AirTalk for January 21, 2013

TSA to replace 'naked image' scanners

LA Mayor Villaraigosa Uses Airport Scanner At LAX

David McNew/Getty Images

TSA agents stand near an Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) full-body scanner at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The TSA effectively has carte blanche to be all up in your junk, or to at least look at pictures of it, before you get on an airplane. But the federal agency announced on Friday that it will stop using the kind of x-ray body scanners that produced the anatomically revealing images of passengers at security checkpoints in airports.

The reason? The company that makes the scanners couldn’t find a software fix to bring the scanners in line with a congressional mandate to make the scanners less revealing of passengers’ body parts. The TSA says another kind of scanner, one that is less revealing in the images it captures, will remain in use.

Does this change the actual level of security at US airports? Why did the scanners need to capture such revealing images in the first place, if there are other scanners that manage to do the same job in a more modest manner? Are x-rays of the American public’s collective crotch really an effective deterrent to would-be terrorists?

Guests:

Michael Grabell, ProPublica reporter who covers travel and airport security.

Brian Michael Jenkins
, Senior Advisor to the President of the Rand Corporation and one of the nation's leading experts on terrorism and homeland security.

Patrick Smith, pilot, author of the book of Ask The Pilot (Riverhead Trade Paperback Original) and founder and editor of AskThePilot.com, a blog about air travel


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