Measures which could help security at airports are already available, but not widely implemented because of human rights concerns, it has been claimed. Flight International magazine operations and safety editor David Learmount said low dose x-ray machines could scan passengers for secreted items, even those hidden in body cavities.
But Mr Learmount said the reason they were not used was because of civil liberties' worries about the violation of privacy: "The technological advances are out there, but they are not being used. There may well have to be law changes and attitude changes and those are not easy to bring about." He added: "People have frequently tried to carry drugs in body cavities, so why not components of explosives?"
He cited procedures at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport, which changed after two female suicide bombers hid their explosives under voluminous Muslim dress, boarded separate planes and detonated blasts moments apart in mid-air in August 2004. "Domodedovo has since evolved a policy whereby if Muslim women will not be wanded or hand searched, they have to stand in an x-ray machine. It is a low dose x-ray machine. "I went and stood in it, and they told me how many years I had been smoking, how many years ago I gave up, they could see every filling in my head ... If I had tried doing anything with secreting a bag of explosive material in plastic, material in a body cavity, that would have been totally visible. Why do we not do this? Human rights."
He said there were various forms of such systems, with others giving a low dose of radiation, but not using x-rays. He cited another "quite clever" system, which can "see" through layers of soft material, its makers said, using incidental millimetre-wave radiation reflected off the human body. Mr Learmount said the technology had been tested on random volunteers at British airports but, in indicating problems, pointed to the high profile case of singer Diana Ross, who was arrested, but later freed without charge after an altercation with a security guard who had frisked her at Heathrow Airport in 1999.
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