Monday, November 22, 2010

A Full Body Scan of American Corruption

In the United States, if a policeman stops you for a traffic violation, and you offer him a $20 bill to forget about the whole thing, you’ll likely end up in jail.

But if you leave your Federal government job and go work as a consultant to the very industry you used to regulate, you won’t go to jail—you’ll grow rich. Very rich. 

Michael Chertoff
Michael Chertoff is the poster boy for this institutionalized corruption going on in America today. He is not unique. He is not an outlier of any bell curve. If anything, Chertoff’s form of corruption is average—it’s ordinary. It’s what everyone is doing: Everything within the law, everything that the law says he ought to be doing—yet the net effect is a blatant corruption that is personally despicable, and socially disastrous.

Michael Chertoff was the head of the Homeland Security Agency from February of 2005, to January of 2009. But after he left, he formed an outfit called The Chertoff Group—and was promptly hired by an obscure company called Rapiscan Systems.

The Chertoff Group, according to their website, “provides strategic security advice and assistance, risk management strategy and business development solutions for commercial and government clients on a broad array of homeland and national security issues.” 

That sounds . . . impressively vague. Slippery as a greased stripper’s pole, actually. So let’s approach this a different way: 

What does Michael Chertoff do?

Well, as of late, Michael Chertoff has been a one-man media tsunami: There isn’t a single talk show on all the networks on which he has not appeared—and in every single one of them, he is singing the praises of the airport body scanners that are being deployed throughout the United States.

These body scanners are supposed to spot explosives, weapons, and other “tools of terrorism”. As in the picture to the right, you get zapped by magic rays, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker checks the monitor to make sure you haven’t brought a bomb on board the plane.

On its face, airport body scanners seem eminently sensible: A way to thoroughly make sure that no terrorist gets on board a plane with all the makings of a bomb.

Michael Chertoff is currently making the rounds of all the TV and cable talk shows, giving the song-and-dance routine about airport body scanners, and how they are “an effort to prevent terrorism”—how they bring about “enhanced levels of security”—how they are “a proactive approach to safety and security”—all the same old tired bullshit that is the same empty, hysterical clarion call that we’ve heard over the last decade: Safety!-Safety!-Safety!-Safety!

Samuel Johnson said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel—but I would say that, in today’s day and age, public safety is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

The reason I dismiss Mr. Chertoff’s media appearances—and dismiss everything he has to say on the subject—is because the airport body scanners he is singing the praises of? They are manufactured by Rapiscan—The Chertoff Group’s biggest client.

In other words, Michael Chertoff is not some kindly old √©minence gris, looking after what’s best for the United States out of his boundless patriotism—

No: He is the paid spokesman for the manufacturer of the airport body scanners. And he stands to profit from the implementation of these airport body scanners. Profit directly.

Even back when he was in office as Secretary of Homeland Security, Chertoff kept pushing the TSA to adopt full body scans—even though there were a host of problems with the policy: 
• Body scanners are not inherently superior to other methods of preventing unlawful items from being taken on board an airplane. The very fact that an individual can (currently) “opt out” of a body scan, and instead be manually patted down proves that scanners do not have an inherent advantage over low-tech solutions. 
• Body scanners are extraordinarily expensive—$150,000 each—a cost which might be better applied to hiring more TSA workers, and thereby increasing the flow-rate of passengers through security, which currently has reached bottle-neck proportions. 
• Body scanners represent an as yet unquantified but real health danger. (I will discuss the specifics below). 
• Body scanners are an obvious breach of civil liberties—a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment (unlawful search and seizure) and the rule of probable cause . . . unless we are going to redefine “probable cause” as meaning all airplane passengers by definition are likely engaged in criminal activity, and therefore there is probable cause to essentially strip-search each and every one of them.
But even in the face of these very obvious, very reasonable objections, Chertoff kept pushing the body scans during his tenure as head of the Homeland Security Agency.

Which would have been fine—if Chertoff hadn’t immediately upon resigning his post created The Chertoff Group, and then gone to work for Rapiscan: The manufacturer of these body scans.

Was there a “relationship” between Chertoff and Rapiscan before he exited the Federal government? I don’t know—and I would guess that Chertoff is too shrewd to have been on the pay of Rapiscan back when he was Secretary of HSA.

But certainly as the head of The Chertoff Group, Michael Chertoff is in the pay of Rapiscan now. What, you think high-powered lobbying comes for free?

Before continuing, let’s make a necessary pit-stop: We have to know what we’re talking about, when we say “airport body scanners”. So let’s get that out of the way. 

There are essentially two types:
Backscatter X-ray Scanners: These fire x-rays which, rather than going through the body, bounce off the skin and other objects. A computer interprets this reflection (“backscatter”), and creates an image. 
Millimeter Wave Scanners: These fire microwaves in the 0.1 mm to 1 mm range, between microwaves and the infrared spectrum. Some marketers claim that millimeter waves are different from Terahertz radiation (which sounds very scary)—but they are essentially one and the same. Exactly as backscatter x-rays, millimeter waves go through clothes but reflect off of skin. Similarly, a computer interprets this reflection, and creates an image. 
Both of them present health concerns—not hippy-dippy faggotty-assed pussy concerns, but reasonable health concerns any sensible person would be foolish not to take seriously.

To start with the first: Backscatter x-ray scanners fire low levels of x-rays—much less energy than the kind normally used to x-ray a broken limb in a hospital, for instance.

Proponents of backscatter x-ray scanners argue that the x-rays of this type of scanner do not penetrate the skin—so therefore, harmful x-ray radiation does not build up in the body.

This is bullshit. To be fair, at this time, it is not clear from the current evidence if this type of low-level x-ray radiation does not build up inside the body—but it certainly bombards the skin of the subject. That’s the whole point of the backscatter x-ray scanner: To have x-rays bounce off the subject’s skin, and thereby create an image of what they might be carrying beneath their clothes.

Therefore, the concentration of x-rays on the skin is much higher than a more powerful x-ray passing completely through the body. Here is a letter from a group of biochemistry and biophysics professors from the University of California San Francisco, raising precisely this concern, discussing the physics in detail.

Regardless of whether x-rays build up on the skin or in the body itself, there is no question that, just like medical x-rays, repeated uses of backscatter x-ray scanners leads to build up of harmful radiation, which will eventually—and inevitably—lead to cancer. That’s because x-rays have a cumulative effect: Each dose of x-rays adds to the effect of a previous dose.

The ways x-rays cause cancer is, the photons ionize atoms in cells. The chemical bonds therefore break down—the cells literally rip apart, including DNA. This can in time lead to cancer. The direct causal link between excessive doses of x-rays and cancer and/or leukemia is a non-controversial statement.

Who are the ones who face a disproportionate risk of developing cancer and/or leukemia from backscatter x-ray scanners? Obviously, airplane crews: Because of the ridiculous TSA mandate that even the pilots of the planes have to be checked to make sure they’re not bomb-carrying terrorists, and since of course airplane crews have to wend their way through the airport body scanners multiple times per week in order to do their jobs, then obviously it is inevitable that they will develop cancer and/or leukemia from backscatter x-ray scanners. Inevitable.

But in perhaps some poetic justice, the people most likely to suffer cancer in the long term (and maybe not so long term) are the TSA workers operating the machines. You see, there is a reason that in every hospital, the x-ray room is sealed off, and x-ray operators always work behind lead shielding. Yet TSA employees stand around these backscatter x-ray scanners for hours on end, day after day, with no shielding or protection. It’s a safe bet to claim that TSA workers operating these machines will suffer disproportionate amounts of cancer and/or leukemia in the medium- to long-term future.

Poor dumb bastards.

Millimeter wave scanners, on the other hand, use less energetic particles than backscatter x-ray scanners. And unlike x-rays, terahertz radiation does not seem to accumulate in the body.

This ought to sound like good news: The photons of millimeter wave scanners are less energetic, therefore unlikely to ionize atoms and therefore rip apart DNA—so no cancer. Right?


Well . . . It turns out, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered that terahertz radiation is not energetic enough to ionize atoms—but it is energetic enough to essentially “shake” DNA until the strands “unzip”, creating “bubbles” in the DNA strand, hindering replication.

These researchers discovered that the damage to DNA was “probabilistic rather than deterministic”, which explains why some (pro-scanner) experiments produced no damage to DNA, while other identical experiments did produce damaged DNA—sometimes terhertz radiation rips apart DNA, and some other times it doesn’t. Here is a layman’s explanation of their work, in the Technology Review of MIT from last October 30, 2009, and here’s their academic paper in PDF.

This means that, unlike backscatter x-ray scanners, millimeter wave scanners do not create a build up of harmful radiation in the body. However, the probability of terahertz radiation causing damage to DNA—and ultimately cancer and/or leukemia—is a numbers game: Sooner or later, your number’s up.

To put it simply: Imagine you have a revolver that, rather than six chambers, has a thousand chambers—and only a single bullet. You can play Russian Roulette with this gun quite confidently once, twice, three times, maybe even four times. But eventually, you’ll start getting nervous—because you know the odds will start to rise uncomfortably.

And if during a busy day, thirty or forty thousand people pass in front of this one-bullet-in-a-thousand-chambers gun, what will happen? Why, that’s easy: At the end of the day, thirty or forty people are going to be lying dead with a bullet between the eyes—because those are the odds.

Now, what are the odds of terahertz radiation producing cancer and/or leukemia? No one knows yet, because the technology is too new. Maybe it’s not one in a thousand—maybe it’s one in a million.

Fine: Would you like to be that one-in-a-million?

Or put it another way: During the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, something like 24 million Americans are going to be flying. Therefore, with one-in-a-million odds, and since those 24 million Americans are likely flying round trip, at the end of Thanksgiving Weekend, 48 Americans will be dead—because of this technology.

Or put yet another way: In 2009, according to the Department of Transportation, 769 million passengers flew in the United States. With one-in-a-million odds, that would be 769 dead passengers—that would be two full jumbo-jets’ worth of passengers.

How many people died of airplane terrorism in 2009?

This, of course, is the calculus that must be made: What is the cost of this protection? And is the cost substantially less than what is being prevented?

If scanners had been in place in every airport in America in 2009, and assuming a one-in-a-million rate of lethal effects from either one of the two types of full body scanners, that would mean 769 Americans would die.

Yet in 2009, there were no deaths from airplane terrorism. In fact, since September 11, 2001, there haven’t been any deaths from airplane terrorism in the United States.

So imagine if during the nine years since 9/11, one in a million passengers going through the airport scanners had died as an effect of those scanners. That would be roughly 7,000 people who would have died of cancer and/or leukemia, in order to prevent . . .

. . . nothing.

Now on top of this cold-blooded, rational calculus as to the cost-effectiveness of the airport scanners, we have to face up to a particularly painful fact:

These scanners don’t work.

When I say, “The scanners don’t work”, I mean, the scanners don’t fulfill the function for which they were intended: They do not catch potential terrorists bringing bomb-making equipment on board an airplane.

Check out this video, from German TV:

The second half is spectacle—everyone loves seeing stuff blowing up on TV.

But the first half is chilling: Dr. Gruber, the physicist brought on the show, very easily smuggled the ingredients necessary to blow up a plane. He was fully scanned, yet he managed to smuggle a fuse, a lighter, a bottle of thermite—voil√†. Enough to blow up an airplane.

The British operator of the scanner claimed that the test was incomplete, because the scanner on the TV studio did not do the sides, and because Dr. Gruber was wearing his jacket, where he had the thermite, which ordinarily would have gone separately through an x-ray machine. Fair enough.

But what I found chilling was what Dr. Gruber kept in his mouth—the fuse. Obviously, if he had been a real terrorist, he could have kept the fuse in his mouth and the thermite in his rectum, rather than his coat pocket. Furthermore, Dr. Gruber stuff a shiv in his sock, which was not spotted by the scanner.

So to me, the test is valid: Dr. Gruber, without much of a to-do about it, handily defeated the body backscatter x-ray scanner, with materials which were unequivocably deadly on an airplane.

(By the way: Some critics of airport scanners have a cow over the privacy concern—images of naked people which could be copied and distributed, oh my! But really, who gives a shit about privacy, when the fucking things aren’t doing what they were meant to be doing? At this stage, privacy is so far down the list of reasonable objections to airport body scanners that I’m not even going to bother with it.)

So, what does this all mean?

It means that airport body scanners are ineffective by any metric you care to apply:
• They are medically dangerous. 
• They potentially cause more deaths than they would save. 
• They can be easily defeated. 
This has not prevented Michael Chertoff from going on every television show, pleading how these devices are necessary to protect the Homeland from the terrorist threat.

It’s as if Mr. Chertoff had been on a mission

—but then again, at $150,000 a pop, and with a minimum order of 1,000 units necessary to put body scanners in each and every airport in the United States, this represents $150 million dollars to Rapiscan. (Which by the way, is fully owned by OSI Systems, which is headed by none other than Deepak Chopra, who founded the company.) [Note: This is not the same Deepak Chopra who is a doctor and media personality. These two individuals simply have the same name, which I found amusing, but which has led to some confusion. Please excuse me. GL]

Furthermore, if we assume a very conservative yearly maintenance cost of 10%, and a yearly attrition rate of 5%, that’s an additional $22.5 million for Rapiscan per year. Over five years, this adds up to something like $262 million for Rapiscan. Add another “full upgrade” every five years or so, and you’re talking serious money. 

Only God and Chertoff’s accountant know how much this represents to Michael Chertoff personally. Say he gets 5% commission? You’re talking $7.5 million to $13 million. 

So for $7.5 million or more, Chertoff is doing like the song says: Doing his little dance, making a little love, getting down tonight with the mainstream media—big time. 

Now, why is Mr. Chertoff’s lobbying so effective? Two fronts: Current Homeland Security Agency employees, and public relations credibility.

First, current Homeland Security Agency employees: They will never ever contradict the fervent recommendation of their former boss, Michael Chertoff—not out of loyalty, but because Chertoff represents future employment to these people.

These current high-ranking HSA employees—the very ones who could credibly contradict Michael Chertoff and say that these scanners aren’t necessary—will exit government service at some point. Will these current high-ranking HSA employees contradict their former boss? No—because after their stint with the Federal government, they want a job in the private sector, not a place in the unemployment lines.

They won’t contradict Chertoff today, so as not to hurt their chances for employment tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if these HSA employees will not work for either The Chertoff Group or Rapiscan—the contacts and influence Chertoff wields will naturally affect these former HSA employees’ employment prospects.

So they will never contradict Chertoff as he makes his rounds—they’ll be too worried about protecting tomorrow’s job. On the contrary, if they’re shrewd, they’ll fully agree with Chertoff’s recommendation of buying as many airport body scanners as possible, so as to curry favor for the future.

The second advantage Chertoff brings as a lobbyist is his credibility: He was the former head of the Homeland Security Agency, so he could not possibly be advocating something that would be bad for people—could he?

Of course not!

Though his relationship with Rapiscan is public knowledge, the American mainstream press rarely if ever mentions the fact that Chertoff is a paid lobbyist for the company manufacturing the airport body scanners. When he goes on a show, he is identified merely as a former Homeland Security Agency head. Maybe he’s identified as head of “The Chertoff Group”—

—but no one in the mainstream media says the truth when they introduce him: “Michael Chertoff represents the guys who stand to make the most money off the deployment of these contraptions.

Why not? Because the mainstream media are in bed with guys like Chertoff: They are all so afraid of antagonizing the people who ought to be serving the public good, that they wind up letting these “public servants” serve their own private good—like they let Michael Chertoff shill for body scanners, with nary a peep about his Rapiscan masters.

Chertoff’s corruption is average and ordinary—in point of fact, I would say that Chertoff’s corruption is the model for the kind of corruption endemic in the United States: The Chertoff Corruption Model. The Chertoff Scheme. We see it with all sorts of departments and agencies. The military? Every retired general winds up a paid consultant for some weapons manufacturer or other. Same with Congerssional staffers, same with FDA scientists—hell, it’s the New American Way!

It is indisputably legal—Chertoff is not breaking any law, as far as I know. Yet what he is doing is indisputably immoral and despicable nevertheless—Chertoff is preying on the citizenry’s fear and desire for impossible standard of safety, in order to enrich himself.

And Michael Chertoff is ordinary.

Now, like I’ve said before in other posts: I’m like Wayne Gretzky—I never bother with where the puck has been, I look for where the puck is going to be.

So in that spirit, I’ll let other people start looking through the rolls of former government employees, trying to catch other scoundrels carrying out their own versions of the Chertoff Scheme.

Ray LaHood
Instead, I will point you to the next likely example of the Chertoff Scheme—before it happens:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. 

Ray LaHood is the man most likely to carry out a Chertoff Scheme the second he leaves office.

He will not break a single law. He will not do anything that others have not done—

—but he will enrich himself immorally and despicably, by preying on the fear and worry of the American citizenry.

How do I know this?

Why, because I can read—I can read little missives like the following:
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers—and potentially anyone else in the vehicle—from using them. 
“There’s a lot of technology out there not that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. 
[. . .]
“I think it will be done,” said LaHood. “I think the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automibiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if we’re going to save lives.”
This was said by Secretary LaHood just last week.

How much you want to bet that, once he leaves office, Secretary LaHood will form a little consulting venture, The LaHood Group.

How much you want to bet that one of the biggest clients of this LaHood Group will be a company that manufactures cell phone signal blocking devices.

How much you want to bet that these devices will run a couple of hundred dollars a pop, and will be required by law to be installed in every automobile, new or used, or else face severe penalties for “non-compliance”.

How much you want to bet that hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue will depend on this little device.

How much you want to bet that, in order to work, these cell phone blockers will have to shroud every automobile in hundreds of times more electromagnetic radiation than cell phones currently emit—a barrage of frequencies whose ill-effects we still do not fully know, but which undoubtedly will be terrible.

How much you want to bet that—just as Secretary Chertoff did while he was in tenure—Secretary LaHood is already building a “relationship” with prospective clients for his post-government scheme.

How much you want to bet that, when he does his big media round once he is a private citizen, he will hammer home the same old tired bromides: Safety—security—protecting the children.

This is the shape of American corruption: It is not a folded $20 bill into the palm of the bureaucrat or the traffic cop. It’s not the $1,000 roll of bills tossed to the building inspector.

Rather, it is the “consulting” contract awarded to men like Michael Chertoff—a contract worth millions and millions, so long as the correct outcome is arrived at.

Chertoff keeps saying he is advocating the use of airport body scanners in order to “help save lives”—but as I hope I’ve shown, these devices do not save lives. They never have. And they will likely cost lives, in the not-too-distant future.

Does this matter to Chertoff? Does it matter to him that he is advocating a device that will likely kill far more people than it will ever save? No it does not. How do I know this? Because he is still out there in the media, shilling for a device that will kill Americans—which he knows will kill Americans—all the while claiming he is doing it in order to protect Americans.

What was it that Secretary LaHood said? 

“We need to do a lot more if we’re going to save lives.”

Like I said: Public safety is the last refuge of the scoundrel. 

Correction/Clarification: I mistakenly gave the impression that the head of OSI Systems is the same Deepak Chopra who is a public speaker on medical issues in the United States. He is not—these two men are different people. Please excuse me. GL


  1. I take about 4 flights a week. I got scanned at the Tampa airport last week, and was leaving Miami the following day. Thankfully, there were none of the new scanners at the Miami airport. The security lines in Tampa and other airports with the new body scanners are horribly long. As a frequent business traveler, I have to question my health, my sanity, and our country’s legal authority. I have had enough. I walk into the airport and I hear the constant security threats repeating in an endless cycle. I see the children, the elderly, and everyone else treated like criminals. What has America come to? We are no longer living in the land of the free. How long will it take for these devices to find their way to public court houses, malls, bus stops, trains, super markets, movie houses, drug stores? Let me be the first to welcome America citizens to George Orwell’s prescient book “1984”.

  2. Gonzalo, you have to research just how deep the rabbit hole goes on this one.

    Why are they saving the images? Why are they using x-ray machines instead of the less dangerous millimeter wave machines? Why are they starting to use these on (500 purchased so far) mobile units that will roam the streets and carry even more danger to the public in terms of health? etc etc.

    Alex Jones ( has been covering those issues for months now, and Glenn Beck is starting to.

    You are NOT in Kansas anymore.

  3. Regarding public safety and health hazards, the situation you describe is remarkably similar to the one prevailing in the energy industry, where politicians' ignorance and corruption, combined with special interests' lobbying, lead to make choices which are the most damaging to citizens.

    I am refering to the priority given to coal and oil power station, to the detriment of nuclear power stations.

    Save for the very special case of Chernobyl, the 9/11 of nuclear industry, there have been no casualties from nuclear power stations, even though countries like France produce more than 80% of their electricity that way.

    In the meantime, coal and oil stations have, mostly indirectly, caused thousands of deaths. Just think about the mining accidents! And no one ever mentions the dangers to which people living in the proximity of a coal power station are exposed to...

    Yet, despite these facts, there is a constant lobbying from people, paid by the oil and coal industries, who argue that nuclear power is not good for us. Certainly, they say, the risks have not materialized yet, but when they will, we will thank them.

    The result is that, to avoid a potential risk and its undetermined consequences, we have to live with the burden of very real risks.

    In other words, we sacrifice a few thousands people every year, so that a few hundreds may be saved from an uncertain future one time event.

    This is human intelligence at its best!

    Click on my name to visit my blog.

  4. GL has pointed out the dangers and inadequacies of these "peek machines", and helped us to "follow the money" in terms of who benefits by their purchase and use ..... but there is something far more important to consider here. TSA's present implementation of these so-called "security procedures" is a classic case of a violation of the Eighth Amendment's unreasonable search and seizure clause. If demanding the removal of a prothetic breast(off a flight attendant, no less) is not unreasonable, nothing is.

    Many have observed that this TSA fiasco is a "Tipping Point", and it well may be. But tipping into what? If there is not a true ground-swell of actionable anger that effects change, it will be nothing more than another case of governmental Command & Control that leads to the continued "Sheepelization" of the citizenry.

    As former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said:

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

    What more is there to say?

  5. hi there, a freedom lover from New Zealand (Aotearoa)here who is doing what little i can to drum up awareness of the Truth. This is a good article and i will link to it whenever i can.... If i may make a suggestion. I think you should clarify that the Deepak Chopra who founded OSI ( not the famous 'self-help' Author. (

    The distinction is important. Although sensationalism is fun, jouranalism is more important and it is the unclarified misunderstandings, the lies, half truths and sensationalism of misrepresentation by the Main Stream Media that allow so much horror to be carried out in our names. Peace from Aotearoa.

  6. I agree that this is wrong but what are we going to do about it ? I am ready, just need a leader.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. He's fucking Jew. And a dual Israeli-US citizen to boot.

  9. Thanks for the expose, but no surprise here. This sort of thing has been going on in the military industrial complex for years. There are some people whose business models are based on war and when that's the case, peace is a threat.

    To be honest, it's not unreasonable to believe that these people would do whatever they needed to do to create "threats" or encourage conflict as a way to get paid. Quickly winning a war is bad for business while a long drawn out thing slaughtering millions is great for it. Similarly, the absence of a terrorist threat is bad for business, so one needs a few terrorists to slip through every now and then to create just enough fear to justify the "security measures". And if there aren't enough terrorists cooperating with that, then they'll just be "created" as needed to justify this sort of expenditure.

    This is just another in a long line of things that explains why our nation is in the pickle it's in.


  11. Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. ~Marie Curie

    It is by fear that the USA is managed, USA has always had some fear machine, Communism, Socialism, Terrorism, Racism, Stupidism, yes I made the last one up, but surely it has some validity, when even the President is not aware of how many states the USA has.

    How ironic that the pioneer of Radioactivity made this quote and later died because of her exposure to radiation.

    So unless I wish to glow blue and experience a Chernobyl existence, I have been forced to accept molestation by an overweight, underperforming, overbearing retard from the Tray Stackers Association (TSA)

  12. While I absolutely detest the scanners, the question I have here regards the scanner in the "German" video. Your claim, Gonzalo, was that he defeated a backscatter xray machine. I don't speak German, but the scanner profiled seemed to be a third type - an infrared scanner. If I followed the subtitles correctly, it seemed to be a passive scan device that measured the natural emissions of the subject. While this could alleviate a potentially deleterious condition, it is apparent that this third type of scanner is easily defeated as a stand alone security measure.

  13. Don't forget what else Chertoff and his friends gave us. 9/11 and Israel, here:

  14. Yes, yes, yes, I know! The system is corrupt, the players are corrupt, the money system is corrupt, the political system is corrupt, the courts are corrupt, religion is corrupt. But it's only appears "corrupt" because we still believe we're living in a free country. The system is NOT "corrupt" once you understand that we are now, and have always been, SLAVES of the ruling class. They were "slavers" in Sumer, and they're "slavers" today. The system is not "broken." This is what slavery looks like and feels like. The only thing that's changed is that the "veil" has been removed. Stop acting so surprised!

  15. Excellllllennnt........Never a mention about bomb sniffing dogs......Hummmmmm they have a lobby group...???....Never a mention about chemical detection hardware. hand held easily operated,upgraded and maintained .....Never a mention about good old common sense investigative work [i.e.] asking questions......................word for word..............A fortiori...............322

  16. I disagree with you that Chertoff & others are not involved in crime. Is it not an criminal offence in U.S.A. to try to sell equipment that does not do the job that it is said to do and sell equipment that is life threatening to the consumer.

    Aussie Mal

  17. If you can't see what's coming, God help you. Americans can stand together as they always have before, but probably not more. It is a tough choice I know. Keep your head in the sand, or join the fight; it is your choice.

  18. Nice piece GL. Sorry to change the subject but feel I must, in the interest of intellectual honesty, respectfully refute what Brunolem above stated regarding the Fossil Fuel "conspiracy".

    I would offer to you sir, that there is more to the debate (Nuclear v. Fossil Fuels) than you proferred. I, for one, believe the world will come to accept Nuclear potential one day as we must due to Peak Oil issues. However, you failed to list the single-most important reason humanity has not (on a wide-spread basis) welcomed nuclear to this moment in time. It was for a logical reason that we have chosen Fossil Fuels over Nuclear. IT IS A DISPOSAL ISSUE. NOONE (RIGHTFULLY SO) WANTS THE STUFF DISPOSED OF IN THEIR BACK YARD - JUST ASK HARRY REID. I preach on my blog intellectual honesty and my industry (Oil and Gas Exploration and Production) has its' share of SCAMS - see and others - which I quickly and frequently expose. We should all strive to do this one thing, something that I very much admire GL for doing, and that is have intellectually honest debates. Our world and children depend upon it.


  19. Cost of nudie-machine: $150,000 + Maintenance
    Cost of bomb-sniffing dog: $40,000 /yr.

    I'd rather have a dog than a porno-scan. Its both cheaper and more effective.

    But certain tech businesses and lobbyists wouldn't get their cut.

    Source Bomb-dog cost:

  20. If Dr. Gruber's illustration is correct, and these scanners are defeated by simply holding contraband a certain distance away from the body, then TSA should probably also outlaw clothing styles such as the Dolman sleeve:
    or basically, any item of clothing which is sewn in gathers:

  21. I love how you write. I feel you are truly a "writer." You and all the Americans, who are great writers, are forgetting the most important thread running through every word, parchment and other forms of "communication."


    Great America, how to take the BAR and bring it back into a sobering experience that FLESH trading when Prince William of PERSIA and ROTHSCHILD of EUROPE decided then how to make the most money in the whole wide world, wars without end.


    Whew, sorry to shout, but should you want send me an email and I'll send you the bad ass art we're doing to expose the MOFOs, as it should be with pictures of the SUPREME COURT, NINTH CIRCUIT (only need 47 or is it 49 of these robbed "gods").

    process @ mortgagegaleria dot com

    aka Biloxi Marx


  22. If these scanners are so critical to safety, shouldn't we be installing them first and foremost at every entrance to Congress and the White House (plus, of course, any other buildings heavily used by members of Congress)? After all, while a bomb blowing up a plane is a tragedy, a bomb that blew up our Senators would cripple our country's leadership - a far more wide-ranging and longer-lasting problem affecting the entire nation instead of only a few hundred families.

    Of course, since we're paying for Congress' health care we might be better of taking the risk of the bomb instead of long-term medical issues from the scanners.

  23. @mytwocentsworth...

    Please read my comment once again; I never used the word "conspiracy". I refered to "lobbying" which is widely used by the oil and coal industries.

    Regarding nuclear toxic waste, I would like to add that:

    1. The amount of waste generated by one person, who would have only used, during her whole life (77 years), electricity from a nuclear power station is... 1kg!

    2. There are people, such as James Lovelock, who have said, and written, many times, that they would be ready to store their share of nuclear waste, underground, in their backyards (The revenge of Gaia, James Lovelock).

    3. Oil and coal do actually generate waste, lots of it; 68,5 tons per person's lifetime for "coal electricity" (compared to the 1kg generated by "nuclear electricity). This waste includes radioactive uranium (yes!) and mercure, the latter being absorbed by fish when it falls back with the rain... (for more, please refer to: Power to save the world, by Gwyneth Cravens).

  24. Maybe when the airline industry is crippled beyond repair, the government can assume its control. Could this be the REAL plan?

  25. "I am ready, just need a leader."

    I am he. Things are still building. Meantime prepare yourself as well as possible for both good and bad.

  26. Ok, What happens when one of the so called terrorists lets one go while standing in the xray machine. Where do we go from there?

  27. What does it take to make an American angry?

    Oh yeh, When a congressman goes over his checking account, by five cents, Americans get really pissed but when a congressman takes $millions from corporations, special interests, foreign governments and rich crazies to harm us, we look the other way. Apathy is going to kill a lot of Americans.

  28. GL

    Many of us in America must fly for business reasons. Practically, it's impossible to avoid this means of transportation. As for myself, I will choose to avoid the scanners and instead go through a body pat down. I really don't care where they put their hands during the pat down inspection. But I do believe there are legitimate concerns about the long-term health effects of the the backscatter X-rays.

    By the way ... Americans receive X-rays from many different sources - doctors offices, dental X-rays, and now airports. But exactly who is adding up the total exposure for each American on an annual basis? Every single X-ray technician claims that the dose they are administering is "very low and quite safe". But how do they know what your exposure has been over the past year???

    And yes you are right.
    Our entire political system has been rotted out by the influence of big money.


  29. "Does this matter to Chertoff? Does it matter to him that he is advocating a device that will likely kill far more people than it will ever save? No it does not."

    Don't forget the push to reduce the world population. That's why there's no concern for how many die and it applies to other areas as well.

  30. Sr. Lira,
    If you allow comments like those at #8, #10, & #13, you will get a very bad reputation as a beacon for Jew haters.
    I enjoy your blog, and know you have an open mind, but these types look for an audience and will overrun your comments.

  31. X-Ray Back scatter RELIES ON ABSORPTION IN WATER (YOUR BODY)and high Z material back scatter by Compton Incoherent scattering. MOST RADIATION IS ABSORBED in a few mm of the skin, and a small fraction back scatters to the machine off higher Z material (Carbon, Calcium, Aluminum, Iron etc....). Therefore the intensity of the beam MUST BE HIGH to get a good image - Compton Scattering at low energy is at best Isotropic. The DOSE IS HARD TO MEASURE BECAUSE WE MEASURE DOSE IN WATER - and so there is an energy/shielding spatial effect. THESE MACHINES COULD BE VERY, VERY DANGEROUS.

  32. Ultimately this article is about the revolving door of corruption which characterizes our past and present political system. While legal, it often short-circuits the democratic process and favors solutions that may not be the best answer. This is poison to the free marketplace of ideas and solutions.
    Solution: Break the door.
    Exempt any State and Federal bureaucrat from working for the industries that they affected for 10 years.

  33. great article. But you may want to mention that the Deepak Chopra that runs OSI is NOT the same person as the guru. When I first read that I was shocked, so I had to go research it out. Turns out not the same guy.

  34. How do I invest in the Rapist-scan company? It looks like they are a private company and are not listed on any stock exchange (hey, if you can't stop this bullshit from happening, you might as well make a buck off it). Secondly, what's wrong with opting for a good old fashioned grope? Since my sex life is zilch, I wouldn't my a grope and a tug. Hell, I'll even drop my drawers right there so they can inspect my jewels really well. No private rooms for me; I'll just show everything right there and submit to a public fondling (I got nothing to hide since it's all in the name of security, right?). Damn, I got to start flying more often. Yeah, baby!

  35. typo to above: I wouldn't mind a grope and a tug.

  36. Terahertz is not the same as mm wave. To say they are essentially the same shows no knoledge of the subject. Terahertz are waves at 10 power 12 Hertz. Mm waves are at a different frequency. Its like saying ultraviolet light is damaging so green light is essentially the same. The difference in frequncy between Thz and mm is greater than that. Plus a human body emitts a large amount of Terahertz its what the german video is using. Passive camera . Therahertz radiation is a form of infrared radiation and you are exposed to way more sitting in a warm room than any scanner . The only Thz equipment available is not yet used in airports but emits a nanowatt. Less than a light bulb!!

  37. Anonymous said...
    Sr. Lira,
    If you allow comments like those at #8, #10, & #13, you will get a very bad reputation as a beacon for Jew haters.
    I enjoy your blog, and know you have an open mind, but these types look for an audience and will overrun your comments.

    November 22, 2010 12:03 PM

    The world has truly changed in a positive direction when a person who wants to censor post that are not enamored of Jews post anonymously!

    Robert Reis

  38. A technical note: X-rays themselves don't accumulate or build up in the body, it's *damage to DNA* that accumulates in the body. And, in this case, the damage accumulates in the skin, since the low energy x-rays *do* penetrate, they just don't go very deep.

    Please edit to correct this important factual detail -- it will strengthen your article and the case that you make. Thanks!

  39. "• Body scanners are an obvious breach of civil liberties—a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment (unlawful search and seizure) and the rule of probable cause . . . unless we are going to redefine “probable cause” as meaning all airplane passengers by definition are likely engaged in criminal activity, and therefore there is probable cause to essentially strip-search each and every one of them."

    Since they haven't repealed the Constitution yet, what i think we need are a few well-to-do patriots who can afford to stand up for the Constitution.
    Certianly GL is correct that these are unreasonable searches with no probable cause. First we need some lawyers to develop a legal strategy, individual or class action. If individual action is the choice, then we need some search victims willing to take this to the Supremes.

  40. If you must fly as a condition of your employment, opt out of the scanner for medical reasons. Then submit to the enhanced groping/fondling session. Upon returning to your place of employment, sue the pants off of your employer for forcing you to working in a sexually harassing environment.

  41. One of the first Anonymous commentators said "What has America come to?" I'll tell you what- just about everything Bin Laden supposedly wanted. The US out of Saudi Arabia, stuck in an endless war that will bankrupt us and will bill hailed as a Christian conquest in the muslim world (and exposed to the world as hypocritical monsters with the use of torture) and a huge loss of our freedoms. Looks to me like the scumbag is winning.

  42. ". . . what i think we need are a few well-to-do patriots who can afford to stand up for the Constitution."

    Well-to-do attorneys and researchers to take this on to the courts, yes. But the rest of us (and the well-to-do's as well) can stand up for our Constitution every day and for that there's the Constitution Party.

  43. Gonzalo, you nitwit! Of course you'll go to jail if you offer a traffic cop only $20 to forget about an infraction. Get with the times, man. $20 is an insult. Jeez!

    As far as the enhanced security procedures go, does this mean I can squeeze as much titty and grab as much ass as I want to, as long as it happens in an airport, and that I won't be busted? Does this mean that perverts and pedophiles everywhere can now find gainful employment with the TSA? Right on!

  44. GL

    I would second the request to edit your readers' responses to remove bigotry. This kind of material can really do a lot of harm to an economics blog ... and I think your material has a lot of value. Therefore, by all means encourage freedom of expression for your readers and a diversity of viewpoints. But not to the level where it involves hate talk related to racism and ethnic discrimination.


  45. WOW! Look at this! Think Chertoff is only making money on the scanners? Think again.

    Not only did he make money as a lobbyist in order to obtain stimulus money to be spent on possibly unsafe xray porno scans, he is also going to reap profits from a biometric verified ID system that will whisk you past long lines and undignified checks reserved for the unwashed peasants for the low price of $179.00

  46. One famous economist said few years ago something like this; Probably very soon we'll have airlines called "nude lines". :-) I believe the craziness will go on until the day this system will collapse.

    Ps; Sorry I don't recall his name.

  47. Well, there are those who argue chemicals in non-organic foods cause cancer. Those who argue that human practices damage the climate, and the planet in general. And here, you argue that these gadgets will cause illness.

    Look: there's a helluva lot in life that is unprovable. It is quite unnecessary to assert what you can never conclusively substantiate, when all you want to do is discredit stupidity and corruption.

    The common thread, among alarmists, is an obsession with (as you say) safety; or, to put it another way, with maintaining a presumably safe status quo of one's choosing. When one uses fear to persuade, all he does is turn the safety coin over.

    Your fear of the scanners' radiation is comparable to that of others' fear of terrorism. They can't prove that the use of these things will prevent breakdowns in security, and you can't prove the scanners are dangerous.

    What matters is that their efficacy, much less cost effectiveness, is unprovable. That the process by which they have come into use reflects the rot in the system. They are Orwellian, and have no place in the kind of society ours is supposed to be. Even if someone somehow proved that the damn things rejuvenated all the people they scanned, and doubled longevity, they would still have no place in The United States of America.

  48. I was going to say something smart about this issue but there are too many dullards out there who dont do smart. So after sucking down a couple of joints I'll just give this advice. Opt for the pat-down but first stuff your pants with a set of fake super large genitalia. For good measure add in one of those good old hand-buzz tricks and a fake fart device. This will have to do until the real revolution gets going. Don't fall for everything the gov throws at us with words like "safety" and other platitudes attached. If you fall for everything, one day, if it hasn't happened to you yet, you'll stand for nothing. And sorry about calling you dullards. Better to be dull but a decent guy than a smart greedy a--hole. BTW, for you haters out there, there are Jews who are not smart but are poor. I've met them. Sorry to ruin your day but I'm sure you won't let it interrupt your plans for the next holocaust. Forget the religion or race and do what I try to do. Just respect or detest the individual based on what they do and how they act and that goes for institutions, governments or whatever. It really is good vs. evil but first we have to identify it correctly and call it out. Boy are we in trouble unless superman arrives soon.

  49. No Nickname, I like your style. It's kind of a Groucho and Harpo at the airport play. Could make air travel LOTS of fun.

  50. Premature ejaculation?

    Has that happened yet during a TSA patdown? (I saw a movie recently which featured a man who had been sexually assaulted by another man, though he was a heterosexual.... there was some kind of detonation.... and i think the victim of the assault commited suicide as a result.

    I know that a couple of years ago I had an ultrasound done on my testicles.

    The, uhm, female technician (young and good looking by the way,) had to first put some jello type material on my, "junk."

    I had to do some fancy mental footwork at that point to convince myself that this was merely a clinical procedure and therefore should not feel good. (It would be easier today... I could just pretend I was visiting an American airport. TSA was not part of my vocabulary at the time.)

    I made it thru without any major embarrassment but I could not help wonder if, had I been a teenager..... and despite the jello, things would have gone as smoothly. (Hmmmm. well if I were a handsome and confident teenager.... perhaps things would have gone very smoothly.)

    Teenager. Girl touching your junk. It just a procedure. It's purely clinical. It's just to protect you from disease... or if the person doing the "job," the government, (Government Inc.) pays them to do, is just trying to protect you from terrorists'

    I now half imagine hearing the technician girl asking me if I have any C4 in there. Jeez.... another TSA joke.


    I wonder if it is possible for terrorists to implant a powerful explosive inside the testicles of a suicidal Muslim terrorist lunatic.

    And what if the triggering device were integrated with the terrorist's "junk," in such a way as to require that he go through the actions of "pleasuring himself," to get it to explode?

    The airpline would have to employ an army of washroom marshalls.


    train their TSA guards to perform testicular untrasound.

    and just to make the procedure a little more pallatable.... to male flyers....

    The TSA could target their recruting efforts toward massage parlours....

    Imagine how pleasant airline security could become if the female employees were to go about their work topless?

    Of course, it would never work. The interests behind the naked body scanners would lose money.

    For example.... if you were a young guy going through the Nazi Germany type screening in an American airport... and you were given the choice between going into some radiation spewing device which would take naked pictures of you.... vs..... being examined by a bunch of good looking, toppless, TSA chicks.... which would you choose?

    The government always does things ass backwards.

    If they really want to see what a guy is hiding inside his pants they should start hiring attractive young women to chek out all the guys.....

    Not only would the airlines have a lot more happy travellers....

    They could look for lots of additional business.... because I am sure the airports would be soon full of young enthusiastic males just itching to get checked out.

    Don't mind me. I am always looking for win-win solutions...

    Not that I would expect to benefit personally from such a policy change.... because I can't afford to fly.

    That's not fair.

    So, I think I need to find a group that is lobbying for a large TSA presence at bus terminals too.

    After all, why should only the rich be able to enjoy being fondled by topless TSA cuties?

  51. @ brunolem -

    So your issue is with all the other industries who loby the Fed Govt (except Nuclear)?? You better check again...

    And much of the rest of your post is just as deceptive. However, Nat Gas is a clean, resourceful, domestic alternative for electricity generation - and damn cheap right now! It's effluents are miniscule - provided you look at the problem scientifically and practically - outside of the farce that is AGW, etc, etc.

    Come to think of it, here is another great link along those lines if you care -

    Report: Al Gore Reverses View on Ethanol, Blames Politics for Previous Support

    Published November 22, 2010 |

    Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore reportedly has had a change of heart on ethanol, telling a conference on green energy in Europe that he only supported tax breaks for the alternative fuel to pander to farmers in his home state of Tennessee and the first-in-the-nation caucuses state of Iowa.

    Speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank, Gore said the lobbyists have wrongly kept alive the program he once touted.

    "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Reuters quoted Gore saying of the U.S. policy that is about to come up for congressional review. "First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

    "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president," the wire service reported Gore saying.

    Credits for corn ethanol subsidies expire at the end of the year unless Congress moves to renew the $7.7 billion annual program. Opponents of the corn subsidies say that it removes valuable food products from the table because the U.S. ethanol industry drives up the price of corn.

    Reuters reported that Gore attributed a variety of factors to the food pricing crisis that has emerged, but that biofuels definitely have had an effect.

    "The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first-generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices," he said. "The competition with food prices is real."

    Ethanol production this year will reportedly consume 41 percent of the U.S. corn crop and 15 percent of the global corn crop. Last month, the Agriculture Department said corn crop production would fall this year and attributed the decline to the increase in the price of corn.

    "I do think second and third generation that don't compete with food prices will play an increasing role, certainly with aviation fuels," Gore reportedly said.

    The Media Research Center's Noel Sheppard noted that as vice president, Gore was the tie-breaking vote in 1994 when the Senate voted to authorize ethanol production. Sheppard said that those who question Gore's motives behind the climate change movement that landed the former vice president a Nobel prize and Oscar should also look to his comments on ethanol.

    "So more than 10 years ago, Gore supported an expensive, 'not good policy' because he thought it would help him get elected president. Yet media don't believe he'd misrepresent the threat of manmade global warming in order to become extremely rich," Sheppard wrote Monday.

    Let's be honest.....

  52. GL,
    We have a worse problem here in Amerika than airport scanners - it's called driving while texting and these people have killed and injured thousands each year since 9/11.


  53. The revolving door between Treasury, the SEC and Wall Street has worked so well, why not grease the hinges between Homeland Security and the private sector?
    After all, the same net result--you've reported here. Cronies enrich each other, and constituents get screwed under the pretense of public service.
    Their all crooks and the motto is: If you can't cuff'em, join 'em.

  54. You know what else is massively gross? If this Jerkoff guy gets $13,000,000 from this as estimated in this article, we could pay him to STOP airport security for 30-cents per citizen!

    This shows you how in-freaking-believably cheap it is to bribe the criminals in government! The only problem is, they only accept bribes from people who want to abuse us, defraud us and enslave us.

  55. It's a good thing you are Chilean as post and blogs that are anti-TSA suddenly are getting the poster-blogger a designation of "domestic extremist," a designation on a list to no doubt be employed at a later date.
    All you have to do is listen to Pistole and look at him in order to realize he is a very dangerous and utterly deluded man.

  56. "I'd rather have a dog than a porno-scan. Its both cheaper and more effective."

    No can do -- (fundie) Muslims think dogs are dirty and will not allow them near -- but oh hey! That would stop (fundie) Muslims from flying... Win-win!

  57. Am I misunderstanding stats? Every single person passing through your 1,000-cylinder revolver has the SAME 1-in-1,000 chance of getting the bullet. The second guy, the third, -- unless you exclude a 'chosen' cylinder (and each subsequent chosen cylinder), the chances getting "shot" remain 1 in 1,000. That NEVER changes...

    Business travelers, who play airport roulette many times, get more chances at that 1-in-1,000 bullet, so their chances go up in a small amount: not 2-in-2,000, but 1-in-500 chance they get the bullet.

    However, if it's a 1-in-1million chance of getting DNA damage from the scan,(and an even smaller chance of each instance of DNA damage causing a cancer), then frequent travelers still get only minuscule chance of actually developing cancer: the body's repair system for DNA damage is actually pretty decent.

    This argument skirts the edge of being ridiculous - esp. when there are so many more stronger ones.

  58. Excellent article.

    Beyond the health issues involved with the scanner, I think the biggest issue here is one that few pay any attention to: the social damage that can result from these scans.

    As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. Treat people as terrorists and criminals you will get terrorists and criminals.

    Get people to stand in line at the airport and treat them like the latest criminals to step into a high security facility, force them to submit to humiliating procedures at the hands of arrogant & power-happy officials, keep pounding on them that they are all suspects, that they can't trust the fellow next to them and that they themselves can't be trusted...

    What can you expect the long term effects of such a conditioning will be? Fear, distrust, hidden resentment for "the law" and their representatives are the basic make up of a criminal environment.

    Not that this results exclusively from airport scanners, but it sure contributes to the big picture as our society dives deeper into insanity.

    "Am I misunderstanding stats? Every single person passing through your 1,000-cylinder revolver has the SAME 1-in-1,000 chance of getting the bullet."

    Yes, you are misunderstanding how statistics work.

  59. Now the safeties are becoming very difficulty. Many people are started a fraud work such that they keep on cheating many things and do not improve themselves. This is very bad thing.

  60. Great job. This is some of your best work IMO.

  61. I am almost certain that airports stopped using these devices…


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