‘Vulnerabilities’ found with airport scanners

By John Bacon, USA TODAY 

Homeland Security investigators have found “vulnerabilities” with the X-ray body scanning machines that are replacing the traditional “magnetometers” at the nation’s airports, Wired magazine reports.

The concerns come at a time when a thwarted bomb plot disclosed Monday shows al-Qaeda remains fixed on aviation as a terror target.

Wired cites an internal report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. The report is classified, but DHS at some point did quietly publish a summary of the report, dated in November, on its website. The summary mentions eight recommendations for improved screening, but those apparently are only available in the classified version.

The summary also says the “quantitative and qualitative results of our testing are classified.”

“Exactly how bad the body scanners are is not being divulged publicly,” Wired notes.

DHS has spent $87 million replacing magnetometers with the X-ray body scanners designed to detect items a metal detector could miss. An additional $7 million is being spent to “remove the human factor from the image review process” and replace the passenger’s image with an avatar.

Wired has found flaws with the body scanners before. “Even the Government Accountability Office – Congress’ investigative arm – said the devices might be ineffective,” Wired says.

Copyright 2012 USATODAY.com




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