I have not done anything on the ACLU in a while, so here we go!
From the ACLU:
In the face of suspicions that the government is using cutting-edge brain-scanning technologies on suspected terrorists being held overseas or at home, the American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with all the primary American security agencies.
“There are certain things that have such powerful implications for our society — and for humanity at large — that we have a right to know how they are being used so that we can grapple with them as a democratic society,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “These brain-scanning technologies are far from ready for forensic uses and if deployed will inevitably be misused and misunderstood.”
OK, first, this is a brief description of the proceedure:
This page gives a very brief introduction to FMRI, or Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. FMRI is a technique for determining which parts of the brain are activated by different types of physical sensation or activity, such as sight, sound or the movement of a subject’s fingers. This “brain mapping” is achieved by setting up an advanced MRI scanner in a special way so that the increased blood flow to the activated areas of the brain shows up on Functional MRI scans. (See here for a description of the physiology of the BOLD response.) The whole FMRI process will now be briefly described.
The subject in a typical experiment will lie in the magnet and a particular form of stimulation will be set up. For example, the subject may wear special glasses so that pictures can be shown during the experiment. Then, MRI images of the subject’s brain are taken. Firstly, a high resolution single scan is taken. This is used later as a background for highlighting the brain areas which were activated by the stimulus. Next, a series of low resolution scans are taken over time, for example, 150 scans, one every 5 seconds. For some of these scans, the stimulus (in this case the moving picture) will be presented, and for some of the scans, the stimulus will be absent. The low resolution brain images in the two cases can be compared, to see which parts of the brain were activated by the stimulus.
After the experiment has finished, the set of images is analyzed. Firstly, the raw input images from the MRI scanner require mathematical transformation (Fourier transformation, a kind of spatial “inversion”) to reconstruct the images into “real space”, so that the images look like brains. The rest of the analysis is done using a series of tools which correct for distortions in the images, remove the effect of the subject moving their head during the experiment, and compare the low resolution images taken when the stimulus was off with those taken when it was on. The final statistical image shows up bright in those parts of the brain which were activated by this experiment. These activated areas are then shown as coloured blobs on top of the original high resolution scan, for interpretation of the experiment. This combined activation image can be rendered in 3D, and the rendering can be calculated from any angle. (See here for a brief overview of GLM analysis.)
I have had three MRIs done on me and it doesn’t hurt or dammage anything. It is safer than an x-ray. So why the big stink? Because the ACLU is fighting our efforts in the War on Terror at every turn. Do you think we all need to know about this information? This is the kind of thing that should be left to Congress, everything we know, our enemies will know.
Back to the ACLU…
The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time images of people’s brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds, and respond to other stimuli. Two private companies have announced that they will begin to offer “lie detection” services using fMRI as early as this summer. These companies are marketing their services to federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and the CIA, and to state and local police departments.
“This technology must not be deployed until it is proven effective — and we are a long way away from that point, according to scientists in the field,” said Steinhardt. “What we don’t want is to open our newspapers and find that another innocent person has been thrown into Guantánamo because interrogators have jumped to conclusions based on a technology no one understands very well.”
Why is that exactly? MRIs do no harm so what is the big deal? Proven effective to whom? The ACLU? Who the heck do they think they are? If companies are providing this service, which they say they are, you can bet it is effective.
The ACLU’s FOIA requests were filed yesterday with the Pentagon, NSA, CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
“These brain-scanning technologies have potentially far-reaching implications, yet uncertain results and effectiveness,” said Steinhardt. “And we are still in our infancy when it comes to understanding the underlying processes of the brain that the scanners have begun to reveal. We do not want to see our government yet again deploying a potentially momentous technology unilaterally and in secret, before Americans have had a chance to figure out how it fits in with our values as a nation.”
I say let’s experiment on terrorist, what better testing ground can you ask for? The ACLU has become just plain ridiculous, and they are not working in the best interest of our country. The New York Times, the leakers and the ACLU, who I refer to as the American Communist Liberation Union, are killing us in the war on terror!
So, what are we going to learn from an FOIA request? That they are using what I just told you about? Gee, that will be very helpful to the American people won’t it?