"There Is No Case For (Full Body) Scanners"

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Constitutional rights issues aren't the only problem; participants asked to sneak explosives past the backscatter X-ray machines now used at U.S. airports "did it with such ease," according to one security expert, that "there is no case for scanners." Security expert Edward Luttwak is a senior associate at the Center for International and Strategic Studies and he delivered those words Thursday, joined by other critical voices in Washington, AFP reported. Luttwak said a test conducted in Europe asked German prison guards to try to get past three different scanners while carrying explosives. Based on that test, he says the International Air Travel Association (IATA) believes there is no case for the devices in airport security. Ralph Nader, Congressman Rush Hold and professional pilot Michael Roberts all added their own opinions on the full-body x-ray machines, but focused mostly on privacy, freedom and rights issues. In that context, Luttwak's argument stands out, and he detailed what he believes are better solutions that the IATA also supports.

The alternate method supported by Luttwak and IATA calls for segregation of fliers into groups based mainly on their travel habits. "The guy who has traveled 50 times in the last 50 weeks without blowing up an airplane is unlikely to become a terrorist the 51st time," Luttwak said. Air Transport World reported in December that IATA would like to see that concept integrated with electronic data pre-screening that would divide travelers into three categories -- known traveler, regular, and enhanced -- for three separate levels of screening. The IATA estimates that some 90 percent of travelers would fall into the known or regular lanes with 10 percent receiving more scrutiny based on their risk factor as determined by pre-screening. Ultimately, biometric data might be used to allow those deemed to present the lowest risk to move through checkpoints without stopping for personal interactions.