Monday, January 4, 2010

Are planned airport scanners just a scam?

New technology that Gordon Brown relies on for his response to the Christmas Day bomb attack has been tested – and found wanting

By Jane Merrick

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned last night.

The claim severely undermines Gordon Brown's focus on hi-tech scanners for airline passengers as part of his review into airport security after the attempted attack on Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

The Independent on Sunday has also heard authoritative claims that officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.

The claims triggered concern that the Prime Minister is over-playing the benefits of such scanners to give the impression he is taking tough action on terrorism.

And experts in the US said airport "pat-downs" – a method used in hundreds of airports worldwide – were ineffective and would not have stopped the suspect boarding the plane.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly concealed in his underpants a package containing nearly 3oz of the chemical powder PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate). He also carried a syringe containing a liquid accelerant to detonate the explosive.

Since the attack was foiled, body-scanners, using "millimetre-wave" technology and revealing a naked image of a passenger, have been touted as a solution to the problem of detecting explosive devices that are not picked up by traditional metal detectors – such as those containing liquids, chemicals or plastic explosive.

But Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP, who was formerly involved in a project by a leading British defence research firm to develop the scanners for airport use, said trials had shown that such low-density materials went undetected.

Tests by scientists in the team at Qinetiq, which Mr Wallace advised before he became an MP in 2005, showed the millimetre-wave scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but plastic, chemicals and liquids were missed.

If a material is low density, such as powder, liquid or thin plastic – as well as the passenger's clothing – the millimetre waves pass through and the object is not shown on screen. High- density material such as metal knives, guns and dense plastic such as C4 explosive reflect the millimetre waves and leave an image of the object.

The Rest of the Article is here,
But the real point of doing this is to get people to give up all expectation of privacy—the key in US Fourth Amendment analysis—at the airport and other public places. The government will then expect everyone to open themselves up for inspection at any time – all in the name of safety, of course.  This campaign of fear waged against us in the name of fighting terrorism is another step in the installation of a full police state.

Yes, there are terrorists, but fighting them this way only diminishes the freedom of the innocent without solving the problem. The way to get rid of terrorism is to get rid of the reasons some people become terrorists.

Don’t drink the “they hate our freedom” Kool-Aid. The militarists at home—yeah, Barry O., I’m looking at you—are the ones who hate our freedom. We can all despise terrorism and still see the rationale behind it.  If foreign military forces, with vastly superior weapons, occupied your town, wouldn’t you be among or be allied with the forces trying to drive them out? If you lived in hopeless poverty and so did just about everyone around you, and you were told that the foreigners were at the root of your misery, and if you kill them, you would find glory in heaven, might you not be tempted to take it that chance? (Assuming you believe in religion at all).

But the leaders of the military-industrial complex do not really want to end terrorism, just control it.  They want just enough to keep Westerners on edge enough that they will turn into sheep. (And enough to line the pockets of the moguls of the burgeoning security industry).

But the West has also shown a terrorist face. What are drones, operations by joystick thousands of miles away from the battle, but weapons of terror that kill many more innocents than “hot targets”? If such terror were raining down from our skies, would we not fight back “by any means necessary”? – K.R.