A traveler undergoes a full-body scan performed by Transportation Security Administration agents at the Denver International Airport on Nov. Scientists studied X-rays used in other models of the scanners and found that they complied with national standards for allowable doses of radiation.
TSA announced Friday it would require full-body scans for some travelers rather than allowing everyone the option of a pat-down search instead.
The scanners can detect non-metallic weapons hidden beneath clothing, such as the plastic explosives hidden in the underwear of a man who attempted to detonate a bomb about a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.“Generally, passengers undergoing screening will still have the option to decline a (full-body) screening in favor of physical screening,” said Bruce Anderson, a TSA spokesman.
“However, some passengers will be required to undergo (full-body) screening if warranted by security considerations in order to safeguard transportation security.”"This will occur in a very limited number of circumstances where enhanced screening is required," Anderson added.
"The vast majority of passengers will not be affected."The change is controversial.“We’re in bizarro-world with TSA,” said Marc Scribner, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The institute has sued TSA in federal court to force the agency to go through a formal rulemaking procedure to continue to use the body scanners, which went into service in 2007.
Such a process would allow the public to comment on how and when the machines are used.
A July court filing said more than 740 scanners are installed in 160 airports.
TSA received more than 5,500 comments when it proposed a rule in 2013 dealing with the scanners, but TSA never completed that process.
As part of the legal case, TSA is now scheduled to publish a final rule in March.
Scribner said the change Friday is another example of TSA ignoring the law governing how federal agencies should adopt regulations, and leaves travelers uncertain about their rights under the rules.“It wasn’t clear before what the policy was. “I don’t know if they could have done anything worse.”Fred Cate, an Indiana University law professor, said changing a policy that travelers already don’t understand will lead to greater confusion.
And granting TSA officers greater discretion at checkpoints is an invitation to more complaints about how travelers are chosen for pat-downs, he said.“Anything that adds more complexity likely weakens security,” Cate said.