Christmas Incident Rekindles Debate Over High-Tech Scanners

Privacy concerns are helping thwart large-scale use of high-tech scanners that might have spotted the would-be plane bomber Christmas Day.

Full-body scanners show great detail, including body contours, but critics say they amount to a virtual strip-search. In June, the House voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the use of whole-body imaging for primary screening. They're currently used for primary screening at six airports, and for secondary screening at 13 more.

Supporters say such scanners provide the best protection for the widest range of threats.

Another type of machine is said to give a very accurate and very precise image of things on the body that are not the body. The Transportation Security Administration says it's bought 150 of the so-called "backscatter" machines, which are expected to be deployed next year.

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  • by Anonymous on Dec 30, 2009 at 06:08 AM
    So turns out the government was warned about this guy 3 months prior, just like the world trade center the government knew about the threat. How much longer is the government gonna keep information from the people and put us at risk?
  • by Audra Location: SoCal on Dec 29, 2009 at 12:30 PM
    Read up a little on Z-Backscatter. Yes it would. Swabs are only going to show something on a person who's been sloppy anyway. Bottom line is, nothing is 100% foolproof.
  • by John Location: Gville on Dec 29, 2009 at 12:29 PM
    The day airports employ the high-tech scanners, essentially giving TSA xray vision, is the day I stop flying. It seems all these incidents are used as excuses to strip more and more rights from us, including privacy rights.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Dec 29, 2009 at 05:44 AM
    This story is not true. The scanners would not see the bomb material. The use of swabs gives a postive indictation of bomb making materials. I guess this story came frjom the manufactures of scanners.....

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