Is the Whole Country an Airport Security Zone?

Full-body scanners in roving vans:

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview.

This should be no different than the Kyllo case, where the Supreme Court ruled that the police needed a warrant before they can use a thermal sensor on a building to search for marijuana growers.

Held: Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of a private home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a Fourth Amendment “search,” and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.

Posted on August 27, 2010 at 7:58 AM75 Comments


Steve Laniel August 27, 2010 8:19 AM

The trouble, though, is what Scalia (if memory serves) wrote in dissent: the “not in general public use” standard virtually guarantees that, over time, people’s privacy rights will diminish as technologies become more widely used.

But yes, in the instant case, using the Kyllo standard would probably buy you what you want.

BF Skinner August 27, 2010 8:23 AM

Alex Jones has been ranting on this for a couple of months now. Oh gawd, he’ll be even more insufferable. I don’t know if I like the idea of mobile units roving the public lands. Too V for Vendetta, too Einsatzgruppen and Ordnungspolizei for me.

Use of these things can be challanged. There was an installation at the Denver Justice center that had to be removed because, unlike flying, people HAD to go there to do their jobs.

I wonder if they’ll use the ‘no expectation of privacy on a public thorough fare’ argument. Still, as I understand it, they have to have a warrant to open a trunk for a search so even though the passenger compartment may be visually inspected the persons, and their effects may not.

And this is in Forbes?

Andrew D August 27, 2010 8:30 AM

I’m going to have to agree – there should at least be a warrant or sufficient probable cause required before something like that can be used on public streets.

theprez98 August 27, 2010 8:30 AM

Steve Laniel,

If you follow the link, you’ll see that Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, not a dissent. Justice Stevens wrote the dissent and the comment about the potential for diminishing privacy.

Chiang August 27, 2010 8:34 AM

Does put me off from travelling to America! So what’s exactly the big deal of dying, to justify putting up all these scanners, stationary or mobile, to try to improve the safety of the citizens?!

theprez98 August 27, 2010 8:35 AM

There is a difference between Kyllo, which deals with homes, and this issue which deals with cars. And there are substantial and unique differences in the requirements for warrants between homes and cars. Now quite obviously most of these differences are because the cars are usually in motion instead of being parked (if that in fact is the purpose of this device), but that doesn’t totally erase the difference. The expectation of privacy in a car is less than that of a home, so the standard of review is likely to be different.

John Jenkins August 27, 2010 8:37 AM

This is distinguishable from Kyllo. The holding in Kyllo turned, in part, on the area scanned being a “private home,” which means it may not apply here.

There has long been an “automobile exception” to the warrant requirement. See Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925), and its progeny. A lower court could easily decide that this exception applies to scans of automobiles too.

bw August 27, 2010 8:47 AM

The main problem I have with it as a nuclear physicist is that each scan adds to your total dose that you receive. At current power it takes 6 hours of exposure to get maximum ANNUAL allowed dose as specified by IAEA. It does not include any exposure during medical scans or flights.

What’s more, since the subject does not know that he/she is being exposed, it will not be possible to know how much radiation one has been exposed to. And this is a serious health risk, not only privacy risk. If this things enter into common life (scans in Walmart, cinemas, courts etc.), you can get the maximum dose in virtually no time.

Leukemia and cancers are already health risks among the flight crews, so I think we really should be cautious about this issue.

Roger August 27, 2010 8:54 AM

I actually disagree strongly with the Kyllo ruling. The police “searched” the house to the extent of observing that it was emitting abnormally high levels of heat. What exactly their honours meant by “previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion” is a mystery known only to their inscrutable selves; really it is just another case of activist judges twisting the Constitution to the breaking point to find an interpretation that suits their prejudices. Prejudices which for the last several decades have been to oppose any development that makes it easier for criminals to be prosecuted. If it continues at this rate, soon it will be deemed an illegal search if a police officer hears someone screaming “help, help!” whilst the officer is wearing a hearing aid.

But this system is very, very different. To use the backscatter x-ray machine, you have to involuntarily and secretly irradiate my property (and possibly me) with ionising radiation!! That is clearly far, far beyond the grounds of acceptable and reasonable behaviour.

It does not matter if you consider the level of radiation exposure to be within acceptable limits; it is not your decision to make! Ethically, such a decision can only be made by the informed consent of the subject of the scan (which would, of course, render the surveillance moot.) Except perhaps for some kind of “immediate threat to life” exemption (e.g. hostage rescue, or search-and-rescue), this method of surveillance should not be permitted even WITH a warrant.

GCU Prosthetic Conscience August 27, 2010 8:55 AM

Automobile searches may not require a warrant, but they do require probable cause. And if you have probable cause, you might as well stop and search — I don’t see these scanners as useful unless they’re used illegally.

DJ August 27, 2010 8:55 AM

I should like to think, if nothing else, that I still have the right to not be involuntarily irradiated, even if the health risk is technically negligible. What if I’ve got sensitive equipment on board or something?

theprez98 August 27, 2010 9:02 AM


You’ve been involuntarily irradiated every day of your life. It’s called the sun.

John F August 27, 2010 9:23 AM

One thing just about any police officer will tell you about a vehicle in motion: Follow it long enough and the driver will break a law, providing a reason to pull it over.

I can see the ‘unofficial’ use of this as being to identify a suspicious vehicle, and then radio a black & white to have it followed until it commits a traffic violation, at which point they can pull them over, and find a way to establish probable cause to search the vehicle based on something observed during the stop.

Sasha van den Heetkamp August 27, 2010 9:29 AM

Every exposure to focused radiation destroy cell membranes, the protection layer of cells. You might not notice it, but eventually it is a game of roulette. One cell might just be in the process in transcribing DNA and when it get hit it could trigger a mutation in it’s DNA, with all the negative (cumulative) results. To marginalize possible health issues is a dangerous thing to do.

D August 27, 2010 9:41 AM

@ theprez98

In my state, cars have been determined to be an extension of my home, thus subject to the same barriers to search.

theprez98 August 27, 2010 9:51 AM


Presuming you are in the United States, federal law (and by extension, Supreme Court rulings) trump your state laws via the Supremacy Clause in Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

kashmarek August 27, 2010 9:53 AM

We have small scale radar detectors for cars. Now we will soon be able to get the equivalent for full body scan detection, since a market has been created.

At least the whole issue should be neutral, allowing anyone to use the same device on the homes/cars of the people doing/authorizing these new scanning devices. Make the results public of course.

Cars v. Houses August 27, 2010 9:55 AM

Don’t LEOs at least require probable cause or your consent to search your vehicle?

I know LEO’s can generate probable cause any number of ways, but if you behave yourself and the LEO says “is it OK to search your car…” you can at least say “I don’t submit to searches.”

This technology defeats the purpose of not consenting to a search.

Peter A. August 27, 2010 10:00 AM

As to the differences in legal procedure regarding search of homes vs. cars: what about mobile homes? To make matters harder, please consider “integral” mobile homes, e.g. a bus or a truck converted to a habitable place, not the trailers towed by a SUV.

Just curious 🙂 And in case I’d visit USA again, it could be nice to know in advance 😛

theprez98 August 27, 2010 10:00 AM

@ Cars vs, Houses,

PC is required. That being said, you can avoid consenting to a search, but the “plain view” doctrine still applies.

theprez98 August 27, 2010 10:02 AM

Peter A.,

I think the issue would come down to the actual mobility of the mobile home, since that is precisely one of the issues as to why cars are held to a different standard.

Cars v. Houses August 27, 2010 10:03 AM

@coach outlet

That’s my point. The use case in the video shows the van driving up and down the street past (presumably) private vehicles. There’s no probable cause nor implied consent to “search” every vehicle on the road.

grs August 27, 2010 10:16 AM

There’s been much discussion here about the “con” side of the security trade off. What about the pro? What actual security benefit is to be gained from driving around randomly scanning vehicles?

AppSec August 27, 2010 10:27 AM

@grs: lucky breaks of random searches turning up something that might lead to an arrest.

@theprez98: “You’ve been involuntarily irradiated every day of your life. It’s called the sun”

Actually, that is quite voluntary.. The way to stop being radiated (or at least caring about it) — well, that might not be a choice you like 😉

Ennor August 27, 2010 10:35 AM

Hope it is not illegal in the US to wear a personal dosimeter, or you yankees are really gonna cooked.

Ali August 27, 2010 10:42 AM

It looks like from Bruces last few posts that since the whole country will be under XRay surveillance, we can just drop wearing clothes and make glass automobiles and houses. I recollect the picture of “evolution of man” circulating the net where he ultimately lands up hunched up at a computer… I think that need modifying. Man is still evolving and will land up naked on Americas shores!

uk visa August 27, 2010 10:45 AM

So many concerns… privacy, safety, accountability, to name but a few!
Given that there are 500 units out there already (even if not all of them are in the USA); are they keeping logs of all the places they x-ray; have they set-up no-x-ray areas around hospitals and schools; have emergency crews been informed how to deal with these vehicles if they’re involved in an accident.
Sadly, though paranoia is a powerful motivator and I can see that now this equipment is out on the streets there’ll be no putting it back in the box.
America will one day realise that personal freedom, liberty and privacy are better drivers than collective fear and paranoia.

BF Skinner August 27, 2010 10:59 AM

From Wikipedia so we know it’s truthy,

Arizona v. Gant is the Supes ruling that requires LEOs get a warrant before searching a vehicle after the arrest of an occupant of that vehicle.
Unless at the time of the search the person being arrested is
– unsecured and
– within reaching distance of the passenger compartment


LEO have reason to believe that the evidence for the crime the person is being arrested will be found

Probably why they always ask if they can perform the search.

But that means as @Cars v. Houses points out in the absence of probable cause attendent to an arrest they need a warrant. Driving around ‘looking for evidence’ is a fishing expedition. Fishing expeditions have been routinely ruled inadmissible. Like the deputy that set up a random road block on a county road and stopped everyone driving by. Not allowed.

Plain view doctrine holds for vehicles as @theprez98 (Bill is that you?) notes above and to my mind is reasonable.

But plain view to what? Human eyes only? Using dogs to smell out contraband at a road stop is enough to establish probable cause and is admissible. Only biological senses? The xray now make ‘plain view’ a wider part of the EM spectrum. Another example of technology making feasible what was formerly outrageous but not done cause it was too infeasible and time consuming. The principals come first not the tech.

That the goombah that is selling this device doesn’t see the “privacy” issue is no surprise. Interviews with the makers of airport scanners were surprised, very!, to realized they were likely to be committing child porn crimes. Hadn’t even considered it.

In answer to the question of the PROS from @grs given that car bombs are a fact of life in America with an explosion two or three times a day and NHSA statitics indicate that 1 in 23 cars has a kidnapped person in the trunk oh the Pro’s must be, oh, just awesome.

Donate to EFF.

SnallaBolaget August 27, 2010 11:09 AM

This is idiocy.
The so-called “full body scanners” aren’t backscatter x-ray machines. X-ray machines use absolutely, completely different radiation to examine luggage (yes, and cars – container/vehicle scanners have been in widespread use for a long time) and freight.

The “full body scanners” use millimeter wave technology, passive such, to “scan a body. It’s not harmful, it’s not ionizing and it just can’t do anything but make up an image of the discrepancies that exist when you wear something / try to conceal something on your body.

Now, anyone who has ever operated a backscatter x-ray machine knows what happens to the image if the object being scanned moves while it’s going through the process – the image gets f-ed up. It’s unusable. That’s also why someone can’t just drive by you on the freeway with a backscatter x-ray device and have it scan you and make anything but a jagged, either elongated or compressed image of nonsense.

It’s astounding to see that well informed people actually manage to confuse x-rays and millimeter wave tech.

As usual, Bruce here neglects to mention the error, though (if he’s really the security guru) he should be well aware of it. Hyping, anyone. Get it here at Bruce’s place.

aikimark August 27, 2010 11:21 AM

Hypothetical question for my fellow commenters…
Circumstance: people on probation were required to wear (ankle) monitors whenever they left the house. If those monitors broadcast a ‘no weapons’ signal, would law enforcement then be allowed to monitor their vehicle with such a back-scatter device?

Taken a step further, if someone is facing domestic violence charges and has been ordered to relinquish their guns (usual spousal protective order), would they be a legal target for such remote inspections?

Clive Robinson August 27, 2010 11:23 AM

In some parts of the world radar scanners are not illegal, and = assume at the moment neither would an appropriate radiation detector and an audible alarm.

I could easily see some one setting up one of these vans and then sueing for unwarented use of a “radiological weapon” against the person draging it slowly through the courts should keep these vans out of action for a year or two.

James August 27, 2010 12:02 PM

“It’s not harmful”

Don’t judge a technology by what some people say, especially when it’s relatively new.

WiFi works on the same frequencies as a microwave oven and my chicken in the microwave there cooks quite nicely. The difference? Power levels mostly.

However, there is sure to be some effect, especially when used en masse.

James August 27, 2010 12:05 PM

What I find funny and sad is that with all the search for WMDs, it seems our government is keen on producing and using it on us themselves.

Some might argue that you can’t compare, but imaging the effect of a widescale deployment.

No One August 27, 2010 1:00 PM

So if this is millimeter wave technology, not backscatter x-ray, then wouldn’t it be useless on cars?

If it is x-ray technology then whom do I bill when it destroys my undeveloped film? Or flips a bit in my ECU or other electronic device, bricking it?

Remember, once in a million is next Tuesday.

EH August 27, 2010 1:17 PM

There is a difference between Kyllo, which deals with homes, and this issue which deals with cars. And there are substantial and unique differences in the requirements for warrants between homes and cars.

This is the kind of thinking that got us the Analogs Act for drugs.

MarkH August 27, 2010 1:29 PM


If I correctly understand your comment, your position is that the Forbes article is factually incorrect, when it says that the van-mounted systems from AS&E are “backscatter x-ray scanners.”

Their website clearly describes their Z-Backscatter Van product, which uses x rays.

Anyone who is willing to take the time to view the imbedded video — apparently a product advertisement from AS&E — can plainly see that it shows the ZBV recording x ray images of vehices while the van is in motion.

If your contention is correct, that the vans don’t use x rays, or if they do, they cannot image while in motion — then it would seem that this well-known technology company, that has been in business for more than 50 years, is engaging in gross fraud.

Is that your position?

Thank you for correcting the false conflation of full-body scanning presently used in airports, from backscatter x ray scanning.

That being said, before I label something as “idiocy”, or “hype”, I prefer to check the facts.

EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy August 27, 2010 1:54 PM

@No One, @MarkH: The airport machines use mm-waves, the street machines use x-rays.

Similar math, but different technologies, physics, and issues vis-a-vis ionizing dose.

I presume the vans stop to image a vehicle, simply because that is easy. There will be some noise from and vehicular shaking, but whether that matters depends on how much shaking and what scale objects they are looking for.

In theory a machine could be built to compensate for a known linear velocity in software, but that would be a hassle.

Wally August 27, 2010 2:52 PM

I think we should strip-search babies at birth (they’re already naked) assume everyone has been searched after a reasonable time (natural attrition of the unsearched via death), then do away with the TSA completely, since we will all be living in a sterile environment.

Michael August 27, 2010 3:10 PM

I’m just wondering why it does not seem to be such a big deal in the news. Why is that not being mentioned? It theoretically impacts more people then the full body scanners because almost everyone is at some point out on the streets but not everyone is flying a plane.

chutz August 27, 2010 3:18 PM

I saw one of these at a border crossing in New York state south of Montreal. I was waiting in a line to get back in to Canada, and on the US side they were pulling everyone over, having them get out of their car and scanning them with one of those trucks.

I assumed it was just looking for radiation. I suppose it’s legal to search people at the border, and they weren’t being irradiated. I think it’s kind of underhanded to search people without their knowledge.

mcb August 27, 2010 3:22 PM

I submit that a case can be made for using such technologies in countries where martial law is in effect and some detectable fraction of the population is engaged in asymmetrical warfare involving the use of car bombs, transportation of IED components, or vans full of murder squads. Baghdad, okay; Kabul, okay; Minneapolis, not so much. Maybe the radioactive spy vans should be marked “For Export Only.”

NE Patriot August 27, 2010 4:19 PM

What raises my eyebrow is that no-one has acknowledged what many of us know all along: there are too many black-ops divisions of the government (both state and federal) who don’t give a damn about whether something is constitutional or not, and if a question is raised, they just go ahead and do an end run around the constitution anyway. Who was it that brought us extraordinary renditions, Guantanamo Bay, and enhanced interrogation techniques?

bw August 27, 2010 4:26 PM

Full body scanners come in both variants – THz and x-ray backscatter. Check TSA blog for details.

Vans are clearly x-ray backscatter.

We should not underestimate the risk of prevalent and secret use of such devices.

mcb August 27, 2010 4:52 PM

@ NE Patriot

“Who was it that brought us extraordinary renditions, Guantanamo Bay, and enhanced interrogation techniques?”

A) A variety of federal alphabet agencies
B) Unaccountable defense department contractors
C) A frustrated and fearful national government
D) A frightened and easily swayed American people
E) All of the above

Imperfect Citizen August 27, 2010 4:58 PM

@bw I wish it weren’t so but it is.

Warrantless surveillance allows searches/scans/taps/mail opening.
Patriot Act.

Clive Robinson August 27, 2010 5:04 PM

@ No One,

“Remember, once in a million is next Tuesday”

Err if you are talking millisecond times it’s within the next 20 minutes… In hour times it’s in the next 114 years…

Anything more than that and I’m not going to fret….

Te Karere August 27, 2010 7:26 PM

Here in New Zealand we’ve followed the US by erecting security theatre at our international airports, and on the main trunk internal routes, but common sense and economic reality prevails and there are no security checks on our provincial air routes, out of the same airports. Hopefully this technology will stay in the US, although the NZ Police would love to get their hands on it. The main way for New Zealanders to protect individual privacy is to stay away from USA.

nishimiya August 27, 2010 7:31 PM

Faculty at UCSF have raised concerns that the dangers of back scatter xray have not been studied enough. Now there are people driving around the streets beaming it around at passers by? Somewhere Osama Bin Laden is laughing so hard his dialysis machine is shaking.

CF Oxtrot August 27, 2010 7:41 PM

Imperfect Citizen’s comment is most relevant.

The car vs house dodge… a distraction.

The probably cause dodge… a distraction.

Under present Patriot Act standards, warrantless surveillance is entirely permissible as long as POTUS or his designee can gin up a reason to suspect you are doing something. Merely criticizing any existing public officeholder or candidate for office could be enough. Criticizing a political party could be enough. Criticizing any arm of government would be enough.

Probable cause is now a quaint concept. It’s probably fun for law school students, law professors, and legal pedants to discuss the home vs car, probable cause angles here, but they’re irrelevant really.

I don’t suppose many law schools are teaching or discussing this ugly reality, though… are they?

c. August 27, 2010 7:48 PM


if you pulse the X-rays, vehicle motion including vibration effectively ceases to be an issue unless you’re moving past the target at a large fraction of the speed of light, not likely in a residential area ;^)

Compared to a continuous X-ray source, the peak power needs to be higher to compensate for the reduced duty cycle. Total dose to target doesn’t need to increase.

911TRUTH August 28, 2010 12:36 AM

Maybe I missed it, but has anyone asked the biggest question of all??

WHY are they turning this country into an Orwellian nightmare police state?? Is it to feed the prison industrial complex? The terror industrial complex?


Soon you won’t be able to go to a movie, the mall…..ANYWHERE without being scanned. And the cowardly Americans are too stupid to realize, or even care, that their rights, privacy and freedom are being taken away – forever.

I don’t see any OUTRAGE that they’re being used in the first place! Only insane diatribes about the type of X-ray being used, legal ramblings, etc.

Oh, and BTW, the “underwear bomber” story is a lie, too. According to Congressional testimony, the State Dept and U.S. Intelligence agencies knew all about the guy. He was even escorted onto that flight. They wanted a justification for the scanners and they made it happen. There was no failure to “connect the dots.”

And this police state is being made possible by the fairy tale that is the “official” 9/11 story.

Anyone. Why??

greg August 28, 2010 6:23 AM

counter measures? I know high end safes already include counter measures to thwart backscatter x rays. Do they work?

As a physics guy. I know that high Z materials will attenuate the signals very strongly –but thats not cheap. Also low Z materials have high backscatter –so plastic would look like a “bright white curtine” and should also work.

But the devil is in the details of the detector/scanner.

Milburn Drysdale August 28, 2010 8:40 AM



Because they can.
Because you’ll let them.
Because, in the end, you’ll say, “Well, if they’ll just let me keep my cable TV and my Cheetos, I guess it’ll be OK.”


Different standard August 28, 2010 9:20 AM


” I think the issue would come down to the actual mobility of the mobile home, since that is precisely one of the issues as to why cars are held to a different standard. ”

Why is there a differemt standard, and what is the difference between them ?

RonK August 28, 2010 10:23 AM


Is your blog still defining “Security Theater” as a major installation of security, giving airport security checkpoints as examples? LOL.

And no, I refuse to actually give your blog another hit to check. At least, this year.

Snarki, child of Loki August 28, 2010 11:25 AM

So how long before x-ray detectors are used to trigger car bombs?

Those x-ray vans sure seem like “high value targets”

Gopi August 28, 2010 1:24 PM

“WHY are they turning this country into an Orwellian nightmare police state??”

Things are easier for the police in a police state. Would you really like to have to convince a neutral observer every time you wanted to do your job.

Lobbying and incentives are usually far more subtle. Prisons don’t usually bribe people, (though it does sometimes happen) but rather encourage an environment where long prison sentences are the norm. It is hard to go around paying whoever needs to be paid off. It’s easier to encourage a structure where the wrong people are put into positions of power.

avxo August 28, 2010 4:24 PM

theprez98: “You’ve been involuntarily irradiated every day of your life. It’s called the sun.”

You have no idea what the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation is, do you?

Go read up on it a bit. Then come back and make your witty comments.

Doug Coulter August 30, 2010 12:33 PM

Nice to know there’s another physicist here!
You might enjoy this site (mine).
which includes some physics forums too.
Clive might also like the place, but I’m not here to steal eyeballs — I’m here myself, after all.

And yes, though I work with radiation daily, I don’t want extra dosage from people who have no business putting it on me with no warning at all.

I do fear the direction this country is taking. The fact that we have all too much company isn’t cheering either.

Wayne Conrad August 30, 2010 7:03 PM

Imagine telling telling Thomas Jefferson that the government will field machines which can look inside his saddlebags, but it’s not an infringement of the fourth amendment because the machine looks not into his home, but only into his means of transportation.

averros August 31, 2010 3:16 AM

That’s your tax dollars at work.

Deprive the government of the tax dollars, and the high-tech voyeurists will go away, and will take the entire troupe of the security theater with them, too.

Woofle September 2, 2010 10:03 PM

Yeah – I’m late reading this discussion, but I can’t resist:

@BF Skinner at Aucgust 27, 2010 10:59 AM
“…and NHSA statitics indicate that 1 in 23 cars has a kidnapped person in the trunk …”

Really? 4%? (I’ve probably missed the ironic tone in your voice)

@NE Patriot at August 27, 2010 4:19 PM
“What raises my eyebrow is that …”

Hm. either your name is Spock, or your cro-magnon….

@Te Karere at August 27, 2010 7:26 PM
“The main way for New Zealanders to protect individual privacy is to stay away from USA.”
Just quietly: stay away from Sydney, too. If it’s being done in the US it must be a good idea so we in the Coca-colony will do it too.

@Posted by: Doug Coulter at August 30, 2010 12:33 PM
“You might enjoy this site…”

I did Physics once … a few decades ago. Off to have a look now.

But seriously folks, I smell a conspiracy to ensure the supremacy of the Anmerican race:
More x-rays -> shorter life spans -> quicker breeding (or you’ll die out) -> increased rate of evolution of US citizens -> US gets the master race first.

…maybe not so seriously (who can tell?).

tab September 2, 2010 10:50 PM

Quote being discussed:
” I think the issue would come down to the actual mobility of the mobile home, since that is precisely one of the issues as to why cars are held to a different standard. ”
“Why is there a differemt standard, and what is the difference between them ?”
Mobile homes (aka RV’s) are not considered in the same vein as standard motor vehicles. Since they are designed to be LIVED IN (and in fact do enjoy some of the tax privileges – you CAN deduct the loan interest under certain circumstances), they may qualify (legally) as the same as a RESIDENCE. Since that is the case, an RV may enjoy the same protections as your “other” residence (if you have one – I do not).

Skeptic of conspiracists September 15, 2010 9:33 AM

So has anyone looked into how these vehicles are actually being used?

They are used at ports where they can drive past long rows of cargo containers to dramatically reduce the time it takes to scan them.

Further the military is shipping them to the bases in Afghanistan where they are used to scan the vehicles coming onto the bases, looking for IED’s and other unwanted explosives.

I’ve never seen one of these on the roads, and despite what the propaganda video on youtube may show, such a scan would require a warrant, as it requires a warrant to search the interior of a car.

John September 17, 2010 5:45 PM

Just as Skeptic of conspiracists says – these vehicles are being used for scanning cargo containers and semi-trucks along the border and elsewhere.

Bruce is trying to raise the fear level just like Fox New. Very sad.

Anon. September 17, 2010 9:13 PM

“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by American Science and Engineering Inc..”

MrStabby September 26, 2010 2:56 AM

Another issue: when you combine the effects of the false positive and false negative rates with the incident rate of bombs in vehicles (assuming that’s what you a looking for), you will have police endlessly searching through the false positive vehicles without success.

IIRC Bruce talked about this sort outcome some time back with respect to random bag searches. Basically, if the thing you are looking for is very uncommon, you need extremely accurate detection.

So – what are they looking for? Will it be obvious on the scan? Can it be easily hidden or made to look like something else in the scan, and, could all the money and resources be better used on a i different security control?

Ross Wolf October 4, 2010 8:16 AM

Does Obama Intend to Lockdown America?

(1) It is obvious these X-Ray Vans can be used by the military and police to secure the perimeter of a City, for example during an instance of Revolt, to discover and stop Citizens carrying guns.

(2) Recently Obama effectively proposed disbanding the Fourth Amendment allowing the FBI Warrantless Searches of All Internet Activity including email. Obama is also supporting warrantless wiretapping of all telephone and other electronic communications.

(3) In April 2010 Obama during a national security speech asked for the Power to indefinitely incarcerate Americans not based on evidence or probable cause, but because they might do something violent. See: Obama Sound-Video:

(4) On March 4, 2010, John McCain introduced S.3081 The “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” if passed, would allow government to use (only suspicion) or less to curtail an individual’s Constitutional Protections against unlawful arrest, detention and interrogation without benefit of legal counsel and trial. According to McCain’s S.3081, Government would not be required to provide (detained individuals) U.S. Miranda Warnings or even an attorney. Americans could be held indefinitely in military custody on only suspicion of being an Unprivileged Enemy Belligerent suspected of; having engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or purposefully and materially (supported) hostilities against the United States; its coalition partners or civilians. “Materially Supporting Hostilities” against the United States could include any person or group that spoke out or demonstrated disapproval against an agency of U.S. Government; Government could allege attending a protest supported hostilities. When you read the McCain bill it appears “suspicion” is not necessary for government to detain and interrogate Americans. See McCain Senate bill S.3081:

(5) Recently Obama took action to stop the lawful purchase of 100,000 World War Two era, surplus M1 Carbine and M1 Garand rifles that were to be shipped to the curio firearms market in The States. Obama is disallowing the return of these antique American made auto-loaders, the first of their kind. The relic riffles are not considered an item purchased by drug cartels. Interestingly, because there are registration exceptions for gun owners buying 50-year relic riffles, and easy availability of replacement parts and they have auto-reloading capability, government could not track these weapons or ammunition loaded by American collectors. So Why Now does Obama not want American civilians to have these weapons?

When one objectively views the sum of the Obama recent actions that include dumping of the Fourth Amendment that prevents government illegal search of Citizens and their homes without a warrant using Vans with X-rays; FBI/NSA Warrantless seizure of Citizens’ phone and other private electronic communications; Obama blocking Americans right to purchase relic riffles, one has to ask: Does the Obama Government have reason to fear the American People? Does Obama intend a Lockdown on America? Are Americans in danger of being harmed by their government?

Carol April 3, 2011 12:21 PM

Interesting post. I think it’s great if the government could fund to have a security with airport security level anywhere in the country. However, I think it would be costly. And if people have already been screened at the airport and also at the borders, I do not think that it is necessary.

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