Full Body Scanners, the Ineffective Way to Fight Terrorism

The United States Transportation Security Administration recently announced its intention of introducing up to 150 new full body scanners in airports. There’s been a lot of backlash from travelers and taxpayers regarding potential health concerns, costs, and time delays.  In light of this, there’s one other big question that needs answered. How effective will these machines be at eliminating the threat of terrorism on U.S. planes?

Do They Work?

Full body scanners either use x-rays or radio waves to view the first layer right under the clothes. Unlike, medical imaging instruments, they’re not designed to penetrate the skin. Do they do what they’re supposed to? The answer is yes. Unlike a metal detector, the scan can expose things hidden directly under clothes. 

The bigger question is whether it’s effective or not in terms of scanning for contraband? The problem is, the scan does not penetrate enough to be able to view body cavities and/or orifices. Even a large fold of fat on an obese person can be a place to hide objects from the device .Storing items in such places has been a long time favorite of drug smugglers. Don’t expect that to change with this new initiative and look for terrorists to take up the practice.

 Too Little

The full body scan simply will not deter the most dangerous terrorists.  Those groups that are well organized will have no problems getting around a simple system like this. Over time these scanners are likely to thwart a few threats of the mentally unstable variety but it’s likely that our most serious threats will see them as a minor obstacle in their path. 

Are there alternatives?

Some feel that the TSA may be jumping the gun by putting all of its money into body scanners. Currently, there are two other alternatives that have some merit. The TSA has tinkered with the “puffer” and the “guardian”. Both use chemicals to see if there are explosive devices on a person. The guardian can even detect substances in hard to monitor places like shoes. Of course, these devices have their own weaknesses, mostly around the maintenance of the machines.  Still, the TSA might want to save its money and see if either one is a viable option once improvements are made.

In conclusion one would find it very difficult to say that full body scanners will actually deter or prevent any terrorist attacks. For it to work a terrorist would have to be extremely illogical in his or her thought pattern to think that a weapon or bomb could be smuggled right under their clothes.  It’s highly unlikely that the initiative will make any real dent in serious terrorist activities. As such, a better path would probably be to spend the funds on more worthwhile efforts such as intelligence.



Related News Articles

Retired US airport body scanners fail to spot guns, knives
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:11:33 -0800
A type of body scanner in wide use across U.S. airports through last year fails to spot well-concealed weapons including guns and knives, computer security researchers contend. The Rapiscan Secure 1000 full body scanner provides only "weak protection against adaptive adversaries," according to their paper , which will be presented on Thursday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego. The ...

Old US Security Body Scanners Fail to Detect Weapons
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 04:43:47 -0800
A recent study carried out by three American universities has shown that the full-body scanners which had been deployed in US airports until 2013, and are still being used in courts and penal institutions, fail to detect hidden weapons such as guns and knives.

Dayton Mall Offers First 3D Selfies to Shoppers
Mon, 17 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0800
Artec Group, a leading developer and manufacturer of professional 3D software and hardware, and Doppelganger Laboratories, 3D technology and Services Company, bring Artec's 3D full body scanner, the Shapify ...

Naked man arrested after causing incident at Boston airport
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 07:10:29 -0800
Cameron Shenk, 26, faces a laundry list of charges after he was spotted running from women's bathroom in Logan Airport "naked and bleeding"

Brooklyn man, 94, caught trying to sneak gun onto LaGuardia flight
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:04:11 -0800
NEW YORK (PIX11) - TSA officers stopped a Brooklyn man at LaGuardia Wednesday after he allegedly tried to walk through security with a gun. 94-year-old Perry Berger tried to pass through a checkpoint body scanner with a .38 caliber handgun in a holster clipped to the back of his belt, according to the TSA. The […]

Syracuse airport to get more revealing (but not too revealing) full-body scanner
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:29:30 -0800
The Advanced Imaging Technology scanner uses electromagnetic waves to look for weapons or explosives under people's clothing.

Invasion of privacy or time saving security measure? Body scanner arrives at Hancock International
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:35:21 -0800
Hancock International heralds the arrival of a body scanner

LABEL to Offer Groundbreaking 3D Scanner Technology to Enhance Accuracy in Measuring Men's Custom Clothing
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0800
NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- LABEL, the premier men's custom clothing solution offering the best luxury value in today's marketplace, today announced that it will offer Body Labs' 3D body scanning ...

LEP Lifesaver appeal helps Royal Preston Hospital buy £500,000 machine
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 00:26:49 -0800
A lifesaving scanner, which will ensure trauma patients receive urgent medical treatment more speedily, has been unveiled.

The truth about airport security during the holidays: we know your snow globe is not a bomb
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:15:02 -0800
Take it from someone who worked the x-ray machine: there are too many convoluted rules and senseless restrictions for anything but dangerous chaos Every November around the least wonderful time of the year, government higher-ups at airport security checkpoints around the world like to start passing down memos: it’s the holidays, which means the annual increased risk of terrorist attacks ...

Los Angeles International LAX | Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International ATL | Chicago O'Hare International ORD | Dallas/Fort Worth International DFW | Denver International Airport DEN | Las Vegas McCarran International LAS | John F. Kennedy International Airport JFK | Phoenix Sky Harbor International PHX | Houston George Bush Intercontinental IAH | Newark Liberty International EWR | Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County DTW | Minneapolis-Saint Paul International MSP | Orlando International MCO | San Francisco International SFO | Miami International MIA | Philadelphia International PHL | Charlotte/Douglas International CLT | Seattle-Tacoma International SEA | Boston Logan International BOS | New York City LaGuardia LGA | Washington Dulles International IAD | Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall BWI | Salt Lake City International SLC | Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International FLL | Honolulu International HNL | Tampa International TPA | Ronald Reagan Washington National DCA | Chicago Midway International MDW | San Diego International SAN | Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International CVG | Oakland International OAK | Lambert-St. Louis International STL | Portland International PDX | Memphis International MEM | Kansas City International MCI | Cleveland Hopkins International CLE | San Jose International SJC | Sacramento International SMF | Pittsburgh International PIT | Nashville International BNA | Orange County John Wayne Airport SNA | Raleigh-Durham International RDU | Houston William P. Hobby Airport HOU | Indianapolis International IND | Austin-Bergstrom International AUS | San Antonio International SAT | Fort Myers Southwest Florida International RSW | Milwaukee General Mitchell International MKE | Dallas Love Field DAL | Palm Beach International PBI | Hartford - Springfield Bradley International BDL | LA/Ontario International ONT | Port Columbus International CMH | Albuquerque International ABQ | Louis Armstrong New Orleans International MSY | Kahului Airport OGG | Jacksonville International JAX | Burbank Bob Hope Airport BUR | Providence Theodore Francis Green Airport PVD | Reno-Tahoe International RNO | Ted Stevens Anchorage International ANC | Tucson International TUS | Omaha Eppley Airfield OMA | Manchester-Boston Regional MHT | Norfolk International ORF | Louisville International SDF | Oklahoma City Will Rogers World Airport OKC | El Paso International ELP | Boise Airport BOI | Richmond International RIC | Spokane International GEG | Tulsa International TUL | Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International BHM | Kona International KOA | Albany International ALB | Greater Rochester International ROC | Agana Antonio B. Won Pat International GUM | Long Beach Airport LGB | Lihue Airport LIH | Dayton International DAY | Little Rock National LIT | Islip Long Island MacArthur Airport ISP | Syracuse Hancock International SYR | Greensboro Piedmont Triad International GSO | Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International GRR | Colorado Springs Airport COS | Savannah/Hilton Head International SAV | Des Moines International DSM | Charleston International CHS | Orlando Sanford International SFB | Springfield-Branson National SGF | Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport TYS | Pensacola Regional Airport PNS | Madison Dane County Regional Airport MSN | Palm Springs International PSP | Greenville-Spartanburg International GSP | Jackson-Evers International JAN | Huntsville International HSV | Wichita Mid-Continent Airport ICT | Buffalo Niagara International BUF