The infamous back-scatter X-ray machine has returned.
The Phoenix airport on Friday became the first in the United States to test new X-ray technology that can see through people's clothes and show the body's contours with blush-inducing clarity.
Critics have said the high-resolution images created by the "backscatter" technology are too invasive. But the Transportation Security Administration adjusted the equipment so the pictures can be blurred in certain areas while still detecting concealed weapons.
During the testing, the machine will be used only as a back-up screening measure. Passengers who fail the standard screening with a metal detector will be able to choose between the new device or a pat-down search. "It's 100 percent voluntary, so if the passenger doesn't feel comfortable with it, the passenger doesn't have to go through it," TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.
That's comforting, we have an option. We can either let the entire staff look at our private parts (albeit blurred -- if you bellieve them) or -- if we're uncomfortable with that -- let 'em fondle them. Seems rather a Hobson's choice to me.
I'm rather fond of the old he's got an Islamic name, paid cash, has no luggage, bought a one-way ticket and is sweating bullets in the ticket line while smoke comes out his sneakers school of airline security. But that's just me.