Chertoff wants to take your shirt off (virtually):
The agency in charge of the nation’s air security expects later this year to begin using a controversial X-ray machine that will show airport screeners a clear picture of what’s under passengers’ clothes — whether weapons or just bare skin. Screeners plan to test the “backscatter” machines at several U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says. The refrigerator-sized machines are considered a breakthrough in scanning technology but have been labeled “a virtual strip search” by the American Civil Liberties Union. Security workers using the machines can see through clothes and peer at whatever may be hidden in undergarments, shirts or pants. The images also paint a revealing picture of a person’s nude body. The devices can potentially be used to screen hundreds of millions of air travelers each year, although TSA says more study is needed to determine how the devices may be used at U.S. airports. The agency declined to say when and where it expects to test the machines…The ACLU says the scanners invade personal privacy. “This leads directly to a surveillance society,” says Barry Steinhardt, who runs the group’s technology program. But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate subcommittee last month that he wants to employ the technology and doesn’t want an “endless debate” over privacy issues.