Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Advanced Imaging Technology: Storing, Exporting and Printing of Images

It's being reported that the Advanced Imaging Technology (also known as body scanners) being used by TSA has the ability to store, print and export images.

The truth is, the procurement specifications require these machines be capable of functioning in both a screening operation environment at the airport, and in a test mode environment. A test mode would be used at our testing facilities at the Transportation Security Integration Facility (TSIF) and the Transportation Security Lab (TSL). As you can imagine, the ability to store, export and print are crucial in a testing environment. TSA documents and manages approved configurations for all procured equipment, which are verified both in the factory and in the field prior to operational use.

All functionality to store, export or print images is disabled before these machines are delivered to airport checkpoints. There is no way for Transportation Security Officers in the airport environment to place the machines into test mode.

The Privacy Impact Statement (PIA), versions of which have been out since 2007, have each said the same thing: "While the equipment has the capability of collecting and storing an image, the image storage functions will be disabled by the manufacturer before the devices are placed in an airport and will not have the capability to be activated by operators."

AIT machines do have USB, hard disc and Ethernet capabilities, but these are for limited data transfer only - an officer's user ID, log-in and log-out time, and statistical data. Images cannot be transmitted or stored. Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked.

TSA has been forthcoming with the traveling public about this technology, including the strong privacy protections we have in place. We've posted many times on Advanced Imaging Technology and you can read more on our blog and at TSA.gov.

Also, contrary to popular rumor, AIT portals cannot "beam you up."

On a slightly unrelated note, there are many different inaccurate images circulating out there. Below, you will see accurate examples of what our officers see while using advanced imaging technology. Anything else you see is inaccurate.



Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

142 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah, those same old images again eh? We want unmodified, full resolution, RECENT scan output data. One of the blog team should submit to a body scan. Anything less, and we must take your statements as the lies they have so often proven to be in the past. Hey Bob, guess what? Your agency has ZERO credibility, and as their public spokesman, you personally have even less, being, as you are, a TSA man to the last with no interest in justice or fair play for the common traveller. Don't bother defending yourself on this charge unless you're willing to go back in the comments archive and answer every question you've ignored.

So officers "can't get the terminals into test mode" eh? Well, since you seem to be admitting that the scanners are interfaced to common PC hardware (with USB, hard disk, etc) I find that very hard to believe. A tech-savvy person with physical access to a computer can make it do almost anything. If "test mode" is restricted by software, and not by hardware, the secret "test mode enabling" keypresses or mouse clicks will eventually surface, becoming an open secret among TSOs who will commence sharing the hottest naked ladies amongst themselves. You had better hope those images never hit the internet because while the public can (somehow!) forgive your consistently mediocre performance and your bone-headed reactionary policy-setting, one thing the American public fear above all else are naked bodies (especially the conservatives responsible for your agency's continued existence) so once you guys start getting called pornographers it'll be the beginning of the end. Personally, I've got a $100.00 bet going that you guys will screw up and have a scanner-related security breach in the next 24 months. I expect to win my wager. Good luck though!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,
Are the picture posted here the same size and resolution that the operator sees ?

RB said...

Rep. Chaffetz wrote an article in this week's Newsweek outlining his opposition to the Nude-o-Scope. Some highlights:


Quote:
Early last year Salt Lake City International Airport began testing a new device called a whole-body-imaging (WBI) scanner. The process seemed simple enough: people pass through the scanner with their arms above their heads, then wait a few seconds while a screener reviews the image. Last spring I met with the Transportation Security Administration in Utah to find out more about it. I had seen some of the images in news stories and on television—but, as I learned, there's a big difference between the two-inch image in the newspaper and the one the TSA sees on an oversize screen. As I looked at those detailed images, I imagined my wife and children having to pass through that scanner. I resolved that no one should be forced to expose their body to total strangers to secure an airplane.End Quote

Quote:
But if we could all see the full-size images that TSA screeners see, many would think twice about surrendering privacy. The images leave little to the imagination, exposing passengers' bodies in sufficient detail for screeners to count the change in our pockets and see beads of sweat on our backs—not to mention intimate, gender-specific details. End Quote
....................

Bob are you stating that the Congressman is being dishonest about the quality of the images he was shown?

You mention the PIA. Why did TSA state brochures would be available to the public in order to gain their consent to WBI "Strip Search" screening and none were available?

Why was signage as required by the PIA not properly deployed?

It is clear that the WBI "Strip Search" machines can store images. A quick software update is all it would take to enable those functions.

Why does TSA feel the need to mislead the public at every turn?

Russ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
carp said...

You know, as a technologist myself, I understand, technology is much easier to talk about than policy.

Let me go on record here... way cool stuff. I think its awesome that some researcher figured this out, and is showing it off. I think the applications for these sorts of scanners in all manner of industries will be useful as hell.

The policy though... asking all of us to give up every last bit of our privacy to the prying eyes of a security gaurd working for the federal government....

Isn't that kind of extreme? And for what? Why don't you think its extreme?

When we have to admit, tragedies can't be avoided, why do we engage in futile efforts? Don't you realize that ALL your doing is making people more scared by making the bogeyman terrorists look like a real threat?

Do the nations so called "top security experts" really have so little regard for people that they are willing to safegaurd their own jobs and buidgets at the expense of bolstering the causes of terrorists? Thats ALL I see. I see you doing exactly what they ask you to do.

Every bomb plot is a request "please add more security here". When they have too many failures in a row, they will branch out to trains, to shopping malls. Nobody is being protected, if anything, you are encouraging them to try harder!

I, for one, will not fly if these are installed. End of story. I feel far less safe having to come under the scrutiny of people who could just choose to ruin my whole day and harass me for ridiculous reasons that I don't have any respect for than I am of the one in a billion terrorists who, realistically, are less likely to be on my flight than a winning lottery ticket.

These seem like much harder issues to me.

But maybe I am the only one who has seen authority figures wantonly abuse their power and escape ramifications? Maybe I am the only one who has been harassed by a police officer because he made unwarranted assumptions about what I was doing, and felt he had the right to give me an attitude about it without verifying his assumptions.

You are exposing millions of people to unprecedented levels of scrutiny for simple domestic travel, thats millions of chances to make a mistake. Chances for egos to mash and tempers to flare. Chances that could ruin someones day, life, or career.

All for what? To make an insignificant handful of killers go kill their innocents somewhere else?

-Steve

RB said...

Are the images posted with this blog article that TSA claims are the "real" images the same size and resolution seen by a TSA screener?

Give us a link to a full size image with the magnifer tool engaged.

Jim Huggins said...

Bob:

"Disabled" or "removed"? Any function that is disabled can be re-enabled at some future time.

And I'm skeptical about the claim that "there is no way for TSOs to place the machines into test mode". If there's a way for someone else to put the machine into test mode, then there's a way for an unauthorized person to do so, too. That's how security holes happen.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

I don't always like you guys at the TSA, and I often think the organization is a bloated, inefficient, civil-rights-hating bureaucracy, but I DO appreciate you addressing hot issues in a timely manner and providing the facts.

Anonymous said...

How about addressing the issue of what WBI cannot see, Bob?

Mr. Gel-pack said...

So just how does this technology prevent an operator from taking picture of the screen?

Mr. Gel-pack said...

"On a slightly unrelated note, there are many different inaccurate images circulating out there. Below, you will see accurate examples of what our officers see while using advanced imaging technology. Anything else you see is inaccurate."

So you/TSA are saying that the images in this video are innaccurate; the images are 192 pixels high and the the officers cannot zoom in? I do not believe you.

Bob said...

So does the operator of one of these twisted pervert nude scanners have to submit to it prior to using the operator console? You know, to check to make sure he doesn't have any cameras on him/her that can be used to take pictures of the images?

Please answer the question.

Anonymous said...

How is this functionality disabled?

Is it a software setting?
If that is the case how is access to this setting managed? Passwords? How many people have access to this setting?
Anyone at the airport? Are you sure?
Is there any process to periodically verify this functionality has not be re-enabled?

If this is a hardware modification how is that accomplished?

Anonymous said...

Bob, why are you incapable of answering perfectly legitimate questions about these strip-search machines? Why is TSA incapable of telling the truth about them?

RB said...

Russ said...
Bob, your comment censorship policies are a blatant content regulation and violate the First Amendment. If the federal government provides a forum for public speech, or creates one on a private company's servers (as you have, using Google's), I don't think you have the right to moderate comments posted to the forum at all, unless they're somehow obscene or libelous. I think you better have your lawyers look into the legality of what you're doing.

Moreover, these pervert vision machines you're so excited about are extremely creepy, and I have serious doubts about the morality of the people who want to do this.

January 13, 2010 11:30 AM

Russ, TSA employs "Francine the Googling Lawyer".

Do a little checking and you'll see why TSA has no issues with violations of the law or Constitution.

Jeffrey said...

Bob,

Are you able to comment on what improvements might be made to the human component of TSA. Specifically about raising new hire eligibility requirements and and improving the quality of new hire training?

It would seem to me that even though TSA is improving its technology, you would still need people with the ability to use it effectivly.

Ayn R. Key said...

Bob,

I'm an engineer. I know a few things about technology as a result.

For instance, I know that any capability that is disabled is one that can be re-enabled. That applies to your ability to store and transmit images.

I also know that any capability that has been downgraded, such as the resolution of the images, can be reset to its initial level.

And I know that you can do those without telling us.

I've seen the livelink video. It's quite embarrassing for the TSA.

One more thing.

Do you remember when I gave you permission to you my writing about the medical safety of the mmw? How it isn't bad for your health? In that writing I made a point about how mmw, UNLIKE X-RAY, is safe. You have an image of an mmw and an image of a backscatter X-Ray. You are not medical professionals and you are exposing the traveling public to medical harm every time you use X-rays on them. If you do intend to use my essay on the safety of mmw, I insist that you highlight the fact that I was not discussing back-scatter at all, and in fact my essay explicitly does not apply to back-scatter.

RB said...

http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_tsa_wbiupdate.pdf

"Informational brochures regarding the program will be made available at each WBI site that will show a WBI image that the technology will create."
...........................
Were are the brochures?

Ayn R. Key said...

I just read that General McChrystal wants 40,000 more troops to deal with all the IEDs in Afghanistan. Well, I've got a deal for him. Let's send him 100,000 TSOs, since they are all experts on explosives, and that way they're not clogging up our airports with phony security measures.

Randy said...

Big Sigh...

I have seen better images on the Today Show a few weeks ago. Please don't insult us with these small low resolution images.

I understand that it will be against policy for TSA agents to put the AIT into test mode, but as someone else already mentioned, once the genie is out of the bottle and *everyone* knows how to put it into test mode, it will be impossible for the TSA to stop.

You also stated that the AIT has an Ethernet port and are *not* Networked. These two are inconsistent. I understand that the AIT may not have an ethernet cable attached, but I also don't know if there would be other maintenance or testing functions that would require the network connection.

Also, as long as there are any external ports like the USB, the system *can* be hacked. Saying that it is impossible is simply an invitation to try.

I agree with other posters that you or any other TSA or DHS personnel should publish *their* full resolution image. In other words, put your money where your mouth is. If it's no big deal for the general public, then that shouldn't be a problem for you.

You would also help yourself considerably, if you simply responded to even a few of anyone's questions.

Randy

Anonymous said...

I've seen tens of thousands of people doing my job, screening their luggage and their person. I've seen every food item known to human kind, every kill from hunting, every liquid, gel and spray, every clothing item ever invented, every electronic gadget thought of, every crabby person, every nice person, every state of dress (yes even naked), every destination, every average joe/jane, even a national hero. What reason would I have to keep and store images of faceless people who go through a scanner? Do you really think that a TSO with over 15,000 hours of duty would care about these images? When I'm not working, my life revoloves around my family and free time. Not some nasty bear skin trophy stuffed into a roller bag, ticks and all, for some taxidermist/hunter on his/her way home from the vacation of a lifetime. My life is a Dad and Husband who happens to be a TSO.

Chris Boyce said...

To follow up on this post from Jim Huggins:


Bob:

"Disabled" or "removed"? Any function that is disabled can be re-enabled at some future time.

And I'm skeptical about the claim that "there is no way for TSOs to place the machines into test mode". If there's a way for someone else to put the machine into test mode, then there's a way for an unauthorized person to do so, too. That's how security holes happen.

January 13, 2010 11:39 AM


1. Who independently verifies that the save capability is in fact disabled when it leaves the factory?

2. Who can authorize a strip search machine put back into test mode at an airport? (Don't tell me you don't have local maintenance and troubleshooting procedures.) Who verifies, and how do you verify, that the strip search machine is put back into operational mode after maintenance?

We're still waiting for a high-ranking DHS and TSA official to post images of themselves and their family. If you really want to sell these things to the public and members of Congress such as Rep. Chaffetz, and, given your track record lately, what do you have to lose?

Anonymous said...

You people need to get a job. I am flabbergasted at the ignorance and pure arrogance of those who are blogging here. You are all messed up. For Gods sake you get screened when you go into a football game now. I don't hear any complaining about that. What about hat you have to give , as far as, information for your Drivers license or passport and i don't hear any complaints about that. Get over it and move on. It's onoly been 8 years since the TSA has existed and you still can't accept that it will be here for good. Don't fly.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Rep. Chaffetz now there's a guy you can hitch your wgaon to.
A politician who is against this. He must not have been able to invest in the technology fast enought to profit from it so he is against it.
Besides who would think "pornographic" thoughts about something as innocuous as airport security. You ahve got to be kidding.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
"My life is a Dad and Husband who happens to be a TSO."

Well said.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
"You mention the PIA. Why did TSA state brochures would be available to the public in order to gain their consent to WBI "Strip Search" screening and none were available?"

According to the Privacy Impact Assessment Update for TSA Whole Body Imaging July 23, 2009, "Individual participation and consent is exercised by the individual’s selection of the screening method and no individual is required to use WBI for screening. Consent is informed by the availability of signage that explains the technology and shows a sample image."

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Ayn R. Key said...

My life is a Dad and Husband who happens to be a TSO.

There are criminals out there who are also husbands and fathers. I do not let their crimes slide because they are fathers and husbands. I do not give the TSOs a break for that exact same reason.

Adrian said...

Oh come on Tim, don't selectively reply to only two comments...

Anonymous said...

"According to the Privacy Impact Assessment Update for TSA Whole Body Imaging July 23, 2009, "Individual participation and consent is exercised by the individual’s selection of the screening method and no individual is required to use WBI for screening. Consent is informed by the availability of signage that explains the technology and shows a sample image."

Of course, this is meaningless since TSA routinely fails to inform citizens that the virtual strip-search is optional and signage is rarely posted or visible.

cdy said...

Guys,

I don't harbor the outright hostility towards you guys that others seem to, but one basic question keeps popping up re this technology and also a request for information.

The question is whether the ability to store and forward the images is disabled in hardware or software?

The request for info is what do the high resolution images that the TSO will see look like? I do agree it is somewhat misleading to post small low resolution images as an "example" of what the TSO is going to see and say "See, no big deal.".

Nancy Toby said...

"Anything else you see is inaccurate."

There is no other accurate, better-resolution image anywhere in existence other than these?

Balderdash.

Statements like that diminish your credibility.

Cowpatty said...

Sounds like all these people wanting larger images with the zoom function enabled are the real perves! Grow up, I would rather grow up than Blow up!

Sean5294 said...

I don't get it, everyone here is so worried about the image. Everyone here should be worried about the true problem. It has all ready been reported that these machines are completely useless if someone decides to hide something inside a body cavity. (use your imagination here). Al Qaeda has already released videos about using this method and drug smugglers have been doing it for years but are we going to do anything about it? Probably Not
An attack could happen right now and we could not do anything to stop it.
WAKE UP AMERICA!

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
RB said...
"You mention the PIA. Why did TSA state brochures would be available to the public in order to gain their consent to WBI "Strip Search" screening and none were available?"

According to the Privacy Impact Assessment Update for TSA Whole Body Imaging July 23, 2009, "Individual participation and consent is exercised by the individual’s selection of the screening method and no individual is required to use WBI for screening. Consent is informed by the availability of signage that explains the technology and shows a sample image."

Tim
TSA Blog Team

January 13, 2010 1:55 PM

Prior to the PIA being changed in July 2009 availability of the brochure was required to gain consent.

TSA tried a slick move by changing the PIA and it now states signage must be in place and a person must consent to screening to gain consent. How can a person give consent when the information (images) in the signage has been manipulated so it does not truly reflect what is being done or is missing or misplaced?

Oh and if you read carefully the Brochures are still required to be at the checkpoint.

I suggest that anyone being screened at locations having WBI "Strip Search" Machines request a brochure. If they are not available let your Congressman know that TSA is not complying with their on rules.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean these machines are not networked? How are you transmitting the images from the strip search machine to the strip searcher TSO in another room?

Do you have one looooong cable going from the unit to the computer in an undisclosed location?

Doubtful. They are most likely connected to each other via some sort of router, switch or what have you.

Anonymous said...

Bob, is the image at http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/bild-656468-25396.html basically a larger sized version of the left half of the picture you posted? They look very similar, but it is hard to tell because your image is so small.

Randy said...

@Cowpatty:

What a load of crap.

Randy -- sorrycouldntresist,althoughitistrue

Bob said...

Randy said... Big Sigh... I have seen better images on the Today Show a few weeks ago. Please don't insult us with these small low resolution images. January 13, 201012:51 PM

Nancy Toby said... There is no other accurate, better-resolution image anywhere in existence other than these? Balderdash. Statements like that diminish your credibility. January 13, 2010 2:27 PM
---------------------------

Hello Randy & Nancy:

That was an example of what the image looks like. I wasn't implying it was the actual size and resolution our officers see.

There are images out there that look nothing like what our officers see. One image comes to mind that Matt Drudge and others are using of a woman that is way more graphic than anything I’ve ever seen out there. To date, I have no idea where that photo came from, but I can assure you that is not what our officers see.

I have posted several blog posts with images. We have allowed CNN, The Today Show, and many others to film and photograph our images. We’re not hiding anything. In fact, take a look at this blog post and you’ll see two images you can click on to make larger. You’ll also see several links to video etc.

There is also a video everyone has been talking about at Live Leak (which is not a leak by the way) which shows you what our officers see.

We keep on recieving requests to show the public what we see, and we have done just that. Many times over...

Thanks,

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Please answer two questions:

1. How is the TSA going to resolve images of objects seen in intimate areas with WBIs? Visually search adult diapers and mastectomy prosthesis? Or just believe they are what they seem to be and allow diaper bombs to slip through the crack?

2. How do the images get from the WBI to the screener in the "undisclosed location" if they are not transmitted?

Bob said...

RB said... You mention the PIA. Why did TSA state brochures would be available to the public in order to gain their consent to WBI "Strip Search" screening and none were available?

-------------

RB, as I’ve stated before, our Chief Counsel determined that the signage placed in front of the machines at our checkpoints would suffice.

------------

Jim Huggins said... Bob: "Disabled" or "removed"? Any function that is disabled can be re-enabled at some future time.

------------

Hi Jim. Disabled. While your statement is true, AIT machines at airports will not be placed in test mode. Only the machines in our labs will be placed in test mode.

------------

Anonymous said... Bob, I don't always like you guys at the TSA, and I often think the organization is a bloated, inefficient, civil-rights-hating bureaucracy, but I DO appreciate you addressing hot issues in a timely manner and providing the facts.

------------

Thanks. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside now. Seriously though, thanks for stopping by the blog today.

-----------

Anonymous said... How about addressing the issue of what WBI cannot see, Bob?

-----------

Hmmm. I don’t know? Why don’t you tell me what it can’t see? :)

-----------

Mr. Gel-pack said... So just how does this technology prevent an operator from taking picture of the screen?

------------

It doesn’t. However, our officers are prohibited from carrying any electronics into the image room.

--------------

Jeffrey said... Bob, Are you able to comment on what improvements might be made to the human component of TSA.

--------------

No, but I can flag it as a potential topic for a future blog post. Thanks for asking.

-------------

Anonymous said... My life is a Dad and Husband who happens to be a TSO.

-------------

I understand exactly what you’re saying and I also fully understand that someone will no doubt twist your words.

-------------

Ayn R. Key said... There are criminals out there who are also husbands and fathers. I do not let their crimes slide because they are fathers and husbands.

-------------

What was I just saying? Crimes?

-------------

cdy said... Guys, I don't harbor the outright hostility towards you guys that others seem to, but one basic question keeps popping up re this technology and also a request for information. The question is whether the ability to store and forward the images is disabled in hardware or software? The request for info is what do the high resolution images that the TSO will see look like? I do agree it is somewhat misleading to post small low resolution images as an "example" of what the TSO is going to see and say "See, no big deal."

--------------

I personally do not know, but I have sent the question out and am awaiting a response. I’ll post something when I find out.

--------------

Chris Boyce said... Who can authorize a strip search machine put back into test mode at an airport?

--------------

AIT Machines are not placed in test mode at the airports.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

David said...

I really understand the frustration. I work for TSA and I understand there is room for improvement. Airport Security is a business that is easy to criticize because people generally can’t have access to the reasoning behind it, so they can't understand why we do things. This can lead to a great deal of frustration for both the passenger and the Officers that have to implement the procedures.

Many people who leave comments point out the holes in the different technologies or procedures (ID checks, body scanners, puffer machines etc.). Right now, there is nothing available that I know of that is an all-purpose, all-knowing security device that can stop any threat. Since no single technology or procedure exists that can stop a determined terrorist, we have to put all the best ones we have together to plug as many holes we can given what the American public will allow, privacy laws and financial limitations.

Many have offered constructive solutions and I thank you, because we really are constantly looking for and trying new things to help improve the whole security process and this is a great place to find them.

My greatest concern is the tone that is taken with the front-line TSO’s. I can’t understand why people feel it is ok to accuse hard-working Americans, who are doing a job they feel is important, of being a pedophile, a thief, lazy, stupid or worse. Think about how you would feel if someone came to your workplace and started saying the things to you the average TSO has to put up with each day. Would it be OK? Why do we feel Federal employees should never make a mistake or have a bad day? Is this a reasonable expectation at your job?

If you don’t like some of our procedures, please call your representative. Much of what we do is driven by the concerns of the American Public. And please, when you go through security, try to reach out to the TSO’s by being courteous; they really do take a lot of punches. But, if a TSO does not treat you with courtesy or respect, please get their last name off their name tag and report them either to their Supervisor or the TSA website (look for “got feedback?”). We really do use this information to hold those TSO’s accountable.

Anonymous said...

"We’re not hiding anything. In fact, take a look at this blog post and you’ll see two images you can click on to make larger. You’ll also see several links to video etc."

If you're not hiding anything, why don't you answer this simple yes or no question: Are the images posted to this blog and on signs in airports at the same size and resolution as those seen by the operators of your machines?

I have seen this question posted here dozens of times, yet you refuse to answer it. Your silence speaks volumes.

"We keep on recieving requests to show the public what we see, and we have done just that. Many times over..."

No, Bob, you haven't.

Anonymous said...

Bob,


Why won't the TSA just do a live test with a brand new scanner and a consenting model to show the public exactly what the TSA screener sees? I have seen about 3 different news reports where a reporter goes through the scanner and asks to see the image but the TSA agent will not let the reporter (who consented to the scan) see their own image. If these images truly are not that explicit then why won't the TSA just do a live test (with the newest generation scanner) and put all of the public's concerns to rest? By not doing a live test (with the newest generation scanner) the TSA just creates more public distrust and frankly makes itself look like they are hiding something. Please respond. Thanks.

Jim Huggins said...

Bob writes:

AIT machines at airports will not be placed in test mode. Only the machines in our labs will be placed in test mode.

With respect, Bob, that's not an answer. It may be TSA's intent not to place the machines in test mode at airports. But how do you know that won't happen anyways? Hackers find ways to access "unofficial" features all the time.

And, not to be too "tinfoil hat" and all ... but we've heard promises like "trust us, we'll never use that feature" before from other government agencies.

RB said...

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

January 13, 2010 4:41 PM
................
Sorry Bob, I personally do not find your words credible.

To many prior mis-truths, half-truths and evasions of the truth.

Try just telling the truth for a change.

RB said...

AIT Machines are not placed in test mode at the airports.
Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

January 13, 2010 4:41 PM

.......................
Saying that they are not placed in test mode does not resolve the fact that enabling the WBI "Strip Search" Machine to save images is possible.

The ability is built into the machines along with the needed outputs to save an image to various devices.

Is it possible for a WBI "Strip Search" machine to be switched to "Test Mode" at an airport?

Anonymous said...

Is the screening with these machines going to be same gender screening?

Anonymous said...

Bob-
Thanks for the update, but why should we believe a word you say?

Zack said...

As a host of examples show, including US voting machines, ATM machines, mass transit ticket machines, and others, the phrase "AIT machines do have USB, hard disc and Ethernet capabilities" means that the phrase "These machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked." is fundamentally false and reflect a misunderstanding of security issues.

Anonymous said...

"Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked."

I think you need to talk to your cyber/information assurance/intelligence folks. They will tell you that a system does not need to be on a network to be hacked.

Anonymous said...

Within a year somebody at TSA will get the idea to take photos of the screens with a digital camera and email them from home. My guess is that TSA's public affairs folks will be caught with the agency's pants down again. Whatever can go wrong does.

Anonymous said...

Bob -- I just went through Toronto airport on my way back to the US and went through the secondary screening at the airport, which is conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). These are REAL law enforcement officers, who are highly educated and trained. They were polite, efficient, professional -- I actually ENJOYED going through their screening! Why can't your "officers" be as professional? Maybe is it because you are hiring people (like in LAX) who use drugs? Or people who look like ex-cons? Or people who don't have advanced education and training? Maybe you should take a page from Canada's book.

Anonymous said...

BOB -- Will the officers be checked for cameras, phones, etc before entering the room where the images will be seen? Or will you just "trust" them because they have had "background checks"?

Anonymous said...

RB said....

these pervert vision machines you're so excited about are extremely creepy, and I have serious doubts about the morality of the people who want to do this.

******
i travel 2 times a month roundtrip for work and i have 2 knee replacements a hip replacement and rods and screws in my arm and ankle.. neddless to say i set off the metal detector every single time i go thru and i LOOOVE going thru this machine it is so much more convienient faster and better than getting the full wanding and patdown i get everywhere else....2 poses a 5second wait and im done and free to go they may be taking a picture but the officer has no idea who i am and the officers that stand there and tell me how to pose are always friendly and completely professional at LAS
i vote they go into all airports it makes life sooooooo much easier for people like me... the other people on this blog just sound paranoid about the whole thing

Anonymous said...

Bob, if the capability is there to save/retransmit images what measures are in place to prevent those images from being either saved or retransmitted? If all it takes is a simple password to enable the 'disabled' features then that really doesn't provide for much security. If on the other hand, hard drives, USB ports, network access, etc have all been removed, then it seems like you might have a valid point.

What measures is TSA taking to insure that TSOs aren't taking pictures since many cellphones do have the capability to take medium resolution pictures. Will TSOs manning the WBI stations have cellphones taken from them before going to work? Will they be patted down to insure that they have no recording media present on their persons?

What will TSA's response be to those TSOs caught in possession of images surreptitiously taken from the WBI screens? Will a TSO face any legal action for taking pictures?

Al Ames said...

So Bob, Francine googled and is said that the brochures weren't needed anymore?

Even if so, how does that justify the fact that in the initial PIA, they weren't there at all?

Al

Anonymous said...

You say people have the option whether or not to submit to the technology. In fact, going through DTW the other day, the TSO offered me the choice to "step into this cool machine" or get a full body patdown. Now, what good does the machine do if it's optional? It's not like I get my crotch felt down if I "opt out".

Anonymous said...

"TSA has been forthcoming with the traveling public about this technology, including the strong privacy protections we have in place. "

----------------------
There are no "strong privacy protections" in place. The fact that you are so quick to point out that images can't be transmitted indicates that you understand that we wouldn't want these images shared with strangers. So why should we be comfortable when every image is gauranteed to be seen by a stranger?

Isaac Newton said...

How stupid do you think the American public is, Bob, to fall for this nonsense. For months people here have been asking to see the full resolution WBI images and you've refused. The television news has shown images which take up an entire high-resolution desktop computer screen (not the 192 pixel high image you keep pushing), with a zoom-in magnifying glass feature that the operator can drag around. The evening news has had to blur the genital area in their coverage, obviously judging that it was not appropriate for general viewing, but Nico (remember Nico? where'd he go?) said the pictures could go on the cover of Reader's Digest or in a kindergarten classroom. Rep Chaffetz says he's seen the higher resolution images on the monitors - the ones where drops of sweat are visible and they can "count the coins in your pocket".

Either come clean and show the full resolution pictures or admit that you're unable to show them. But stop telling us they don't exist.

Oh, yeah, and can you point us to the official TSA policy on allowing ice through the checkpoints other than when used to cool medicine?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
RB said....

these pervert vision machines you're so excited about are extremely creepy, and I have serious doubts about the morality of the people who want to do this.

******
i travel 2 times a month roundtrip for work and i have 2 knee replacements a hip replacement and rods and screws in my arm and ankle..
................
Anon the statement your attributing to me was one by Russ (January 13, 2010 11:30 AM) which I later commented on.

While I do not approve of WBI I would find them acceptable for secondary screening and when a person such as yourself desired that form of screening.

I think many objections would simply go away if TSA used the WBI "Strip Search" machine for secondary screening.

I do object under all conditions for TSA to use the WBI "Strip Search" machine on minors. That is perverted and should subject the operator to legal charges.

RB said...

http://www.papersplease.org/wp/2010/01/13/tsa-lies-again-about-what-the-strip-search-machines-see/


P.S. We forgot to mention the TSA’s claim that no 8-year-old is on the no-fly list, debunked today in the New York Times. Maybe 8-year-old Mikey Hicks isn’t on a watch list, but his name is, and the effect is the same: He can’t fly without getting the 3rd degree. What did that entail? We can’t show you. The TSA demands the right to look (and feel) under your clothes, but they wouldn’t let Mikey’s mother take pictures of how he was frisked.

....................
Bob in the article referenced claims have been made that TSA is in violation of the law for not responding to FIOA request in the time required by law.

Also questions about the images you claim are the same as TSA screeners see are also raised.

Then we apparently have an 8 year old who gets a shake down every time he flies because he (or his name) is on some watch list.

What ever happened to the rule of law? To be able to defend oneself from charges in a court?

I truly do not understand how TSA can continue seeing it violates the very Constitution of this country.

RB said...

Hello Randy & Nancy:

That was an example of what the image looks like. I wasn't implying it was the actual size and resolution our officers see.

There are images out there that look nothing like what our officers see. One image comes to mind that Matt Drudge and others are using of a woman that is way more graphic than anything I’ve ever seen out there. To date, I have no idea where that photo came from, but I can assure you that is not what our officers see.

I have posted several blog posts with images. We have allowed CNN, The Today Show, and many others to film and photograph our images. We’re not hiding anything. In fact, take a look at this blog post and you’ll see two images you can click on to make larger. You’ll also see several links to video etc.

There is also a video everyone has been talking about at Live Leak (which is not a leak by the way) which shows you what our officers see.

We keep on recieving requests to show the public what we see, and we have done just that. Many times over...

Thanks,

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

January 13, 2010 4:09 PM
..................
How about a link to some actual (full size and resolution) images with a consenting model allowing for the imaging.

Why is TSA hiding this information?

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
"Within a year somebody at TSA will get the idea to take photos of the screens with a digital camera and email them from home."

TSA has been using WBI since 2007. TSA has a good track record on this issue and I don't believe this will happen.

Just my 2 cents of course.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Bryan said...

Dear Blogger Bob, considering today's NY Times article detailing how an 8 year old is on the selectee list (found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/nyregion/14watchlist.html), you might want to take down the "The "No Fly" List Includes an 8-Year Old Boy" piece in your Myth Buster section of this website (found here: http://www.tsa.gov/approach/mythbusters/8yo_noflylist.shtm). Unless you enjoy posting misinformation on this website.

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
"What ever happened to the rule of law? To be able to defend oneself from charges in a court?"

Who is stopping you from going to court? A bit dramatic this morning RB :)

Just provide some links to your claims and I will look into them for you. Just give me some time as I am moving today and through the weekend.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

RB said....

these pervert vision machines you're so excited about are extremely creepy, and I have serious doubts about the morality of the people who want to do this

******

I have a problem with people who finds or even thinks these scans are arousing!!!! Get some professional help folks.

Anonymous said...
Hi Bob,
Are the picture posted here the same size and resolution that the operator sees ?

*****

Who cares!?!?! They don't show anything! Again if you get aroused from these photos...seek professional help.

I say put them out there TSA...Every airport in every state needs them... Make flying as safe as you can.

HappyToHelp said...

Isaac Newton said...
"Oh, yeah, and can you point us to the official TSA policy on allowing ice through the checkpoints other than when used to cool medicine?"

Please refer to the Response to "TSA Takes Big Gulp over Britney". There is a link there.

If you have specific questions about the policy, I will do my best to answer them. Just give me some time.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
“Now, what good does the machine do if it's optional?”

Alternate screening procedures are considered equal. Pat-downs are a well tested industry standard. However, specific TSA Standard Operating Procedures are Sensitive Security Information. Discussing how the two methods are equal is beyond what I can discuss here on the blog.

Thank you,

Tim
TSA Blog Team

FYI... will have to post next week.. have a good weekend everyone

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Bob @ "It doesn’t. However, our officers are prohibited from carrying any electronics into the image room."

###

Just like passengers are prohibited from carrying on water bottles? Even in my small circle of friends, I know people who've smuggled water past TSA checkpoints. The bad-apple rate of thieving TSOs is what, a hundred thousand times greater than the 1-in-a-billion rate of terrorist-passengers, and we're supposed to trust TSA?

If you don't take the pictures, you can't misuse them.




###


David @ "Many people who leave comments point out the holes in the different technologies or procedures (ID checks, body scanners, puffer machines etc.). Right now, there is nothing available that I know of that is an all-purpose, all-knowing security device that can stop any threat. Since no single technology or procedure exists that can stop a determined terrorist, we have to put all the best ones we have together to plug as many holes we can given what the American public will allow, privacy laws and financial limitations."

########

No. We don't have to put them all together. Each procedure has a cost, and it is far from clear that TSA's bric-a-brac security is worth the costs.

TSA's bloated budget of $6,000,000,000+ dollars per year would be better spent on modes of anti-terrorism that actually work, like the investigation that twarted the liquid bomber, improving the intelligence that fell just short of catching the panty-bomber, or even in frequent flyer self-defense classes for the sorts of people who actually stopped the panty bomber. Pushing the security back onto the airlines would be far cheaper, and would not result in a measurable difference in the infinitesimal risk TSA pretends it can solve.

Heck even if TSA was absolutely perfect, the best possible result we can expect is that it would push the terrorists to the entrance of the security checkpoint, just like in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Are the nudie machines going to be same gender screening???

Anonymous said...

"TSA has a good track record on this issue and I don't believe this will happen."

A good track record that includes:

- absent or obscured signage;
- TSOs failing to inform citizens that they can decline a virtual strip-search; and
- TSA refusing to post images at the same size and resolution as those seen by the operator of the virtual strip-search.

Yeah, you're batting a thousand right there, Tim.

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
RB said...
"What ever happened to the rule of law? To be able to defend oneself from charges in a court?"

Who is stopping you from going to court? A bit dramatic this morning RB :)

Just provide some links to your claims and I will look into them for you. Just give me some time as I am moving today and through the weekend.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

January 14, 2010 10:15 AM
............
First example Tim.

A person is on a watch list. This list restricts their freedom of movement but no charges have been brought, nor is confirmation available that the person is actually on a list.

Government in the above example has stolen this persons rights without legal steps being taken.

Anonymous said...


This sort of foolishness
is the kind of business that put TSA in a bad light.

Is it true that a body scanner would not have found the explosive of the underpants bomber, that the scanner companies' financial interests are present and former government people?

Anonymous said...

Frisking an 8 year old every time he flies and missing a handgun in carry-on luggage.

More stellar performance by the TSA....

Ayn R. Key said...

Bob,

1. I had three posts by the time you responded. One of them was me talking as an engineer with some really important points you need to address. The other was in response to a pity plea from an anonymous TSO. Why did you respond to the latter and not the former? That is why we say you never answer question. Quit the cherry picking. Answer what I wrote, writing as an engineer.

2. In my response to the anonymous TSO, you said "What was I just saying? Crimes?" Were you the anonymous TSO? Do you post here without revealing that it is you? And do you really want me to list all the crimes I believe the TSA is guilty of?

Marion L said...

Why does this screening of scans have to be done in a special "image room"?
Since you maintain that enhanced details of "personal areas" are not available, why does the viewing have to be done in secret? If there is no detail, all the travelers passing through the area should be able to look to ensure their fellow passengers have no contraband. That way everyone can feel perfectly safe. Nothing is shown that anyone should be embarrassed about, right?

I don't believe youuuu....

RB said...

If Mikey Hicks, 8 years old is on some watch list then tell me just what real benefit do these list provide?

TSA is to security what Avatar is to reality.

Anonymous said...

Bob, it's fine that the machines won't be allowed in test mode while at the airports, and it's fine that TSA agents aren't allowed to bring electronics into the screening room, but so what?

People aren't allowed to bring guns and bombs into the airport, but apparently it happens often enough that you guys have a job.

So you can't really expect us to accept a "Well, that's against the rules" argument when YOUR ENTIRE INDUSTRY IS BASED ON PEOPLE BREAKING RULES.

Anonymous said...

The TSA is talking in circles again.

"Don't worry! The images from these machines aren't that detailed that you should feel immodest, but they're so detailed we put the screens in a separate room and don't allow cameras in there."

"This 5oz container of water could be a bomb! So I'll just toss it in the trash next to the huge line of people with all the other potential bombs."

Security theater.

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
Isaac Newton said...
"Oh, yeah, and can you point us to the official TSA policy on allowing ice through the checkpoints other than when used to cool medicine?"

Please refer to the Response to "TSA Takes Big Gulp over Britney". There is a link there.

If you have specific questions about the policy, I will do my best to answer them. Just give me some time.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

January 14, 2010 10:24 AM
..................
Tim, this is what is stated on the page you pointed us to. I see no mention of ice for everyone.
.......................

"To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3.4 ounce (100ml) of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):

Baby formula, breast milk, and juice if a baby or small child is traveling;

All prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including petroleum jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes;

Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;
Life-support and life-sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs;
Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids; and,

Frozen gels/liquids are permitted if required to cool medical and infant/child exemptions. Ice is permitted as long as there is no melted liquid present.
.......................

Ice is permitted for certain travelers. Is it your claim that this means all travelers?

If so why does it not state so?

Your reference contradicts TSA's claim that ice is permitted.

Why won't TSA admit that Britany received special treatment that the average citizen will not receive.

Anonymous said...

As long as the TSA does not have police power and as long as the use of the scanners is optional for passengers, I will always opt out, even at the cost of my valuable time.

This technology amounts to "search" in the "search and seizure" protections established in the Constitution and my choice to travel is not sufficient, in my opinion, to constitute probable cause for search.

Furthermore, my choice to opt out of this search technology does not also constitute probable cause for physical search as numerous court cases have proven in similar situations.

Technology doesn't make us safer, only risk and threat modeling will make us safer. And I, for one, will sacrifice my safety for freedom.

Anonymous said...

What is everyone worried about? If you don't want anyone seeing you, your wife or your children naked, then refuse to enter the scanner. From what I hear, anyone can do this and the screeners will then give a good old fashioned frisk. Kind of makes the whole scanner thing useless don't you think? Anyway, I am sure the Dept of Homeland Security has thier heart in the right place. If only they would PROFILE. It works...

Anonymous said...

"Why won't TSA admit that Britany received special treatment that the average citizen will not receive."

Same reason they won't admit there's no danger posed by shoes or liquids, I imagine.

Anonymous said...

"Why won't TSA admit that Britany received special treatment that the average citizen will not receive."
___________________________________

I would post an answer to this, but it is so stupid that this is actually being brought up still that I will not even waist my energy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Bob, policy about the WBIs not being set to test mode in the field is all well and good. But as has been pointed out just because you say it shouldn't be doesn't mean some rogue TSO might not do it.

So what physical and/or technical means are in place to keep a TSO from enabling the WBI to be in test mode?

Anonymous said...

re: WBIs what cost benefit studies has the TSA undertaken to show that they are more effective at detecting contraband as a secondary screening device than just the physical pat downs?

Also can the TSA prove that a WBI if used in Amsterdam would have indeed detected the underwear bomb used on Christmas?

Cerulean Bill said...

Regarding the full body scanners: It's hard for me to imagine what you might say that would convince me that there is NO WAY that an image could be saved in an airport environment. Unlikely as all hell, yes, I'd believe. Impossible? If the capacity is there, and the will is there, and the skill is there - it's possible.


I'd like to believe you, but I remember TSA people being taped while harassing a Ron Paul money carrier; TSA people telling a woman her nipple rings were a threat; saying an 8 year old boy wasn't on the no-fly list (which is true: he's on the next highest list, which means he gets checked out VERY carefully, every time). Uh huh. What does all of this do to your credibility?

I want you to succeed. I don't want to have to parse your statements.

MetalWheaties said...

With these new mm-wave and backscatter technologies, you will be able to distinguish hard-edged and sharp-edged objects hidden on the person of a passenger. It occurred to me that the knife restriction for passengers can be easily circumvented by simply carrying a sharp hard plastic or ceramic blade close to your body and hidden. The new scanning tech could find these easily, and they would stand out if the tech does signal processing looking for sharply delineated (high contrast) edges, highlighting them in color or flashing for the security folks to see easily.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Why doesn't TSA post a full sized image that replicates what the TSO sees on his screen? It will at least shut everyone up harping on that....

Chris Boyce said...

Bob responded as follows:

Chris Boyce said... Who can authorize a strip search machine put back into test mode at an airport?

AIT Machines are not placed in test mode at the airports.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

January 13, 2010 4:41 PM


Bob,

I'm retired from a company which built sophisticated national security satellite systems. (I'm telling the truth; you're just going to have to trust me.)

There is no way we would put a piece of hardware in the field without the ability to put it in a test or maintenance mode in order to troubleshoot it or to install hardware or software updates. One of our government customer managers had the authority to reconfigure hardware from an operational to a test (or maintenance) configuration.

Perhaps you're simply mis-speaking in the interests of brevity or are just quoting from the official party line without any personal expertise in this subject. So, I'll give you another opportunity to answer my question.

There has got to be situations in which one of these AIT machines must be taken out of operational configuration and placed in test or maintenance configuration, which would enable the imaging recording feature.

Given all of this background and context, I re-state my questions:

1. Who has the authority to direct that an AIT device be placed back into its test/maintenance configuration?

2. Once the anomaly or upgrade has been resolved, who directs that it be placed back into operational configuration?

I have an additional question: If your first answer to me (quoted above) was accurate/truthful, how can you possible perform maintenance, troubleshooting, or upgrades to these devices?

Martha said...

I am in favor of the body scanners. They don't invade privacy as much as an agent thoroughly frisking a passenger.

Also, please don't restrict us seniors or children to use the bathroom at any time during the flight. When we have to go we have to go!

Marshall's SO said...

Hey, Bob, why won't you post the comment made a couple of days ago that includes a link to a pen that can take pictures? Any screener could take such a pen inside the booth and take pictures with it. Or even a shoe camera could be used.

Also, why won't TSA discuss what can be hidden from WBI, such as the underwear bomber's explosives?

Isaac Newton said...

Tim said:
Isaac Newton said...
"Oh, yeah, and can you point us to the official TSA policy on allowing ice through the checkpoints other than when used to cool medicine?"

Please refer to the Response to "TSA Takes Big Gulp over Britney". There is a link there.

If you have specific questions about the policy, I will do my best to answer them. Just give me some time.

_______________
RB did a good job of replying before I could get back to this blog. (Thanks, RB! :) )

Tim, the blog item you pointed to says that anyone can take ice through for any reason and that this was a new policy at the time. The blog, however, is not an authoritative record of TSA policy. The TSA website says, as RB pointed out, mentions ice for "certain travelers" in relation to cooling medicine or infant food. Experience at the checkpoint shows that screeners are not allowing ice through.

The point is, if TSA can't deal with a simple policy like "allow ice" or "don't allow ice", how can you expect us to trust you with the complicated policies surrounding the WBI: no image storage, no cameras or cell phones allowed in the screening room, no ability to transmit images, proper signage and explanation to passengers, the resolution of the images, etc? There are just too many ways for TSA to get this wrong, to the passengers' detriment.

Isaac Newton said...

MetalWheaties said:
It occurred to me that the knife restriction for passengers can be easily circumvented by simply carrying a sharp hard plastic or ceramic blade close to your body and hidden. The new scanning tech could find these easily, and they would stand out if the tech does signal processing looking for sharply delineated (high contrast) edges, highlighting them in color or flashing for the security folks to see easily.
____________
You're right that the WBI scanners could easily find a non-metallic knife; that's exactly what they were designed for.

But now that the cockpit doors are locked, flight crew no longer cooperate with terrorists, and passengers are inclined to fight back against anyone acting up, what danger do you think a ceramic knife actually poses to an aircraft? Given the three factors listed above, the only way to really cause damage on an aircraft is with explosives, which the WBI scanners are not as good as detecting. In fact if explosives are hidden in a body cavity, the WBI won't find them at all.

RB said...

Isaac Newton said...
MetalWheaties said:
It occurred to me that the knife restriction for passengers can be easily circumvented by simply carrying a sharp hard plastic or ceramic blade close to your body and hidden. The new scanning tech could find these easily, and they would stand out if the tech does signal processing looking for sharply delineated (high contrast) edges, highlighting them in color or flashing for the security folks to see easily.
____________
You're right that the WBI scanners could easily find a non-metallic knife; that's exactly what they were designed for.

But now that the cockpit doors are locked, flight crew no longer cooperate with terrorists, and passengers are inclined to fight back against anyone acting up, what danger do you think a ceramic knife actually poses to an aircraft? Given the three factors listed above, the only way to really cause damage on an aircraft is with explosives, which the WBI scanners are not as good as detecting. In fact if explosives are hidden in a body cavity, the WBI won't find them at all.

January 15, 2010 8:57 AM

.....................
Do you own a hard plastic rat tail comb?

Excellent, improvised weapon that most security screeners would not give a second thought to.

Car keys, wonderful for slashing a face.

Narrow diameter shoelace, makes a fine garrote.

Any computer cords. Just think of the uses.

Yet TSA considers 3.5 ounces of water to be the threat that requires massive expenditure of manpower and resources.

Anonymous said...

To add to Mr. Chris Boyce's, how can a passenger know that the machine they are stepping into is not in test/maintenance mode for a variety of reasons, whether by mistake or malice?

Ayn R. Key said...

Bob,

1. I had three posts by the time you responded. One of them was me talking as an engineer with some really important points you need to address. The other was in response to a pity plea from an anonymous TSO. Why did you respond to the latter and not the former? That is why we say you never answer question. Quit the cherry picking. Answer what I wrote, writing as an engineer.

2. In my response to the anonymous TSO, you said "What was I just saying? Crimes?" Were you the anonymous TSO? Do you post here without revealing that it is you? And do you really want me to list all the crimes I believe the TSA is guilty of?

Anonymous said...

David said:
Airport Security is a business that is easy to criticize because people generally can’t have access to the reasoning behind it, so they can't understand why we do things.

David, I don't even understand some of the stuff we do or reasons for the procedures.

Anonymous said...

Bob, you said that the WBI machines will not be placed into test mode at the airports. That much I can accept. But what's required to put it back into test mode? Is it a password? A piece of software? Or a piece of hardware? If it's a piece of hardware (say, a secure USB stick) it'll be difficult (though not impossible, considering how many times we've heard of theft of government computer equipment holding sensitive information) to put it into test mode. If it's a piece of software or a password, it'll be easy, and that kind of info will probably get out on the internet once the machines get into wider distribution.

Phillip said...

Yes, but if we don't spend untold taxpayer millions on these "absolutely necessary" WBI machines, how will Michael Chertoff and his cronies get filthy rich? That is what this fiasco is truly about anyway. A child could see it is about control, not safety.

Anonymous said...

Also, please don't restrict us seniors or children to use the bathroom at any time during the flight. When we have to go we have to go!
___________________________________

TSA is not the one restricting anyone from doing anything on the flight.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

In order to make sure TSO's don't smuggle cameras into the viewing booth, will they be required to go through these machines?

If not, why not?

Anonymous said...

"TSA is not the one restricting anyone from doing anything on the flight."
........................

Not yet, but soon. Read this:

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 7:41 p.m. ET, Thurs., Jan. 14, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security is further increasing aviation security in response to intelligence indicating Islamist terrorists were planning another attack on the United States.

The new regulations — which are to be announced later Thursday — were not described in detail, but a senior U.S. official told NBC News on condition of anonymity that they would include further in-flight restrictions in passengers’ movement, more random pre-flight screening of passengers and an increase in the number of federal air marshals on flights.

carp said...

@Phillip

Control? You give these sniveling bureaucrats way too much credit. Its about justification of budgets and worship of the all-mighty CYA.

Schneier pointed it out today on cryptogram: (http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-1001.html)
"It's magical thinking: If we defend against what the terrorists did last time, we'll somehow defend against what they do next time. Of course this doesn't work. We take away guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We take away box cutters and corkscrews, and the terrorists hide explosives in their shoes. We screen shoes, they use liquids. We limit liquids, they sew PETN into their underwear. We implement full-body scanners, and they're going to do something else. This is a stupid game; we should stop playing it. "

Sandra said...

Bob, the person, allegedly named Tina and allegedly a screener, who is blogging at boardingarea.com, Shoes Off, should give the TSA pause to consider. She is really giving the TSA another black eye with her attitude - but at the same time, she is living proof of what so many of us feel is one of the TSA's biggest problems: its employees.

Anonymous said...

What procedures are in place for Observant Jews?

Anonymous said...

Here is a video of what our soon-to-be unionized TSA agents will be staring at. Many young boys have dreamed of x-ray glasses that allowed them to see through clothing. I doubt any wanted to see testicles swinging in perfect time with the dangling penis that this video from our Department of Defense shows to demonstrate how the body scanner works. The video certainly shows clearer what the TSA agents will be seeing.

I don't care what screening technology is used, without profiling the terrorists will continue to slip through our screening methods. Mark my words.

Profile, profile, profile. If you want to stop the enemy who wishes to murder all of the infidels, then profile. It is the ONLY way.




http://shock.military.com/Shock/videos.do?displayContent=208570&ESRC=navy.nl

Anonymous said...

just a quick reality check for some of you..TSA hires retired and former military personnel...and all TSA agents have also taken an oath to protect this country. While some of you argue your point, a valid one, the reality is that when we see TSA agents behaving in a childish manner, they're holding a mirror to our society. Ladies and gentleman our society is full of them, however, if you want professionals doing the job, perhaps a better pay and trained employee would do. Then again, they represent the few in our society that take a stance to work there. So next time you see one of those guys acting stupidly, just remember, they're holding a mirror to our society.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"What procedures are in place for Observant Jews?"

Probably whatever the TSO offers up. Get in line and take your chances...

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that whole body images obtained through millimeter and backscatter x-ray technology will show the screener if a person has a sexually transmitted disease. Specifically STD's that cause a distortion or discoloration of the skin, such as: a yeast infection, chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and genital warts or herpes if an inflammation is present, to name a few. Is this true?

Al Ames said...

Anonymous, TSA is already better paid and supposedly better trained than the private screeners they replaced. Just how much more training and money do they need to do a job professionally and courteously?

I mean geez, they already make decent money for the level of education and skill involved (old screeners got in the neighborhood of $8-10 an hour), get full federal benefits, have a pretty secure job that's more or less unaccountable, have the ability to move to other jobs within the federal government, and could be eligible for federal retirement. Just how much MORE incentive do they need?

Remember, TSA is the one in control of the checkpoints and they set the tone. They wield the power and need to wield it responsibly. While there are people that are mean, ignorant, arrogant, etc, there's not much that that person can do to get thru without the "blessing" of a screener.

Al

Anonymous said...

These procedures seem to violate the Jewish laws of tzniut, or modesty. There must be a way to protect the Jews from this invasive search.

Anonymous said...

Yep, let's have a live scanning shown on TV of Bob, his wife and kids. If the TSA are telling us there's nothing to worry about, Bob likewise has nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous.

We want unmodified, full resolution, RECENT scan output data...

"One of the blog team should submit to a body scan. Anything less, and we must take your statements as the lies they have so often proven to be in the past."

Hell, I'll add if this is so harmless why doesn't the entire TSA administration submit to full "unintrusive" AIT body scans and post the unmodified full resolution scans online.

As for me, I'm keeping my 4th Amendment rights thank you.

Anonymous said...

Typical... "Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval."

I'm sure my previous comment will not be published since it doesn't favor spitting upon our Bill of Rights in the name of security.

"We want unmodified, full resolution, RECENT scan output data."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"just a quick reality check for some of you..TSA hires retired and former military personnel...and all TSA agents have also taken an oath to protect this country..."

Wait? TSA agents take an oath to protect our "country" or our constitution? There's a big difference.

Where's the bidding start for unobtrusive body scan images of Jessica Alba?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"just a quick reality check for some of you..TSA hires retired and former military personnel...and all TSA agents have also taken an oath to protect this country."

Did you mean to say swear an oat to protect the U.S. Constitution or did you mean the country?

There is a difference.

In regards to the childish behavior of TSA agents, I suppose you'd say the same about or nation's police officers and FBI agents?!? Or would you expect them to act in a professional manner?

Paul said...

The constitution explicitly protects our natural right to privacy and forbids warrantless searches. We also have child pornography laws. These machines are in direct violation of both.

I understand that your want to keep Americans safe from terrorist attacks, but no matter how much you search through people possessions, terrorists are constantly figuring out ways to get around it. This will be no exception. Having the crew carry weapons, securing the cockpit doors and passengers themselves willing to stop threats have been far more effective in preventing another 9/11.

I reject the notion that in order to keep airplanes safe, you have to take pictures of me and my family naked.

If you are not willing to reconsider on using these things, at a very minimum, please allow us to have alternative methods like a manual pat down. Not that I approve of them either.

MarkVII said...

Hello David --

I've followed this blog from its inception, and from the point of view of a former airline passenger, I found your post about what the checkpoint personnel endure from the flying public rather ironic. I say former passenger, because I haven't flown in a couple of years, particularly because of the TSA. I say ironic because of the rudeness I've endured at checkpoints.

When I walk up to the WTMD having presented my "papers" as asked, broken no rules, been rude to no one, simply wanting to get on the plane, and the the yelling starts immediately, it gets old in a hurry.

As far as using "got feedback", asking for a supervisor, or whatever -- why does the TSA make it the passenger's responsibility to QA the checkpoint personnel? Why doesn't the TSA use proactive measures like secret shoppers, much like they use test teams to make sure prohibited items are detected?

If it wasn't for the TSA's "do you want to fly today" mindset, the public might have a different opinion of the organization. I think the "gripes and grins" threads from the early days of this blog should be mandatory reading for every TSA employee.

More recently, I remember posts mentioning a guy who "got his head bitten off" because he didn't take his jacket off quickly enough to suit some screener, a passenger who got yelled at to take off his ball cap, etc.

If the TSA's personnel set an example of ordinary courtesy and civility, the public might follow suit.

JMHO
Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes

Ayn R. Key said...

Bob,

1. I had three posts by the time you responded. One of them was me talking as an engineer with some really important points you need to address. The other was in response to a pity plea from an anonymous TSO. Why did you respond to the latter and not the former? That is why we say you never answer question. Quit the cherry picking. Answer what I wrote, writing as an engineer.

2. In my response to the anonymous TSO, you said "What was I just saying? Crimes?" Were you the anonymous TSO? Do you post here without revealing that it is you? And do you really want me to list all the crimes I believe the TSA is guilty of?

RB said...

Have noticed that the WBI images posted here are still not of the same size and resolution that the screener views.

How about a link to some real unaltered images of WBI Strip Search Machines?

Anonymous said...

Years ago I had an Octel voicemail system for my home which had limited capabilities. There was a special service menu (call it a "test mode", if you will) that was not given to customers, which allowed Octel engineers to test the system and enable features and functionality.

Yet, I was able to get into that menu. I was able to, because a friend of mine who worked there provided me with the information I needed to enable that menu.

If it has the capability, it may take a while and it may be very limited, but it *will* be used.

Also, the blog post notes that they have ethernet connections that are used for log-in/log-out, etc., but then says the machines aren't "networked". Do you mean "connected to the Internet"?

If the ethernet or USB ports are connected in any way, *THE MACHINES CAN BE ABUSED*. Period.

I've seen this happen on other types of equipment far more than you might want to know. Your government is LYING to you, and don't believe these falsehoods for a second.

Anonymous said...

Hello TSA Blog Team,
How is everyone today? Question on the body scanners..
How about the privacy issue for the Trangender community? Those of use who have had a sex change and use prosthetics? How will that effect us as far as no harrassment and unnecessary searches because we wear prosthetics?

RB said...

Have noticed that the WBI images posted here are still not of the same size and resolution that the screener views.

How about a link to some real unaltered images of WBI Strip Search Machines?

January 21, 2010 12:15 PM

Anonymous said...

Why is the TSA still refusing to post the full size, full resolution images that the newest generation WBI machines produce? The TSA requires the manufacturer to supply it with 30 to 50 sample images for training, so why won't they just post them? I honestly think if the TSA was more open with the high resolution images, the public would be less confrontational towards you guys and more of the public would accept it. How can the public make an informed decision on regarding this technology when the TSA is so secretive with the full size, full resolution images?

Anonymous said...

Are WBI screening operators able to disable privacy features on images? If not who in the airport has the security clearance to do so?

Rosemary Blair said...

Very Nice Improvements on your blog.
The one question I do have is my husband has had four back operations.
The last operation was a Back Fusion.
I truly think my husband would not have a problem.
It looks so much like a MRI.
Thank You.
Never will be Anonymous :)

Major Variola (ret) said...

We look forward to TMZ
performing van Eck interception
on the video.

Ayn R. Key said...

Bob, you may be censoring this post from the view of others, but every time I post it here you have to look at it. So I'm constantly throwing these two avoided questions in your face until you answer them.

1. I had three posts by the time you responded. One of them was me talking as an engineer with some really important points you need to address. The other was in response to a pity plea from an anonymous TSO. Why did you respond to the latter and not the former? That is why we say you never answer question. Quit the cherry picking. Answer what I wrote, writing as an engineer.

2. In my response to the anonymous TSO, you said "What was I just saying? Crimes?" Were you the anonymous TSO? Do you post here without revealing that it is you? And do you really want me to list all the crimes I believe the TSA is guilty of?

Bob said...

Ayn,

If you scroll down a bit, you'll see that I actually posted your repetitive comments 3 times. 4 including this one.

January 14, 2010 11:53 AM

January 15, 2010 10:38 AM

January 20, 2010 11:56 AM

As far as the questions coming from you as an engineer, perhaps they will be addressed in future posts.

As far as your claims of me posting anonymously, come on... Really?

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Ayn R. Key said...

Ah, good one Bob. Hold them up, and then post them all at once. Then you can respond to my comment about you holding them all up by saying "I posted your repetitive comment." That's almost clever.

Yes, I actually do believe that you would occasionally post anonymously on your own blog. Why? Simple, really. You want to create the appearance of support that is not there.

Tom in Mesa said...

I'm curious.

People are very concerned about these scanners, but why do the TSA scanners have to 'save' the travelers information/xray photo?

Can't they just use it at that moment and then have the image erased once it is proven that the traveler is not a threat?

This to me would seem to solve a lot of problems. Just a thought.

Chris Cork said...

I'm with Tom on this. I see no reason why the image can't be erased once the security check has been done. It's like we are being profiled.

Mukesh said...

Hi ! this is great information thx bro...

Anonymous said...

well as i read these comments about the AIT and all ese tsa i get the same thought why does the american public still fly commercially? lets see it is faster than a bus train or driving it is safer as far as air accidents oh and the tsa actually does a good job at keeping all the knuckle heads of the world on their toes and blah blah blah on your rights just rember you have choosen to fly its not a right its a choice so by making that choice you do have the right to be searched by the tsa so stop the ignorance and DONT FORGET YOU DO HAVE THE RGHT TO WALK, RUN, DRIVE, HOP BIKE RIDE A SKATEBOARD A RAZOR SCOOTER OR ANY OTHER THING YOU CAN THINK OF INSTEAD OF FYING SO PLEASE STOP DONT GO THROUGH THE AIT AND GO THROUGH THE ADDITONAL SEARCH THE TSA DOES ON YOU AND YOUR PROPERETY I DID AND I WONT ANY MORE SO AMERICA NEEDS TO GROW UP AND RELAIZE THE MEN AND WOMEN OF TSA KEEP THE AIRLINES SAFE YES THEY HAVE FLAWS BUT HECK WHO DOESNT SO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT YOURSELF AND

Anonymous said...

Reading this post and the comments and replies by the TSA was irritating. They always reply with the TSA policy in the "now". However they do not guarantee that if they change policies they will inform the public. So we can never know what there policy is at any time. This is further proved by the fact that they had a published policy of offering a brochure, and then simply changed it when they felt like it. How are any of the TSA policies any different. The fact that the "disabled" capabilities of these machines are required of the manufacturers, shows that the TSA believes at some point they would like use of the capabilities. When they start using the store and transmit options odd are high this will be an undisclosed secret decision. Plus they will throw "privacy concerns" an ironic stonewall to be sure, when refusing to disclose info on any breach of policy by TSA employees. To be clear, I could not care less about my nacked images, but rather the government intrusion into everyones lives bringing us daily closer to a 1984 vision.

Anonymous said...

Those that would give up freedom for security deserve nether freedom or security

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I call this kind of talk "smiley talk" -- an artform of politicians, PR people, attorneys, any of the legions of professionals who can look you right in the eye and spew forth words which hide truths were are exactly opposite of what they want you to think they are saying to you.

The phrase regarding the alleged fact that the machines cannot be put into test mode by "operators" leaves the door open to the possible truth that operators cannot, but supervisors can.

Saying that the device's USB port is only used for routine matters such as user login, etc., does not explicitly state that if in test mode that an image cannot be saved to a USB device.

The smiley talk has been around for decades but now seems to be the only way the federal government ever talks to us. I don't believe a word you say about these scanners, and it's just a fact that neither do millions of other well educated and thoughtful Americans.

joefitz said...

I would like to see a full resolution recent sample image to asses the intrusiveness of the scanner. Please post one to replace this tiny thumbnail.

Anonymous said...

Funny the comments seem to be running almost 100% against these invasive, unconstitutional TSA polcies, isn't it?

Estelle Edwards said...

I say this in a kind manner to those who are commenting on this 'government blog'.

Why are you wasting your time here? The TSA is merely playing a game of public relations double-speak. You will notice that this organization never answers any questions about the true horror stories that have already taken place. It points to those stories where details were truly misinterpreted. You will notice that any hard questions about incidents like that involving Robin Kassner, for example, are met with 'We can't comment; litigation is pending.' I say to you good folks,,,,,don't waste your time on this blog. Don't play their game. They are covering up the true incidents that make them look bad. Plus, it is reported that TSA and DHS are now making lists of people who complain too much about them. Tell me again how this is not an indication that we are headed for a Marxist regime. These police agencies are created and given unlimited power that violates against Constitutional protections. It's everywhere: the EPA, DEC, DEA, ASCPA, FDA --- in all of these alphabet agencies, there is a class of employees who are another type of police force.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bob
we've all seen Twin Peaks. We know who you are...