cannabisnews.com: High-Powered Drug Scanner Too Powerful?





High-Powered Drug Scanner Too Powerful?
Posted by FoM on April 08, 2000 at 15:08:19 PT
Ion Technology Draws Civil Rights Complaints 
Source: APBnews.com
Supersensitive scanners that detect microscopic levels of drug or bomb residue can be found operating unobtrusively in airports and border crossings around the world. But in Iowa, some new and expanded uses for the scanners have prompted several diverse groups -- from truck drivers to families of prison inmates -- to question whether the drug-fighting technology violates people's civil rights. 
The ion scanners, which can be programmed to detect tiny molecular substances including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and even bomb material, are now being used by the state's corrections department to test prison visitors. At the same time, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is using scanners provided by the Iowa National Guard to randomly test truck drivers. Officials: Keeping Roadways Safe: The officials responsible for both these tests say scanners are ridding the roads of drugged truckers and the prisons of narcotics. But civil libertarians believe the tests are unfair, mostly because the devices are so sensitive that a person could test positive after inadvertently brushing against something a drug user previously touched, such as money, faucets or gas pumps. There also are concerns about the accuracy of the devices, especially after the scanners registered false positives for two children who were visiting relatives in jail. The problems and fears have prompted calls to the Iowa Civil Liberties Union (ICLU), mostly from people who believe they were falsely found to have drugs on them when visiting prisons, ICLU officials said. Hundreds Tested Over Two Days: The objections to the tests are even more intense among the trucking community. In fact, the Iowa Motor Truck Association has called for a meeting with the DOT to discuss the issue, and at the same time the topic has been burning up the CB airwaves and trucker Internet forums. "There is no reason to do this; I know of none," said Mont Rhoades, a former trucker and moderator of a forum on the Web site www.truck.net. "The national average for drug abuse for truck drivers is 1.3 percent. The national average for the population in general is 13 percent. There is no valid reason to do [the test]." Truckers, who have been subjected to the random, roadside tests for about a year, were most recently tested at a weigh station in eastern Iowa on March 13 and 14. Over the two days, 623 drivers out of 1,764 stopped were singled out for testing. Dogs Inspect Vehicles: The scanners were provided to the DOT-organized event by the National Guard, under a federal law that allows it to participate in civilian anti-drug efforts. DOT spokeswoman Dena M. Gray-Fisher said the selected drivers were taken into a building at the station, where they presented their licenses and logbooks. Those items were then passed under the ion scanner's "sniffer," a device that looks like a hand-held vacuum. The data were then fed into the main scanning machine. Forty-six of the 623 drivers tested positive for traces of drugs, Gray-Fisher said. Police and drug dogs then inspected their vehicles. Six drivers were eventually arrested for possessing small quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and LSD, she said. Prison Visitation 'a Privilege' Gray-Fisher said that no one was arrested based solely on the results of the ion scan. She said that the DOT only used the scanner to develop probable cause to search further, and that arrests were only made when actual drugs -- not scant traces -- were found. "We're not using that as a basis to say that there's anything ... we do legally just from [a] trace," she said. "It just gives us probable cause to go to the next step." The state prison system also says its tests are not used as the basis for filing criminal charges against anyone, though they are used to temporarily ban people from the prison. Prison officials say these tests are beneficial for visitors because they stop drugs from entering the prison without forcing guards to resort to strip searches. They also say that keeping the prison secure comes before visitors' privacy. "Visiting in our facilities is a privilege; it's not a right that anybody's got," said Department of Corrections Director W.L. "Kip" Kautzky. "And this is a process that you have to go through much as you do if you drive and you are stopped and you are required to take a Breathalyzer. If you refuse to take the Breathalyzer or you otherwise fail, you have very clear sanctions. "From our prospective, this process is very little different from that approach." Microscopic Traces Found on Boy: Kautzky said the testing, which began in a few prisons several months ago and has now spread to all nine state institutions, is conducted each day on randomly selected visitors. He did not have the precise number of people scanned in all the state prisons. But at the Clarinda Corrections Facility, 2,200 people have so far been scanned. Twenty-five tested positive, officials said. Last week a small media storm started when a 4-year-old boy tested positive for microscopic drug residue as he entered the prison to visit his father. Under the prison system's scanner rules, the boy and the adult who came with him cannot visit the prison for 30 days. After that, they are then restricted to supervised, no-contact visits for the next 90 days. Fears of Being Branded a User: Such stern sanctions based only on scanner results trouble ICLU spokesman Ben Stone. He believes the tests are unfair because subjects innocently could have become contaminated with enough drug residue to record a positive result. "What you have here is not a machine that detects drug users," he said. "It's a machine that, provided the science is sound, detects people who have drug residue on their hands. And those are two different things. "You know, it sounds bizarre, but the number of molecules that are necessary to trigger this thing are just infinitesimal." Stone was so wary about random contamination that he said he wouldn't enter a prison himself for fear he would be branded as a drug user if he accidentally had trace amounts on him. "You can't prove you didn't have drugs; it's invisible," he said. "I would not visit a prison as an attorney. If they found some traces of drugs, there is nothing I could do to exonerate myself." Money Tested for Average Reading: Stone also said he disagreed with the DOT position that the tests are appropriate to develop probable cause. "Until the science is established, and we know how well calibrated these machines are, there is no way a reading should trigger a search," he said. Authorities using the tests say there is no reason for people to worry about showing a positive result after becoming inadvertently contaminated. National Guard Maj. Mike Kuehn said the agency has tried to avoid such trouble by testing the device on hundreds of thousands of dollars, both in circulation and newly minted. He said that because almost all money in circulation is contaminated with microscopic traces of drug residue, the National Guard used the cash to determine the average amount of drugs found on money. He said the National Guard's scanner operators only recommend to police that a further search be done if the amount of drugs found on the scanner is above average. Kautzky said that the state Department of Corrections also makes allowances for the small traces that may have come from the environment. 'It Spells Harassment for All' In addition to concerns about inadvertent contamination, opponents of the tests complain about the device's accuracy. Kautzky said that despite a few incidents, the technology is accurate. "This is really very high-quality technology. But all systems, whether it's here or in Pennsylvania or wherever, everybody struggles with that middle ground, that gray area where some particular visitor comes in and for whatever reason they can test positive," he said. "I think we have had some 10 cases, either with children or with others, and it was questionable." Despite the assurances that precautions are taken and that the tests are solid, the forums on trucker.net were hot with stories about false accusations. Truckers also were afraid that a trace amount picked up inadvertently could get them fired when authorities notified their employers. "All in all, it spells harassment for all of us," Rhodes said in a message to his group about the story of one trucker he believes was falsely accused. "This man is an indication of what may happen to every driver that moves through Iowa. And I'm not even given to paranoia." By Todd Venezia Des Moines, Iowa (APBnews.com) Todd Venezia is an APBnews.com Staff WriterE-Mail: todd.venezia apbnews.comPublished: April 6, 2000ęCopyright 2000 APB Online, Inc. Related Articles:New Airport Scanners Offer X-Ray Imagehttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4139.shtmlScanner To Aid Customs Searcheshttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread3752.shtmlCannabisNews Articles On Surveillance http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/list/surveillance.shtml
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Comment #7 posted by dddd on April 10, 2000 at 13:17:20 PT
TESTS
 Kanabys comments reminded me of a concept I've toyed with for years. When all politicians get sworn into office,they take an oath.On the federal level,I believe they must swear to uphold the Constitution,and protect it,,,etc. Anyway...is there some reason all these oath swearers,should not be held specificly responsible for this simple promise to defend the Constitution?.....Of course not. Can you imagine how these hogs would squeal if this was even suggested!.........And on the other side,,,I would bet my entire ranch,that if there was a national vote,that asked if people would be in favor of testing lawmakers for something as obvious and simple as basic integrity and living up to their "Oath of Office",it would pass by a large majority,and voters would be scrambling to the polling places.,,Long lines of citizens waiting to cast their votes. Of course this is about as likely,as the republacrats allowing a third party into their club...................dddd
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Comment #6 posted by Kanabys on April 10, 2000 at 08:38:45 PT
testing for govt thugs
I'll be willing to bet that if there was a way to test the dictators on capitol hill, the hard cash in there pockets would send their little toy a smokin'! 'Cause how do we know just where they got it??? Drug Cartels possibly??? After all, it was found out years ago that the CIA itself brought numerous tons of coke into the US. Just a thought.
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Comment #5 posted by Alexandre Oeming on April 09, 2000 at 10:31:03 PT:
Test the testers and have some fun!
>'It Spells Harassment for All'Yup. And just how long is it before *everyone* (except for the politicos, of course; they've already "proven" they don't need to be tested) is subject to tests of this sort? Shouldn't we start with the DOT of Iowa, maybe? Maybe Gray-Fisher doesn't have anything to hide, but maybe she does. We better scan her just to make sure. Presumed guilty, you know? It actually reminds me of my elementary school days and a little saying we had ... maybe you've heard it? "S/he who smelt it, dealt it." Sounds pretty appropo to me. Out.
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on April 09, 2000 at 10:14:52 PT:
Nothing like the old 'shoe in the works'!
Yep, that might work; just putting some residue on your shoes and walking around could conceivably scatter enough material to cause massive false readings from airborne contamination. Something for you truckers out there reading this to think about. After all, the antis are out to screw you; why not return the favor and make their prize possession have a nervous breakdown?
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Comment #3 posted by MrMIJI on April 09, 2000 at 07:22:04 PT
Hope you like jammin', too!
If this puppy is REALLY sensitive, dilute amounts of target material could be sprinkled on the sidewalk, local fast food places, local 7-11 shopfloors, etc. I wonder if some (dilute target material) were dumped in the building janitor's bucket if he would then "swab the decks" with it also?"We're Jammin' (jammin', jammin', jammin'), yeah-eah-eah!I wanna jam it wid you.We're jammin', we're jammin', we're jammin', we're jammin',  We're jammin', we're jammin', we're jammin', we're jammin';Hope you like jammin', too."http://www.imp-odeillo.fr/utilisateurs/lala/marley/jammin.html 
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on April 09, 2000 at 07:14:11 PT:
Another turn of the screw
The ion scanners, which can be programmed to detect tiny molecular substances including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and even bomb material, are now being used by the state's corrections department to test prison visitors. At the same time, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is using scanners provided by the Iowa National Guard to randomly test truck drivers. What is the National Guard doing with this stuff? Why do they have it? Who authorized it? DOT spokeswoman Dena M. Gray-Fisher said the selected drivers were taken into a building at the station, where they presented their licenses and logbooks. Those items were then passed under the ion scanner's "sniffer," a device that looks like a hand-held vacuum. The data were then fed into the main scanning machine. Forty-six of the 623 drivers tested positive for traces of drugs, Gray-Fisher said. Police and drug dogs then inspected their vehicles. Six drivers were eventually arrested for possessing small quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and LSD, she said. Hold on, here. The *drivers* tested positive? Or just their licenses and logbooks? And from the positive test on the logbooks and licenses (Carried in their wallets, perhaps? Along with their money?) a search that did not violate their 4th Ammendment rights was permitted?"Until the science is established, and we know how well calibrated these machines are, there is no way a reading should trigger a search," he said. Authorities using the tests say there is no reason for people to worry about showing a positive result after becoming inadvertently contaminated. National Guard Maj. Mike Kuehn said the agency has tried to avoid such trouble by testing the device on hundreds of thousands of dollars, both in circulation and newly minted. He said that because almost all money in circulation is contaminated with microscopic traces of drug residue, the National Guard used the cash to determine the average amount of drugs found on money. He said the National Guard's scanner operators only recommend to police that a further search be done if the amount of drugs found on the scanner is above average. Kautzky said that the state Department of Corrections also makes allowances for the small traces that may have come from the environment. Nearly everyone knows the not-so-funny statistic that nearly 70% of American paper currency is contaminated with cocaine residue. These drug sniffing machines are like many of the chemical weapons detectors we used in the Army; they had to be super sensitive, to give you time to don your mask and suits. Simply because the amount of nerve agent needed to kill you is extraordinarily small, the detectors had to be very touchy indeed. That meant a *helluva lot* of false alarms, as dust, smoke, you name it, set them off. (Which is why, unfortunately, a lot of Gulf Vets are dying; the machines went off so often that it was assumed that they were false alarms. They apparently weren't.) So these detectors are picking up traces, huh? From licenses. Carried in wallets. In contact with cocaine tainted paper money. Looks like a no-brainer, here. But the antis are just ecstatic. They now have another toy that they can use on ordinary people to frighten them and keep them in line. That's all this thing is, folks. One more turn on tyranny's screw.
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on April 09, 2000 at 00:45:53 PT
Rayguns
Loss of privacy may be the least of the problem. I dont know what one of these frankensteinian units looks like,or how they work,,,but we gotta be dealin' with some powerful and strange rays. Can you even believe that they have the gaul to go this far? It's still the "Home of the brave",but it's not looking very much like the "Land of the free" anymore..........dddd
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