NYPD must release records on X-ray Vans, judge rules


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Not surprising. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the NYPD over the past few weeks it’s that they think we should shut up and do whatever the hell they tell us.


Have these machines ever detected a bomb in the wild?


are they being used in areas where roadside bombs are a credible daily threat instead of security theatre paranoia? next question.


Wait a minute. They can’t disclose the risk of cancer… because it will help the terrorists? Maybe it’s not a bomb detector at all. Maybe they’re going around giving cancer to the terrorists. It’s a death ray.


Looks like others were thinking the same. How many bombs have they found?

Why don’t we have annual security reporting, showing:

  1. how much was spent, and who it went to
  2. how many suspects were monitored and apprehended, including socioeconomic status and nationality
  3. prosecution statistics, including socioeconomic status and nationality

Of course, providing that info would most likely ‘violate national security’, right?


There have been no bombs detected, does this mean they’re 100% effective at bomb-prevention? :wink:

It’s just like my 100% effective elephant-repellent deodorant. I’ve never stumbled upon an elephant outside of a zoo, it’s foolproof!


Slightly OT: is that a stock photo or are they actually on a Mercedes chassis?
Also odd uniforms, can’t see very well but they look European. So it could be a publicity photo from a European manufacturer? So many questions! :stuck_out_tongue:

These are likely being operated by contractors with no real training or background checks, so some of these guys probably used the equipment inappropriately just to watch people at sidewalk cafes get mad at their phones. :boom:


That also could very well be the explanation for why the TSA wouldn’t release any information about the radiation effects on its workers from the pornoscanners.

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It looks like it was an image provided by American Science and Engineering - the manufacturers of the backscatter van, and used by Propublica (http://www.propublica.org/images/ase_zbackscattervan_300x200_120126.jpg). For some reason, the copyright/attribution on the image was cropped out here at BB.

I’ve also seen Chrysler Sprinter chassis being used for these vans.


Actually it’s proof that the terrorists have become so terrifyingly sophisticated at evading detection that we need to invest a staggering amount more into these types of detection programs.


I saw an anon comment on Slashdot a few years ago, claiming these vans are controlled by Java programmes. He or she said they are not considered medical grade and so don’t have the kind of real-time accuracy required by that gear.

Obviously, it could be completely made up, but it did have a certain ring of horrified truth…

Leaving the control of the timing-sensitive operations on a non-RTOS system is a bad bad design choice.

They could integrate the timing and energy setting into the hardware itself, a $2 microcontroller will do the job neatly, and send just higher-level commands that are not timing-sensitive. This also allows integrating safeguards into the module, so even if the poorly written code (did you ever see a well-written one these days?) inevitably gets confused, the device cannot be left stuck in hazardous state.

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Even If it was controlled by a JAVA program, and that JAVA program could cause problems with ineffective or even dangerous results, I feel confident that it will be repaired in the next update.

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Maybe it would help offset the public health implications if they also informed passing New Yorkers about any suspicious-looking growths as a public service.


5 minutes into starting the van and getting on the road, it prompts for updates, requiring the driver to pull over and wait until the van restarts. Even more annoying is when the driver forgets to uncheck the “Ask” toolbar checkboxes and the speedometer now displays only 1/3 the information you were looking at before but it’s twice as cluttered.

It’s really nothing compared to the vans they built with a GUI interface using Visual Basic to track the terrorists’ IP addresses.


The Dodge-branded Sprinters are basically identical to the Benz-branded ones. (A friend of mine bought a Dodge and swapped out the grill, for an instant German upgrade.) The same vans are also sold under VW and Freightliner branding.

It would be a little surprising to see a U.S. government entity purchasing foreign-branded vehicles. Aspen CO had those SAAB cop cars, but… well, that’s Aspen.

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You are employing humorous device ‘deadpan sarcasm’, yes?

Isn’t the only other option a complete psychotic meltdown and a total divergence from reality?