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TSA rolling out body scanners at nine more airports

BOSTON - The Transportation Security Administration on Friday announced nine more U.S. airports that will receive body-scanning technology, as the U.S. heightens its effort to detect hidden explosives and other weapons.

TSA security director Lee Kair said units will be fielded in the coming months at Fort Lauderdale; San Jose, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif., and Kansas City.

They will join three machines going online Monday at Boston's Logan International Airport and one being deployed next week at Chicago's O'Hare International.

All are among 150 machines bought with money from the federal stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama last year. They join 40 machines already in use at 19 airports nationwide, none in New York.

The new and existing machines will also now be in a primary position, meaning they will be the default screening equipment passengers face at a checkpoint. Existing machines have been in a secondary position, being used only when a passenger failed a metal screening or posed some other risk factor.

Passengers retain the right to opt out of a body scanning for a more intense but traditional screening. The Associated Press timed a body scanning at 25 seconds, and Kair said he did not expect scans to take any longer than a passenger would have to otherwise wait for the X-ray of carry-on bags.

Deployment was announced in the fall, before Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound jet Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear.

Other countries have also signed on to use the technology, including Nigeria and the Netherlands, where Abdulmutallab started his flight and then connected to the United States.

Civil libertarians have complained that the new machines can violate a passenger's privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union has denounced the screening as a "virtual strip-search." One Logan passenger didn't share the concerns.

"There's always going to be issues. As long as they maintain proper control over the situation, I have no problem with it," said Michelle Carrier, 32, who was flying to Houston.

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