Jewishupdates's Blog

December 29, 2009

Calls for Full-Body Screening Devices Grow After Terror Attempt

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 3:24 pm

Calls for Full-Body Screening Devices Grow After Terror Attempt

A suspected terrorist’s attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner may override privacy concerns and intensify a push for full-body scanning equipment at airports. President Barack Obama said yesterday he ordered a thorough review of the episode and called for new scrutiny of screening policies and technologies.

Metal detectors currently used to screen passengers wouldn’t have found the explosive allegedly carried aboard by the suspect, said former Federal Aviation Administration security chief Billie Vincent. Only more sophisticated devices such as low-level X-rays and millimeter-wave technology would work, Vincent said.

Senator Joe Lieberman called for more widespread use of the full-body scanners after the aborted attack.

The committee said it would hold a hearing next month on airline security and how the alleged terrorist got onto the plane.

Companies such as OSI Systems Inc., Smiths Group Plc, Safran SA and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. may benefit from any requirement that airports get more security equipment.

OSI’s Rapiscan unit makes machines that can detect liquids and other potential explosives beneath passengers’ clothing. In October, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration placed an order valued at $25 million for Rapiscan’s imaging equipment, the Hawthorne, California-based company said.

The company has delivered about 40 machines so far to the agency.

The Transportation Security Administration has been adding low-level X-rays and millimeter-wave technology machines to find explosives. There are millimeter-wave machines at 19 airports, the agency said on its Web site.

TSA recently announced the purchase of 150 Rapiscan units with some of its $1 billion in airport-security funds from the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The agency intends to purchase an additional 300 advanced imaging-technology units in 2010.

Using the technology is voluntary for passengers, the security administration said. Those who do not wish to receive millimeter wave screening will undergo metal detector screening and a pat-down, according to the agency.

Full-body imaging has been criticized by some advocacy groups as an invasion of privacy. Kant said his company has mitigated that concern by blurring body images and having technicians viewing the images in a different location from the screening equipment.

“There have been privacy concerns expressed about the use of these whole body-imaging devices, but I think those privacy concerns, which are, frankly, mild, have to fall in the face of the ability of these machines to detect material like this,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday” on Dec. 27.



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