Body Scanners to Bush Airport

Houston congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee tours Bush Intercontinental Airport with the new head of the Transportation Security Administration. She also announces that the airport will now be using new technology to screen passengers before they board. Pat Hernandez has more.

AIT... Advanced Imaging Technology will now be used to screen passengers at Bush. Its the latest technology to detect hidden weapons and liquid explosives. The announcement was made at Bush's international terminal by Houston congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee:

"As we welcome those from around the world, as we work with our own citizens here in the United States, we will suffer no terrorist act against this nation ever again, and that we who have been designated on these front lines post 9-11, have a real responsibility to do so."

AIT generates detailed, X-ray style images of traveler's bodies. Opponents call them peer-through-the-clothing body scanners. Jackson Lee said if passengers have a problem with the invasion, they will have a choice:

"You will have an option of the AIT equipment, or you can go to the alternate secondary screening, which will include a pat down, an extensive pat down. The image generated by AIT devices cannot be stored, cannot be transmitted or printed, since the function that allows for storage or transmission of images, is disabled following its testing and evaluation process."

She came to Intercontinental with John Pistole. He's the new administrator of the Transportation Security Administration:

"There should be signage, which clearly indicates that a person has the choice to opt out of the advanced imaging technology. What I am wanting to do is make sure that signage also includes that if you opt out of that, then you'll go through the normal metal detector, but you'll also be subject to a farily rigorous pat down, because we are looking for those who may want to opt out to avoid detection. You can also go to www.tsa.gov, and I encourage people to do that, before they go to the airport, to look at what this is all about, and to really explain the process and protocol."

I asked Pistole if AIT was the ultimate deterrent:

"No, one of the things I want to do as administrator is make sure we're not using today's technology to address yesterday's threats. We're always looking for enhanced technology that can detect not only today's and yesterday's threats but tomorrow's threat, and so we're working very closely both internally, and also with the private sector, external stakeholders, to try to develop that technology, and I think we'll see some things on that in next year or two."

Bush Intercontinental, the nation's 8th busiest airport handling 40-million passengers a year, will get a total of 18 scanners. The first two are in terminal-E.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.
 

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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...