The Department of Homeland Security is set to increase its deployment of of X-ray scanners, already in use on highways, at US border crossings, despite warnings from innumerable health authorities that the devices can cause cancer.
Despite airports moving away from dangerous naked body scanners that fire radiation into the body, damaging living tissue, rearranging chromosomes, and raising the risk of cancer, the DHS is expanding its use of X-ray scanning technology at border checkpoints.
With the technology already in place at places like the busy San Ysidro, California checkpoint, the DHS is planning to introduce the procedure at more locations, with Customs and Border Protection set to announce a new round of scanner purchases in February.
“A 63-page set of specifications (PDF), heavily redacted, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center through the Freedom of Information Act, says the scanners must “be based on X-Ray or gamma technology,” which use potentially dangerous ionizing radiation at high energies, and “shall be capable of scanning cars, SUVs, motorcycles and busses,” reports CNet’s Declan McCullagh.
X-ray technology is being pursued at border checkpoints despite the availability of millimeter-wave machines that do the same job without emitting harmful radiation.
“Society will pay a huge price in cancer because of this,” John Sedat, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco, told CNET. Sedat has raised concerns about the health risks of X-ray scanners, and the European Commission in November prohibited their use in European airports.”
Presumably in an attempt to hide the true threat posed by the scanners, the DHS has named them “Low Energy Drive Through Portal Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems,” a term Peter Rez, a professor of physics at Arizona State University who has studied the technology, calls “highly misleading”.
“To call anything based on high energy X-rays ‘low energy’ is worse than 1984 doublespeak” because radiation emitted by the scanners “goes right through the person” sitting in a vehicle, he says. (High energy X-rays can penetrate not only human flesh, but steel plates that are multiple centimeters thick.)”
Indeed, numerous studies conducted by prestigious universities and health authorities, including Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, the University of California, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, have warned that the devices will lead to an increase in cancers.
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
These warnings have been ignored by the DHS, mirroring the federal agency’s response to another controversy uncovered by EPIC, where “A large number of workers” at Boston-Logan Airport were found to “have been falling victim to cancer, strokes and heart disease,” having been tasked with operating X-ray scanning machines in the airport.
After TSA workers complained to bosses about how they were being kept in the dark over the dangers posed by the scanners, the DHS attempted to cover-up concerns and refused to issue workers with dosimeters.
After making assurances that the DHS would conduct further studies into the safety of X-ray scanning devices, TSA head John Pistole reneged on the promise in November.
Using portable X-ray scanning devices to carry out virtual strip-searches of the American people at TSA checkpoints is not just confined to airports or border crossings.
Documents obtained by Forbes describe Homeland Security plans to “mount backscatter x-ray scanners and video cameras on roving vans,” which would then allow the DHS to scan individuals on “public streets” at random.
Last year we reported on how the federal government has acquired hundreds of backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that they are now using to randomly scan vehicles, passengers and homes in complete violation of the 4th amendment and with wanton disregard for any health consequences.
The devices are most frequently used to scan the vehicles of truck drivers who are forced to stop at internal checkpoints on highways.
Congress recently gave the green light on increased funding for a massive expansion of TSA checkpoints, with the federal agency already responsible for over 9,000 such checkpoints in the last year. The funds will pay for 12 additional VIPR teams (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response), who will be tasked with searching Americans on highways, at bus depots, train stations, sports stadiums, and numerous other public locations.
The extra money is being demanded despite the fact that there is “no proof that the roving viper teams have foiled any terrorist plots or thwarted any major threat to public safety,” according to an L.A. Times report.
Paul Joseph Watson
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