Editor’s note: See updates below, including TSA response.
An American blogger has published a video purporting to show just how easily the Transportation Security Administration’s full-body scanners can be duped.
Jonathan Corbett — whose blog “TSA Out of Our Pants!” says he’s currently suing TSA over the use of the machines — claims in his video the scanners can be fooled by a metal object placed on the side of an individual because the shadow cast is the same color as the dark background on scan image.
In the video image above, Corbett says, dark metal objects on the front or back of the body show up easily when contrasted with the white image of a person being scanned.
But in this image, Corbett says, a dark image on the side of the body easily blends into the background.
“The TSA can’t be that stupid, can they?” he asks in the video. “Unfortunately, they can, and they are.”
To test the theory, Corbett’s video shows him sewing a side pocket into his clothing in which to carry a small metal case. The video then shows him, by way of a hidden camera in his luggage, approaching two different TSA checkpoints and then emerging on the other side with the case, apparently undetected. Because the camera went through a separate scanner in Corbett’s luggage, it does not actually show him walking through the full-body scanner with the case.
“While I carried the metal case empty…it could easily have been filled with razor blades, explosives, or one of Charlie Sheen’s infamous 7 gram rocks of cocaine,” Corbett says afterward. “With a bigger pocket, perhaps sewn on the inside of the shirt, even a firearm could get through.”
Corbett’s blog states he provided the TSA with an advance copy of the video before posting it online.
Since being posted to YouTube on Monday, the video had received more than 200,000 views by Wednesday afternoon. It was also age-restricted by YouTube, requiring viewers to confirm they are 18 years of age or older before being allowed to watch it.
A request for comment from the TSA was not immediately returned.
Update: Corbett discussed his video Wednesday morning with Paul Westcott of WGIR-AM. Listen below:
Update II: TSA spokesman Greg Soule emailed The Blaze with the following response:
The video is a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures. For obvious security reasons, we can’t discuss our technology’s detection capability in detail, however TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior to rolling them out the field. Imaging technology has caught many items large and small, and is one of the most effective tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as the greatest threat to aviation, explosives.
TSA deploys a layered, risk-based approach to security through screening technologies and applying intelligence to our security measures in real time. Our nations’ aviation system is safer now with the deployment of 600 imaging technology units at 140 airports. It is completely safe and the vast majority use a generic image that completely addresses privacy concerns.
A similar explanation was posted on the TSA’s blog.