At Australian international terminals, every third or fourth person is chosen to walk through a Pro Vision full body scanning machine. The travelers politely and willingly enter the chamber – to emerge on the other side content that they are being kept safe from terror.
But statistics tell us that a person is 30,000 times more likely to die on the roads driving to the airport than by a terrorist in an airplane.
Whenever I leave Melbourne on an international trip – and I leave this Saturday – I try to “evade” being ushered to the full body scanner. And if I am selected and need to fly that day – I better comply. In Australia it is mandatory – if you are asked. There is no “opt out”, and if you refuse, you will not be allowed to proceed to your flight, and can only return to the airport 24 hours later – to try again.
This is what happened to Bruno Marevich, a medical practitioner (a Naturopath) from Newcastle in 2012 – when he politely refused and requested a strip search. His account was written up in Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) and below is an extract:
“He (the security person) replied that if I refused to be scanned, I could not fly on that day. That I would be detained at the airport and given 24 hours within which to reconsider. If at the end of that, I still refused to be scanned, that they would call the Federal Police. He warned me that this may entail charges, fines and imprisonment which may last a day or even one week or more as well as a future criminal record.
….I then requested for evidence in writing that what he was saying was the correct policy and procedure for handling people refusing to be body scanned. I was shown letters bound in plastic sleeves with the Australian Government letterhead which I read. They basically stated that the radiation produced by these body scanners was safe… The document also appeared to fully back up the procedure for dealing with refusers as had been explained to me by the supervisor, i.e. detention followed by police charges.
The supervisor then warned me that I had already refused twice to undergo the scanning. That he would now ask for a third and final time for my decision which I had to provide in a minute or so and which he was obliged to do. He prompted me to think very seriously about my reply as if I still refused, the next step was for me to be immediately detained…
In 2013 I was astonished that this had become mandatory so easily and wrote to the then Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister Anthony Albanese and the Office Of Transport Security in May in 2013 (open letter at CLA).
I maintained that mandatory scanning of international travelers by the Pro Vision body scanners was a decision made by government based on a fraudulent 2009 incident (an incident they cited) – and that this was possibly designed to enhance and profit the “security theatre” industries.
The Incident – the Underwear Bomber
On Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, supposedly attempted to ignite a defective explosive device concealed in his underpants mid-flight on Flight 253. Despite him being on a terror watch-list, the State Department was allegedly ordered not to revoke Abdulmutallab’s visa. There is also evidence that Abdulmutallab was “ushered” onto the plane as witnessed by Michigan attorney, Kurt Haskell, and that he was allowed to fly without a passport.
Haskel explains the incident in his article “The Colossal Deceit Known As The Underwear Bomber Case“.
It appears that this man was sent on the mission, at the behest of “authorities”, to create this very “scare.” Note that this plan had to fail. If the bomb went off, bringing down the plane, we could never have “learned” this important safety news about Muslims who hide explosives on their body.
Safety and Profit
On a Pro Vision website, ‘safe technology’ is just claimed, with little reference to research. This is repeated on Australian government websites. E.g:
“One body scan emits 10,000 times less radio frequency energy than an average mobile phone call, which is significantly less than the maximum permissible exposure levels for the public set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).” And… “The Government will not allow body scanners that use ionising radiation, such as X-ray technology, for aviation security screening purposes.”
Maybe these particular machines in Australia are completely safe, but Bruno Marevich does not think so.
A few years ago, the US was using the backscatter Xray type body scanners – and claimed it was safe technology then. I opted out of those – preferring a body pat-down. Then – all backscatter X-ray machines formerly in use by the TSA (in the US ) were removed from airports by May 2013. Like asbestos and smoking, we might only understand the impacts of modern technology way down the line!
Past US presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul introduced legislation against the scanning equipment, complaining that Michael Chertoff, who had a stake in the body scanning business, was also the head of the TSA at the time, acquiring them. Paul went on to say, “And the equipment’s questionable. We don’t even know if it works, and it may well be dangerous to our health.”
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said “There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners.”
Mandatory roll out by stealth
Still today people are aghast when told than screening by body scanners in Australia is mandatory. The roll-out appears to have been introduced without a due and honest consultation process – and during the trial the machines were also found to have provided flawed analysis.
We all agree that aviation safety is important, but there are other options available. This article is not so much about the debate over the body scanner itself, but how easily Australians accept mandatory procedures. This is a slippery slope and provides government a measure and confidence in implementing other mandatory measures that might be far worse. For example, will it one day be mandatory to ingest the FDA approved edible “authentication microchip” developed by (Google’s) Motorola? (Article here)
But what is extraordinary about the body scanners in Australia, is the manner of “punishment” to persuade compliance. There is a financial incentive to comply. Missing a flight could means thousands of dollars, and there is the arbitrary 24-hour ban, with the threat of detainment.
Who thought this up? We NEED to know.