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House Subcommittee Holds Hearing On TSA's "Scanner Shuffle" 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
OverTheGeicoE writes "The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security held a hearing on TSA's recent decision to move X-ray body scanners from major airports to smaller ones, which the subcommittee refers to as a 'Scanner Shuffle.' John Sanders, TSA's assistant administrator for security capabilities, testified that 91 scanners recently removed from major airports were now in storage due to 'privacy concerns.' Although TSA originally planned to relocate the scanners to smaller airports, those plans have been shelved because smaller airports don't have room for them. The subcommitteee is also investigating allegations that the machines' manufacturer, Rapiscan, 'may have falsified tests of software intended to stop the machines from recording graphic images of travelers' (VIDEO). Coincidentally, shares of Rapiscan's parent company, OSI Systems Inc., dropped in value almost 25% today, its biggest intraday decline in about 12 years. If wrongdoing is proven, Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and a ban on government contracting, according to a former head of federal procurement."
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House Subcommittee Holds Hearing On TSA's "Scanner Shuffle"

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  • RAPEscan (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @07:51PM (#41997275)
    I never noticed how poorly the scanner machine's company was named...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The punishment should be:
      1. All Rapiscan executives, and anyone involved with falsifying tests, or who overestimated privacy and underestimated safety, should be forced to walk through their own machines DAILY, and those scans that supposedly couldn't be saved should be posted on the internet labelled with the names of the individuals scanned.
      2. The above Rapiscan employees should reimburse the taxpayers for the amount of money misspent on Rapiscan products, AND an additional fine should be imposed if fou

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by craigminah (1885846)
      Good to see Congress working on the important issues of the day...must mean the economy is either fixed or too FUBARed to bother with.
      • Like everyone else, they work on stuff that looks good, but requires little actual effort or brain power.

        They only get serious when their contract comes up for renewal.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Nah. All it means is that Rapiscan shares have peaked and their main competitor's have bottomed out. The politicians have bought all available shares in the competitor and need them to start heading upwards, hence the switch of government contracts.

    • by gringer (252588)

      The chinese are about 2 years ahead of you:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBL3ux1o0tM [youtube.com]

    • But - is it legitimate rape, or illegitimate rape?

    • Yeah, and see how they are the MANufacturers. These companies are never WOMANufacturers.
    • No no no, it's not "rape scan". That's horrible and serious sounding. It's clearly intended to be pronounced "rapey scan".

  • by slick7 (1703596) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:04PM (#41997361)
    I can hear the rubber stamp bouncing now.
  • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:06PM (#41997377) Homepage Journal

    the cluster fuck agency. seems they are consistently boorish, idiotic in rulemaking, inconsistent, and being called out as leaders in group comedy, instead of as an effective security force.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Too reasons:
      1) They are a new agency that was thrown together overnight, the TSA will be fine.
      2) They are under Homeland security. A group that can't run jack shit properly. Everything under them falls a part, and they don't improve or learn.

      Make TSA there one Bureaus, get rid of Homeland security, move the money into CIA and FBI.
      Maintain the agency separation policy.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Can someone please translate the comment above to english?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @09:13PM (#41997773)

          I think the translation is something like this:

          Two reasons:
          A) They are a new agency that was thrown together overnight, and might have been fine if "B" hadn't occurred:
          B) They were put under Homeland security which apparently can't do anything right.

          Dissolve Homeland security, move the money into CIA and FBI and move the TSA out on it's own so we are left with three Bureaus.
          Also maintain the agency separation policy.

          Or something like that.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            In other words pointless insanity. The TSA is probably the most pointless and useless portion of Homeland Security and is not worth saving.
          • by TheCarp (96830)

            Right because we need to put more money into the FBI, so they can find more slightly unstable people and give them the resources and push they need to look like a terrorist in court, as they don't have any more geriatric old men whose internal accomplices have all retired or died that are safe to arrest.

            Better give it all to the CIA so they can continue to use their remote controlled murder machines to inspire the next generation of real terrorists.

            Thats how you keep the world safe afterall.

        • He sez: Homeland security be disbanded. CIA an FBI are cool froods and shoulda be funded.
          • by azalin (67640)

            He sez: Homeland security be disbanded. CIA an FBI are cool froods and shoulda be funded.

            I am rather sure this is not the Queen's English you are using.

    • by Mitreya (579078) <(mitreya) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @11:48PM (#41998673)

      seems they are consistently boorish, idiotic in rulemaking, inconsistent, and being called out as leaders in group comedy, instead of as an effective security force.

      You are missing the most important part

      There are NO demonstrable results that anyone in TSA could show for the last 11 years. The 2-3 half-assed terrorist attempts (shoe bomber, etc.) have been stopped by other passengers. TSA accomplishments are rivaled only by the anti-terrorist rock (though TSA is significantly more expensive)

      I asked this before and I will ask again -- how does an agency exist/expand/get funding without demonstrating any results whatsoever? One could dislike CIA/FBI/IRS, but one could at least point to something beneficial that they actually do.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It's a comedy pinata.

        Not to mention that the original AQ leadership is mostly dead (and in some cases, All Dead, only thing you can do is sort through their pockets for loose change). Israel is doing just fine with scanner-free profiling (I suppose that requires some form of proper Cop Radar to work though, or a minimum IQ standard). So really, TSA has left the fair shores of bureaucratic annoyance to explore the fresh new horizons of totalitarian repression, for no net value to anyone but themselves.

        My s

      • by Jesrad (716567)

        how does an agency exist/expand/get funding without demonstrating any results whatsoever?

        That's because you fail to understand what the real objectives of this agency are, and what results are actually evaluated.

        If an agency has its funding consistently increased, if its antics and public failures are conveniently dismissed or stamped out, and if many ambitious, politically-influent people fight and rush to get a high-responsibility mandate in this agency, then it means it is very successful in providing th

    • TSA = Thousands, Standing Around

      Still not sure if he meant pointless security theater, crowded choke-points making target-rich environments, or both.
    • by coofercat (719737)

      The thing that got me was the plan to move some scanners to other airports, but they didn't check that the other airport had the space before starting that endeavour.

      So in short, either they're incompetent, or they're covering up something about the scanners. Either way, CFA. Nice.

    • No need to completely redo their initials. Just reverse the T and the S. The STA: The Security Theater Administration - Doing things to claim we're making you safe since 2001.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:13PM (#41997417)

    What I don't understand is why the TSA still exists. Everybody hates it and it costs us a ridiculous amount of money. Every time I've uttered the phrase "security theater" around normals, they've heard it before and agree with it. Why haven't any politicians jumped at the chance to cut it like the cancer it is and score major points with their electorate?

    Is corruption really the answer, or am I missing something, here?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You seem to have been in a echo chamber, you should try to read news from variety of sources (including fox news). Not everyone hates the TSA. People still do believe it keeps America safe from terrorist. There was even a poll a few months ago, that said Americans in general are satisfied with the TSA.

      • by sjames (1099) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:40PM (#41997585) Homepage

        It's all in how you ask the question. On the one hand, you can ask "Do you support airport security or should we quit discriminating against terrorists?". On the other you can ask "Should pre-schoolers be groped by strangers in the airport?". You can also pre-load with a bunch of obvious yes or obvious no questions to get the answers you want. For that matter, you can tilt the stats by asking (or not asking) people who don't fly.

        As a whole though, I'll bet few, if any Americans actually support the TSA's current methods, especially groping children and irradiating pregnant women.

        • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @09:17PM (#41997813)

          It's all in how you ask the question.

          I absolutely agree with you. On the other hand, I've encountered lots of crazy people (including here in Slashdot) who seem to terrified that an unseen hoard of terrorists are eager to jump on planes and blow them up if we all don't take off our shoes and belts, take the special baggie out of our luggage with our mini-shampoo in it, and do "the special pose" for the new scanners. I've even had serious people here -- not trolls -- tell me that we need to be worried about terrorists shooting lasers at planes from the ground at airports. (I wish I were kidding.)

          The government and media has done a great job of convincing people that this invisible hoard exists. And with all that disinformation, any poll is going to be biased in weird ways away from a rational response. In that light, it would not surprise me that the GP's assertion was true and that a large number of Americans are afraid enough to be in favor of the TSA overall.

          • by sjames (1099)

            There are paranoids out there, but even many of them would give a pre-schooler a pass on the security or at least acknowledge that they shouldn't be on the no-fly list.

            • There are paranoids out there, but even many of them would give a pre-schooler a pass on the security or at least acknowledge that they shouldn't be on the no-fly list.

              Hey man, you're just thinking reactively, here. We have to stay one step ahead of the terrorists. Bet you'd feel pretty dumb if we let pre-schoolers on to airplanes without checking them, and then one of them blew up a plane!

              • by sjames (1099)
                With "My First (and last) Suicide Bomb"? In the bright colors kids love?
          • by dbIII (701233)

            tell me that we need to be worried about terrorists shooting lasers at planes from the ground at airports

            That's a frequent hassle near several airports, although the perpetrators are dangerous idiots instead of terrorists.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you're seriously suggesting Fox News as a credible source, then I would suggest that it is YOU who are living in an echo chamber. Their programming is classified as "entertainment" for a reason.

        There are plenty of conservative news sources, but Fox News ain't one of them.

      • So... idiocy is still a thing?

    • by houghi (78078)

      Because in the end nobody cares enough to remove them.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:29PM (#41997513) Homepage

      Everybody hates it and it costs us a ridiculous amount of money.

      That ridiculous cost to us is ridiculous profits to somebody else. That somebody can in turn give to any politician who wishes to eliminate the TSA up to 2500 reasons per election cycle to change their mind.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That is patently not true. Watergate tactics are now legal. All it takes is some paperwork and yet another 'Concerned citizens pac against terrorists' with only one constituent can supply as many reasons as it wants.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Reading the Drudge Report, there was a story a week ago that 30% of Americans think it would be ok for the TSA to do body cavity searches before allowing people onto the planes. He has also posted numerous poll about the majority of Americans think the TSA does a good job (like 52% majority). Of course Drudge is not biased for the TSA, he also posts every possible story of the TSA messing up as well.

      Reading polls like that shows that the majority think it is fine and the TSA could go even further. The go

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        He has also posted numerous poll about the majority of Americans think the TSA does a good job (like 52% majority).

        They should run a poll that asks Name one useful security measure perpetrated by TSA.

        Or Name one incident where TSA had stopped a terrorist attack

        See if they can get 52% majority on that... I don't even know what a "good job" means. A good job of what??

        • by JazzLad (935151)

          I don't even know what a "good job" means. A good job of what??

          A good job liberating us from our pesky freedom.

    • by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @11:02PM (#41998405)

      Because no one wants to be "that guy" that killed the TSA in case another terrorist takes down an airplane. Simple CYA thinking. Until we, as a nation, make it clear that the TSA is unacceptable, things will just carry on. And from my last visit to the airport, the people seem to be accepting it just fine.

    • What I don't understand is why the TSA still exists. Everybody hates it and it costs us a ridiculous amount of money.

      Because they don't hate it. A majority think it's doing a good job [huffingtonpost.com]. So that answers your question. Ron Paul and Representative John Mica have tried to lead a charge to get rid of the TSA.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Ron Paul and Representative John Mica have tried to lead a charge to get rid of the TSA.

        But for all the wrong reasons, i.e. that it costs taxpayers money, not that it is an attack on the rights of the little guy to be protected from the big guy.
        In the case of the radical right wing populists, the enemy of my enemy is definitely not my friend.

        • by danbert8 (1024253)

          Actually Ron Paul at least opposes the TSA for BOTH reasons. He supports going back to letting airports and airlines determine security.

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Actually Ron Paul at least opposes the TSA for BOTH reasons. He supports going back to letting airports and airlines determine security.

            How does he protect the little man from having his rights trampled by the airports and airlines?

            • by danbert8 (1024253)

              Simple, choose another airport or airline. It may inconvenience you, but would you go an extra hour away to another airport if it meant you (or someone you love) wouldn't get a frisking? Also, the law would still apply to private security agencies. It would be illegal for them to touch your genitals without your consent just like it is for everyone but the TSA.

              With the TSA, it doesn't matter where you go. The government has a monopoly on force.

      • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Friday November 16, 2012 @01:28AM (#41999023) Homepage

        > A majority think it's doing a good job.

        The vast majority of Americans never fly. All they know is that there haven't been any more airplanes crashing into buildings. Ergo, they conclude that the TSA must be working.

        If they did fly regularly, and ever watched some little kid screaming because the TSA agent was groping and touching them "where mom and dad told me never to let anyone touch me," they'd change their opinions in an instant.

        Sad, but true.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Public choice theory explains the human actions at work in situations like this. Unless the cost to everyone is significant enough to outweigh the concentrated benefits to the TSA and the corporation that builds the machines(that benefit being their entire income), the highest bidder to buy control of the direction of state violence will remain in the hands of those who wish to get government to threaten air ports into permitting the TSA to operate and to kidnap any customer who resists voluntary associatio

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      Because of the boogey man
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Corruption is the answer, but it is sometimes called "pork" just as utter lies are called "spin". Another barrier to abolishing the TSA is that is an enormous welfare system that pays a lot of people to do little of use, but that's seen as better than suddenly putting them all out of work.
    • What I don't understand is why the TSA still exists. Everybody hates it and it costs us a ridiculous amount of money. Every time I've uttered the phrase "security theater" around normals, they've heard it before and agree with it. Why haven't any politicians jumped at the chance to cut it like the cancer it is and score major points with their electorate?

      Is corruption really the answer, or am I missing something, here?

      Not everybody hates it. Head to a red state and talk to the "real america" and they'll be proud to tell you they have the latest scanners and that the government is keeping us safe. What they really complain about is that they see no reason why they have to go through the scanners as they don't have brown skin.

  • Ooh! (Score:4, Funny)

    by tool462 (677306) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:15PM (#41997423)

    I want to go through one of the scanners right now. Just to show the TSA how happy I am :)

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:27PM (#41997497)
    How the fuck do you fail to NOT program a piece of custom hardware to encode JPG and MPG4 files? One would think you would merely have to...not code it to do that! The prosecution rests.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If only privacy was the biggest concern..
    These things are skin cancer machines, just do a quick Google search.
    That's why they are not found in Europe..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I grab my nuts when I walk through the scanner. At least the pic will look more appropriate.

  • by jnmontario (865369) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @09:15PM (#41997793)
    I flew out of Minneapolis a few weeks ago and while on the way down I didn't have to go through the scanner (in Canada we use millimeter wave and always have), they had the backscatter in the airport. I simply, and politely, asked to have my kids go through the metal detector along-side the backscatter instead since I didn't want them to get a blast of xrays. "No problem" said the TSA person (who BTW was incredibly nice and reasonable about the whole thing). In fact, the whole fam. got processed through the metal detector instead. They DID confiscate the ~3 oz. of my kids' toothpaste however. Security theater.
    • I don;t think anyone is saying that avoiding the scanner is difficult; more that it shouldn't be there in the first place.

      I've bypassed them several times, only once was I asked why. I said I didn't feel that the safety concerns the machine potentially eliminated was worth the privacy violation it definitely created. The agent smiled and nodded his head before doing a professional pat down, in which each of his actions was explained to me.

      The people working there aren't always the issue, it's the policies t

    • by Anonymous Coward

      MSP has consistently been one of the the "nicest" airports I've gone through. While having a smoke and chatting with one of the agents, she just said "We're all 'Minnesota Nice' here, and we fly too, we want you to experience what we want to experience". It was actually quite refreshing

    • by yincrash (854885)
      The only time the TSA allows you to go through the metal detector now is if you have children. If you went with just your spouse, or just by yourself, and attempted to opt out, you would get a pat down.
    • I've dealt with some great TSA officials too. It's important to note that most TSA officials aren't monsters who just want to feel up passengers and oggle their Rapiscan-provided naked images. They're people who actually are trying to do their job as best as possible. Many don't like the rules that the TSA administrators decide on, either. Look at the people in line near you - limited to people of your gender - and think how it would be if you had to "invasive search" each and every one of them.

      The prob

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @09:26PM (#41997869)

    Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and a ban on government contracting, according to a former head of federal procurement."

    Yeah, right. That'll happen.

    Good luck getting Eric Holder to prosecute.

    The only thing Holder is "busting" these days are the very laws and constitution he's supposed to uphold and defend. Heck, all Rapiscan needs to do is put a NBPP member in as the new CEO. They'll be "teflon" and it won't matter if the body scanners disintegrate passengers like one of the "Mars Attacks!" rayguns.

    Strat

    • by Anonymous Coward

      these days are the very laws and constitution he's supposed to uphold and defend

      Didn't you hear? Obama issued a "signing statement" saying he didn't have to obey the laws, and since the Republicans bent over backwards to let Bush do whatever the fuck he wanted, they didn't have a leg to stand on to stop him.

      Can't say we didn't warn you. You can see miles of arguments over all this here on slashdot. BTW I voted Libertarian, because at least they have yet to prove that they feel the Constitution is just a g

      • by BlueStrat (756137) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:02AM (#42000351)

        ...since the Republicans bent over backwards to let Bush do whatever the fuck he wanted, they didn't have a leg to stand on to stop him.

        Oh, no you don't.

        You don't get to dump this one off.

        Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR...all Progressives...were the ones that started the US government down the path of, and set precedent for future administrations and congresses, for the government to grant itself new and expanded powers far beyond the limits set by the constitution.

        You can thank 100 years of the Progressive movement in the US for government treating the constitution like "just a goddamned piece of paper". That's what "Progressive" refers to, and is the Progressive movements' key point; That government power should "progress past" the limits on it's powers set forth in the constitution. It's not like it's something I pulled from my ass...go read up on the history of the Progressive movement in the 20th century.

        Now people who voted-in Progressives...in both parties (Bush is a Progressive, as is McCain, btw)...are surprised and upset when the government grabs powers and uses them in a way they don't like or didn't think about? Sorry. You wanted it, you got it Toyota. Enjoy the police state you helped build.

        Strat

  • Yeah let's put a Corporation in prison, that would be a good first.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and...

      Yeah let's put a Corporation in prison, that would be a good first.

      Reminds me of the saying, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

  • by sootman (158191) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @10:03PM (#41998099) Homepage Journal

    If wrongdoing is proven, Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and a ban on government contracting, according to a former head of federal procurement.

    Yeah, right. Thanks for the best laugh I've had all day.

    Now, time for a good cry.

  • by sam1am (753369) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @11:13PM (#41998475)
    TFA:

    The backscatter machines were pulled three weeks ago from New York's LaGuardia and JFK, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, Boston, Charlotte and Orlando airports. The move was designed to speed up security lines at checkpoints there.

    Sanders said it's worked and that lines at those airports are now moving 180,000 more passengers each day.

    I find this confusing. Were the TSA lines the gating factor in keeping 180,000 passengers from flying each day? According to A4A, 2.4 Million Passengers will fly on 11/25/2012 [airlines.org]. 180,000 passengers is 7.5% of that figure. An average travel day in the US looks to be roughly 1.8 million passengers. 180,000 is 10% of that figure.

    What did those 180,000 people do? Wait in line until it closed/they missed their flight, then try again another day? Decide not to fly?

    • by tomkost (944194)
      Perhaps the airlines simply can't schedule the 180k/x flights where x is the average people per plane. It's a lot of lost revenue, not to mention the wasted tax dollars, civil liberties etc. It's shame that it takes lost revenue to get their attention. Wasted tax dollars and shattered liberties didn't move the needle.
      • by tomkost (944194)
        I'm guessing x is around 200. So it's 900 flights a day. Another way to look at it is 180k passengers x $300avg/ticket = $54M lost per day.
    • by chrismcb (983081)
      I am guessing that was a misinterpretation. But I did like:

      The move was designed to speed up security lines at checkpoints there.

      Well DUH. The old metal scanners took like 10 seconds. The new scanners take a couple of minutes (or appear too)
      But you know what is even FASTER???? NO security at all! AMAZING

    • What did those 180,000 people do? Wait in line until it closed/they missed their flight, then try again another day? Decide not to fly?

      They drove. Its a product of time and convenience, not necessity.

      Local flights are no longer reasonable because of the large wait times associated with security theater. Say, for example, I wanted to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta. Great, get to the airport 2 hours early, sit on the tarmac for 20 minutes, fly for 40 minutes. 3 Hours, plus the 30 minute drive to the airport...OR I could just drive 4 hours there and have the convenience of a car, plus pay less in gas than I would for a plane ticket. Then

    • by tgd (2822)

      What did those 180,000 people do? Wait in line until it closed/they missed their flight, then try again another day? Decide not to fly?

      Yes, basically. I fly a lot, and what you'd see at airports with those scanners is frequent massive backups. Occasionally they'd start using the metal detectors, often not. What you did tend to get was employees coming through the line and calling flight numbers and moving people to the front of the line.

      I missed a few shuttle flights because of it -- they don't tend to call shuttle flights, but generally you just had to stand and listen carefully for your flight and move to the front of the line. And then

  • my bet is this "security" would not be pushed so hard if there was no money to be made.
  • by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Friday November 16, 2012 @12:25AM (#41998811)
    The TSA needs to be abolished. Period.
  • This is a little off-topic, but concerns getting TSA to change it's ways. There is a petition [change.org] on change.org asking TSA to get rid of "priority" screening lines. As the petition says, the speed of a government service should NOT depend on how much we pay to an airline, and TSA should not allow airlines to profit by offering better access to a government service as a perk for a high priced ticket (or participation in their reward programs).

    The petition doesn't have a lot of signatures yet, but to me i
    • by hde226868 (906048)
      The problem with the petition is that the lines are run by the different airport authorities and not by TSA. So the petition is addressing the wrong institution.

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