Journalism in the Public Interest

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners

A 1998 safety panel was reassured X-ray body scanners wouldn’t see widespread use. Today, despite having a safer alternative that the U.S. government deems highly effective, the Transportation Security Administration is marching millions of airline passengers through the scanners, parting ways with European countries that concluded radiation from routine airport use poses a health risk.

A sign at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint instructs passengers about the use of the full-body scanner at O'Hare International Airport. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Update (11/11): The FDA has responded to this story.

Update (11/01): This story has been updated with a comment from The Chertoff Group, from which ProPublica had sought comment before publication.

A PBS NewsHour story on X-ray body scanners, reported in conjunction with ProPublica, aired on Dec. 1.

On Sept. 23, 1998, a panel of radiation safety experts gathered at a Hilton hotel in Maryland to evaluate a new device that could detect hidden weapons and contraband. The machine, known as the Secure 1000, beamed X-rays at people to see underneath their clothing.

One after another, the experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration raised questions about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle in radiation safety — that humans shouldn’t be X-rayed unless there is a medical benefit.

“I think this is really a slippery slope,” said Jill Lipoti, who was the director of New Jersey’s radiation protection program. The device was already deployed in prisons; what was next, she and others asked — courthouses, schools, airports? “I am concerned … with expanding this type of product for the traveling public,” said another panelist, Stanley Savic, the vice president for safety at a large electronics company. “I think that would take this thing to an entirely different level of public health risk.”

The machine’s inventor, Steven W. Smith, assured the panelists that it was highly unlikely that the device would see widespread use in the near future. At the time, only 20 machines were in operation in the entire country.

“The places I think you are not going to see these in the next five years is lower-security facilities, particularly power plants, embassies, courthouses, airports and governments,” Smith said. “I would be extremely surprised in the next five to 10 years if the Secure 1000 is sold to any of these.”

Today, the United States has begun marching millions of airline passengers through the X-ray body scanners, parting ways with countries in Europe and elsewhere that have concluded that such widespread use of even low-level radiation poses an unacceptable health risk. The government is rolling out the X-ray scanners despite having a safer alternative that the Transportation Security Administration says is also highly effective.

A ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation of how this decision was made shows that in post-9/11 America, security issues can trump even long-established medical conventions. The final call to deploy the X-ray machines was made not by the FDA, which regulates drugs and medical devices, but by the TSA, an agency whose primary mission is to prevent terrorist attacks.

Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines. Still, the TSA has repeatedly defined the scanners as “safe,” glossing over the accepted scientific view that even low doses of ionizing radiation — the kind beamed directly at the body by the X-ray scanners — increase the risk of cancer.

“Even though it’s a very small risk, when you expose that number of people, there’s a potential for some of them to get cancer,” said Kathleen Kaufman, the former radiation management director in Los Angeles County, who brought the prison X-rays to the FDA panel’s attention.

About 250 X-ray scanners are currently in U.S. airports, along with 264 body scanners that use a different technology, a form of low-energy radio waves known as millimeter waves.

Robin Kane, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security technology, said that no one would get cancer because the amount of radiation the X-ray scanners emit is minute. Having both technologies is important to create competition, he added.

“It’s a really, really small amount relative to the security benefit you’re going to get,” Kane said. “Keeping multiple technologies in play is very worthwhile for the U.S. in getting that cost-effective solution — and being able to increase the capabilities of technology because you keep everyone trying to get the better mousetrap.”

Determined to fill a critical hole in its ability to detect explosives, the TSA plans to have one or the other operating at nearly every security lane in America by 2014. The TSA has designated the scanners for “primary” screening: Officers will direct every passenger, including children, to go through either a metal detector or a body scanner, and the passenger’s only alternative will be to request a physical pat-down.

How did the United States swing from considering such X-rays taboo to deeming them safe enough to scan millions of people a year?

A new wave of terrorist attacks using explosives concealed on the body, coupled with the scanners’ low dose of radiation, certainly convinced many radiation experts that the risk was justified.

But other factors helped the machines gain acceptance.

Because of a regulatory Catch-22, the airport X-ray scanners have escaped the oversight required for X-ray machines used in doctors’ offices and hospitals. The reason is that the scanners do not have a medical purpose, so the FDA cannot subject them to the rigorous evaluation it applies to medical devices.

Still, the FDA has limited authority to oversee some non-medical products and can set mandatory safety regulations. But the agency let the scanners fall under voluntary standards set by a nonprofit group heavily influenced by industry.

As for the TSA, it skipped a public comment period required before deploying the scanners. Then, in defending them, it relied on a small body of unpublished research to insist the machines were safe, and ignored contrary opinions from U.S. and European authorities that recommended precautions, especially for pregnant women. Finally, the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, unleashed an intense and sophisticated lobbying campaign, ultimately winning large contracts.

Both the FDA and TSA say due diligence has been done to assure the scanners’ safety. Rapiscan says it won the contract because its technology is superior at detecting threats. While the TSA says X-ray and millimeter-wave scanners are both effective, Germany decided earlier this year not to roll out millimeter-wave machines after finding they produced too many false positives.

Most of the news coverage on body scanners has focused on privacy, because the machines can produce images showing breasts and buttocks. But the TSA has since installed software to make the images less graphic. While some accounts have raised the specter of radiation, this is the first report to trace the history of the scanners and document the gaps in regulation that allowed them to avoid rigorous safety evaluation.

Little research on cancer risk of body scanners

Humans are constantly exposed to ionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to strip electrons from atoms, damage DNA and mutate genes, potentially leading to cancer. Most radiation comes from radon, a gas produced from naturally decaying elements in the ground. Another major source is cosmic radiation from outer space. Many common items, such as smoke detectors, contain tiny amounts of radioactive material, as do exit signs in schools and office buildings.

As a result, the cancer risk from any one source of radiation is often small. Outside of nuclear accidents, such as that at Japan's Fukushima plant, and medical errors, the health risk comes from cumulative exposure.

In Rapiscan’s Secure 1000 scanner, which uses ionizing radiation, a passenger stands between two large blue boxes and is scanned with a pencil X-ray beam that rapidly moves left to right and up and down the body. In the other machine, ProVision, made by defense contractor L-3 Communications, a passenger enters a chamber that looks like a round phone booth and is scanned with millimeter waves, a form of low-energy radio waves, which have not been shown to strip electrons from atoms or cause cancer.

Only a decade ago, many states prohibited X-raying a person for anything other than a medical exam. Even after 9/11, such non-medical X-raying remains taboo in most of the industrialized world. In July, the European Parliament passed a resolution that security “scanners using ionizing radiation should be prohibited” because of health risks. Although the United Kingdom uses the X-ray machine for limited purposes, such as when passengers trigger the metal detector, most developed countries have decided to forgo body scanners altogether or use only the millimeter-wave machines.

While the research on medical X-rays could fill many bookcases, the studies that have been done on the airport X-ray scanners, known as backscatters, fill a file no more than a few inches thick. None of the main studies cited by the TSA has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the gold standard for scientific research.

Those tests show that the Secure 1000 delivers an extremely low dose of radiation, less than 10 microrems. The dose is roughly one-thousandth of a chest X-ray and equivalent to the cosmic radiation received in a few minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude. The TSA has used those measurements to say the machines are “safe.”

Most of what researchers know about the long-term health effects of low levels of radiation comes from studies of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By charting exposure levels and cancer cases, researchers established a linear link that shows the higher the exposure, the greater risk of cancer.

Some scientists argue the danger is exaggerated. They claim low levels stimulate the repair mechanism in cells, meaning that a little radiation might actually be good for the body.

But in the authoritative report on low doses of ionizing radiation, published in 2006, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed the research and concluded that the preponderance of research supported the linear link. It found “no compelling evidence” that there is any level of radiation at which the risk of cancer is zero.

Radiation experts say the dose from the backscatter is negligible when compared to naturally occurring background radiation. Speaking to the 1998 FDA panel, Smith, the inventor, compared the increased risk to choosing to visit Denver instead of San Diego or the decision to wear a sweater versus a sport coat.

Using the linear model, even such trivial amounts increase the number of cancer cases. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a radiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, estimated that the backscatters would lead to only six cancers over the course of a lifetime among the approximately 100 million people who fly every year. David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research, reached a higher number — potentially 100 additional cancers every year.

“Why would we want to put ourselves in this uncertain situation where potentially we’re going to have some cancer cases?” Brenner asked. “It makes me think, really, why don’t we use millimeter waves when we don’t have so much uncertainty?”

But even without the machines, Smith-Bindman said, the same 100 million people would develop 40 million cancers over the course of their lifetimes. In this sea of cancer cases, it would be impossible to identify the patients whose cancer is linked to the backscatter machines.

How the scanners avoided strict oversight

Although they deliberately expose humans to radiation, the airport X-ray scanners are not medical devices, so they are not subject to the stringent regulations required for diagnostic X-ray machines. 

If they were, the manufacturer would have to submit clinical data showing safety and effectiveness and be approved through a rigorous process by the FDA. If the machines contained radioactive material, they would have to report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But because it didn’t fit into either category, the Secure 1000 was classified as an electronic product. The FDA does not review or approve the safety of such products. However, manufacturers must provide a brief radiation safety report explaining the dose and notify the agency if any overexposure is discovered. According to the FDA, no such incidents have been reported.

Under its limited oversight of electronic products, the FDA could issue mandatory safety regulations. But it didn’t do so, a decision that flows from its history of supervising electronics. 

Regulation of electronic products in the United States began after a series of scandals. From the 1930s to the 1950s, it was common for a child to go to a shoe store and stand underneath an X-ray machine known as a fluoroscope to check whether a shoe was the right fit. But after cases arose of a shoe model’s leg being amputated and store clerks developing dermatitis from putting their hands in the beam to adjust the shoe, the practice ended.

In 1967, General Electric recalled 90,000 color televisions that had been sold without the proper shielding, potentially exposing viewers to dangerous levels of radiation. The scandal prompted the creation of the federal Bureau of Radiological Health.

“That ultimately led to a lot more aggressive program,” said John Villforth, who was the director of the bureau. Over the next decade, the bureau created federal safety standards for televisions, medical X-rays, microwaves, tanning beds, even laser light shows.

But in 1982, the FDA merged the radiological health bureau into its medical-device unit.

“I was concerned that if they were to combine the two centers into one, it would probably mean the ending of the radiation program because the demands for medical-device regulation were becoming increasingly great,” said Villforth, who was put in charge of the new Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “As I sort of guessed, the radiation program took a big hit.”

The new unit became stretched for scarce resources as it tried to deal with everything from tongue depressors to industrial lasers. The government used to have 500 people examining the safety of electronic products emitting radiation. It now has about 20 people. In fact, the FDA has not set a mandatory safety standard for an electronic product since 1985.

As a result, there is an FDA safety regulation for X-rays scanning baggage — but none for X-rays scanning people at airports.

Meanwhile, scientists began developing backscatter X-rays, in which the waves are reflected off an object to a detector, for the security industry.

The Secure 1000 people scanner was invented by Smith in 1991 and later sold to Rapiscan, then a small security firm based in southern California. The first major customer was the California prison system, which began scanning visitors to prevent drugs and weapons from getting in. But the state pulled the devices in 2001 after a group of inmates' wives filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the prisons of violating their civil liberties.

The U.S. Customs Service deployed backscatter machines for several years but in limited fashion and with strict supervision. Travelers suspected of carrying contraband had to sign a consent form, and Customs policy prohibited the scanning of pregnant women. The agency abandoned them in 2006, not for safety reasons but because smugglers had learned where the machines were installed and adapted their methods to avoid them, said Rick Whitman, the radiation safety officer for Customs until 2008.

Yet, even this limited application of X-ray scanning for security dismayed radiation safety experts. In 1999, the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, a nongovernmental organization, passed a resolution recommending that such screening be stopped immediately.

The backscatter machines had also caught the attention of the 1998 FDA advisory panel, which recommended that the FDA establish government safety regulations for people scanners. Instead, the FDA decided to go with a voluntary standard set by a trade group largely comprising manufacturers and government agencies that wanted to use the machines.

“Establishing a mandatory standard takes an enormous amount of resources and could take a decade to publish,” said Dan Kassiday, a longtime radiation safety engineer at the FDA.

In addition, since the mid-1990s, Congress has directed federal safety agencies to use industry standards wherever possible instead of creating their own.

The FDA delegated the task of establishing the voluntary standards to the American National Standards Institute. A private nonprofit that sets standards for many industries, ANSI convened a committee of the Health Physics Society, a trade group of radiation safety specialists. It was made up of 15 people, including six representatives of manufacturers of X-ray body scanners and five from U.S. Customs and the California prison system. There were few government regulators and no independent scientists.

In contrast, the FDA advisory panel was also made up of 15 people — five representatives from government regulatory agencies, four outside medical experts, one labor representative and five experts from the electronic products industry, but none from the scanner manufacturers themselves.

“I am more comfortable with having a regulatory agency — either federal or the states — develop the standards and enforce them,” Kaufman said. Such regulators, she added, “have only one priority, and that’s public health.”

A representative of the Health Physics Society committee said that was its main priority as well. Most of the committee’s evaluation was completed before 9/11. The standard was published in 2002 and updated with minor changes in 2009.

Ed Bailey, chief of California’s radiological health branch at the time, said he was the lone voice opposing the use of the machines. But after 9/11, his views changed about what was acceptable in pursuit of security.

“The whole climate of their use has changed,” Bailey said. “The consequence of something being smuggled on an airplane is far more serious than somebody getting drugs into a prison.”

Are Inspections Independent?

While the TSA doesn’t regulate the machines, it must seek public input before making major changes to security procedures. In July, a federal appeals court ruled that the agency failed to follow rule-making procedures and solicit public comment before installing body scanners at airports across the country. TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy said the agency couldn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

The TSA asserts there is no need to take additional precautions for sensitive populations, even pregnant women, following the guidance of the congressionally chartered National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements.

But other authorities have come to the opposite conclusion. A report by France’s radiation safety agency specifically warned against screening pregnant women with the X-ray devices. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical institute has advised pregnant pilots and flight attendants that the machine, coupled with their time in the air, could put them over their occupational limit for radiation exposure and that they might want to adjust their work schedules accordingly.

No similar warning has been issued for pregnant frequent fliers.

Even as people scanners became more widespread, government oversight actually weakened in some cases.

Inspections of X-ray equipment in hospitals and industry are the responsibility of state regulators — and before 9/11, many states also had the authority to randomly inspect machines in airports. But that ended when the TSA took over security checkpoints from the airlines.

Instead, annual inspections are done by Rapiscan, the scanners’ manufacturer.

“As a regulator, I think there’s a conflict of interest in having the manufacturer and the facility inspect themselves,” Kaufman said.

Last year, in reaction to public anger from members of Congress, passengers and advocates, the TSA contracted with the Army Public Health Command to do independent radiation surveys. But email messages obtained in a lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group, raise questions about the independence of the Army surveys.

One email sent by TSA health and safety director Jill Segraves shows that local TSA officials were given advance notice and allowed to “pick and choose” which systems the Army could check.

That email also suggests that Segraves considered the Army inspectors a valuable public-relations asset: “They are our radiation myth busters,” she wrote to a local security director.

Some TSA screeners are concerned about their own radiation exposure from the backscatters, but the TSA has not allowed them to wear badges that could measure it, said Milly Rodriguez, health and safety specialist for the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA officers.

“We have heard from members that sometimes the technicians tell them that the machines are emitting more radiation than is allowed,” she said.

McCarthy, the TSA spokesman, said the machines are physically incapable of producing radiation above the industry standard. On the email, he said, the inspections allow screeners to ask questions about radiation and address concerns about specific machines.

The company’s lobbying campaign

While the TSA maintains that the body scanners are essential to preventing attacks on airplanes, it only began rolling them out nine years after 9/11.

After the attempted shoe-bombing in December 2001, the federal government conducted a trial of a Rapiscan backscatter at the Orlando International Airport. But the revealing images drew protests that the machines amounted to a virtual strip search.

The TSA considered the scanners again after two Chechen women blew up Russian airliners in 2004. Facing a continued outcry over privacy, the TSA instead moved forward with a machine known as a “puffer” because it released several bursts of air on the passengers’ clothes and analyzed the dislodged particles for explosives. But after discovering the machines were ineffective in the field and difficult to maintain, the TSA canceled the program in 2006.

Around that time, Rapiscan began to beef up its lobbying on Capitol Hill. It opened a Washington, D.C., office and, according to required disclosures, more than tripled its lobbying expenditures in two years, from less than $130,000 in 2006 to nearly $420,000 in 2008. It hired former legislative aides to Rep. David Price, D-N.C., then chairman of the homeland security appropriations subcommittee, and to Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.

It started a political action committee and began contributing heavily to Price; Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., then head of the homeland security committee; Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., also on that committee; and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the top Republican on the Senate appropriations committee.

In addition, it opened a new North Carolina plant in Price’s district and expanded its operations in Ocean Springs, Miss., and at its headquarters in Torrance, Calif., in Harman’s district.

“Less than a month after U.S. Senator Trent Lott and other local leaders helped officially open Rapiscan Systems’ new Ocean Springs factory,” Lott’s office announced in a news release in late 2006, “the company has won a $9.1 million Department of Defense contract.”

But Rapiscan still hadn’t landed a major contract to roll out its X-ray body scanners in commercial airports. Indeed, in 2007, with new privacy filters in place, the TSA began a trial of millimeter-wave and backscatter machines at several major airports, after which the agency opted to go with the millimeter-wave machines. The agency said health concerns weren’t a factor.

But with the 2009 federal stimulus package, which provided $300 million for checkpoint security machines, the TSA began deploying backscatters as well. Rapiscan won a $173 million, multiyear contract for the backscatters, with an initial $25 million order for 150 systems to be made in Mississippi.        

Three other companies — American Science & Engineering, Tek84 Engineering Group and Valley Forge Composite Technologies — make X-ray scanners, but none are used by the TSA.Peter Kant, executive vice president for Rapiscan, said the company expanded its lobbying because its business was increasingly affected by the government.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about the technology; there’s a lot of questions about how various inspection technologies work,” he said. “And we needed a way to be able to provide that information and explain the technology and how it works, and that’s what lobbying is.”

The lawmakers either declined to comment or said the lobbying, campaign contributions and local connections had nothing to do with the TSA’s decision to purchase Rapiscan machines. The TSA said the contract was bid competitively and that the winning machines had to undergo comprehensive research and testing phases before being deployed.

While the scanners were appearing in more and more airports, few passengers went through them, because they were used mostly for random screening or to resolve alarms from the metal detector.

That changed on Christmas Day 2009, when a Nigerian man flying to Detroit tried to ignite a pouch of explosives hidden in his underwear.

Following the foiled “Great Balls of Fire” suicide bombing, as the New York Postdubbed it, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ramped up plans to roll out body scanners nationwide. Members of Congress and aviation security experts also pushed heavily for the TSA to install more machines that could detect explosives on passengers.

Harman sent a letter to Napolitano, noting that Rapiscan was in her district.

“I urge you to expedite installation of scanning machines in key airports,” Harman wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the website CounterPunch. “If you need additional funds, I am ready to help.”

Michael Chertoff, who had supported body scanners while secretary of Homeland Security, appeared frequently on TV advocating their use. In one interview, he disclosed that his consulting firm, Chertoff Group, had done work for Rapiscan, sparking accusations that he was trying to profit from his time as a government servant.

Despite the criticism, little has been revealed about the relationship. Rapiscan dismissed it, asserting that the consulting work had to do with international cargo and port security issues — not aviation.

“There was nothing that was not above board,” Kant said. “His comments about passenger screening and these machines were simply his own and was nothing that we had engaged the Chertoff Group for.”

In a statement, the Chertoff Group said it “played no role in the sale of whole body imaging technology to TSA” and that Chertoff “was in no way compensated for his public statements.”

A public records request by ProPublica turned up empty: The Department of Homeland Security said it could not find any correspondence to or from Chertoff related to body scanners. DHS also said Chertoff did not use email.

The TSA plans to deploy 1,275 backscatter and millimeter-wave scanners covering more than half its security lanes by the end of 2012 and 1,800 covering nearly all the lanes by 2014.

According to annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, OSI Systems, the parent company of Rapiscan, has seen revenue from its security division more than double since 2006 to nearly $300 million in fiscal year 2011.

Miles O’Brien and Kate Tobin of PBS NewsHour contributed to this report.

Correction (11/1): An earlier version of this story said that an email in which the TSA health and safety director said inspectors were “radiation myth busters” incorrectly identified them as Rapiscan’s inspectors. The story should have said they were inspectors from the Army Public Health Command.

ProVision, made by defense contractor L-3 Communications….this one, based on your article seems safe….doesn’t indicate that it is X-ray but rather millimeter waves, a form of low-energy radio waves, which have not been shown to strip electrons from atoms or cause cancer. This is the machine that I encounter many times and the TSA people say I get more radiation from my cell phone. 

Help me on this as I have had the max does of RADs (the old term) in the 50s when nuclear medicine was done for everything.  remember the x-ray machines for flitting shoes?

The fact that the scanners might harm people is less important than the fact this administration refuses to profile young muslim males.  Granny’s get groped while muslim males skate through.

Ok, so let’s review:
Scanners that emit RADIATION are not regulary checked or calibrated by anyone other than the maufacturer, Rapicscan
TSA employees, who work in close proximity to scanners, NOT ALLOWED to wear radiation detection badges
Anyone else slightly scared by this? When you go to the hospital, or dentist, to have an XRay, the techincian goes into the other room and you are wearing a lead apron to protect you. There are hundreds of accidents involving radiation overdose in hospitals, yet we are trusting non-medical personnel to maintain, test, and run these things? How the hell would we even know if one of these things is leaking radiation? Because they said so? Oh, sure why would they lie? Betcha when the cancer lawsuits start coming the govt will figure out a way to protect the manufacturer, all in the name of “security”. What a bunch of crap. The ironic thing is these or any other scanner could not have detected the underwear bomber’s bomb. If someone puts an explosive in their body cavity it won’t be seen either. Perfect example of corruption, Rapiscan gets the contract, follow the money to the Senator who pushed it, see what you find out.

Sam, I am a young Muslim male. Want to profile me? I have never held a gun in my life, I have never played Call of Duty, and I hate violence so much I’m practically a pacifist. The idea of taking life away from another human disgusts me beyond words. Life is precious. The Quran says this, and is a book of peace and love not unlike the Bible. You, my friend, are a racist.

to Ronald Paul and Sam:
Ron, get real. Not all muslims are terrorists but all terrorists (so far) have been muslims. Sam is correct, there is no point targeting old ladies in wheelchairs but allowing muslim folks (men or women) to breeze through because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Hurt feelings are the LAST thing I am worrying about when it comes to flight safety. Get it? I believe you are what you say you are, but unfortunately for you, other muslims are not. So, when the peace-loving Muslim community stands up and says “no more” and calls these murderers to task, we have no other choice.

Brian Riordan

Nov. 1, 2011, 1:13 p.m.

Bomb-sniffing dogs cause no cancer, do not invade privacy, and are more effective. Scanners cannot detect explosives with tapered edges or those concealed in body cavities. In contrast trained dogs can even detect cell phones prisoners attempt to smuggle inside body cavities. Why aren’t dogs used? Follow the money.

I’m not sure about the health issues here—if the levels of radiation exposure are as low as reported, an occasional trip through the machine would not appear to add significantly to what a person already experiences in nature (or in flying).  But I’ll leave that part of it to experts to debate.  What is clear is that the Democrats have disregarded established procedure.  If it had been the GOP in power doing this, Democrats would be suing and screaming about bypassing public commenting procedure, cronyism (a manufacturing plant in the District of the head Dem of the House committee?), etc.  But no, they are too busy supporting Obama’s bypass of Congressional authorization to spend stimulus money to notice this little issue.  It does appear that, to the left, procedure and due process is something to use to thwart the other side when they are in power, but something to ignore when you hold the power yourselves.

Is anyone really surprised ? Anything to get the police state in full swing. Ron Paul 2012 for restoration & LIBERTY.

Danielle, you have just made one of the most absurd claims I have ever heard! All terrorists are Muslims? DID I SERIOUSLY JUST HEAR THAT? Ever heard of Timothy McVeigh? How about the King David Hotel Bombings? Baruch Goldstein ring a bell? That list is just off the top of my head! If I did a little digging, I could probably find hundreds of terrorist attacks carried out by Christians and Jews.

My family and I refuse the scanners and opt for the pat down.

Karl Stalin Ph.D.

Nov. 1, 2011, 1:29 p.m.

The rule of thumb has always been that no level of radiation exposure comes without consequences. The higher the dose the more damage is done. Here’s another well know fact for all of you frequent fliers: Radiation has an accumulative effect. That means that several small doses have the same effect as one large dose. Keep adding them up and your chances of contracting cancer skyrocket. Remember the old x-ray scanners in shoe stores? In this case, what you can’t see will hurt you, very severely. The TSA agents are being lied to and should demand that they are issued radiation monitoring devices as required by law in all 50 states. If it were up to me, getting sexually molested is a lot safer then getting exposed to ionizing radiation. It’s just too bad that the governments knee jerk decision to use these cancer machines will kill a lot of Americans.

What happened to the Constitution??  Have we just thrown that out, or are the loss of our rights guaranteed by the Constitution considered a “relatively minor” compared to terrorist activity? 

So, who should we be more concerned about, foreign terrorists, or the American terrorists that would rather see our Constitution thrown out?

Millimeter waves are microwaves.  Das Homeland Security gives the bovine public 2 choices - a trip through a whole body X-ray machine or a zap in a microwave oven.  It’s your bodies.  Why are you allowing these monsters to do this?  I’ve seen this all before, and it always ends ugly.  Wake up, Americans.  Your time is running out.

Why is anyone trusting what these money makers are claiming?  I haven’t been on an airplane since 9/11 and probably won’t be flying ever again.  Has everyone been on youtube to watch obama’s speech on depopulation?  If not, you should!

The backscatter machines radiate you on the outside,
and the millimeter-wave machines radiate you on the inside.

Please opt out.

Please sign the petition:

To Danielle: You have nailed it. “[Until] the peace-loving Muslim community stands up and says “no more” and calls these murderers to task, we have no other choice.”
Exactly right. That is the only reasonable position.

To Ronald Paul (Ron Paul??): As a “young Muslim male,” have YOU stood up publicly to denounce the violence of the jihadist terrorists? Or is that too dangerous because they would just as soon murder YOU as they would murder we “infidels?”

I have had breast cancer and more than my lifetime dose of radiation. These scanners scare the bejeebers out of me and yet I don’t particularly want to be assaulted physically. I need to fly several times a year. What to do?

Like always the Federal Government finds the most inefficient way to handle the Social Security y Medicare underfunded problem, when the simple implementation of the “Soylent Green” methodology will do.

To Riquin:
LOL. Yeah, sure. Or maybe Logan’s Run.

Personal business gain was surely more important than so called air travel safety by setting up those unhealthy machines, how many lives have been saved in the air and how many died on the ground?

Good parts of all the governments of the world, especially, firstly the ones under indirect or direct control of our North-American power should just become aware of the public servants with terroristically re-acting mindset and then, despite inevtably occurring few accidents (should be taken easy like natural disasters which are cosmic activities beyond human conrtol), civilians world-wide would feel more naturally happy and secured than these tough, expensive but unhealthy securities can provide.
Good and bad, the powers of both sides of errorists are also like bacterias, similar to many creatures and creations.
We need to be wise and relax, because the more powerful antibiotics we try to administer, the more stronger they become against controllers and that’s how the creator of cosmos (outside the reach of any of the religions-manmaid old form of politics by making each human individual blind inside the head by it’s vulnerable by default belief-system) programmed things on which we human very temporary control for a limited time-being.

Opps, got sucked into another negative media driven discussion.
oh,well, .

I wonder why do we fall for for all the negatives for something we once demanded that this country needed to do to protect us from the evil ways of the world?..
I personally, not being a daily or close to flyer would strip to my birthday suit to keep someone with a bomb tucked inside his ath from actually going off and bring my life to a tragic end that could be avoided.. Besides every breath we take removes seconds from our life in this oxegen polluted air.
I believe the goverment keep trying to make every attempt to protect us from such a tragic end safely but what do you think will be the end results if these safe guards are not in place?
I would like to ask anyone who complains beyond just complaining what are you going to say to yourself if you wife,husband, kids or parents die from a terrorist act because you demanded relaxed boarding…If your so worried about the radiation then avoid the sun for a while as well as every electronic creation made including your computer and screen…p.s don’t breath and keep pumping that gas into your home and car!
Heck with it, I’ll take the risk for a safer and less risky flight!

nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney baldwin ventur

Nov. 1, 2011, 1:52 p.m.

Remember Neocon Chertoff and his Lobby? 
Homeland Gestapo, Police State of America
Rapiscan Systems

I recently had to make a decision about the scanner in Newark.  I immediately chose to have an alternate screen, having worked in radiation programs at EPA, I know that there is no “safe” dose of radiation.

Having made that choice, I realized that the TSA agents hated me for it.  I was never addressed as “ma’am” but rather only with brusque imperatives “Come here. Stand here. Legs wide.” The place for such alternate frisks (the only appropriate word to use) is directly in the path of those exiting, to make sure, I’m guessing, that I am made an example of.  My midriff was exposed by the TSA agent (guessing deliberately).  Next time, I will ask for a private screening with a 3rd person present.

I never thought I’d have to be treated as a criminal to board a plan, but here we are.

Wow,  This makes me want to fly even less.  To think these politicians are failing to realize they’re going to kill American Citizens all in the name of SECURITY.  There are better ways of Securing our air ways.  Let’s think about this for just a moment.  There are guns made of polymers that are not detectable by metal detectors and are easily concealed, There are Explosives that cannot be detected when they’re form fitting in design by these scanners.  I’d rather have a detection dog sniff me over then step one foot into one of these scanners.  And to our Politicians EVEN ALLOWING THIS.  You should go through FIRST!

The most important video ever made on the scanners on youtube!  and then paste this extension:


You will learn everything you need to know about the scanners from this exceptional video interview.

Danielle, you said all terrorists so far have been Muslims.  So Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, and Anders Behring Breivik were all Muslims?  Who knew?

Ronald Paul:
If you read my comments, you would have noticed I said SO FAR. I am not discounting Tim McVeigh or any of the other terrorists. HOWEVER, and I beg you to use common sense here, when was the last time a Jewish, (or any other group NOT muslim) perpetrated an assault on Americans? Baurch was a one time thing by a seriously disturbed individual, and was immediately denounced by those of Israel, collectively, done. (Same with McVieigh) The muslim terrorists are a systemic problem with a collective group, being sanctioned and goaded by egotistical religious leaders. They make no secret of it, nor do they pretend like they are NOT muslim. So, yes, for all intents and purposes, SO FAR ALL THE CURRENT (BETTER?) TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS.

Thank you for this well-written piece of journalism.

Blood Runs Irish 1916

Nov. 1, 2011, 2:03 p.m.

I don’t trust the government to tell the truth about ANYTHING and will never go into their radiation oven. They lie about inflation, unemployment, white house visits, running thousands of guns to drug cartels, the fake wars - all lies and spin designed to enrich themselves and their friends.

Let’s face it.  They’re trying to kill us.

Here is another thing, say God forbid and something happens on your flight. TSA is not tracking who is being additionally screen (either by pat down or scanner).  Yet they have all the ticket history info, DOB, sex, etc…  Plus even a scanner needs a person to look at the image and say ‘all clear’.  That’s not very effective on our bags (stuff routinely gets by still) , so how effective on a persons?

Steve, get real. How the hell can you screen AT THE AIRPORT for that is what we are currently talking about, no?, for someone like Ted Kaczynski who was a loner and acted through the mail? Anders Breivik? Seriously? Airport security, let’s stay on topic, OK? There will always be crazy loons who do things like these people. I am talking about a religious group who is claiming a jihad against us, not some nut we have no way of profiling. We know who the terrorist are that want to harm us, they have told us very clearly through the media, etc. So to plainly ignore that and say “well, there are other terrorist…blah blah” is so ridiculous and PC it’s no wonder we have the likes of the TSA irradiating the public at large.

Smash the TSA

Nov. 1, 2011, 2:12 p.m.

The TSA needs to be dismantled immediately. 68,000 thousand people with an inflated sense of self importance sucking up paychecks and yet they have failed to catch a single terrorist. Shut it down and send those death machines to China to be dismantled.

All the terrorists are muslim?!?  That’s a very ignorant comment there.  Timothy McVeigh?  Baruch Goldstein?  Gush Emunim?  Sicarii?  Kingdom of Israel?  IRA?  Anders Behring Brievik?  KKK?!?  Lambs of Christ?

What’s happened to the left?  I used to believe I could always count on them to take the “civil liberties over security” position and protect the public from government overreach. Now it seems that nobody on the left will speak up.  I shudder to contemplate that its because they are now the ones in charge.  But its hard not to draw that conclusion, because I remember the days when the president initiating hostilities without congressional approval would be called a war crime . . . where are all the anti-war protesters now?  I remember when insider dealing was called out.  Now we get silence.  I’m starting to worry for the republic . . .

More Profiling
Less X rays….
They could use scientology to cure their thetan problems…..

Michael Rivero

Nov. 1, 2011, 2:16 p.m.

The US Government insisted these scanners are safe (apparently without testing), but then this is the same government that insisted shoe-store fluoroscopes (seen above) were safe in the 1940s and 1950s. The US Surgeon General actually created educational films promoting the use of these machines for proper foot health.

Then in the 1960s, shoe store salesmen started dying of cancer. Yet it still took the government until 1981 to remove all the fluoroscopes from US shoe stores. (One such machine is shown in the 1967 Michael Caine film, “Billion Dollar Brain”)

Follow the money.  The technology is not safe over a long term, otherwise, Ms. Napolitano should prove it by spending 8 hours a day, 7 days a week for one month standing in one with a radiation dosage badge to prove it.
As to Ronald Paul, who claims to be a Muslim, peace loving, the religion to which he is an adherent is not peace loving.  I note he came up with three examples of terrorism committed by non-Muslims.  That’s about the number of incidents an hour in Afghanistan and Pakistan against their own people by fellow Muslims.
Anyone who believes that Islam is a religion of peace does not read, or watch TV, or had a family member who has served in a Muslim country.
Just another CAIR propagandist spouting half truths.
I have seen myself the prejudice against anyone but Muslims by TSA, and the overreaching violation of our 4th, 9th and 14th Amendment rights whilst these threats to our society and our persons are allowed to skate through without so much as a pat down.
Profiling is not a violation of constitutional rights.  The religion has earned the rep that justifies the need to focus on Muslims as potential threats.
Only in CA and DC does anyone believe that Islam is a religion of peace.  Islam is a religion of war—the U.S. and every other nation not under Islam is dar al Harb—land of war.

Oh…I’m shocked….(can you feel the sarcasm?)

Chertoff had some scanners lined up in a sweet financial deal.  The only problem up until that time is that there were no significant attempted terrorists attacks.  Low and behold, they created one with the “underwear bomber” and BAM, we get cancer scanners in the airports and Chertoff makes a killing.  What?  You say you never heard about the fact that our intelligence services got this drugged kid on a plane with no ID and no passport with a dud bomb?  See this from and eye witness:

You want to know who the crazies are who will commit terrorism?

My number one candidates are the ultra conservatives of any religion, especially Christians.

For number two I nominate radical members of the National Rifle Association and racial supremacists.

Number three are the political radicals, especially those from the far right.

Finally I nominate any combination of the above plus I would include some outliers who have a real mental illness.

Not mentioned are the scanners they have erected at shipping ports and ports of entry from Canada and Mexico. Drivers are not even given the choice of opting out of that scan. How many hundreds of thousands of trucks go through there on a daily basis? Some of them making regular runs… Who’s protecting our drivers??

So Ronald Paul, which one are you doing? Al-taqiyya or Kitman?  You would say ‘neither’ perhaps. Not lying as a means to an end, allowed if to ‘non-believers’... but if you say “no” and lying is allowed or even encouraged, now will anyone trust your answer? Not all Muslims are terrorists. But so far “all the recent terrorists have been Muslims!”

America is making a big mistake not taking the statements clearly made in the Quran.

The U.S. also got radiation from Japan’s 3 nuclear meltdowns, where the radiation travelled on the jet stream to the U.S.

Learn more at

OK this post is about myself. I am complying with what a few of you have requested of me.

I am publicly denouncing terrorists right here, right now. Violence is never the solution, and I urge my Muslim Brothers and Sisters across the Globe to find Allah’s peace in their hearts. After all, peace in Arabic is Salam (Islam, salam, gettit?). I always tell my friends the truth about these terrorists: they represent and extreme fringe in the Muslim community. Muslims as a group denounce their actions. It is so sad to see a peaceful religion stray so far from it’s base. At the core, Islam, Christianity and Judaism are really exactly the same. We are all People of the Book. END hatred and discrimination as well as terrorism.


Hey “Fred.” Get a freaking life, moron. “Christian terrorists?????” You have GOT to be kidding us. “NRA???” “Far Right radicals???” Go to an “Occupy” tent city, and find out who the REAL radicals are. As well as who the “useful idiots” really are.

This is such a HUGE disservice to INFORMED public discourse.

The amount of radiation dose from a SINGLE scan is about a thousand times LESS than the radiation dose a passenger receives on a coast-to-coast flight and who—by the way—thinks nothing of such a dose and rightly so!

The method used to CONJURE fake! cancer deaths is a concept called “collective dose” and it works this way:  (a) a group of people is assumed to have received individual doses of radiation. (b)  the total “collective” dose received by that entire group—generally thousands to millions of people—is all added up to determine the “fatal cancer risk” due to receiving THAT collective dose ... EVEN THO NO ONE received that dose.  (c) So out of a million people receiving an infinitesimally small individual dose—a COMPLETELY FICTITIOUS person or group of people are given the entire dose and hence some fatal cancer risk.  SCIENTIFICALLY BOGUS AND COMPLETELY WITHOUT ANY BASIS IN REALITY.

Consider using this example with Aspirin:  Let’s say 100 people are given 1 aspirin each.  Now the Collective Dose Advocates would say that given a “lethal aspirin dose” of 20 aspirins, 5 fictitious people will die, EVEN THO everyone of those 100 people who had 1 single aspirin are COMPLETELY fine and probably have fewer headaches and less heart attack risk.

Please don’t be fooled by this collective dose garbage!!

This second post will discuss the roots of terrorism.

I do admit that most terrorists are Muslims, however this does not hide the fact that there are extremist terrorists in all religions including Christianity and Judaism. The real question is, why? Why are Muslims driven to acts of violence. Now this directly links to my username, Ron Paul. He hits the nail on the head in terms of his foreign policy. We are not attacked because we are free or prosperous, as suggested by Rick Santorum. Let’s go to the source here, just like Paul did. Osama bin Laden said in himself. He attacked the United States because we had based on his holy land in Saudi Arabia and we killed HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Iraqi civilians with the sanctions we imposed. You don’t think that killing scores of civilians wouldn’t drive some Muslims to violence? They see their brothers, friends, sisters, children killed by the Unites States and of course they feel angry. Then some crazy guy comes along and asks if he wants revenge, and unfortunately he answers yes, and he shows up in the news as a suicide bomber. The violence they resort to is of course not justified, however they aren’t just born terrorists.

Follow the money! TSA must be getting $$ for BHO or this wouldn’t happen.

“You want to know who the crazies are who will commit terrorism? My number one candidates are the ultra conservative…”

No. You’re wrong on all counts. The government commits or encourages almost all acts of terrorism. The people are waking up, hence all this hype about the urgent need for internet censorship and kill switch. Cyber attacks? Who in their right mind would connect missiles or nuclear power plants to the open internet? It doesn’t happen. They’re losing control and getting desperate.

The FED - announced they’re now monitoring social media
DHS - ditto
FBI/CIA - ditto
NYPD - ditto
UK government - ditto

I’m shocked, truly shocked that this administration would roll over the citizens of this country because they are so caring and sharing.  Right?

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Body Scanners

Body Scanners: Risking Health to Secure Airports

In an effort to detect explosives hidden under clothing, is the TSA jeopardizing passenger safety?

The Story So Far

The Transportation Security Administration is planning to roll out body scanners at nearly every airport security lane in the country by 2014. Right now, it has deployed more than 500, split about evenly between two technologies—one using X-rays and another using radio frequency waves.

Several prominent radiation safety experts have raised concerns about exposing millions of airline passengers to X-rays.

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