Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
The controversy over the TSA body scanners has been uninterrupted since their inception, along with the insane TSA screening policies. To counter the legitimate concerns and questions of the American people, Janet “Big Sis” Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security would cite National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) findings.
Thanks to the admirable work of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), it has become clear that those statements by Napolitano were nothing other than a pure, unadulterated lie. It turns out that NIST does not do product testing, and they did not test the AIT machines for safety (as Napolitano falsely asserted in the above linked article). The director of NIST clarified this in a recently released e-mail which stated that NIST only “measured the dose of a single machine and compared it against the standard.”
Napolitano was fabricating the information about safety testing in her opinion piece published by USA Today, that much is clear. What else was she lying to us about?
Not only did Napolitano egregiously lie about the testing conducted by NIST, she completely misrepresented the findings. This omission is putting every single unfortunate soul who has stooped to the level of working at the TSA at serious risk.
In another document obtained by EPIC, NIST outlines some of the serious dangers of these whole body scanners, specifically the Rapiscan Dual Secure 1000 Personnel Scanner. The design of the scanner creates an overshoot of the scanning beams, effectively leaking radiation from the machines, endangering those in the immediate vicinity.
NIST reports, “If wing shields are not used, either the occupancy of areas traversed by the four overshoot beams or the scan rate should be controlled to be made consistent with the recommended annual (skin entrance) dose limit of 100 mrem to employees.”
There is also some minor concern about the “scatter radiation” that results from the scanning beams’ radiation scattering off of the individual being scanned. While they make it clear that this radiation would result in less than the ANSI recommended 100 mrem dose limit, “consistent with the principle of ALARA (keeping exposures as low as reasonable achievable) it is recommended that employees do not routinely occupy the immediate open area next to the inspection zone.”
Clearly this means that the TSA agents operating these devices are exposing themselves to serious amounts of radiation that demand concern. These people are being bathed in radiation all day without even knowing it, and likely many of them will not pay attention to this massive breakthrough in the cover-up of the dangers inherent in any radiation-based imaging technology.
Napolitano also completely misrepresented the research conducted at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in her USA Today propaganda piece. In the “Dose to General Public” section of the report released by EPIC, we read, “An area exists above each of the units, due to primary beam overshoot, where the 100 mrem per year general public dose limit could potentially be exceeded.”
The information coming from EPIC on this issue just keeps getting more astounding with a series of e-mails detailing how TSA agents themselves are now demanding radiological testing. I think this is the most crucial step in fighting these types of battles in which the government and corporations have unbreakable alliances and the people can’t seem to make any breakthroughs.
The people being used to carry out these policies must realize they can stop doing what they are doing at any time and demand justice. TSA agents don’t need to grab passengers’ genitalia or force them to be exposed to radiation while having naked images taken of them. All it would take is for every TSA agent to refuse to be party to these dehumanization tactics and the entire absurdity of the situation would be erased without so much as a single vote.
I think that these e-mails could prove to be some of the most important documents released on this subject, due to the fact that they reveal a “growing number of TSOs […] have thus far been diagnosed with cancer.”
The first e-mail was written by the President of A.F.G.E. Local 2617, AJ Castilla in May, 2010 and officially states their “concern on TSA’s improperly non-monitored radiation threat facing both checkpoint and baggage assigned TSOs.” It seems that finally these individuals have stood up and refused to be microwaved all day in the name of freedom and safety.
The letter makes a very legitimate and logical request, “to issue every TSO a radiation monitoring dosimeter device that clips onto your uniform which would periodically be tested by a non-TSA third party medical facility which would track the results over a lengthy period of time and release those results to all of us whom work here.”
This seems like something they should have requested before the first naked body scanner was put into place, but I guess better late than never. Castilla states that the letter was written on behalf of many others working at Logan International Airport.
In another May, 2010 letter Castilla writes, “Quite a few TSOs consistently complain to me [as I am sure they are complaining to TSA] about their concern over the growing number of TSOs working here that have been diagnosed as having cancer and of their concerns that TSA’s utilized technology may be to blame.
I understand that some TSOs whom were diagnosed as having cancer, have already left TSA employment but [there are still] an alarmingly high number of cancer afflicted TSOs still working here or out while trying to address the illness.”
But wait! There’s more! These complaints are far from isolated and it seems to be the case that the TSA agents are starting to find serious problems with these technologies and their health concerns.
Hopefully more TSA agents around the nation will become vocal on this issue, as it is not my health on the line. I have always refused the scanners, but what about the TSA agent standing right next to it all day? When will he refuse to stand there and watch himself turn into a giant cancerous blob?
The next letter comes from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, written by the lead TSA officer to Mary V. Leftridge Byrd, Federal Security Director of the airport.
The unnamed lead officer writes, “Following the influx of TSA employees falling victim to various forms of cancer, strokes and heart disease; the Atlanta workforce is concerned about radiation levels we are being exposed to on a daily bases (sic).”
S/he continues, “The workforce should don protective gear when performing various aspects of the job. Goggles should be worn while handling the acid associated with the Color Metrics as well as protection from the laser of the Bottle Liquids Scanner. Led (sic) shields should be provided to protect vital and reproductive organs from radiation exposure while operating the Cast scope, AIT, X-ray and Itemizer DX.
I explained to [redacted] that the orientation of the X-ray operator[‘s] seat in relation to the exit tunnel on the X-ray machines needs to be behind the shield per the manufactures (sic) recommendation. The X-ray machines are NOT equipped with interior led (sic) shields to protect us from the possibility of radiation exposure nor have we been provided dosimeters to track radiation levels.”
Why a single person is still working for the TSA under these clearly dangerous conditions is beyond me. Unless they really enjoy molesting people and generally ruining people’s day, why would they put themselves at risk?
In response, Jill M. Segraves, CSP, Director of the Office of Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment wrote a long letter essentially refusing to implement any of the reasonable and logical requests made by TSA employees. Of course they justified this by claiming that “Prior to deploying any technology in the field, TSA ensures that each technology is designed and tested to meet regulatory safety and health requirements, to include radiation.”
Their “TSA Radiation Safety Initiatives” include a year-long dosimetry study at six airports, which supposedly have already proven that the radiation is well below the levels that would warrant TSOs wearing their own dosimeters. However, they have apparently issued them to 1174 TSOs for the study.
They also claim that, if “used as directed” goggles aren’t necessary for Colorimetric Testing. Is it really that hard to buy some plastic goggles for people to wear in case of an accident? It also says “is not sufficient to require protective gear to be worn.” Requiring and recommending are two very different things and these types of safety manuals are very conscious of word choice.
Instead of just offering some cheap goggles to make the employees safer, they say, “[the above mentioned safety manual] and the TSA Colorimetric Testing Standard Operating Procedures both emphasize taking steps to prevent the solution from contacting the eyes, such as keeping the bottles at arm’s length away from the body while dropping the reagent solutions onto the test materials and ensuring that the solution is not spilled onto the gloves where it might be transferred to the eyes by touching or rubbing. If the solution accidentally contacts the eyes, flush the eyes with plenty of water and see a physician, if necessary.” That’s a lot more comforting than just providing a pair of goggles that cost next to nothing.
Essentially, Jill M. Segraves, CSP is telling them that all of the increased cases of cancer are purely coincidental, and all of the scientists questioning the safety of these devices are idiots.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to take the logical leap and say that there is a giant conspiracy between TSOs to fake getting cancer from these devices, aided by the scientific community.