Millimeter Wave Scanners

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. (George Orwell:1984)

The good news is that due to privacy and health concerns congress has finally ordered TSA to remove those awful naked body backscatter x-ray machines from major airports here in the USA. The bad news however, is that these massively unpopular devices are being replaced by millimeter wave scanners. Why the concern when the manufactures of these admittedly untested devices assure the public that they are “perfectly safe”. In these Orwellian times when I hear such as assurances, I have learned to pay attention to the likelihood that the opposite may well be the case. Phrases such as “perfectly safe”, “minimal risk”, “no danger to human health” and “statistically insignificant”, brings to mind those old x-ray machines in shoe stores, medical doctors advertising cigarettes and our government and Atomic Energy Commission’s past reassurances that atomic testing fallout has never caused any illness.

While mainstream media outlets carried stories of naked backscatter removals there was next to no detailed information about their replacement. We therefore have to rely upon alternative media’s outlier, health oriented web sites, to look deeper into vital matters of health and public safety. In the online Natural News Nick Adams expressed his concerns as to the biological effects of TSA’s new millimeter wave “digital strip search” scanners, recklessly rolled out without any adequate safety tests. These millimeter wave technologies are designed to bombard innocent travelers with high frequency energy particles known as terahertz photons. A study conducted by Boian S. Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, revealed that these terahertz waves could “…unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication”. In plain English, this study raises serious concerns about the impact of terahertz radiation upon fertility, fetal development, and cancer. At no time in the history of civilization have so many humans been exposed to these levels of untested radiation. (“Full-body scanners used on air passengers may damage human DNA”, ,1/23/2013). More information is available from Electronic Privacy Information Center, a non-profit organization currently suing the U.S, Government to cease these unsafe digital strip search technologies.

I recently encountered a millimeter wave scanner at Dallas-Fort Worth airport security and due to a severe time crunch agreed to the time saving option of moving through this device. As a frequent flier, I have become somewhat adapted to the inevitability of TSA encounters in our post 9/11, dystopian airport culture. Advice given years ago by my colleagues in the former Soviet Union has served me well while passing through authoritarian, proto-military protocols. … “don’t look interesting, remain mute and speak only when spoken to”, and to that I would add that it always helps to appear relaxed and cooperative. These seemingly benign millimeter wave scanners look like oversized, glass enclosed phone booths. Upon entering, the traveler is asked to raise their arms, in the universal gesture of surrender, for just a few seconds. If nothing seems amiss one is released to proceed along to the boarding gates.

As efficient as this all may seem, I still prefer to avoid unnecessary x-rays or in this case microwaves and will continue to choose the still available opt-out alternative for a less carcinogenic, DNA safe, manual search and pat down. 

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