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TSA Body Image Scanners: Cui Bono

Ann Althouse is on a mission to see who might be benefiting from the TSA’s efforts to put body image scanners in every airport in the United States.¬†As part of that effort, she links to this piece from FireDogLake¬† that sets up a very interesting timeline:

  • 2005: Michael Chertoff, as head of Homeland Security, orders the first batch of porno scanners from a company called Rapiscan Systems. After his departure, Chertoff gave dozens of interviews using his government credentials to promote the device. What he didn’t tell people was that Rapiscan was one of the clients of his consulting company, The Chertoff group.
  • March 2009: The Department of Homeland Security says they will apply $1 billion in stimulus money to the nation’s airports. Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, personally promises to oversee the distribution of stimulus funds so money goes toward the goal of creating “4 million jobs” and not on “boondoggles”
  • December 2009: Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz inserted language into the Homeland Security appropriations bill barring the use of full-body image scans as “primary” screening tools at airports, and it passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 310-118. Both the ACLU and the NRA backed it. The amendment also made it illegal to store and copy these images. It died in the Senate.
  • December 25, 2009: The “Christmas bomber” attempts to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a flight to Detroit.
  • December 29, 2009: Joe Lieberman calls for “more widespread use of the full-body scanners after the aborted attack.”
  • January 2010: Since they couldn’t get money for the porno scanners from Congress, TSA uses the “Christmas bomber” scare to appropriate $25 million they had received in stimulus money to buy the “backscatter” scanners — from Rapiscan, Chertoff’s client. Rapiscan said the contract “helped create” 25 jobs. The government gives the TSA the green light to spend a total of $173 million on the scanners. TSA spokesperson Sarah Horowitz said “the agency has enough funds that would come from the stimulus program and other federal sources” to purchase 300 more porno scanners, per CNN. Total jobs created, per the government’s own website: 1.
  • April 2010: The GAO reports that “it remains unclear whether the AIT would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident based on the preliminary information GAO has received.”
  • November 8, 2010: US Airline Pilots Association tells its members “NOT to submit to AIT screenings.”
  • November 15, 2010: Joe Lieberman says he “comes down on the side of the patdowns.”

Jane Hamsher sums her conclusions up thusly:

So the “groping” technique was developed as a way to punish people into using the scanners — because there are $148 million more on the way. And just so nobody gets the idea to follow Tyner’s lead, the TSA is using threats and intimidation to guarantee the market for the porno scanners. Whether Tyner is prosecuted or not, people will hear about what happened to him and think twice before refusing to become fodder for their new machines.

Is that what this is really all about ?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tim says:

    I think the scanners are a neccessary evil. Of course, as in every other situation, someone politically connected is going to come out with a boatload of money.

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  2. TG Chicago says:

    Why did you start the piece talking about Ann Althouse when all you did was quote the vast majority of the Hamsher post?

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  3. Steve Verdon says:

    Is that what this is really all about ?

    You thought it was something else?

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  4. anjin-san says:

    The looting binge of the Bush years has consequences that continue to be felt. Is this a shock?

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