Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Israeli Expert: TSA Full-Body Scanners "Useless"

Israeli airline security expert Rafi Sela testified in Canada against full-body scanners (ht Ann Coulter):
"I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747," Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

"That's why we haven't put them in our airport," Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

Sela, former chief security officer of the Israel Airport Authority and a 30-year veteran in airport security and defence technology, helped design the security at Ben Gurion.

He told MPs on the House of Commons transport committee via video conference from Kfar Vradim, Israel, that he wouldn't reveal how to get past the virtual strip-search scanners, but said he can provide briefings to officials with security clearance.

Canada this year bought 44 body scanners for major Canadian airports -- three of them for Vancouver International. Each machine cost $250,000 and is being use for secondary screening to detect non-metallic threats, unless the passenger prefers a physical pat-down.

CATSA, the Canadian agency in charge of screening airline passengers, declined to provide comment on Sela's analysis.

Junior Transport Minister Rob Merrifield, who is responsible for the agency, defended the $11-million investment in the machines.

"Full-body scanners are used by dozens of countries around the world and are considered one of the most effective methods of screening," Merrifield said in a statement.

Sela testified it makes more sense to create a "trusted traveller" system so pre-approved low-risk passengers can move through an expedited screening process. That would leave more resources in the screening areas, where automatic sniffing technology would detect any explosive residue on a person or their baggage.

Behavioural profiling also must be used instead of random checks, he said.
BTW, when I last flew to Israel, not only did I not go through a full-body scan, I didn't even have to take off my shoes. On the other hand, they did ask me a few questions...