Saturday, February 19, 2011

TSA: Trust Us, Our Machines Are Safe

From USA Today:

The Transportation Security Administration has told members of Congress that more than 15 million passengers received full-body scans at airports without any malfunctions that put travelers at risk of an excessive radiation dose.

Despite the reassurance, however, the TSA has yet to release radiation inspection reports for its X-ray equipment — two months after lawmakers called for them to be made public following USA TODAY's requests to review the reports.

TSA spokesman Kristin Lee says that the agency is still trying to ensure that the reports don't contain any "sensitive security or privacy-protected information" and that she expects they will be released "within the next few weeks."

The chairman of a House oversight committee on homeland defense calls the delays "inexcusable."

"The public has a right to know, and there isn't something so sensitive that requires holding it back," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. Chaffetz has sponsored legislation to limit the use of full-body scans.

The TSA's increased use of full-body X-ray scanners sparked traveler concerns last fall about radiation safety. The TSA says the radiation dose is tiny — equivalent to what a person receives during two minutes inside an airplane at cruising altitude.

Fueling concerns about the potential for scanner malfunctions and the TSA's ability to identify problems: a 2008 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found the TSA and its contractors had failed in the past to detect when some baggage X-ray machines were emitting excessive levels of radiation or had safety features that were missing or disabled...

'Inexcusable' delay on TSA body-scanner safety reports
Alison Young

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