Thursday, February 21, 2008

And Now, a Word from Our Lawyers…

Since there are no lawyers on the blog team, they asked me to weigh in on some comments that have come into the blog on legal and constitutional issues. I'm the Chief Counsel at TSA, Francine Kerner, and I hope I can provide some useful information to those interested in the legal aspects of the screening process.

In regard to comments questioning the constitutionality of TSA's airport security screening procedures, the courts have addressed the issue and disagree with the notion that our procedures are unconstitutional. TSA takes the rights of the traveling public very seriously, and in implementing security screening measures, carefully weighs the intrusiveness of those measures against the need to prevent terrorist attacks involving aircraft. Balancing the same considerations, the courts have long approved searches of airline passengers and their bags for weapons and explosives as constitutionally permissible under what is now commonly referred to as the "administrative search" or "special needs" exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. See, for example, United States v. Edwards, 498 F.2d 496 (2d Cir. 1974). More recently, the courts have ruled that TSA procedures involving identification checks and passenger screening satisfy the requirements of the Fourth Amendment and properly respect the public's qualified right to travel.

See, for example, United States v. Aukai, 497 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2007) (en banc); Gilmore v. Gonzales, 435 F.3d 1125 (9th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 929 (2007); United States v. Hartwell, 436 F.3d 174 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 111 (2006).

I see that at least one person was troubled by the fact that TSA's screening of airline passengers sometimes yields evidence of crimes not directly related to aviation security. Our responsibility and focus in the airport screening process is to prevent a terrorist attack involving aircraft. In the course of carrying out our mission by screening for weapons and explosives, however, we sometimes incidentally discover illegal items unrelated to transportation security. Federal law and policy require that we refer such items to law enforcement officers for appropriate action. See, for example, United States v. Marquez, 410 F.3d 612, 617 (2005).

To the commenters who have complained about receiving secondary screening despite not having alarmed the walk-through metal detector, there are several reasons why an airline passenger may receive additional screening. For example, some passengers are randomly selected for secondary screening in order to help detect dangerous items that might not alarm the metal detector. Adding this element of randomness to the process makes manipulating the system more difficult.

And finally, to address the comments that expressed concerns about screening in retaliation for voicing complaints about TSA: it is not TSA's policy to subject anyone to additional screening because of their political views or complaints about the screening process. However, threatening a security officer may trigger additional screening.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your concerns.



update by Francine on 2/27/08:

To date, we have received over 100 responses to our post regarding TSA's legal authority to conduct security screening at airports. Many of your responses raise questions about the authority of TSA personnel to request a name or other identifying information (ID) from a passenger. You also want to know why the information is requested, how the information is used after you provide it, and whether TSA is following the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974 (Privacy Act), 5 U.S.C. § 552a, in requesting and using your personal information. Today's post will answer these questions.

In simple terms, the Privacy Act is a statute that controls the government's collection of personal information for later use. This is an important point. Merely asking a traveler to provide ID for a quick examination at the checkpoint does not trigger application of the Privacy Act as long as the agency is not making a record of the information to use in the future. In contrast, if TSA records a traveler's name or other identifying information with the intention of filing the information so that it can be retrieved at a later date by the traveler's name or ID, the agency is required to comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act.

During the screening process, TSA tries to identify individuals who may be planning to do us harm now or in the future. TSA tries to prevent potentially dangerous items from being brought into the boarding area. Finally, TSA responds to incidents that occur during the screening process. A passenger may need medical assistance, screened property may be damaged, lost or stolen, or an individual may become abusive in challenging a screening determination. Handling of these or any other matters may lead TSA personnel to request a traveler's name or other identifying information for filing in a Privacy Act system of records.

As a general matter, information filed in a TSA Privacy Act system of records may be used for a variety of security and administrative purposes. It may be used to identify individuals who require special screening procedures. It may be used to pursue a criminal prosecution or a civil enforcement action. It may be used to evaluate an injury or property claim, or to respond to a passenger complaint. TSA has listed all of the routine uses for the information it collects in the Privacy Act system of records notices published by the agency in the Federal Register. Most of the personal information collected in connection with the screening process is kept in a TSA system of records entitled DHS/TSA 001 Transportation Enforcement Records System (TSERS). See 69 FR 71828 (Dec. 10, 2004).

In some situations where TSA collects information directly from an individual, the Privacy Act requires TSA to provide a written notice to the individual setting forth its authority to gather the information and describing how the agency will use the information. One example of a TSA Privacy Act notice appears on the comment card that may be obtained at some screening checkpoints. Requesting a comment card should not result in harassment of any traveler. Additionally, TSA will accept anonymous comments either by filling out a comment card or by forwarding comments to the TSA Contact Center at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov.

Under the Privacy Act, any individual may submit a request to TSA to obtain the information we have on file about the requestor. With rare exceptions, which are set forth in the Federal Register, we will provide the requestor with the information we have in our files.

If you wish to see a further discussion of the Privacy Act, please see our Web site, at:
http://www.tsa.gov/research/reading/regs/privacy_act_faq.shtm.

Thank you for your comments and questions about the Privacy Act. We hope that you will check back on the Blog for future posts regarding legal issues.

202 comments:

1 – 200 of 202   Newer›   Newest»
Robert Johnson said...

Francine,

How about addressing the issue of the Privacy Act with regards to information that is collected. Some at TSA have claimed it's exempt, and it is in some respects, but did TSA exempt itself from the whole act?

Why do screeners demand to see ID when asked for a complaint form? Why do they not provide a privacy act notice telling me how long the information is being used for, why it's being collected, and how it will be used? This isn't for things like hits on the ETD (though I'd argue that a notice should be provided there too). This is for simple things like a complaint form.

I'll have to read the decision on the "administrative search turning criminal."

Additionally, TSA may not condone retaliatory secondaries when calling on a TSO to follow published rules, but it happens a lot. It's happened to me and it's happened to a lot of people I know. It happens. TSA can choose to stick its head in the sand or do something about it.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Francine, what about the idea that this is a public forum and the TSA (the government) has no right to moderate comments that don't endanger national security, employee safety, etc. Isn't racist, offensive, vulgar, off topic, and promotional speech clearly protected?

Anonymous said...

Retaliation does happen. It may not be "policy" but it exists, happens regularly and there is a gross lack of accountability by the employees who may then hide behind the shield of policy, SSI, or just the supervisor who colludes with these screeners in continuing the harassment of passengers who dare to speak up.

The continued failure by the TSA all the way to the top of their legal pyramid to acknowledge these practices is not surprising.

Sandra said...

In spite of the fact that many posters have addressed the issue of the Privacy Act and how it pertains to passengers at checkpoints, you conveniently failed to address it.

Please do so.

Anonymous said...

What about the Privacy Act? Why don't you follow it, and why will you not directly answer accusations that you avoid following it?

Stop avoiding the question!

Anonymous said...

in regards to the section about secondary screening. If you have a quad S (SSSS) on your boarding pass you will undergo additional screening. The quad S is printed on your boarding pass by the airlines. They can choose to select you if they wish. The TSA officer 'may' refer you for extra screening and that can be due to your passport, license, docs. etc. looking fradulent. Or perhaps you just pissed him off, with your witty remarks, and/or pleasant face. just remember this TSA doesn't print your boarding pass with the SSSS on it, its your airline. try this next time: ACTUALLY LOOK at your boarding pass, and try not to act so surprised.

Anonymous said...

Finally, a posting which should generate intelligent conversation, as opposed to "TSA SCREENERS ARE STOOPID."

Anonymous said...

I understand that the generic concept of random searches, etc. by TSA is constitutional and upheld by the courts. I would, however, like to know where the following fits in to your understanding of the constitutionality of TSA's mission:

1. TSA supervisors who say, "There are no First Amendment rights at a security inspection point," as one did last year during the incident involving the remark about Kip Hawley that was written on a plastic "liquids" bag.

2. Requiring disclosure of personal information by passengers who wish to file a complaint. How does that comply with the Privacy Act? How does that comport with the First Amendment -- does it not chill speech?

3. Requiring disclosure of personal information when a swab test yields a verified false positive, i.e. the machine was wrong and subsequent testing and inspection revealed no explosives residue. Why is passenger information collected? What is done with that information and how do TSA procedures in this regard comply with the Privacy Act?

4. How do retaliatory secondaries, i.e. those that are done because a TSO doesn't like a passenger's "attitude" comply with the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments?

5. We often hear, "Do you want to fly today?" in response to questioning non-standard procedures, e.g. some TSOs require that all electronics, rather than only computers and camcorders, be placed in the bins, etc. (and notwithstanding that the TSO doesn't have the power to prevent someone from flying -- that's up to the airline's GSC). How does this tactic comply with the Fifth Amendment?

I understand that TSA walks a fine constitutional line, and the overall concept of searches, x-rays, etc. are compliant. The devil, however, is in the details and, it seems, too many TSOs and their supervisors seem unfamiliar with the constitutional limitations on their power.

Dan Kozisek said...

"...it is not TSA's policy to subject anyone to additional screening because of their political views or complaints about the screening process. However, threatening a security officer may trigger additional screening."

You do know you just described a recipe for abuse. This abuse DOES happen. Try asking for a complaint form during the screening process. You WILL be subjected to a retaliatory screening. This seems to be established procedure.

David Nelson said...

"I see that at least one person was troubled by the fact that TSA's screening of airline passengers sometimes yields evidence of crimes not directly related to aviation security. Our responsibility and focus in the airport screening process is to prevent a terrorist attack involving aircraft. In the course of carrying out our mission by screening for weapons and explosives, however, we sometimes incidentally discover illegal items unrelated to transportation security. Federal law and policy require that we refer such items to law enforcement officers for appropriate action. See, for example, United States v. Marquez, 410 F.3d 612, 617 (2005)."

I am looking forward to the day when this is challenged in court. It will take a very carefully set-up of a screener. To date, people who have challenged being arrested for drugs have had the motivation of getting evidence thrown out in order to avoid a conviction. What it will take is a brave American and a group of very savvy lawyers who build a lawsuit such that the only issue at question is the search. If you compare a screening checkpoint with, for example, a DUI checkpoint, a cop must abide by the "in plain sight rule when discovering an open container, or visible drugs or perhaps a weapon. He or she simply can't open your glove box or trunk because you drove up to a DUI checkpoint. Further, courts have ruled in favor of citizens who turned around when they saw a checkpoint in order to avoid it. Now, you people assert that once you begin the screening process, you can't stop it. All a screener has to do is to say "I think I saw something." and it's open season to search everything on an individual for anything you might possibly find.

Why do you just stop at drugs? Why not start looking for bootleg software or DVDs, adult material that, in the opinion of a screener, violates local community standards, etc.

Also, We, the People, would like your explanation about the constitutionality of SPOT interrogations, some of which are on the open side of the checkpoint . What do you claim is the legal authority for such stops, and why does the Terry standard not apply?

When we have adequately addressed these issues, I'd like -- no, We The People would like -- your legal justifications for:

1. Routine violations of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, in the areas of disclosure requirements for systems of records pertaining to other than those for which you seem to have exempted yourselves and in the area of screeners and supervisors keeping illegal systems of records; and,

2. Screeners who assume the authority to make medical decisions concerning the amount of medication they believe is necessary. Screeners come very close to violating HIPPA and to committing the felony of practicing medicine without a license.

You people are WAY over the line. And, no, I will not just simply stop flying. My country means too much to me to allow this to continue.

Adrian said...

Gilmore v. Gonzales was a travesty.

Secret laws (and rules and regulations that have the force of law) are not Constitutional. In this case, the directives were transmitted in secret, orally, and changed weekly.

The court claims Gilmore had notice of the identification policy. But, in fact, he was told contradictory information about whether it was a government rule or an airline rule. And, in fact, in 2002, those checking the IDs were still airlines employees, not TSA officers.

The court also says the Gilmore refused to show ID. In fact, Gilmore had no government-issued photo ID. He was forced to surrender his driver's license when he was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Rokho said...

Very civil, professional presentation. I found it some what informative, especially since law is not my area of expertise. That is until the end and the twist was put into it. Followed with a thinly disguised threat of the stick. Totally nullified the any good the presentation will have had. Well at least with this member of the traveling public. Just sad, so sad. What a waste of a opportunity.

Andrew said...

Hello,

I love your blog so far! :-) Keep up the good work communicating with the public.

One thing that I don't understand, however, is why your ID checking takes so long. I have seen repeated complaints about longer lines and the screeners taking 1-3 minutes to check everyone's ID's. I thought the purpose of airport security was to check for dangerous items on a passenger. Why did you, the TSA, take over ID checking? That should be up to the airline - they select privately-owned contractors to check ID's. The private contractors were much faster checking ID's, and they did a good job, too. Please address this issue in another blog why TSA takes longer checking IDs, and how checking IDs relate to actual security, as fake IDs, while illegal, are not contraband that will bring a plane down.

Respectfully,

Andrew

(PS. thanks for posting the court texts - that proves that you guys are smarter than what people think.)

Anonymous said...

This isn't about law. It's about appearances. My uncle died last night. My 86 year old mother and 84 year old father are DRIVING three days, minimum, to go to his funeral. The TSA is the reason they are not flying. My mother is terrified of being forced to take off her shoes, afraid she won't be able to get them back on. She is afraid of having important medicines which cannot be placed in checked baggage stolen from her because she does not have the right size containers. She is afraid of having needed food confiscated. She is afraid she will get to the air port and have her folding wheel chair confiscated, or the walker she uses in the restroom declared "excess baggage."

I showed her print outs from the TSA web site where it says she can have a special screening. But the reports of friends who were harassed, hassled, or snarled at, or who had food and medicines confiscated weighs far higher with her than any amount of print-outs.

I have even offered to fly with them to assist them. No dice. My mother is absolutely terrified of what THEY will do to her at the airport.

So, courtesy of the TSA, my parents are risking three days of hard travel, risking dangerous conditions, and black ice. And that's just to get there. Then they have to get home.

Legally, you probably can't be held responsible for their decision. Morally, you are. My mother is more afraid of the TSA than she is of terrorists. After all, terrorists can only kill her. TSA will humilate her, not once, but many times.

Anonymous said...

While I have no doubt that official TSA policy forbids employees from using additional screenings as retaliation against passengers that does not mean it does not happen.

I have spent twenty years in a corporate setting and in that time I have seen employees invent policies as a way to retaliate against customers. I have no doubt that TSA employees do the same thing and then claim the passenger threatened them. Who are then backed by supervisors.

The question is how do we file a complaint against a TSA employee and have a garuntee it will be investigated without bias.

Anonymous said...

How do we as passengers deal with TSA employees who confiscate items not on the list? Any time the TSA deals with this, like two doctors who had most of the baby's food confiscated they claim they have discretion to act as needed. What protection do we have?

Anonymous said...

Might be time for TSA to begin taking a closer look at some of these complaints and begin addressing those complaints.

Issues with the Privacy Act, messing around with medications, attempting to remove surgical dressings, all are serious issues. Who takes liability for any adverse outcome of TSA overstepping it's job? Are we as traveling citizens just at the mercy of the TSO who happens to have a bad day?

The impression that many have of TSA as an organization, is that it answers to no one for it's actions. That is a dangerous situation, because if you feel you answer to no one then you, in effect are above the law.

TSO Tom is out said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

What about having two separate lines for coach and first class passengers? This seems like a horrible policy for the government to have. I wouldn't expect to see two lines at the DMV. Seems to me like a pretty blatant violation of the equal protection clause (fourteenth amendment) and hints at "separate but equal," struck down by Brown vs. Board of Education, 1954.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: "in regards to the section about secondary screening. If you have a quad S (SSSS) on your boarding pass you will undergo additional screening. The quad S is printed on your boarding pass by the airlines. They can choose to select you if they wish. The TSA officer 'may' refer you for extra screening and that can be due to your passport, license, docs. etc. looking fradulent. Or perhaps you just pissed him off, with your witty remarks, and/or pleasant face. just remember this TSA doesn't print your boarding pass with the SSSS on it, its your airline. try this next time: ACTUALLY LOOK at your boarding pass, and try not to act so surprised."

Bolding mine.

I think you just confirmed what many of us are saying is happening and that TSA is denying. It's a poor reflection on TSA that TSO's send people to secondary just for the fact that they said something they didn't like, didn't look right, challenged them on making up policy, etc.

Big thumbs down.

Yes, I know about the haraSSSSment flag on the boarding passes. I always look for it. However, I've never had it when I've been sent for retaliation ... err ... "continuous and random screening" simply for requiring a TSO to stick to the rules.

And don't even get me started with the "Do you want to fly today?" ...

Robert

Anonymous said...

How about the different screening treatment one religious group recieves that is different than all other groups.

How can a certain group be allowed to "pat down themselves" and not all other groups without violating my religious rights.

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

How strange that Kip's remarks on screening of liquids completely disappears after his now missing point #4 stating that it is near impossible to assemble a working exxplosive in the aircraft.

Why were these remarks removed?

Did the publics request for clarification confuse the lawyers?

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: "What about having two separate lines for coach and first class passengers? This seems like a horrible policy for the government to have. I wouldn't expect to see two lines at the DMV. Seems to me like a pretty blatant violation of the equal protection clause (fourteenth amendment) and hints at "separate but equal," struck down by Brown vs. Board of Education, 1954."

This one isn't TSA's fault. The airlines are responsible for the lines up to the checkpoint and they provide premium lines for customers who pay more or fly with them more.

If you pay more for a higher end product, do you expect to get more or the exact same thing as the person who paid for a lower end product?

As it's the airlines that setup the lines, they are free to set them up as they've negotiated with the airport authority. Once at the checkpoint, TSA takes over.

Don't wory ... TSA will still screen and harass those people just the same.

If it's a perk you want, fly more or pay more for the ticket.

Robert Johnson said...

TSO Tom,

I hope that you see what your colleagues are doing. There are good TSO's out there. However, there are a lot of them (some that even post in this very thread) that prove the points that people like me complain about.

You're stuck in a bad position of having to enforce policies that make absolutely no sense and do nothing for security. Complaints go with the territory.

I hope you see that it's a 2 way street. If TSA stops treating people like criminals and its employees stop abusing their authority, perhaps people will be more pleasant when they go thru a checkpoint.

The funny thing is, the world isn't THAT different prior to 2001 and after 2001. The difference is how we react to events that happened. Beforehand, we took them in stride. Now this country is running scared, constantly being kept in fear. TSA has a lot of responsibility in that.

People didn't gripe about security then. Security was largely fine ... it wasn't screening that failed on 9/11. That's not to say there wasn't improvements needed, but lines were a lot shorter and security wsa much less of a hassle.

So if you're facing a grumpy public, TSA really only has itself to blame.

Robert

randy said...

What is the legal basis for requiring me to present ID in order to be screened by government employees for an air plane ride?

tallanvor said...

I have to agree with most of the posters here. We've all seen screeners act inappropriately, and many of us have seen retaliatory action on their part.

Some of those cases quoted are farces. Secret laws are no way to protect a country. --Just look how the Soviet Union turned out if you think they're the way to go.

PHX TSO said...

@Randy, choosing to fly is a choice. You either abide by the rules or you don't fly. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. I am the first to admit it can be a difficult process for some. For most people it is not difficult. 1. Buy a ticket. 2. Submit ticket and a valid ID. 3. remove shoes and place in xray. 4. place belongings into xray. 5. submit yourself for screening. 6. gather your things and put your shoes back on. 7. go to your gate. 8. get on the plane.
Even my youngest child could do this without difficulty. It takes a little preparation at home before you leave for the airport. know what you can or can not take onto a plane. Prepare your liquids, creams, jells, paste and aerosols into a clear quart size zip lock baggy.

@Robert- The customer satisfaction forms are available for everyone to use. ID not required to get one. They are strategically place at all checkpoints. If you can't find them ask someone to point them out. Fill it out and slip it into the locked box.

I have yet to see one person submitted for secondary screening solely for being rude and obnoxious. The rude and obnoxious behavior is usually paired with something else. For example; I'm in a hurry. I don't want to remove my belt, or cell phone from my waist even though I have already alarmed the walk thru metal detector once. (hint: If you alarm twice you get secondary screening.)Alarming twice usually sends the already irate passenger into a bigger tirade. Annoying but not the reason for the secondary screening. :) If you are annoying enough to require the assistance of a law enforcement officer. That is another matter.



@ Anonymous, I think people should have the right to voice a complaint or voice an opinion on this blog. Posting here is a choice. NO one is forcing you to let the world know what you are thinking. Most people post anonymously. Some people gripe because they like to. On the other hand. TSA does not have to allow vulgarity or personal attacks to be posted here. If you want to do that sort of thing, go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Sandra said...

In spite of the fact that many posters have addressed the issue of the Privacy Act and how it pertains to passengers at checkpoints, you conveniently failed to address it.

Please do so."

I asked this very question a few days ago, as well as why they copy down my ID to get a complaint form. They told me that TSOs should not be asking for my Social Security number and made a big deal about it. Strangely, I had not asked about SS#. I had asked about my rights to Privacy Act disclosures.

Bottom line: They threw in that bit about the SS# as a red herring, as if I had asked about it. They also completely ignored my questions about the Privacy Act, particularly as it pertains to 5 USC 552a (e)(3). We will never get an answer to this question, because of the ramifications of admitting that the TSA has excluded itself from the Privacy Act.

Mike

TSO PHX said...

@ anonymous, TSA fully discloses we are going to conduct a thorough search of you and your bags before you get on the plane. If you submit your person and belongings for screening, Then you are agreeing with our policy. If you don't agree with our policy then don't fly.

And one more thing. For Example; If you don't want us finding your weapons, your drugs, your laundered cash then don't carry it on the plane.

Anonymous said...

I posted this link last night - and apparently it was either deleted or deemed not good enough for this blog, so I'll post it again.

This article talks about what happens to items confiscated by the TSA, which is quite different from what's been detailed by the TSA at this blog.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23277627/

Jay Maynard said...

tso phx:

1) I have yet to see one person submitted for secondary screening solely for being rude and obnoxious. The rude and obnoxious behavior is usually paired with something else.

It's happened to me, repeatedly. I got so fed up with being groped by the TSA that, for a while I went through security wearing nothing but spandex. I was covered the same as someone wearing a T-shirt and pants, and not violating any laws relating to indecent exposure. Nevertheless, at the checkpoint in Baltimore, I was selected for secondary screening even though I did not set off the metal detector (indeed, the only metal on my person at the time was the unitard's zipper and my glasses), and every single piece of electronics I was carrying got ETDd. This included my cellphone, which they didn't see as they disassembled my briefcase, but did when I put it on my belt - they took it from me and ETDd it.

My offense? I told a screener before the metal detector who asked why I was dressed as I was that I was tired of being groped by the TSA, and was making it obvious I wasn't carrying anything on my person. No, my boarding pass did not have the dreaded SSSS.

I quit doing it when the TSA manager at Columbus, Ohio called the police on me because he was personally offended that I'd worn nothing but spandex. The cops told me he'd asked them to cite me for indecent exposure, and he got mad when they told him that I wasn't in violation of the law. He then told me that he was offended by my dress and that he would not permit me to fly from his airport if I did it again, by the simple expedient of refusing to screen me. When I pointed out that he had no right to not be offended, he refused to discuss it with me any further.

2) If you don't agree with our policy then don't fly.

I don't have a choice in the matter. My job requires that I travel by air. If I don't fly, I don't work. Consent under such circumstances is not voluntary, it's coerced. This is the standard TSA answer to complaints, but it rings hollow for me: I either surrender my First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, or I lose my job.

Anonymous said...

Francine:

I mentioned on this blog a reference to TSA's habit of using "discoveries" of contraband or other evidence of criminal acts, as evidence of its success as an organization. I am not questioning the authority of the Federal Government to arrest someone who is stupid enough to try to pass through an airport much less the security checkpoint with bricks of Cocaine strapped to his torso.

On the other hand, I am less than enthusiastic about having my rights violated (sorry, I'll take more stock in the Supreme court's opinion over the "many court cases" you cite....'til then we may have to wait) and my travel schedule loused up by "security theater."

So the bottom line question really is "has TSA actually tripped over a terrorist?" Increasingly you face a hostile public for all the reasons I cite, and yet the tired answer seems to be either that you don't know, or that you do, but it's classified.

Fred G.

Anonymous said...

what about the consistency issue...between each airport and even the rules on your own website...

"On Tuesday, The New York Times told the story of Anand Soni and his wife, Arati Pratap. The two doctors flew with their 10-month-old daughter from Chicago Midway Airport to Manchester, N.H. Anticipating delays and full travel time, the couple stashed more food than necessary. Only when they reached security, the TSA agents confiscated a portion of the jarred delectables and formula.

Unfortunately, the TSA standards aren't crystal clear for flying families"

just unacceptable...

Sandra said...

"The customer satisfaction forms are available for everyone to use. ID not required to get one. They are strategically place at all checkpoints. If you can't find them ask someone to point them out. Fill it out and slip it into the locked box."

phx tso, you need to get out in the world and expand your horizons.

Forms are NOT available at all checkpoints; if you ask for one, you are often told they don't have any and people ARE asked for ID before they are given a form. As well, screeners often conceal their names on nametags so that a traveler can't give any information.

As part of your training, you should be required to transit several different airports and go through the screeing process then come back and tell us that these things don't happen.

Sandra said...

Since neither the Inconsistencies or Grips and Grins part of this blog is taking comments, I'll post this here.

I do a great deal of reading, both fiction and non-fiction, and one thing I have noticed in my reading is that the majority of authors, normally fiction, make very unflattering references to the TSA and security checkpoints when one of their characters is transiting an airport.

The most recent book I’ve read (written in 2003) mentioned having to walk barefoot across filthy floors, having the contents of one’s bag removed and displayed for all the other travelers to see, being groped and humiliated by a “security i***t.”

In this book, one of the characters says something to the effect of: “You want to be safe – this is just a small thing to keep us safe.” The comments by several characters following that are all along the lines of “this does nothing to make us safe, but to make infrequent travelers like you feel safe” and “it’s nothing but a show.”

Another book I read, written recently, makes reference and pokes fun at the liquids nonsense and 3-1-1. It’s too early to read about the ID checking and loupes and blacklights, but I’m sure writers in future books will have a great deal of fun with that.

So you see, TSA, it’s not just a few “whiners” out there. People I work with who travel a great deal initially supported you and your dog and pony show, but they are very quickly becoming aware that it is just a show. The sad thing is that so many people are afraid to speak up. You would be out of business if everyone who is fed up with your mission creep were to do so.

Chance said...

Regarding the article above, anonymous, can you be more specific about how the article differs from what we've said here? If or another has made an error on the blog, we'll certainly correct it, but after reading the article it seems to jive with what we've stated before.

Chance - Evolution Blog Team Member

Anonymous said...

For the individual angry about his mother being afraid to fly and having to drive; you might want to consider calling the airport you are speaking of and speaking to either the federal security director or the assist. federal director for screening. It has been my experience that TSA will help and may really lend you a hand with getting your mother to the funeral. They don't advertise it but at least in my small town, Baton Rouge, about a year ago I called and was treated nice to the point of going to their offices and meeting with the bosses. They gave me their cards, gave me advise on medications, and helped make sure the process was painless out and back. I even got a call the day before I left to make sure we didn't have more concerns. My wife has significant medical needs and we pack a lot of strange stuff. It may not work everywhere but it worked well in my neck of the woods.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: @Robert- The customer satisfaction forms are available for everyone to use. ID not required to get one. They are strategically place at all checkpoints. If you can't find them ask someone to point them out. Fill it out and slip it into the locked box."

TSO PHX, if this is the case at your airport, it's certainly a good thing. I know they are at some airports. However, in my travels, complaint/compliment/comment forms aren't readily available or available at all. IAD gave me an email address to write to someone who never bothered to follow up. BWI has never had them available. I've never seen them at SFO, ORD, DCA, or SLC either.

Usually, I've had to provide my own form.

Additionally, I know personally folks who have been carded when asking for a complaint form and then have their information copied down. A lot of times this is used as an intimidation tactic so people won't file complaints.

If you and your airport do it right ... good on you. Keep it up. :) However, a lot of airports don't and that's a big problem.

Quote: "I have yet to see one person submitted for secondary screening solely for being rude and obnoxious. The rude and obnoxious behavior is usually paired with something else. For example; I'm in a hurry. I don't want to remove my belt, or cell phone from my waist even though I have already alarmed the walk thru metal detector once. (hint: If you alarm twice you get secondary screening.)Alarming twice usually sends the already irate passenger into a bigger tirade. Annoying but not the reason for the secondary screening. :) If you are annoying enough to require the assistance of a law enforcement officer. That is another matter."

I didn't know being annoying was grounds for bringing an into it. I could see making threats, trying to run thru the checkpoint and stuff like that requiring and LEO. I don't think annoying qualifies (remember, passengers are probably equally annoyed by TSA too). More often than not, though, I've seen this used as an intimidation tactic.

I've been retaliated against prior to the liquid mess for wearing nonprofile shoes when the shoe carnival was supposedly voluntary. Some got it right, but nonremoval of nonprofile shoes was grounds for retaliation at a lot of airports. IAD was known for this.

Automatic secondaries aren't the only form of retaliation. Dragging out the screenings to the point someone almost misses their flight is a very common one. Often times, it occurs when a TSO keeps a passenger separated from his/her belongings during a secondary. Incidentally, this increases the risk of theft from a TSO or another passenger (ABC 7 in DC just ran something on this last week).

And if you push the issue, a lot of times you'll get the famous "Do you want to fly today?" bit from a TSO. It's even worse when a supervisor backs the TSO. And as people are often in a hurry, TSA has them by the short and curlies so what else are they going to do?

That brings us back to the complaint form that is either nonexistent or a hassle to get. TSA claims they take complaints seriously, but I've never had one responded to, and calls and emails to the TSA call center yield boiler plate responses at best and promises to call back go unfulfilled.

If TSA expects us to take them seriously, they need to show us that they take feedback seriously, are open to complaints and will act on them quickly and fairly and without impeding the process.

Robert

Anonymous said...

How on earth did Doug's comment get posted? It is absurd.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: And one more thing. For Example; If you don't want us finding your weapons, your drugs, your laundered cash then don't carry it on the plane."

TSO PHX, weapons are on the prohibited items list. No one's complaining about you looking for those.

What people complain about is the fact that looking for drugs, laundered money, etc. Those are not prohibited items (though they may be illegal) and fall outside the scope of the consent to search. I think as David Nelson mentioned, this needs to be challenged in the right way as he described. You exceed the scope of your authority by turning administrative searches criminal, and in my opinion, violate those folks' constitutional rights.

Additionally, as TSO's have no training in what drugs look like (ie the woman who was arrested for having flour filled condoms) and carrying "too much" money isn't a crime. The only regulation on carrying cash is you have to declare it to customs if you are travelling internationally and have more than $10k in cash on you. How can you tell if it's laundered, or do you think that there's no valid reason for carrying that much cash?

Stick to looking for weapons and explosives (real ones ... not shampoo). Get better than an 80% failure rate before you try to be everything to everyone. Otherwise, instead of just doing one thing poorly, TSA ends up doing a lot of things poorly.

Robert

jay gildemeister said...

Why the double screen of medical devices? (CPAP) Now you take it out of the carry bag, put both through the machine, then still go through the detailed second inspection. Why not skip the first step and just do the second inspection? As a frequent flyer, I understand the detailed second screen but definitely not the first.

Anonymous said...

Want to file a complaint, use this link:http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/gc_1169826536380.shtm

You can do it on line or download a form. To bad someone from the TSA didn't think to do this.

Chance said...

Mr. Johnson, I'm not understanding how a screener could be expected to ignore a white powdery substance carried in a condom (a common method of drug transportation). I just don't see how it is possible for a screener to ignore what appears to be a blatently illegal item during the course of their duties.

Chance - EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

The suggestion from Baton Rouge, with regards to special services is a good one, and much appreciated. Unfortunately, the TSA has carried out its (unofficial) policy of harassing the handicapped and the elderly too well. My mother refused to even consider talking to them, because she was certain they would promise one thing in advance, and not carry through when she arrived at the airport. So my parents are on their way. I pray their trip goes smoothly.

Anonymous said...

Man, a lot of people come here to pick a fight. I have not posted here before but me me, I I. So lets see, if I come to a check point with an attitude, I and it should be ignored??? Whoever has that line of thought has never exercised their first amendment rights of free speech with a Chicago cop thinking it might help the situation. It goes back to what your grandmother told you. You get more flies with honey. On the other hand with TSA, stop demending so much respect and remember that you interviewed for the job and if dealing with the passengers is too much then get out, I'm sure it isn't for everyone. If you are a business traveler and can't stand dealing with what the traveling world has become then maybe it is time to find a new vocation. I know it isn't that easy, well---yes it is. Life is all about being able to cope.

TSA TSO NY said...

Now, you people assert that once you begin the screening process, you can't stop it. All a screener has to do is to say "I think I saw something." and it's open season to search everything on an individual for anything you might possibly find.

That is true.

Why do you just stop at drugs? Why not start looking for bootleg software or DVDs, adult material that, in the opinion of a screener, violates local community standards, etc.

We just might.

Anonymous said...

From Baton Rouge: I hope the best for your mom but simply find it hard to believe there is an "unofficial" program to mess with the handicapped. I'm sure the handicapped must be checked in some way and we can thank others for the need to do that but I'll bet your mom is a lot like mine was in that she is very set in her ways, has slowed down quite a bit and doesn't like to be hurried and such. My mom was sure the bank ATMs were stealing her money and hated them. Of course they were not but she never trusted the technology or the drive up. Every time I pull $ now I smile. Good luck.

Andrew said...

I am amazed by the number of business and government entities who think that "X is not policy" is a valid defense for people accusing it of doing "X".

It may not be TSA policy to order secondary screenings to people who complain, but it surely is happening. Often.

I travel often on business for one of the large consulting companies, and the odds of my being referred to secondary screening correlate exactly with the degree that I keep my mouth shut during the process.

I would think as an attorney, you would appreciate the considerable risk this type of behavior puts on your organization.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from chance: Mr. Johnson, I'm not understanding how a screener could be expected to ignore a white powdery substance carried in a condom (a common method of drug transportation). I just don't see how it is possible for a screener to ignore what appears to be a blatently illegal item during the course of their duties."

Tell me this: what does it have to do with aviation security? And answer me another thing: is drug enforcement under TSA's scope?

The answer to both is no. You are searching for items on the prohibited items list. Even looking now, those things aren't on the prohibited items list. The checkpoint is not a dragnet to be used to search bags law enforcement would have to either get permission or a warrant to criminally search. Nor should it be a means for enforcing immigration (i.e. we caught the illegal immigrant leaving the country. :rolleyes:). There are other agencies that handle this. By exceeding the scope of the search, you're turning an administrative search for items on the list into a criminal search.

One of the things I think the court got wrong is that there is no means to withdraw the "consent" for the search when it changes scope. One should have to consent again to have the LEO search the bag or a warrant needs to be obtained. At least to my understanding, this part of the search has not been challenged in court yet (and should).

The item is not in plain sight. Just as a cop can't search my car without permission or a warrant unless he sees something in plain sight, the same things should apply. You need more than hearsay to establish probable cause.

For the record, I'm against illegal drugs. I'd like to see these guys locked up. However, I also think that TSA should let the DEA, FBI and other similar organizations handle this the right way. I'd hate to see a drug trafficker get off because the search was found to be illegal and the evidence inadmissable.

The constitution was written with the intent that some bad guys might not be caught because the law and constitution wasn't followed. They accepted this as a reasonable tradeoff so innocent people wouldn't be wrongfully imprisoned or worse. It's worked pretty well for over 200 years. I think it's shameful to throw that out.

Do it the right way. Yes, it sucks, but I'd rather have everyone's rights preserved rather than trample on people's rights when it's convenient to do so.

I don't think there's anything against law enforcement using drug sniffing dogs in an airport, providing it's not being abused to give false positives. A dog giving a hit would be probable cause and would be doing it the right way.

TSA needs to stop worrying about making the Big Catch® to justify itself and start doing what it was chartered to do in the first place: keeping threats to aviation security off of the plane. Do that successfully and TSA would justify its existence. Let law enforcement do its job.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Laundered money?

How the heck can you tell if it's "laundered" or legit? I routinely travel with several hundred dollars cash, sometimes a thousand or more depending on where I'm going and how long I'm away from home. It's my emergency funds, I carry it in case of any kind of situation where credit cards don't work, or a hundred other emergency scenarios. I keep it in my front pocket, I guard it with my life, and never reveal that I have it as I pass through the checkpoint. I sure as hell won't lay the bundle on the X-ray tray, as that would guarantee it would be missing before it passed through the machine on the conveyor belt.

So I guess I'm asking this.... at what point can I feel safe carrying my money, and not be afraid of some TSO goon confiscating it under some trumped up suspicion of it being "laundered" drug money? And how much would the TSA consider "suspicious"? Or is that one of your insider secrets too?

Anonymous said...

What happended to Kip's remarks regarding liquids?

David Nelson said...

"Chance said...
Mr. Johnson, I'm not understanding how a screener could be expected to ignore a white powdery substance carried in a condom (a common method of drug transportation). I just don't see how it is possible for a screener to ignore what appears to be a blatently illegal item during the course of their duties.

Chance - EoS Blog Team"

Chance,

Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Police searches always have involved what cops call something like the "elephant behind the bookcase" test. In simplistic terms, this means that you can't "find" anything not within the scope of your search in terms of size. In other words, if you're looking for an elephant, you can't look behind a bookcase because an elephant can't hide behind it. If you do look behind the bookcase and find a small nuclear weapon, that evidence is not admissible in court because the object of your search could not have possibly been concealed where you looked. And, you could become a defendant in a civil law suit as a result of your illegal search.

Now, you would say that there is no limit in size to a prohibited item, since nature's smallest substance, an atom of hydrogen, is flammable. The TSA needs to clearly define the smallest size of prohibited item that passes the giggle test before a judge does it for you. Anything smaller than this item can not be seized, and, you can't search in a location in which the prohibited item could not possibly be located.

2. An individual stopped by a cop has to be asked for consent to a vehicle search (however cleverly the cop will attempt to gain consent), can refuse, and can withdraw consent at any time. You people assert that we can't do any of these once we submit our bag to the conveyor belt. I dare say you people have now moved the no-stopping-the-search perimeter to at least the ID checkpoint or even further out if we're interrogated by a SPOT guy.

Since you have gotten away with #1 and #2, you run the risk of violating one's 5th Amendment rights. A person under SPOT interrogation can be intimidated and self-incriminate themselves without realizing they can just walk away or stop the questioning without a lawyer present. I have never seen a sign at any checkpoint in all the airports I have traversed stating that any non-TSA-prohibited illegal item (drugs, bootleg software, cash, ect) that is discovered incidental to a search will be turned over to a cop. So, without this disclosure, a person self-incriminates themselves believing that their bag of pot will get through the checkpoint because the TSA is only looking for prohibited items.

I'm sure most of your fellow screeners would applaud this discovery as "they got what they deserved." Many of your Constitution-loving fellow Americans view this as mission creep and unconstitutional.

My advice to you and to Francine is that you had better define some of these things, conduct an impartial legal review of your practices, and come back to within the law before a court or a future Congress does it for you. In the latter two cases, my guess is that you won't like the answer.

Tom said...

Robert Johnson said...
TSO Tom,

I hope that you see what your colleagues are doing. There are good TSO's out there. However, there are a lot of them (some that even post in this very thread) that prove the points that people like me complain about.

You're stuck in a bad position of having to enforce policies that make absolutely no sense and do nothing for security. Complaints go with the territory.

I hope you see that it's a 2 way street. If TSA stops treating people like criminals and its employees stop abusing their authority, perhaps people will be more pleasant when they go thru a checkpoint.

The funny thing is, the world isn't THAT different prior to 2001 and after 2001. The difference is how we react to events that happened. Beforehand, we took them in stride. Now this country is running scared, constantly being kept in fear. TSA has a lot of responsibility in that.

People didn't gripe about security then. Security was largely fine ... it wasn't screening that failed on 9/11. That's not to say there wasn't improvements needed, but lines were a lot shorter and security wsa much less of a hassle.

So if you're facing a grumpy public, TSA really only has itself to blame.

Robert

February 21, 2008 11:56 PM
***********************************
Robert, seeing as you addressed your post to me, I feel compelled to respond, despite the fact that I said I would not post anymore. First of all Robert, let me say that I have seen some of my co-workers who were not the happiest of people and improvement is always needed this is true. But for the most part, I work with a fine bunch of people who care about the work they perform and give 110 percent effort daily. The complaints we get are from people who just don't want to cooperate, and this is what bothers us the most. I've said it before Robert, and I'll say it again, I get 4 compliments for every one complaint so that's not so bad. But when I come in here, and all I see is complaints, instead of suggestions on how to improve the process, it angers me. Secondly, the world has changed since 2001 and I'll tell youe exactly how it has changed. Prior to 2001, security at airports was for the most part a big joke! Yes the lines were shorter, but that's because the screening was not as thoroush as it is now. Video reviews of 9/11/01 showed that screeners at two of the airports involved did a sub par job at best. Also, the secondary screening process at that time was below standard by any means. Today's terrorist is more crafty, more daring and more willing to take risks. The one thing we need to be aware of more than ever now, is that a terrorist does not want to get caught and will do whatever he has to do to avoid getting caught. ANYTHING. So you see Robert, while the procedures may not make alot of sense to you, they have a purpose and that is to stop the terrorist from accomplishing his task. Security is a given no matter where you go, go to any court building, Federal facility, etc. X-ray machines, magnetometers are common place even in our schools! The best thing we can do is get used to it because its here to stay.

Marshall said...

Let’s see, the "Gripes and Grins" section of the blog is no longer active; the "Inconsistencies" section seems to be shut down as well. Kip's post on liquids seems to be missing althogether.

Let me ask: Could it possibly be that you have been blind sided by all the complaints you are receiving?

Could it possibly be that you put this blog up hoping that the apologists would outnumber the complainers and the complainers would end up going away?

Could it possibly be that you are learning that yes, the public opinion polls are true, and the TSA is right at the top of the most disliked government agencies?

When your chief counsel fails to address the biggest question of all, the fact that the TSA seems to feel it is not subject to any provisions of the Privacy Act, that does nothing to make anyone who comes to this blog believe that your stated reason for initiating it is valid: to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process.

All you are doing is digging yourselves a deeper hole. Perhaps it would be best to pack up your tents.
Let’s see, the "Gripes and Grins" section of the blog is no longer active; the "Inconsistencies" section seems to be shut down as well. Kip's post on liquids seems to be missing althogether.

Let me ask: Could it possibly be that you have been blind sided by all the complaints you are receiving?

Could it possibly be that you put this blog up hoping that the apologists would outnumber the complainers and the complainers would end up going away?

Could it possibly be that you are learning that yes, the public opinion polls are true, and the TSA is right at the top of the most disliked government agencies?

When your chief counsel fails to address the biggest question of all, the fact that the TSA seems to feel it is not subject to any provisions of the Privacy Act, that does nothing to make anyone who comes to this blog believe that your stated reason for initiating it is valid: to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process.

All you are doing is digging yourselves a deeper hole. Perhaps it would be best to pack up your tents.

Anonymous said...

Your policies are overkill and ridiculous. If T.S.A. had a viable screening plan to begin with, then we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. If public travel had been kept a "dress-up" affair as it used to be, then we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. If the government had been pro-active instead of re-active, we wouldn't be in this situation!

Neil said...

@Marshall...
With respect to the "Inconsistencies" and the "Gripes & Grins" posts, there are 543 and 406 comments on each. When you have that many comments, it takes too long to load the page. So we have developed a policy to limit the number of comments per post to something like 300 (I can look it up later and confirm the number).
http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/01/gripes-grins.html

So we have not closed down the conversation because we were "blindsided by the amount of complaints" we received. We did not post this blog so that we could hear about how wonderful we are. We setup this blog in an honest effort to open up a dialog with the traveling public. We view it as a two way street; you provide direct, unfiltered feedback on our policies and practices and we provide an explanation for why we do the things we do.

This is a good thing. A healthy organization should listen to feedback and make changes as necessary to improve the way we carry out our mission.

So... with respect to your suggestion that we "pack up our tents" and stop blogging; we will continue to engage with the public for the reasons articulated above.

If you have specific suggestions on how we can achieve our mission in a better way, please post here and let our collective community review and vet your ideas.

Regards,
-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Al said...

Why doesn't the TSA general counsel do something to prevent TSA employees from asking to copy down a passenger's identification when he/she requests a complaint form?

What are the consequences to TSA employees who do this?

Also, I'm still waiting for a response to the complaint I filed eight months ago.

Anonymous said...

I fly from coast to coast 3-4 times per year and have found most of the TSA agents that I've come into contact with to be courteous and willing to to answer my questions.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Tom: "First of all Robert, let me say that I have seen some of my co-workers who were not the happiest of people and improvement is always needed this is true. But for the most part, I work with a fine bunch of people who care about the work they perform and give 110 percent effort daily. The complaints we get are from people who just don't want to cooperate, and this is what bothers us the most. I've said it before Robert, and I'll say it again, I get 4 compliments for every one complaint so that's not so bad."

Please keep in mind that 20% of the airlines' customers make up around 80% of their revenue. These are the frequent travelers who deal with TSA much more often and also are going to be more critical because they see what's going on. So if you're seeing a 4:1 ratio of compliments to complaints, this jives with the fact that most of the people who compliment you don't have to deal with TSA on a regular basis.

Additionally, as test results indicate, TSA misses 4 bombs for everyone TSA it catches. Is that a good ratio too?

Keep in mind that people will treat you how you treat them. TSA sets the tone at the checkpoint. If there are barkers yelling at people and the staff is surly, guess what you'll probably get. Believe it or not, I'm friendly with security as long as they're friendly, stick to the rules and don't make it up as they go. SLC has been particularly good at this ... very well run as far as TSA goes. And yes, I've actually filled out compliment forms there. However, do something like separating me from my belongings during a secondary and give me crap when I mention it and yes, I will have an attitude at this point.

Quote: But when I come in here, and all I see is complaints, instead of suggestions on how to improve the process, it angers me.

Did you ever think that maybe TSA and even Congress hasn't taken the suggestions seriously? I've written some well thought out suggestions to my Congresscritter that were supposedly passed on to Kip. I have a friend who's an aviation consultant who has proposed a few times over the last few years a relatively inexpensive device that would test liquids. TSA and Congress weren't interested.

Bottom line is that TSA does what it wants to do, everyone else be damned. I'm not convinced TSA really wants to listen.

If TSA really wants to take suggestions, perhaps they should put up a suggestions section on the blog. There hasn't been one to date and there hasn't really been an area to make suggestions. I'd be happy to outline a process I think would work if one was provided.

Quote: "Secondly, the world has changed since 2001 and I'll tell youe exactly how it has changed. Prior to 2001, security at airports was for the most part a big joke! Yes the lines were shorter, but that's because the screening was not as thoroush as it is now. Video reviews of 9/11/01 showed that screeners at two of the airports involved did a sub par job at best. Also, the secondary screening process at that time was below standard by any means. Today's terrorist is more crafty, more daring and more willing to take risks. The one thing we need to be aware of more than ever now, is that a terrorist does not want to get caught and will do whatever he has to do to avoid getting caught. ANYTHING."

Terrorists really aren't any more crafty than they were years ago. They use generally the same tactics and exploit weaknesses they see in a system. Everyone trying pull off an attack, whether overt or covert (this includes the US military) does it.

Keep in mind that box cutters weren't prohibited items on 9/11. What terrorists exploited was the fact that previous hijacking attempts were handled by getting the plane on the ground as quickly as possible and the government negotiated with the hijackers to end it. For all intents and purposes, that's what everyone thought. That didn't last long as fortunately, the brave folks on UA93 figured it out and gave the ultimate sacrifice to save many more lives.

The fact is that with the published TSA scoring results, despite the inconvenience we really aren't any safer. Bombs are missed repeatedly, and higher test scores are compromised by allegations of advanced notice. It's not hard to get shampoo and deodorant thru security now.

Screening needed to be improved ... no doubt. It still does because aside from the shoe carnivals and liquid craziness, it's the generally the same procedures with the same technologies. It's just a different entity controlling it (and in some cases, it's the same people doing it both now and then). The biggest improvement has been the ETDs and puffers, but even those had a botched implementation (both commercial and gov't interests are at fault here).

Pretty much what we have is the same technology with a lot of the same folks doing much the same screening as we did in 2000. Just with more hassle added that doesn't do anything to enhance security. What is done is more CYA than anything else.

Honestly, I can accept that TSA isn't going to be 100% effective. Nothing is. I do expect TSA to be much more effective than they are now ... especially when the cost of security has skyrocketed. What are we getting for that return?

Quote: So you see Robert, while the procedures may not make alot of sense to you, they have a purpose and that is to stop the terrorist from accomplishing his task."

How many terrorists has TSA stopped? Given the pattern that TSA trumpets every little thing it does, such as finding college kids with fake ID's but to date has not caught a terrorist is telling.

And if a terrorist wants to get something thru security, they can. TSA's testing has shown that. All they have to do is not bring shampoo or water. :)

Quote: "Security is a given no matter where you go, go to any court building, Federal facility, etc. X-ray machines, magnetometers are common place even in our schools! The best thing we can do is get used to it because its here to stay."

Tom, I've been in many government facilities that have much greater security than an airport. Even when clearances weren't passed, or heck, even when I was interviewing for employement, security was never such a pain at these facilities. X-ray and magnetometer, and friendly staff. That was it. I don't have problems with these. I don't have problems with items that help security. Even though the puffers slow things down, I don't mind that because it adds measurably to security. It's a lot of the extras that don't do anything but add inconvenience.

Robert

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Neil: "If you have specific suggestions on how we can achieve our mission in a better way, please post here and let our collective community review and vet your ideas."

Neil, I think it would be great if you guys put up an area where suggestions could be made. As I said in another post I just wrote, there isn't a place to do that and suggestions made in the current threads would easily get lost in the noise. The current threads pretty much provide an area to complain and ask why TSA does what it does.

Call it "suggestion box" or something. I have some I'd love to float, but I don't have a place to do it, and the current channels of reaching TSA don't work.

Robert

Patrick Henry said...

This blog is a charade designed to make you think that a Federal entity that presupposes your criminal intent cares about you or your travel. I don't buy it. Every single TSA employee I have ever met has either been A. Frightfully incompetent or B. Incomprehensibly rude. This goes all the way to the top as well. I almost prefer flying with National Guardsmen with M16s in the airports like it was in the Spring of 2002, but that will never happen again since they are all busy being maimed and blinded in Fallujah. Thanks TSA, thanks for nothing!

fred G. said...

Neil:

Seems to me the simplest way to allow government to perform its "mission" currently administered by TSA would be to 1: Give the responsibility for screening BACK to the airlines 2) Give the accountability to TSA management and training people currently in place to oversee it, just as FAA oversees aviation in general.

So.....the government winds up still in charge, but the actual screening is not directly done by 'the government." Why is that better? well for starters, the constitutional conflicts would be lessened, because the government would no longer be the direct offender, and with each airline competing for business, a visit by a passenger to their screeners would simply be a 'contractual" provision for riding with that airline. Competition might even make the airlines force each others screeners (or be fired) to be civilized and join the rest of the human race.

Obviously we have a bunch of good ones currently under the employ of TSA that would qualify as hires. The airlines could be require to raise income for this by the government as a ticket surcharge, so that the usual zero sum game of financial competition wouldn't occur, and maybe the screeners could even get decent pay.

I'm sure this suggestion will draw a lot of fire, but it sure isn't any worse than what we're getting from TSA like "suck it up and get use to us. We're here to stay."

Fred G.

Anonymous said...

TSO PHO

I think that your attitude is part of the problem. You said this...

@Randy, choosing to fly is a choice. You either abide by the rules or you don't fly. It doesn't get any more complicated than that.

The problem is that flying is not a privledge, it's a right. I have the right to buy my ticket, the right to travel, and the right to question my government. That does not mean that your rules are automatically correct.

You also say we don't have to post here. That's true, but if the government held a town hall meeting it does not have the right to tell me I can't talk about certain things when it's my turn to speak. This forum is the same idea. You can't tell me what I may or may not say... there is a little thing called the First Amendment that prevents the government from doing so.

Finally, the TSA can say it's policies do not allow theft, or additional screening to punish, etc. etc. etc. However, it happens. It happens a lot. Being told that it doesn't or that it isn't allowed doesn't make it better. Figure out why and stop it. Plain and simple.

It's time for the TSA to be accountable to the public. It's time for the TSA to be transparent. It's time for TSAgents (you're not professional enough to be officers) to be well trained, groomed, polite, and professional. It's time for the TSA to follow the laws of the land. Right now it does none of these things.

He who gives up essential liberty for security deserves neither. Ben Franklin was a pretty smart guy...

Anonymous said...

Laundered Money? I have had times for work where I have to travel with several THOUSAND dollars worth of cash. It's legit and the TSA has no right to ask me about it. None.

Anonymous said...

"The item is not in plain sight. Just as a cop can't search my car without permission or a warrant unless he sees something in plain sight, the same things should apply."

I'm not a 4th Amendment lawyer so please forgive any mis-statements. My understanding is that if the TSO is undertaking a lawful administrative search of a bag for, e.g., a box cutter and sees within the luggage a bag of what appears to be marijuana, that bag of marijuana is in plain sight to the TSO. Francine said that federal law requires the TSO to call a law enforcement officer to investigate. At that point, the LEO has reasonable cause to search the baggage further.

I'm sure that some TSOs are happy to find illegal items, whether they be drugs or child porn, but that does not mean TSA is expanding its administrative search into a criminal one.

H

Neil said...

Quote from Robert Johnson:
Neil, I think it would be great if you guys put up an area where suggestions could be made. As I said in another post I just wrote, there isn't a place to do that and suggestions made in the current threads would easily get lost in the noise. The current threads pretty much provide an area to complain and ask why TSA does what it does.

Call it "suggestion box" or something. I have some I'd love to float, but I don't have a place to do it, and the current channels of reaching TSA don't work.


Robert, it’s a great idea. This blog isn’t perfect for idea generation, collection, voting, etc. As a matter of fact, we launched an internal Web 2.0 application last April that we call, Idea Factory. It works very much like the
Dell Idea Storm
website works. To date we have generated literally thousands of suggestions for improvements and tens of thousands of comments from our employees. Most of these suggestions come from our TSO’s and our folks on the “front line”. The concept was to push idea generation down to the men and women that interface with the passengers on a day to day basis. There is a lot of frank, open discussion on our Idea Factory website.

Our administrator,
Kip Hawley
is urging us to expose a variation of this tool to the public so that we can expand the community of innovators.

So… we very much are trying to deploy better tools to ideate ideas, better policies, processes and solutions. It is a bit of a challenge for us – you would not believe the amount of privacy and IT security regulations we face. I won’t bore you with those details but let me say it makes it very hard for us to be as agile as some of us would like.

Thanks for the suggestions and your active participation.

Neil
TSA Blog Team

Neil said...

@Fred G.
That is a direction that Congress could take in the future. It was a policy point that was debated at the highest level of government in the aftermath of 9/11. Will an FAA-model provide us with the security and cost effectiveness that our citizens expect? Good question, I wouldn’t pretend that I know the answer to that.

One thing about you suggestion that concerns me (other than me being out of a job [grin]); prior to 9/11 when the airlines “ran” airport security, the airlines looked at the function as a cost center and therefore, paid minimum wage. Imagine if we went back to that model… what do you think the level of “customer service” and skill in detecting threats would be? My dad always told me, you get what you pay for.

We have to realize that private corporations are interested in returning profits and value to their shareholders—that is their primary mission. Whereas, with a federal model, the primary motivation is to protect the nation’s transportation systems. Our challenge, as it has been pointed out on this blog many times, is to do it in a highly efficient and effective manner, consistent with the respect for the travelers and their constitutionally protected rights.

Thanks for your suggestions. Keep ‘em coming!

Neil
TSA Blog Team

TSO Tom said...

Please keep in mind that 20% of the airlines' customers make up around 80% of their revenue. These are the frequent travelers who deal with TSA much more often and also are going to be more critical because they see what's going on. So if you're seeing a 4:1 ratio of compliments to complaints, this jives with the fact that most of the people who compliment you don't have to deal with TSA on a regular basis.
***********************************
Robert;
you're keeping me on this forum when I really just want to hang it up. LOL I have to correct you on your statement, I get absolutely NO problems at all with frequent fliers. To the contrary, I get more trouble from first time or infrequent fliers who don't know the rules and don't want to comply with the rules. So the 4 to 1 ratio is comprised partially of frequent fliers as well. Now that's not to say that I don't get an occasional disgruntled frequentl flier, but for the most part they know the rules and they know what to do when they get to the checkpoint. I don't have to tell them to take out their laptop or the liquids from their bags because they already have it done. I don't have to tell them to take off their shoes or their jackets because they know they have to. I don't get many problems in reality, but when I do it is generally someone who either doesn't know the rules (www.tsa.gov is your BEST source of information) or just doesn't care about the rules. Generally, these people are referred to my supervisor. With that Robert, I truly am out of here, but thanks for keeping me on my toes. :-)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Laundered Money? I have had times for work where I have to travel with several THOUSAND dollars worth of cash. It's legit and the TSA has no right to ask me about it. None.

February 22, 2008 5:48 PM

To the contrary, if you are traveling internationally, TSA has the right to question a large amount of cash and to refer such findings to local law enforcement for resolution.

txrus said...

TSO Tom said:

Secondly, the world has changed since 2001 and I'll tell youe exactly how it has changed. Prior to 2001, security at airports was for the most part a big joke! Yes the lines were shorter, but that's because the screening was not as thoroush as it is now. Video reviews of 9/11/01 showed that screeners at two of the airports involved did a sub par job at best. Also, the secondary screening process at that time was below standard by any means. Today's terrorist is more crafty, more daring and more willing to take risks. The one thing we need to be aware of more than ever now, is that a terrorist does not want to get caught and will do whatever he has to do to avoid getting caught. ANYTHING.
**********************************
Tom,

9/11 happened for one reason & one reason only-4 pilots opened the doors to their cockpits. I don't blame them personally-they were following the established policies of their respective airlines, but the fact remains that had those 4 doors remained closed, it's highly likely the Twin Towers would still be standing. There are plenty of objects carried into the cabins of planes all over the world that could be used to cause mayhem (heck, there's probably an old episode of 'MacGyver' that will tell you how to take over a plane w/nothing more than dental floss & a bobby pin), but unless Mr. Terrorist can get into the cockpit, the plane itself cannot be turned into a flying bomb. THAT, & only that, is what will prevent another '9/11' & for that, the TSA can take absolutely NO credit.

Chris Boyce said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The item is not in plain sight. Just as a cop can't search my car without permission or a warrant unless he sees something in plain sight, the same things should apply."

I'm not a 4th Amendment lawyer so please forgive any mis-statements. My understanding is that if the TSO is undertaking a lawful administrative search of a bag for, e.g., a box cutter and sees within the luggage a bag of what appears to be marijuana, that bag of marijuana is in plain sight to the TSO. Francine said that federal law requires the TSO to call a law enforcement officer to investigate. At that point, the LEO has reasonable cause to search the baggage further.

I'm sure that some TSOs are happy to find illegal items, whether they be drugs or child porn, but that does not mean TSA is expanding its administrative search into a criminal one.

H

February 22, 2008 5:52 PM"

My advice is to not make statements such as these if you aren't a fourth amendment lawyer. Your whole premise for searching a bag leading to the "in plain sight" determination is corrupt and unconstitutional. Someday, this whole house of cards you call the TSA is going to come crashing down. That day can't happen soon enough.

I've been a blog lurker until now. I just can't take it any more.

Chris

CowboyBebop said...

Neil,

I work as a trainer and an instructor at SFO. As you may or may not know, we are a private company. The recent USA Today report that exposed some of those covert test results showed that our airport actually detects more of the threats than other TSA airports.

Frankly, the private model works just as the person suggested. TSA oversees us and makes certain that we adhere to TSA's preset standards about operations and training. Yet, we tend to do better, overall, than other TSA airports.

Ok, I am definitely biased, so take my opinion FWIW.

However, our model does work and it works simply by TSA having that contract hanging over our heads. IOW, if we don't adhere to their standards then our contract is yanked. And our TSOs are paid extremely well, even for the bay area. Our TSOs start at $17.76 an hour with free medical for the worker and their partner, as well as free dental for the worker. Granted, we are unionized, so some of that is in play, but we're hardly paid minimum wage.

Randy said...

Phoenix TSO -
Thanks for the condescending comments. but perhaps you could revisit the "rule book."
My quesrion was why do I need to show ID? What is the legal basis? Your saying, "it's a rule," doesn't make it so.
Isn't the rule really, "show a valid ID or get additional screening/"
additional screening that I get anyway because the rule exempts me from removing my ortho shoes.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Kerner's statement is an absolutely correct statement of the law. When you're at a Customs or TSA checkpoint, the Supreme Court has effectively held that the entire Bill of Rights magically disappears. At the checkpoint, a passenger has no rights whatsoever, and is presumed guilty until the screener or officer decides you're not. The only law that applies is the whim and caprice of the officer who happens to be handling your screening or interrogation. Regardless of what any official "policy" says, if you give the officer any reason to dislike you, he or she has complete authority to inspect and your person and/or dismember or confiscate your belongings as he or she sees fit, and to make you as miserable and humiliated as he or she deems necessary. And there's nothing you can do about it, as any hint of complaining or disobedience will only give reason to escalate the humiliating treatment.

The only thing you can do is to be fully cognizant of the fact that you have no rights and you're entirely at the mercy of the officer you're facing. Approaching the checkpoint with the correct humble attitude, and with a demeanor that shows full respect, submissive docility, and above all complete and immediate obedience to their every word, MAY reduce the likelihood of giving them reason to assert their authority. But there are no guarantees of anything.

TSOs, Customs agents, and anyone with a badge deserves total respect and complete submission to their absolute authority. Many of these officials are highly competent and professonal and merit respect because they and have earned it through the respect they show. But those who aren't highly competent and professional merit even more respect because they're the ones most eager to inflict punishment for failing to show respect.

Jay Maynard said...

TSO Tom: I get absolutely NO problems at all with frequent fliers.

Don't take that as agreement. Frequent fliers are just as unhappy as everyone else. We've just learned to keep our mouths shut so we can keep our jobs.

I have to put up with the TSA. I have to do what the individual I'm dealing with says I have to do, no matter whether or not it's what the TSA says I have to do on its website or this blog. I don't have to agree with its unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, and just plain fattening policies.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this!!!!!

You TSA guys haven't a clue as to who you are dealing with when you try
to respond to and justify yourselves and your employer.

TSA TSO NY said...

Why doesn't the TSA general counsel do something to prevent TSA employees from asking to copy down a passenger's identification when he/she requests a complaint form?

Because we are allowed to! We have the right to ask you for your ID at any time while you are transitting through the CP. If you decide to file a claim/complaint or whatever we have the right to ask you for your ID. We do this for various reasons. You may not (I'm sure you won't) believe me, but asking for your ID can actually protect your interests. If, for example, you file a claim for damage, asking for your ID lets us file an incident report on our end and validates date and time that you actually came through so we can process your claim. Without this, it's difficult to determine when/where the damage occured. We have been told as Supervisors that ANYTIME a passenger asks for a claim form we are to fill out an incident report. In order to do that, we need your ID.

I have filed several reports when laptops have been dropped off a belt. Those reports have all been instrumental in getting the pax reimbursed. TSA DOES pay out damage claims. Some people will claim otherwise but as this is a HUGE beaurocracy, sometimes things happen. I won't say they don't but having that report filed can only help you.

As far as us retaliating against you when you give us your ID, PLEASE!! We really have better thing to do then send your name on to "Big Brother" to put you on some list someplace.

As far as being sent for additional screening when you want to file a complaint. Sorry, but it does happen. Sometimes, by the time a complaint form is asked for, the situation is elevated and a LEO is called. Sometimes a Supervisor determines that your behavior is out of the ordinary (yelling and cursing are out of the ordinary) and secondary screening is warranted.

Occasionally, you will be sent for extra screening as retaliation. Sorry again, not condoned, but I won't lie. Deal with it civilly, submit to the screening (why risk getting arrested - after all, you will be the one doing the yelling, looking bad, not us) but THEN FILE A COMPLAINT with the Head of the airport, the FSD, TSA, whoever. Get names of the TSO and the Supervisor. You may not get satisfaction there but as I've said on here before, no FSD (Federal Security Director) wants a complaint about his airport to go over his head. It makes him look bad so he WILL take disciplinary action. We have fired TSOs for this type of behavior. It may not be immediate satisfaction, but wouldn't you rather get an apology from the FSD then a lowly TSO anyway?

I do, however, dare ONE single person on this site who has filed a claim with TSA to post that after that complaint, they started to become a selectee or something similar. Get off the conspiracy train folks!!

What are the consequences to TSA employees who do this?

None. We are allowed to ask for your information.

Face it, even if we didn't ask you for it, we would simply walk over to the airline and get it from them anyway.

However, as I said, we are not allowed to retaliate against you. File a complaint.

Anonymous said...

To cowboybebop - SFE has some advanced equipment but the real data shows the privatized airports are in the middle of the pack when compared apples to apples. Not much better, not much worse. It also shows they have a considerable additional cost than a federalized airport. You may not believe it because of the spin but if I'm sure the program office could provide the proof. The real question is...is TSA upper management willing to talk about it??

Sandra said...

tsa tso ny wrote:

"'Why doesn't the TSA general counsel do something to prevent TSA employees from asking to copy down a passenger's identification when he/she requests a complaint form?'

Because we are allowed to! We have the right to ask you for your ID at any time while you are transitting through the CP. If you decide to file a claim/complaint or whatever we have the right to ask you for your ID. We do this for various reasons. You may not (I'm sure you won't) believe me, but asking for your ID can actually protect your interests. If, for example, you file a claim for damage, asking for your ID lets us file an incident report on our end and validates date and time that you actually came through so we can process your claim. Without this, it's difficult to determine when/where the damage occured. We have been told as Supervisors that ANYTIME a passenger asks for a claim form we are to fill out an incident report. In order to do that, we need your ID."

You are a government agency. Where is the Privacy Statement that government agencies are required to present to individuals when taking information from them?

No one from the TSA seems to want to address that issue.

Come on, tell us.

Jeff from DHS said...

TSO Tom:

Terrorists are more "crafty" since 9/11? Really? Which ones?

-Richard Reid, the man who tried to give himself the hotfoot?
-Jose Padilla, an uneducated gangbanger who wanted to build a nuke with plans from the internet, then eventually settled on the dastardly plan of leaving the gas on in his apartment?
-Iyman Faris, who wanted to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch?
-The "Miami Seven," who, despite having no plans, no funds, no equipment, no weapons, no training, no explosives, wanted to bring down the Sears Tower?
-The London bomb plot guys who wanted to manufacture TATP on an airplane (which is impossible)?
-The Fort Dix guys, whose plan was to drive onto an Army base (a place filled with people toting weapons) and shoot it up?
-The JFK plotters who wanted to blow up an airport by setting gas lines on fire (gas lines burn; they don't explode)?
-The 2007 London bombers who left petrol and no oxidizer in a car and hoped it would blow up?
-The guys at the Glasgow airport whose plan was to drive their car into some bollards and then run around on fire?

Really? These are "crafty" people? This is evidently some peculiar usage of the word "crafty" with which I was previously unfamiliar.

Anonymous said...

Robert Said:

What people complain about is the fact that looking for drugs, laundered money, etc. Those are not prohibited items (though they may be illegal) and fall outside the scope of the consent to search.


Outside the scope of consent? Where does it say that at? First of all, by placing your items on the x-ray belt, you are consenting to any search deemed necessary by a TSO. That consent is not revokable once a discovery of illegal activity has been made. Let's look at the law regarding "administrative searches" or "proprietary searches", they are the same thing. For instance, if you have a permit to carry a concealed firearm, and you frequent a store that has a no weapons policy, although that policy may be against your individual right to bear arms, you can not dispute it! Your only choice is NOT to frequent that particular store. Now back to illegal activities that are discovered during the screening process: If you have a bag search for lets say, liquids and during this search it is discovered that you have a pound of weed in your bag, this is an illegal activity that has been discovered "coincidentally" to the intended search. It is NOT outside the scope of consent the privacy act does not apply, (go ahead and look it up), and it must be referred to law enforcement. On the other hand, since large sums of cash are sometimes used to support terrorist activities, a discovery of say 30 or 40 k during a bag search on a passenger who is traveling to lets say Syria would also have to be referred to law enforcement. NOT outside the scope of consent, and subject to scrutiny. So you see, when you fly you "imply" consent and "implied" consent is legal and not protected under the constitution during an administrative search. FYI, I am not a lawyer, but have been in the private security field for nearly 20 years, so I would think I know what I'm talking about. Would the TSA attorney like to clarify what I've stated?

Anonymous said...

Just a snippet of what the courts have ruled on airport searches:

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/court-says-trav.html

Anonymous said...

The post wrote
[quote]
it is not TSA's policy to subject anyone to additional screening because of their political views or complaints about the screening process.
[end quote]

My question is whether it is TSA's policy to not subject anyone to additional screening because of their political views or complaints about the screening process, and if not, why not?

James

Bob Hanssen said...

Anonymous @ 1408:

"FYI, I am not a lawyer...."

Judging by your remarks, this is pretty obvious. The point of view and judgments you expressed in your post are convoluted at best and criminal at worst.

My guess is that you are one of those screeners who would see a joint or two in somebody's back-pack going through the x-ray and see no other item that would prompt a bag check. You would call for a bag check knowing that you would "find" the pot incidental to a search for a prohibited item that didn't exist in the first place.

I hope that Francine has advised all screeners to take out personal liability policies, because you're just the type of screener that Mr. Nelson (many posts ago) proposed "setting up" in order to get this type of illegal practice stopped.

The myopic world view you espouse in your writing is very typical of your entire agency and the entire administration for that matter.

It's pretty clear to me that you have no idea what constitutes a legal and illegal search. My guess is that most of your fellow screeners also have no idea.

R. Hanssen

Anonymous said...

Bob Hanssen said...
Anonymous @ 1408:

"FYI, I am not a lawyer...."

Judging by your remarks, this is pretty obvious. The point of view and judgments you expressed in your post are convoluted at best and criminal at worst.

My guess is that you are one of those screeners who would see a joint or two in somebody's back-pack going through the x-ray and see no other item that would prompt a bag check. You would call for a bag check knowing that you would "find" the pot incidental to a search for a prohibited item that didn't exist in the first place.

I hope that Francine has advised all screeners to take out personal liability policies, because you're just the type of screener that Mr. Nelson (many posts ago) proposed "setting up" in order to get this type of illegal practice stopped.

The myopic world view you espouse in your writing is very typical of your entire agency and the entire administration for that matter.

It's pretty clear to me that you have no idea what constitutes a legal and illegal search. My guess is that most of your fellow screeners also have no idea.

R. Hanssen

February 23, 2008 5:00 PM

Mr. Hanson, please tell the audiance what your law background is and what does constitute a legal or illegal search in your hubmle opinion? As I stated, I've been in the security field for nearly 20 years, am quite aware of the laws in my State and of Federal laws as well regarding searches. Not a lawyer but I know what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the General Counsel can clarify if the TSA requires its employees to copy the information from a passengers ID when they ask for a complaint form.

PHX TSO posted on February 22 that in his airport you do not need to show an ID to get a complaint form. On February 23 TSA TSO NY says they are required to get a passengers ID information by their supervisor.

I'm confused either TSA does or does not require a passenger to show their ID to get a complaint form. Or is this another case of TSA using their discretion. Just like some airports require all electronics out and other don't.

Bob Hanssen said...

Anonymous,

I can tell by the numerous misspellings (including my surname) in your post at 6:32 that you are becoming quite angry.

My background consists of a 30+ year career at the state and federal level in law enforcement and counterintelligence. I have a dual-major BS/BA degree and an MBA. I've had numerous postings throughout the US in various large cities.

Let's just leave the search discussion with the thought that, had I conducted searches in the manner the TSA conducts searches, most, if not all, of the evidence I obtained would have been thrown out of court, and I would have had a very short law enforcement career.

I think the main difference is that my line of work has accountability and rigorous internal and external oversight that is not present in the TSA. It's regrettable and at times embarrassing to read about what goes on at a checkpoint.

R. Hanssen

Anonymous said...

You screeners and the bosses need a 3 meter pole.
Why won't anyone in an official capacity address the Privacy Act requirements when you write down personal information about us.
You need ID to protect us? Please! If a complaint is just that, and not a claim for property, why do you need ID info?
What law even requires ID to fly?

Anonymous said...

It's great to hear that it is not TSA's policy to subject anyone to additional screening because of their political views or complaints about the screening process. However, you then say that threatening a security officer may trigger additional screening.

1) If we believe that we have been subjected to additional screening due to our political views or complaints about the screening process, what steps does TSA enable us to take to ensure that the TSA personnel who have violated our rights in this manner (our rights to free speech and to equal treatment under the law) is appropriately reprimanded or disciplined?

2) What steps has TSA taken to ensure that TSA staff can not abuse innocent passengers because of the passengers' political beliefs or complaints about the screening process by falsely claiming that the passenger threatened them?

If you do not have audio and video recordings of the passenger's appearance and remarks while they are in the screening area and while they are interacting with TSA staff to demonstrate that the passenger actually threatened a TSA officer, your policy against subjecting passengers to additional screening due to their political views or complaints about the process is a fraud, because the officer can do whatever they want simply by falsely claiming that they were threatened by the passenger.

Anonymous said...

"Chance said...
Mr. Johnson, I'm not understanding how a screener could be expected to ignore a white powdery substance carried in a condom (a common method of drug transportation). I just don't see how it is possible for a screener to ignore what appears to be a blatently illegal item during the course of their duties.

Chance - EoS Blog Team"

Chance, when I travel by means other than flying, I sometimes take with me little baggies full of white powder that looks like what I imagine cocaine looks like.

Sometimes it's laundry detergent.

Sometimes it's sugar for my cocoa.

It's never cocaine.

You see that a passenger has a condom filled with white powder. Yup, it could be cocaine. It could also be laundry detergent: maybe they figured out that a condom is a cheap and easy way to carry a small amount of powder, and they're only bringing half as much clothes as they needed for their trip because their bag is too small. You could ask them what it is and see if they have a reasonable explanation for it or if they say something stupid, but otherwise, if all you have is "oh my god, they have a condom filled with white powder", you have no probable cause to assume it's cocaine and not laundry detergent. Or sugar.

Crowbars are common weapons, but citizens have every right to own one to use to help fix their car. Baseball bats are also common weapons, but citizens have every right to own one to play baseball. Just because something *might* be used in an illegal manner isn't probable cause. You have to assume it is only intended for its innocent purpose first, unless you have some other reason to believe it is being used illegally.

TSO PHX said...

@ Randy, TSA realizes that some people are unable to remove their shoes. We have an alternate screening for this type of situation.

Passengers without valid ID are put thru additional screening. I fail to see the problem.

PHX TSO said...

@ Jay maynard, You sound as if you know the procedures, and you know the process. You have had some bad experiences... but from what I have read from your comments I don't believe TSA is totally at fault. Like a teenager fighting a curfew by purposely arriving home ten minutes late to prove a point even though there is going to be consequences, your attitude toward the screening process could be causing much of your problems. You hate having to go thru additional screening. I totally get that. It's time consuming and the thought of a stranger puting their hands on my belongings would not make me happy either. I doubt anyone is at home packing a suitcase and saying "I sure hope I get additional screening at the airport today". The screening process was not meant to be an excrutiating process. For most people it is not.

Marshall said...

A typical statement from one who will not take responsibility for his own actions, but rather blames others:

Robert;
you're keeping me on this forum when I really just want to hang it up.


The above from "tso tom"

TSO PHX said...

@ anonymous, I agree there are various food items that at first glance do look scary(or illegal). Thats why TSA occasionally takes a closer look.

It is true, you can own a baseball bat or a crow bar. You just can't hand carry them onto a plane.

Anonymous said...

Just put things like baseball bats in checked baggage. No big deal.

Anonymous said...

How does TSA lawyers justify treating one particular religious group differently than all other religious groups?

Isn't there something in the law about treating one group the same as any other group?

SkyWayManAz said...

I couldn't help but laugh when I read the remark on the TSO who said he got 4 compliments for every complaint. This doesn't mean I don't believe them. It very well could be true and kudos to them then. But still why did I laugh? Probably because from what we've seen and then read on here TSO's have behaved less then professionally repeatedly.

I remember going through Colorado Springs airport once with my brother. We were both talking to each other as we approached the podium. The TSO's were polite and professional to my brother. Then when they checked my boarding pass these same two TSO's suddenly turned very nasty towards me. No there was not SSSS on it. It was not my behavior or even me saying anything because I didn't. We both kind of looked at each other afterwards like what was that all about?

The only thing that seemed to make sense was we behaved to the TSO's in a manner that said we knew each other. We had identical last names and were on different flights to different cities. Now yes that could be seen as suspicious. I could even understand if they wanted secondary screening, they didn't. They were just suddenly very mean and nasty barking commands at me. Experiences like that don't help endear the TSA to the public.

Lying to the public doesn't help either. The winter TSA started I was "randomly" selected 9 times in a row for secondary screening. No SSSS, no bad attitude on my part. Someone finally told me the sweatshirt I was wearing was why they selected me. Well sadly in hindsight I can see how that would be suspicious. Sadly I can also see how lying to me and saying it was "random" might make things go smoother for the TSO's. However things like that really erode credibility. If someone had been honest with me to begin with I wouldn't have felt like I was picked on repeatedly for no reason. I stopped wearing sweatshirts and the "random" inspections vanished immediately.

I should say I've had two really helpful TSO's to be fair. One in Phoenix who subjected my bag to extra screening because of the electronic equipment and private pilot gear in it. I have no problem whatsoever with a TSO doing this in front of me done politely and professionally. Another was a contract screener in Kansas City who thanked me for having all my private pilot gear packed in clear ziplog bags. It made it easy for him to unpack without spilling things everywhere.

Tom said...

Marshall said...
A typical statement from one who will not take responsibility for his own actions, but rather blames others:

Robert;
you're keeping me on this forum when I really just want to hang it up.

The above from "tso tom"

February 24, 2008 8:50 AM
***********************************
Marshall, Marshall Marshall....thanks for the humor. But you are mistaken, I do take responsibiltiy for my own actions, every day. I perform MY job to 110 percent. I smile at the passengers, and say good morning and have a great day, and they return in kind. I have not ever denied that there were improvements needed, or that some TSO's were a little over zealous for that matter. Hell some of us are just plain fed up! But like I said in an earlier post, they eventually either leave on their own, or get weeded out by management. Its not their fault really, they started out with good intentions, but the crap that they faced every day became too much for them. I have a suggestion for all the complainers on this forum, try smiling when you show up at the checkpoint, it really does wonders for those with bad attitudes. Kill them with kindness and things will be much easier for everyone. Bottom line folks, TSA is the result of some people with bad intentions who wanted to become martyrs for a cause. They didn't care who they hurt, or if they even survived to tell about it. Hell they were prepared to die and they did. The public demanded action, and our president took action, but what happens when the public becomes dissatisfied? They gripe and complain and moan. Keep in mind that TSA is a young organization and the only way change will be brought about is by objective criticism, not by obnoxious complaints. Object if you must, you don't have to agree with the rules, and if you're tactful enough about it, your suggestions may be implemented. Sometimes I come off a little hard, we all do. But I take offense at some of the people in here who offer no real suggestions, just complaints. That being said, I'm sure someone will copy and paste PART of my statement into another post and make it look like I said something I didn't. In the Presidential race its called dirty politics, what do we call it on a forum like this? Anyway Marshall, thanks for the humor and for keeping things alive. Have a great day.

Jim Huggins said...

On IDs & complaint forms ... it seems to me that the real problem is that there's a lack of communication. It sounds like the situation is proceeding as follows:

1. Passenger asks TSO for complaint form.
2. TSO gives complaint form and simultaneously begins to fill out incident report. The incident report requires identity information from the passenger.
3. TSO asks passenger for ID (in order to fill out form.

Notice, though, that the passenger never sees step 2. All the passenger sees is his/her request for a complaint form followed by a request for an ID.

It seems to me that if the TSO were to explain to the passenger that the TSO was filling out an incident report FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PASSENGER, and that ID will help the report be handled more effectively, you might cut down on some of the stress. Not all of it, of course, but every little bit helps.

Mat said...

This should apply to TSA as well:

IRS Non-Retaliation Policy


Section 1203 of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA ’98), created a statutory provision requiring termination of IRS employment for misconduct. Section 1203(a) provides that the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue shall terminate the employment of any employee of the Internal Revenue Service if there is a final administrative or judicial determination that such employee committed any act or omission described under subsection (b) in the performance of the employee’s official duties. One of the acts described in subsection (b) is retaliation.

Section 1203 (b)(6) provides that:

Violations of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Department of Treasury regulations, or policies of the Internal Revenue Service (including the Internal Revenue Manual) for the purpose of retaliating against, or harassing, a taxpayer, taxpayer representative, or other employee of the Internal Revenue Service.

is an act or omission requiring termination.

IRM Section 6.751.1.1 addresses administrative disciplinary matters. Exhibit 6.751.1-1 is the Internal Revenue Service Guide for Penalty Determinations. Violations of RRA ’98, Section 1203 (b)(6) is included in the Guide for Penalty Determinations. This Exhibit shows that the penalty for a First Offense for an RRA ‘98 1203 (b)(6) offense is removal.

Anonymous said...

Jim Huggins said...
On IDs & complaint forms ... it seems to me that the real problem is that there's a lack of communication. It sounds like the situation is proceeding as follows:

1. Passenger asks TSO for complaint form.
2. TSO gives complaint form and simultaneously begins to fill out incident report. The incident report requires identity information from the passenger.
3. TSO asks passenger for ID (in order to fill out form.

Notice, though, that the passenger never sees step 2. All the passenger sees is his/her request for a complaint form followed by a request for an ID.

It seems to me that if the TSO were to explain to the passenger that the TSO was filling out an incident report FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PASSENGER, and that ID will help the report be handled more effectively, you might cut down on some of the stress. Not all of it, of course, but every little bit helps.

February 24, 2008 9:33 PM

Excellent Suggestion

Anonymous said...

It's been several days now and still no attempt to address the many questions posted here regarding TSA's obligations to the public under the Privacy Act.

Could you just save us all a lot of time and declare that this blog is just a big PR act and that anytime a question gets a little too inconvenient it will be totally ignored?

Dave X the first said...

Anonymous said...

This isn't about law. It's about appearances. My uncle died last night. My 86 year old mother and 84 year old father are DRIVING three days, minimum, to go to his funeral. The TSA is the reason they are not flying. My mother is terrified of being forced to take off her shoes, afraid she won't be able to get them back on.

#############################

Anonymous's parents probably won't die during their trip, but it is more risky for even non-aged persons to drive rather then fly. this table compares risks of death and shows that per-vehicle-mile, the risks are about the same. Per passenger-mile, however, the airlines are much safer because we have more passengers per plane than per car.

If TSA is what is scaring your parents into driving, that fear is causing perhaps a 20-100-fold increase in their chance of dying.

As for those pro-TSA posters here who advise people to drive: If you are sincere about that, you are asking people to be much risker.

The "minor" inconveniences of TSA are significant when they visit them upon 2,000,000 people per day. If they make a flight more of a pain than the drive for a significant number of people, they are making us less safe. Terrorists did it to us in 2001, now it's the TSA security theatre that is killing us.

I do not respect the TSA because it seems it spends more time puffing up the threat and downplaying its costs than showing any real risk analysis. I worked in the automotive manufacturing safety industry, and that "security theatre" is exactly what our salesmen sold.

It has been interesting to see that TSA's silence on the Privacy Act smells as bad to lawyers as TSA's silence on risk analysis and detection systems do to me.

Bob Hanssen said...

Mat -- Great research.

"This should apply to TSA as well:

IRS Non-Retaliation Policy.."

There's one big flaw in your comparison. The IRS is accountable to the American people and to Congress. The TSA and DHS are accountable to nobody.

Ayn R. Key said...

It is well known that complaining about the ineptitude and incompetence of the TSA will get you additional screening. Why deny it AGAIN?

Marshall said...

Tom, Tom, Tom - show me where I quoted you out of context as you allege I did.

Can't do it? Didn't think so.

Ayn R. Key said...

The Airlines don't have full leeway on whether or not to quad-S a ticket. Most of the time it is done because the TSA said "here are the rules, you must do it in these circumstances." It's very disingenuous of the TSA to turn around and say "the airline put it there and that's why we screen them."

PhxTso, well well well, it is true that if we obey all the rules, even the unconstitutional ones, even the nonsensical ones, we are less likely to get harassed. Does that mean following unconstitutional and nonsensical rules is the right thing to do? According to you it is. I prefer the USA to that particular USSA point of view.

Jay Maynard said...

TSO PHX: Ever hear the expression, "One aw**** wipes out a thousand attaboys"? It's true. I've had enough aw****s to wipe out a million or so. (It's an exponential curve.)

Yes, I'm quite familiar with the process. I approach every checkpoint the same way, by stopping before I get there and removing my laptop from my briefcase and my CPAP and medication bag from my carryon, and putting the entire contents of my pockets, my watch, my iPhone in its holster, and my belt in my briefcase and my jacket (if I'm wearing one) in my carryon. All I have to do when I get to the table before the X-ray is to pull my pants back up, put my CPAP in the first bin, my laptop in the second, my shoes in the third (most of the time, I don't get yelled at for this), my carryon on its back on the belt, my briefcase on the belt, pull my pants back up, then declare the medication bag to the X-ray operator (I'm required to, since it's got liquid medications in it, but this seems to confuse most folks) and put it on the belt.

I then go through the magnetometer, show my boarding pass to the person there, pull my pants back up, collect my stuff from the belt, wait for the CPAP to be tested, pull my pants back up again, carry all of that over to a table or bench, repack everything the way it needs to be, then (with my pants securely held up by my belt once more) take my two carried items to the gate.

It's not just going through additional screening that got me started with the unitards. It's that twice, at two separate airports on the same trip (Minneapolis and Little Rock), I was selected for secondary screening for no apparent reason (no SSSS), and the person who did it didn't explain what he was doing in even the slightest detail. When it happened in Little Rock, I said, "STOP!" loudly when the person was groping me. That got the superviros over, and he at least told me what was going on - and when I told him that was the second time it had happened, he had the unmitigated gall to tell me that U should know what to expect! Since the TSA takes great pleasure in telling people they shouldn't know what to expect, this really got me mad, although I did not raise my voice or use any intemperate language (I am very careful to never do that, because it triggers a retaliatory groping).

When I sent an email complaint, I got a reply from the TSA manager for Minneapolis saying the right things - but he attached a copy of the email he got from the TSA manager at Little Rock asking if I was for real or just a chronic complainer. I knew when I saw that that the TSA doesn't care what the average traveler thinks of it.

This all ties back into the subject of professionalism. A professional does his job to the same standard no matter what his personal feelings are (something the TSA managers in Greensboro, NC and Columbus, OH apparently don't understand), and no matter what kind of abuse he gets (something very few TSA personnel seem to understand). I was more professional as a volunteer paramedic than the majority of TSA people I interact with.

Want me to get rid of that pile of aw****s? It's simple: Act professionally. Don't retaliate for complaints. Give me a meaningful means of recourse when abuses happen. Lose the power trip.

I doubt it'll happen, but I'm prepared to be surprised.

John Walker said...

Where's the "Dialogue?"

Hey, Francine, read your own blog intro:

"This blog is sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process."

Many posters have raised legitimate legal issues and you have been conspicuous by your silence.

To you intend to engage in a "dialogue" as your blog proclaims, or, are you just going to be another TSA SES employee who is unresponsive and unaccountable to the taxpayers?

I would turn your attention to this thread on http://www.flyertalk.com: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=793172

Many frequent posters with legal backgrounds have noted the fallicies in many of the cases you cited. It sounds like a good legal debate is in order, yet you have done what the TSA does best -- retreat when you take criticism and count on the short attention span of the American People.

I would believe you if you said that we had presented so many legitimate issues that you and your legal staff were spending full time performing the legal review of the TSA's practices and policies that you should havebeen doing for the last 7 years.

Hope to hear from you soon.

John

Anonymous said...

Wonder what happened to the postings under "inconsistancies?" Is this gone forever?

Neil said...

@anonymous....

Older posts and their comments can be found under the "Archives" link on the right-hand side of the page. The inconsistencies post has 543 comments. We cut-off further comments on a given post after 250 - 300 comments so that the page can still load quickly.

-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Neil said...

@anonymous...

Ok, I see we are getting a server error with the "inconsistencies" blog post. I'll look into that today and see if I can get it working again.

Thanks for the catch.

-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Shoes? Shoes? I have to take off my shoes? Your job is not to provide protection to the public but to appease the media and make people think they are protected. The TSA is the biggest waste of time, money and energy in the history of our planet.

The sooner you are disbanded the better our lives will all be.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. I can bring my crocket hook on the plane in PHL, but - I can expect to get them taken away when I go through LAX.

In LAX when I ask why, I am told they are not allowed, and I say, "but they were allowed in PHL" - and I get a blank stare.

So, if you are taking them away - because you think I am MacGyver and will bring down a plane with my crotchet hook... then shouldn't I be arrested. Because I tell you what, you may not think I am a terrorist - but I sure think you are a jackbooted thug.

Ayn R. Key said...

Here's a question you are going to ignore.

You have stated "it is not our policy to give extra screening to those who complain."

You have not yet stated "it is our policy to not give extra screening to those who complain."

I moved one word, and it makes a big difference. In the former statement you can retaliate, it's just not policy. In the latter statement you cannot retaliate.

Do you, the blog team and the lawyer that was invited to write a blog entry, endorse the second statement? Is it your policy to not give extra screening to those who complain, or is it merely not your policy to give extra screening to those who complain?

Michael said...

While it is easy to say it is the TSA's policy not go allow it's screeners and contracted employees to engage in retaliatory attacks, people have been complaining that that is, indeed, the case for years. And it's quite easy to brush them off when you use the oh-so-convenient screen of "national security" to prevent people from electronically documenting the horrible way we are treated by these uneducated, unprofessional employees. If anyone dares to stand up to the ignorant way they are treated, you immediately label that "threatening" your employees.

If "national security" were actually all that important to the TSA, you wouldn't be allowing unskilled, low-level, minimum wage people with no education to be doing the job.

Michael said...

"2) If you don't agree with our policy then don't fly"

First of all, it's not "your" policy. It's a policy set by the TSA which pays your employers on a contract and they hire you. Your use of the pronoun "our" implies that you actually have something to do with formulating the policy.

Second, how about "If you can't do your job in a calm professional manner, without abusing your 'authority' you get another job?" See how that works?

A random Senior Airman said...

I under stand the job of the TSA, Good idea on paper, but then again so was communism. What you seem to forget is the human factor. Sure the underpaid over worked youth working there has rules, but then again he is also given god like powers as well. I am in the United States Air Force, in the European Command. I frequently fly home to the states from Germany. The security measures in Germany are Night and Day from the states, Yet are more effective.

I got questioned on why i brought a full sized bottle of saline for my contacts. When i told them 3oz wouldn't work because of staying home for a month the Lady smiled. I brought the near empty bottle in the nifty ziploc bags provided by the belligerent woman standing at the back of the line. I was greeted by a young man who was convinced my Military Id was not valid form of identification, My leave paperwork which allows me to fly from country of origin back to the states was invalid. then after i convince him, yes i am in the military i am allowed to proceed. to next be greeted by the man ushering me through the metal detector. Now my Class A uniform is in the inspectors Eyes, posing a security risk. So he proceeds to remove all my Medals, awards, decorations, and pin on insignia to verify they are legit. AFTER i had spent better part of an hour aligning them to look the best they can be.

I will not even go through the debacle i encountered when i had to explain to the TSO i was carrying Secret level cryptographic material and he was unauthorized to view or touch it.

All in all i am saying, everything is great on paper, and the ideas are not bad at all. But before one refers me back to their rules, and reciting a speech i hear all so often. Stop and become a normal individual at the Terminal, and see the foolishness we have, and then see the simplicity and effectiveness other countries use and try to learn some lessons from them.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Ayn R. Key said...

" Here's a question you are going to ignore.

You have stated "it is not our policy to give extra screening to those who complain."

You have not yet stated "it is our policy to not give extra screening to those who complain."

I moved one word, and it makes a big difference. In the former statement you can retaliate, it's just not policy. In the latter statement you cannot retaliate.

Do you, the blog team and the lawyer that was invited to write a blog entry, endorse the second statement? Is it your policy to not give extra screening to those who complain, or is it merely not your policy to give extra screening to those who complain?"

The problem is that some of the complaining is about extra screening that is already going to be happening. If a passenger has been chosen for random extra screening and they complain, their complaint isn't going to get them out of the extra screening. If that were so, all the terrorists would have to do is complain, and they'd get us to give in.

Extra random screening isn't a punishment to complainers, but a requirement of our jobs.

TSA screener

Anonymous said...

If you buy a plane ticket and approach the security checkpoint in order to proceed through and board a plane, you are VOLUNTARILY submitting to the security search procedures. Regardless of whether or not you "FEEL" it is voluntary, by law, it is BY CONSENT that you are going through. Therefore, no search or seizure (of drugs or anything else) is out of bounds for TSA. Also, this voluntary search means Privacy Act and Constitutional Rights are not at issue. YOU CONSENTED to the search when you ARRIVED at the security checkpoint!

Anonymous said...

AL SAID:

Also, I'm still waiting for a response to the complaint I filed eight months ago.

********************

Where/with whom did you file your complaint, Al? Was it directly with TSA at the airport? With the airline? With the FAA? With another air travel entity?

IF YOU CONTACTED THE TSA CONTACT CENTER: The TSA Contact Center can verify if/when you sent them a complaint by email or called with one. They can also verify when a reply was sent/given. Many times, responses sent by the TSA Contact Center via email get caught in e-mail spam filters of those waiting for a reply. TSA cannot help it if your spam filter prohibits / restricts their response.

Bob Hanssen said...

" Anonymous said...
If you buy a plane ticket and approach the security checkpoint in order to proceed through and board a plane, you are VOLUNTARILY submitting to the security search procedures. Regardless of whether or not you "FEEL" it is voluntary, by law, it is BY CONSENT that you are going through. Therefore, no search or seizure (of drugs or anything else) is out of bounds for TSA. Also, this voluntary search means Privacy Act and Constitutional Rights are not at issue. YOU CONSENTED to the search when you ARRIVED at the security checkpoint!

February 26, 2008 1:06 PM"

I don't know where to start.

I just hope you don't have a job where you interact with the flying public with this perspective on the laws of this land.

Anonymous said...

" Also, this voluntary search means Privacy Act and Constitutional Rights are not at issue."

So you must believe that one surrenders their constitutional rights when traveling by commercial air.

Make sure your liability insurance is in order. You may find a need for it!

Ayn R. Key said...

TSA Screener, you did not answer the question. Instead you threw out a red herring.

I didn't ask about someone who is selected and then complains. I asked about someone wo complains and then is selected.

So, is any TSO, blog writer, or blog writer's lawyer consultant going to answer my comment about whether or not there is a specific policy against retaliatory screening, or whether there is simply no policy stating that there will be retaliatory screening?

We know there is not a policy to give extra screening to those who complain. Is there a policy against extra screening to those who complain?

Anonymous said...

MICHAEL BLOGGED - If "national security" were actually all that important to the TSA, you wouldn't be allowing unskilled, low-level, minimum wage people with no education to be doing the job.
***************************

Michael, if you had ever READ the required skills/qualifications, job description and startig salary for TSOs, you would readily see that they are definitely NOT "unskilled, low-level, minimum wage...no education" employees. Clearly, it is YOU who are without a proper education ---- at least as far as TSA employees are concerned.

Sean said...

The phrase "lying scum" comes to mind...

Nevermind that TSA have threatend and actually had people arrested for the crime of simply asking the 'wrong' questions.

11th Commandment: Thou shall not question TSA at any time.

Michael said...

MICHAEL BLOGGED - If "national security" were actually all that important to the TSA, you wouldn't be allowing unskilled, low-level, minimum wage people with no education to be doing the job.
***************************

Michael, if you had ever READ the required skills/qualifications, job description and startig salary for TSOs, you would readily see that they are definitely NOT "unskilled, low-level, minimum wage...no education" employees. Clearly, it is YOU who are without a proper education ---- at least as far as TSA employees are concerned.

-====================-
As loathe as I am to bother responding to someone that hides behind "anonymous," I'm going to have to.

The TSA may POST as MANY job qualitifications as it WANTS. Those of us that have to DEAL with TSA employees in REAL LIFE know that what is OUT THERE in action isn't what is IN the job description.

Quite SIMILAR to the TSA SAYING that retaliatory actions by its EMPLOYEES aren't condoned and WHAT happens being SO DIFFERENT.

Anonymous said...

However, threatening a security officer may trigger additional screening.

Define "threatening a security officer." Asking for a supervisor is not a threat. Asking for more time to gather stuff and repack is not a threat. Asking to watch while one's bag is searched is not a threat. Commenting that a TSO removed something that is not illegal is not a threat. Asking for a complaint form is not a threat. Asking for a TSOs name and badge number is not a threat.

TSOs are not God, and standing up for one's own rights is not a threat to the "Almighty" TSA.

Just because "it's not policy" to retaliate through secondary screening or requesting additional personal information of the passenger does not mean these trespasses do not occur.

Don't be condescending, Francine. We wouldn't be complaining if it wasn't happening.

Anonymous said...

An error (500 Internal Server Error) has occured in response to this request.

This comes up whenever Inconsistancies is selected. This isn't the way a blog is supposed to be run. Please either get it fixed or delete the entry

S Anthony said...

Blogger Chance said...

Mr. Johnson, I'm not understanding how a screener could be expected to ignore a white powdery substance carried in a condom (a common method of drug transportation). I just don't see how it is possible for a screener to ignore what appears to be a blatently illegal item during the course of their duties.


Yes, you ignore it because the finding of any item outside the scope of the administrative search is protected, regardless of the flawed court ruling that did an end-around this issue. The court did not address the core issue - whether or not an administrative search can morph into a criminal search without re-establishing the searchee's 4th and 5th Amendment rights. The only legal and Constitutional way to do this, is for the police to either ask permission to conduct a 'criminal search' (the search must be identified as such), secure a warrant, or permit the searchee to refuse the search and leave. If the searchee gives permission or a warrant is issued, and the illegal item is found, then it's admissible - otherwise, it's not.

Now, if the illegal item found is actually germane to the scope of the search, then it would be admissible without further action - for example, a gun or bomb found during an administrative search for guns and bombs would and should be admissible without further action. Drugs found during an Administrative search would not be admissible unless the searchee was given clear notice the search by the police would be a criminal one, and given the option to refuse the search.

The court case cited by the TSA Counsel is a flawed ruling which must be appealed. The court failed to address the core issue, instead choosing only to rule on the legality of an administrative and secondary search. Citing a need to 'protect us from terrorism' is not a license to ignore the Constitution or the law. The law of the land comes first.

Once the court rules correctly on this issue, any federal rule which the TSA relies on to support reporting illegal items found as fruits of an administrative search would be squashed.

The assertion by another TSA poster that screeners have an obligation to report cash is incredibly ludicrous. Cash is not illegal, regardless of the amount. Any claims to the contrary are false. The only restriction on cash, is a requirement to report to US Customs any attempt to export or import more than 10K in cash or negotiable instruments when crossing the border, which is done by completing a simple form - and whether or not the form is complete, the source of the cash, or its intended purpose is WAY outside the scope of the TSA search and is frankly, none of your business.

There is no law which states cash is illegal, nor is there a law which supports the reporting of cash by screeners to the police - if you chose to do so, be prepared to be held accountable should a person be subject to a seizure of their cash and pursue legal action as a result - especially if you have a side deal with the police to report cash in exchange for a reward (these deals do exist, and when found, must be punished).

The comment linking cash to terrorist activities was incredibly ludicrous - let's get a grip here. Your job is to secure the airport sterile area and aircraft from prohibited items. Period. That's it. You are not investigators, experts or spies.

When your overall screening test scores get higher than a 20% pass rate, and actually achieve a level of reasonable performance, perhaps then we can have a discussion about 'other' areas where you "think" your organization can add value - getting outside your scope while failing miserably at your core mission is not going to improve anything, except drive more public opinion against your agency, as if that is even possible at this point.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Randy said...

TSO PHX said...
@ Randy, TSA realizes that some people are unable to remove their shoes. We have an alternate screening for this type of situation.

Passengers without valid ID are put thru additional screening. I fail to see the problem.

Thanks for finally coming clean.
Your initial comments were, if I recall correctly, something like - you must show ID and everyone must remove their shoes.
Now you change that only when challenged. I must add that such a challenge (about shoes) at a checkpoint invariably leads to a secondary of carry on even when the metal detector does not alarm.
Thaat's what the problem is - even when a screener is wrong, they are right and will prove it to the pax.

Anonymous said...

From Kip Himself:

http://www.tsa.dhs.gov/assets/pdf/civil_rights_policy.pdf

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous was kind enough to answer my question.

Not only is there no policy to give complainers retaliatory screenings, there is a policy to not give complainers retaliatory screenings.

If you feel you are being given a retaliatory screening, what can you do about it?

Chris Boyce said...

OK, Francine, Where do I start?

"In some situations where TSA collects information directly from an individual, the Privacy Act requires TSA to provide a written notice to the individual setting forth its authority to gather the information and describing how the agency will use the information. One example of a TSA Privacy Act notice appears on the comment card that may be obtained at some screening checkpoints. Requesting a comment card should not result in harassment of any traveler. Additionally, TSA will accept anonymous comments either by filling out a comment card or by forwarding comments to the TSA Contact Center at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov."

I am a frequent traveler. I have NEVER been given a written notice. As a matter of fact, I have been threatened with the famous TSA line "Do you want to fly today?" simply insisting that a screener produce such a document. Last I checked, this was a violation of the law of the land. I will take your post with me next time I fly. If a screener does not produce this routine uses diclosure in writing, I will summon a law enforcement officer to the checkpoint and request that the screener be placed under arrest.

BTW, I have NEVER seen the routine uses statement on a TSA comment card, unless you rushed them out there last week.

"Purpose(s):
The records are created in order to maintain a civil enforcement
and inspections system for all modes of transportation for which TSA
has security related duties and to maintain records related to the
investigation or prosecution of violations or potential violations of
federal, state, local, or international criminal law. They may be used,
generally, to identify, review, analyze, investigate, and prosecute
violations or potential violations of transportation security laws or
other laws as well as to identify and address potential threats to
transportation security. They may also be used to record the details of
TSA security-related activity, such as passenger or baggage screening."

You describe the purpose of this system of records as being for law enforcement purposes. I'm sure you've read the entire disclosure and have noticed the very strong law enforcement context to this system of records.

Collecting PA-protected information on individuals requesting a complaint form is outside the scope you yourself have disclosed. Collecting PA-protected information on individuals requesting that film be hand-checked is outside the scope of the disclosure. Other posters, I'm sure, are happy to post other violations of the law.

You've got lots of fixing to do --

1. Ensure that all checkpoints have the routine uses disclosure printed and available for those passengers requesting it. I'm sure you are aware that ALL of the routine uses categories must be covered in the written disclosure.

2. Training of all screener personnel. I hope you have encouraged allof them to buy personal liability insurance policies long before this.

3. Complying with your own system of records disclosure and stop the violations of recording PA information for purposes not stated in your disclosure.

I hope you have lots of overtime budgeted for your staff.

Francine said...

Chris, the TSA Customer Comment Card that I have seen contains the following Privacy Act Statement: "Collection of this information is made under 49 U.S.C. 114(e) & (f). Providing this information is voluntary. TSA will use the information to improve customer service and may share it with airport operators for this purpose. For more information, please consult DHS/TSA 006 Correspondence and Matters Tracking Records.

TSA TSO NY said...

First off what Francine said about the Privacy ACT Disclosure is untrue. These do not exist and they are NOT at any checkpoints. We HAVE in fact been told to collect passenger info on any pax who "requests a TSOs name or Badge #" or who "wants to fill out a damage claim".

We do however give complaint cards without requesting any ID info, maybe because those cards are also used to record compliments and we don't want to chance annoying the rare person who wants one for that reason!

This is the absolute truth at ALL NY airports.

I'm not knocking the TSA to be a thorn in it's side but it is often the case where we are told one thing and then have changes made within a day or two as TSA "reacts" to the changes they put into effect that were not to well thought out.

Also, many airports have "local" policies in effect which are not sanctioned by TSA officialdom but which we, as employees, have to obey.

We have NOT been provided with any disclosure notices. I have worked at about 10 different airports across the country and speak to quite a few TSOs at other airports. This is the case all over the nation.

When and IF TSA provides us with these notices to distribute and/or changes it's policy AND NOTIFIES US OFFICIALLY we will change the way we gather ID info. UNTIL then, we will do as we have been instructed in the past.

Do I sense a TSA Bulletin coming down the pike?

(I see some of my posts haven't been making it through the censor - Funny, I'm very careful to stay within bounds - Guess TSA really doesn't want the truth to out)

Anonymous said...

This from the TSA web site listed in the opening blog page about the privacy act:

"Does the Privacy Act apply when TSA keeps a record of my personal information?

If you are asked to provide your ID to TSA personnel and they write down your name/personal identifier on a report that we retrieve by your name /personal identifier, we keep that information in accordance with the Privacy Act. In some instances, however, the information may be recorded on a report retrieved by the date, not by personal identifier. In these instances the Privacy Act would not apply.

What are some of the common circumstances under which TSA will collect personal information about a traveler?

Personal information about a traveler may be collected under circumstances such as the following: upon presentation of false or fraudulent identification; upon discovery of a weapon or other unlawful item; after response by law enforcement to handle a disturbance or make an arrest; when a member of the public is injured or sick; when there is a claim of damaged, lost or stolen property; when there is a disputed screening determination, or when there is any incident at the checkpoint for which screeners may make an incident report. "

So, all TSA has to do is state that they file all checkpoint records by date, not passenger name and VOILA! Exempt from the privacy act and no need to provide you with a disclaimer! Slick!!

And from the last question, TSA TSO states "I'm filling out an incident report." and you have to hand over your info or a "disputed screening determination", in other words; any complaint basically.

Anonymous said...

"It's happened to me, repeatedly. I got so fed up with being groped by the TSA that, for a while I went through security wearing nothing but spandex. I was covered the same as someone wearing a T-shirt and pants, and not violating any laws relating to indecent exposure. Nevertheless, at the checkpoint in Baltimore, I was selected for secondary screening even though I did not set off the metal detector (indeed, the only metal on my person at the time was the unitard's zipper and my glasses), and every single piece of electronics I was carrying got ETDd. This included my cellphone, which they didn't see as they disassembled my briefcase, but did when I put it on my belt - they took it from me and ETDd it."

Uhhh, you got extra screening because - all together now - You looked like a nut case! I would be afraid to sit near you on a plane figuring anyone who would dress like that just might flip out at any second. I'm glad TSA selected you for additional screening! I'm sorry they didn't ban you from flying outright!

Anonymous said...

Ayn R. Key said...
TSA Screener, you did not answer the question. Instead you threw out a red herring.

I didn't ask about someone who is selected and then complains. I asked about someone wo complains and then is selected.

So, is any TSO, blog writer, or blog writer's lawyer consultant going to answer my comment about whether or not there is a specific policy against retaliatory screening, or whether there is simply no policy stating that there will be retaliatory screening?

We know there is not a policy to give extra screening to those who complain. Is there a policy against extra screening to those who complain?

February 26, 2008 2:09 PM


I will answer your question: There is no specific policy that I know of regarding "retaliatory screening" however, it is discouraged. I'm sure it happens, in fact I have seen it happen. The problem is that it is sometimes justified. Now before you behead me, sometimes, the passenger is so abusive verbally, and otherwise that screening becomes necessary as the passenger has aroused suspicion. This is NOT retaliatory screening per se, but screening of a passenger who has made such a ruckus that the only way to get the passenger to calm down is to put him/her in for secondary screening and refer to a supervisor. Now, retaliatory screening would be along the lines of, "do I really have to take my shoes off, I mean the floor is dirty, etc." and the TSO says the shoes have to come off, the passenger protests some more but is not abusive in their protest, and is placed for secondary screening. I have seen instances where passengers have REFUSED to comply and the only other recourse is secondary screening. Its a fine line between screening because of refusal to comply and screening because the person ticked you off. But yes it does happen and yes it is discouraged.

Anonymous said...

As a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee, I was issued a HSPD-12 badge by USDA. Why is this government issued photo ID badge not an acceptable form of identification? TSA employees did not know what this badge was and insisted that I show them my driver's license. When I submitted the question via the TSA website, I received a cryptic response from TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov which gave identification requirements when using a paper ticket.

Bill said...

Come on USDA... how hard is it to take your license out of your pocket?

Chris Boyce said...

Anonymous:

"And from the last question, TSA TSO states "I'm filling out an incident report." and you have to hand over your info or a "disputed screening determination", in other words; any complaint basically.

February 27, 2008 7:16 PM

You just don't get it. It might be your decision to file an incident report, but it's my decision to decide to disclose PA-protected information. It's not that simplistic. But, given the myopic view of most TSA employees - screeners and senior managers, I'm not at all surprised by your response. In other words, over my dead body. We will fight to take back our country and our Constitution, and we don't care how many of you we trample in the process.

TSA TSA NY, what you said doesn't surprise me for a nanosecond. Your employer is hanging you out to dry.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee, I was issued a HSPD-12 badge by USDA. Why is this government issued photo ID badge not an acceptable form of identification? TSA employees did not know what this badge was and insisted that I show them my driver's license. When I submitted the question via the TSA website, I received a cryptic response from TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov which gave identification requirements when using a paper ticket.

February 27, 2008 8:44 PM


You did not state which airport you traveled from, but I would have accepted ID that had USDA imprinted on it, as it is a Government issued ID card...the only way I wouuld not have accepted it is if it did not have an expiration date.

Anonymous said...

Re your update, Francine:

Lies, all lies.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Re your update, Francine:
Lies, all lies.


Anonymous, why bother even posting if you cannot add something constructive, like robert johnson, tso phx or chris boyce. I recommend a debate class when you go to High School.

Anonymous said...

this is amazing, here you have a federal agency making senior leadership available to the public in an effort to shed some light on the legal underpinnings of its roles and responsibilities when dealing with the american public. and what does it get? cynic after cynic. wake up people, TSA is not some conspiracy organization - its staffed by ordinary citizens, just like yourselves, well most of you anyway.

Anonymous said...

"this is amazing, here you have a federal agency making senior leadership available to the public in an effort to shed some light on the legal underpinnings of its roles and responsibilities when dealing with the american public. and what does it get? cynic after cynic. wake up people, TSA is not some conspiracy organization - its staffed by ordinary citizens, just like yourselves, well most of you anyway."

You bet cynical when the "senior leadership" doesn't seem to have a clue as to what is happening out in the field.

Anonymous said...

In response to the question, this USDA employee was at LAX. Yes, the ID card clearly identifies me as an employee of the US Department of Agriculture and has an expiration date. The card even indicates "United States Government" at the top.

What bothers me just as much was the idiotic response I received from TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov. I don't think they even read my question.

Jim Huggins said...

Bill: because there needs to be a clear statement as to what constitutes "valid government ID".

Virtually everyone uses a driver's license as proof of identity, which is an abuse of the document. A driver's license is supposed to be about ... um ... driving, right? Unfortunately, it's become a de-facto ID card, when it was never designed for that purpose.

I use my driver's license for ID all the time, but that's mainly because I'm a sheep, and I don't feel like picking a fight with store clerks, bank tellers, and TSOs who seem to think that a driver's license is the only acceptable identity document. I admire those who do fight the system, though ... it's an important discussion to have. I just wish I had the time and the courage to join them.

Fred G. said...

To "Cynic Critic:"

You're right. This blog does have a lot of cynics. But they got that way for a reason. The TSA is supposedly working for us, have cost us $30-40 Billion by their own accounting since their inception - yet they won't answer one basic question: have they found any terrorist (and stopped him) since 2001?

So while I agree that we're all Americans/citizens here, and that while civility (and open - mindedness) should govern our behavior, it can get pretty frustrating waiting for the US government to give us an answer that I think we're entitled to. In the meantime, guess what? Some of us become cynical.

Fred G.

Anonymous said...

For those who are not aware, HSPD-12 identification cards are secure and reliable forms of identification and are issued based on sound criteria for verifying an individual employee's identity; are strongly resistant to identity fraud, tampering, counterfeiting, and terrorist exploitation; can be rapidly authenticated electronically; and are issued only by providers whose reliability has been established by an official accreditation process.

In other words, a HSPD-12 identification card is a much more secure form of identification than a driver's license.

In response to Bill, if TSA wanted to see a driver's license, why didn't they say driver's license?

David Nelson said...

""Does the Privacy Act apply when TSA keeps a record of my personal information?

If you are asked to provide your ID to TSA personnel and they write down your name/personal identifier on a report that we retrieve by your name /personal identifier, we keep that information in accordance with the Privacy Act. In some instances, however, the information may be recorded on a report retrieved by the date, not by personal identifier. In these instances the Privacy Act would not apply."

This answer is misleading. A report retrievable by date rather than by personal identifier means that this data base does not contain information protected under the Privacy Act. By definition, including personal information in this type of data base is completely voluntary. Further, since the PA does not apply to these data bases, nobody in the TSA (or a cop for that matter) can compel you to reveal your personal information for inclusion in this type of data base, regardless of how the data is retrieved.

The TSA STILL doesn't get it.

David

Bob Hanssen said...

"You did not state which airport you traveled from, but I would have accepted ID that had USDA imprinted on it, as it is a Government issued ID card...the only way I wouuld not have accepted it is if it did not have an expiration date.

February 28, 2008 9:33 AM"

So, you wouldn't accept my military ID card with an expiration date of "indefinite?"

Anonymous said...

Just a comment on the ID's, we also think that some of these policies are not sane, please keep in mind that the Officers that are manning the checkpoints do not make the rules, we just have to try and enforce them even when they don't make a lick of sense, i.e. Military ID with indefinte as the experation date. Many TSA employees cary the very same card, I know I do.

Neil said...

For those that have asked about the post disappearing (server 500 error) under the "Inconsistencies" posting, it is back on-line.

I've fixed our little glitch and now all of the original posts should display all of the comments. In order to maintain good blog performance we will cut off commenting after about 250 comments per post.

-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Lloyd Carson said...

Huh? Are some of you saying that the TSA doesn't accept government-issued ID unless there is an expiration date? Is that official? If so, where does it say that?

All of this is silly, of course, since ID checks don't enhance security in any meaningful way. Besides, this ID requirement is so easily circumvented it makes me wonder why the TSA is still wasting the time and money doing it.

Anonymous said...


Just a comment on the ID's, we also think that some of these policies are not sane, please keep in mind that the Officers that are manning the checkpoints do not make the rules, we just have to try and enforce them even when they don't make a lick of sense, i.e. Military ID with indefinte as the experation date.


The rules, as published on the website and the signs at the checkpoint, say "government issued photo ID." They don't say anything about requiring an expiration date.

So do what you say you are doing, and follow the policies as stated to the public that is made to follow them. Then passengers will leave you alone.

Anonymous said...

How about the legal types join the discussion on ID's.

I hold a Retired Military ID. Issued by the US Government, with picture. Expirattion date is listed a "Indef" because it only expires upon my death.

Your TSO's here say they would not except this ID. Your TSA page clearly states "government issued ID".

So come on legal types, what is your policy? Who is not conforming to policy?

Anonymous said...

I was harassed at the Denver Airport this evening. I had my plastic bag of dangerous toothpaste in the bin. A TSA employee behind the passenger screening device told me to put the bag on the belt. I did.

A TSA employee by the luggage belt told me to put it in the bin. I looked at the other TSA employee and said what do you want me to do?

He mumbled something and acted like I was some sort of dangerous person. (I fly several times a week.) I then bumped into the side of the screening device and it went off and I started to back out and said I hit the side. He got very angry and demanded that I take off my belt - a cloth woven belt. I complied.

When I went throught the screening device successfully, I asked for his badge number. He got very angry and told me not to give him a hard time and then told me to go in the extra screening cage. I asked to see a supervisor.

Another passenger stopped and told the supervisor that the TSA employee had an attitude and that he HAD harassed me. The supervisor still insisted that I go through the full screening. He said I could come to his desk and get HIS badge number.

I did and then asked for the badge number of the employee who had harassed me. He said he could not give that out. I said that the man was wearing it. He just repeated that he could not give it out. I said - then don't wear them. He said - we have to. Now there's bureaucratic logic for you!!!

This was the most ridiculous thing I have gone through in an airport in over 40 years of flying commercially. TSA employees are often rude, gruff, unfriendly but this took the cake! I shudder to think about the impression they are giving to foreign visitors. I am afraid to complain to the TSA even though I have the badge number. If I do, I will probably end up on the Do Not Fly List!!!

The public is safe from my toothpaste but cargo on the plane is still not inspected completely from what I understand. The Bush Administration continues to use scare tactics to keep us all in line...the TSA is just one more way of keeping us all afraid.

Anonymous said...

If either Michael Chertoff or Kip Hawley had presented a DHS-issued photo ID, would they have been told it was not acceptable and to provide a driver's license instead?

Anonymous said...

so when will the ID issues be covered?
Why aren't the ID requirements made more specific if TSO's are only accepting licenses and passports?
Why aren't TSO's getting training on HSPD-12 compliant IDs? Are TSO's wearing HSPD-12 compliant IDs?
Why are ID's with no expiration date, issued by other agencies considered not good enough?

Why is ID needed at all if you just get a secondary?

Anonymous said...

Francine, I have personally been threatened and retaliated against at none other than BWI in your back yard.

In addition, when I asked for a supervisor the screener outright lied about what happened. Both the screener and the supe refused to give me the name and ID of the screener. The supe also refused to give me the name or contact info of the FSD of the airport. It took her 5 minutes to find a complaint form, and she wanted to copy my ID information to merely provide the complaint form.

There was no, none, nada, zippo Privacy Act information.

You and your minions ought to get out of your castle and see what's really going on.

I remaining anonymous because that experience taught me that the agency's people DO retaliate.

Anonymous said...

Hello, all.

I am a LTSO, and all this discussion on the Privacy Act has got me concerned. I am concerned mainly about the fact that I have not received one day of training on the PA, how it applies to me, and how it applies to how I am supposed to do my job. I have no disclosures on my checkpoint to hand out to anyone who asks about it. It we are exempt, great...but a passenger is not going to just take my word for it. A passenger is going to want to see the exemption, and I can't give it to them. Is it true that I, as an individual, can be civilally sued by someone if I, as a LTSO, somehow violate the PA? Considering that I have received no training on the PA, I wouldn't even know what would be a violation. I don't know how to protect myself from violating someones rights.

MODS: please don't censor this post. I am concerned, and I would like some informative help on this matter. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

And you were hoping to solve what with this ridiculous blog. This will no doubt have everything removed that comes close to the truth. Reminds me of the days when a black marker was used by the Government on any document remotely stating any true fact. It appears that you only read what you want read, and not the facts. Here is one for your delete-o-meter

Anonymous said...

What is a "I am a LTSO"?

Is it a disability or some other medical condition?

??????????

Neil said...

LTSO = Lead Transportation Security Officer.

Anonymous said...

Oh bull.
Here's the real truth about TSA:
TSA: Missing Luggage Totals $31 Million Over Three Years

Created: Tuesday, 26 Feb 2008, 9:35

Federal records obtained by FOX 4 News show that in the past three years travelers have reported tens of millions of dollars in goods missing from their luggage. It was there when they checked the bag at the airport, but gone when they reached their destination.

Luggage comes tumbling out of the carousel every time a flight arrives at Kansas City International Airport, but is your luggage among them? That's something Mike Hawley worries about.

"I always have that little voice in the back of my head that goes 'Is it going to make it with me?,'" Hawley said.

Hawley said he has worried about that ever since a flight from Nashville to Baltimore. He arrived, but his luggage didn't.

"My wife and I had all of our belongings for a three-day session there and our luggage never did show up," Hawley said.

His story was one of several we heard just hanging out by the luggage carousel at KCI. That's where we met Annette Willard. She told us about her son's luggage.

"It never arrived," she said.

Until nine months later when an airline employee found it in Portland, Oregon. When she finally got it back, she said much of what had been packed inside was missing, including Doc Martin shoes, Oakley sunglasses and some other high-end clothing.

It's a story we heard multiple times and for good reason. A rarely released Transportation Security Administration database reveals that in a three-year period nearly 42,000
travelers have reported items as lost from their luggage at an estimated value of more than $31 million. We are not talking lost for a couple of days. We are talking lost for good. Listed as MIA are medicine, clothing, fine jewelry, laptops, perfume and even cell phones.

Since you can't find this TSA database on TSA's website, FOX 4 had to make a special request for it.

(Click here to see lost luggage reports from Missouri and Kansas airports and the raw data from airports all over the country.)

According to the database, the airports with the worst record for ripping people off include LAX, where more than 2,300 people complained they'd had items stolen from their luggage. Also at the top were Newark, Miami, JFK and Seattle.

Some of those airports are also among the busiest. But even when you break down the loss rate per passenger, they still rank at the top. Near the bottom of the list is Kansas City International Airport, which reported 160 claims during that same three-year period. So it's unlikely your luggage will get ripped off in Kansas City, but it's where your luggage is heading that could be the problem.

The TSA said it treats theft very seriously, but just because an item is reported as lost, doesn't mean it was stolen. TSA said some claims are dropped after the item has been found at home or in another piece of luggage. But many items are never found. So who's taking the luggage?

It used to be that thieves hung out at airport carousels but with increased airport security that rarely happens anymore. Now experts believe stolen luggage is often an inside job. While some thefts have been tracked to TSA workers, others have been linked to baggage handlers employed by individual airlines.

A former KCI baggage handler, who asked us not to identify her, said she knows theft happens even in Kansas City.

"There was never anybody who said I did that," said the baggage handler. "But there was always talk. So and so found something in a bag. Shoes were one. Another one was perfumes, really expensive brands."

She said the best time for luggage to be tampered with is when it's in the baggage hold area. That's where it is stored before it's loaded onto the plane.

"You will have one person down there and all they are doing is transferring bags to different carts," said the former baggage handler. "It only takes one person. So you would just be in a room by yourself."

She said one way to get away with the crime was to rifle through a bag and then put it on the wrong plane headed to the wrong city. When the luggage is finally located, it would be unclear where the crime took place.

Travel Agent Carol Rone has had first-hand experience with luggage theft. She lost a camera.

"It was a really nice 450 millimeter," recalled Rone. "It was worth about $450."

Rone said it was obvious it was stolen from her suitcase because the camera bag she had stored it in was still inside.

"It was left unzipped," said Rone of the camera bag. "It was surely done in a rush."

But good luck getting any money back if its your luggage that's missing. The back of every airline ticket says you will get no compensation for valuable items, which include laptops, jewelry and cameras. Even when a stolen item is covered by the airline, getting reimbursed can be a hassle.

"You have to list everything and mark the value," said Rone. "It's quite an ordeal to make a claim. That's why so many clients have told me they don't even bother with it because of all the paperwork you do."

So what can you do to protect yourself? Rone suggested something as simple as putting luggage straps around your bag. Just having to remove them can be a deterrent to a thief.

Our former baggage handler warned people not to travel with nice luggage.

"You do notice when its newer and nice and the name brand and when you have matching luggage," she said.

The good news is that despite the thousands of complaints TSA has received, the vast majority of travelers never have a problem. Carl Bauer flies every other week and has never had anything stolen from his luggage. However, the day we met Bauer at KCI he had just flown in from Chicago and couldn't find his luggage on the carousel.

"I'm sure someone just picked up my bag and headed home and their bag is still here," said Bauer.

Bauer said he's not sweating it. He said he rarely packs anything that can't be replaced.

Linda Wagar, FOX 4 News

Anonymous said...

Could a TSA employee please post a link to the regulation or policy that contains the definition of an acceptable form of identification?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to make a comment about checking of IDs.

I fly from coast to coast a few times each year and feel that it is an important part of the screening process.

With this in mind, I'd like to see TSA enhance security when it comes to checking passnger IDs.

Meredith, TX said...

I am a TSA employee (non-screener) and think I may be able to point you in the right direction. If you would like to know what forms of ID the TSA views as "acceptable" you may want to check out this link: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/airport/id/default.aspx. Continental Airlines has it on their website and it seems pretty clear and concise.

Anonymous said...

re: Meredith, TX said...
I am a TSA employee (non-screener) and think I may be able to point you in the right direction.

No offense intended but the ID thing is a TSA policy and should be clearly stated on the DHS/TSA site, that way both the public and TSA people will be working from the same standards.

I don't think an airline should be setting/defining policy for TSA. For travel within the US no ID is required, just additional screening in the absence of such ID.

It seems that TSA employees themselves that are the ones all in a dither over the "indef" on some government ID cards and the expiration date on other ID's. Perhaps the 120 hours of extensive training new TSA people receive should be extended an hour or so for ID recognition training.

Then perhaps we can all know what the heck is expected!
:

Anonymous said...

In reference to the link provided by Meredith, TX, the Continental website indicates that if I do not have an official photo identification issued by a government authority, I could use two forms of identification, one of which must be issued by a government authority. This means I could use a credit card and a library card since the library card was issued by a government authority, neither of which has a picture.

Anonymous said...

"If you would like to know what forms of ID the TSA views as "acceptable" you may want to check out this link: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/airport/id/default.aspx. Continental Airlines has it on their website and it seems pretty clear and concise."

Hey! Who knew? Continental Airline sets TSA policy! And I thought all the airline lobbyists did was get billion dollar bailouts of their bad business decisions.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous and the Fox 4 article concerning missing luggage, at many airports, luggage is handed directly to TSA for screening. Why not give the passenger the option to stand there while the luggage is being screened and then have the passenger secure the luggage with a lock?

Anonymous said...

" 120 hours of extensive training new TSA people receive"

Three work weeks is "extensive"? For this job?

LOL

Anonymous said...

"Could a TSA employee please post a link to the regulation or policy that contains the definition of an acceptable form of identification?"

No takers?

Anonymous said...

"Three work weeks is "extensive"? For this job?

LOL"


That's what Kippy said!

Ayn R. Key said...

Please explain this.

http://www.naturalnews.com/022737.html

Jack T. Ripper said...

Sooooo! What do you plan on doing when Montana and the other 4 states don't file an extension for the Real ID program? Will your Ticket checkers Make them SSSS Selectees? I live in Montana and don't have a passport. Can I use an Id that doesn't have the Real ID features. What ID can I use? I once flew and had no drivers license and they used my credit card and my social security card to let me in and I wasn't a selectee. will that work again or will I be punished for being from a rebellious state!

Anonymous said...

David, nowhere on the report form is there a privacy act statement which is required by law when the report is filled out and a copy of the report along with your signed consent is required to be given to you.
David Nelson said...

""Does the Privacy Act apply when TSA keeps a record of my personal information?

If you are asked to provide your ID to TSA personnel and they write down your name/personal identifier on a report that we retrieve by your name /personal identifier, we keep that information in accordance with the Privacy Act. In some instances, however, the information may be recorded on a report retrieved by the date, not by personal identifier. In these instances the Privacy Act would not apply."

This answer is misleading. A report retrievable by date rather than by personal identifier means that this data base does not contain information protected under the Privacy Act. By definition, including personal information in this type of data base is completely voluntary. Further, since the PA does not apply to these data bases, nobody in the TSA (or a cop for that matter) can compel you to reveal your personal information for inclusion in this type of data base, regardless of how the data is retrieved.

The TSA STILL doesn't get it.

David

Anonymous said...

"And Now, a Word from Our Lawyers…" -- I think many of us are waiting (and waiting and waiting) for answers from TSA's lawyers.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what a lawyer would say to having a TSA agent endanger the life of a traveler who has a medical condition that requires special care. For example, I now read of a minor who was unduly exposed to harm by a screener that compromised sterile medical equipment (http://www.wftv.com/irresistible/15511359/detail.html).

Additionally, there is the very recent death of an infant (Hawaii) due the infant and her nurse being unduly detained (they were both American citizens with proper paperwork).

These sorts of incidents question the ability of TSA to conduct their mission in a responsible manner and apparently the TSA enjoys legal indemnity, thus there is no legal equity. IMHO, this is unjustifiable and needs a remedy.

Anonymous said...

Due to TSA policy and the all around pain flying has become, I had a very comfortable 15 hour drive to South Carolina on Saturday through the Emergency Level 3 blizzards in Ohio and Kentucky.

I got to keep my Constitutional rights, dignity and sanity all intact!

Oh, and I had an 'Exit Row' with plenty of legroom, exquisite food while on the road, excellent 'inflight entertainment' and I arrived ON TIME!

Flying is for suckers.

Anonymous said...

Questions are piling up. We, the traveling public would like some answers please.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
If you buy a plane ticket and approach the security checkpoint in order to proceed through and board a plane, you are VOLUNTARILY submitting to the security search procedures. Regardless of whether or not you "FEEL" it is voluntary, by law, it is BY CONSENT that you are going through. Therefore, no search or seizure (of drugs or anything else) is out of bounds for TSA. Also, this voluntary search means Privacy Act and Constitutional Rights are not at issue. YOU CONSENTED to the search when you ARRIVED at the security checkpoint!

February 26, 2008 1:06 PM"

There is NO such thing as "voluntary consent" when getting what you want (be it a job, getting on a plane etc) when if you DON'T "consent" to something you CANNOT get whatever it is you wanted/needed to. Learn some grammar. For instance when you go through a checkpoint should not EVER mean you consent to ANYTHING... why? Because if it's REQUIRED you "consent" how the hell is that voluntary??

The DEFINITION of voluntary:

vol·un·tar·y /ˈvɒlənˌtɛri/
–adjective
1.done, made, brought about, undertaken, etc., of one's own accord or by free choice: a voluntary contribution.
2.of, pertaining to, or acting in accord with the will: voluntary cooperation.
3.of, pertaining to, or depending on voluntary action: voluntary hospitals.
4.Law.
a.acting or done without compulsion or obligation.
b.done by intention, and not by accident: voluntary manslaughter.
c.made without valuable consideration: a voluntary settlement.
5.Physiology. subject to or controlled by the will.
6.having the power of willing or choosing: a voluntary agent.
7.proceeding from a natural impulse; spontaneous: voluntary laughter.
–noun
8.something done voluntarily.

Maybe this will clear up some confusion as to what VOLUNTARY really means.

Anonymous said...

Francine,

What is the policy for reading printed material when doing a bag search? It would appear to me that a prohibited item is not ink on paper, so there is no justification in doing so. In fact, I would be concerned about vitiating the attorney-client privilege if those type of documents are perused.

Ayn R. Key said...

Questions keep piling up, but old blog entries are ignored by the writers.

Anonymous said...

ANSWEWR THE QUESTIONS.

Sorry about posting in all caps. Yelling might be the only thing they understand at this point.

Anonymous said...

I guess that Francine probably wears a paper bag over her head when she goes to work at TSA to keep people from knowing where she works. She is however, able to preserve what's left of her dignity, unlike some of those who've fallen prey to retaliatory screening procedures.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight, for the recreational pot smoker, I mean fewer then three grams on a domestic flight. I could be arrested when found in checked baggage.

The Vending Guy said...

I wish everyone would stop complaining about the TSA. They are yet another example of big government out of control. Stop electing politicians whose only answer to problems is tax, spend and regulate.

Elissa in Denver said...

TSA in Denver is the most tedious experience to endure. One TSA agent on a recent special search inspection of my personal property indicated my laptop had "tested positive for explosives," and immediately became very verbally aggresive with me. When her supervisor arrived, he asked her what procedure she used, she responded that she had rubbed her swab 2x over my Dell Inspiron E1505, and it alarmed. He told her she was supposed to run it over the laptop 5x, not 2x, and that I was fine and I was cleared. However, she returned to me immediately after (probably in an effor to cover her embarrasment) and began swabbing everything again, and removed every makeup item, i.e., eye shadow, etc.. and asked me if it was "liquid or powder," every single item in my makeup bag, and she was very mean during the process. Had she tested the laptop correctly, we wouldn't have spent 45 minutes with me sitting on the side so she could harrass me because she did her job wrong! Thank you,
Elissa in Denver

iPhone Mod said...

I think that TSA screener's have a "God Complex". They pulled me aside because my Iphone had a wallpaper of a war movie? What the heck? Did they think the guns would pop out for me to use? Last I know, it's not illegal to have a movie post wallpaper on an iPhone.

painter said...

2) If you don't agree with our policy then don't fly.

I don't have a choice in the matter. My job requires that I travel by air. If I don't fly, I don't work. Consent under such circumstances is not voluntary, it's coerced. This is the standard TSA answer to complaints, but it rings hollow for me: I either surrender my First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, or I lose my job.

The statement is right: If you don't agree with our policy then don't fly.
If you didn't comply with that it will endanger other people's right.

Painting Contractors said...

The DEFINITION of voluntary:

vol·un·tar·y /ˈvɒlənˌtɛri/
–adjective
1.done, made, brought about, undertaken, etc., of one's own accord or by free choice: a voluntary contribution.
2.of, pertaining to, or acting in accord with the will: voluntary cooperation.
3.of, pertaining to, or depending on voluntary action: voluntary hospitals.
4.Law.
a.acting or done without compulsion or obligation.
b.done by intention, and not by accident: voluntary manslaughter.
c.made without valuable consideration: a voluntary settlement.
5.Physiology. subject to or controlled by the will.
6.having the power of willing or choosing: a voluntary agent.
7.proceeding from a natural impulse; spontaneous: voluntary laughter.
–noun
8.something done voluntarily.

Too many people try to get away but if there are strict guidelines, it should be very easy.

Anonymous said...

OK, I don't fly much so my interaction with the TSO's is very small. In my experience, the smaller the airport the nicer the Agents. At FLL, the Agents are all surly and rude and look at me as just one more interruption to their day and as a criminal who just hasn't been caught yet and today is the day!

Contrast that to Albany New York where the Agents were all smiles asked me how my day was going and enjoy my travels.

Then, back to part of this discussion, when I asked for a comment card in FLL, I was asked for my ID again, which was copied down on a clipboard onto a list of at least 30 other names on a huge stack of pages that had at least 50 more names per page.

When I asked for a comment card in Albany, the Agent went over to his table, pulled out a form, wrote his name (and badge number or really horrible signature) on the card and pointed out the drop box for returning it.

How can I take any of what the TSA does seriously when I have two completely different kinds of experiences. And before any TSA mouthpiece tells me that randomness is by design, I will tell you it is inconsistent rules being applied by poorly trained personnel who aren't getting the support they need from their superiors exacerbated by public awareness of the flaws in the system setting up a cycle of mistrust in the agents leading to the agents feeling a lack of respect of their job, which is completely unclear to even them of what they are doing and why.

And I am posting this as anonymous because I fear the TSA having my name (again) will somehow make my next boarding pass bear the dreaded SSSS.

jai said...

Retaliation does happen. It may not be "policy" but it exists. it differs from person to person..

Anonymous said...

What part of

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

does the TSA and the right-wing courts not understand?

1. You have no warrant.
2. You have no probable cause. Refusing to have images of my naked body taken does NOT constitute probable cause for anything.
3. You have no supporting oath or affirmation from ANYONE.

The amendment is crystal clear and anyone with half a brain should be able to understand that these searches are illegal.

As an American citizen, I want them stopped immediately.

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