Journalism in the Public Interest

TSA Airport Scanners Wouldn’t Catch an Implant Bomber

Intelligence reports suggest terrorists may try to avoid airport security scanners by implanting explosive devices, and the Transportation Security Administration said that passengers flying to the United States may notice additional security measures.

« Return to Story

Sort by: Oldest Newest  <  1 2

mitch conner

July 7, 2011, 4:45 a.m.

What do they do with your nail clippers, lighters, shampoo, pocket knives…etc?  They resell them for their own profit in surplus stores.  This is not going to stop dont you realize that?  Ron paul introduces a bill to end the tsa and you all ignore him and call him stupid yet you outrage at the audacity of the search.  you dont have to agree with Ron Paul, but at least pay attention to the man.

M Smith

July 7, 2011, 6:01 a.m.

Citing The UK tabloids The Sun and the Daily Mail as sources regarding terrorist planning is a dangerous game for ProPublica. Few people in the UK take what they read in those papers without a heavy pinch of salt.

Tony Miele

July 7, 2011, 6:44 a.m.

I am glad we spent all that money on them. This just proves that we are going about this the wrong way. You cannot just invent a new scanner because people determined enough will find other ways. What are they going to do now? Is everyone who boards a plane going to be required to get an x-ray? This is absurd.

I don’t think we can ever make the skies 100% safe. That is just not realistic. All we can hope to do is deter people from trying to blow up planes. It’s like a lock on your front door. Most people would stroll up, find the door locked, and that would be enough to deter them. However, someone who really wants to get into your house will find a way. The scanners may be useful as a strong deterrent, but they are not going to catch all devices 100% of the time. Short of doing explorative surgery on every passenger (which even then you can not guarantee 100% success at finding implanted devices) there is going to be someone, somewhere who gets through the security.


July 7, 2011, 7 a.m.

This is justification to conduct more intrusive groop-downs.

The equipment, if used often enough, will ensure that you glow in the dark.


July 7, 2011, 7:44 a.m.

Dan said:  “I don’t think “secreted” is the word the author is looking for in the following sentence: “As an example, they point to the 2009 attack at a Saudi palace by a suicide bomber who detonated explosives secreted in his rectum.”

It simply makes no sense physiologically.”

Actually, Dan, the word “secreted” has two meanings, one of which is “hidden within”.  The original author was quite correct and you are quite wrong.


July 7, 2011, 7:52 a.m.

First, it is impossible for anyone (yes, including YOU) to say what or how many terrorist threats have been prevented (including discouraged, thwarted or averted) by the various airport screening/security measures (which include a LOT more than you probably realize).

Second, the last thought that each and every one of you would have in the seconds after a bomb exploded on YOUR plane (or that of your loved one) would be “Damn, I’d give ANYTHING for full body cavity searches and MRI scans at airports!”  If you had another few seconds before you died, your next thought would be “...and to HELL with any idiots who complain about it.”


July 7, 2011, 7:57 a.m.

Get rid of all the high tech and 75% of the TSA.

All we have to do is profile!  PC is going to destroy the Republic.

Didi Paano

July 7, 2011, 9:41 a.m.

For all of you who complain about the TSA, I would LOVE to hear what you have to say when you or your loved ones are blown up on a plane on which a terrorist was allowed to fly without being “groped” and x-rayed by the TSA Security people.  I bet your entire train of thought would change.  The reason we’ve not had any major incidents on flights is because of the TSA…..if you don’t want to go through the security at an airport, take a train, drive your car, or do something else….quit complaining about what is being done to keep you safe!  What a bunch of crybabies!!  And, no, I don’t work for the airlines OR TSA….I’m just a regular citizen who understands that a lot of things have changed since the 1960’s… is one of them!!

Curt Miner

July 7, 2011, 11:09 a.m.

The goal of terrorist attacks is not to bring down planes.  The goal of terrorist attacks it to bring down countries by forcing them to bankrupt themselves defending against guerilla warfare.  The fact that we’re even talking about this means they’re winning.


July 7, 2011, 12:28 p.m.

Brian and Didi = TSA Employees, no doubt in my mind.

AmShank is dead on.  PC will destroy this country when all is said and done.  We should have israel style security in this country - because it works. 

Anyone who would make a statement based on the facts and statistics that are available for anyone’s review like Didi’s “The reason we’ve not had any major incidents on flights is because of the TSA….” is simply not paying attention or has an axe to grind.  My guess in this case is the latter.

We have given up far too much in the name of security in this country.  Our decendents will look back at us like we do at the folks who allowed the Nazi’s to dominate Germany and wonder how it was allowed to happen.

People will only be pushed for so long so hard before they will stand up and say no more.

James Blair

July 7, 2011, 12:32 p.m.

The very purpose of a terrorist attack is to further their agenda by causing terror.  Where do you think the word “terrorist” came from?  Given the reactions I’ve seen to 9/11, it is working.  Those towers should have been rebuilt by the end of 2002… the Empire State Building went up a lot faster than that… in the early 1900’s.  The very fact those rebuilt towers aren’t mocking the terrorists right now is a victory for them.  I’m pretty disgusted by the whole affair (in case you haven’t noticed).


July 7, 2011, 1:23 p.m.

Joe Hilbig wrote: “Let me get this straight, AbsurdLife, a government agency donated money to Obama’s campaign?  Are you insane?
You Americans continue to surprise me.”

If you’re not American then I understand your complete ignorance about how US politics works. You’ve been listening to too much BBC. Get out and get educated.

Fred Campbell

July 7, 2011, 2:08 p.m.

One fact must never be forgotten:

The TSA, in all their 100’s of millions searches, has never intercepted an individual intent on, and capable of, doing harm.

TSA’s own tests of their system have revealed that, in a high percentage of the tests, the operative was able to take (simulated) dangerous devices on board the plane.

Conversely, many passengers have (post facto) reported at they have inadvertently carried dangerous devices (even guns) aboard without detection.

In one notorious case, an Egyptian businessman reported that he had carried a large semi-automatic handgun on board in his computer case.  Later examination of the radio-graphic records revealed that the weapon was very conspicuous in the x-rays.

It is also ironic that even the mildest imposition of “profiling” would have probably revealed the weapon as the individual was a) an Egyptian citizen and b) matched the physical profile of most hijackers.

The gentleman, in this case, was completely honorable and reported his (inadvertent) breach of security, much to the chagrin of the TSA.

The next time we may not be so lucky.

Ken Koeppe

July 8, 2011, 12:48 a.m.

Why must we always seek a more sophisticated detector? Israel has been operating airport security since the 60’s & they do not seem to have any problems with terrorists. I would suggest that we follow their protocol and get on with it.


July 8, 2011, 7:37 a.m.

The solution is to eliminate Obama.  He is ineffective, a pathological liar, one who is as shrewd as they get and with a motive to collapse this entire country.  Joined at the hip with TSA allows Obama to dispel more and more configurations that ensnare us further into debt to correct.  It’s all about control while he continues to cripple our ability to walk and think about a safe and comfortable future.  The somber tone in our voices is because we fear, we are confused by the details, we have become lost and each day wake up to disbelief.  How and why ???  We love our country,  but Obama takes that love and turns it into venom.

Jules C. Vallez

July 8, 2011, 10:15 a.m.

To all those of you who say… “wait till a plane that you’re on or that your loved ones are on blows up… you’ll be begging for a grope-down,” I would like to respond: No. No. No. Incorrect. I, unlike you, understand that liberty and freedom come at a price; that price is a certain amount of risk. I neither need nor want the government to make me 100% safe and secure at all times! Even if the threat were real (and God knows it’s not), it does not override my Constitutional rights against unlawful search of my person, property and effects! Additionally, it does not override my right under the Privileges and Immunities Clause to unhindered travel from and between the respective states! I am not a coward… if being free means I have to die then I’ll be lining up at the pearly-white gates. I would much rather that than live in a fascist state - stop being such God damned cowards. P.S. And the suggestion that I give up my right to fly and take a train or bus instead is illustrative of the ignorance of the TSA defenders (a.k.a. the Brown-Shirts). TSA is already rolling out programs to monitor and ‘secure’ bus depots, train stations, provide stadium security, and even proms!! (I know, I know… but LOOK IT UP!!) What’s next huh? Proctology exams for me and my family on our way to Disney World because al-CIA-duh wants to scare us some more? Grow up.


July 8, 2011, 10:28 p.m.

the tsa sucks.
i bet “news” stories about “terrorists” talking about implanting bombs is just another scare tactic the govt is using to scare the shit out of the dumb sheeple so that they will submit to ANY “security” measure they put in place…even if it means anal probes for everyone. scare the dummies into giving up more and more rights until there aren’t any rights left. i’ll keep myself safe (from the tsa) by refusing to fly.



July 8, 2011, 10:47 p.m.

btw, the “terrorists” have already won…because our way of life has completely changed and most of you idiots fear EVERYTHING. the posters before me who mentioned nazi germany are absolutely right. this country is going to hell in a handbasket because too many people think the govt will save them from “terrorists.” hate to tell you, but the terrorists are in washington and they are doing a marvelous job of terrorizing us all. it’s never too late for 1984, folks. WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
~George Washington


July 10, 2011, 8:08 p.m.

It’s not terrorism, it’s communism that’s coming to Amerika.


July 11, 2011, 1:47 p.m.

The first thing I’d say when a bomb blows up isn’t “gee I wish they cavity searched”...It’d be “Sweet Jesus, I’m comin’ HOME!!!! No more taxes, no more tsa, no more Satan. No more Tears!
The things you see happening are contrived to prepare the USA for life under the Antichrist AFTER the rapture of the Church, especially after the three year mark….WHENEVER that comes..The TSA will be the security force. You will have NO freedoms after the Constitution is rendered obsolete after the World Govt decides it.There will be no mail, as all communication will be monitored(it IS now by Aurora listening stations) and ok’d by the World Govt. You won’t be buying or selling or anything without the 666 loyalty pledge to them. Get that and you lose out on eternity. You think you’ve lost your freedoms now? just wait..
Funny thing is the Bride of the Lamb(or Christian church) will never know the identity of the antichrist, as he won’t be revealed until we’re gone.  He will be the man to step up in leadership after millions of people disappear in the rapture. Hairy Camping may have perverted the nature of the Rapture for his own glory, and he will account to God for that, but it WILL happen..and sooner than people think, as there is nothing left Biblically to occur before the time of the apocalypse now except that.
Jesus returns soon for His church…at HIS timing not Hairy Camping’s.


July 11, 2011, 2:04 p.m.

Like I said…
Just use bomb sniffing dogs and metal detectors.
If someone wants to bring a bomb on a plane right now….
They could. They are coming up with sh1t that is LESS safe and taking away peoples rights. But this is a government agency so… its about the
same logic used as micro stamping bullets… like criminals cant get
a new firing pin ? ... its like asking spoiled children suddenly be responsible. Wont happen.


July 11, 2011, 2:46 p.m.

Good article missing a few things.  The current back-scatter dose is significant (1/20th chest x-ray) for children, expecting mothers and people with DNA repair issues. 
There is a possibility that TSA is secretly operating two face to face scanners in transmission mode/forward scatter only requires increasing x-ray tube voltage the smith patent and others US 7551715 covers this. This dose would be perhaps 1-3 chest x-rays.

New tunnel scanners in UK and Singapore are Likely operated in the “total recall” or transmission mode.  Learn more and how to protect your sensitive tissues.  Hope this helps.

peter cacka

July 19, 2011, 4:20 a.m.

the sad thing is is that our gov officials aculy think that terorists would bother with a hijacking/bombing. Come on guys pull your heads out, any real terorist threat isnt going to come from a place they have already used succsesfully. and any “intel” that our so called intelignce community is gathering on said threats should be veiwed as bullshit because that is what it is…


July 29, 2011, 9:46 p.m.

Hey John
Valley Forge equipment uses gamma radiation impulse as opposed to x radiation.  Gamma penetrates skin and is the most dangerous regardless of how much because it binds to internal organs and causes mutation.  Its good for cargo containers but not living beings. Quit trying to raise your stock prices with your BS.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
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?

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories