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Helena Airport Manager Blocks TSA From Taking Full-Body Scanner 221

OverTheGeicoE writes "TSA recently announced that it would remove all of Rapiscan's X-ray body scanners from airports by June. As part of this effort, it is trying to move a millimeter-wave body scanner from the Helena, Montana airport to replace an X-ray unit at a busier airport. Strangely enough, they have encountered resistance from the Helena's Airport Manager, Ron Mercer. Last Thursday, workers came to remove the machine, but were prevented from doing so by airport officials. Why? Perhaps Mercer agrees with Cindi Martin, airport director at Montana's Glacier Park International Airport airport, who called the scheduled removal of her airport's scanner 'a great disservice to the flying public' in part because it 'removed the need for the enhanced pat-down.'"
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Helena Airport Manager Blocks TSA From Taking Full-Body Scanner

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  • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @05:58PM (#43008503)

    Your comment doesn't make mucht sense. They would rethink using the machines because nobody is using them? Removing them only makes the pad down line longer.

    Incorrect for several reasons. They only do random pat downs when there is no body scanner. They only require the enhanced pat down when someone opts out of doing the body scanner. I've also personally seen them open the metal detectors and let 30-40 people through the metal detector instead of the scanner after I opted out of the scanner and the staff did not know what to do with me. They had me stand in the way of the scanner, which caused such a backup that everyone behind me didn't have to bother with the scanner or the pat down.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @06:23PM (#43008763)

    I just stopped flying.

    Why kill your self or debase your self on technology and procedures that are so randomly enforced, that it doesn't do any good anyways.

    They could replace the scanners with a motion detector and a timer, you walk in 5 seconds later it lights up green and you walk through. Every 40 people have it light up red for "enhanced pat downs"

    You could build install it for $5,000 and provide just as much security.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2013 @08:43PM (#43010207)

    For what it's worth, I do pretty much the same thing. I'm not trying to slow down the line (and I suggest you not either, since that actually qualifies as illegal now, if the TSA signage is to be believed). Rather, I just want to make it clear that this is a stupid requirement for air travel.

    Once in Chicago I was waved through the metal detectors when I got to the end and said, "oh, no. I'm not going through that." Unfortunately, my home airport is Austin-Bergstrom International, which seems to be both terribly consistent and consistently terrible. First, they remind me that this is not an X-Ray scanner. (Don't care). Next, they yell opt-out down the chain five times as if this is completely unheard of, and try to figure out where to tell me to stand. I stand there for about 15 minutes before someone comes along to pull me back.

    (This is when you usually see the other mostly-overlooked points of incompetence: the woman in the wheelchair who is asked if she can get up and walk "just 10 feet" through the scanner. The 12 year old girl who walks through, is scanned, and this is sent back through the line as the supervisor reminds the agent in front of the gate that "12 and under includes 12; she doesn't go through". Well, not a second time at least. She also didn't have to take off her shoes, but no one mentioned that. By the time they determine that the handicapped vet's prosthetic arm is not a grievous threat to air safety -- which only took about 5 minutes -- they managed to pull me back past the scanners.)

    At this point I usually wait another 15 minutes. My wife has a lot lower tolerance for bullshit than I do. She used to opt out, but got sick of it. (Too bad. A simultaneous male/female opt out may as well be shutting down the airport. They have nowhere for two people to stand, and not personnel to do the job. For some reason, that is never their fault.) Anyway, by this time she's gone through the scanner, gotten her carry-on, and started to guard my carry-on that's just sitting in the bin where anybody can take it. The white woman milling about the secured area with no apparent reason to be there, rifling through apparently other people's bin doesn't raise an eyebrow. I just stick to my cattle chute -- the two-foot wide pair of rails with a gate, which is oddly only deep enough for one person at a time -- and watch the clock tick by.

    After half an hour or so total, a blue shirt comes over to finally collect my things. I then get to decide whether I want to let the agent get half-way through the enhanced pat-down before I remind him I'm entitled to a private room, or if I get to remind him before he starts so he can sigh and say, "I was getting to that if you'd give me a minute." Sure you were, pal. Five more minutes pass while they try to find a second agent with time to kill to act as witness. Of course, the pat-own itself takes all of two minutes. They don't want to be doing it anymore than I want to suffer through it. That makes me feels a little better about it. Not confident in the process mind you, just glad that a small part of my annoyance is reflected and magnified. I'm also still waiting for the first time this makes me so late that I miss a flight to see how it goes over.

    The sad part is I could probably do the trusted flier program -- Uncle Sam has my prints already -- if I traveled enough to justify the expense. The really sad part is that there is almost no chance of anyone using planes in an attack again, not because TSA is competent, but because it's been done. I'd worry more about someone poisoning Tylenol again than I would about them hijacking a jetliner.

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