TSA timeline, and the scanner saga continues


The news that the TSA and OSI, maker of the Rapiscan x-ray nude scanners, have reached an agreement to terminate the scanner contract has been widely reported.

The contract is ending because of OSI’s inability to meet the privacy requirement mandated by Congress — even though the deadline to meet that requirement had been extended by a year. The TSA will remove the Rapiscan machines from airports by June 2013, and they’ll be replaced by millimeter wave scanners made by L-3 that have a functioning privacy algorithm (so-called ATR, Automated Target Recognition). The scans will remain the same, but our naked images will be concealed by software, at least in the checkpoint display.

It’s been a long journey for travelers who’ve been coping with an increasingly invasive host of technologies and procedures for nearly a decade. This latest announcement marks a significant milestone in the opposition to TSA security, but it’s hardly a victory. Airports will continue to use scanners. And there are x-ray versions available now that incorporate privacy software, which means that untested, radiation-emitting machines could still be used because the TSA can say, “see, we’ve taken care of that little privacy problem.” Travelers will still have to assume the surrender position in scanners and deal with surly screeners and capricious procedures.

Nonetheless, this offers an opportunity to review the long and tortuous path that has brought us to this point:

October 2006
The Puffer Machines Debut
“Across the country, airline passengers continue to jump through the usual security checkpoint hoops—X-ray machines, ID checks, random searches—but now the Transportation Security Administration has introduced a curious new element to the process: the walk-through air puffer portal.”

March 2007
The X-ray Naked Scanners are Pilot Tested
“For the next two to three months, passengers randomly selected for additional screening at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport will have the option of a typical pat down by security personnel or a one-minute, full body scan from a new type of x-ray machine that allows screeners to see through clothes.”

May 2007
Health Concerns Raised Over Naked X-Ray Scanners In UK
New X-Ray scanners at British airports could be exposing passengers to potentially dangerous levels of radiation, according to one senior radiologist. The machines are designed to ‘strip search’ passengers by using low-level X-Rays.”

January 2008
TSA Issues Privacy Impact Statement Whole Body Imaging (pdf)

October 2009
Full-body scanners banned for kids in U.K., likened to child porn
Child protection agencies who have had access to the results of these scanned images have likened them to what amounts to child pornography. Hence, Manchester Airport in the U.K. has been banned from using the whole-body scanners on children under 18 years of age. The Rapiscan machine being trialled at the airport’s Terminal 2 shows up a clear outline of passengers’ bodies as well as breast enlargements, piercings, and false limbs.”

December 2009
Failed Christmas bombing casts spotlight on security at airports
“Advocates for whole body imaging technologies and screening of passengers said the debate has been too dominated by privacy considerations. ‘We need to become a whole lot more skeptical of claims that privacy is always a good,’ said Stewart Baker, a former Homeland Security official in former President George W. Bush’s administration.

December 2009
Chertoff Seeks Full-Body Scanners At Airports
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is pushing for full-body scanners to be installed at airports in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack aboard an airliner on Christmas Day.”

February 9 2010
GAO: No formal testing for whole-body scanners
“A senior TSA official stated that although TSA does not yet have a written policy requiring operational testing before deployment, TSA is now including in its contracts with vendors that checkpoint screening machines are required to successfully complete laboratory tests as well as operational tests.”

March 2010
TSA moves forward with untested, costly whole-body scanner deployment
“The ETP detects traces of explosives on a passenger by using puffs of air to dislodge particles from the passenger’s body and clothing that the machine analyzes for traces of explosives. TSA procured 207 ETPs and in 2006 deployed 101 ETPs to 36 airports. TSA deployed the ETPs even though agency officials were aware that tests conducted during 2004 and 2005 on earlier ETP models suggested that they did not demonstrate reliable performance.

May 2010
TSA Worker Arrested After Jokes, Fight Size of Genitalia Is Exposed to Co-workers by Scanner
“A TSA worker in Miami was arrested when he ‘lost his mind’ and attacked a colleague who repeatedly made fun of his small penis after the security screener walked through a high-tech scanner that showed his genitalia, according to Miami-Dade police.”

August 2010
No Revival for Airport Puffer Machines Used to Detect Explosives
“The Transportation Security Administration has no plans to continue research into puffer machines that were designed to detect trace amounts of explosives on passengers.
Domenic Bianchini, general manager of TSA’s passenger screening program, said there are no active programs in the pipeline that would improve the technology that was pulled out of airports last year because of frequent malfunctions.”

August 2010
Federal government admits storing some images from security scanners that see through clothes
“Last summer the Transport Security Administration (TSA) claimed the technology to be deployed in airports was not capable of storing images, but it later admitted a ‘test mode’ had in fact been activated in places and stored 2,000 images.

September 2010
Senators Susan Collins & John Kyl Warns of Puffer Machine Failures in Hasty Body Scanners Use (pdf)
Collins: “I too have cited the puffer machines’ failures under real world conditions as evidence of the need for successful completion of operational testing and evaluation of AITs. [Advanced Imaging Technology].”

December 2010
The TSA’s New Scanners Can’t See Your Pancake-Shaped Bomb
“A report in the Journal of Transportation Security looks the efficacy of the TSA’s new backscatter scanners. Turns out the machines might not be able to see your box cutter—or your gun, depending on how you went about hiding it.

December 2010
Auditors question TSA’s use of and spending on technology
“The Transportation Security Administration spent about $30 million on devices that puffed air on travelers to ‘sniff’ them out for explosives residue. Those machines ended up in warehouses, removed from airports, abandoned as impractical.

December 2010
Firms’ lobbying push comes amid rancor on TSA use of airport full-body scanners
“The companies that build futuristic airport scanners take a more old-fashioned approach when it comes to pushing their business interests in Washington: hiring dozens of former lawmakers, congressional aides, and federal employees as their lobbyists.

January 2011
Judge Says No To FOIA Request For TSA Body Scan Images
“A district court judge has rejected an attempt by the privacy-rights group EPIC to force Homeland Security to release some 2,000 full body scans from the TSA’s new airport scanners. EPIC has been suing to get the new scanners banned, saying that the machines violate both the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable searches) and the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires a public review of such plans before the government can implement them.

January 2011
U.S. Airports May Soon Test Body Scanner With Privacy Upgrades, TSA Says
“U.S. airport full-body scanners that show a generic figure rather than actual images of passenger body parts may be deployed to some airports for tests this year, the transportation security chief said today.”

February 2011
‘Inexcusable’ delay on TSA body-scanner safety reports
“The Transportation Security Administration has told members of Congress that more than 15 million passengers received full-body scans at airports without any malfunctions that put travelers at risk of an excessive radiation dose.”

February 2011
TSA Puffer machines pulled from service
“The high-tech $150,000 Puffer machine designed to blast passengers with a puff of air and then analyze the particles were determined to rarely work; after spending nearly $30 million to buy and maintain 94 Puffers, TSA last year retired them from service. More than 200 machines once touted as a high-tech response to keep the skies safe have been removed from service. The 207 Explosive Trace Detection portals purchased by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are now sitting in a government warehouse.”

March 2011
TSA to retest airport scanners after missing data, reporting errors
“The Transportation Security Administration has promised to launch new radiation testing on many airport scanners after finding reporting errors in tests done by contract workers. But an airline passenger group Monday called on the TSA to halt the use of all airport scanners that use low levels of radiation to peek under passenger clothes until the retesting is completed.”

June 30 2011
Did Airport Scanners Give Boston TSA Agents Cancer?
“Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has obtained documents from the Department of Homeland Security, which EPIC says provide evidence that the government failed to properly test the safety of full-body scanners at airports, and dismissed concerns from airport agents about excessive exposure to the machines’ radiation.

July 2011
EPIC: Documents Show TSA Ignored Radiation Warnings
“The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently announced that it has obtained documents from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which raise new questions about the safety of the TSA’s full-body scanners. The documents reportedly reveal that publicly mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), stating that NIST ‘affirmed the safety’ of full body scanners. NIST stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test full body scanners for safety, and that the Institute does not do product testing.

July 2011
Federal Court Rules That TSA ‘Naked Scans’ Are Constitutional
“In the opinion from the D.C. Circuit Court, Judge Douglas Ginsburg writes that the advance imaging technology is not unreasonable given the security concerns on airplanes, and that people have the option to opt out for a pat down. The court notes that some ‘have complained that the resulting pat down was unnecessarily aggressive,; but the judges don’t seem overly concerned about that.”

July 2011
TSA told to get public comment on body scanners
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the Transportation Security Administration to start soliciting comments about the machines, which show an image of a person’s naked body.”

October 2011
TSA’s De Facto Phase-Out of ‘Naked’ Scanners
“TSA privacy officer Peter Pietra pointed to the recent purchase of scanners consisting only of millimeter wave machines being a sign. The advisory council member, Barry Steinhardt, then suggested that TSA announce publicly that they would be phasing out the backscatter machines.”

November 2011
Europe Bans Airport Body Scanners For “Health and Safety” Concerns
The European Union issued a ruling this week that bans X-ray body scanners in all European airports. According to the European Commission, the agency charged with enforcing the ruling across the EU’s 27 member nations, the prohibition is necessary ‘in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.’

January 2012
TSA Relents on Radiation, AFGE Proposes Joint Committee to Provide Dosimeters
“After years of pressure from AFGE, TSA management finally relents and makes plans for issuing radiation dosimeters for TSA officers. Members around the country have expressed concerns for years about the level of radiation they are exposed to from screening equipment. The European Union recently banned certain types of scanners due to radiation concerns.”

January 2012
TSA to Test Its Airport Scanner Operators for Radiation Exposure
“After years of rebuffing health concerns over airport scanners, the Transportation Security Administration plans to conduct new tests on the potential radiation exposure from the machines at more than 100 airports nationwide. But the TSA does not plan to retest the machines or passengers. Instead, the agency plans to test its airport security officers to see if they are being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation while working with the scanners.”

February 2012
New report on TSA scanner safety uses old data
“The report (PDF) dated February 14, cites questionable results displayed on TSA website from 2010 and 2011.
The new IG report notes that unlike traditional x-ray machines like you see at medical facilities which x-ray through the object, the general backscatter technology reflects off the object and therefore exposes individuals to a negligible dose of ionizing radiation.”

March 2012
Passenger slips metal by TSA scanners — repeatedly
“. . . Jon Corbett . . . As he details in this video, he put a little metal case into a side pocket, which didn’t show up on the scan. Why? Because black on black doesn’t show up. You’ll have to watch the video to get the full picture, as it is, indeed, worth a thousand words.”

March 2012
TSA Pooh-Poohs Video Purporting to Defeat Airport Body Scanners
“The government responded angrily Wednesday to a YouTube video allegedly showing a 27-year-old Florida man sneaking a metallic object through two different body scanner devices at American airports. The Transportation Security Administration, though, refused to directly address whether Jonathan Corbett, of Miami Beach, has discovered a method to beat the machines, which number 600 and are in about 140 U.S. airports.”

August 2012
Court orders non-compliant TSA to hold public hearings on full-body scanners
“The US Circuit Court of Appeals is issuing another order, this time demanding that the Department of Homeland Security (which oversees the TSA) explain within the month why it hasn’t obeyed the original order, reports Wired.”

September 2012
Congress Mandates Strengthened Privacy Protections (pdf)
“This report addresses five central themes and makes the following recommendations to TSA towards rebuilding a smarter, leaner organization:
• Implement privacy software on all AIT machines
• Sponsor an independent analysis of the potential health impacts of AIT machines less revealing.
• Enlist the private sector to modernize and, to the extent possible, automate the passenger screening process to reduce pat-downs.”

November 2012
OSI Systems Falls After Hearing on Naked-Image Scanners
“OSI Systems Inc. (OSIS) shares fell the most in more than 15 years after a U.S. lawmaker said tests may have been falsified on software intended to stop the company’s airport body-scanning machines from recording graphic images of travelers. OSI fell $21.40, or 28 percent, to $54.89 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the Hawthorne, California-based company’s biggest one-day drop since October 1997 and Nasdaq’s biggest percentage decline today.”

January 2013
Naked-Image Scanners to Be Removed From U.S. Airports
“The agency removed 76 of the machines from busier U.S. airports last year. It will now get rid of the remaining 174 Rapiscan machines, with the company absorbing the cost, said Karen Shelton Waters, the agency’s assistant administrator for acquisitions. The TSA will instead use 60 machines manufactured by L-3 Communications the agency’s other supplier of body scanners.”

January 2013
OSI Systems Shares Climbing Higher, Up 4.2% Following TSA Agreement
“OSI Systems (NASDAQ:OSIS) is one of today’s notable stocks on the rise, up 4.2% to $70.50. The S&P is trading fractionally lower to 1,479 and the Dow is trading fractionally lower to 13,595.”

So, after making millions of dollars in profits on $40 million in sales of body scanners, OSI walks away from the scanners for a $2.7 million one-time write-down and $5 million in de-booked sales, sees its stock price rebound, and continues to sell its other x-ray equipment to the TSA. It also pursues other markets for the naked-image scanners.

It pays to be well connected in Washington. OSI demonstrates that for federal contractors, it doesn’t matter who’s in the White House or Congress, as long as former officials take jobs as lobbyists. For the right price, beltway insiders are always available.

(Photo: jamiesrabbits/Flickr Creative Commons)

  • Unfortunately, I am closing the comments on this post. I have removed the libelous comments, the cowardly comments, the accusatory comments. But I can’t keep up with them. I can’t sit by the computer babysitting all day. If people can’t speak to each other in a civil and reasonable way, there’s nothing else I can do.

  • RB

    I have a few questions about the TSA Backscatter Whole Body Imagers..

    One TSA and its employees clearly told the public, congress, and others that the images produced by the Backscatter type scanners were nothing more than a chalky outline.

    So why are privacy filters needed?

    Did TSA as an organization and TSA employees individually lie to the public and to government?

    If TSA and its employees lied about the image quality why are there no penalties for ethics violations?

    If privacy is not the real problem then what is?

    How much radiation do these devices actually emit?

    Why aren’t heads rolling at DHS and TSA?

  • A word about links: we’re happy to have them when they add to the discussion and provide helpful information. For instance, a reader going by “Bob,” who seems to be an industry insider, often gives us additional information in his comments.

    It’s one thing to provide info; it’s another to shill for a company. Re the latter and the extended exchange in this thread, I would direct readers to these two links:

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/fred-deitz/10/962/444

    http://finance.yahoo.com/mbview/threadview/?&bn=2222f99f-e4ee-32ba-8ba5-f5406ff033aa&tid=1353070447856-67d7ad8d-8d14-4014-a3b2-1d5f6a94c2f7&tls=la%2cd%2c18

    • I find it a bit offensive that you would like to my linkedin profile. I do not work for IMSC for one thing. It is one thing to have a debate, it is another to act unethically as you have just done, Lisa Simeone.!

      • Mr. Deitz, how is it unethical when it is publicly posted on the web and, furthermore, linked to your avatar and Facebook account??

        Like you, I also write under my own name; and here’s my publicly posted profile:
        http://lisasimeone.brandyourself.com/

        That’s the nature of public profiles. They’re — er — public. (And I never claimed you work for IMSC.)

        • You said I was a shill for IMSC. That is a LIE and you know it. You are very unethical as is obvious. You had no business posting my linkedin profile and your defense is very week, putting it in the same paragraph saying I was a shill. You show your bias against certain posters by tactics like that! Post your proof of your false allegations against me!

          • Sigh. A shill is a promoter. Someone who promotes a product. I’m making no allegations. This is really getting melodramatic.

          • I would say it is melodromatic to call something an “extended dialog” when I only replied to you twice. I would say to post someone’s LinkeIn profile and call them a shill is melodramatic. It doesn’t matter, the links you referred to that I posted are now gone. Your bias is clear, you would not treat someone who posted a topic you liked in this fashion and you know it. I will let others judge for themselves. If you had posted my linkedin profile without negative info in the same paragraph I might believe you. I posted a little info about a product that I thought was somewhat relevant to the topic. That is NOT promoting it! Talk about being melodramatic and exaggerating everything, your bias is loud and clear.

          • From the dictionary, shill has very negative connotations and clearly you meant it that way and you know it. Here’s the defintion, this is my last post which proves my point about your negative agenda unfairly calling me that right with my LinkedIn URL. A shill is basically someone that ends up being not very ethical or honest:

            shill [shilnoun

            1.

            a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc. 2. a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty to purposely influence others.

        • And I did not link my LinkedIn profile here, YOU DID! I still say it is not right,but apparently you like to trash people calling them shills. I was done posting here until you attacked me with allegations like that. I put up a couple of links to a company that I felt were relevant and that qualifies as being a shill? Different if I put up 10 links or something!You have no defense to your lies about me, calling me a shill. You should be ashamed of your actions, instead you defend them which tells me about your sense of ethics.

        • What is your linkedin profile? Would you like it if I posted it somewhere and called you a person who exaggerates and is highly biased against posters on a blog and posts info about them connected with negative commentary? I doubt it.

          • Mr. Deitz, I don’t have a LinkedIn profile. I do have other profiles publicly posted on the web, one of which I already posted here, as you saw. As for “negative commentary,” good grief, there’s tons of it about me on the web.

            I confess I don’t understand what all this fuss is about. I posted publicly available links that provide information about your engineering background and about your possible — possible, since I don’t know and don’t claim to — financial interest in technology the TSA is using. I think that’s relevant information.

            I also think it’s relevant that you removed the original three links you had posted in your first comment to this blog entry. The links about Implant Sciences Corporation.

          • Since you accused me of being a “shill” for IMSC I removed them, since you used me as an example to complain about posting URL’s and you clearly resented me posting it so I removed those links. My main point was to have a discussion about ETD devices, the links were sort of extraneous to the discussion. I think it is relevant to point out “shill” is a derogatory term, you don’t know me, and you have no basis to post derogatory comments like that. Enough said!

          • I like how you claim to have suspicions about my “possible financial interests”. Again, you mean that in a derogatory fashion, to support you ‘shill’ theory. Maybe if you would stop hurling accusations on here the discussion would be more respectful. When you post public info about someone they did not post, in the same paragraph post derogatory allegations about them, that is unethical. Any dictionary shows shill is used in a negative fashion about someone.

          • Finally, it is highly relevant that you went to the exhaustive trouble to search even under an incorrect spelling of my last name to find some entry in a yahoo blog .That would not have turned up under a search of Fred Deitz. It just shows your agenda is to attack someone you do not agree with. While that is truthful at least, your characterization of “shill” is not, since it implies dishonesty.

          • You don’t understand what the fuss is about because clearly you are not concerned with ethics, making derogatory comments about someone with little to back it up. Nothing I posted in my initial post was meant as other than a quick guide to something related to the discussion. You are the one who implied it is was wrong. You made it sound like I had posted a lot, truthfully you should have said “in your 3 posts” rather than ‘extended dialog’. You turned this into an extended dialog with your refusal to admit you have done anything wrong. Normally you don’t have a respectful discussion by engaging in unfair characterizations of people as you have clearly done. If that’s the type of blog you run, good for you!

        • astcbuy

          That is right, Fred Deitz deserves what he gets!

    • You really crossed an ethical line Lisa with that LinkedIn URL. I demand you remove it, I will be contacting your ISP provider if you do not.

      • Susan Richart

        It’s a public website, Mr. Deitz, that anyone can access. If you don’t want your information known, then don’t sign up on sites such as LinkedIn. It’s really very simple.

        • I don’t care if someone goes out and finds my linkedin profile. For it to be connected in a paragraph with negative commentary and exaggerations, that crosses the line.Maybe when it happens to you, you won’t like it either.

    • Extended exchange? I replied twice to you and that was it. I see you have a gift for exaggerating things to prove your lies about me being a shill for IMSC. Maybe you should watch what you publicly accuse someone of.

    • AstcBuy

      Thanks for exposing Fred Deitz for the cheat and fraud he is. As you will see he no longer works for Raytheon and was probably fired for being a cheat. A simple search shows he is most likely Fred Deitz at 14112 Flicker Ct., Gainesville, VA 20155. It is his fault for posting on here, everything is public, and now we can shame him the way he should be. He is a shill for IMSC and as you found out, posts on yahoo as fred20155 and regularly posts all kinds of untrue hype about it. He is losing money on his investment and wants out so he is doing a pump and dump operation!

      • Well said, that was really bad. I am no longer participating in this blog but I thank you for removing that info. I am glad it was only there for a long time. Before I saw your removal of it, I went and basically as much as I could deleted all my posts. I do not regret doing that .This goes to show actions such as posting other public info about someone lead to MORE of that. Too bad, I bet “astcbuy” would never have felt bold enough to post that if my LinkedIn id and other info hadn’t been posted here. I am off of here, I will say thanks for cleaning up his post quickly, I appreciate it. I bet astcbuy would not like it if someone posted his name and address. I now regret I didn’t post on here under an alias. I was beyond stupid for posting with my FB profile, and I now very much regret it. I never knew it would lead within a few hours to my home address on here. There are a lot of nuts on the internet and that’s not what is needed for someone home’s address or other info they did not themselves post to be on here. Lesson learned!

        • Mr. Deitz, I’m sorry you feel you have been ill treated on this blog (in addition to astcbuy’s comment, which was way, way over the line). I don’t mean to shut down conversation or to prevent people from posting relevant information. If I jumped to conclusions about your intentions and misrepresented them, then I apologize.

          • Thanks, I appreciate your comments, Lisa. Anyway, I think at this point am going to leave things alone and hope don’t have something like what astcbuy did to me ever happen again. I have tangled with him elsewhere and he posted a pointer on the other place as saying I was “outed” over here. He is too afraid to post my private info on the other place. He has posted libelous things not just about me but about others at another place which will remain nameless. He is a coward who hides behind an anonymous id.

          • Astcbuy

            It is you who are a liar. I have never posted anything untrue including your home address which I posted correctly. You are the one who is a fraud. You know Astrotech, ticker symbol ASTC has superior equipment and is where everyone should look for great technology!

          • Okay, Astcbuy, now who’s shilling?

            God this is getting tiresome.

          • astcbuy

            Just pointing out the truth! His company IMSC is nearly bankrupt and will be shortly, he desperately is pumping it getting ready to dump his shares. He is part of a proven ponzi scheme and a known fraud. his home address Should be posted in big highlights for all to see. Meanwhile ASTC is profitable, NASA just bought their ETD equipment, and is taking off! No exaggeration, all FACTS!

          • RB

            The blog should delete both of you shills.

          • I have removed all my posts (I think). What more do you want? You condone what astcbuy wrote about me, including my home address? Get real.

          • astcbuy

            Who you calling a shill? Little ole me? No, Fred Deitz is a shill. I only post the truth. And the truth is you won’t get rich if you don’t invest in ASTC! The only company that has deals with NASA for trace detectors! Big money! Stock is a STEAL at 90 cents! Buy today! Meanwhile as you wrote RB, Fred Deitz is the same as Bernie Madoff! Good one!

          • astcbuy

            You treated him correct! Don’t cave to him, he is part of an illegal scheme to defraud people. The feds are closing in on him as I type this.

          • astcbuy

            Keeping up the fight against crooks like Fred Deitz is my duty as an American citizen. I have already been in contact with the SEC, and the FBI on this.

      • astcbuy

        OK, sorry for posting his street address. I guess it is OK to post his phone number! It is 571-248-0478 – let’s all call him up and expose him for the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme master he is. RB wrote here that he was part of a Ponzi Scheme and just like Bernie Madoff. The jail bars are closing in on Mr. Deitz for sure.

  • Damion Cocchi

    Also check out the following page: on facebook “Suspicionless Searches” a history in Security Theater — https://www.facebook.com/notes/suspicionless-checkpoints-random-bag-searches/4th-amendment-violations-start-dates-of-security-theater/190724430941127

    • Damion, thanks for the link; yes, we’ve reported on a lot of these, and it’s good to have so many of them in one place. Though get rid of the prom one; it’s false. Some nitwit in Texas did want to have TSA agents pawing prom-goers, but a judge prevented it from happening. Instead, non-TSA gropers did the dirty work.

  • While this is not a replacement for xrays, and more as a supplement as another layer in security, ETD devices do not have the concerns that xrays do. Also xrays just identify something suspicious looking. ETD devices confirm that it is an explosive and identify the actual explosive. A small company Implant Sciences (ticker symbol IMSC on the OTC) just received TSA approval last week for its QS-B220 Quantum Sniffer which can detect minute traces of explosives, for air cargo inspection. Their website is at http://www.implantsciences.com – under Investor Relations there is a wealth of material. Also an article about it in Gov’t Security News back in June but still is relevant today at http://www.implantsciences.com/pdf/IMSC-GSN-June2012.pdf and worth reading. The conference call last week announcing TSA approval is worth listening to at http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=88760&p=irol-presentations

    • Mr. Deitz, if the new ETDs actually alarm on explosives and not on fertilizer, hand lotion, glycerin-containing products, and other mundane household items, then maybe — maybe — they’re worth it. But given that, oh, 99.99% of passengers aren’t carrying and haven’t been in contact with explosives, I’d say that proposition is debatable.

      • You need to learn about ETD devices then. They will not trigger on mundane household items. They look for an exact list of explosives and won’t trigger on hand lotion and things like that. Please go read up about them before making comments such as these. You want to find the 0.0001% of passengers that ARE in contact with explosives.

        • So the ETDs that the TSA is currently using in airports that do alarm on hand lotion, fertilizer, glycerin, etc. are . . . what? Lousy machines? Lousy technology?

          • First of all, I was talking mainly about IMSC’s ETD technology, which is the only ETD technology approved since 2010 by the TSA. It has been subjected to much newer testing by the TSA than previous devices all of which are having their TSA approval expire in 2014. Those devices will have to be replaced.

            Anyway, I can see this discussion is going nowhere, and you did not take the time to read the links I provided so I am not interested in continuing it.

          • RB

            TSA ETD testing is the Bernie Madoff of the security field.

          • RB, brilliant! Love it!

            There was another reply here yesterday by Fred Deitz that has mysteriously disappeared. In any case he never replied to Sommer Gentry or addressed her argument.

          • Lisa, I removed all my posts as I said I would, as much as I could. Stop making it sound like something sinister. I did it in reaction to astcbuy’s disgusting posts about me. I thought you were OK, but this post of yours is over the top for sure and you should retract it! You know why I removed all my posts! I said I would not continue that other thread and I won’t. You know whatever post you are talking about that I removed, was in response to astcbuy attack on me and nothing more than that. How dare you keep writing things about me that aren’t true. I was not going to post here anymore but I had to respond to your unfair attack on me. Are you trying to encourage astcbuy to continue??? I see you left his latest post intact, making unfair allegations against me. I have removed all references (I think I have removed all my posts) about the company I mentioned in my first post here, and I don’t know what more you want me to do, quite honestly.

            Simply put, your latest post was uncalled for, in bad taste, and apparently meant to provoke astcbuy further! Good work, you showed what kind of person you are.

          • Lisa, I wrote this 20 hours ago in response to astcbuy, saying I was removing all my posts. I see a few somehow I missed, but not going to remove them to aid in your consipriacy theory about me. The evidence is here, I wrote this 20 hours ago, and your characterization of me intentionally removing a post last night or something as part of being a shill is patently wrong.

            In all fairness, you should retract your latest message about me written 2 hours ago:

            Fred Deitz AstcBuy • 20 hours ago
            (really this was in reply to Lisa’s edit of Astcbuy’s message – so I was really responding to her):

            Well said, that was really bad. I am no longer participating in this blog but I thank you for removing that info. I am glad it was only there for a
            long time. Before I saw your removal of it, I went and basically as much as I could deleted all my posts. I do not regret doing that .This goes to show actions such as posting other public info about someone
            lead to MORE of that. Too bad, I bet “astcbuy” would never have felt bold enough to post that if my LinkedIn id and other info hadn’t been
            posted here. That much is 100% clear to me!! He read that post and felt compelled to add to it.

        • Ah, passengers in contact with explosives, like Shelbi Walser? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249175/Disabled-girl-Shelbi-Walser-detained-TSA-mistook-fertilizer-traces-hands-explosive-residue.html

          Or do you mean Trey Atwater, the soldier that TSA allowed to fly with C4 in his bag on the outbound leg, but caught him and charged him on his return? http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/01/the_tsa_proves.html

          ETDs exist for the purpose of creating BS excuses for harassing innocent travelers. There has never been a positive ETD hit on a real explosive device at a checkpoint, and if there ever were, (a) a bad guy would detonate it immediately, causing fully as much disruption to air travel as an in-air bomb would, or (b) the TSA would mishandle it as they’ve mishandled every prior alarm. The problem with all these ETD false alarms is that there is in fact no way to clear the alarm. The result of a positive ETD test is just a bunch of hand-waving and hysterics with no punchline. There is no gold-standard test for determining whether that ammonium nitrate on someone’s hands is NH4NO3 from fertilizer or NH4NO3 from an improvised explosive. I dare you to specify any criterion on which such an alarm could be said to be “cleared”.

          • Hi Sommer! To clear up some things, the ETD equipment used by the TSA tests for certain molecules but can’t distinguish between peroxide variations, one of which is commonly found in beauty products and one which is part of a true explosive.

            The higher end machines (maybe cost $200,000 or so) seem to be much better at detecting for specific particles and would likely eliminate false positives. I am not sure they can work well in a public environment with lots of particles in the air. Technically, they should though.

            However, it doesn’t matter as the risk is negligible. Today, I (and about 50% of all passengers annually) could avoid scanners and get into a secure zone at many airports. And I;m not even a TSA employee!

          • RB

            From reports it seems that TSA ETD test machines also have a problem with products containing lanolin’s and peroxides.