OMAHA, Neb. — Omaha's Eppley Airfield now has a full-body scanner that will allow security officers to effectively see through a passenger's clothes during screening.
The Transportation Security Administration demonstrated the new imaging technology Monday, a day before the scanner was to go into use. By mid-June, Eppley is expected to have two of the body-scanning machines that the American Civil Liberties Union has complained can violate a passenger's privacy.
The TSA has been deploying the technology in an effort to ensure that airports can detect hidden explosives and other weapons. The machines use low-dose x-rays aimed at a passenger's chest and back to create an image showing what's under the passenger's clothing.
But TSA officials say they have taken precautions to protect passenger privacy. Genital and facial areas are automatically obscured, and passengers have the right to opt out of a full-body scan for a more intense but traditional pat down.
TSA officials have said the units won't be able to print or store images, and that the officer viewing them won't have direct contact with passengers. The officer viewing the scans remotely will radio an all-clear to another officer standing with the passenger.
But the ACLU has denounced the new screening machines as a "virtual strip search."
The new Omaha scanner is one of about 150 that were bought with federal stimulus money. The new machines will join 40 other scanners already in use, and the TSA plans to buy at least 300 more scanners for use at airports nationwide.