Liberty Planet Weblog

Where’s the Evidence Proving TSA’s Backscatter Scanners are Safe?

Posted on: September 6, 2012

By Dr. Mercola

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) first began using advanced imaging technology in airports nationwide in 2007. But just how “tested,” and how safe, are the TSA’s backscatter machines?

The TSA1 and Department of Homeland Security will tell you they’ve been extensively tested and that these machines are very safe. But if that’s true, why did both houses of Congress file bills this year demanding that the TSA and DHS produce proof of their safety claims with an independent laboratory study?2,3

Could it be that Congressmen – who often fly as part of their jobs – are worried that maybe those safety claims are not as documented as the TSA claims?

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has been making similar demands of the TSA through lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests for several years. The group has even filed a lawsuit to suspend the deployment of body scanners at US airports, pending an independent review:4

“On July 2, 2010, EPIC petitioned5 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend the body scanner program, stressing its core assertion that “the TSA has acted outside of its regulatory authority and with profound disregard for the statutory and constitutional rights of air travelers.

EPIC asserted that the federal agency’s controversial program violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, and the Fourth Amendment.

On July 15, 2011, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled6 that the agency had violated the Administrative Procedures Act by implementing body scanners as a primary screening method without first undertaking public notice and comment rulemaking.

The Court ordered the agency to ‘promptly’ undertake the proper rulemaking procedures and allow the public to comment on the body scanner program. To date, the agency has made no visible progress toward complying with the Court’s order.”

So far, this is what EPIC has found through an FOIA request:

TSA employees have identified cancer clusters allegedly linked to radiation exposure while operating body scanners and other screening technology. However, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters – safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure.
The DHS has publicly mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), stating that NIST “affirmed the safety” of full body scanners. NIST has stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test full body scanners for safety, and that the Institute does not do product testing.
A Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit.”
A NIST study warns airport screeners to avoid standing next to full body scanners.

Continue reading at Mercola

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