Coming soon to an airport security checkpoint near you

THE RECENT FAILED “CHRISTMAS” bombing of Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit is focusing attention on an ingenious but controversial remedy to the scourge of international air terrorism: high-tech scanning devices that can strip airline passengers “naked” and search their bodies for hidden weapons in the wink of an eye.

Unlike more familiar metal detectors, the new technology presents a rotating, three-dimensional video image of the human body and all objects lying close to it. Backscatter body scanners, such as the insensitively named “Rapiscan Secure 1000,” use low-level x-rays to penetrate layers of clothing and reveal a traveller’s nude body in full graphic detail. Every solid object is revealed. Persons suspected of carrying potential weapons will then be passed on to other officials for a thorough strip-search. …

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