The Transportation Security Administration plans to install 150 security machines at airport checkpoints that enable screeners to see under passengers’ clothes.
The installation will vastly expand the use of the controversial body scanners, which can reveal hidden bombs and knives. But the devices have been labeled as intrusive by some lawmakers. The House of Representatives in June overwhelmingly passed a measure that would restrict their use by the TSA to passengers flagged by other types of screening, such as metal detectors. The measure is pending in the Senate.
TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said the machines are “critical” to stopping terrorists with homemade bombs that may elude metal detectors. The agency hasn’t decided which airports will get the machines, Lee said.
The $100,000 scanners shoot low-intensity X-rays that penetrate clothing, bounce off a person’s skin and create images that show solid objects as dark areas. The TSA machines have privacy additions to create images that look like etchings. Screeners view them on a monitor in a locked room near a checkpoint and delete them immediately after viewing.