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TSA Myth or Fact: 'Blogger Bob' Provokes a Stream of Comments From Pat-Down Protesters

Colorful comments on the TSA website reveal how many people are unnerved by the seemingly endless tightening of security at airports in the United States.

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Fact: TSA officers are prohibited from stealing, yet they still do.

It’s true that numerous cases have emerged since Sept. 11 of TSA employees getting caught stealing cash and valuables from travelers. The most we can do here is trust that indeed no reports of image sharing have been substantiated.


So how is the TSA preventing officers from bringing cell phones and other recording devices into the AIT viewing area? Do they search them or just take their word for it?


Blogger Bob:

Myth: AIT is not safe.
Fact: Backscatter technology is safe for all passengers and has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, National Institute for Standards and Technology and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. All results confirm that the radiation dose is well below the standard for safety set by the American National Standards Intitute. The technology is safe. A person receives more radiation naturally each hour than from one screening with a backscatter unit. In fact, a traveler is exposed to less radiation from one AIT scan than from two minutes of an airline flight.


Fact: I am a multiple-time skin cancer survivor. My doctor (from Johns Hopkins) said I should never be exposed to a backscatter machine, because the amount of radiation the machine gives off may or may not be unsafe.


Not all scientists agree with you that AIT is safe. For example, four at [the University of California San Francisco]:

The four experts first sent a letter to the White House back in April expressing concern that whole-body imagers could result in the skin sustaining “dangerously high” doses of radiation due to the unique technology being used. They worried that pregnant women and those prone to breast cancer may be especially vulnerable. The letter received relatively little attention at that time compared to the amount of coverage aimed at full-body scanners in recent weeks.


Why aren’t TSA screeners wearing radiation badges? Almost anyone within the healthcare profession wears them when in environments that could have X-ray exposure.


Is it true TSA employees who work with AIT machines are NOT allowed to wear radiation badges like health care workers are required?

Ira Flatow of National Public Radio’s “Science Friday,” a weekly talk show branded under NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” asked the same question back in September. A security screener told him she wanted to wear a radiation badge but it was not permitted.

G.W. Schulz, a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, has been covering homeland security issues since 2008.

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