After all the hullabaloo over full-body x-ray machines being invasive, it turns out they may not be invasive enough. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen recently discussed surgically implanting an explosive device under the skin of a suicide bomber to get past airport detectors and blow up a U.S.-bound passenger plane, a U.S. official said Wednesday, according to this article in the Los Angeles Times.
While there is no evidence of an actual plot, the government has issued warnings to airports and stepped up security. My question is: How? How is it possible for TSA to possibly screen for this? The LA Times article suggests increasing the number of bomb-sniffing dogs as well as how many passengers are screened for explosive materials, but other than running people through x-ray machines, there's really no way to check for internal bombs.
Even John Pistole knows the TSA doesn't have the ability to do such internal screens. According to this article on Slate.com:
He was asked whether "current technology" could detect an explosive "in a body cavity," he said no. "If they do a body cavity bomb, we're not going to detect that," he told USA Today. "We can't eliminate that risk." Yesterday, the vice president of Rapiscan Systems, which makes the backscatter machines used in U.S. airports, agreed. The machines, he explained, are "designed to detect threats on the body, not in the body."
Basically, we're banking on the fact that it's not easy to surgically implant bombs in someone and even if it is implanted, hopefully something else will tip off screeners, like visible discomfort or stress from, you know, carrying a fricken bomb inside your body. I personally think the TSA should be training all of its officers in behavior detection skills so they can better identify suspicious people. And do we need a better reason to step up training than the prospect of people boarding planes with bombs in the bodies? I can't think of one either.