When I first read tweets pointing to this article, reporting that the Administration won’t let independent scientists evaluate the radiation exposure from RapeAScan machines, I joked that it was because we can’t let terrorists know how dangerous these machines are.

Unfortunately, that is precisely the reason the Administration gave a scientist who wrote an article poo-pooing the risk of the machines.

After her article was published, [UCSF radiologist Rebecca] Smith-Bindman was contacted by a TSA public affairs officer. During the conversation, she suggested that she or other outside scientists be allowed to test the machine. The official was shocked by the suggestion and said such access could tip off people who want to avoid detection, Smith-Bindman said.

“It was not appreciating that there’s legitimate scientific questions that have to be balanced against the security questions,” she said.

Science is one of those luxuries we’re going to have to do without now, I guess, in the interest of protecting ourselves from terrorists.

Which has the added advantage for the fearmongers, I guess, that we never have a means to rationally evaluate the efficacy of their policy choices.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.