Engineer exposes ‘blind spot’ in TSA scanners; smuggles metal through security
posted at 12:16 pm on March 7, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
It has long been known that the controversial “nude body” scanners used by the Transportation Security Administration are not foolproof. In late 2010, a group of physicists determined that PETN—the powerful plastic explosive used by “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—could easily be smuggled through security so long as it was flattened into a blob without discernible edges.
Now a blogger has revealed that the limitations of the high-priced scanners run far deeper. The Daily Mail reports that engineer Jonathan Corbett transported a small metal case through two of the TSA’s scanners without detection by inserting it into a special side pocket stitched into his shirt.
Corbett, who blogs at TSA Out of Our Pants! has published a video demonstrating graphically his claim that “the scanners are “effectively worthless” and that “anyone can beat them with virtually no effort.”
Corbett, who has an outstanding lawsuit against the TSA over what he terms its “pat-down molestation program,” claims he felt impelled to test the seaworthiness of the scanners after
Rafi Sela, who ran security for Ben Gurion airport in Israel, which is known for being one of the most secure airports in the world, was quoted saying he could ‘overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to take down a Boeing 747,’ and Ben Gurion therefore refused to buy scanners. The US ignored this warning, and Mr. Sela never publicly explained his statement. But it stuck with me.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail article notes that the nude body scanners have banned in Europe over fears that the radiation they emit causes cancer. That is a risk, albeit a small one, of which the TSA has also long been aware.
So far, the TSA’s response to reports like Corbett’s has been to bury its head in the sand. If that is ultimately the federal government’s solution to glitches in its system, it may as well disband the agency and save the taxpayers money.
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