Airport Body Scanners Catch Drugs, Not Explosives; 80-Plus People Hid Illegal Items Nationwide This Year, TSA Says

Categories: High Security


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​The electronic strip-shows being installed at airports around the country haven't helped catch any terrorists, bombs or guns.

Yet body scanners are paying off for local law enforcement: The high-tech machines excel at detecting tiny packets of illegal drugs hidden on a person's body or in a pocket.

Since the scanners went operational earlier this year, the machines tipped off authorities to more than 80 people who were trying to smuggle drugs -- or sometimes weapons -- through airport security, Dwayne Baird of the Transportation Security Administration tells New Times.

One of the machines was installed at Sky Harbor's Terminal 4 in June, and more machines are likely coming.

Baird didn't know how many of the 80-plus cases -- if any -- were from Phoenix.

Phoenix police did not have additional information on the new way of catching hidden drugs, saying that if the new scanner resulted in any busts, they'd be mixed in with all the other airport drug cases.

TSA policy dictates that security personnel call local law enforcement when they find any kind of illegal drug on a passenger, Baird says.

The statistic provided by Baird seems to indicate a slowdown in the number of drug cases turning up due to body scanners. When CNN covered the same issue back in April, TSA stated there were 60 cases of illegal items hidden on folks. With only 20 or so more cases since then, it would seem many high fliers have figured out how to beat the system -- or just left their goodies at home.

Ostensibly, no one should be forced to step into a body scanner. Some people are worried about more than privacy concerns -- they're worried about the safety of the machines, as a recent New York Times article detailed. As the article explained, the scanner is supposed to be optional, with passengers able to choose an "intimate" pat-down instead. However, some travelers report that TSA personnel basically ordered them into a scanner.

The funny thing is, the scanners reportedly can't detect certain explosives or items hidden in someone's body cavities. Terrorists and hard-core drug smugglers with size 11 colons still have little to worry about.

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"The funny thing is, the scanners reportedly can't detect certain explosives or items hidden in someone's body cavities."

well, genious, the funny thing is that NOTHING can. Are you advocating mandatory body cavity searches at the airport? Full body scanners are the best thing we have right now. We could put every passenger through a CT machine and see inside them and also diagnose tumors while we were at it but that would cost hundreds of billions and you would have to show up 8 hours before a flight.

do you want people to board planes with bombs? no. do you want someone at the airport to put thier hand between your butt cheeks and in your crotch to look there for explosives? no.

thus we have very fast, mostly autonomus scanners.

Steve Scanner
Steve Scanner

"Advanced Imaging Technology" is a euphemism created to make people think they are getting "scanned." No one is getting "scanned" -- they are getting strip searched.

The fundamental privacy issue is whether our government has the right to make strip searches routine and mandatory.

There is no question that these machines violate the 4th Amendment.

There are also health issues. Researchers are already coming out saying that the machines aren't safe and could cause cancer.

Please check out the brochures at:http://www.nudeoscope.comhttp://ThousandsStandingAround...http://dontscan.us

and join us on FacebookAll Facebook Against Airport Full Body Scanners

and join in on Flyertalk.comOrganized resistance to WBI/invasive patdowns


Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Just curious, Mr. Stern, what exactly is a size 11 colon, and how would YOU know about them? Medical training, I suspect.... ;-)


 Or we can stop looking for dangerous items and start looking for dangerous people.  Every terrorist attack on American airplanes and airports in the U.S and abroad have been by Islamic males between the ages of 25 and 40.  All foreign born.  That should narrow the search down.

Mike Wells
Mike Wells

Although, I agree with the gist of your comments, most notably the fact that it's the best thing we have at this time, I must point out that the word 'genius' is one of those words that you don't want to misspell... This isn't a 'spelling police' thing as much as a 'don't-make-yourself-look-silly-by-insulting-someone's-intelligence-yet-misspelling-the-word-that-implies-intelligence' thing.

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