A blogger on Tuesday published a video showing how he had snuck a small metal case through the Transportation and Security Administration’s (TSA) “billion dollar fleet” of so-called nude body scanners.
Engineer Jonathan Corbett, who runs the blog TSA Out of Our Pants, explained that the problem lies in how the scanner uses dark colors to highlight potential threats like weapons or explosives.
“Again that’s light figure, black background, and BLACK threat items,” he explained. “Yes that’s right, if you have a metallic object on your side, it will be the same color as the background and therefore completely invisible to both visual and automated inspection.”
“To put it to the test, I bought a sewing kit from the dollar store, broke out my 8th grade home ec skills, and sewed a pocket directly on the side of a shirt. Then I took a random metallic object, in this case a heavy metal carrying case that would easily alarm any of the ‘old’ metal detectors, and walked through a backscatter x-ray at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.”
Again at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, Corbett successfully carried his small, empty metal case through the scanners.
“While I carried the metal case empty, by one with mal-intent, it could easily have been filled with razor blades, explosives, or one of Charlie Sheen’s infamous 7 gram rocks of cocaine,” he warned. “With a bigger pocket, perhaps sewn on the inside of the shirt, even a firearm could get through.”
Last year, Corbett filed a lawsuit (PDF) against the TSA, claiming that the agency had violated his Fourth Amendment rights. That suit was dismissed earlier this year and he filed another lawsuit on 21 additional counts, including false arrest, violating the Civil Rights Act, infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
“Now, I’m sure the TSA will accuse me of aiding the terrorists by releasing this video, but it’s beyond belief that the terrorists haven’t already figured this out and are already plotting to use this against us,” he opined in his Tuesday video. “The TSA is worse than ineffective: they are an epic fail placing us all in danger. … We must all stand together and demand an end to the organization that molests our families while placing us in danger by directly ignoring blatant security flaws.”
Watch this video from TSA Out of Our Pants, broadcast March 6, 2012.