Last week, numerous news reports stated that the TSA was pulling its controversial full body scanners. Many people assumed this meant they were going to be removed completely. This is not what is happening. The TSA actually stated in October 2012 that they would only be removing the backscatter scanners and not the millimeter wave scanners. Their contract with Rapiscan, the makers of the highly controversial backscatter scanners, was expiring and they were not going to renew it. Instead, they are going to heavily invest in the millimeter wave scanners because they, supposedly, have better privacy software.
At this point, all Millimeter wave units have been equipped with ATR, but even with the extension to 2013, Rapiscan was unable to fulfill their end of the contract and create the ATR software that would work with backscatter units. As a result, TSA terminated the contract with Rapiscan in order to comply with the congressional mandate.
All Rapiscan AIT units currently operational at checkpoints around the country, as well as those stored at the TSA Logistics Center, will be removed by Rapiscan at their expense and stored until they can be redeployed to other mission priorities within the government. Most of the backscatter units being removed will be replaced with millimeter wave units. The millimeter units will be moved from the inventory currently deployed at other airports and from an upcoming purchase of additional millimeter wave units.
The TSA says that passengers should see only millimeter wave scanners by June 2013.
With the removal of the Rapiscan backscatter scanners, we will never know exactly what the health risks were to individuals who used them. The government stonewalled the public for years, dismissing any concerns out of hand.
The fact is, the full body scanners were more of a money-making scheme for former Washington officials than anything else. It is well known that former DHS chief, Michael Chertoff, made millions off the Rapiscan scanners. Former US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, also profited by having clients in his lobbying and consultancy firm that sold their software and equipment to the federal government. They were never about passenger health, safety, security, or protecting anyone’s privacy.
Apparently, the primary screening method of using metal detectors is good enough for pilots, flight attendants, military personnel, diplomats, and airport workers isn’t good enough for the general public. Until the government actually performs independent testing on the scanners, it doesn’t matter if they are backscatter or millimeter wave, they are a risk to your health and an invasion to your privacy.
This article originally appeared at The Daily Censored.