Monday, May 21, 2007

"Security theater" now peeks under your clothes

Actually, I think this might be less annoying than fumbling to remove a belt, pulling off shoes, and shuffling in socks through the metal detector.

At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport these rituals have been replaced by a new "active millimeter wave" technology system that creates a dim screen image of the passenger's body which guards use to scan for guns, knives, and other suspicious objects.

At the airport in the Netherlands, there haven't been many complaints according to AP.

"People figure, if this is going to let me get through the lines quicker, then I'll do it," said airport spokeswoman Miriam Snoerwang. ...

The guard who sees the image the machine produces is located away from the spot and does not physically see the person being scanned. If a passenger is approved, the guard signals to his colleagues on the spot to let the person though.

Faces are blurred, but not chests or crotches. Snoerwang said that was necessary because otherwise "women could just hide things by stuffing them in their bras."

Of course Europeans react more maturely to nudity than many in this country. The system is also being tested in London and Mexico City.

It's still just theater -- anyone seeking to harm an aircraft will figure out ways around the system. But every time we fly, we'll be reminded we should be very afraid and need protection.

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