29 September 2010

Creep Factor: Feds Turning X-Rays on Americans to Catch Terrorists?

Sporting events, shopping malls, airports: all places you get radiated without your knowledge by our government after terrorists and drug cartels.

From Denny:  So what's next in the paranoia department for Americans?  Do we have to worry about our government agents using radiation technology anonymously as we attend a football game or visit a shopping mall - all in the day's work of catching drug cartels or terrorists with contraband or bombs?

Mobile X-rays vans are now cruising our streets all in the interest of combating terrorism.  The feds are randomly scanning cars and trucks everywhere.  Besides our privacy concerns, how about our serious health concerns?

"This really trips up the creep factor because it's one of those things that you sort of intrinsically think the government shouldn't be doing," says Vermont-based privacy expert Frederick Lane, author of "American Privacy." Lane adds, "But, legally, the issue is the boundary between the government's legitimate security interest and privacy expectations we enjoy in our cars."

So how many of these  Z Backscatter Vans have been sold so far to the U.S. and other foreign governments?  Try 500 just for starters.  What makes more sense is that the Department of Defense has purchased most of them for use in war zones.  What a whole lot of people don't find so comfortable is turning America into one big war zone by deploying this intrusive radiation.  Our federal law enforcement has decided to use these Z vans for bomb searches on the city streets. My question is this: Are they using these Z vans because they have cause or is this just a regular operation, catching the public unawares and unprotected?

You guessed it.  This week there was one counter-terror operation that snarled up traffic on I-20 near Atlanta when the Department of Homeland Security decided to go for a joy ride with their trusty Z van.  They were checking truck trailers, though those inspections were not prompted by any specific threat.  Well, in their defense, the Mexican drug cartels have penetrated America all the way up to Atlanta and use that area as a distribution center to dispense their cheap potent highly pure Mexican heroin. What the feds should be doing is shutting down Bush's idiot Highway of No Check Points from Mexico through America and into Canada.

OK, so how exactly does this new X-ray technology work?  It bounces narrow X-ray streams off an object, say a car or a truck, and then analyzes the scatter rate of the returning rays.  This process locates lesser dense objects that could be drug stashes, dead  bodies or bombs.

Turns out that this backscatter X-ray technology is already part of our national privacy debate.  It's used in those embarrassing full body scanners in our airports.  At the moment our current administration promises not to store these images or share them with anyone.  They also claim they use masking technology to avoid those private area details.  So, what's to stop another Bush-Cheney administration from violating that promise in the future?  Currently, there are lawsuits to stop this technology deployment in airports by information security advocates worried about privacy issues.

Of course, the counter terrorism guys claim you don't lose any privacy from this technology when it's deployed on the streets because it does not record the kind of detail as the airport scanners.  American law enforcement already does have broad search-and-seizure powers on public highways.  Rarely is a search warrant required for police to do a physical search.

Well, guys, from the health perspective, prove to me that a person living in a congested busy city who gets radiated many times a year is not at risk for cancer.  Will the government pay for hundreds of thousands of citizens' catastrophic health care resulting from this technology?

There are other constitutional experts who are concerned that radiating fellow Americans without their consent or knowledge is eroding their constitutional protections.  Oh, thank you, post-9/11 hysteria.

"Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of national security … you have to be realistic that this is another way in which the government is capturing information they may lose control over," says Mr. Lane. "I just have some real problems with the idea of even beginning a campaign of rolling surveillance of American citizens, which is what this essentially is."

Well, yeah, "Do ya think?!"  Now that's the understatement of the century.

*** Feds found drugs hidden in this pickup truck when they turned the Z Backscatter Van on it. Photo by Business Wire

Airport security: two alternatives to full-body scanners

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