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Ex-TSA Agent Says TSA Laughs at Nude Body Scanner Images, Worries About Radiation

Jason Harrington, who used to work Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Chicago, claims that he and other TSA agents often laughed at naked X-ray images.

In an article for, Harrington wrote that TSA agents often gathered in the back Image Operator (I.O.) room to gawk at people's full-body scan images:

Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display. Piercings of every kind were visible. Women who’d had mastectomies were easy to discern—their chests showed up on our screens as dull, pixelated regions.

Hernias appeared as bulging, blistery growths in the crotch area... All the old, crass stereotypes about race and genitalia size thrived on our secure government radio channels.

Harrington adds that TSA employees were worried about standing close to the body scanners for long periods of time and were told to tell pregnant passengers that the machines were safe:

Many of my co-workers felt uncomfortable even standing next to the radiation-emitting machines we were forcing members of the public to stand inside. Several told me they submitted formal requests for dosimeters, to measure their exposure to radiation.

The agency’s stance was that dosimeters were not necessary—the radiation doses from the machines were perfectly acceptable, they told us. We would just have to take their word for it. When concerned passengers—usually pregnant women—asked how much radiation the machines emitted and whether they were safe, we were instructed by our superiors to assure them everything was fine.

Harrington also confirmed blogger Jonathan Corbett's claim in 2012 that a "metal object hidden on the side of the body was invisible to an image operator."

Corbett re-posted the damning video (below) on his blog yesterday and added, "I’m presently litigating the last remaining constitutional challenge to the TSA’s nude body scanner and pat-down program."

Sources: and


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