January 18th, 2013 (Miami Beach, Fla.) – As a result of the public outcry regarding the invasiveness of the TSA’s nude body scanner program, Congress has required the TSA to remove all scanners that produce an image of a traveler’s unclothed body for inspection by a TSA screener. The TSA today has indicated that it will comply by June of this year, resulting in the removal of all Rapiscan x-ray devices from airports across the country.
The Rapiscan x-ray scanners represented perhaps the TSA’s most egregious violation of the public, as in addition to the creation of a detailed image of the intimate areas of the body, it doses the traveler with ionizing radiation, a known carcinogen. It was estimated that these devices may kill several travelers per year by damaging the DNA of body tissues and turning healthy cells into cancerous cells.
Our fight against TSA abuse is unfortunately not over. The remaining nude body scanners, built by L-3 Communications (the same company that tortured the prisoners of Abu Ghraib), still require Americans to submit to an inspection of every inch of their body, completed by a computer rather than a person. While the TSA’s Congressional mandate and constitutional boundaries require it to search solely for items that can be used to terrorize air travelers, it is clear that the L-3 nude body scanners far exceed the scope necessary to find weapons, and instead are used to further the government’s failed war on drugs at the expense of our liberties. It has also been made abundantly clear that anyone in possession of entry-level sewing skills could easily defeat this technology, leaving our skies at risk. Furthermore, the continual false-positives — estimated to be at a rate between 30% and 70%– result in “pat-downs” that have infamously left children in tears, parents in jail for daring to object, the elderly humiliated, and everyone in between wondering how we got to the point where the government quite literally has its hands in our pants.
Removal of the Rapiscan devices is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to the eventual removal of all body scanners and the elimination of the “pat-down” program that places government hands on the genitals of our families.