NEWS

A Peek Inside the U.S. Government's Transportation Security Lab

By Joseph Straw

Monday’s Los Angeles Times offered a sneak peek inside the federal government’s Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

At the lab, government scientists test cutting-edge screening technology and brainstorm ways to fool current devices. Examples include phony hot dogs and cakes with frosting made from plastic explosive.

The Times' Bob Drogin cites a new and troubling threat scenario: terrorists carrying explosive devices inside their bodies. Last month Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef survived an attack in which 23-year-old suicide bomber Abdullah Hassan Tali' al-Asiri detonated an explosive device inserted in his rectum.

Drogin reports that the attack raises concern for the security sector because agencies like the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the laboratory’s primary customer, lack the technology to detect threats within an attacker’s body. Simply spotting threats concealed under passengers’ clothing—the domain of the TSA’s new full-body scanners—still poses major concerns for civil libertarians.

For more information about the latest in explosives detection technology, see “Assessing Explosives Detection” in the August print edition of Security Management. To subscribe to the print edition, click here.

 

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