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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 TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:02AM (#34331324)
    I don't care about the financial cost of these machines. I care about the privacy and liberty costs of these machines. They don't make us safer, they don't protect us and we end up giving up freedoms and privacy for absolutely nothing.

    But if these machine do cost 100K each (doesn't sound bad for a certified x-ray machine), then how much does Janet Napolitano get per machine?
  • by TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:06AM (#34331412)
    That's what they tell you get in radiation. There is a very big lack of 3rd party oversight and data to support the claim. This is really the first use of x-rays without some kind of medical benefit. And across the whole population.

    Even worse are the van scanners. They are designed to see inside a steel shipping container, so no so soft x-rays, and quite a lot higher dosage. And they just need to drive past your house.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:17AM (#34331598) Homepage Journal
    Actually, this is a case where it is GREAT to be in the USA!!

    I mean, since we really don't have much at all in the way of trains or other mass transportation over the majority of the country, this won't be a budget breaker.

    Then again...didn't I hear the current administration is trying to fund to build out new long distance high speed rail systems?

    Hell, that is just spending money, to make a new target that we have to spend money on to protect from terrorists?!?

    OMG...have I happened upon a vicious cycle?


  • by Xiver ( 13712 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:18AM (#34331628)
    Private purchases do not waive my 4th amendment rights. They don't have to sell me a ticket if I don't agree to be searched but the government doesn't get to automatically step and search me because I want to make a purchase. Nor do they have the right to tell the airlines to require their customers to give up their 4th amendment rights to do business.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:24AM (#34331756)

    "Oh, and while we're on the topic, Middle Eastern nuts wouldn't have so much money to finance terror attacks if we weren't giving it to them for the goddamn oil. They wouldn't even have a reason to attack us if we weren't involved in their politics in the first place. Our post-oil energy policy is also our anti-terror policy."

    While we're on the topic, most of our oil comes from Canada, South America, and yes, our very own US of A. It's a common misconception that we rely on the middle east for "most" or all of our oil, and you see it perpetuated every time Obama and other politicians talk about "our foreign dependence".

    Our foreign policy was/is heavily influenced by communism, by the way...that's at least half the reason we got ourselves into such a mess. It wasn't just "oil", it was "commies getting oil."

  • Re:Step after that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:28AM (#34331828) Journal

    I would suggest that, since they're heading toward "universal" security measures, we take a cue from the Old West and require that everyone carry a sidearm.

    I'd rather live in that society than the society that gropes 80 year old wheelchair grandparents alongside their 6 year old grandchildren on the theory that they could be potential terrorists.

    Besides, that society would be a pretty effective deterrent against this sort of thing [], don't you agree?

  • by ebuck ( 585470 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:29AM (#34331860)

    But unlike the 3 minutes at 30,000 feet, the radiation is lower power, designed to scatter off your skin.

    That means that 3 minutes a 30,000 feet your entire body (insides included) is hit with the same amount of power: in a scanner only your surface area (skin) is hit with 3 minutes of radiation exposure at 30,000 feet in just under two seconds.

    Assuming that the radiation needs to penetrate 1 mm or less to scatter, an average male's body surface area is 1.9 m^2 (165 lbs 5'9") making an exposure area of 0.0019 m^3

    Likewise an average male weights about 75 kg (165 pounds) with an average conversion factor of 1.015 kg/l coming with a rough value of 70 l for an average male's volume.

    A little math and you find out that (0.0019/70) the entire in machine dose is hitting only 1/36842 of your body, or about 0.0027% of your body.

    Normalizing for exposure per second E = Rate(at 30000)*180(seconds), and E = Rate2(in machine)*2(seconds). Leads to Rate(at 30000)*180(seconds) = Rate2(in machine)*2(seconds). A little more math, an you realize that the rate of exposure is 90 times faster in the machine.

    90 times faster exposure of only 0.0027% of your body means that the "only three minutes" argument is true, but misleading. Such things can only happen in a culture where most people are mathematically illiterate.

    To make a mathematical analogy. Assume the exposure in the air is like having a match light each second. You feel the heat of one match for 180 seconds. Then standing in such a machine is like being exposed to 36841 matches being lit 90 time a second for 2 seconds. That's 3315690 matches per second for 2 seconds. It's a 3 million plus fold increase in exposure rate.

    By the way, 1 million matches lit creates a fire column 3 to 5 meters in size over 10 meters tall. For the Americans, that's 10 to 16 feet wide and over 40 feet tall. I don't want to know how how big the fire column would be for a 3.3 million match lighting experiment.

  • Re:Thanks Janet! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:33AM (#34331914)

    "The terminology contained within the reported memo is indeed troubling. It labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures."

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:35AM (#34331958)

    Those of us paying attention knew exactly what he was, but voting for McCain/Palin was simply out of the question.

    You knew he was somebody who would attempt to increase the power of government at the expense of personal liberty, who would govern arbitrarily and you voted for him anyway?
    McCain probably wouldn't have done anything particularly good, but I can't imagine him systematically dismantling civil liberties and the economy. And if you voted against him because of Palin, why would you choose someone you knew would be a bad President to avoid having a bad Vice President (who has almost no power and in a McCain Administration would have had essentially none)?

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:36AM (#34331964) Journal

    Those of us paying attention knew exactly what he was, but voting for McCain/Palin was simply out of the question.

    I wasn't aware that Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin were the only two choices on the 2008 ballot.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:45AM (#34332150) Journal

    While we're on the topic, most of our oil comes from Canada, South America, and yes, our very own US of A.

    Yes, but we still try to stabilize the Middle East because the EU and Japan receive most of their oil from there. Who would fill that void if we left? The EU and Japan don't have the political will to do it, so it'd probably be the Chinese (whom are also dependent on Middle Eastern oil). Do we want the Chinese having our most important Allies by the proverbial balls?

  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:54AM (#34332332) Homepage

    You can be too smart to be a police officer []. I don't see why it shouldn't extend higher in the ranks.

  • by Mike Zahalan ( 1871884 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:58AM (#34332400)

    This is really the first use of x-rays without some kind of medical benefit. And across the whole population.

    That's not exactly accurate:

    In the late 1940's and early 1950's, the shoe-fitting x-ray unit was a common shoe store sales promotion device and nearly all stores had one. []

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:01PM (#34332440) Homepage Journal
    It is extremely condescending for the government to assume that we're incapable of action in the face of adversity. We have proven time and again that this is not the case! We will not just stand around wringing our hands and bleating for them to come protect us when something bad happens.

    The TSA seems to believe that they can protect us from every little threat, but they're responding to the last threat from our enemies, not the next one. They are the hysterical ones, jumping through every little hoop that our enemies set up. Their behavior is increasingly bizarre and insane. None of the people whose privacy they invade beyond reason will be a threat! If an actual threat emerges it will no doubt come down to us, the very people that the TSA holds in such contempt, the very people they fear, to stop it.

  • by csteinle ( 68146 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:10PM (#34332578) Homepage

    While we're on the topic, most of our oil comes from Canada, South America, and yes, our very own US of A. It's a common misconception that we rely on the middle east for "most" or all of our oil, and you see it perpetuated every time Obama and other politicians talk about "our foreign dependence".

    Oil's pretty fungible. Where a specific barrel comes from is largely irrelevant. OPEC still manages to pretty effectively control the price of oil sold to the US without the US sourcing that much from OPEC.

  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:20PM (#34332740) Homepage Journal

    I'm with you. I quit flying 9 years ago. The only thing that will break this is to *completely* cut money off from the airports. They could care less about civil rights.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:21PM (#34332780)

    A bomb? Just put a derailing shoe on the rail.
    Anybody good at soldering can manufacture one from scrap metal. If you chose the right place it goes down a bridge or a cliff.

  • Re:Islamic Terrorism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <<moc.xobreven> ... .vidavsxd54sals>> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:36PM (#34333044) Homepage

    They weren't terrorists. All of them had specific targets - people or Government buildings - in order to take those targets out: they were murderers. They were NOT targeting groups of Americans for the sake of creating terror.

    They were targeting the government for the sake of creating terror in those working for the government. Both the 90s right wing terrorists and the 60s left wing terrorists.

    What that means is that they had become so jaded that they thought that terrorizing the people to change the government wouldn't work, so they terrorized government officials instead.

    You're right in that this isn't really 'traditional' terrorism, but traditional terrorism is incredibly stupid and only causes a backlash. If Terrorist group X starts killing civilians randomly, civilians will run to the government for help. If, OTOH, X kills government workers, government workers will quickly find other jobs, crippling the government.

    But that really is 'terrorism', just aimed at government civilians instead of other civilians.

    However, while that point is valid, the 9/11 attackers did the same thing. The 9/11 attacks were against the White House, the Pentagon, and...the World Trade Center. And what that means is that they appear to military and big business run US foreign policy.

    Instead of thinking of 'the US government' as a discrete entity, they saw it linked inextricably with big business, and decided they'd terrorize bis business also, who they also think are attacking them.

    This is, incidentally, probably more accurate a world-view than the left- and right-wing terrorists in the US, which seem to think that domestic policy is set at Federal buildings.

    Of course, the US population doesn't see it that way.

  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:39PM (#34333104)

    Considering that a large part of the NRA's activities are education initiatives oriented around familiarizing people with not only proper firearm use but also the Constitution and the Founding Principles as they related to firearm ownership, I'm thinking that this is a GREAT idea.

    Also, It'd REALLY cut down on inner-city crime. Can you imagine a gang trying to terrorize a street full of armed, trained and educated free citizens? It'd end badly. For the gang.

  • by kubitus ( 927806 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:40PM (#34333116)
    the bloody CIA built up this damn Djihadist movement to drive out Russia from Afghanistan!

    they did their job so well, that the very same Taliban the CIA created is driving the US out of Afghanistan.

    And the US protected Saudi's exported ( and still export ) their fundamentalists buying peace for their own air-conditioned dustheap.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:45PM (#34333194) Homepage Journal

    Trains? Didn't you watch old cartoons as a kid? When we want to derail them, we don't need to be on them, and if we are, we have wasted some kamikaze brothers who could have better employed elsewhere.

    I'm old enough to have met people who fought in the resistance against the Nazis in WWII.

    One of their favorite targets was troop trains. The Germans had a great railroad system.

    All they had to do was remove the spikes, and the train would be derailed. On a winding mountain road, it might go tumbling off the cliff.

    One guy said that they would remove the spikes, fill the hole with gasoline, and replace the spikes, so that it would explode when the train rolled over it. I couldn't figure out how that would work, but he killed 600 Nazis.

    I'm glad the war is over, and the Germans have returned to sensible things, like solar power and molecular biology.

    I hope we (and the Arabs) can join them soon.

  • Re:Step after that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:04PM (#34333570) Journal

    Armed citizens are a police state? I'm not sure I follow?

  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:14PM (#34335420) Homepage Journal

    Makes sense to me.

    An observation about SWAT: the more SWAT equipment the cops have, the more paranoid and jackbooted the cops get, even when the citizenry is pretty much disarmed.

  • by sean.peters ( 568334 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:23PM (#34336242) Homepage

    Sure, "most" of our oil is sourced within North America. But some very significant fraction comes from elsewhere. Around 40% of our consumption is from domestic sources, another 15-20% is from elsewhere in North America. The rest comes from elsewhere in the world - some from stable, friendly places (Norway, the UK), some from relatively friendly but not so stable places (e.g. Nigeria), and some from not-so-friendly but relatively stable places (e.g. Venezuela), and some from places that are both unstable and less than completely friendly (e.g. various middle east locations). So, yeah, "most" of our oil is domestically sourced. But we're still sending money by the supertanker load to a bunch of places we'd probably rather not be sending it. And we most certainly are dependent on it, as our economy would rapidly go into a tailspin if the overseas spigots were shut off.

  • by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:58PM (#34336590) Journal

    I'm not all that sure I buy this armed-society-polite-society thing.

    Armed societies aren't necessarily polite. But there is an immediacy of consequence when the impolite turn violent. When ordinary citizens are armed, there is a built-in limit as to how far a violent criminal act can go unchecked.

    The problem, in a dense area, is that sometimes you miss, and then there's something behind whatever you missed

    Which also is an argument against police carrying guns; cops miss too.

    We've decided as a society that the possibility of a missed shot against a deadly criminal act is acceptable risk, thus urban police are armed. The thing is, the threat that cops face is identical to the threat that ordinary citizens face. The response to that threat against ordinary citizens should come with the same acceptance of risk whether the defense comes from a cop's gun or a citizen's.

    (And don't get me started on "cops are trained marksmen"; they're not. They suck. The pistol range I frequent is right next to the police headquarters of the city it is in, and I can say with certainty I can outshoot every cop I have ever seen in there shooting. I'm also not an expert shot, and it dismays me that someone whose job depends upon marksmanship is not better than me, for whom it is primarily a hobby.)

  • Re:Step after that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fredklein ( 532096 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:09PM (#34337338)

    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
    Robert A. Heinlein

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak