November 15th, 2010
Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano, now forever known as Big Sis – a reference to George Orwell’s 1984 – has been caught telling some big lies in an attempt to quell an enormous public backlash against the full body scanning technology and invasive pat-down procedures that have been implemented by the TSA in airports nationwide.
In a blatant propaganda piece published by USA Today, Napolitano describes the scanning machines as safe and the pat-downs as “discreet”, in the face of a flood of complaints from scientists, pilots, flight attendants, privacy groups, parents, Muslim groups and everyday passengers, all rebelling against over the top security.
“AIT machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy.” Napolitano writes in an article in which every single claim she makes can be easily disproved and revealed to be outright lies.
Lie: The scanners are safe
“They have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety.” Napolitano claims, expecting the public to simply swallow the claim that NIST and the FDA are somehow “independent” of the federal government.
As for Johns Hopkins University declaring the scanners safe, tell it to Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at the Johns Hopkins school of medicine. Love told AFP two days ago that “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays”.
“…we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” he added.
So, unless you count skin cancer as safe, Napolitano is lying to you.
According to other numerous real “independent” scientists who continue to speak out over the health hazards associated with the x-ray technology, the body scanners are far from safe.
John Sedat, a University of California at San Francisco professor of biochemistry and biophysics and member of the National Academy of Sciences tells CNet that the machines have “mutagenic effects” and will increase the risk of cancer. Sedat previously sent a letter to the White House science Czar John P. Holdren, identifying the specific risk the machines pose to children and the elderly.
The letter stated:
“it appears that real independent safety data do not exist… There has not been sufficient review of the intermediate and long-term effects of radiation exposure associated with airport scanners. There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations.”
The TSA has repeatedly stated that going through the machines is equal to the radiation encountered during just two minutes of a flight. However, this does not take into account that the scanning machines specifically target only the skin and the muscle tissue immediately beneath.
The scanners are similar to C-Scans and fire ionizing radiation at those inside which penetrates a few centimeters into the flesh and reflects off the skin to form a naked body image.
The firing of ionizing radiation at the body effectively “unzips” DNA, according to scientific research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The research shows that even very low doses of X-ray can delay or prevent cellular repair of damaged DNA, yet pregnant women and children will be subjected to the process as new guidelines including scanners are adopted.
The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety concluded in their report on the matter that governments must justify the use of the scanners and that a more accurate assessment of the health risks is needed.
Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, according to the report, adding that governments should consider “other techniques to achieve the same end without the use of ionizing radiation.”
“The Committee cited the IAEA’s 1996 Basic Safety Standards agreement, drafted over three decades, that protects people from radiation. Frequent exposure to low doses of radiation can lead to cancer and birth defects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” reported Bloomberg.
Scientists at Columbia University also entered the debate recently, warning that the dose emitted by the naked x-ray devices could be up to 20 times higher than originally estimated, likely contributing to an increase in a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma which affects the head and neck.
“If all 800 million people who use airports every year were screened with X-rays then the very small individual risk multiplied by the large number of screened people might imply a potential public health or societal risk. The population risk has the potential to be significant,” said Dr David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s centre for radiological research.
Lie: The scanners are effective
“…the weapons and other dangerous and prohibited items we’ve found during AIT screenings have illustrated their security value time and again.” Napolitano claims in her propaganda piece.
In reality, the machines would not have prevented the Christmas Day bomber from boarding Flight 253, according to their designers, and other security experts who have dismissed the devices as “useless”.
The imaging machines cannot even detect explosive material, so claiming, as Napolitano does, that they are “our best defense against such threats” is misleading at best and at worst a complete lie.
If the machines had detected “dangerous items” “time and again”, rest assured that the DHS and the TSA would make sure it was all over the news – such success stories have been decidedly absent from the media, unless you count “dangerous items” as baby milk, tubes of toothpaste or contact lens fluid.
The idea that the machines are effective flies in the face of the viewpoint of surveillance experts who note that the scanners will do nothing to make air travel safer.
Lie: The scanners cannot store/print/transmit images
At first we were asked to believe that the imaging machines did not produce crisp images of naked bodies.
In an effort to downplay the intrusion of privacy they really represent, the TSA routinely claimed that the images produced by the scanners are “ghostly” or “skeletal”.
The passenger’s face is blurred and the image as a whole “resembles a fuzzy negative,” the TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee told the media last year, prior to the underwear bombing attempt.
After months of researchers, reporters and everyday travelers outing this as a complete lie, the DHS/TSA abandoned that approach and instead claimed that, although they were detailed naked images, it’s fine and dandy because they cannot be saved or transmitted.
“The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images.” Napolitano claims in her latest propaganda piece.
Again not true. As we have previously detailed, the images that show in detail the naked genitals of men, women and children that have passed through the scanners can be transmitted and printed.
As reported by Declan McCullagh of CNET earlier this year, “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.”
The proof comes in the form of a letter (PDF), obtained by The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), in which William Bordley, an associate general counsel with the Marshals Service, admits that “approximately 35,314 images…have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine” used in the Orlando, Fla. federal courthouse.
EPIC says it has also obtained more than 100 images of electronically stripped individuals from the scanning devices used at federal courthouses. The disclosures come as part of a settlement of an EPIC Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Marshals Service.
Brijot, the manufacturer of the body scanning equipment in question, also admits that its machine can store up to 40,000 images and records.
EPIC, has filed two further lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security over the scanners, claiming that the DHS has refused to release at least 2,000 images it has stored from scanners currently in use in U.S. airports.
EPIC’s lawsuit argues that the body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches, as well as the Privacy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, referencing religious laws about modesty.
The group points to a further document (PDF) it has obtained from DHS showing that the machines used by the department’s TSA are not only able to record and store naked body images, but that they are mandated to do so.
The TSA has admitted that this is the case, but claims that it is for training and testing purposes only, maintaining that the body scanners used at airports cannot “store, print or transmit images”.
“In complying with our Freedom of Information Act request, the Marshals Service has helped the public more fully understand the capabilities of these devices,” EPIC President Marc Rotenberg said in a statement. “But the DHS continues to conceal the truth from American air travelers who could be subject to similar intrusive recorded searches in U.S. airports.”
As if it was needed, further evidence also points to the fact that the images are actively being transmitted and printed in airports.
Lie: Pat-downs are “discreet”
In her headline, Napolitano calls the pat-down procedure offered as an alternative to the naked body scanners, or used in addition to them, as “discreet”.
“Pat-downs have long been one of the many security measures used by the U.S. and countries across the world to make air travel as secure as possible.” she writes.
What she does not explain is that the new pat down procedure, which now allows TSA agents to forcefully feel around breasts and genitalia, is currently conducted in full view of queuing passengers and has been described by many, including New York Times reporter Joe Sharkey, as a deliberate form of humiliation to discourage others from refusing the full body scans.
The TSA also claims that the pat-downs are discreet, yet multiple accounts and reports prove otherwise.
Flight attendants and pilots unions in particular have taken up issue with the pat-downs, with one union declaring “We don’t want them in uniform going through this enhanced screening where their private areas are being touched in public… They actually make contact with the genital area.”
As reported by Reuters, parents are now demanding that the procedures be changed for children, after witnesses have described their children’s genitals being touched by men and women working for the TSA.
“I didn’t think it was going to be as horrible as he was describing,” one father noted after an agent told him what he was going to do to the child before conducting the full body search.
“At some point the terrorists have won.” the father added. The TSA says it is currently “reviewing” the procedure for children. Perhaps it should first review it’s policy on background checking its own employees, which by all accounts is woefully inadequate.
Lie: “Risk based” security procedure
Napolitano calls the TSA’s system “risk-based,” another total fallacy given the fact that the primary targets of airport oppression have been women, children, the elderly, and the physically disabled, all the categories of people who characteristically would pose the least risk in terms of terrorism.
The procedure is completely random, emphasizing the fact that everyone is categorized as a potential terrorist.
Lie: The scanners are popular with the public
“These machines are now in use at airports nationwide, and the vast majority of travelers say they prefer this technology to alternative screening measures.” Napolitano writes.
Another unsubstantiated claim, particularly given that a new Reuters poll shows that over 95% of Americans are now less likely to fly due to the crackdown in the wake of the dubious toner cartridge and underpants bombing scares.
Furthermore, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act before the issue recently hit headlines again, and before the majority of airports even had the machines installed, have revealed that there were more than 600 formal complaints about the devices last year.
Hardly a shining example of how popular the machines are.
Lies Lies Lies
Napolitano and the TSA have consistently lied to the American people about the open implementation of tyranny in our airports. They will continue to do so in an effort to make it appear that those who are revolting against their procedures are just a small minority, when in reality the vast majority are sick and tired of being treated like slaves and having their fundamental freedoms trashed.
On November 24th, ‘national opt-out day’, the world will see thousands and thousands standing up against measures that are not only set to become commonplace in airports everywhere, but are also scheduled to be implemented on our streets if we do not resist.
It’s the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government’s desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an “enhanced pat down” that touches people’s breasts and genitals. You should never have to explain to your children, “Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.”
The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent.
We urge our readers to join forces with these groups and organise peaceful protests at the nearest airport to you that has implemented body scanners and enhanced TSA pat downs.
The issue has garnered such massive attention, largely due to coverage via The Drudge Report, that the federal government has been forced to declare it is considering scrapping the enhanced security procedures for pilots and flight attendants. The unified statements from pilots and flight attendants unions highlights the fact that coming together and declaring a mass refusal to submit to this can be effective, it is vital that it not be overlooked.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and regular contributor to Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.