Start saying good-bye to backscatter scanners

As Bill Fisher reported here at TSA News on September 3rd, the TSA has started removing the backscatter (x-ray) scanners from major airports. Now we find out that it’s fobbing them off onto smaller airports.

Pro Publica reports that the TSA is “quietly removing” backscatter machines from high-volume airports.

Of course, I’m sure the reason has nothing to do with the potential health risks (not). Of course I believe the MMW (millimeter wave) machines that are replacing the backscatters are faster, as the TSA claims (not). Of course I believe this has nothing to do with the backscatters’ lack of Gumby-like software, which supposedly doesn’t reveal nude images seen by some person of indeterminate gender in a back room (not). And of course I believe this has nothing to do with throwing yet more money at the “security” industry (not).

So the backscatter machines are being relegated to small airports. Oh, joy. I’ve been in small airports where I am the only traveler within sight, with one solitary TSA screener manning the metal detector. I’m sensing a TSA employment opportunity, folks, since scanners need many more people to operate.

Why does the TSA’s latest action not surprise me?

  • txrus

    I wonder if this shift also has something to do w/the recent EU ruling on the BSK machines? Regardless, anything other than a plain old WTMD is going to slow down the process. Greatly. As was evidenced by the 17 minute trek I had thru FWA on Wed night or 19 minutes thru EWR the week before or 12 minutes thru ABQ & the list just goes on & on.

  • Bob

    Isn’t it great when i mere bloggers have more info then the mainstream media?

    I will point out that the DHS contracts for the next gen scanners are potential contracts. Basically they went to three manufacturers and said “if we select your machine we my buy up to x amount.”

    Unfortunately two of the three next gen contracts are for backscatter machines. Interestingly rapiscan is NOT one of the three companies.

    • Bob

      My mistake. Only one is BSX. Contracts went to L3(mmw), Smiths(mmw) and AS&E(BSX). Docs i have read on the AS&E unit they claim to emit 1/2 of the radiation of the rapiscan unit. Smiths unit does not list as having ATR but it is 360 degree, which would presumably pick up things hidden via the Corbett method.

      Oh the comment period cannot come soon enough.

  • cjr001

    Not only are they simply shifting them to smaller airports, TSA has handed out a potential contract to a company to make the next generation of backscatter machines anyways.

  • I think this also has to do with the TSA’s stonewalling of the court order to hold a public comment period. They’ve thumbed their nose at the courts for over a year and were given another 9 months to hold this public comment period. I believe they’re taking this time to replace the backscatter scanners so that people can’t claim 1)they’re getting dosed with radiation, and 2)their graphically nude image is being seen by some clown in a back room.

    Meanwhile, yet more millions of our tax dollars are going down the drain.

    (Oh, and too bad for people at small airports: Uncle Sam says it doesn’t care if you continue to get irradiated.)

    • Bob

      The failure rate for the BSX is lower only in a test environment. In a live environment is varies greately. That is because it is dependant on a person staring at a screen intrepreting the image. Humans are the biggest variable with the BSX. And the TSA knows that in the field they are not any more accurate then the MMW. So just imagine of the MMW has a 54% false positive rate, the BSX failure rate is far higher.