Mother arrested for Protecting their Children from TSA

by Erin Quinn
The Tennessean
July 13, 2011

A 41-year-old Clarksville woman was arrested after Nashville airport authorities say she was belligerent and verbally abusive to security officers, refusing for her daughter to be patted down at a security checkpoint.

Andrea Fornella Abbott yelled and swore at Transportation Security Administration agents Saturday afternoon at Nashville International Airport, saying she did not want her daughter to be “touched inappropriately or have her “crotch grabbed,” a police report states.

After the woman refused to calm down, airport police said, she was charged with disorderly conduct and taken to jail. She has been released on bond.

Attempts to reach Abbott on Tuesday were unsuccessful. The report does not list her daughter’s age. The mother and daughter were traveling from Nashville to Baltimore on Southwest Airlines.

“(She) told me in a very stern voice with quite a bit of attitude that they were not going through that X-ray,” Sabrina Birge, an airport security officer, told police.

“No, it’s not an X-ray,” she told Abbott. “It is 10,000 times safer than your cell phone and uses the same type of radio waves as a sonogram.”

“I still don’t want someone to see our bodies naked,” Abbott said, according to the police report.

At one point, Abbott tried unsuccessfully to take a video with her cellphone.

TSA policy revised

The arrest comes on the heels of public outrage over a video showing a pat-down of a 6-year-old girl at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The April video prompted a new policy that took effect last month in which airport security screeners must try to avoid invasive pat-down searches of children.

TSA says it will instruct screeners how to make repeated attempts to screen young children without invasive pat-downs. The instructions should reduce the number of pat-downs on children, TSA says.

The Homeland Security Business

Note: Just as it happens with military conflict, the continuous imaginary scare of terrorism also bolsters the homeland security business with companies earning government contracts to provide security technology for monitoring infrastructure and citizens, even within their own houses.

By Constance Gustke
CNBC.com
May 30, 2011
A decade after the 9/11 terror attacks, homeland security is still a growth business.The niche—that includes James Bond-like tools such as infrared cameras, explosive detectors and body scanners—is expected to grow 12 percent annually through 2013, according to Morgan Keegan.“Homeland security is reactive,” says Tim Quillen, a senior equity analyst at investment banking firm Stephens Inc. “The stocks are hedges against bad things happening.”

One example: the underwear bomber, who was thwarted in late 2009. After that a bell weather homeland security stock OSI Systems [OSIS  39.11    0.04  (+0.1%)   ] rocketed 30 percent within a month. “The stock went on a tear,” says Brian Ruttenbur, a research analyst at Morgan Keegan. Why? OSI makes X-ray and metal detectors used to scan people, baggage and cargo that it sells worldwide. During the past 12 months ending yesterday, the stock has popped from $25 to $40, driven by border and port growth.

Much has changed, since the government spent over $20 billion beefing up airport baggage screening nationwide with X-ray devices.

Airline security is a small business: about $1 billion. There’s 2,100 airport security lanes in the U.S., and 90 percent use X-ray scanners.

“The scanners are ten plus years old now,” says Ruttenbur and “going through an upgrade cycle.” Recently, the government has ordered another 500 scanners though.

Screening cargo going on aircraft and boats at ports is also spiking. Now, only a small percentage of all cargo is scanned. Security screening will grow ten percent to 15 percent annually in coming years, says Ruttenbur in a recent report. This driver will help OSI Systems pump out strong security earnings.

Tiny Niche, Big Clout

There aren’t any pure plays within homeland security though—neither stocks or ETFs. Some players like OSI Systems sell their screening devices to healthcare companies too, so their homeland security earnings are diluted.

“You have to spread the net wide and separate reality from hype,” says Quillen

Both OSI Systems and Flir Systems [FLIR  35.52    0.28  (+0.79%)   ] are undervalued right now, says Quillen.

Flir Systems is a well-managed market leader in infrared cameras used to protect critical buildings, he says. This fast-growing market is slated to expand 20 percent annually, though only half of Flir Systems’ revenue come from government business. The  stock rose from $29 to $36 in the past year. And Quillen has a 12-month price target of $43 on it.

OSI Systems is another favorite. In the first quarter of the year, OSI’s security group revenues grew 27 percent over last year’s.

“The stock is a long-term play,” says Jonathan Richton, an analyst at Imperial Capital, citing OSI’s developing cargo scanning business. Analysts peg five-year earnings growth at 20 percent. Another plus driving earnings: OSI Systems is aggressively tightening operating margins.

A third player, American Science and Engineering [ASEI  86.07    -0.11  (-0.13%)   ] makes cargo and parcel search systems. But the stock is expensive right now, say analysts, since the company missed first-quarter revenue targets.

In the past year, the stock has risen from $77 to $88. Ruttenbur expects only 4-percent earnings growth this year but 10 percent to 15 percent in the next few years, as orders pick up. His 12-month price target: $94.

For investors casting a wide net, L-3 Communications [LLL  81.60    0.30  (+0.37%)   ] is a homeland security monolith. It’s also the sixth largest U.S. defense contractor.

The company makes surveillance equipment for airports and checkpoint scanners. “They’re playing a meaningful role,” says Quillen, “but security revenue is only about 5 percent.”

Its stock price has been flat over the last year.

These days, homeland security niche players are a safe bet though — even after the recent death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Australians Get Ready to be Heavily Irradiated

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
March 1, 2011

The next generation of body scanners to be rolled out in airports will literally be able to see inside the human body, as security personnel gear up to trial machines that use deep penetrating radiation, the same kind hospitals use to examine internal organs and bones.

Australian airports are set to begin using the devices should legislation before Federal Parliament be passed, enabling customs officers to use technology previously only operated by doctors in controlled conditions.

The justification for the technology is to crack down on suspected drug smugglers who swallow illegal substances to evade airport security. However, the notion of placing the technology along airport security lines paves the way for its general use, particularly in light of the recent security theatre explosion we have seen in airports over the last eighteen months.

The current crop of naked body scanners being used by the TSA and other transport security personnel around the globe use either Millimeter-wave or BackScatter radiation. These devices render clothing and organic materials translucent, providing an image of what is concealed underneath, which is why they have caused such controversy.

The radiation fired from those scanners does not penetrate beyond the tissue under the skin, nevertheless there have been significant and legitimate fears expressed by experts and scientists over the safety of such devices, as far as both the operator and the traveler are concerned.

The force generated from tetrahertz waves used by the millimeter-wave scanners is small but, according to scientists, the waves can ‘unzip’ or tear apart double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the DNA that could interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.

Despite further warnings from scientists that the scanners will cause cancer in some travelers, it seems our governments are ready to push even further and use even more potentially lethal technology, under the guise of security.

Of course, there is a very good reason why internal X-ray scans are only legally permitted to be carried out by a doctor at a hospital or surgery – because they are extremely hazardous and can cause detrimental health effects to those exposed to them.

Radiography and Tomography scanners fire deep penetrating ionizing x-rays. The most recent studies estimated that CT scanners cause 29,000 cancers and kill nearly 15,000 Americans every year. Imagine how that number would balloon if such technology were installed in airports and used everyday on millions of healthy people, as if they were routine metal detectors.

Yet, there is every indication that this will be the case. In January 2010, following the failed underpants bombing, former European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom & Security, Franco Frattini, told the media that governments should consider scanning the insides of all travelers to make sure they are not concealing explosives or weapons. It now seems that what at the time seemed a stretch beyond the realms of sanity is actually happening before our eyes.

Recent security failures concerning the current crop of naked body scanners, many of which stem from human error, and the fact that the scanners are simply incapable of identifying some materials, will no doubt also be used as justification should the US and the UK follow the actions of the Australian authorities in attempting to beef security theatre in airports even further.

Of course, none of this matters to the scores of security contractors making fat profits from government contracts. The military industrial complex cares little if a few million people drop dead from cancer or pass on genetic defects. The only health worries they have concern their profit margins.

At the end of the day, however, the buck stops with the public on this. Overall apathy toward the rollout of highly invasive and potentially dangerous naked body scanning machines in airports, has only paved the way for more excessive violations of our rights and our liberties.

As we have consistently highlighted, there are even more frightening scenarios down the road if we continue to ignore the open tyranny being implemented all around us. If the public willingly accepts naked imaging x-ray machines that will cause cancer and death, all in the name of security, what comes next?

The TSA is considering taser bracelets that can deliver electric shocks to anyone who steps out of line inside an airport or on a plane.

Passport control officers at airports are to be phased out as new biometric face scanning cameras are replacing them under UK border control measures that came into force last year. A global biometric facial scan database is the end goal of security authorities the world over.

Other proposals include placing the cameras in every seat on aircraft and installing software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused by passengers.

Passive brain scanners that pick up brain waves in order to sense the behaviour of travelers have already been trialed in airports. The technology known as “MALINTENT” has been developed by the Department of Homeland Security under a project lovingly called “Project Hostile Intent”. The following image is a DHS Impression of the mindreader technology in action.

We are also being incrementally taught that what goes on in the airports will be transferred to the streets, schools, shopping malls, rail stations and bus terminals.

The very body scanners we see being implemented within airports now have already been extensively trialed and are now being in railway stations in major cities.

The same technology is being considered by governments for general use in cameras on the street. Once accepted as part of everyday life in airports, it becomes much easier to sell for use in all public places.

The development of all of this nightmare technology only emphasizes the need for immediate outright rejection of the mass implementation of all forms of body screeners. If we continue to allow such gross attacks on our liberties to succeed the onslaught will never end.

The People vs The Full Body Scanners

By Declan McCullagh
Cnet.com

Two months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the federal stimulus legislation would pay for the purchase of hundreds of controversial full-body scanners.

“Through the Recovery Act, we are able to continue our accelerated deployment of enhanced technology as part of our layered approach to security at airports nationwide,” Napolitano said at the time.

Since then, the number of scanners has roughly doubled since Napolitano’s announcement and are now found in 68 U.S. airports, and the Transportation Security Administration says the controversial devices have proven to be a success.

“We have received minimal complaints,” a TSA spokeswoman told CNET yesterday. She said that the agency, part of DHS, keeps track of air traveler complaints and has not seen a significant rise.

A growing number of airline passengers, labor unions, and advocacy groups, however, say the new procedures–a choice of full-body scans or what the TSA delicately calls “enhanced patdowns”–go too far. (They were implemented without much fanfare in late October, amid lingering questions (PDF) about whether travelers are always offered a choice of manual screening.)

Unions representing U.S. Airways pilots, American Airlines pilots, and some flight attendants are advising their members to skip the full-body scans, even if it means that their genitals are touched. Air travelers are speaking out online, with a woman saying in a YouTube video her breasts were “twisted,” and ExpressJet pilot Michael Roberts emerging as an instant hero after he rejected both the body scanning and “enhanced patdowns” options and was unceremoniously ejected from the security line from Memphis International Airport.

One lawsuit has been filed and at least two more are being contemplated. There are snarky suggestions for what TSA actually stands for, attempts at grope-induced erotic fiction, and now even a movie.

These privacy concerns, and in a few cases even outright rebellion, come as an estimated 24 million travelers are expected to fly during the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday season. One Web site, OptOutDay.com, is recommending what might be called strict civil obedience: it suggests that all air travelers on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, choose “to opt-out of the naked body scanner machines” that amount to “virtual strip searches.”

Normally, that kind of public outcry might be enough to spur TSA to back down–after all, in 2004 it relaxed its metal detector procedures to allow passengers a second try, and a year later it relaxed its rules to allow scissors in carry-on bags. Plus, the U.S. House of Representatives (but not the Senate) approved a bill saying that “whole-body imaging technology may not be used as the sole or primary method of screening a passenger.”

But with a lame duck Congress not even in session until next week, no hearings on full-body scanners currently scheduled, and renewed concerns about explosives in printer cartridges, an immediate reversal seems unlikely.

Instead, TSA is defending its practice. “TSA constantly evaluates and updates screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats, and we have done so several times already this year,” a spokeswoman said. “As such, TSA has implemented an enhanced pat down at security checkpoints as one of our many layers of security to keep the traveling public safe.”

“Administrator John Pistole is committed to intelligence-driven security measures, including advanced imaging technology and the pat down procedure and ordered a review of certain policies shortly after taking office to reinforce TSA’s risk-based approach to security,” TSA said. “We look forward to further discussion with pilots on these important issues.”

TSA’s official blogger, who uses the apparent pseudonym Blogger Bob, went so far as to say this week that: “There is no fondling, squeezing, groping, or any sort of sexual assault taking place at airports. You have a professional workforce carrying out procedures they were trained to perform to keep aviation security safe.”

Another possible catalyst for an eventual change in screening procedures is a lawsuit that the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a non-profit advocacy group, filed against the TSA and Homeland Security last week.

“The agency went off the rails in the spring of 2009 when it decided on its own authority to make body scanners the primary screening technique in the United States,” says Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director. “We think there had to be a public rulemaking. We think the conduct implicates freedom of religion. We think it implicates the Privacy Act.”

EPIC’s lawsuit is ambitious. It says that TSA should have conducted a formal, 90-day public rulemaking to “fully evaluate all privacy, security, and health risks” and wants the DC Circuit to require the agency to conduct one. In addition, making full-body scanners the primary method of screening violates the Fourth Amendment, the suit says, because the scans are “far more invasive than necessary.”

In September, the DC Circuit shot down EPIC’s initial request for an emergency halt, saying the standards for a preliminary injunction against TSA were not met. Rotenberg remains optimistic, saying “these are obligations that are written into federal law” that TSA must follow. (This time, EPIC is not asking for an emergency injunction.)

The ACLU says it’s also weighing a lawsuit but has not filed one so far.

TSA has “always done pat-downs,” but until recently they haven’t been so aggressive, says Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel at the ACLU in Washington, D.C. “The pat-downs never used to go up a woman’s skirt.”

“It’s become troubling,” Calabrese says. “You’ve got these controversial naked strip search machines that they’re rolling out at airports across America. And if you choose not to go through the naked strip search machine, you’re subject to this (level of intrusive physical contact). It seems punitive. It seems designed to drive you to the naked strip search machine.”

Body scanners penetrate clothing to provide a highly detailed image that TSA says is viewed by a remote technician. Technologies vary, with millimeter wave systems capturing fuzzier images with non-ionizing radio waves and backscatter X-ray machines able to show precise anatomical detail.

TSA says it does not store scans, and there is no evidence indicating the agency does at routine airport checkpoints.

But documents that EPIC obtained show the agency’s procurement specifications require that the machines be capable of storing the images on USB drives. A 70-page document (PDF), classified as “sensitive security information,” says that in a test mode the scanner must “allow exporting of image data in real time” and provide a mechanism for “high-speed transfer of image data” over the network.

Another federal agency, the Marshals Service, has acknowledged (PDF) that tens of thousands of images from a Brijot Gen2 machine were stored from just one courthouse checkpoint.

The Gen 2 machine, manufactured by Brijot of Lake Mary, Fla., uses a millimeter wave radiometer and accompanying video camera to store up to 40,000 images and records. Brijot boasts that it can be operated remotely: “The Gen 2 detection engine capability eliminates the need for constant user observation and local operation for effective monitoring. Using our APIs, instantly connect to your units from a remote location via the Brijot Client interface.”

Meanwhile, the backlash among air travelers will likely continue as more full-body scanners pop up in airports and more travelers are faced with the choice of intrusive scanning or an intrusive pat-down done with someone’s fingers instead of the back of a hand. Body scanners in the Orlando airport were turned on yesterday, for instance, and they’ve appeared at Dulles airport this week as well.

A flotilla of Web sites, including Nudeoscope.com, DontScan.us, and StopDigitalStripSearches.org is hoping to translate that dissatisfaction into political action. The Council on American-Islamic Relations sent out a travel advisory yesterday with special recommendations for Muslim women.

Another line of attack is health concerns: biochemistry faculty members at the University of California at San Francisco have written the White House saying the X-ray “dose to the skin may be dangerously high.” (A response co-authored by FDA and TSA officials dismissed any health risks as “miniscule.”)

“For some reason TSA is rushing these things out,” says Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance. “They haven’t fully studied them. They haven’t tested them. They don’t know if it’ll detect the explosives you’re looking for…We’re at a perfect storm, but will TSA listen to anyone? I don’t know.”

U.S. Feds: Airport Scanners DO Store Naked Body Images

TSA requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.”

CNET

For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they’re viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”

Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.

Body scanners penetrate clothing to provide a highly detailed image so accurate that critics have likened it to a virtual strip search. Technologies vary, with millimeter wave systems capturing fuzzier images, and backscatter X-ray machines able to show precise anatomical detail. The U.S. government likes the idea because body scanners can detect concealed weapons better than traditional magnetometers.

This privacy debate, which has been simmering since the days of the Bush administration, came to a boil two weeks ago when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that scanners would soon appear at virtually every major airport. The updated list includes airports in New York City, Dallas, Washington, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to grant an immediate injunction pulling the plug on TSA’s body scanning program. In a separate lawsuit, EPIC obtained a letter (PDF) from the Marshals Service, part of the Justice Department, and released it on Tuesday afternoon.

These “devices are designed and deployed in a way that allows the images to be routinely stored and recorded, which is exactly what the Marshals Service is doing,” EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg told CNET. “We think it’s significant.”

William Bordley, an associate general counsel with the Marshals Service, acknowledged in the letter that “approximately 35,314 images…have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine” used in the Orlando, Fla. federal courthouse. In addition, Bordley wrote, a Millivision machine was tested in the Washington, D.C. federal courthouse but it was sent back to the manufacturer, which now apparently possesses the image database.

The Gen 2 machine, manufactured by Brijot of Lake Mary, Fla., uses a millimeter wave radiometer and accompanying video camera to store up to 40,000 images and records. Brijot boasts that it can even be operated remotely: “The Gen 2 detection engine capability eliminates the need for constant user observation and local operation for effective monitoring. Using our APIs, instantly connect to your units from a remote location via the Brijot Client interface.”

This trickle of disclosures about the true capabilities of body scanners–and how they’re being used in practice–is probably what alarms privacy advocates more than anything else.

A 70-page document (PDF) showing the TSA’s procurement specifications, classified as “sensitive security information,” says that in some modes the scanner must “allow exporting of image data in real time” and provide a mechanism for “high-speed transfer of image data” over the network. (It also says that image filters will “protect the identity, modesty, and privacy of the passenger.”)

“TSA is not being straightforward with the public about the capabilities of these devices,” Rotenberg said. “This is the Department of Homeland Security subjecting every U.S. traveler to an intrusive search that can be recorded without any suspicion–I think it’s outrageous.” EPIC’s lawsuit says that the TSA should have announced formal regulations, and argues that the body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches.

TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told CNET on Wednesday that the agency’s scanners are delivered to airports with the image recording functions turned off. “We’re not recording them,” she said. “I’m reiterating that to the public. We are not ever activating those capabilities at the airport.”

The TSA maintains that body scanning is perfectly constitutional: “The program is designed to respect individual sensibilities regarding privacy, modesty and personal autonomy to the maximum extent possible, while still performing its crucial function of protecting all members of the public from potentially catastrophic events.”