June 29, 2011 1:29 pm ET
Adding pressure on Governor Perry to sign the Texas TSA "Anti-groping" Bill the legislature there passed last week is news that the Department of Homeland Security Agency's TSA, the Transportation Security Administration, has been covering up a surge of its workers developing cancer, strokes and heart disease -- employees working in close proximity to radiation-firing devices according to latest FOIA documents obtained by Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) had filed a lawsuit to suspend the deployment of body scanners at US airports, pending an independent review. The organization had applied for information in its legal case investigation.
EPIC's legal case argues that the federal agency "has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC cited the invasive nature of the devices, the TSA's disregard of public opinion, and the impact on religious freedom" it reported Tuesday.
"One document set reveals that, even after TSA employees identified cancer clusters possibly linked to radiation exposure, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters - safety devices that could assess the level of radiation exposure," says EPIC.
Airport security machines, also referred to as "body scanner", "whole body imager (WBI)", and "security scanner," are the latest way travelers are being radiated.
Another document EPIC received evidences that the Department of Homeland Security "mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST 'affirmed the safety' of full body scanners. The documents obtained by EPIC reveal that NIST disputed that characterization and stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test the devices."
EPIC notes that a Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the "General Public Dose Limit." (See: EPIC: EPIC v. Department of Homeland Security - Full Body Scanner Radiation Risks and EPIC: EPIC v. DHS (Suspension of Body Scanner Program) June 24, 2011)
TSA backscatters are not only a virtual strip search, they are irradiating.
Since backscatters were introduced, they have been raising privacy concerns about what is seen by the person viewing the scan. Some worry that viewing the image violates confidential medical information, such as using a colostomy bag, having a missing limb, wearing a prosthesis, or is transsexual.
The ACLU and Electronic Privacy Information Center are also opposed to this technology, presently used in the U.S. at 78 airports, four court houses, two correctional facilities, with another 12 airports scheduled for them.
The ACLU refers to backscatter x-rays as a "virtual strip search."
The British newspaper The Guardian has revealed concern among British officials that the use of such scanners to scan children may be illegal under the Protection of Children Act 1978, which prohibits the creation and distribution of indecent images of children. (See: Travis, Alan, "New scanners break child porn laws". The Guardian (London). Retrieved January 6, 2010.)
Even in very small dosed, energy emitted by a backscatter X-ray is still a type of ionizing radiation that damages chemical bonds and is considered carcinogenic. Many officials have tried to refute this but, with the new evidence from EPIC, those supporting the radiation devices might have less of a leg to stand on.
Michael Chertoff, Former Department of Homeland Security and now Chertoff Group head, was led the" Full Body Scanner Lobby" and was promoting the radiation scanners days after the underwear bomber. In 2009, Chertoff went on a media tour promoting the scanners, without disclosing he was getting paid by Rapiscan, one of the two companies TSA is contracting to provide the scanners.
Another EPIC Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security was filed for DHS unlawfully withholding documents concerning mobile body scanners.
Human rights defenders claimed victory over DHS and its TSA in Texas this week as the Texas legislature passed the "TSA "Anti-groping" Bills that critics agreed blatantly violating human rights at US airports.
EPIC broke the news that the new mobile scanners can be used to monitor crowds, peering under clothes and inside bags. EPIC had obtained documents describing DHS's plan to expand the use of these systems at railways, stadiums, and elsewhere.
EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.It publishes an award-winning e-mail and online newsletter on civil liberties in the information age - the EPIC Alert.