January 3, 2010

Stripped Naked By Al-Qaeda (and I Haven’t Even Been to the Airport)

Stripped Naked By Al-Qaeda (and I Haven't Even Been to the Airport)

A combination of images shows an airport staff member (L) demonstrating a full body scan at Manchester Airport in Manchester, north-west England, and a computer screen showing the results of a full body scan (R) on October 13, 2009. The image on the right is not from a scan of the man pictured left. The scanner works by bouncing x-rays off an individuals skin to produce an outline of the person’s body which is then used to detect concealed, potentially dangerous objects. The image is then transmitted to a remote security officer who has no visual or verbal contact with the area where the machine is located. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS

Memo to al-Qaeda: The plan actually worked! Abdulmutallab didn’t even need to detonate his explosive to to literally scare the pants off the non-Muslim world with all these photos of near-naked airline passengers — not to mention, sending whole countries into a frenzy of anxiety, media hype and, of course, unchecked spending.

Since Christmas, western media has been flooded with images such as this, with countries rushing to either purchase or put into operation these ridiculous machines. Beyond the vanity issues, which apparently can be mitigated by placing operators behind screens or in separate rooms, and using software that blurs faces and can produce displays that are not so graphic, all kinds of other problems abound. There are the added delays, the radiation from the x-rays, the limits of the machines to detect past certain levels of components or substances, the possibility of hiding bombs inside the body … not to mention the megabucks that go out the window with each passing type of threat. (I don’t know. Can you buy stock in Rapiscan?)

Maybe I should have actually withheld this post, knowing how these photo serve up a gift to the jihadists, each one setting off another burst of fear and humiliation.

Spiegel photo gallery.

(photos: Reuters)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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