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Invasion of the Body Scanners

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The concept of "stimulus" may soon take on new connotations in the days ahead. The federal government is poised to emplace full-body scanners at airports across the nation, capable of peering under a person's garments. As noted by a former Cabinet member, this new technology "will give us the ability to see what someone has concealed underneath their clothing." The prurient implications of this startling revelation are obvious, and one can only marvel at the full cultural import of widely available "x-ray vision" technology being deployed. Indeed, for those who remember the old X-ray Specs advertised on the back of comic books to see through women's clothes, it is apparently a longstanding boyhood fantasy now set to become national policy. This is essentially a form of high-tech voyeurism masking as security, and it portends more such incursions into liberty and privacy. How did it come to this, and so suddenly at that?

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Contracting for Success

At the outset, someone is profiting from these scanners. In recent years, the company Rapiscan (a wholly-owned subsidiary of OSI Systems, Inc., which focuses on "healthcare, security, and defense") has made quite a name for itself. In January 2007, an article documenting its rising profile noted that "Rapiscan's presence on Capitol Hill pays off" with the company having opened a new Washington office and hiring a number of outside lobbyists. As this piece details:

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Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., teaches Peace Studies at Prescott College, and serves as the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent books include the co-edited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary (more...)
 
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