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Pro-con: Should all fliers have full-body scans?

The Transportation Security Administration has installed machines that can capture images under passengers' clothes, but some House members have limited their use. The scanning foes' position is irrational as well as dangerous. In a bipartisan irresponsibility, U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and Carol Shea-Porter, a New Hampshire Democrat, sponsored an amendment that would ban whole-body imaging as a primary screening technique at airports. It would be used only on passengers who set off metal detectors. But plastic explosives can't be seen by metal detectors, which is why terrorists use them. The odd thing about the controversy is that this procedure is more private than the pat-down. The people looking at the pictures have no idea who is being scanned. Airport security officers examine the images in a windowless room, and a filter blurs the subject's face. No cameras or cell phones are allowed, and the images are erased after use. — Providence Journal editorial

Full-body scans are yet another knee-jerk reaction. Need I point out that few existing scanners can detect weapons carried inside a person's body? Shall we require a complete body-cavity search for every passenger before boarding? Need I point out that few existing scanners can detect chemical weapons? Current equipment can detect only one chemical at a time and must be recalibrated for each substance. How many weeks before our scheduled flights must we show up at the airport? Worse, biological weapons are undetectable using current scanning technology — remember anthrax? Where will this renewed demand for increased "security" bring us? Will all airline passengers be required to strip down and fly naked? — GrrlScientist, scienceblogs.com

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