I have flown through Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles, and San Francisco the last couple days and been (pleasantly) surprised that each time I have come across a full body scanner, it has not been in operation.
In Chicago Friday afternoon they were roped off. Friday night in Boston they were not in use. Yesterday in Los Angeles (where I just happened to go through security with Robert Redford) they were also turned off. Even if San Francisco, where security seems even stricter (there is no doubt that the metal detectors are turned up higher at SFO, likely, in my view, because the TSA is angry that SFO has private contractors administering security), the L-3 millimeter-wave machines were roped off.
After a woman was able to evade a full body scanner five times with a handgun in her bra, my hope was that TSA would suspend the use of these machines indefinitely. That never happened, but that controversy coupled with news that Rapiscan’s backscatter X-ray machines actually produce ten times the amount of radiation as previously reported may be causing what appears to be a scaled back usage of these counterproductive machines.
Full body scanners will not be going away anytime soon. In fact, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to rule this week that the machines can continue to be used. But the fact that they’ve been turned off at four airports over the last couple days is encouraging.