TSA Area Director Concedes Scanner Images Extremely Graphic

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Fisher1949, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    They did, and they were resolved with a pat-down of the area back when HHMDs were being used.
  2. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    people do not normally have metalic parts in their crotch. a patdown, not your current rubdown in the area alarming would thus be reasonable.

    an alert to a sanitary pad requiring a genital rubdown is UNREASONABLE because 100% of the female population could be reasonably expected to have some such at certain times.
    ditto for a FREAKING bra clasp.

    Anything that alarms on commonly worn attire or hygiene articles is un acceptable. Why do you find it so difficult to understand that WE do not exist for YOU and your g_d damned procedures.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  3. RB

    RB Founding Member

    I don't know who to believe so you tell me which TSA offical we should believe. If the Backscatter images are as you describe why has TSA balked at releasing the images. Also, it seems your saying the WBI have been detuned a bit. Is that done by the operator or someone else and exactly who has the ability to retune the WBI to more revealing output?

    Until I see the WBI images, both Backscatter and MMW I will take the most conservative approach and believe the images are revealing.

    Sorry you work around Backscatter. I would certainly have a means of detecting radiation exposure for myself.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  4. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    Which images do you expect TSA to release? The "live" passenger images are not stored. The only stored images are those of volunteers, mostly TSA employees, for training purposes. Whenever I teach a class, eventually the students notice something strange around the shoulders of the images loaded on the simulators. They're the epaulettes of the TSO uniform the volunteers are wearing.

    I understand your hesitation. Seeing is believing. You and others don't want to take my word for it, and that's fine.

    As for the backscatter, I guess I'm at the age when I can't worry about this or that. (expletive deleted), I remember when I was a kid I used to drink water directly from a garden hose. Well, now they're telling us that drinking bottled water has its health risks, too! We need to go outdoors more often but being out in the sun for too long is bad for us. I even remember hearing on one of those Sunday morning radio programs (it was during a long drive and it was the only thing available) when some doctor claimed we are slowly poisoning ourselves with the fumes that come from the glue that hold the fibers of our carpet together, the residual toxins from the various cleaners we use to wipe down counters, tables and windows, and the contaminated air that blows through our vents.

    For me, personally, there have been a few times I can remember when I should have been killed during my wild, adventurous youth. So each day I live is a bonus. You can worry about radiation if you wish. I'm confident that the harmful effects are negligible.
  5. RB

    RB Founding Member

    So just where did the doctored images that TSA has released come from?
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  6. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    I don't know where they came from. I do know that they are not images of actual passengers.

    I know it's hard to believe, but none of the images are stored nor can they be retrieved. About the only way to capture an image is to take a picture of the screen at the time the image appears, and no cameras, cell phones or other electronic devices capable of capturing or storing images are allowed inside the AIT image room. This rule is strictly enforced; we've had a couple TSOs suspended without pay just for having a cell phone in their possession when they were inside the image room.
  7. And yet you support a scheme that says everybody should be imaged naked or have their genitals felt by a stranger to protect against the miniscule chance that somebody's got a bomb in their pants. I'd be willing to wager that air travel without scope-n-grope is statistically safer than drinking from a garden hose.

    (I do find your avatar adorable, though.)
  8. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    If we heeded every warning about potential health hazards, some of us would never leave the house because of all the potential dangers outdoors, and some of us would barricade ourselves inside a sterile room because of all the hazards that exist inside the house. I don't know where to draw the line on ionizing radiation. Theoretically, we are exposed to it in every aspect of our lives from the AIT to laptop computer screens.

    I don't know what the new risk-based screening is supposed to entail. I know it's an attempt to focus screening where it needs to be rather than apply a one-size fits all template. I also know that no matter how it's conducted, someone is always going to be pissed because that person doesn't "qualify." That's the nature of the job.
    barbell likes this.
  9. yautjalady

    yautjalady Original Member


    Thank you for your detailed replies, it sheds more light on what is going on.

    But I have a few questions about the whole thing:

    In the event somebody does try to deliberately bring WEI type items through, and as a result has been brought up on charges, how are they going to prove in court that it was on THAT particular person, i.e. photographic proof, without the images? I suppose the more evidence there is, the stronger the case would be.

    Why doesn't the screener just ask the screened person about the area, and only if absolutely necessary, PAT (not RUB) that specific little area. Maybe it doesn't have to be touched, only wanded or square-swabbed (can't remember term) for explosive residue?

    Why don't the screeners ask the passenger to pat THEMSELVES down and then the screener checks for WEI traces? Like what was said upthread/on another thread, if somebody really had WEI on them, who would want to risk setting it off by RUBBING it :0 I'd give 'em a wide berth while they were checking themselves....

    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  10. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Former screeners have talked about being able to tell what type of underwear people are wearing, esp women's. The images we see from the TSA show genitals. Certainly they show mastectomy scars because people are flagged for that and given chest massages. Rolando Negrin reacted because of SOMETHING. The Denver TSA director says they are graphic.

    But Bart says no, they don't show anything.

    They obviously DO show underewear and body under the clothes. That is a strip search. I'm surprised that you continue to deny this.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  11. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    Well, nothing I say will ever change your mind. No, it's not a nude scope. You can tell that people are wearing underwear because of the contours not because you can actually see the underwear. I truly wish TSA would release some sample images. It's more like looking at a cartoon caricature than it is a black and white version of a person. There are lots of bulges, bumps and folds because people tend to wear clothes that are two sizes too small. It's not a very flattering image. The last adjective I'd use to describe these images is "sexy."

    Of course, you can believe what you wish.
  12. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    I don't know. LEOs express that exact same concern. Even they are not allowed inside the room to view the image. My guess is that once the item is found on a person, that's proof enough. In other words, if an HHMD alarms on the small of the back, and the TSO finds a concealed weapon, the LEO takes it from there. The LEO doesn't require the TSO to re-wand the area so that the LEO can hear the HHMD alarm. But that's all lawyer stuff. What I do know is that LEOs are NOT permitted inside the viewing room. It just about takes an act of Congress; by that I mean even the local FSD is not authorized to permit LEOs in that room.

    The sliding thing came from some study that showed sliding rather than patting was more effective. I personally disagree, but I was an Army intelligence officer for only 20 years who, on occasion, had to pat-down POWs, detainees and criminal suspects...so what do I know! Once it's determined that there's something underneath the clothing that may be a prohibited item or has caused an alarm, I don't know of any other method of verification than to physically touch it through the clothing with a pat-down.

    The big difference is when people alarmed the WTMD after repeated attempts, the cause of the alarm was narrowed down to one or two specific areas. When the hand held metal detector was used as a follow up to the WTMD, it would alarm on the specific area; the passenger was then given the opportunity to remove whatever it was that caused the HHMD to alarm, and if it didn't alarm after another pass of the wand, that was it. If it did alarm, then and only then, did the screener physically pat down that area. With the AIT, there's no other choice than to physically pat down the area because the officer doesn't know if the cause of the alarm was metallic or non-metallic.

    There are some instances when this method is used. However, the prohibited list item includes things that are not explosives such as martial arts weapons, guns and knives. The Explosive Trace Detection works only on explosives.

    Hope this answers your questions.
  13. RB

    RB Founding Member

    And just how many images did these trusted TSA employees capture before being caught with a recording device in the TSA Porno Booth?
  14. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    I didn't say the image is sexy. I imagine that may be true only for those that have necrophilic tendencies. Obviously, some folks in the TSA are getting their jollies otherwise they would not have targetted girls, young women, well endowed women as they have at some airports according to MANY reports.

    In any case, I said you are looking under our clothing, you are seeing our bodies under our clothing, even if the image is distorted. Perhaps your particular machine has the obscuring/distorting characteristics you mention. Yet you are seeing underwear, you are seeing sex organs and buttocks under clothing that we have covered to prevent strangers from seeing, even if distorted. That is a strip search. Moreover, it does not follow that the other types of machine, or even the same type of machine with different software all behave like the one you use, that ALL airport machines behave like yours. Clearly the TSA director is speaking from knowledge, he is in a position to know. Why would I think he's lying on something that does not benefit him? It would benefit him and the TSA to keep saying what you're saying.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  15. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    This is actually, I believe, a truthful and accurate description of these images.

    I also work with diagnostic images using ionizing radiation. While the methods and outcomes are not exactly the same, the basic physics render similar images, though at different depths, I would imagine. Therefore, Bart is correct when he states that one would only make out contours of clothing and bodies. And I would agree that, based on my experience and the general population, these images are not "sexy".

    However, yes, it is possible to visualize what underwear someone is wearing. I can tell in an instant if a patient is commando, in a thong, if she is wearing fancy day-of-the-week panties with the day spelled out in glittery rhinestones or some other design (butterflies seem to be popular), whether a male is in boxers, tightie-whities, or boxer briefs. It is possible to tell if a woman is menstruating, or has had enhancements added. Depending on her stance when the x-ray was obtained I can also clearly see her labia majora. It is possible to see the position of a male's penis (known as the Throckmorton Angle), which testicle is lower than the other, and whether or not he is circumcised.

    No, one can't tell if someone is wearing pink satin panties. That isn't the point. The point is that underwear, external sex organs, and other intimate details can be visualized. And that is the problem.
    nachtnebel, Lisa Simeone and KrazyKat like this.
  16. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    The Rapiscan images are really dumbed down a lot. I agree with you that the technology is there for high resolution, but TSA has blurred down the resolution a lot. I equate it with wearing swimwear. On some guys, all you see is just enough of an outline to tell that it's a guy. On others, there's not much to the imagination; it's pretty obvious. The majority of the traveling public, IMHO, fall under the first category not the second. For some men, this would truly be an ego-buster. For women, it's the absence of anything that disrupts the outline in the crotch area and the outline of the breasts formed by the underwire or shadows formed by the clothing.

    If a small breasted woman, sans bra, is imaged, most officers have a difficult time determining the gender. And it is not unusual for a man with moobs to be erroneously identified as a female. I'm telling you, the resolution is not that detailed.
  17. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    It was the area director not TSA director, and I sincerely doubt he has seen very many, if any at all, images of live passengers. If he had, he would not have made that statement.

    There are only two AIT models: the L3 and the Rapiscan. The image quality is distorted for both at the checkpoint. We've been operating these machines at my airport for a year. I've never seen anyone higher than a manager go into the viewing room, and even then, managers may have gone in once or twice during that whole year. You may be right: perhaps the area director has sat in on a lot of live imaging of passengers passing through the checkpoint. I can't imagine any circumstances when that would occur, but I'll concede to you that it's a theoretical possibility, albeit very remote. :rolleyes:
  18. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I've been mulling over this sentence.

    It seems to me that the "privacy" aspect promised by TSA to blur faces on these images is actually a blurring of the entire image. To me, that just renders the whole damn thing ineffective. If they are looking for something the size of say, a panty bomb*, a blurring of the image in this way most certainly will make it undetectable. Consider then that people who pass through whole body imaging equipment don't also undergo explosives detection, TSA's claim that these machines can detect explosives that are a threat to aviation safety is therefore false ("Advanced imaging technology safely screens passengers for metallic and nonmetallic threats including weapons, explosives and other objects..." tsa.gov, accessed 8/14/11).

    Now that I've thought about this possibility a little further, it seems to me that the AIT and "pat down" both exceed the scope of the administrative search doctrine. As I understand it, the administrative search as it is allowed at the airport is only allowed because it is supposed to search for current threats to aviation safety using the least intrusive technology available at the time.

    First and foremost, AIT imaging can be construed as intrusive, and this possibility was considered in the most recent court ruling, the first I believe on AIT.

    Second, AIT is unable to detect explosives, it detects anomalies which may be explosives. Furthermore, the GAO finds that explosives such as the panty bomb would not be detected by AIT. It seems to me that this blurring of the entire image may actually make it difficult to detect such items as large as guns. Indeed, since AIT only detects anomalies and no ETD swabbing is performed on these passengers, the poking and prodding of the "pat down" followed by ETD is an inconsistency in the screening process that renders the two unequal.

    Therefore, since TSA claims that the greatest current threat to aviation safety and security is non-metallic explosives (I agree in theory), they have deployed a technology that is incapable of finding such a threat with a method they claim, but is not, equal. The trick is going to be framing that argument in such a way in court. I don't know that attorneys have the technical know-how to make such an argument. We'll see.

    * I notice on the site I linked that the blogger states, "[T]he quantity of explosive was more than sufficient to destroy an airliner." I disagree, but that is another discussion for another day.
  19. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    I can't find it but one of our members posted a link to an FAA report on the use of whole body imaging. In that report, there was reference to the fact that, for legal reasons, an image would have to be saved if it showed W, E or I.

    If anyone can find the post, it would be grand. Sorry I'm such a muggle when it comes to finding such.
  20. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

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