Are TSA's body scanners easy to fool?

A blogger claims that the TSA's body scanners can be duped by strapping metal objects to your side, rather than to your front or back.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
Jonathan Corbett apparently proved his theory. Screenshot by CNET

The Transport Security Administration's body scanners have enjoyed a level of controversy similar to that of Rush Limbaugh.

Though they've never called women names, the machines have led females to strip to their bra and panties in protest.

Now, Jonathan Corbett--who was the first to sue the TSA over its invasive machines--claims that the body scanners can be easily duped.

His explanation seems quite simple: if you strap your evil-doing object to your side, rather than to your front or back, the scanners provide no visual contrast with the background and therefore won't spot the object.

On his blog, Corbett declared: "The TSA can't be that stupid, can they?"

So, to prove his theory, he sewed a pocket into the side of a shirt, took a metallic object, a carrying case of some substance and wafted through the body scanner at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

Oh, you know what's going to happen, don't you?

Otherwise, he wouldn't have written a blog post called: "$1B of TSA Nude Body Scanners Made Worthless By Blog -- How Anyone Can Get Anything Past The Scanners."

"Maybe just fluke," Corbett declared on his video. So he tried it again at the Cleveland airport. Again, he sails through.

Filled with confidence, he sniffed that he could have been carrying anything on him, even "one of Charlie Sheen's infamous seven-gram rocks of cocaine."

The TSA has yet to comment on this video. Normally, Blogger Bob, the TSA's social media commentator, is very good at offering guidance on all matters to do with the TSA.

Corbett says he's not trying to make things easier for terrorists. Rather, he's trying to expose flaws, so that the TSA can fix them quickly in order to make travel in America safer.

However, The Guardian quotes Russell Craig, a spokesman for the U.K.'s Manchester airport, who said, oddly: "He's taken a small metal tin through. And the guards are looking for a threat object. That's not one. It's not a valid test. To say this shows it undermines airport security technology is totally wrong."

If that doesn't offer you a fresh frisson, then The Guardian also proffers this from aviation security expert, Philip Baum: "Pretty much every system, you can fool."