New Body Scanners to Debut in Two Airports

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The U.S. government's plan to install 150 new full-body scanners this year in airports around the country will start with Boston.

According to a report by the Associated Press on February 23rd, a Homeland Security official said Tuesday three machines are scheduled to be installed in Logan International Airport sometime next week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, since a formal announcement has not yet been made by the government.

Chicago's O'Hare will be the next airport to receive a machine, with one scheduled to be installed within the next two weeks.

The 150 machines, which were purchased with $25 million from President Obama's 2009 stimulus plan, are expected to be installed in airports across the country by the end of June, and more are on the way. The attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger plane by a Nigerian man on Christmas Day spurred Obama to purchase hundreds of additional machines.

The new scanners will be the first sign of the Obama administrations $1 billion commitment to airport screening, announced last February. In May 2009, $25 million was allocated exclusively for the machines, after which the government collected and reviewed proposals for the construction of the scanners, according to AP.

Several models were tested over the summer months, before the contract was awarded to Rapiscan, a California-based company, at the end of September. Since then the TSA have been working to get the proper construction and electrical permits to install the scanners.

The scanners are being installed only days after Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against the machines to a group of 1,200 airport workers, saying that "it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity."

The pope isn't the only critic of the machines. The full-body scanners, and the near-naked images they produce, have sparked public controversy, with many Americans falling on both sides of the issue.

According to the Homeland Security official, the Boston and Chicago airports were chosen based on risk, ease of installation, and availability of screener staffing.

Currently 40 full-body scanners are in operation at 19 U.S. airports.

For more information about the machines, read our Airport Body Scanners FAQ with TSA spokesman Jon Allen.
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