Thursday, March 3, 2011

We are in the best of hands....TSA plans pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units capable of scanning vehicles & pedestrians on city streets...

I have not minded that we all have had to be somewhat used to the increased security practices since 9/11. The ability to insure safety for travel is understandable and those who don't like it can be the first to board an airliner without screening...then when it is overtaken, they can also be the first to suffer the consequences for letting our guard down.

At the same time, I also feel that the Fourth Amendment is needed as the ability to "search and seize" has limits based on privacy and the ability for citizens to live in a free society.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects personal privacy, and every citizen's right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property -- whether through police stops of citizens on the street, arrests, or searches of homes and businesses.

Lawmakers and the courts have put in place legal safeguards to ensure that law enforcement officers interfere with individuals' Fourth Amendment rights only under limited circumstances, and through specific methods.

What Does the Fourth Amendment Protect?

In the criminal law realm, Fourth Amendment "search and seizure" protections extend to:
•A law enforcement officer's physical apprehension or "seizure" of a person, by way of a stop or arrest; and
•Police searches of places and items in which an individual has a legitimate expectation of privacy -- his or her person, clothing, purse, luggage, vehicle, house, apartment, hotel room, and place of business, to name a few examples.

The Fourth Amendment provides safeguards to individuals during searches and detentions, and prevents unlawfully seized items from being used as evidence in criminal cases. The degree of protection available in a particular case depends on the nature of the detention or arrest, the characteristics of the place searched, and the circumstances under which the search takes place.

That said, I feel the TSA and Ms. Napolitano are stepping a bit over the line with plans for mobile searches of pedestrians (including sidewalk mounted scanners that would search vehicles as they drive by).....Look, a TSA idijit missed three box cutters on a plane out of JFK recently. How the HELL are they going to be trusted to use scanners anywhere else when they can't even manage the Airports???

Time for Janet to go and I feel her boss, the "empty suit in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" needs to go also.....These fools are not the ones we need leading our country in the fight against Terrorism. They have made things worse as they have set up conditions where we have wasted billions on faulty systems....Al Qeda stated that one of their goals was to drain our financial resources...." a death of a thousand cuts" according to their own PR...
With Obama and Napolitano, they have "inside help" in reaching that goal. This crappola is for the birds and only makes the Terrorists feel more empowered and our own people to feel violated.

Documents Reveal TSA Research Proposal To Body-Scan Pedestrians, Train Passengers
Mar. 2 2011 - 6:05 pm

A sample streetside scan image from American Sciences & Engineering.
Updated with the TSA’s response below, which denies implementing airport-style scans in mass transit.

Giving Transportation Security Administration agents a peek under your clothes may soon be a practice that goes well beyond airport checkpoints. Newly uncovered documents show that as early as 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been planning pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations, along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets.

The non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) on Wednesday published documents it obtained from the Department of Homeland Security showing that from 2006 to 2008 the agency planned a study of of new anti-terrorism technologies that EPIC believes raise serious privacy concerns. The projects range from what the DHS describes as “a walk through x-ray screening system that could be deployed at entrances to special events or other points of interest” to “covert inspection of moving subjects” employing the same backscatter imaging technology currently used in American airports.

The 173-page collection of contracts and reports, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, includes contracts with Siemens Corporations, Northeastern University, and Rapiscan Systems. The study was expected to cost more than $3.5 million.

One project allocated to Northeastern University and Siemens would mount backscatter x-ray scanners and video cameras on roving vans, along with other cameras on buildings and utility poles, to monitor groups of pedestrians, assess what they carried, and even track their eye movements. In another program, the researchers were asked to develop a system of long range x-ray scanning to determine what metal objects an individual might have on his or her body at distances up to thirty feet.

“This would allow them to take these technologies out of the airport and into other contexts like public streets, special events and ground transit,” says Ginger McCall, an attorney with EPIC. “It’s a clear violation of the fourth amendment that’s very invasive, not necessarily effective, and poses all the same radiation risks as the airport scans.”

It’s not clear to what degree the technologies outlined in the DHS documents have been implemented. Multiple contacts at the DHS public affairs office didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

A privacy assessment included in the documents for one aspect of the plans that focused on train security suggests that images wouldn’t be tied to any personally identifiable information such as a subject’s name. Any images shared outside the project or used for training purposes would have faces blurred, and employees using the system would be trained to avoid privacy violations, the document says. If the scanners were to adopt privacy enhancements deployed in new versions of the airport full body scanners currently being tested by the TSA, they would also use nondescript outlines of people rather than defined images, only showing items of interest on the subject’s body.

But EPIC’s McCall says that those safeguards are irrelevant: If scanners are deployed in public settings, it doesn’t matter if they show full naked images or merely the objects in a user’s pockets. “When you’re out walking on the street, it’s not acceptable for an officer to come up and search your bag without probable cause or consent.,” she says. “This is the digital equivalent.”

In August of last year, Joe Reiss, the vice president of marketing of security contractor American Sciences & Engineering told me in an interview that the company had sold more than 500 of its backscatter x-ray vans to governments around the world, including some deployed in the U.S. Those vans are capable of scanning people, the inside of cars and even the internals of some buildings while rolling down public streets. The company claims that its systems’ “primary purpose is to image vehicles and their contents,” and that “the system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race, sex or age of the person.” But Reiss admitted that the van scans do penetrate clothing, and EPIC president Marc Rotenberg called them “one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.”

On top of exposing research into possible expansion of the scanner program, EPIC has also filed a lawsuit against the DHS that fights the use of the scanners in airports. The group is arguing its case in a D.C. appellate court next week, though some expect the scanners to be ruled constitutional.

Update: A TSA official responds in a statement that the “TSA has not tested the advanced imaging technology that is currently used at airports in mass transit environments and does not have plans to do so.”

My response to that is " Riiiiiiigggghhhht...."

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