Green Room

Engineer exposes ‘blind spot’ in TSA scanners; smuggles metal through security

posted at 12:16 pm on March 7, 2012 by

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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controversial “nude body” scanners used by the Transportation Security Administration

These things are not limited to airports.

‘Feds radiating Americans’? Mobile X-ray vans hit US streets

Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed In Street-Roving Vans

agmartin on March 7, 2012 at 1:05 PM

The scanners were never about safety. It’s graft and corruption through and through.

mr.blacksheep on March 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

I sent this tip in at 1 am or so… Just thought I’d say that so someone could give me a cookie (with chocolate chips)… the guy had about a 100 hits on his youtube video at that point… :-P

I saw it on Slashdot.org first… it’s good for technology and science news.

Karmashock on March 7, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Remember terrorists are the victims.

Everything with the word ‘justice’ attached denotes victims and perpetrators. Hence, racial justice. White privilege etc. If not white people were not poor, they wouldn’t do this stuff, so it’s our fault for being ‘wealthy’. Make it harder to travel, create more government, instill fear and resentment.

failure is a success.

John Kettlewell on March 7, 2012 at 4:08 PM

TSA = Thousands of Sexual Assults daily.

The colonist who rebelled at the affronts of the British would denounce this generation.

AnotherOpinion on March 7, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Former Bush TSA head Michael Chertoff runs a consulting company that works for manufacturers of the scanners. Deepak Chopra (not, not that one) CEO of teh company that makes teh Rapiscan scanners, accompanied Obama to India in 2010. I guess the coprporate-government you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours is truly bipartisan.

ConservativeinCO on March 7, 2012 at 5:36 PM

must.learn.to.proofread

ConservativeinCO on March 7, 2012 at 5:37 PM

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.

1) Bureaucrats NEVER admit failure.
2) The TSA is a “jobs” program, it has been such since the beginning.

CrazyGene on March 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM

1) Bureaucrats NEVER admit failure.
2) The TSA is a “union jobs” program, it has been such since the beginning.

CrazyGene on March 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM

FIFY

PolAgnostic on March 8, 2012 at 3:00 AM

At least they can see your junk.

FruitedPlain on March 8, 2012 at 11:32 AM