Sunday, July 20, 2008
Air travelers in Chicago will soon be literally exposed to a revealing full-body scan before boarding planes.
The new procedure, which is sure to make some passengers blush and others burn in anger over what critics call a virtual reality strip-search, is part of a “security evolution” at airport passenger checkpoints around the country.
It comes amid continuing concerns that Al Qaeda-trained suicide bombers are potentially only one plane ticket away from a U.S. attack, according to the nation’s top transportation security official.
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“If despite all our best efforts we fail to keep a [would-be] terrorist off an airplane, at least we must make sure that suicide bombers cannot smuggle the explosives they need to cause a catastrophe past the airport checkpoint and onto the aircraft,” said Kip Hawley, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for security at the nation’s airports.
Accompanying stepped-up efforts to counter that threat, authorities said they think passengers will prefer a no-touch alternative to a physical pat-down by airport workers searching for concealed weapons, explosives and other prohibited items.
Small but powerful bombs that could be attached to a terrorist’s body or camouflaged in ordinary travel gear represent the No. 1 threat to airport security, Hawley said last week in an interview at O’Hare International Airport.
The new full-body imaging machines that will arrive at O’Hare this fall look through clothing to create an explicit silhouette of the travelerâ€”showing shapes, folds of fat and other anatomical characteristicsâ€”to identify possible hidden objects.
This article was posted: Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 5:23 am