How do you feel about MMW vs Backscatter?

Old Sep 23, 11, 12:48 pm
  #1  
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How do you feel about MMW vs Backscatter?

Next month, I am taking a trip to PBI(West Palm Beach, FL) I am flying delta out of LGA, which is NOS free. On the return, I am flying Delta out of PBI, which according to TSAStatus.net is MMW Primary for most passengers. A friend of mine just flew through there recently and said they are using the new ATR system. With the ATR, the privacy concerns are gone, and I belive there is no radiation from the MMW, correct? I am leaning twoards being OK with MMW with ATR, but still opting out of non ATR MMW and all Backscatter machines, but wanted to get opinions first?

So is there a diffrence between MMW and Backscatter that makes it big enough for you to use one but opting out of the other? How does the ATR come into play there?
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Old Sep 23, 11, 12:56 pm
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Neither detects explosives, and is therefore a methodologically unsound approach in terms of airport security.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 1:00 pm
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Efficacy issues aside. Many will do MMW with ATR (Gumby Software) but opt of all others for reasons you note. However, my experience with observing MMW with ATR there can be at 50% false positive rate so you will get a resolution pat down (without a glove change unless you ask). Big hair is almost certain to result in a res. patdown. I refuse all cause I can.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 1:06 pm
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I don't have the concern about being exposed to radiation with the MMW, BUT, it does look under my clothes and I consider that a strip search and totally unacceptable. Opt out of any.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 2:04 pm
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They are both invasive and ineffective.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 2:08 pm
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Yes, they are both offensive, and I am certianly not saying they are right. However, opting out resolves in a groping, and I think that going through an ATR MMW, if i am going to be invaded in some point, is less invasive than a full body grope. If a targeted resolution pat down is necessary, of course I will ask for a glove change.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 2:54 pm
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Originally Posted by patom View Post
They are both invasive and ineffective.
Agreed ^ and I will not (n.b. will not) go thru either one.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 4:04 pm
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Originally Posted by sesasheep View Post
Yes, they are both offensive, and I am certianly not saying they are right. However, opting out resolves in a groping, and I think that going through an ATR MMW, if i am going to be invaded in some point, is less invasive than a full body grope. If a targeted resolution pat down is necessary, of course I will ask for a glove change.
The purpose of the grope is to be invasive to the point in which it intimidates people into getting the scanners. Opting out is a means of showing dissatisfaction, as well as addressing personal concerns.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 4:23 pm
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I opt out of both. I feel they are an unreasonable search to subject everyone too.

Unfortunately, that means I get a full pat-down about 95% of the time. 50% for opting-out and 45% for alarming WTMDs (generally, it's my bra). If they'd implemented them as secondary, then I'd get very few pat downs, because then I WOULD be willing to go through them if/when a WTMD alarmed.

I've even had agents offer to let me go through it after I alarmed the WTMD (when they realized I was removing the offending metal right there for my second try through the WTMD!) But I wouldn't then, either.

I advise my siblings that I don't think they should go through, but it's THEIR 4th ammendment rights to do with as they wish, though I do strongly advise them against Backscatter because of ALARA concerns (As Low As Reasonably Achievable - An approach to reducing unnecessary ionizing radiation or exposure to anything that there is no 'safe' level of exposure)
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Old Sep 23, 11, 4:43 pm
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A little primer about radio and x-rays.

Radio consists of radiated waves of different frequencies. These frequencies run from DC up to the far infrared frequencies. More than 100 years of research and experimentation has pretty much proven that "radio" waves have no mutinogenic effects on tissue. At lower frequencies, these waves pass harmlessly through tissue and apparently do no damage, even at very high power levels. At very high frequencies (microwave), these waves seem to be absorbed and there is a heating effect on tissue. Tissue destruction can occur if the power level is high enough, but even at these high levels damage is due to burning and destroying tissue, not mutinogenic effects, like cancer.

High power microwaves are used to cook stuff, like TV dinners, because the waves are absorbed by water-bearing items and converted to heat. The same frequency waves at much lower levels appear to be harmless, causing only slight heating without destruction of tissue. At even lower levels, history has proven them completely harmless.

We are constantly bombarded by radio waves, and can't escape them. Just think how many radio and television stations you can receive at your house, how many cell phone towers, microwave links, satellite dishes, etc there are in your locale. Even the automatic door openers at the market and bank are beaming microwaves at you to "see" you and open the door. Your computer emits low to medium frequency radio waves, in addition to the wireless adapter which transmits microwaves. Your TV emits spurious radio waves. Every CPU in your phone, car, digital appliance, etc emits radio waves of some frequency or multiple frequencies. Your microwave oven even leaks a small amount of microwaves. Your cell phone is a microwave radio as well.

It is accepted in the scientific community that ordinary radio waves are harmless below a certain amount of power (expressed in W/CM2). Because of the heating effects of higher frequencies (microwaves), the safe power levels are much lower than at lower frequencies. Even above the "safe" limit, cancer is not induced. There are no known MUTINOGENIC effects.

While I completely disagree with naked body scanners, and will never subject myself to one, the frequency and power levels employed in the MM type are clearly a non -issue. Your cell phone and the wireless adapter in your laptop are thousands of times more powerful, and they are generally considered safe. There is no proof that cell phones are dangerous, although millions have been spent researching the matter, but there is no repeatable, scientific evidence.

X-Rays, however, are a completely different animal. Their frequency is so high, that they are considered "energetic particles", not waves. They interact with tissue knocking atoms out of their orbits, and have known, certain mutinogenic effects. They absolutely induce cancer, although there is some argument whether or not there is a "safe" threshold. X-ray body scanners operate below what some scientists consider this safe threshold, but there is no universal agreement about this. Therefore it is prudent to avoid unnecessary x-rays from any source, unless there is clear benefit to be derived, like medical and dental x-rays.

Remember that the US and other countries outlawed Freon, with the rationale that depleting the ozone in the atmosphere would increase the UV radiation on the ground, causing more cancers in people. These are the same bozos beaming x-rays at us, certainly causing some cancers, but nobody knows how many. For this reason, x-ray scanners need to be immediately abandoned, and the EU has outlawed them for Europe. Only the US and UK have been duped into using these machines, as they do produce higher image quality than the MM wave type, and they clearly had better lobbying. Remember that Michael Chertoff was the former head of TSA before promoting these things - he has the right "connections".

All that being said, the MM wave scanners with auto detect software appear to be safe for your privacy and safe for your body, providing there is no raw image storage or review. However, they are expensive and slow as well as ineffective, causing lots of false positives due to medical devices, folds of fabric, lint in pockets, etc. This is the WRONG METHODOLOGY for finding explosive materials! The X-ray type scanners need to be pushed into the ocean immediately. Better yet, push them all in the ocean and bring on the dogs and save a BIG PILE of money!
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Old Sep 23, 11, 4:58 pm
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For the TSA, the decision on which system to install at each individual airport comes down to logistics. Not which is better or worse, which is more or less invasive, but which one will fit in the space provided.

MMW consists of a large tubular type system that is also quite tall. Airports that can accommodate this type of system are fewer and further between than those that can accommodate the Backscatter system and its requirement for more floor space. Most airports were designed and built long before either of these technologies was even thought of, and the space for them was not allocated to the screening process by the varying airport authorities, nor was it thought of to provide the screening areas with exceptionally high ceilings. WTMD does not require anywhere near the space that either of the AIT systems do, and that was the standard screening device when most airports were designed.

On the theory of what the systems do or do not detect, what I can tell you is that they do detect anomalies. Not guns, not paper, not implants, not scars, not explosives, not hair gel, not just about anything. They only detect anomalies. Pre-ATR it was up to the TSO in the imaging booth to do the detecting. Now, can a human detect all of the above? Normally yes. They may not be able to tell the search officer what the anomaly is, but they can certainly tell the officer if it is there or not.

On the theory of which is safer, well since you have gotten more ionizing radiation from your computer monitor (or cell phone) reading this post than you got from your last 2 runs through either AIT system, I guess it’s a matter of “acceptable risk”, and only you can make that choice for yourself.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 5:37 pm
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They are both useless wastes of money that don't work.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 5:46 pm
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In my opinion, all of the AIT technologies are useless wastes of money, but I will go through a MMW machine with ATR technology because I believe that the MMW technology is safe, and ATR addresses my privacy concerns. (In fact, I did this for the first time at IAH this week.)

I will not go through backscatter of any sort, or a non-ATR MMW machine.
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Old Sep 23, 11, 6:05 pm
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While I absolutely refuse to go through a backscatter ATI because of exposure to ionizing radiation, I have no problems going through the MMW, and in all my trips through the MMW, I have never had an after ATI pat down, I make sure there is nothing in my pockets, including lint that might show up as an anomaly.

My last time I went through the MMW, in TPA it had the new gumby software, so I was able to see what the MMW had picked up, there were 2 small red boxes on the image and the screener said there was no problem with what he saw and cleared me. I even asked him if the red boxes indicated something and he said no, so I thanked him and went my merry way.

Are both useless and a waste of money, absolutely

Mr. Elliott
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Old Sep 23, 11, 8:01 pm
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Originally Posted by TSORon View Post
For the TSA, the decision on which system to install at each individual airport comes down to logistics. Not which is better or worse, which is more or less invasive, but which one will fit in the space provided.

MMW consists of a large tubular type system that is also quite tall. Airports that can accommodate this type of system are fewer and further between than those that can accommodate the Backscatter system and its requirement for more floor space. Most airports were designed and built long before either of these technologies was even thought of, and the space for them was not allocated to the screening process by the varying airport authorities, nor was it thought of to provide the screening areas with exceptionally high ceilings. WTMD does not require anywhere near the space that either of the AIT systems do, and that was the standard screening device when most airports were designed.

On the theory of what the systems do or do not detect, what I can tell you is that they do detect anomalies. Not guns, not paper, not implants, not scars, not explosives, not hair gel, not just about anything. They only detect anomalies. Pre-ATR it was up to the TSO in the imaging booth to do the detecting. Now, can a human detect all of the above? Normally yes. They may not be able to tell the search officer what the anomaly is, but they can certainly tell the officer if it is there or not.

On the theory of which is safer, well since you have gotten more ionizing radiation from your computer monitor (or cell phone) reading this post than you got from your last 2 runs through either AIT system, I guess it’s a matter of “acceptable risk”, and only you can make that choice for yourself.
Could you quantify that statement with millirem amounts?
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