Homeland Security investigators have raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of a new generation of X-ray body scanners that are rapidly replacing conventional magnetometers at airports across the country.
The swelling concerns have coincided with a foiled bomb plot. Although the exact destination where the bomb was found is disclosed, officials have assured Americans that the threat has been contained. Bomb experts are actually picking through the bomb in an attempt to understand it. This will hopefully curb any future occurrences. The thwarted bomb plot allegedly stems from the works of mastermind bomb designer Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri. The link up materialized after the discovered bombs exhibited some similar traits to some of Al Asiri’s previous bombs. Al Asiri is held responsible for the notorious 2009 Christmas day foiled bomb attempt. He is one of the high priority wanted persons in the CIA and arguably a high profile wanted person in multiple nations other than the U.S. This shows that Al-Qaida still has its eyes set on aviation as a primary terror target.
Wired has cited an internal report sourced from the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. Although the report remains classified and unpublished, DHS quietly released a summary of the report in its website. The November dated summary merely mentioned eight recommendations that were geared towards improved screening. It did not delve any deeper and comprehensive details still remain in the dark.
Wired similarly noted that quantitative and qualitative testing results were placed under the classified category. It went on to further exclaim that conclusive details of the degree of vulnerability of the body scanners remain a mystery to the public and details on the same are yet to be disclosed.
A whopping $87 billion has been spent by DHS to replace magnetometers with X-ray body scanners. The body scanners are purposely designed to seal the loopholes created by conventional magnetometers. The X-ray body scanners are intended to detect items that can be overlooked by metal detectors. A further $7 million has been pumped in the operation to withdraw the human factor in the image review process. If the improvement materializes, passenger images will be replaced by an avatar.
Wired has noted that this is not the first incidence where flaws in the body scanners were discussed. The Government Accountability Office through the congress investigative arm has also cited concerns about the scanners arguing that they had the grave possibility of being ineffective against terrorist threats.