Dutch Using Full Body Scanners for US Flights

The Netherlands will immediately begin using full body scanners for flights heading to the United States to prevent future terrorist attacks like the foiled Christmas Day attempt.

This was inevitable:

The Netherlands will immediately begin using full body scanners for flights heading to the United States to prevent future terrorist attacks like the foiled Christmas Day attempt.

Officials say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, managed to board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport carrying explosives but failed to successfully detonate them. The plane was carrying over 300 people.

A sign explains the procedure for going through the whole body scan machine, or millimeter wave machine as passengers wait in line at a security check point at the Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 10, 2009. REUTERS/George Frey

A sign explains the procedure for going through the whole body scan machine, or millimeter wave machine as passengers wait in line at a security check point at the Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 10, 2009. REUTERS/George Frey

In a preliminary report on Wednesday, the Dutch government said the plan to blow up the Detroit-bound aircraft was professional but called its execution “amateurish.”

“It is not exaggerating to say the world has escaped a disaster,” Interior Minister Guusje Ter Horst told a news conference.

Actually, it is. The families of those aboard did, however, escape a horrible tragedy.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol has 15 body scanners, but their use has been limited because of privacy objections that they display the contours of the passenger’s body. Neither the European Union nor the U.S. have approved the routine use of the scanners.

New software, however, eliminates that problem by projecting a stylized image onto a computer screen, highlighting the area of the body where objects are concealed in pockets or under the clothing and alerting security guards.

Two scanners have been experimentally using that software since late November and the Dutch said those will be put into use immediately. All scanners will be upgraded within three weeks so they can be used on flights to the United States.

If and when the kinks are worked out of this system, it actually makes perfect sense.  It appears that they have gotten around the most serious privacy concerns and a scan actually provides much more real security than the nonsensical procedures they’re using now.  My strong guess, however, is that they will continue those as well.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    This is typical of the liberal, Old Europe, Big Government way of doing things.

    The only way to deter plane terror is to allow people to carry guns on planes. That way no idiot would try and start something since they would know that other passengers would likely shoot them.

  2. just me says:

    Honestly-I prefer this type of scanner to having to take my shoes off and carry little bottles of shampoo and toothpaste.

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    Of course, full body scanners would probably not have actually caught Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab because of the location of the explosives. But hey, what’s a little privacy compared to a false promise of safety?

  4. fred says:

    The Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge I , ________________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following: I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights. I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public. I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also. I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following: Social Security Medicare/Medicaid State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) Police, Fire, and Emergency Services US Postal Service Roads and Highways Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA) The US Railway System Public Subways and Metro Systems Public Bus and Lightrail Systems Rest Areas on Highways Sidewalks All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations- – http://grassley.senate.gov/issues/upload/Master-Approps-73109.pdf ) Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!) Public and State Universities and Colleges Public Primary and Secondary Schools Sesame Street Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children Public Museums Libraries Public Parks and Beaches State and National Parks Public Zoos Unemployment Insurance Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them) Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them) Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions) Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD’s ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C. I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to: Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments The government-operated Statue of Liberty The Grand Canyon The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare. I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America. I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army. I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees. Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks. Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die. SWORN ON A BIBLE AND SIGNED THIS DAY OF ____________ IN THE YEAR______________. ___________________________ ___________________________ Signed Printed Name/Town and State
    Posted by antizealot

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    Seriously, WTF fred?

  6. UlyssesUnbound says:

    I second that, Steve. WTF Fred? Is this apropos to this conversation whatsoever? I’m ok with crazy, but keep it to crazy that is inspired by the article in question.

  7. anjin-san says:

    I have no problem with body scanners. Flying is not a right, and it seems like a reasonable and effective precaution. Not especially worried of someone sees my “body contours” for that matter.

  8. How long until the internets provide us with Angelina Jolie’s body contours?

    I don’t see these things as a big deal. I usually fly naked anyway. I like the feel of leather on my body contours.

  9. Fine. Let’s use these for general screening in the U.S. as well; we might as well speed AQ recruitment of women and obese men, who will have more options for hiding explosives on their persons.

    It certainly makes more sense than looking more closely at people who are flying on one-way tickets without any luggage at all . . .

  10. Brian Knapp says:

    Naked body scanners? I know obesity is a problem in the U.S., but are we really better off with the other end of eating disorders taking hold of our new self-conscious flyers?

  11. Economists would probably tell us that we could reduce far more auto-traffic deaths at far lower cost. But that’s not terrorism, right? And it’s a risk over which we “feel” we have control?

    All sorts of weird human factors here. IMO the terrorism thing gains irrational focus because it is an easily visualized death, a frightening one, and one that we didn’t grow up with. All those things trigger a response, make it seem non-background risk – even if our commute to work is still riskier.

  12. Franklin says:

    Actually, it is. The families of those aboard did, however, escape a horrible tragedy.

    Well, if the pilot lost control of the plane, it could have hit anything. So some places near Detroit may have also averted disaster.

    But on the other hand, considering that Detroit is already a disaster …

  13. tom p says:

    Well, if TSA personnel get their giggles looking at my teeny-tiny penis while stopping Nigerian terrorist persons with muslim sounding names and explosives attached to their genitals (and a whole lot more penis envy than I ever dreamed of) from bringing down a plane full of well endowed, virile (read: lustful) American men and lusty (read: loose) well endowed American women….

    I geuss I can provide the comic relief to their day,

  14. Drew says:

    “All those things trigger a response, make it seem non-background risk – even if our commute to work is still riskier.”

    That, of course, is the lightweight’s analogy.

    In reality, people understand that they take risks all the time in their everyday lives. But they also understand motive; and they differentiate between unintended events and planned events, and naturally recoil at the notion of being intentionally targeted, hunted down and slaughtered like mongrel dogs.

  15. Points off for leading with the Ad Homenum, Drew.

    Beyond that, here is an feature article at Time Magazine expanding on the “humans have a hard time with risks” theme. I think my comment above was a fair summary.

  16. hahaha I never go back and spell check Ad Hominem