A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screener has admitted that the TSA stores images obtained from full body scanners. The 23-year old screener works at Ronald Regan Washington National Airport and posted the following in the course of an online discussion over the recent controversy about the invasive pat-down of a six-year-old girl that was captured on video and posted YouTube:
The only images that are saved are the ones with detected anomalies on them.
This is basically a "heres why we gave this person additional screening" if something ever comes up.(OIG Investigations)
It’s essentially the higher up’s CYA mechanism.
Normally, I would be skeptical about information obtained from someone hiding behind the cloak of anonymity in an online chat room, but this young man seems to be the real deal, openly discussing his job duties and work as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) over the last five years. Make no mistake: this is a disgruntled employee. Posting under the username A Jurai Knight, the man links to his specific job title and description as well as this humorous spoof of the TSA website on his user homepage. A quick search of his prior postings reveals resentment and philosophical differences with the way TSA handles airport screening at U.S. airports.
I have reached out to the TSA for independent confirmation of this startling assertion, but they have not returned my calls or e-mails.
But let’s not forget that the TSA PR team has consistently maintained that the public has nothing to fear. Their own Information Minister (you remember Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, aka Baghdad Bob?) "Blogger Bob" has repeatedly stated that images cannot and will not be stored. On August 6, 2010, he wrote:
As we’ve stated from the beginning, TSA has not, will not and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports. The equipment sent by the manufacturer to airports cannot store, transmit or print images and operators at airports do not have the capability to activate any such function. (Emphasis in original)
In an interview on CNN last year, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano echoed the TSA talking points (cue the clip to 1:20):
What Bob and Bis Sis failed to mention was that the Gen 2 Product Spec Sheet from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc. (the company that worked closely with the TSA to get millimeter wave scanners into U.S. airports) show their machines come standard with USB and Ethernet slots.
And this was not by accident: the TSA mandated this in their procurement specification:
Apparently, in the TSA’s mind, the "machine" cannot save or store images, but another machine (i.e, the USB stick) can.
So the news today is that whenever a full body scanner "picks up" something, the image is stored away for potential further use. Privacy advocates like me having been saying this all along–it only makes sense. After all, we are talking about the destruction of evidence if images were automatically deleted. But while this news should not come as a surprise, more than ever before it suggests that the TSA has been lying to the American public. If they are lying about this, who knows what else they are lying about?
Folks, this is big news.