisper like this.
  5. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    ^ 'nuff said.
  6. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    I'm amazed that everyone accepts that the MMW are "safe" when they haven't had any more independent testing than the BKSX units.

    The real issue isn't whether anyone will get cancer or be injured by one scan by a properly operating scanner, they almost certainly won't. The issue is what happens when they malfunction but continue to produce scans and go unserviced.

    This has been a problem in medical radiation equipment used for destroying cancer cells for years. The machines are design to emit a controlled dosage of radiation but get out of calibration if poorly maintained and overdose the target area. In many cases the patient suffers radiation burns of the tissue adjacent to the tumor.

    Since there is no requirement for TSA to make maintenance records on these available, it is likely that most have never been serviced unless they stopped producing images. Even though the MMW purportedly uses radio frequencies, there is no proof that the signal generator is not capable of producing frequencies outside of the radio spectrum. Depending on the design and output of the generator it seems possible that the device could produce microwaves as well and effectively cook the skin of the passenger.

    Both systems need to be independently tested to confirm that the designs include fail-safe circuits to prevent operation if the signal gets outside of a specified range or intensity.
  7. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!
  8. Leave no trace

    Leave no trace Original Member

    Microwave a clerk !! - now that is a great way to have a BIG turkey for Christmas :)
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  9. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Wouldn't be fit for human consumption.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  10. RadioGirl

    RadioGirl Original Member

    (The old-timers sigh. Sorry... I was having a quiet Saturday reading TUG on my Android tablet and making short pithy responses with two thumbs, but this made me go get the laptop and now I have to sit upright and type with 10 fingers. ;) )

    Fisher, Lisa, you know I love you guys. :) And you know that I hate the TSA with a white-hot passion, especially those wretched NoS scanners.:mad: I'm in self-imposed exile from the USA because I refuse to face TSA at LAX, even to go see my family. :mad::(:mad::( I refuse to visit the UK because of the risk of being scanned after setting off the WTMD with my metal hip.

    But arguments like this doesn't help our cause. Your concerns about microwave and "outside the radio spectrum" and "cook the skin of the passenger" are a case of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

    Here's a list of radio (and higher electromagnetic) devices and the frequencies, all in the same units (MHz = 1 million Hz). Click on the link in the first line for the FCC summary of the international and US allocations if you want to check these.

    "Radio" as regulated by international treaty 0.009 - 275,000 MHz (pdf warning)
    FM radio: 88 - 108 MHz
    UHF television: 520-820 MHz
    Cell phones: 800 - 950 MHz and ~2000 MHz
    Microwave ovens 2400 MHz
    WiFi 2400 MHz (and 5700 MHz)
    Cordless phones 2400 MHz
    Bluetooth 2400 MHz
    Motion sensors 2400 MHz (and others)
    RFID 2400 MHz
    MMW scanners 24,000 - 30,000 MHz (pdf warning: letter to FCC about scanners)
    Infrared 300,000 - 400,000,000 MHz (infrared camera: 20,000,000 - 40,000,000 MHz
    Visible light 400,000,000 – 770,000,000 MHz
    Ultraviolet 770,000,000 – 30,000,000,000 MHz
    X-ray 30,000,000,000 – 3,000,000,000,000,000 MHz

    I'd ask you to notice a few things about the list above. First of all, "microwaves" as in "microwave ovens" is between the bands for things like TV, FM radio, cell phones and the frequencies used for the scanners, not "outside the radio spectrum". Secondly, the frequency used by the scanner is 10 times that used by microwave ovens. Third, the MMW scanner frequency is a factor of 10 to 100 times greater than other common radio systems, but 1 millionth of the lower edge of x-rays. That is, scanners are much more like other common radio transmitters than like x-rays.

    But most importantly, notice that microwave ovens operate in EXACTLY the same frequency band as WiFi, cordless phones, Bluetooth and almost everything wireless at Radio Shack. The reason that microwave ovens cook your food and WiFi doesn't is not because of the frequency; it's because of the power difference. WiFi transmits 0.25 Watts and a microwave oven is 900 watts - 3600 times higher. No one worries about getting 'cooked' at Starbucks because the WiFi suddenly starts transmitting 3600 times too much. No one insists that every Bluetooth device is tested for years to prove it might not accidentally start cooking your ear.

    I've done my own calculations, first based on information obtained privately and then using information in the letter linked above, and in both cases, the power level of the MMW scanner is about the 1/100,000 that of a cell phone, as stated by the TSA. I've been challenged on this over at the Other Place, so yes, this calculation takes into account that "they're beaming the energy right at you" "at short range" "in an enclosed space." It's still vanishingly low power. (And yes, TSA lies. But with the best information I have as a radio professional, I do not believe they are lying about this. I don't believe they need to. Imaging can be performed with a very low power level). No radio system, regardless of sloppy maintenance, slips in frequency by a factor of ten or increases its output power by a factor of 1 million (=10 cell phones). Even if the scanning pattern stops and sticks at one location, it can't produce enough energy to burn the skin.

    Finally, the only (known, recognized, tested) danger of radio frequency energy occurs at high powers and is due to direct heating of skin and underlying tissue. You would notice the (quite painful) heat well before you got "cooked."

    Look, we criticize the TSA because they x-ray baby shoes and flip-flops because of one guy with a shoe bomb. They strip search NY grandmas because of one guy with scorched shorts. They confiscate "liquids" like yogurt and peanut butter because of six London idiots who didn't even have a working bomb. In short, they inflate a few incidents, isolated facts, with insane amounts of "coulda" and "might" and "maybe" and "what if" until they become enormous, all-consuming risks that require ridiculous policies. Let's not do that. Yes, medical equipment that uses IONIZING radiation (which poses some danger at any level) has sometimes malfunctioned and put out more IONIZING radiation (which, by definition, is more dangerous). But you can't extrapolate to radio equipment malfunctioning by a factor of a million and claim that it's a similar situation. It weakens our argument to make such claims.

    For the record# 1: I am not an expert on x-rays but I believe that TSA is lying about the comparison to "2 minutes of flying" and that the energy levels of the x-ray scanners may well be unsafe. I agree with the principle that there should be NO use of ionizing radiation without a corresponding medical benefit, and believe that the use of x-ray scanners is incredibly irresponsible.

    For the record # 2: I oppose BOTH types of scanners as being unconstitutional, invasive, expensive, ineffective, slow, and embarrassing. And they give the TSA goons a chance to steal your stuff while you're standing there. (There are probably more things I hate about them; it's a long list.) And I would opt out of MMW every time. But not because of health concerns.

    For the record # 3: Sorry again to everyone who's read all this before at the Other Place. :eek:
  11. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Thanks for the insightful and informative response. You're right, being too over the top is harmful to our effort and misinformation damages credibility.

    My point was primarily that that in the absence of independent testing we simply don't know much about them. We don't know for certain what range they operate except for info from the manufacturer.

    As with other products and chemicals, e.g. Agent Orange, it can be years before the effects are seen and even the best testing wouldn't anticipate those.

    I'll confine my future comments to areas where I have more expertise and leave this issue to those better equipped to speak to the technical issues.

    BTW, FTTUSA (Wendy Thompson) was looking for someone to provide expertise on the scanners a few weeks ago. You may want to contact her if you haven't already.
    RadioGirl, Lisa Simeone and KrazyKat like this.
  12. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    I'm surrounded by pig farms. It won't go to waste. :p

    Time to feed the hogs...
  13. RB

    RB Founding Member

    I grew up around rural farms and outhouses. What you say about pigs is absolutely true.
  14. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    RadioGirl, totally understand. My opposition to the scanners, as I've said many times, began at the beginning, on privacy grounds, before anyone was discussing anything about safety. And I still say that's the most important -- and strongest -- issue. Because if it were ever discovered that the scanners -- all types -- were 100% safe, our overlords could then say, "See? We told you so. Now there's no problem with your going through them."

    Yes, there is still a problem. A philosophical, ethical, historical, symbolic, and economic problem. They still violate us. They are violations. They are stripping us. They are treating us as criminals. With their mere presence, they scream that we will put up with every new technology, every new procedure, every new violation that comes down the pike, as long as it's "for our safety."

    I understand the safety concerns about the backscatter machines, and I won't minimize those concerns; I'll take ammo wherever I can get it. But the bigger picture, it seems to me, is what I outlined above. If The Perfectly Safe Scanner is ever invented, and people's objections until that point have been only about health, we're screwed.
    RadioGirl and Fisher1949 like this.
  15. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    I still think TSA is trying to get these modifications to their imaging systems rolled out to obviate (they'd contend) their comment requirements out of the EPIC decision.

    The great comment in one of these stories is about leaving the WTMD in place to handle overflow. If it's okay some of the time, why isn't it okay all of the time?
  16. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Let's not ruin their party by asking any obvious questions.

    As far as I know, the state of the ATR systems is that they've flubbed the only true evaluation they've ever received -- the one at Hamburg.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  17. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    Because, as you well know, this has never been about flight safety. Safety is merely the excuse.
  18. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    An excuse for what?
    1. To detain and harrass airline passengers?
    2. To conduct unconstitutional administrative searches for drugs, drug paraphenalia, and/or large amounts of money?
    3. To single-out and humiliate those unfortunate airline passengers who have medical devices that would not otherwise (with the past screening methods) be singled out and given "private" secondary screening?
    4. To bully people into the scanners by threatening them with "an invasive pat-down" that includes their crotch, buttox, and breast?
    5. To require that passengers "voluntarily surrender" items that the screener deems a "security threat" (like. oh, say, maybe insulin, breast milk, plastic toy hammers, nail clippers, eyelash curlers, key-chain baubles that look like weapons and/or bullets)?
    (Circle all that apply.)
  19. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    For certain it includes our conditioning. As Lisa reminds us, power and control, power and control...
    Lisa Simeone and Fisher1949 like this.
  20. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Just follow the money.
    Lisa Simeone and KrazyKat like this.

Share This Page