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Coming soon to an airport, border crossing, or government building near you

Male and female x-ray images from Canon SecurePass

Meet the next generation of police-state scanners. Guess we can’t call ’em porno-scanners any more, because they don’t show our private parts as much as the present ones do. Nope. They just probe our bones and internal organs and our prosthetics if we have ’em. With x-rays. But totally “safe” x-rays, of course. How could you imagine otherwise, you unpatriotic little weasel? That you could even think such a thing obviously proves you have something to hide.

Guess all those expensive machines the TSA just bought will soon have to be replaced with new expensive machines. From the friendly company (a subset of it) that brings us all those nice cameras and printers — Canon. Machines that can detect “contraband” in our body cavities. Poor Michael Chertoff. Wonder which competing lobbyist will snag the cash this time?

And these shiny new devices are designed especially for use in airports, border crossings, government buildings and prisons. Don’t suppose anybody from Homeland (Achtung!) Security will see the irony in that, do you?


  1. Joel
    Joel April 28, 2011 8:25 am

    If they don’t keep ahead of the technology game, Claire, the terrorists will win. You don’t want that, do you? The immense bales of money involved are purely coincidental – they’re only interested in your safety. Really.

    And I’m sure, somehow, that Mr. Chertoff will be just fine. Until and unless he meets that lamp post.

  2. Scott
    Scott April 28, 2011 9:28 am

    Out of curiosity,do you have to have your papers in order/be scanned/probed/whatever to get on a bus or a train? How long will it be before you do? Or to get on a city bus?
    Side note-I’ve owned a couple of x-ray machines(found’em in dumpsters as a teenager..a shoe store x-ray machine,and a 1920s-or earlier-doctor’s office version) I think I was the only one in that school’s history to have x-rays included for photography class.
    Safe exposure levels vary from person to person-I pity the frequent flyer if these things become everyday thins at the airport.

  3. Pat
    Pat April 28, 2011 9:49 am

    As of the last week in February, you did not have to be scanned/probed/whatever to get on Amtrak trains. I can’t vouch for this week in April, and don’t know about buses.

  4. Carl-Bear
    Carl-Bear April 28, 2011 10:00 am

    Guess I still won’t take up flying again any time soon.

    I occasionally write to “my” congress-scum (I know, but it’s fun to watch them and their staffers freak out over certain questions). One thing I keep harping on is, “Exactly how many terrorists has the TSA caught though “enhanced patdowns” and/or whole body imagers?”

    I mean, every time the FBI catches another “terrorist” (whom they’ve almost invariably sponsored, trained, and equipped since there aren’t really a whole lot of real terrorists running around the country) they hold press conferences and tell us what a great job they’re doing. And yet… TSA? Nada.

    And I finally flat out called one senator a f*****g idiot when she repeated (one too freaking many times) the claim that all the groping and ionizing radiation exposure is needed to stop people like the Panty Bomber. You know, the guy who was INBOUND to the US and wouldn’t have been subjected to the process anyway. They guy who was captured by PASSENGERS, not some feeble-minded fed.

    For some reason her office doesn’t answer my letters anymore. [grin]

  5. It's Me
    It's Me April 28, 2011 10:08 am

    Maybe I should place a bet that those images aren’t real, that the actual images will be porn ones.

    Of course this being the government, everything is upside down. The government screwed up and instead of losing business of upset customers they get more money to get a new product.

    I’m sure these will be immensely useful to stop someone from setting off a bomb in the passenger dropoff area or from setting a bomb off while they are waiting in security line.

  6. Carl-Bear
    Carl-Bear April 28, 2011 10:48 am

    It’s Me Says: “Maybe I should place a bet that those images aren’t real, that the actual images will be porn ones. ”

    Those might be real. If they’re using a beam powerful enough to detect bones under flesh, then it’s going right through the skin and won’t really image surface features. Of course, that means you’re getting a higher radiation exposure than the current batch of whole body imagers dishes out.

    Ah, wait. I see they actually have two different models. One is the high dosage penetrating scan, and the other is a lower dosage “screening” version. The latter is probably a “conventional” pornoscanner.

    Funny thing is, I still know an explosive that will make it through any of these imagers; millimeter wave or hard and soft X-ray. It’ll pass a hands-on search, too. It should be detectable by nitrate testing, but I’d bet that 99.9% of TSA screeners would still never figure it out.

  7. Shane
    Shane April 28, 2011 11:26 am

    The folks at Root Simple (LA urban homesteaders) have got the right idea.

    Claire ,you’re a prize. Your blog and books have inspired and entertained me since “101 Things”. Thank you for being you… Found an autographed copy of I AM NOT A # in a used bookstore in Greensboro, NC last week for $8!

  8. Claire
    Claire April 28, 2011 12:45 pm

    Shane — Good link! And thanks for the kindness.

    Did the copy of “Number” you spotted have the yellow cover (1st ed) or the more colorful one with the handprint (2nd ed)? LOL, I’m glad to see it still selling for something like actual money. Every writer’s greatest dread is to learn that a book has turned up in a $0.50 bin.

  9. JuliB
    JuliB April 28, 2011 4:22 pm

    I am very respectful and professional in my life, but I do fly weekly for work and for the most part avoid the porno-scanners. But when I do have to stand in one, I give the machine the finger using each hand. Utterly childish, but I feel I have to to something.

  10. Claire
    Claire April 28, 2011 9:02 pm

    JuliB. Childish, maybe. But that’s a hoot — especially coming from a respectful, professional traveling woman.

    And when that sort of defiance is all you’ve got available to you, why not? You reminded me of the sailors from the captured USS Pueblo, who persuaded their North Korean captors that a “salute” like yours was the “Hawaiian good luck sign.”

    (Which also leads to the most charming “confession” in history, the one Pueblo Commander Lloyd Bucher was forced to produce:

  11. Shane
    Shane April 29, 2011 5:26 am

    Claire – It was the “handprint” 2nd ed. I would’ve LOVED to find the 1st for that awesome cover! I’m a fan of the artist, Ashleigh Talbot.
    Oh, and you were in the “Counter-Culture” section!

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