Ka-ching. Mission accomplished, underpants bomber! Guess you didn’t know how you were being played. Oh, and for the citizens that are going to docilely queue up to go through these things – maybe you should know first that they do have the capability built in to store and transmit your image, genitalia and all, and a study has raised concerns that the high frequency energy used could damage your DNA. So enjoy explaining how much your government cares about your security to your unborn kids when cancer rates explode in a decade from chronic exposure to these things, because you’ll probably be seeing them in a lot of places other than airports.
Flashback: –> Group slams Chertoff on conflict of interest in scanner promotion <– !!
Andrew Clark, The Guardian
January 18, 2010
Detroit bomb attempt opens $600m opportunities for Rapiscan and other full-body scanner manufacturers
The alleged “underpants bomber” who tried to blow up flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day has triggered a vigorous commercial race to cash in on a $600m (Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£370m) opportunity to fit airports with full-body scanners detecting concealed explosives.
Unnerved by terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s apparent ability to evade detection on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the US government has pledged to install imaging machines that snap images of passengers’ naked bodies to spot hidden objects that can pass through metal detectors unnoticed. Britain, the Netherlands and other nations are following.
Investors have been quick to spot a rapid profit. One Californian firm specialising in imaging machines, Rapiscan, has seen its shares in its parent company, OSI Systems, leap by 27% since Christmas. American Science and Engineering, is up by 16% and has deployed its chief executive to have his own body scanned on live television.
Analysts say that installing scanners within the US could cost $300m — paid for, in part, by economic stimulus money. As the US urges other nations to scan passengers on US-bound flights, the outlay could double internationally.
Michael Kim, an analyst at Imperial Capital in Los Angeles, said: “We estimate that there are approximately 2,000 security lanes at US airports, each of which would require a body scanning machine if that’s the route the TSA chooses to take. Our information is that the cost of each scanner is around $150,000.”
In best position to take advantage is Rapiscan, which has its roots in a long forgotten subsidiary of British Airways. The company, now based in a suburb of Los Angeles, was originally part of International Aeradio, an airport services division of BA that was sold off during the 1980s.
Two months before Abdulmutallab’s botched attack on Northwest Airlines flight 253, Rapiscan won a $25m contract to supply 150 imaging machines to the US transportation security administration for trial deployment at various US airports. Success could bring rewards in Britain — Rapiscan has a hi-tech development centre near Gatwick airport and a factory in Cheshire producing baggage x-ray equipment.
Rapiscan is not the only contender. A list of “qualified products” approved by security authorities includes a scanner made by America’s sixth largest defence company, L-3 Communications, which produced 40 devices already in use at US airports. L-3′s model can snap both sides of a subject simultaneously, so passengers do not need to turn around, potentially speeding up queues.
American Science and Engineering, is yet to get its devices approved but is anxious to be noticed — its chief executive, Anthony Fabiano, recently demonstrated his company’s scanner live on the business television network CNBC, proudly displaying an image of his naked body to viewers with the words: “This is me nude, just like my wife would like to see me.”
Disliked by privacy campaigners who worry about prurient glimpses of naked bodies, full-body scanners work by firing high-frequency electromagnetic radio waves at travellers, and creating an image based on the way in which radiation scatters off the body.
Frequent fliers have expressed health concerns about being constantly bombarded with radiation. But an expert body, the US national council on radiation protection and measurements, calculated that travellers would need to be scanned 2,500 times annually before they risk “negligible” exposure to harmful radioactivity.
Manufacturers have installed complex software to blur subjects’ private parts and have limited the resolution of screen images to “chalk outlines” of body parts. Under rules being considered by security authorities, operators viewing images will sit in a different room, unable to see their subjects in person.
Brian Ruttenbur, a defence industry analyst at stockbroker Morgan Keegan, said privacy concerns were unlikely to prevail: “My view is that it’s not an inalienable right to fly in an aircraft and the public will have to put up with some inconvenience if they want to do so.”
He said installation, at least initially, could be patchy: “I don’t think we’ll see 100% roll-out until we see a successful attack.”
The TSA initially intends to buy 450 full-body scanners — an outlay of $45m to $65m. Ruttenbur said the layout was merely the latest boom to hit security companies since the terrorist attacks of September 11. Since 2001, spending on homeland security has leapt from $16bn to $55bn annually.
For firms specialising in security equipment, this means striking a tricky balance between marketing and being seen to take advantage of a national emergency. American Science and Engineering’s vice-president of marketing, Joe Reiss acknowledged the climate was sensitive — but argued that companies can play a role in generating public acceptance of tighter security.
“Everybody’s grateful that flight 253 was not a successful attack but those of us in the security industry are terribly aware of where a lot of the vulnerabilities remain,” said Reiss. “The reasons this technology hasn’t been deployed have to do with privacy and safety concerns that seem to us like very minor issues when you consider the possible loss of life a terrorist attack can cause.”
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