Darpa and Homeland Security working on Next Generation Airport Scanners

Forget about those old, defective, useless, dangerous airport body scanners in which governments spent millions of dollars.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | AUGUST 31, 2012

It took how long?… Hmmm… Let’s see… 5 years for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the main pusher of full body scanners, to admit that its toy of choice is a defective, useless and dangerous piece of junk. We all knew that a while ago, of course, and so did they. The inaccuracy, ineffectiveness and negative health consequences of the use of body scanners has been proven in multiple occasions before, but the DHS waited until it could no longer hide the fraud, to show a slight interest to ‘improve’ the technology.

As we reported before, the people with more to lose due to the adoption of full body scanners were their operators, who have gotten seriously ill after working around the scanners for 5 or 10 years.  On our article from June 28, 2011, we unveiled how numerous body scanner operators suddenly began discovering multiple cancerous tumors in their bodies. Back then, the Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained documents that showed how Transportation Security Administration  workers got sick with cancer, heart disease and stroke after being exposed to the radiation from the scanners.

This fact was denied by the TSA and the DHS just as they denied the ineffectiveness of the scanners in detecting whatever they were meant to find. The danger of getting sick due to the radiation together with the explicit violation of privacy and the proven incapacity of the scanners to detect objects attached to a human body, reinforced calls from the public and human rights organizations to stop the use of the scanners and the presence of TSA workers at security checkpoints in airports.

As in most cases of government fraud, the DHS is now requesting new technology to conduct the illegal searches and seizures of personal belongings in 180 airports around the United States. It seems that the more than 700 full body scanners are simply not doing the job anymore. The DHS has now asked DARPA to look into a new generation of image generators that are smaller, more precise and less vulnerable to hacking.

As many readers remember, DHS swore that images of passengers were not stored after completing a scan, but the public later learned that the scanners did in fact collect the images in computers that were connected to them. TSA workers were found to use the images to crack jokes on passengers or look at anyone’s private parts. But not only did the scanners store the images, they also were fit with the technology to send those images to a database. In fact, the TSA had required to the manufacturers that all airport scanners had to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.”

Last Monday, the DHS and DARPA announced that the coming scanners will try to accomplish two main objectives. First, what they defined as “real-time utilization of compressive measurement techniques.” According to both entities, this aspect will improve the collection of images. The scanners will also be less cumbersome and will have a more precise and reliable detection capacity, they said. So that is like saying, ‘we’ll make the violation of your privacy and constitutional rights a little bit more convenient.’

“The research seeks to identify novel signatures distinct from those typically employed in conventional X-ray tomography systems and multi-view dual energy projection scans,” they explained.

The second goal is to make memory chips less prone to being hacked into. The chips will need to have high-levels of functionality at a lower cost, while consuming less energy and more reliability. That means travelers will be stripped of their constitutional rights through the use of environmentally friendly technology. The scanners must have “extremely high-endurance, near unlimited wear for write, read, and erase cycles.”

The arrival of the full body scanners occurred after s supposed terrorist attempt to light up a bomb — the famous underwear bomber — on a plane going to Detroit, Michigan. This alleged terrorist plot was fake and by many considered a false-flag to help push the adoption of the scanners. In fact, the supposed bomber was later identified as a CIA double agent, who was helped into boarding the plane without having a passport. Kurt Haskell and his wife, who were witnesses on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 saw Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab at the boarding gate in Amsterdam.

Regarding the use of the scanners to indiscriminately screen passengers, the ACLU said that the machines produce “strikingly graphic images of passengers’ bodies, essentially taking a naked picture.” Both the DHS and the TSA ignored the questions about privacy and safety. As many readers are aware, the Backscatter X-ray scanners literally carry out a “virtual strip search,” which is only warranted by the Constitution if the agents have probable cause.

Both DHS and DARPA will meet on September 18 to discuss further details about the next generation of scanners. The new strategy will include both the search of passengers as well as a new way to check baggage. For this, DARPA is expected to present his Knowledge Enhanced Compressive Measurement program, a system created “to gather even more and better quality information.”

TSA Puts Off Safety Study of X-ray Body Scanners

Previous independent observations  and studies have signaled how the body scanners do cause cancer due to the radiation. Furthermore, airport scanner operators have been diagnosed with cancer a few years after working next to the machines.

by Michael Grabell
ProPublica
November 16, 2011

The head of the Transportation Security Administration has backed off a public commitment to conduct a new independent study of X-ray body scanners used at airport security lanes around the country.

Earlier this month, a ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation found that the TSA had glossed over research [1] that the X-ray scanners could lead to a small number of cancer cases. The scanners emit low levels of ionizing radiation, which has been shown to damage DNA. In addition, several safety reviewers who initially advised the government on the scanners said they had concerns about the machines being used, as they are today, on millions of airline passengers.

At a Senate hearing after the story ran, TSA Administrator John Pistole agreed to a request by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to conduct a new independent study [2] of the health effects of the X-ray scanners, also known as backscatters.

But at a Senate hearing [3] of a different committee last week, Pistole said he had since received a draft report on the machines by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, or IG, that might render the independent study unnecessary.

“My strong belief is those types of machines are still completely safe,” Pistole said. “If the determination is that this IG study is not sufficient, then I will look at still yet another additional study.”

According to a summary obtained by ProPublica, the inspector general concluded the machines are within industry standards for radiation exposure limits. But the summary also suggests the report focuses mostly on how the TSA monitors and maintains the machines. The full report won’t be released for several weeks.

“I hope the Obama administration is not backing away from an independent study of the health effects of these radiation-emitting machines,” Collins said in a statement to ProPublica. “What I asked for — and what the administrator committed to — was an independent study on the health effects of [the] machines, not just a study on whether TSA is doing an adequate job of inspecting, maintaining and operating” them.

The inspector general’s report calls on the TSA to ensure that radiation surveys are conducted for unintended emissions, that calibrations are consistently documented and that airport screeners complete annual radiation safety training. The inspector general also advised the agency to determine how much on-the-job training is needed for screeners who operate the backscatters and to ensure that accidental radiation overdoses are properly reported.

It’s unclear whether the recommendations resulted from any problems found during the investigation, or are general reminders about best practices. It’s also unclear whether investigators measured the radiation doses from the machines themselves or relied on inspections conducted by the manufacturer.

The TSA uses two types of body scanners [4]. With the backscatter machines that have been the focus of health concerns, a passenger stands between two large blue boxes and is scanned with a pencil X-ray beam that moves rapidly left to right and up and down the body. With the other kind of scanner, called a millimeter-wave machine, a passenger enters a chamber that looks like a round phone booth and is scanned with a form of low-energy radio waves, which do not strip electrons from atoms and have not been shown to cause cancer.

In recent years, the TSA has commissioned tests of the X-ray scanners by the Food and Drug Administration and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. In addition, survey teams from the Army Public Health Command visit airports to check the machines.

Those tests have all shown that the X-ray scanners emit extremely low levels of radiation, equivalent to the radiation received in a few minutes of flying. But the tests haven’t doused questions from some outside radiation experts about why the TSA doesn’t use only the millimeter-wave machines, which the agency also deems highly effective.

The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners [5] in European airports “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”

But others have pointed to problems with millimeter-wave machines. Germany announced earlier this year that it would forgo the machines after concluding that they produced too many false positives.

There are currently 500 body scanners, split about evenly between the two technologies, deployed in airports. The TSA plans to deploy 1,275 backscatter and millimeter-wave scanners covering more than half its security lanes by the end of 2012 and 1,800 covering nearly all lanes by 2014.

Biometrically Identifiable Gesture Technology

If you believe fingerprinting or picture ID’s are invasive forms of technology, wait until you read this.

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
July 20, 2011

If you have never seen the documentary Shadow Government, I honestly recommend it. It details the latest information regarding the use of technology to create a global identification system of biblical proportions. In this system that is being built as we wonder “why I have to give my fingerprint to obtain a driver’s license”, every single human being will be accounted for; no exceptions.

The variety of technologies available to effectively identify anyone at work, at the gym, at public events, in Court houses and even at home, is simply mind blowing. However, the producers and buyers of these so-called security enhancing tools do not stop thinking about new ways to get the highest paid contracts from private companies or the government.

The latest example of invasive identification technology is Biometric Signature ID, Inc’s BioSig-ID. According to the manufacturer’s description, BioSig-ID is a “Multi-Factor Identity Proofing Technology”; the best of its kind. This earned the company the trust of a variety of organizations going from sectors such as healthcare, the financial and banking systems, online education, cloud computing, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

The BioSig-ID is known for its capacity to gather information such as mouse movement patterns, typing speeds, user gestures, and other personal characteristics to fully identify the person who intends to access information or use a piece of equipment.

Biometric Signature ID announced recently it received approval from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its latest patent which will be added to the large collection of technology-based identification tools it produces. The BioSig-ID technology collects movements made with various devices such as a mouse, touchscreen markings, fingers and body movements to create a biometric multi-factor password used for identification purposes.

Convenience is the name of the Game

As it often happens, the use of BioSig-ID as well as other invasive technologies, is presented not as a threat to personal privacy, but as a “convenient way to stay safe” or to keep data and information safe. In other examples of privacy violations we encounter the entertainment industry which managed to create products such as video game consoles that record the users movements as a biometric human fingerprint. Kinect, the device that is inside Microsoft’s XBox, allows users to play by just moving their bodies. “The console detects movement and recognizes people through a camera and various sensors installed on the device.” Isn’t that convenient?

Along with video gaming are the infamous full body scanners, which are supposed to keep us all safe from terrorism, but that instead are one of the most invasive forms of technology ever created. The scanners not only render full naked images of the passengers that allow their privacy to be violated -there is an opt out chance- but also bathes them with poisonous doses of radiation. See information on the scanners’ radiation amounts here. Read about full body scanner backscatter radiation here. Learn about radiation flux here.

Creating a need for invasive identification technologies

The amount of biometric-based identification technology production and consumption has increased exponentially in the last decade or so. This does not mean, however, that the use of these technology is so young. Military and technology contractors have been working on ways to fully identify individuals for a long time. In most cases, technology such as the one developed by Biometric Signature ID has been used in highly sensitive places in companies and military installations.

The success of this technology relies on the fact that a market was created -as it happens with many products- to assure its adoption. The evil part is that people’s fear and government policy are also used to push the production and sale of biometric identification. By the time consumers get to know about its existence, it has already been tried and tested for many years. In the case of BioSig-ID, the product was tested initially by The Tolly Group.

As we cited before, many organizations and companies adopt this kind of technologies under the safety excuse. Data safety, information safety, access to premisses safety, web access safety and so on. In the healthcare business, for example, the DEA requires electronic prescription of controlled substances, another failure of the infamous war on drugs. DEA uses this technology to authenticate access to patients’ records.

In the banking and financial markets, both private institutions and government offices use biometric identification to “bring security and safeguard customer information, reduce fraud, etc. It has not worked very well, though, as millions of customer credit card information has been stolen from those very same institutions and neither the hackers nor the banks have been held accountable for endangering the privacy of their customers.

Education has not escaped privacy violation. Both physical and online educational organizations adopted biometric and other invasive identification technologies to “guarantee” the correct accreditation of students as well as for registration and payment controls. Universities and other learning online-based institutions offer classes online which require signing in with more than one fingerprint.

New internet-based services such as Mobile and Cloud computing will pile on the number of consumers and users of Bi0Sig-ID and similar validation tools. As all content migrates to the “Cloud” and the corporations and the government become more empowered by centrally controlling information and how people access it from work or home, biometric identification systems will be key to mandate certified entrance to those “Clouds”. The idea to have a unique internet ID, as it has been proposed by government officials in several countries is suddenly appearing more and more realistic.

And if you are a government employee, as many are nowadays, and more will be in the near future, get ready to give every single piece of information your body emits. In Mexico,  all federal government employees had to submit to biometric identification recognition in order to keep their jobs. All over the world, government implement security protocols that include the use of Government Identity Cards or Credentials to access and manage information.

E-IDs are already available in countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Estonia, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Morocco and Spain.

U.S. Court Rules in favor of Body Scanners

The Court defied Fourth Amendment and told TSA to get public comments on body scanners.

Associated Press
July 16, 2011

The public should have had the chance to raise concerns about full body scanners before the government put them in airports around the country, a federal appeals court said Friday. But now that the machines are there, the government doesn’t have to stop using them.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the Transportation Security Administration to start soliciting comments about the machines, which show an image of a person’s naked body.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based civil liberties group, tried to force the TSA to stop using the machines, arguing that they violated privacy and religious freedom laws as well as the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches

The appeals court did not find that the machines violated the Fourth Amendment and said that, because the scanners have become an essential part of airport security, they can remain in use while the public comments. The government did not say whether it would appeal the ruling.

The TSA screeners who watch travelers as they pass through the machines do not see the naked images. The screeners who see the images work in separate locations and don’t see the passengers. Travelers may choose not to go through the scanner, but they then receive an invasive pat-down, which many feel also violates privacy.

EPIC said it doesn’t object to the scanners being used as a secondary way to screen passengers in some instances.

Airport Scanners Waves Tear Apart DNA

by Terrence Aym

While the application of scientific knowledge creates technology, sometimes the technology is later redefined by science. Such is the case with terahertz (THz) radiation, the energy waves that drive the technology of the TSA: back scatter airport scanners.

Emerging THz technological applications

THz waves are found between microwaves and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. This type of radiation was chosen for security devices because it can penetrate matter such as clothing, wood, paper and other porous material that’s non-conducting.

This type of radiation seems less threatening because it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the body and is believed to be harmless to both people and animals.

THz waves may have applications beyond security devices. Research has been done to determine the feasibility of using the radiation to detect tumors underneath the skin and for analyzing the chemical properties of various materials and compounds. The potential marketplace for THz driven technological applications may generate many billions of dollars in revenue.

Because of the potential profits, intense research on THz waves and applications has mushroomed over the last decade.

Health risks

The past several years the possible health risks from cumulative exposure to THz waves was mostly dismissed. Experts pointed to THz photons and explained that they are not strong enough to ionize atoms or molecules; nor are they able to break the chains of chemical bonds. They assert—and it is true—that while higher energy photons like ultraviolet rays and X-rays are harmful, the lower energy ones like terahertz waves are basically harmless. [Softpedia.com]

While that is true, there are other biophysics at work. Some studies have shown that THZ can cause great genetic harm, while other similar studies have shown no such evidence of deleterious affects.

Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico recently published an abstract with colleagues, “DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field” that reveals very disturbing—even shocking—evidence that the THz waves generated by TSA scanners is significantly damaging the DNA of the people being directed through the machines, and the TSA workers that are in close proximity to the scanners throughout their workday.

From the abstracts own synopsis:

“We consider the influence of a terahertz field on the breathing dynamics of double-stranded DNA. We model the spontaneous formation of spatially localized openings of a damped and driven DNA chain, and find that linear instabilities lead to dynamic dimerization, while true local strand separations require a threshold amplitude mechanism. Based on our results we argue that a specific terahertz radiation exposure may significantly affect the natural dynamics of DNA, and thereby influence intricate molecular processes involved in gene expression and DNA replication.”

In layman’s terms what Alexandrov and his team discovered is that the resonant effects of the THz waves bombarding humans unzips the double-stranded DNA molecule. This ripping apart of the twisted chain of DNA creates bubbles between the genes that can interfere with the processes of life itself: normal DNA replication and critical gene expression.

Other studies have not discovered this deadly effect on the DNA because the research only investigated ordinary resonant effects.

Nonlinear resonance, however, is capable of such damage and this sheds light on the genotoxic effects inherent in the utilization of THz waves upon living tissue. The team emphasizes in their abstract that the effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic.

Unfortunately, DNA damage is not limited only to THz wave exposure. Other research has been done that reveals lower frequency microwaves used by cell phones and Wi-Fi cause some harm to DNA over time as well. [“Single- and double-strand DNA breaks in rat brain cells after acute exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation.“]