June 27, 2011
Newly released internal government documents, obtained via the Freedom Of Information Act, reveal that the TSA, and specifically the head of the Department of Homeland Security, “publicly mischaracterized” the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in stating that NIST had positively confirmed the safety of full body scanners in tests.
In the private email response, NIST stated that the Institute had not, in fact, tested full body scanners at all for safety, and that the Institute does not even undertake product testing.
The email (below) states that the director of NIST was “not looking for corrections”, but wished to “offer clarification”, that the agency “doesn’t want any mischaracterization of their work continued.”
At the time, Prisonplanet.com published a response article to Napolitano’s claims, highlighting the fact that her statements regarding the safety of the scanners, as well as her claims that the pat down alternative was “discreet”, were manifestly false.
It is now clear that our concerns were shared by another government agency, in the form of NIST.
Another document obtained by EPIC even shows that, far from affirming their safety, NIST warned that airport screeners should avoid standing next to full body scanners in order to keep exposure to harmful radiation “as low as reasonably achievable.”
It is not clear whether or not the information and advice was ever passed on to TSA workers.
However, another document obtained by EPIC shows that a growing number of TSA workers diagnosed with cancers are voicing concern that the full body scanners and x-ray machines are indeed to blame for their illnesses.
The document also highlights the fact that the TSA has failed to issue employees with dosimeters, safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure, despite repeated requests from workers and their supervisors.
In an email sent by a TSA representative to employees at Boston’s Logan Airport, workers are assured that their complaints are being listened to and that a request to issue the radiation monitoring devices had been sent to TSA headquarters.
“I understand that some TSO’s who were diagnosed as having cancer have already left TSA employment but that BOS still has an alarmingly high number of cancer afflicted TSOs still working here.” the email states.
“Despite TSA management’s past assurances, many TSOs here do not feel safe from radiation threats that may go hand in hand with using x-ray screening technology, especially the newer [installed since TSA federalized airport security] technology…” the email continues.
In the same USA Today piece, Napolitano, or ‘Big Sis’ as she is now often referred to, also claimed that the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory had also independently affirmed the safety of the scanners.
However, yet another document obtained and released by EPIC now shows that a Johns Hopkins study actually revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit.”
At the time we pointed out that Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at the Johns Hopkins school of medicine had publicly stated two days previously that “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays”.
“…we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” Love said.
It is now even more clear that Napolitano’s statements to the public regarding the body scanners were misleading at best, and at worst were outright lies.
EPIC is currently engaged in a lawsuit against the DHS to force full disclosure of body scanner radiation risks. A second EPIC lawsuit is seeking to suspend the use of full body scanners altogether. Both lawsuits are ongoing.
The TSA previously refused to release internal reports on the safety of the body scanners.