Iraq is not the "central front" on the so-called "war on terror".
Every where we congregate in the form of crowds, spectators, travellers, commuters are, though.
Consequently, as a Progressive, I support the maximal or optimal installation of Backscatter Technology - as much as medical safety and Homeland Security budgets permit.
By Christmas, Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix will test a new federal screening system that takes X-rays of passenger's bodies to detect concealed explosives and other weapons. The technology, called backscatter, has been around for several years but has not been widely used in the U.S. as an anti-terrorism tool because of privacy concerns.
TSA's Web site indicates that the Backscatter technology will be used initially as a secondary screening measure, meaning that only those passengers who first fail the standard screening process will be directed to the X-ray area.
When I first heard of it, soon after 9-11, I was immediately sold. I haven't changed my mind. I would like to see the program expanded and become a primary system.
The Transportation Security Administration said it has found a way to refine the machine's images so that the normally graphic pictures can be blurred in certain areas while still being effective in detecting bombs and other threats.
High-resolution images -- which clearly depict the outline of the passenger's body, plus anything attached to it, such as jewelry -- might be judged as too invasive.
The system will be set up so that the image can be viewed only by a security officer in a remote location. Other passengers, and even the agent at the checkpoint, will not have access to the picture.
In addition, the system will be configured so that the X-ray will be deleted as soon as the individual steps away from the machine. It will not be stored or available for printing or transmitting,
The radiation is lower than the kind a doctor would use to look at organs or bones. It's low enough it can be used safely on a pregnant woman.
In a backscatter portal, a single ray is passed rapidly over a person's body, taking just eight seconds to scan each side. Data collected from the position of scattered photons are processed to deliver a photographic-quality image. The process uses high-energy X-rays, which tend to reflect (scatter back) from objects, unlike the low-energy X-rays used for medical procedures, which tend to penetrate objects. Because of an effect called "Compton scattering," the rays are deflected differently depending on the density of the matter being scanned. They penetrate clothing but not flesh and are blocked more completely by solid objects. This effect means that most weapons will be sharply revealed by backscatter imaging.
Privacy-smivacy! We're talking about the front defensive lines in the struggle against world terror.
ASAP, I would like to see this technology become commonplace, installed in all target-rich environments in the civilized world: air terminals, athletic events, etc.
Install it as much as medical safety and budget considerations permit. Privacy is not an issue for me.