Doubt Surrounds Effectiveness of Body Scanners After Foiled Al-Qaeda Plot

Although Homeland Security appears outwardly confident in its scanners, an internal report may suggest otherwise

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    There are new security concerns at airports nationwide following another foiled Al-Qaeda plot involving an underwear bomb and a CIA Informant.

    Now, the effectiveness of full-body scanners is being questioned.

    Effectiveness of Body Scanners Questioned

    [DGO] Effectiveness of Body Scanners Questioned
    Dr. Eric Frost from SDSU's co-director of the graduate homeland security program discusses the airport body scanners and metal detectors. Greg Bledsoe reports. (Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012)

    There are ten of those full body scanners here at Lindbergh Field. There has always been the question of whether they invade people's privacy. Now, many people are doubting whether they work at all.

    The scanners were an $87 million investment by the federal government. They are now the latest hurdle for terrorists to overcome. Most recently, by plotting to use an underwear bomb, which had no metal parts.

    "I say all things considered, yes, there's a high likelihood it would have been detected," said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Nopalitano.

    Although Homeland Security appears outwardly confident in its scanners, an internal report may suggest otherwise.

    In a summary of that report, Homeland Security investigators identified vulnerabilities in the screening process.

    The report makes eight recommendations to fix the problems. But as far as what those vulnerabilities are -- and the suggested solutions -- that is classified.

    "There is no machine, and there probably never will be a machine that can catch everything," said Dr. Eric Frost, Co-Director of San Diego State's graduate Homeland Security Program.

    Frost said people shouldn't worry if the scanners are not perfect -- body scanners are not the airport's best weapon against terrorism.

    "Clearly the best defense that the U.S. has at airports is the observant agent," Frost said. "So, that's where the most information comes is the person looking and saying something's wrong. I don't know what it is, but something's wrong."

    While the FBI analyzes this most recent device, and homeland security works to fix those vulnerabilities, Dr. Frost says it's up to everyone to pick up where machines drop off.

    "It's everybody's responsibility to try to help because it's our lives that are on the line, and TSA is trying to help us save our lives."

    In addition to fixing the classified vulnerabilities, right now homeland security is also working on making those full body scans more private.

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