An excellent read about airport scanners over at ProPublica:
On Sept. 23, 1998, a panel of radiation safety experts gathered at a Hilton hotel in Maryland to evaluate a new device that could detect hidden weapons and contraband. The machine, known as the Secure 1000, beamed X-rays at people to see underneath their clothing.
One after another, the experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration raised questions about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle in radiation safety — that humans shouldn’t be X-rayed unless there is a medical benefit.
“I think this is really a slippery slope,” said Jill Lipoti, who was the director of New Jersey’s radiation protection program. The device was already deployed in prisons; what was next, she and others asked — courthouses, schools, airports? “I am concerned … with expanding this type of product for the traveling public,” said another panelist, Stanley Savic, the vice president for safety at a large electronics company. “I think that would take this thing to an entirely different level of public health risk.”
The machine’s inventor, Steven W. Smith, assured the panelists that it was highly unlikely that the device would see widespread use in the near future. At the time, only 20 machines were in operation in the entire country.
Wow, look at how far we've come since 1998. My mother-in-law won't fly to Spokane any more because she doesn't want to get scanned or touched. Well into her 70's she's hardly the security threat, but you know we just can't take any chances these days. She said she would rather take the bus or train instead. We've counseled against that because it's at least three days travel time and she wouldn't be comfortable at all. Maybe a sleeper car would do but it would still be a long trip for her.
But if you think taking the train or bus will keep you from being scanned or searched, you've got another think coming. A Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team could be coming to a train station, bus station, or even along an interstate near you.
The apparent logic here is that terrorists are everywhere simply because that's where we're looking.