More TSA scanners are coming — are you ready for your close-up?

Despite the fact that most Americans, now that they’ve had a year to assess the TSA’s scope-and-grope procedures, are opposed to the strip-search scanners, and despite the fact that the TSA has already spent billions on them (at $150,000 to $180,000 a pop), the agency has just announced that it is increasing the number of scanners in airports and outfitting some of them with this newfangled ATR — Automated Target Recognition — software.

ATR is the software that presents so-called Gumby or stick-figure images instead of the anatomically graphic images that the machines have been presenting heretofore. As described by TSA spokesperson Pat Ahlstrom, the original images — and the ones still seen on machines that don’t have ATR — are “graphic, no doubt about it.”

So far, ATR is being installed only on millimeter wave scanners, not backscatter, or x-ray, scanners. The latter have raised health concerns among scientists, physicians, and passengers because they haven’t been rigorously tested. (Then again, neither have the millimeter wave scanners.)

And don’t forget — as has been reported countless times and admitted by TSA administrator John Pistole himself, just because you go through the scanner doesn’t mean you won’t also be pulled aside for a grope. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

So next time you go to the airport and stand in line at the checkpoint, get ready for your close-up! You might be able to see your own Gumbified image on the screen right in front of you. Unless you’re forced through a backscatter machine, in which case your privates are anything but to a TSA agent sitting in an undisclosed location.

Sorry we can’t reveal it — that would be SSI.

(Photo: Michael Heilemann/Flickr)