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EPIC Uncovers: Mobile Scanners Not 'Certified People Scanners' 154

Posted by timothy
from the move-along-citizens-oh-wait dept.
OverTheGeicoE writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center received more FOIA documents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding mobile x-ray scanners (a.k.a. Z Backscatter Vans). We've discussed these devices before. Perhaps the most interesting part is slide #11 ('Disclaimer About Scanning People') on page 6 of this PDF explaining that the radiation output of these devices is too high to comply with ANSI N43.17. In other words, they output too much radiation even by TSA's questionable standards for airport body scanners. Regardless, the slide ends with the author stating that the ANSI standard 'is not applicable to covert operations.' What might that assertion have meant to the presentation's intended audience?"
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EPIC Uncovers: Mobile Scanners Not 'Certified People Scanners'

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:07PM (#37279138) Homepage Journal

    Is not subject to the constraint of public law.

    Consent of the governed is not required or desirable.

    Carry on.

    • by kwoff (516741)
      Also why we have Wikileaks and Anonymous. Consent of the (governed) governing is not required or desirable.
  • Take It (Score:4, Funny)

    by newsman220 (1928648) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:07PM (#37279140)
    Cancer in the defense of freedom is not cancer at all.
  • Gee, what a shock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:09PM (#37279172)
    Nobody saw that coming, right?

    Here's a better question to ask: which official is going to wind up taking the fall for these wastes of tax dollars? So far, we know the following about these machines:
    1. They are very expensive
    2. Tests of the machines have shown that most knives and even guns can sneak through the machines undetected
    3. They are outside of what the TSA itself considers safe

    This was an obvious sweetheart deal, and someone is going to have to get in trouble for it. Obama or his successor will probably pardon that person, since it will just be a fall guy and nobody wants to start an investigation that would keep expanding until half of capitol hill was implicated.

    • by the time there's a fall to take, he'll have made so much money from kickbacks he won't care. Probably already doesn't care. Like those bankers....

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Or, more likely, will have a cushy job as a lobbyist for the company in question.

    • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:15PM (#37279268) Homepage
      You left out the fact that terrorism is so rare that even if they worked as described, the machines would kill more people than they save.
      • by SomeJoel (1061138)

        You left out the fact that terrorism is so rare that even if they worked as described, the machines would kill more people than they save.

        Yeah, but not all at once.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      These tests are expensive? No, they aren't.

      Compliance is expensive, they already ran the test on one device and said they were compliant. Remember that? Compliance probably involves ongoing tests of the scanners, not just "oh hey we tested one and it was okay!". That of course, is more expensive.

      Yes the machines are useless, and no they aren't safe. Meanwhile, this covert thing sounds like they're saying that they can't be governed because they're part of a different group than the TSA. That's how I took th

  • by NReitzel (77941) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:10PM (#37279180) Homepage

    The fact that backscatter scanners use X-rays in amounts that can't meet national standards isn't even an issue.

    In point of fact, as long as nobody can prove that they have had a large radiation dose - tough with "nothing in pockets, etc" - then the TSA is off the hook. Time has taught us - those who listen - that politicians don't mind endangering or even killing people, as long as it can't be traced directly back to them, and as long as it doesn't actually apply to them, themselves.

    • by Thing 1 (178996)

      In point of fact, as long as nobody can prove that they have had a large radiation dose - tough with "nothing in pockets, etc"

      Okay, I tape the dosimeter to my chest. (Perhaps even wear a wizard hat and robe, to confuse them.)

  • Oh, please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:14PM (#37279246) Homepage Journal

    Who are you, you think you are a citizen, a person? You think you have rights? Liberties? You must have read that silly document from 1787 or whatever. That doesn't apply anymore, didn't you know?

    Didn't you know you are now property, an asset that is used as collateral for more government borrowing on the one hand and on the other you are a piece of meat to be used fighting in conflicts that help the bona-fide persons - real people with government connections.

    Your silly notions of rights and liberties are of no concern anymore, and you, yourself agree with this every day. Every day you want government to do something for you, to tax somebody and to borrow from somewhere, to print more money so that your special interest gets the tiny crumbs of the royal table, those are you 30 pieces of silver to sell your soul (obviously nobody will be paying you in silver, that's too fat. They have US federal reserve notes for that.)

    What, you think it's too harsh? Trollish? A flamebait?

    How about you listen to this short radio episode [schiffradio.com], the guest is Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitars. You will find out how a classic American company became an enemy of the state by providing 1200 jobs IN USA, that's right. The reasons? Who knows. The government doesn't have to tell the reasons, you peons, not even peons in the sense that you do work. You are just a number in the line up that they can use for displaying the meat mass, how much there is there to "count the votes" or whatever they need you for, and you aren't too good for organs anymore, being on FDA approved drugs and department of Agriculture subsidized foods.

    You don't like the machine scanning through your body, your flesh and bones? Who is asking you?

    • by gknoy (899301)

      According to the Schiff site ( http://www.schiffradio.com/pg/jsp/charts/audioMaster.jsp?dispid=301&pid=53373 [schiffradio.com] ), one must be a premium member to download or listen to the excerpt.

      Sad, as I was interested in listening to it.

    • Gibson is an "enemy of the state" because they illegally import wood under 16 USC 3372. Hurrrrrrrr.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      How about you listen to this short radio episode [schiffradio.com], the guest is Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitars. You will find out how a classic American company became an enemy of the state by providing 1200 jobs IN USA, that's right. The reasons? Who knows. The government doesn't have to tell the reasons, you peons, not even peons in the sense that you do work. You are just a number in the line up that they can use for displaying the meat mass, how much there is there to "count the votes" or whatever they need you for, and you aren't too good for organs anymore, being on FDA approved drugs and department of Agriculture subsidized foods.

      I have been following the Gibson Guitar story for a few days now. At this point, it appears that there is one of two reasons why Gibson is under this investigation. The first is because Gibson employed Americans to finish the wood rather than workers in either India or Madagascar. The second possible reason is because the CEO of Gibson is a Republican contributor.
      Martin Guitars imports the same sorts of woods from the same locations, but they are not being investigated. Martin Guitars CEO is a Democratic

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        And listen to the deafening cries of the media as they lament the abuse of Gibson Guitar at the hands of the current Administration.

        Oh.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's completely disingenuous. The ongoing case against Gibson involves ebony blanks from Madagascar. It is illegal to harvest ebony in Madagascar or export unfinished ebony from Madagascar. American law requires American companies to only use wood sourced legally under the laws of the country of origin.

        If you're "following" the Gibson story, it's only to read in what you want to read. You're ignoring that they've been caught with contraband, and now the process of a complicated multinational case is under

  • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:27PM (#37279422) Journal

    Regardless, the slide ends with the author stating that the ANSI standard 'is not applicable to covert operations.' What might that assertion have meant to the presentation's intended audience?

    It means, "what they don't know won't hurt them."

  • ZBV at the border (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Windrip (303053) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @03:40PM (#37279640) Journal

    Comments so far are missing a salient feature of these things: they are in use at the U.S. border.

    Trucks drive past them at the border (oh, they're just mezkins...)

    They are located north of the border, by approx. 30 miles (DHS calls it "defense in depth"). See them in my neck of the woods in Arizona on: northbound I/19, eastbound Hwy 82, northbound Hwy 83, northbound Hwy 90

    To the assholes who have no problem with this: how many checkpoints do you drive through on your way to work?

    You can see a picture of these vans via the earlier /. link

    • by nazsco (695026)

      mod this guy up.

      Also, what will happen:
      - terrorists: put a lead wall in their cars. drive around with bombs.
      - regular citizens: respect the law. die of cancer.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Sucks to be the guy that's back and forth across the border every day... how much radiation is he going to get per year again?
      • Our only hope is that the agents who do this and don't blow the whistle/refuse on moral grounds are the first to get cancer. When I have seen these vans, the ICE agents are usually standing nearby directing cars through the checkpoint - although they all seem to be wearing vests, and not all of it looks like body armor.
    • http://www.as-e.com/zbv/

      This company seems pretty proud to brag about all its DHS users. I've gone by one of these vans a few times. This whole situation is insulting. Some company profits, citizens exposed to unspecified risk by their own government, government claims it is doing us a favor by funneling our money to the company and irradiating us. Experimenting on unconsenting people with untested technology violates all sorts of ethics rules - and in the past, would have been quite criminal.

      • by wwphx (225607)
        I wonder if there's a chemically-neutral high-density plastic that would react to these vans....
    • You can see a picture of these vans via the earlier /. link

      Can you repeat the link to the pictures here so it's easier to find?

    • by wwphx (225607)
      There was one recently installed at the Border Patrol station on US 70 east-bound between Las Cruces and Alamogordo, NM, went in within the last couple of months or so. I didn't see one at the one on west-bound I-10 between Las Cruces and Demming, though.
  • Real murderers stand in front of Teleprompters in suits, and kill thousands and millions.

    And get re-elected.

    --
    BMO

    • by spazdor (902907)

      They could take a lesson from the CPU manufacturers. Serial murder just doesn't scale as well as parallel murder.

      • They could take a lesson from the CPU manufacturers. Serial murder just doesn't scale as well as parallel murder.

        I think it's more of a SIMD vs MIMD issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Free lethal radiation for everyone!

    I'd like to see how USA tourism companies will try to spin that one.

    • "We guarantee to try to make sure it probably won't be terrorism that kills you!"

      Oh, wait. That's how they're selling it to us here already.

  • Yeah no shit it's beyond the safe limits for a person, but by how much? These things can look through the thick steel side of a shipping container or a dumpster.

  • Having a license to carry a concealed firearm, as many others in this country have, what does this accomplish? This would be an unreasonable search of my person, without a warrant, resulting in the inevitable "papers, please." Too many ways for that situation to end up poorly...

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      The courts have disagreed with your assertion and effectively neutered the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments when it comes to air travel.

      Look up "implied consent."

      • The courts have disagreed with your assertion and effectively neutered the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments when it comes to air travel.

        Look up "implied consent."

        And I disagree with the court's decisions because they're simply wrong. Look up "wrong".

      • The courts have disagreed with your assertion and effectively neutered the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments when it comes to air travel.

        Look up "implied consent."

        And apparently, "border checkpoints in depth", which means roadside scanners anywhere within 100 miles of a sea or land border (essentially covers most of US population,) which is the subject of this article. And regarding the airport scanners: those don't meet medical safety standards, either, and you are prohibited from getting information - being informed is a key component of consent. Implied consent can't be uninformed consent.

  • Is there a way to detect these, like a wifi signal?

    • This looks kind of cool and cheap: http://www.noah.org/science/x-ray/detector/ [noah.org]

    • by Animats (122034)

      Is there a way to detect these, like a wifi signal?

      Yes. Nuk Alert [amazon.com]. This is a keychain-sized sealed radiation detector with a 10-year battery life. It beeps from 1 to 10 times, based on the log of the radiation level. You can test it with a dental X-ray machine. Price about $170.

      • by scorp1us (235526)

        The documentation of the van system indicates a 10s of milirad dose. The scale of the Nuk alert starts at 100mrad/hr. I don't know that it would work.

  • the ANSI standard 'is not applicable to covert operations.'

    Obviously, the implication is that "suspects" are not "people." And it seems everyone is a "suspect," as these things are being aimed at the public at large.

    As a side note, I just had a mental image of them parking these trucks in a circle around a pile of wood and gleefully starting a bonfire (using the x-ray beams). They may have also parked in a circle around the Constitution.

  • Page 12 says they are safe for scanning sheep, so there's no problem here.
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @05:06PM (#37280550)

    ... does being irradiated become a threat against which I am permitted to defend myself?

    Some unmarked van with a couple of creepy guys pulls up alongside me. Then my X-ray detector pegs. It could be a lethal dose, so I'm going to use whatever force I have available to stop them.

    A couple of rounds from my M107 should do the trick.

    • At what point...does being irradiated become a threat against which I am permitted to defend myself?...It could be a lethal dose...

      If you have received a lethal dose of radiation, does it matter? It's not like jail is going to be much of a deterrent for you at that point.

    • Those would be overkill. Besides I wouldn't want to lug one of those around when something that shoots some 7.62x39 or 7.62x54r is much lighter and much lower cost. At the ranges to receive a lethal dosage either of these rounds would be just as effective as a .50 BMG and cost a lot less. Granted you lose the ability to shoot through the engine block, but I doubt the x ray machine is any where near as solid, and the occupants sure aren't.
  • If a truck comes over from Mexico, the TSA might want to check the container for counterfeit ice cubes, and doing so they might discover -much to their surprise- that the anonymous tip was wrong but that there are people hiding inside.

    How could they have known? So sorry. But none of the irradiated people is pressing charges anyhow.

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