You have to wonder. These new “back scatter X-ray” machines now popping up in every airport across the U.S. may have a more sinister role. These are the machines that image your naked body so the TSA can see beneath your clothes. But what good do they actually do?
After all, everyone knows that terrorists aren’t likely to try to take a bomb on a plane. Plane’s are old hat. In a world where more specific targets and more public damage are desirable to terrorists, blowing up a plane just doesn’t cut it. You have to do something more. The 911 hijackers knew that. They didn’t need a bomb.
So what else could be going on here? One thing we know, airports make a great connection point for the State to monitor and control its population. Just like a State Patrol Officer exercising his right to search an individual’s car after pulling him over for speeding, so airports offer a connection point where literally millions of Americans are squeezed through the aperture of the State’s eye in one fell swoop.
It’s efficient. It makes sense, from the State’s point of view. If you want to tag your cattle, you need to lead them through a narrow gate.
But here’s the clincher. Conspiracy theorists should be rejoicing. Because, for the passed several decades, they’ve been pointing to what they perceive are overt attempts by the State to sterilize vast numbers of people and, vis-à-vis Malthus, control spiraling population trends.
It sounds ridiculous. But wait. A recent letter released by experts at the University of California San Francisco (including luminaries from international cancer research and X-ray imaging) details some very serious concerns.
We’ve all been told that the amount of radiation emitted by one of these machines is equivalent to the dose of cosmic rays endured during just two hours of flight time, at 30,000 feet. Or that you’d need 5,000 scans to approach the radiation levels of a simple chest X-ray. That may be true. But, like all data, results can be skewed by your units of measurement. A great deal depends on units of radiation per unit of body mass per time. And these machines don’t distribute their radiation throughout the whole body, but concentrate it in the skin.
“In contrast, these new airport scanners,” the scientists write, “are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of the body weight by volume, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high.” Up to 20 times higher than previously projected.
Maybe this is why a bunch of pilots form the Allied Pilots Association recently went on strike (in November) refusing to fly if subjected to the machines. The Obama administration, and the TSA, decided to let them through under a new law that allows pilots to bypass security in airports by presenting two photo IDs, their own and a company-provided one. (The rational argued was that if pilots were terrorists they wouldn’t need a bomb seeing as they’re already in control of the plane. A convincing argument, for sure. But why stop with the pilots? Everyone knows terrorists aren’t really interested in downing a single jet on it’s way to Hawaii, or wherever. And you could cause plenty of havoc with just three committed passengers armed with walking canes.)
These concerns were also echoed by Dr. Brenner, the Director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University. He believes that even a one-in-a-million chance of mutating cells into basel carcinomas (a type of skin cancer) would have deleterious effects on a population where tens of millions of passengers fly every year. That’s a good point. Most toxicity levels are articulated as proportional ratios, with one death in a million being acceptable (e.g. water quality standards). In other words, the chances of getting cancer from these scans is statistically insignificant only if your population is restricted to one to ten people!
Think about that.
Breast cancer is a primary concern. If radiation is magnified in the skin and the immediately subcutaneous tissue, then women with already impacted DNA-repair pathways are susceptible. (Susceptible women don’t even receive mammograms because of this.) And don’t forget the testicles. Definitely susceptible to increased radiation; radiation characterized by those in the know as, ‘inelastic’ – it images via “Compton Scattering” off outer electrons of surface atoms, and thus breaks molecular bonds (and potentially fragments DNA). This does not bode well for gamete production in organs that are skin deep. It has the potential for mutagenic impacts on the chromosomes vital in reproduction.
Mutagenesis and sperm are two words this author doesn’t like to hear in the same sentence. Especially when that sentence is written by a team of renowned scientists, recognized as experts in their fields, who have spent a lifetime studying the effects of radiation on biological tissue.
And we’re not even discussing the expected impacts on aged people whose telomeres are already short and cellular division (and thus DNA replication) is not always perfect. Or the scanning itself, with the TSA’s ability to increase or decrease resolution, thus pinpointing areas (undoubtedly the crotch) and thereby increasing exposure well above the levels sold to the public….
And why are we doing this again? How many terrorist have been caught in an airport? How many bombs have been prevented from going on planes? Why would a terrorist organization, which must adapt and continually evolve its nefarious tactics, resort to past ways of sabotage when more mayhem may be caused on a Greyhound bus driving through downtown Chicago? It just makes no sense. The State is notoriously behind the times and unwieldy, but this is just asinine.
Unless it’s all really about monitoring the ‘herd’, and reducing fertility rates for the 21st Century. Many such Malthusian hypersensitivities to overpopulation have been seen before (just think of the Nazis). And even if that’s not the State’s secret agenda (as the conspiracy theorists like to remind us) the truth is, the State couldn’t do a better job if it tried. I’m not sure what’s more terrifying, a State with a perverse secret agenda, or a headless monster creating mayhem accidentally. Either way, your goose is cooked.