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Next Step For US Body Scanners Could Be Trains, Metro Systems 890

Hugh Pickens writes "The Hill reports that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for US vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary. '[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,' Napolitano said in an interview with Charlie Rose. 'I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime.' Napolitano added she hoped the US could get to a place in the future where Americans would not have to be as guarded against terrorist attacks as they are and that she was actively promoting research into the psychology of how a terrorist becomes radicalized. 'The long-term [question] is, how do we get out of this having to have an ever-increasing security apparatus because of terrorists and a terrorist attack?' says Napolitano. 'I think having a better understanding of what causes someone to become a terrorist will be helpful.'"
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Next Step For US Body Scanners Could Be Trains, Metro Systems

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  • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:48AM (#34331080)

    No offense, but this is completely speculative, and seems to ignore the fact that these body scanners can cost up to and exceeding $100,000 [], and that's not even including the costs of hiring and maintaining staff to manage the machines. I personally find it hysterical that anybody would think we'd see these in the _many_ train stations out there in even the distant future. Toss in buses as well, and you're quickly approaching $1M just to "secure" one bus/train route.

    As it stands, the cost of these technologies is far too great to be presently implemented at this level. Although, if the TSA is indicative of the average IQ required to operate these machines, even the morons who work for our fabulous local CTA here in Chicago might be able to run these things.

  • by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:56AM (#34331220) Journal

    In your car maybe, More likely in your house []

  • by VoiceInTheDesert ( 1613565 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:02AM (#34331330)
    I knew she was this stupid when it comes to security. She was good at education and better at the budget than some, but her border security policy was awful and never did jack shit towards actually keeping anyone safe. Why she was selected for this, of all jobs, is beyond me. As I said, she could have been good at something else like Secretary of Education, but Homeland Security is possibly the worst possible position for her. She just has no grasp of what makes things secure (hint: it's not a fence/scanning machines).
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:03AM (#34331348)
  • Might I suggest (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:08AM (#34331444)

    research into the psychology of how a politician becomes radicalized

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:14AM (#34331536) Homepage Journal

    Actually, the very story you linked to puts the number down in the 60s and dropping fast.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:14AM (#34331554) Homepage

    "And to the 82% of people who think this is good, Fuck all of you."

    Of course, the 81% number was 2 weeks ago. (CBS poll Nov 7-10). Link. []

    More recent poll has approval at 64%. (ABC/Washington Post poll Nov-21). Link. []

    At this rate, expect to have it under 50% by early December. People are rapidly become educated about the absurdity, invasiveness, high cost, lack of security, lack of privacy, and radiation of this procedure.

  • by spinkham ( 56603 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:20AM (#34331684)

    There's plenty of controversy about the new full body scanners that the TSA is installing at airports, and plenty more about the way some TSA agents are handling those that choose to opt out.

    The heart of the matter comes from the fact that the TSA often doesn't understand that it is in show business, not security business. A rational look at the threats facing travelers would indicate that intense scrutiny of a four ounce jar of mouthwash or aggressive frisking of a child is a misplaced use of resources. If the goal is to find dangerous items in cargo or track down Stinger missiles, this isn't going to help.

    Instead, the mission appears to be twofold:

    1. Reassure the public that the government is really trying and

    2. Keep random bad actors off guard by frequently raising the bar on getting caught

    The challenge with #1 is that if people believe they're going to get groped, or get cancer, or have to wait in line even longer on Thanksgiving, they cease to be on your side. Particularly once they realize how irrational it is to try to stop a threat after it's already been perpetrated. (Imagine the havoc if someone had a brassiere-based weapon...)

    And the challenge of #2 is that the cost of raising the bar gets higher and higher.

    Smart marketers know how to pivot. I think it's time to do that. Start marketing the idea that flying is safe, like driving, but it's not perfect, like driving. If someone is crazy enough to hurt themselves or spend their life in jail, we're not going to stop them, and even if we did, they'd just cause havoc somewhere else. So instead of spending billions of dollars a year in time and money pretending, let's just get back to work.

    The current model doesn't scale. []

    This is very much like what Schneier has been saying for years, but nobody else really cared till things got sexual. Isn't that like our species ;-)

    Schneier, from 2005 []:

    Exactly two things have made airline travel safer since 9/11: reinforcement of cockpit doors, and passengers who now know that they may have to fight back. Everything else -- Secure Flight and Trusted Traveler included -- is security theater. We would all be a lot safer if, instead, we implemented enhanced baggage security -- both ensuring that a passenger's bags don't fly unless he does, and explosives screening for all baggage -- as well as background checks and increased screening for airport employees.
    Then we could take all the money we save and apply it to intelligence, investigation and emergency response. These are security measures that pay dividends regardless of what the terrorists are planning next, whether it's the movie plot threat of the moment, or something entirely different.

  • by sycorob ( 180615 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:59AM (#34332402)

    Kudos to the Washington Post for putting the survey results up. []

    Some interesting results (to me). On supporting the new scanners:
    64% support, 37% strongly
    32% oppose, 18% strongly

    So overall it has support from those surveyed, but 45% are in the middle. The survey also asks people how much they fly, so I'd be interested to see how frequency of flying correlates with support of the scanners. I can see that if you fly once a year, you might not care too much. If you get frisked every week in your suit and tie, you may not be so supportive.

    The pat-down is more polarized, with 48% saying it's justified, and 50% saying it's not.

    70% support profiling

    The top 3 criteria for profiling were Personal Behavior, Travel History, and Nationality. For Race and Religion, more people opposed it than supported it, which is refreshing, although there was more support than I would like (40%)

  • by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:00PM (#34332426)

    body scanners can cost up to and exceeding $100,000

    Maybe Janet got a offer to join the last Homeland Security secretary's comany the Chertoff Group []. The Company that produces the body scanners, with a no-bid contract from the government. Maybe Janet needs to keep the scam growing to profit once she is out of government.

  • by querist ( 97166 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:02PM (#34332452) Homepage
    In China, they already have pre-nudie-scanner airport-like security at the train stations - at least for the longer distance trains like Hong Kong to Guangzhou or to Shenzhen. They don't have these in the Guangzhou Metro yet, though. I've seen these at long distance bus stations too (HK to GZ again, for example). They even have them at the entrances to certain museums, the Guangzhou Science Center (which is an amazing science museum), and other similar attractions. No taking off your shoes, though. You just pass your bags through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detector just like at an airport, but no metal-detector wand and pat-down like at the airports.
  • Re:Step after that (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:06PM (#34332518)

    Not that I'm in favor of having these scanners everywhere, but we do have metal detectors in nearly every government building - even on the city level in many places.

  • Not even in Europe.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by formfeed ( 703859 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:08PM (#34332558) you find scanners on train stations, and Europe had many train attacks.

    The reason might be, as others pointed out, that they would be completely useless. But then again, the US government has to support the failing car industry. And what better way of doing that, than to molest people, who want to use "unnatural" (public) forms of transportation.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:32PM (#34332982)

    "Have an unmanned sweeper vehicle run down the track a little ahead of the train, ..."

    I'm a railway dispatcher since 1973 and I'm enjoying reading the remarks here, very funny.

    People get their cars stuck on the rail, drunks driving their cars _on_ the track, suicidal morons waiting to get overrun with or without their cars, people walking their dogs on the tracks, throwing stuff from bridges onto the tracks or trains _every_ fucking day!

    A couple of bombs would not even make a dent.

  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:34PM (#34333000)
    And as of yesterday (Nov 23), Zogby & LA Times shows 61% oppose. []

    Rapidly going down the tubes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:36PM (#34333046)
    We're with you, bud, all of... oh, wait, my iPhone dinged....

    Sorry, gotta take this. Back in a minute.
  • Re:Enough cowardice (Score:3, Informative)

    by delinear ( 991444 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:39PM (#34333098)
    Well I can't speak for the US, but over here (UK) the thing is, most people aren't contorting themselves in fear. The media does a fine job of convincing us we are, but seriously most people just get on with it. After the 7/7 bombings, there were rumours in the press that people would stay away from work, afraid to use the train or buses. In reality everyone just carried on as close to normal as possible. Hell, we were dealing with this crap before it was popular []. I think a lot of people convince themselves security theatre is a good idea because the media and politicians are so busy telling us that's what everyone else believes, but in reality most people wouldn't care if security theatre disappeared tomorrow (they wouldn't be paralysed with terror but I'll bet their commute to work would be a little easier).
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:52PM (#34333352) Homepage Journal

    One must wonder, since most bus stops are just a bench with a sign, where will they put the scanners and who is going to man them. Of course, if it doesn't make sense to screen city bus passengers, why should metro rail passengers be scanned?

    The nice thing about trains is that you can't fly them in to buildings no matter how hard you try.

  • Re:Step after that (Score:4, Informative)

    by Migraineman ( 632203 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:15PM (#34333736)
    A sign asking visitors to check their guns is only prudent if the visitors are carrying guns.

    Did you actually read the page you linked to?

    On entering the main street, leading north and opposite the bridge on the river, somebody of our party in the rear turned his gun loose into the air. The Rebel and I were riding in the lead, and at the clattering of hoofs and shooting behind us, our horses started on the run, the shooting by this time having become general. At the second street crossing, I noticed a rope of fire belching from a Winchester in the doorway of a store building. There was no doubt in my mind but we were the object of the manipulator of that carbine, and as we reached the next cross street, a man kneeling in the shadow of a building opened fire on s with a six-shooter. Priest reined in his horse, and not having wasted cartridges in the open-air shooting, returned the compliment until he emptied his gun. By this time every officer in the town was throwing lead after us, some of which cried a little too close for comfort. When there was no longer any shooting on our flanks, we turned into a cross street and soon left the lead behind us.

  • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv D ... neverbox DOT com> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @02:27PM (#34334802) Homepage

    Also, the deaths-per-terrorist frequency distribution is uneven; the two planes that hit the towers did much, much more killing than the other two planes.

    Yeah, and it's something that wouldn't happen anymore with airplanes.

    Strictly speaking though, the entire thing was incredibly inefficient at killing people. Even if the ratio was closer to 1 terrorist per 300 murders, that's pretty easy to pull off with, I dunno, a movie theater on Harry Potter opening night.

    We like to pretend 'they killed a lot of people', but they only did so with a really large amount of terrorists, proportionally.

    No, it was absurd luck on the part of the US. The towers were hit well before their peak daily occupancy. Had they been at peak, not only would there have been more people there to be killed by the impact and aftermath, the evacuation would have been much more slow and congested, meaning many many more people would have still been inside the buildings when they collapsed.

    And the terrorists were lucky because the buildings collapsed, which was my point. That was not a foregone conclusion.

    The limiting factor is the number of terrorists there; the smaller targets are ineffective unless it's made up for by high volume.

    Yup. It's why you'll never see IEDs here. Blowing up a single car? That's a lot of work.

    This assumes the point of terrorists is to kill people, which isn't entirely correct. There are a lot of low-kill strategies that could cause all sorts of problems, like multiple-DC-sniper-ish attacks launched randomly...but they don't even have the people to do those.

    The most isolation we could safely manage today would be to stay out of ground wars. We'd *still* have at least 3/4 of the navy we do now, because that's needed to keep international trade going, and none of the other countries both willing and able to do that are trustworthy.

    I think you took 'return to a 1930s era isolationism' a little bit too literally.

    No one has any problem with what the navy is doing. The only people the navy is harassing is pirates, and no one likes pirates.

    'Staying out of ground wars', or, more specifically 'Not fucking starting ground wars in the first place' would be entirely enough.

  • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv D ... neverbox DOT com> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @02:34PM (#34334922) Homepage

    As was pretty easy to figure out, I was responding to 'We could pull out of the Middle East tomorrow and return to a 1930s era isolationism and there would still be some extremist nutjob that would find a reason to hate us.'

    Ergo, I was talking about the 'extremist nutjobs' we left behind in the Middle East. Many of whom we did blow up their house and kill their family.

    No one was talking about existing terrorists at all. Strictly speaking, no one was talking about terrorists at all, at least not in that sentence.

    We were talking about 'extremist nutjobs' who 'find a reason' to hate the we killed their family, those incredibly petty people.

After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.