Friday, February 29, 2008

The Truth Behind the Title: Behavior Detection Officer

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Usually it’s just nerves or a good dose of electromagnetic energy, but if you’re traveling through a TSA checkpoint, chances are there are several sets of eyes on you. What are they looking at? Is your hair messed up? Looking flustered after problems at the ticket counter? Have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe? No. You’re being watched by Behavior Detection Officers, or BDOs in government acronym-speak.

The program was designed by Paul Ekman (PhD), a psychology professor at the University of California Medical School, San Francisco. He’s been studying behavioral analysis for the past 40 years and has taught the TSA, Customs and Border Protection, CIA, FBI and other federal agencies to watch for suspicious facial expressions of tension, fear or deception. He has even taught animators at Disney-Pixar to create convincing faces for film characters. After passing along his skills to US Customs, their “hit rate” for finding drugs during passenger searches rose to 22.5 percent from 4.2 percent in 1998.

Behavior analysis is based on the fear of being discovered. People who are trying to get away with something display signs of stress through involuntary physical and physiological behaviors. Whether someone’s trying to sneak through that excellent stone ground mustard they bought on vacation, a knife, or a bomb, behavior detection officers like me are trained to spot certain suspicious behaviors out of the crowd. Once we make our determination, we refer these passengers for additional screening or directly to law enforcement.

Just recently at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, (CVG) two of my fellow BDOs spotted behaviors on a passenger and conducted secondary screening. They were unaware at the time the individual was an undercover “passenger” involved in covert testing. The concealed item was an unassembled weapon in a carry-on bag. The BDOs caught this right away, and when the testing was over, it was revealed that the passenger also had plastic explosive simulants in the cups of her bra. This was an excellent catch, and proof the behavior detection program works. If this were the real thing, we would have caught it.

Between July 1, 2007 and February 7, 2008, 514 people were arrested after being referred for additional screening or directly to law enforcement officers by behavior detection officers. The arrests include unlawfully carrying concealed firearms or other weapons, possession of fraudulent documents, transporting undeclared currency, possessing illegal drugs, immigration law violations, and outstanding warrants.

Some will say that it shouldn’t be TSA’s job to look for drugs, or money - our job is airport security. But when we spot someone behaving suspiciously, we don’t know what they have; all we know is they’re behaving in a way that says they might pose a threat. In many cases, we find things that might have otherwise gotten through security (money, drugs) and that’s a good sign because it could just as easily been plastic or liquid explosives. The behaviors these drug and currency smugglers exhibit are the same behaviors we expect a terrorist to exhibit.

In the ABC interview below, former United Airlines ticketing agent Mike Tuohey discusses gut feelings he had about behaviors Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari were displaying on 9/11. BDOs are trained to recognize behaviors and likely would have subjected them to secondary screening and questioning.

At a time when almost anything can be made into a weapon, it’s important to focus on the people with intent to do harm, not just on the items they might use. For more information on the program, click here.

Bob
TSA Evolution Blog Team and Behavior Detection Officer

195 comments:

Andy said...

Fine. I'll give you guys credit for trying at least to establish this program. However, I have a few issues with your SPOT program.

*Airport security is not a dragnet. People should know they're going through the security checkpoint just to be screened for dangerous items. If I bring a wad of $3,000, for example, does that make me suspicious? What if I just want to carry cash with me?

*The notion that drugs and money smugglers exhibit the same behavior as terrorists really bothers me. Are you saying that drug and money smugglers are terrorists? What next, "food smugglers"?

*What exactly is suspicious? What if I'm nervous because I have OCD/anxiety, or upset because my grandma just died, or even I had a big fight with my friend?

*I'm Deaf, so how would you communicate with me? Would you hold up the line to write with me? Would you waste my time trying to get an interpreter? How about those who are mute or have other communicative disorders?

*This kind of smacks of thought crime in George Orwell's 1984. How about being innocent until proven guilty? Going through a domestic airport security checkpoint is not going through a jail or prison, nor is it customs. We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

*What if someone looks suspicious, is taken aside for additional screening, and misses his flight due to that--and he's completely innocent?

I would really appreciate it if someone from the TSA could reply with a comment to this. This is important to me.

Thanks.

Al said...

This program is a complete waste of time and money. I can't believe we're paying for this.

Anonymous said...


Whether someone’s trying to sneak through that excellent stone ground mustard they bought on vacation, a knife, or a bomb, behavior detection officers like me are trained to spot certain suspicious behaviors out of the crowd. Once we make our determination, we refer these passengers for additional screening or directly to law enforcement.


That TSA has turned innocent travelers who just want to bring cosmetics, mustard, or juice for their kid (which does frequently get confiscated), into "scofflaws" who are nervous about their items, just devalues SPOT the program by increasing the false hit rate.

Wouldn't it be better if TSA had a sane prohibited items list and passenger-respecting policies such that innocent passengers wouldn't need to be nervous or agitated? Then maybe you'd be more likely to catch real bad guys.

Catching someone's mustard is not a "success" for TSA. Neither is catching some guy with drugs. Or someone with a multiple IDs. The only real catch for TSA is if you catch someone with a real threat to an aircraft: guns, explosives, and large knives.

Carl said...

There is no way that they could have received enough hours of training to be effective at behavior detection. It's more likely likely they are falling back on their personally held stereotypes as they guess about people.

TSA should focus on screening all cargo that goes on commercial flights and should invest in real checkpoint explosives detection technology before they branch off into behavior detection.

Plus, these guys look like idiots.

Bob said...

February 29, 2008 6:41 PM Anonymous Said: That TSA has turned innocent travelers who just want to bring cosmetics, mustard, or juice for their kid (which does frequently get confiscated), into "scofflaws" who are nervous about their items, just devalues SPOT the program by increasing the false hit rate.

I can count on one closed hand the number of times I've had to refer somebody and found that they were smuggling liquids on their person. I’m sure it’s happened elsewhere, but it’s rare. It was a lighthearted example. I seriously doubt this is increasing our false hit rate.

Catching someone's mustard is not a "success" for TSA.

Again, that was just a lighthearted example, but say they are trying to sneak mustard through the checkpoint... If they can sneak mustard through, think of the things that could fit in the mustard bottle. Think of the things that are the same size as the mustard bottle that could do harm.

Neither is catching some guy with drugs.

As has been mentioned on other areas of this blog, finding drugs is not our mission, but if we find them, we are mandated to report it to the authorities. I don't understand how we're being made the bad guy here when it's somebody else that's breaking the law. Passengers know better than to travel with drugs. They should also know there is a very good chance we’re going to go through their bags. I have no sympathy for somebody that gets themselves in a ringer for brining drugs through our checkpoints. Also, I'm sure you've heard stories where rapists and murderers and other criminals with outstanding warrants have been caught while being pulled over for routine traffic tickets or other minor offenses. The same thing applies here. You may not think the drugs are a big deal, but what if the police find out the individual has an outstanding warrant for child abuse or something else just as serious? I’m sure you wouldn’t want these types of folks to slip through the cracks would you?

The only real catch for TSA is if you catch someone with a real threat to an aircraft: guns, explosives, and large knives.

And how are we supposed to know who is concealing the real threat? We have been trained to recognize behaviors, and we follow through with our procedures no matter what.

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 29, 2008 6:49 PM Carl said... There is no way that they could have received enough hours of training to be effective at behavior detection.

Have you been through the course? Have you performed the job? We’re not talking about FBI profilers that need a master’s degree in psychology. We’re talking about very attention to detail oriented people who are trained to recognize behaviors.

It's more likely likely they are falling back on their personally held stereotypes as they guess about people.

Just exactly who is stereotyping here?

Plus, these guys look like idiots.

Real classy...

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Christopher said...

Al said, "This program is a complete waste of time and money. I can't believe we're paying for this."

Al, believe it. Looking for people not things is how we counter an adaptive, patient enemy that studies our rules and procedures and uses them against us. It's a key learning of the intel community and one we and most of the world's security experts wholeheartedly believe in.

It's not thought police or OCD police or profiling. It's using real science to observe recognizable, quantifiable behavior that requires additional scrutiny in the airport security environment. That scrutiny could be just watching a passenger for an extra few seconds, a 15-second conversation or a referral to law enforcement.

Christopher
TSA Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

If it were not for the seriousness of having the full weight of the Federal Government behind this, it would be silly to the point of a poorly acted scene of the theatre of the absurd. If the FBI is buying into this, check on their great successes (look up the late Richard Jewell as one example).

I've dealt with dangerous people. The most dangerous are the "normal" ones.

What's next, "Spectral Evidence"? Where do you keep the TSA Ouija boards? Do you use the low bid psychic? You do Voodoo?

Bob said...

February 29, 2008 5:55 PMAndy said... Fine. I'll give you guys credit for trying at least to establish this program.

Thanks Andy.

*Airport security is not a dragnet. People should know they're going through the security checkpoint just to be screened for dangerous items. If I bring a wad of $3,000, for example, does that make me suspicious?

No.

*The notion that drugs and money smugglers exhibit the same behavior as terrorists really bothers me. Are you saying that drug and money smugglers are terrorists? What next, "food smugglers"?

What we're saying is the same behaviors are displayed if you are concealing a large amount of cash, drugs, or weapons. How do we know what you're concealing unless we follow through with our procedures? We have to trust our training and follow through with our procedures.

*What exactly is suspicious? What if I'm nervous because I have OCD/anxiety, or upset because my grandma just died, or even I had a big fight with my friend?

You have very good points here. Again, we have no idea why an individual is displaying behaviors until we submit them for secondary screening. We can assume all day long why somebody is displaying a certain behavior, but we’ve been trained not to assume. Unfortunately, we have had to submit some folks who were just having a bad day. You know what? When we were finished, they went on their way. No traceable personal information is recorded unless you have committed a crime.

*I'm Deaf, so how would you communicate with me? Would you hold up the line to write with me? Would you waste my time trying to get an interpreter? How about those who are mute or have other communicative disorders?

Either through writing, or finding an interpreter, we will do whatever it takes to complete our procedures and communicate with any passenger. We are very considerate of any disability, but we are also vigilant and will carry out our procedures by working with the passenger any way possible.

*This kind of smacks of thought crime in George Orwell's 1984. How about being innocent until proven guilty? Going through a domestic airport security checkpoint is not going through a jail or prison, nor is it customs. We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

In each of our own hearts, we know we’re not terrorists. We know we’re not up to anything. Everybody else does not know that nor should they assume it to be true. What does a terrorist look like?

*What if someone looks suspicious, is taken aside for additional screening, and misses his flight due to that--and he's completely innocent?

What if someone looks suspicious, but they're running late, so we just let them go and they take down the plane? It is unfortunate for anybody to miss a flight, but we've been trained on recognizing certain behaviors. I would rather see somebody miss their flight than to just ignore the behaviors I’ve been trained to recognize.

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Brian said...

"This was an excellent catch, and proof the behavior detection program works. If this were the real thing, we would have caught it."

It sounds as if your "suspect" was intentionally giving off the behaviour signals that your BDO (hey, those are my initials! Can I have a job?) detected - that's great, but it won't help if you have someone who manages to remain calm enough to not give off any "bad vibes."

Don't get me wrong, I have no argument with the method...I'm just not convinced of the effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the thought police.

I'm running later than I like, I've had a hassle at the counter, because you have 3 of the 5 screening lanes closed it's taking 30 minutes to navigate the line, your document checker is claiming that a passport is "not a legal ID".... so I'm considered a "potential terrorist"?

Give me a break.

When you all make the process pleasant, stress-free, and reasonable, then we can talk about yanking us out of line because you "judge" a behavior to be "suspicious". We're not on Prozak, nor do I ever intend to be. We're not sheep, we believe in civil liberties and constitutional rights.

Yet by pandering to fear, and creating fear yourselves as a measure of control, you've created the perfect scenario to harass the public.

You say "I would rather see somebody miss their flight than to just ignore the behaviors I’ve been trained to recognize. "
I say "YOU and the TSA don't have to PAY for making an innocent person miss their flights. YOU and TSA don't have to be denied compensation by the airline. YOU and TSA don't have to be stuck for HOURS (or another day) because the later flights are FULL. YOU AND TSA HAVE JUST CREATED MORE FEAR IN A TRAVELER."

I remember when police in this country were considered to be folks that would help the citizen. Nowadays many people fear the police because there are so many minor and obscure laws tha folks fear the police. Same goes for TSA, now that the checkpoints have become dragnets (and even worse, there are thought police that don't give a rats-hiney about folks missing their flights.

Just take a look through this blog about the problems people face with the TSA. Is it any wonder that they're fearful of breaking yet another unwritten rule?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, a good measure of how you're doing is to show the "false hit" rate.

So, TSA, what's the false hit rate for this program?

Brande said...

When I worked for the government (not TSA), we had all kinds of stupid programs. Everyone in the agency tried to get assigned to the stupid program because it always beat out the dumb job that we were doing. All the big bosses noticed you, it looked good on your evaluation and you often got to go to good places (TDY) for training and conferences.

I bet being the BDO beats going through someone's dirty undies any day. Any you might get an award.

DoogieSD said...

Go ahead Bob... preach on brother..

Anonymous said...

Paul Ekman has done some good, legitimate scientific work. Some of his stuff, though, is simply junk science--like using "microexpressions" to detect lies.

Although this program smacks of Orwell's "Facecrime" and "Thoughtcrime" (I often wonder if anyone at DHS other than me has read "1984"), I can understand how it has been paying off, raising rates of catching illegal activity. (I won't comment on whether or not detecting drugs or money keeps us safe from terrorists.) Here's how.

TSA has, for the most part, hired folks without law enforcement experience. An experienced beat cop, or a detective are very good at spotting anomalous behavior. Paul's training is a way of conveying a lot of that sort of experience quickly.

We can discount a lot of his flakey notions, but at the core there's some good practical knowledge.

Here's an analogy. Consider someone learning to be a psychic. Now of course there's no such thing as psychic powers, so they'll learn a lot of irrelevant junk about reading palms and such that's totally useless. But somewhere in there, they'll learn "cold reading" techniques--how to pick up subtle clues in language, dress, or body language that make the reading seem accurate. There's a core of useful knowledge, surrounded by junk.

I think that's what's going on here.

Anonymous said...

Carl said: "Plus, these guys look like idiots."

Bob replied: "Real classy..."

Bob, your reply had no more class than Carl's.

Anonymous said...

So, alot like how Europe has been doing for awhile. Good to see we're on the forefront here......

Anonymous said...

Hi

I was wondering about something similar, more preceisely, the officer that stands at the x-ray machine.
Some of the reports I've read about them portray them as either blunt or plain vicious (at the lack of other explanation). Since the law clears them from any responsibility, they don't feel they have to be responsible, in fact placing them "above the law".

Can anyone comment about the incident described here, for example?
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1039&thread=26970261

Thanks,
SR

Anonymous said...

Why did you choose to have the video on this page parked on what looks like an image of 9/11?

Chertoff actually had the nerve to ask if we are forgetting 9/11.

We have not forgotten 9/11 but some of us refuse to hand the terrorists the victory of being terrorized. Others, most especially those in government, seem determined to keep us fearful.

I wish those people in government who remind us of what we "need to fear" would instead find courage. I wish they could find the courage to realize 'that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Fear, terror, is another victory to the terrorists.

George said...

Bob: What we're saying is the same behaviors are displayed if you are concealing a large amount of cash, drugs, or weapons. How do we know what you're concealing unless we follow through with our procedures? We have to trust our training and follow through with our procedures.

The way I read this, if your highly professional Behavior Detection Officers "refer" enough false positives that are "suspicious" but do not threaten aviation, they may eventually stumble upon someone who does in some way threaten aviation. Then Kip can go on Fox News and crow about the "spectacular success" of the SPOT program. Until that happens, we'll have to be impressed with a sufficiently spectacular quantity of "bye catch," including drug criminals, false IDs, and people wearing fake military jackets (the last being the subject of a TSA press release last year touting a SPOT "success").

I'm sorry, but nothing I've seen here convinces me that SPOT is anything more than just the latest way the TSA intrusively hassles millions of innocent passengers and subjects them to treatment as criminals, with nothing useful to show for it. As you even admit, the signal to noise ratio for behavior at an airport is close to zero. Even if the Behavior Detection Officers are as expert as you'd like us to believe, their ability in practice to distinguish an actual threat in a large crowd of people who have every reason to be stressed, anxious, upset, and nervous is necessarily very limited. To be convinced of effectiveness, I would need to see statistics about the hit rate vs. the false positive rate. But of course, if any such statistics exist they're conveniently classified for National Security reasons, so we must presumably accept on faith that it's effective. I have no reason to have any such faith.

You may not think the drugs are a big deal, but what if the police find out the individual has an outstanding warrant for child abuse or something else just as serious? I’m sure you wouldn’t want these types of folks to slip through the cracks would you?

Of course not! And if the TSA happens upon them while they're looking for threats to aviation, it's in Society's best interests to turn them over to the Authorities rather than letting criminals escape just because they aren't specifically threatening aviation. Expanding the TSA's role from merely protecting aviation from terrorists to running an all-purpose criminal dragnet checkpoint isn't "mission creep" at all-- it's giving taxpayers greater value for money! You're doin' a heck of a job, Kippie!

Unfortunately, we have had to submit some folks who were just having a bad day. You know what? When we were finished, they went on their way.

And I'm sure that a gentle TSA secondary screening and a nice chat with a friendly police officer made their bad day a whole lot better, especially if they missed their flight as a result! And next time they have to fly, they'll be sure to be cool, calm and relaxed as they stand barefoot waiting for their next encounter with the TSA!

Andy said...

Thanks for your response, Bob.

Most of what you said does make sense... however, I believe the central responsibility of TSA is to screen passengers for dangerous items? If a passenger is screened for dangerous items and found to have none, but exhibiting suspicious behavior, how would s/he be a threat to the aircraft? After 9/11, we have air marshalls, aware passengers, and enhanced crews who know what to do. So, it all comes down to this: how far are you guys going with this? Why punish passengers who are having a bad day? What constitutes suspicious behavior?

It's called mission creep, my friend. What started with a simple mission to screen passengers for dangerous contraband has expanded to watching for suspicious behavior and acting like an intelligence agency. Leave the intel up to the FBI, CBI, and other certain agencies who have been more trained.

I forsee this program, while with good intentions, will cause a lot of problems for innocent travellers.

Sorry, but that's just my opinion.

Andrew

Anonymous said...

Bob;
Once again - nice try - thanks for playing.

Now I'd guess that the majority of people "looking nervous" are probably so because they're standing in overly long lines trying to make a plane. They're watching as some TSA person uses a loupe to examine each boarding pass (!), and listening as TSA barkers scream the nonsensical policies over and over. This is enough to raise anyone's blood pressure. Maybe they're nervous pondering what a target the silly line would be! Add to that the thought that while all this nonsense is going on - you're failing 80% of the tests. Its enough to make anyone nervous.

The cockpit doors have been secured. Passengers are not going to allow another incident. Screen for the big obvious stuff and don't worry about the little stuff that really doesn't matter. Freedom isn't free - and it does come with risks. You can't protect me from everything and I'd rather you didn't try. especially as I have to pay for it.

I'd like to see you SPOT guys lose the title of "Thousands Standing Around" and do something. Don't stare at me. Open up another line and screen people properly - not for mustard or water, drugs, pocket knives or baby food either!

If you don't want to do that - then I'd like to see the SPOT budget cut - and resources turned to intel. That's where this war will be won - not with you guys,

Mister Mxyzptlk said...

It seems long overdue that TSA is working on behavior detection. El Al has long had an excellent reputation for doing this effectively. But from the description of how it happens here -- as part of secondary screening in the security area -- I question the approach. I have experienced casual questioning in Europe at different points such as waiting to board AFTER screening and the check-in line. I believe at the security point people are more on guard.

Randy said...

Of course I'm stressed when I go through the TSA Experience. I just had a harrowing ride to the airport, dealt with the ticketing experience, am concerned that the screener on the metal detector remembers that all shoes DO NOT have to be removed, had the boarding pass checker reject my retired military ID because there was no expiration date, and just dropped my CPAP while taking it out of the carry-on.

And you are using stress as a SPOTing technique? The number of secondaries with no "hit" will be soaring.

And to "Bob" who wrote "I can count on one closed hand the number of times I've had to refer somebody and found that they were smuggling liquids on their person. I’m sure it’s happened elsewhere, but it’s rare. It was a lighthearted example. I seriously doubt this is increasing our false hit rate."

How many times did you find nothing? How does that number compare with the amount of times you found something on the TSA prohibited list? Not something illegel, but on the list

Anonymous said...

" and when the testing was over, it was revealed that the passenger also had plastic explosive simulants in the cups of her bra.

So, TSA only found the plastic explosive simulants" when it was revealed to them AFTER THE TEST WAS OVER!!..

In other words, if this women wasn't giving out these "signals", all of the other elaborate TSA screening methods would have FAILED! AND she was even sent for additional screening and still the simulants were missed!!

So, we have a potential terrorist, gets pulled aside by SPOT, gets extra screening, some bomb components are found but still walks away with a booby bomb! Nice try guys!!

Nice!

Anonymous said...

anonymous said,

TSA has, for the most part, hired folks without law enforcement experience. An experienced beat cop, or a detective are very good at spotting anomalous behavior.

My checkpoint alone... I have one retired NOPD, shot in the back. I have a former Counterintelligence Agent from the DOD medically retired.... 3 others from the local PD that had back and leg problems from.... you geussed it, "beat work", you know patrol officers....

Sandra said...

Bob said:

"It is unfortunate for anybody to miss a flight, but we've been trained on recognizing certain behaviors. I would rather see somebody miss their flight than to just ignore the behaviors I’ve been trained to recognize."

That's just wonderful, Bob, what a fine attitude. Is the TSA going to pick up the tab for all the inconvenience your game-playing caused an innocent person to miss his/her flight? No, I didn't think so, but you're proud that your action made the person miss the flight.

How many people these days aren't nervous when they get to the airport?

On Wednesday, I was talking to a friend who was heading over seas to go to her ill sister's bedside. She's 80 years old and was extremely anxious to get to the airport because she was afraid that with all the hassel she might miss her flight and her connection. She knew already she was headed for the grope because of implants, a grope which simply mortifies her.

IOW, in other words, she's an emotional mess even before she gets to the airport.

Are you going to single her out for your game?

I learned a great response from FT when approached by a SPOTter and told my friend what my response is to you guys: "Go play SPOT with somebody else."

I personally don't care how many people with drugs, "excess" money, etc., etc., etc.,
get on a plane with me. As long as they don't have weapons, leave them alone.

Stop boasting about these people and tell us how many terrorists or potential terrorists who have caught. You haven't caught any because they aren't there.

Anonymous said...

Bob asked; "Have you been through the course? Have you performed the job?"

Maybe Carl just sees how well your other training has (not) worked. Maybe he has just had too many encounters with too many indifferent, sloppy, abusive, loud people who have been empowered to act out their power trips.

Anonymous said...

Originally posted by Bob:
Also, I'm sure you've heard stories where rapists and murderers and other criminals with outstanding warrants have been caught while being pulled over for routine traffic tickets or other minor offenses. The same thing applies here. You may not think the drugs are a big deal, but what if the police find out the individual has an outstanding warrant for child abuse or something else just as serious? I’m sure you wouldn’t want these types of folks to slip through the cracks would you?


The bad guys caught at routine traffic stops were pulled over by the cops because the cops had grounds to pull them over (speeding, illegal turn, etc.) There was already reasonable suspicion, if not probable cause, that a crime had been committed.

Merely desiring to travel by air is not suspicious behavior and is not probable cause for any sort of criminal search.

Your statements are an excellent argument for putting checkpoints at every freeway entrance and major intersection. Why not check everyone's ID against the NCIC criminal database at all these points, if it will catch murderers, rapists, and child molesters?

The answer, of course, as we all should have been taught in junior-high civics, is that in a free society the government can't just stop and detain you, search you, and check you against the outstanding warrants list just because they want to. There has to be some belief that a crime has been committed. We are supposed to accept some degree of risk to maintain an even more important degree of liberty. That concept, however, seems to be lost in this age of "administrative searches," "implied consent," and "think of the children."

Anonymous said...

Blog this one: TSA: Missing Luggage Totals $31 Million Over Three Years

TSO PHX said...

All the BDOs I know are good hardworking professional people, who take what they are doing very seriously. I'm thinkin most passengers at the airport don't even realize BDOs are around. Most passengers never even have contact with BDOs. I work in a coordination center for TSA. I receive phone calls from BDOs all the time. Their success rate astounds me. for example:(Drugs, weapons, false IDs) They find it all. When the BDOs discover something illegal they turn the individual over to local law enforcement. Local law enforcement decides what to do with the individual. It usually entails citing the individual, confiscating the illegal item and letting the passenger continue to fly unless the individual has outstanding warrants and then they are arrested.

Everyone has the opportunity to make sure there is nothing forbidden in their belongings before their person or belongings are submitted for screening. You are taking the risk of being caught if you don't follow the rules. When you are caught it's your own fault. It's not TSAs fault you were caught carrying a false ID, had a controlled substance, had a weapon (concealed or otherwise) or were trying to carry large amounts of cash out of the country. These things are illegal. If you have something illegal on your person you are obviously not exactly innocent.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @7:27 am:

The singular of "data" is not "anecdote." The fact remains that the majority of TSA employees don't have substantial LE backgrounds. This isn't a slam against them: it's just showing how giving them a basic education in spotting suspicious behaviour will naturally raise the rate at which they detect contraband.

Ben Arnold said...

"Merely desiring to travel by air is not suspicious behavior and is not probable cause for any sort of criminal search."

Our government at all levels -- from the President down to the screeners who have posted all this stuff obviously have a different view. Only We, The People, can do something about it.

Anonymous said...

So what happens if the actions of TSA SPOT cause someone to miss their flight? It is more than possible, even if you arrive as early as everyone (from your airline to the FAA) suggests.

Don't say they should have arrived earlier. That is an insincere and straw-man argument. If everything everywhere says to arrive 2 hours early, that should be enough. You cannot expect people to arrive even earlier under the assumption they'll be singled out for a SPOT.

I know people say they would rather you miss your flight than let you go... while I disagree I'll still take you up on that point. Fine, miss the flight. BUT... who is now responsible for any financial damage? I can see the passenger getting stuck in a nether-world where the airline blames the TSA and the TSA blames the airline. If it is the last flight out, who is responsible for the hotel that night? Could you be re-booked on another airline to get you to your destination?

The bottom line: I'm guessing the TSA has not formally written anything down on paper or come to agreements with the airlines. The outcome will be a "screw the passenger" attitude expecting them to be grateful because they are somehow safer.

Where's the form on the TSA website to claim a loss of money because you were incorrectly detained by a SPOT despite being completely innocent?

Anonymous said...

TSA devises a new way to waste everyone's time that does absolutely nothing to protect anyone. Meanwhile, TSA's luggage policies have led to the theft of $31,000,000 worth of goods from citizens' baggage. Typically pathetic -- it's good to have documented just how useless TSA really is.

Anonymous said...

"So, TSA, what's the false hit rate for this program?"

Good question. Maybe if "Bob" is done throwing back insults, he could take the time to answer it.

Anonymous said...

In each of our own hearts, we know we’re not terrorists. We know we’re not up to anything. Everybody else does not know that nor should they assume it to be true. What does a terrorist look like?

For that matter, what does a terrorist act like? Presumably, the BDO training purports to teach officers how to spot what terrorists act like. Do the trainers actually know what terrorists act like, with sufficient specificity to distinguish this from the way ordinary people act under the stress of air travel and the "screening experience"? Has the training been scientifically validated with actual terrorists (beyond the single data point of tapes of the 9/11 terrorists)? In short, is there any basis to believe that the BDO program is actually capable of spotting the one-in-a-million terrorist who happens to present himself at the checkpoint for screening? In short, is there any basis for the assertion that SPOT is a scientifically-validated program with evidence that it's effective?

If there are answers to those questions that aren't "necessarily classified," I'd sure like to hear them. Otherwise, I can only characterise SPOT as a program that makes semi-educated guesses about people based on how the government believes or assumes terrorists behave. While that's well-intentioned and possibly "better than nothing," the obvious result will be a great many false positives that cause a great deal of unnecessary expense and stress to a great many innocent people.

The fact that this broad dragnet incidentally uncovers significant "miscellaneous" criminal activity unrelated to the TSA's supposed mission to protect aviation should not be seen as evidence of its effectiveness. Rather, if that's the only benefit we get from the substantial cost (in dollars and intrusion into people's lives), it can only be proof that the TSA has failed in its assigned mission of protecting aviation. Of course, there may be good arguments for having checkpoints at airports to screen everyone for signs of criminal activity. But if that is indeed something valuable, Congress needs to specifically debate and authorize it. That's not the TSA's mission, and we should not allow the TSA to unilaterally expand its authority just so it can appear to be effective at "something."

Finally, those comments from TSA officials about how they don't care if their broad dragnet causes innocent people to miss their flights are very disturbing. If that reflects the TSA's arrogant attitude toward the flying public, they should not be surprised that the public has such a negative attitude toward the TSA, and also that people are so skeptical about BDOs and SPOT. It's just another arbitrary and stupid restriction like the quart baggies that makes air travel more difficult but no safer (as test after test and audit after audit consistently reveals).

I can only hope that the new administration does a serious top-to-bottom review of the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Please consider the idea that some of your customers are acting nervous, flustered, or upset simply because they were just treated with extreme rudeness by your own TSA staff.

I just saw a screener treat a bewildered elderly couple with inexplicable and inexcusable nastiness. They didn't have their boarding passes held out in front of them (said passes having been checked 10 feet earlier in the same secure area by another staff member). There was no message anywhere saying that they would need them again, and no one said a word about it, so they sent them through the x-ray with the rest of their bags. Your employee was rude, loud, condescending, and generally nasty to everyone in line, even though the passengers were treating him with decency and respect. (And yes, he was nasty and rude to me, too.)

Most of us are willing to put up with the extra hassle, and most of us are polite - surely your staff could pay us a little of the same courtesy in return.

Anonymous said...

I receive phone calls from BDOs all the time. Their success rate astounds me. for example:(Drugs, weapons, false IDs) They find it all.

tso phx, how many actual threats to aviation have they found? In my admittedly-naive understanding of the TSA's mission, I would think that "success rate" should be defined in terms of keeping hijackers and similar threats to aviation off of airplanes. Everything else is a "false positive," not a "success." There's a very big difference that seems lost on the TSA.

Has Bush or Cheney recently signed a classified executive order specifically expanding the TSA's mission into a general screening for all crimes at airport checkpoints? If so, that may explain why finding a plethora of suspect items is considered a "success."

If you have something illegal on your person you are obviously not exactly innocent.

Given the hundreds of thousands of laws in this country, I doubt that anyone who passes through a general checkpoint is "exactly innocent." But I ask again-- how does any of this worthy activity keep aviation safe?

DoogieSD said...

One of the whiners asked what happens if they miss their flight because of additional security...

I can testify that at SAN, ABE, PHX and BMI, I was close to my flight boarding (and with SSSS) I politely asked if any accommodation could be made. 9 times out of 10 they move me to the front, do a thorough search and I made my plane every time and never missed one because of security.

The only suggestion I could offer is that I seem to get the SSSS after a last minute flight/airline change when I didn't have it on the flight before. I complained to the Airlines who pointed me to TSA who pointed me to the Airlines...lol governments and corporations at their finest. Anyway I'm sure its the way the computers are programmed and if there could be some 'intelligence' to be programed in to check previous status and apply it to the new ticket and not automatically force someone to secondary would be pretty cool. When this happens I'm usually getting an earlier flight and time is tight..

From he who travels 100k+ annually...

Anonymous said...

In any dictatorship it is not the laws that are understood that terrify and cow the people. It is the "laws" that are created on the whim of officials. The citizen can never know how to obey these "laws". They cannot know or comply and are thus exposed to unknown punishment at any time. All done under a whim, backed by "science".

TSA, an agency that knows this rule well, uses rules and laws that change from airport to airport the traveler can have little chance to obey. The traveler can be humiliated, molested or worse.

And, if all else fails, the traveler can be picked up for suspected bad thoughts. Be afraid, citizens, be very afraid.

Dave said...

BDO's are as easy to SPOT as Federal Air Marshals.

They have many things in common, actually, including being a complete waste of money.

Why doesn't Kip realize he should be spending his money on better screening technology so we don't have to take our shoes off and deal with stupid liquid restrictions.

Then he can hire more ID checkers because the current ones take 1 minute or more to look at an ID, and more screeners and equipment to get the lines moving along quicker.

The TSA continues to be the biggest joke agency in our government.

Anonymous said...

You caught an undercover agent acting the part!!!! Excuse me, but big whoop-dee-doo.

reality said...

Sandra said:

I personally don't care how many people with drugs, "excess" money, etc., etc., etc.,
get on a plane with me. As long as they don't have weapons, leave them alone.


everyone should have your attitude Sandra. who cares about the crack den and the drug dealers in my neighborhood, they don't have weapons, they're just trying to make a buck on the youth of america. "LEAVE THEM ALONE"

Stop boasting about these people and tell us how many terrorists or potential terrorists who have caught. You haven't caught any because they aren't there.

lets all take a page out of Sandra's book. Attention America, there are no terrorists. who needs national security. Sandra says there are no "real" threats.

I wish I lived in your state of reality.

Anonymous said...

with all this TSA bashing, I would love to see a Department of Agriculture blog. Since all they do is take away passengers fruits, that has to be far more entertaining. or perhaps the complainers here like having their fruits taken away.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 5:17:

Let's consider the difference between DoA's prohibition on some fruits, and the TSA's prohibition on knives and too much liquids.

The DoA wants to stop certain pests from entering the country. To accomplish this goal, they seize fruits at some ports of entry. (Hawaii, for example.) Note that the goal can be fulfilled by the action.

Now, the TSA wants to top terrorists from seizing control of, and blowing up planes. To accomplish this goal, they pretend that six ounces of liquid in one bottle can blow up an airplane, but two three-ounce bottles can't, and that knives can penetrate locked cockpit doors. Note that the goal is not accomplished by the actions--the actions are pointless.

So you've drawn a bad analogy.

Christopher said...

There seems to be some misperceptions about BDOs causing people to miss their flights. Only in the most serious cases do BDOs refer passengers to local law enforcement, which in term causes a significant delay. Otherwise, the only delay would be in having the passenger undergo secondary screening (only to determine if the passenger has prohibited items).

This process takes a matter of minutes and provides a high level of security.

Also, to those that don't believe we should refer cash smugglers to law enforcement, consider where this money is very well known to go. Drug cartels, terrorist organizations and other criminal networks. No, it's not catching a plot in progress, but it is known to disrupt and deter. For more info on this, check out http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/guam_cash.shtm.

Christopher
TSA Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Let's see:

Furled brow? Check
Sweating? Check (failed to notice parka)
Unwillingness to converse with TSA? Check
In a hurry? Check (got there two hours early and boarding time in 15 minutes.

Must be a terrorist. The clown opera of security is in high gear and accelerating out of control.

Anonymous said...

"This process takes a matter of minutes and provides a high level of security."

Christopher, TSA does nothing to provide security. Stop pretending it does.

Anonymous said...

Or they could, of course, be travelling with cash, Christopher. It happens. I recently had to travel with about $3k in cash. I'm also a VERY nervous flier, and I tend to pace around a bit before a flight. Should I worry about being "referred to law enforcement" and having my cash seized? I've gotta fly a few more times in the upcoming months, just want to see where I stand...

Stop treating everyone like a suspect, actually work towards your mission, and maybe all these "whiners" will go away. Until then, I will continue to know that the TSA blatantly disregards the law and the constitution, and is completely unaccountable for it.

Anonymous said...

Christopher said: "Only in the most serious cases do BDOs refer passengers to local law enforcement, which in term causes a significant delay."

Unless, of course, BDOs take a page from the other screeners' playbook and start calling LEOs anytime a passenger exhibits a lack of proper servile attitude, says something a screener doesn't like or some way manages to offend a screener's sense of authority.

Frankly, this just seems to me to be just one more opportunity for would-be Barney Fife's to show the passengers who's the boss.

If you thought retaliatory screening was bad before, wait until this program gets into full gear.

Anonymous said...

WHY has commenting been disabled on the other threads???

Chris Engleman said...

"In the ABC interview below, former United Airlines ticketing agent Mike Tuohey discusses gut feelings he had about behaviors Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari were displaying on 9/11. BDOs are trained to recognize behaviors and likely would have subjected them to secondary screening and questioning."

Ok, and since everything they were carrying with them was legal to carry on the aircraft at the time, why do you think they would have not gotten on the flight?

They did not break any laws until they hijacked the aircraft, even under todays TSA prohibited list, there are items that can be fashoned into weapons to do the same thing.

Bring back private screeners, pay them a living wage and let us get back to our lives. The passengers will not allow another 9/11, the cabin crews will not allow another 9/11 and the pilots will not allow another 9/11. So stop throwing money at a problem that will not happen and use it for Human Intel for other issues.

Anonymous said...

I travel with cash, sometimes as much as $10k - it is the nature of my industry, Rock and Roll.

Frequently we require the promoter to pay cash from the box office receipts in settlement. Nothing illegal, and you can bet there is a paper trail along with taxes paid. And it is domestic travel, if you think I am going to place it in my checked luggage, you must work for the TSA.

MY issue is when I ask that the Cash be inspected in private - I don't exactly want any of my fellow travelers knowing I have $10k in a cardboard box in my carry-on - and the TSO is always hard-of-hearing, lacks sufficient attention span or thinks it is some sort of threat.

Asking for a supervisor is tantamount to threatening a TSO, so I usually demand an LEO immediately if there is any issue.

So when reading about the general attitude about carrying cash from TSO staff (that it is generally associated with some criminal intent) I am not surprised. I find myself educating the TSA - one staff member at a time - I only wish I could be paid for my time.

Dave said...

Reality said:

everyone should have your attitude Sandra. who cares about the crack den and the drug dealers in my neighborhood, they don't have weapons, they're just trying to make a buck on the youth of america. "LEAVE THEM ALONE"

People carrying drugs are not a threat to national security or an aircraft. The TSA should not be wasting their time with people who might have a joint on them. They have enough issues finding threats placed by their own red teams than worry about joints and water and shoes.

Sandra said...

Strawman argument, Reality.

I said nothing about drug dealers in neighborhoods, only people boarding planes with drugs on their person. No neighborhood drug dealers are ever going to be found working back from one person with some coke or MJ on them.

I also did not say there are no terrorists. I referred to the fact that the TSA has yet to catch any terrorist.

Your "reality" must be very sad because you must be very afraid, which is the state your government wants you to be in so that they can perpetuate all this degredation upon us.

Ben Arnold said...

Slightly off-topic, but perhaps this leads to why screeners gleefully talk about their pride at catching someone with a joint in their pocket.

I was talking about this after church today with some friends who in their day jobs are "Mr and Mrs Cop." Mr. Cop told me, "Well, you have to understand that most cops are lazy. They will solve a crime if it happens right in front of them, but very few are willing to take the initiative to do real police work. You'd be surprised at the high percentage of crimes that go unsolved because the police force just isn't motivated enough to solve them."

After saying "wow", I thought later that this could be a reason why both the TSA and local airport cops like to cite their success stories making the big catches of guys with a joint or two or some college student bar-hoppers with fake drivers licenses. They don't have to go out and solve crimes -- the criminals are coming to them at the airport.

dave and sandra's friend said...

Okay so all the complainers want TSA to be gotten rid of, because its a waste of their money. Well if TSA is gone, your money will most likely then go to something else that you can surely complain about. You know there's things in life that could work better, be a certain way, but they aren't. but thank the INTERNET that you can come here and "make a difference" with your whining and TSA failure rate articles.

What happened? Did you all get tired of complaining that the BIG MAC looks nothing like it does in the picture?

btw I mean this all to be lighthearted. Because while "Thousands Stand Around", you guys are down in the trenches, fighting the good fight, making the world a place where you take "risks".

I SALUTE YOU.

Anonymous said...

*Airport security is not a dragnet. People should know they're going through the security checkpoint just to be screened for dangerous items. If I bring a wad of $3,000, for example, does that make me suspicious? What if I just want to carry cash with me?


3,000 in and of itself will NOT trigger suspicion. Now, if you have 3k and you're acting strangely, you may be fingered for secondary screening and asked about the money. Truth be told, the amount of cash needed to raise suspicion is a bit higher than 3k.

Dave X the first said...

Does the US customs' 22.5 percent "hit rate" mean that 22.5% of those referred to secondary screening actually have contraband? Or that customs used to catch 4.2% of the smugglers and now catch 22.5% of them.

What's TSA's or the BDO's "hit rate"? 22.5%? What is the miss rate?

You can always up your sensitivity by referring more people to secondary, but then you lose specificity, and as a result your secondary screening will suffer.

If your BDOs observed 2,000,000 travellers per day for the 222 days stated (444Mpeople) and cause 514 arrests, your prevalence of evildoers is near 0.0001%, or 1 in a million. And the terrorists are less frequent than 1 in a million hit rate you are getting warrant offenders.

If your BDOs are as good as the customs agents' hit rate of 22.5%, you can only have referred 2284 people to secondary total, or about 10 people per day since July 1. That seems far lower than the level you would get if you had just 1 BDO referral per airport. If your BDOs refer at least one person per shift, which seems like a safe assumption if you don't want to earn the name Thousands Standing Around", your "hit rate" has to be much lower than customs.

Customs gets high hit rates because lots of people try to smuggle stuff across borders. Customs can then train themselves with real events. The terrorists you are supposed to be catching are much less frequent than the near 1 in a million arrest rate for crimes like "unlawfully carrying concealed firearms or other weapons, possession of fraudulent documents, transporting undeclared currency, possessing illegal drugs, immigration law violations, and outstanding warrants." You really need your mission to creep into an all-inclusive dragnet to try to justify your program to your own employees and the world. If you were not going after warrant offenders and the like, you people would die of boredom.

The problem you'll always have with low-rate detection systems is that you will have to train your people with actors, and you run a horrible risk of 'teaching to the test'. Even in this post, you tout as "proof the behavior detection program works" the fact that you caught an actor. Was the 'Undercover "passenger"' acting like they thought a terrorist should act? Was the undercover passenger trained to act just like the BDOs are trained to detect? Security Theatre indeed.

Anonymous said...

"$3,000 in and of itself will NOT trigger suspicion. Now, if you have 3k and you're acting strangely, you may be fingered for secondary screening and asked about the money. Truth be told, the amount of cash needed to raise suspicion is a bit higher than 3k."

So there IS an internal 'limit' on what we are allowed to carry in cash? $4k? $5k? Which law does this limit of what we can carry without being harassed come from?

Bob said...

I'm typing from my wireless laptop in bed right now. I'm afraid my daughter has given me the flu!

I keep seeing a few things pop up in the comments and I wanted to address them before I surrender to this virus.

The test at CVG was not meant to test BDOs. This was a test intended for TSOs. In fact, the test had to be invalidated because the BDOs caught the individual first. I just want to make it clear that nobody was acting out behaviors. What the BDOs picked up on were the natural behaviors displayed by someone (they did not know) who was concealing something. That’s why I found this worthy of a mention and such a big deal.

I would like to comment on how infrequent secondary screening is due to a BDO referral. I work at the 25th busiest airport in the country and we can sometimes go a few days without a referral. It is apparent that some of you got the impression that we’re referring people left and right. That’s just not the case.

Also, at no time did I say I didn’t care if a passenger missed their flight due to screening. Scroll back up and read my statement again. I do care. I do my best to make passengers comfortable during the screening process and I hate when somebody has to miss a flight.

Goodnight…
Bob
TSA Evolution Blog Team

Randy said...

Bob said - I would like to comment on how infrequent secondary screening is due to a BDO referral. I work at the 25th busiest airport in the country and we can sometimes go a few days without a referral. It is apparent that some of you got the impression that we’re referring people left and right. That’s just not the case.

So then there isn't much of threat out there for BDOs to find.
Of the few referrals BDOs make, what percentage turn up nothing?

Marshall said...

Nice back peddling, Bob.

And thanks for proving that taxpayer money is being thrown away by the TSA, i.e., BDO's can sometimes go for a few days without a "referral." Total waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Bob, while you may be upset when passenger misses their flight due to a more detailed screening than normal. What does the TSA do fir the passenger in that case?

I'm sure the airline will tell you to buy a new ticket.

Anonymous said...

It is a brave new world in which we live.

I fly approximately twice every month to see my fiance who lives across the country (I'm finishing up my Graduate degree), so I'm fairly familiar with the entire TSA screening processes (I deal with the baggies, the shoes, and on and on).

Why is it that at Tampa International I'm only "randomly selected" to go through the puffer machine if I wear a knee length skirt (did that once - never again) or a loose fitting blouse? I've never once been picked out for the machine wearing jeans and a shirt that's tight or tucked in.

I'm not sold on the TSA at all. I think it's a useless agency that isn't worth the tax dollars. I appreciate what they're trying to do, however I don't believe that keeping people from accompanying their loved ones to the gate, or keeping them from bringing water to the gate makes anyone any safer. The fact is that if someone really wants to cause a problem, they'll figure out a way to get it done no matter what the obstacle.

Taking away our individual freedoms doesn't make us any safer at all.

Anonymous said...

I do have a question and I am not tryng to be "cute", I would really like to know:

Are the screeners and supervisors screened when they come on duty?

If so are they ever subjected to secondary screening.

And if screened who does the screening and is it done in the public eye?

Anonymous said...

This blog is exactly what I thought it would be when it was started - a propaganda machine.

As for your program - you could probably improve your numbers even more by reading up on Stasi tactics. Just sayin' ....

Anonymous said...

I see we have made it back to what every other area seems to go back to. TSA should only look for prohibited items and ignor everything else. TSA Security Officers are federal employees and the checkpoint is a security check. Are you trying to tell me if a Border Patrol agent looks at my car when I go through a stop on I-5 out of San Diego and they see guns laying around, drugs....they should stick to looking for IAs? Don't think so, one thing leads to another. I guess the moral to the story is just realize if TSA security officers find >10K in your bag it will be referred to CBP. If they find drugs, weapons, or other items which might be ileagle under law they will refer it to a local law enforcement officer. On the subject of a BDO, like it or not the people they tag usually have something to hide. I don't think it is random. But I'm sure as soon as there is a terrorist ID chart TSA and others will ue it and stop messing with all of the "good people".

Anonymous said...

I have no problems with TSA and am quite proud of their dedication to security. Our leaders recently talk of a coming "nuclear holocaust" and "World War III." How can anyone complain about missing a flight due to security when so much danger exists? We should welcome new ways to detect terrorists.

With so many enemies out there it seems foolish to babble about liberty and privacy when our very lives are on the line. Those terms were relevant two hundred years ago, but times have changed. What do the complainers have to hide?

Good Work, TSA!

Anonymous said...

This is why I can't fly. I have an anxiety disorder which, among other things, leaves me the constant fear that I will be punished for things I haven't done. Going through a security line was bad enough before 9/11, but now with BDO's I'm guaranteed to be taken aside and searched. This terrifies me so much that I have little control over my behavior, so I'm likely to say something that lands me in jail or worse. For me the terrorists are a lot less scary than the TSA.

Andy said...

To anonymous who has an anxiety disorder:

You're not the only one - I have anxiety disorder too! But think of it this way - I've been through the airport security checkpoint many times feeling anxious, and haven't been pulled aside (yet).

IF you do get pulled aside, gently explain to the BDO that you have anxiety disorder and that you prefer to not be questioned, but clarify that you're willing to be given a secondary search without any questioning - just a physical bag search. That should do the trick - and the BDO may even understand what you're going through and leave you alone?

IF they begin to hassle you, calmly ask for a LEO, FSD, and the GSC. Remain quiet and do not answer any questions until a LEO is a present, then explain the situation.

But, in all likehood, I find it doubtful that you'll actually be pulled over just for appearing anxious. Many people are anxious at the airport. Just try to be relaxed and be nice to the security officers, and they'll take that cue and probably leave you alone.

Hope this helps! Also hope a team blogger will help clarify too.

Anonymous said...

Andy, I think this person is trying to snow the TSA. If he has nothing to hide, the security screening process will determine that. I can't see the value in giving everyone that claims an anxiety disorder the chance to sneak contraband onto aircraft.

TSA should be very suspect of such people.

Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between "probability" and "possibility". The TSA exists because of the latter. That's lousy justification for the airport security process we must endure and I think it's patently wrong.

jim

Ayn R. Key said...

This really is a curious addition to the blog, because at the very beginning you tell us that you are looking specifically for those who do not wished to be noticed.

Yet throughout many comments in the many entries of this blog it has become evident that the average passenger falls into this category, as we don't want to be sexually molested and then made late for our flight if we dare complain.

Ayn R. Key said...

It's nice that the blog authors come here regularly to reassure us that they don't want us to miss our flights. Now if only they were the screeners who the public meet who regularly threaten to make people miss their flights.

Sandra said...

To anonymous who said:

"Our leaders recently talk of a coming "nuclear holocaust" and "World War III."

How sad for you that you have fallen for such driven and apparently live in great a state of fear. Unfortunately, that is just what they ("our leaders")want you to believe so that they can attempt to justify the atrocity that is the TSA. Fortunately more and more people every day see the truth - the TSA is NOT doing a thing to protect us but only making people like you "feel" safe. There is a huge difference between feeling safe and being safe.

With people that think like you apparently do, the "terrorists" have won.

Sandra said...

Unfortunately, I hit "publish" rather than edit on my last post. I need to change the word "driven" to "drivel."

I'll also take this opportunity to say that if you want a good laugh, go to Amazon.com and look for the TSA toy that shows someone going through a TSA security checkpoint. Then read all the comments about said toy.

TSA, the whole world knows you are useless - you're even being laughed at on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Please repeat after me: "Transportation Safety Administration". I see nothing to show that SPOT (or the loupe'd boarding passes, or the ID checks) are doing much to enhance the administration of transportation safety.

They are, in fact, another tool in the Department of Homeland Security's toolbox to further suppress the civil liberties that statesman like Alexander Hamilton secured for us, the U.S. American citizens.

TSA wants to report successes. Well, sorry, but I'm really not impressed that the TSA caught a criminal !!while suppressing the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens!! if that criminal wasn't endangering a flight.

We, the citizens of this great country, wish only that you, the TSA, do the job we'd ask you to do, nothing more or less.

We don't want the U.S. military patrolling the streets, nor do we want blanket curfews. And, in the case of the TSA, we want them protecting transportation. Unfortunately, --sadly really--, DHS and TSA seem to enjoy defining your job yourself. Instead of listening to us, the TSA (and really, DHS) simply justifies it current positions.

With today's world setting (Russia's rise in prominence through oil and gas reserves, China's stature, Iraq/Afghanistan issues, the weak dollar, and U.S. economy in general), it's crucial for our Nation to make wise choices toward the future.

Spending resources on the DHS and TSA for things like SPOT for non-threats to aviation? Wasteful. Trampling on our Constitution? Depressing. This is the nation I served 20 years defending?

100KFlyer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This is as big a joke as the TSA itself. We the flying public deserve better. We deserve transparency in TSA´s rules, regulations and decision making. Unfortunately, we have none of the above.

Anonymous said...

"Please repeat after me: "Transportation Safety Administration". I see nothing to show that SPOT (or the loupe'd boarding passes, or the ID checks) are doing much to enhance the administration of transportation safety."

Last time I checked, and I could be wrong...

I think its still Transportation Security Administration.

Perhaps those programs make sense now?

Neil said...

@Anonymous - 3/3/08 6:40pm:

If you don't think the threat we face is real, you might want to check out the comment I made tonight. It is about todays Wall Street Journal article written by Alan M. Dershowitz, entitled, Worshippers of Death.

-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

While I understand the point of wanting to check out passengers who are a bit tense, your agency could certainly be a lot nicer about it. I was extremely late for an international flight last fall due to connecting flights being delayed - completely not my fault. I was instructed to run for my plane after getting my boarding pass, which I did, and this got me singled out for additional screening. I would have understood it better had the security guard not started barking orders at me the moment I arrived in the line, singling me out for an extra search specifically because I was agitated about the possibility of missing my flight. The worst part was that, in the stress of worrying about my flight leaving with me after already having traveled five hours, I started to cry a little and the screener started barking at me with "Why are you crying? Is there something I should know about?" I work for a DOD contractor, I have a security clearance, I've never had a parking ticket and my record is spotless. Want to search me a little more than the rest? You're more than welcome to do it, but PLEASE show me a little respect in the process. I do not like being belittled in front of strangers, and neither does anybody else. Teach your staff some manners and customer service skills, please.

Anonymous said...

Hey Blog Team - the Delete-O-Meter has been stuck on 105 since you posted it. I'd offer to fix it but you wouldn't let me bring my Leatherman here.

Anonymous said...

andy @ 3/3 4 pm

My anxiety disorder has actually caused me to be pulled aside in the past -- though before 9/11 and before the days of the BDO. After a long day where I was delayed starting at 8 AM and was in ATL at 8 PM trying to get the last flight to my destination before I was forced to stay the night... I was a little upset. Wasn't doing anything outwardly, but I was fairly furiously pacing up and down the aisle. Got pulled aside and told to stop it. I don't want to imagine what would happen to me now.

neil--

You're not answering any questions by saying that. We know there are people out there who want to kill us. The questions are (a) whether the TSA is WORTH it, and (b) whether the TSA actually does anything to make us safer from those threats that are out there. I'd say the answer to (b) is no. The answer to (a) is undecided, though in its current incarnation, since the answer to (b) is no, the answer to (a) has to be no.

Anonymous said...

"If you don't think the threat we face is real"

Live in fear. Trust us to procect you.

Anonymous said...

This post has been up for days. Are you preparing spin about how the procedures you have adopted are opening us up to theft AND having threats placed in our bags?

Giuseppe Cappellino said...

This is for the TSA, whomever one of their representatives is reading this.

Personally, as a frequent traveller in the USA as well as abroad, I have to say that I am very glad you people do what you do. If you TRULY have nothing to hide, do what I do: cooperate. The reason why so many people complain about "long TSA lines" is because there's some idiot at the front of the line arguing over a lousy bottle of water. You KNOW the rules by now. I have yet to be at an airport where any given water vending machine is EVER closed. I frequently take red-eye flights; always a few restaurants open.

With national security, its always going to be a lose-lose situation. If you get asked to throw away a potentially dangerous item, the TSA is bad. If 9/11 happens all over again, the TSA is bad. Lose-Lose.

Only difference is... as rediculous as some people make the rules out to be, we have YET to have another attack, right? Which means that TSA is doing its job and doing it right.

I salute you guys for protecting the travelling public... and more so, for butting up with the B.S. that most of the travelling public gives you.

My hat is off to you guys.

-Giuseppe

Nate said...

I find it amusing at the number of people who talk about unwritten rules. All of TSA's Policies, prohibitied items, all of it is located on its website, newspapers. Open your eyes and read, instead of complaining about a process and organization you don't understand.

Sandra said...

Sorry, Neil, your link was almost totally irrelevant to the TSA's job.

Anonymous said...

On March 3, 2008 9:04 PM, "Anonymous" said "Perhaps those programs make sense now?"

OK, so the author used the word word. So replace the word "safety" with "security". THOSE programs still make no sense.

Anonymous said...

Neil, true words were never spoken. Alan M. Dershowitz is one of the brightest people in the country. It was he that postulated the use of hardened interrogation of terrorists that have brought our military and intelligence gathering forces information to protect the Homeland. This type of thinking outside the box keeps our enemies off guard.

The creation of the BDO is yet more outside the box thinking. I suspect it will be a great success.

Thank you for your great work.

Anonymous said...

After several weeks of reading this blog and the tons of negative comments, I am reminded of FlyerTalk. A number of people who comment on this blog are most likely from the FlyerTalk forum. I, as a TSA officer, made the mistake of posting there. Upon reading that forum, I noticed a resemblance to another forum, Stormfront.org. I'm sure some of you are familiar with this white supremacist hate site.

Now, why oh why would I be comparing the flying public with hate mongers? Well, they are usually flag waiving "patriots" concerned about their country, want unlimited free speech to spread their message of hate and disgust, slinging of personal insults towards people they know little about (outside of stereotypes), the use of pseudo-science and skewed studies to prove their points, and 10,000 word dissertations explaining their disdain for minorities, which despite the length was no more eloquent than "blacks are stooopid."

Now, no matter what you said in defense of blacks, Jews, or Hispanics, it just was not good enough. These people could not justify their existence in this country. The minds of Stormfront.org were already made up. That brings me to FlyerTalk and the TSA. The TSA represents the minority in the analogy and FlyerTalk, Stormfront. The same types of arguments and tactics are used on those forums; patriotism, psuedo-science, news articles, second and third hand "personal experiences," personal insults and so on. Once again, the minds of the FlyerTalk posters were already made up; TSA is hated and useless and their screeners "are stoooopid."

And this is why I must commend TSA for creating this blog. What you all are doing is basically equal to black people as a whole posting a blog justifying their existence to the world. Of course, as a result, you are going to get the same response. You are now just bringing the hatred to your own doorstep. You are now giving the anonymous cowards who will smile in my face at the airport a new place to spew hatred and ignorance about me, a nameless face in a 45,000 person screener force. Yet, you remain totally professional in an increasingly hostile environment.

Now, I know I'm going to hear the usual "my taxes pay your salary, so I can say as I like" argument, but in the grand scheme of things, my salary pays your social security so, I guess we're even you see. And that's not really the point of my post anyway. I just wanted to show that the average American, good to a fault, uses the same type of logic and cowardice as your average hate monger.

Food for thought.

And Kip, it's good you want to get the passengers back, but what about the employees? We need help in the trenches.

Andrew said...

Giuseppe
Only difference is... as rediculous as some people make the rules out to be, we have YET to have another attack, right? Which means that TSA is doing its job and doing it right.

-------

See this rock on my desk? It keeps away tigers. How, you say? Well, I haven't been attacked by a tiger since I put this rock on my desk, so it must work!

Dave X the first said...

Bob @ March 2, 2008 10:57 PM:

"I would like to comment on how infrequent secondary screening is due to a BDO referral. I work at the 25th busiest airport in the country and we can sometimes go a few days without a referral. It is apparent that some of you got the impression that we’re referring people left and right. That’s just not the case."

OK, then the other side to low occurrance detection problems is when you try to avoid false alarms you decrease your sensitivity. If refer people at rates on the order of your 1 in a million BDO arrest rate, you have to train your people to clear something like 9,999,999 or 9,999,990 people out of a million. That's an awful big pool of passengers the boogy-men can attempt to blend in with. Maybe you feel confident that your people can do 99.99999% specificity, and still make 80% sensitivity but it sounds an awful lot like like meteorite insurance sales-talk.

Regarding: "The test at CVG was not meant to test BDOs. This was a test intended for TSOs. In fact, the test had to be invalidated because the BDOs caught the individual first. I just want to make it clear that nobody was acting out behaviors. What the BDOs picked up on were the natural behaviors displayed by someone (they did not know) who was concealing something. That’s why I found this worthy of a mention and such a big deal."

-- How many of these "undercover passengers" normally slip by your BDOs undetected? Even though they are not testing BDOs explicitly, they are someone trying to conceal something, just the sort of person BDOs are supposed to be watching. That you think it is so noteworthy that BDOs discovered this terrorist-actor and had to cancel the test makes it seem that BDOs don't normally notice the actors. Your sensitivity is likely not as high as TSA implies.

I still think that TSA is likely costing us more lives than it could hope to save through screening. Society would likely be far better off using the extra hour that we're supposed to arrive at the airport by marching the 2,000,000 passengers per day into mandatory first aid classes taught by the 38,000 TSA employees.

Invisus said...

Andy,

Glad to oblige...

"*Airport security is not a dragnet. People should know they're going through the security checkpoint just to be screened for dangerous items. If I bring a wad of $3,000, for example, does that make me suspicious? What if I just want to carry cash with me?"

- Airport security is a dragnet. Aviation is a federally regulated private industry much like banks, insurance and the like. When people go through security, they are doing so knowing that the highways are much less regulated (even if they are federally regulated) and are not privately owned, thus more accessible should they desire less oversight. Anyone should be able to point out the inherent dangers in allowing dangerous people access to such large conveyances filled with people and flammable liquid. With that said, $3,000 is hardly a suspicious amount of cash, however it does make you a more likely target for crime that is not terrorist related, yet still potentially disruptive to other passengers and the industry in general.

"*The notion that drugs and money smugglers exhibit the same behavior as terrorists really bothers me. Are you saying that drug and money smugglers are terrorists? What next, "food smugglers"?"

- You’re only slightly off-base here… slightly. Terrorists are criminals, and criminal behavior is similar regardless of motive. Whether you want to kill someone because they are of a different religious or political persuasion, or you want to do so because of some other random reason, the intent and precursor behavior is the same. The same goes true for behavior linked to any number of criminal acts or intents at all severity levels.

"*What exactly is suspicious? What if I'm nervous because I have OCD/anxiety, or upset because my grandma just died, or even I had a big fight with my friend? "

- Behavior detection concentrates on behavior. If you are agitated enough to exhibit potentially disruptive behavior, the least we can do as a courtesy to other passengers is find out what the purpose of this behavior is. If you are indeed agitated for completely non-criminal reasons, we’ll sort it out. Think about it this way… If you saw someone that made you nervous across the street, it probably wouldn’t bother you too much since you know you could simply walk away. Now if I locked you in a small room with them, would your anxiety level increase any? You might be able to handle it, but what about the other hundred people on a plane. Add their panic to the problem and it’s easy to see how a situation could deteriorate.

"*I'm Deaf, so how would you communicate with me? Would you hold up the line to write with me? Would you waste my time trying to get an interpreter? How about those who are mute or have other communicative disorders?"

- In the event you need additional assistance, we’ll accompany you to an area that can accommodate us so as not to hold up the line, while ensuring that you have the service you need. Translation services are often available at the airport. In the event that they are not, writing is an alternative. It does take some time, but when you weigh the risks involved with not screening, versus the potential impact of a criminal incident, a small delay is not all that bad.

"*This kind of smacks of thought crime in George Orwell's 1984. How about being innocent until proven guilty? Going through a domestic airport security checkpoint is not going through a jail or prison, nor is it customs. We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty."

- Screening is not a criminal investigation. It is screening for potentially disruptive items or behaviors, in order to ensure the safety of EVERYONE traveling, whether they be passengers or crew. While criminal charges occasionally arise from screening, it is not the purpose or intent of the screening. Whether criminal, negligent, or criminally negligent, it is the responsibility of the screening process to eliminate as many potentially harmful items, people, and behaviors as we can from the aviation process because of the relatively confined spaces and exposure to danger that passengers and the general public (below the plane) face as a result of air travel.

"*What if someone looks suspicious, is taken aside for additional screening, and misses his flight due to that--and he's completely innocent? "

- That seldom, if ever happens. For example, if the person feels as if they have the need to challenge the process on principle, that person will be forced to make a choice between challenging the system and making the flight. The decision is theirs alone. In addition, Airlines and the TSA recommend making enough time to complete the screening process before the flight. Usually this is two hours. It is a common enough occurrence to have a long check-in/screening process, but the number of people who arrive with little-to-no time and have to rush through the process is surprising.

With all that said, it is a process with imperfections like any other, but it is also constantly evolving and we are all learning. The intent is to keep you safe.

Hope that cleared a few things up.

Anonymous said...

Originally posted by invisus:
That seldom, if ever happens. For example, if the person feels as if they have the need to challenge the process on principle, that person will be forced to make a choice between challenging the system and making the flight. The decision is theirs alone.


So what will BDOs do to someone who refuses to speak to them at all? Are you going to make them miss their flight "on principle?" On what grounds are you going to detain them? (TSOs/BDOs do not have detention power, and courts have ruled that refusal to answer questions is not probable cause for law-enforcement to arrest someone. You may have eviscerated the 4th Amendment, but the 5th still stands.)

Why not just screen them for prohibited items (like everyone else), and let them go about their business? It's none of TSA's business where I am going, why I am going there, or if I am worried about my job or an argument with my spouse. TSA's business is to screen for weapons and explosives, and they are welcome to use their x-ray, metal detectors, and ETD to do so.

As far as I know, no law requires me to speak anything to anyone at an airport, save to communicate my real name to a law-enforcement officer upon request.

Robert Johnson said...

I knew this was going to be a propaganda piece as soon as I saw the 9/11 video. Come on ... don't you guys have any taste? What a way to come back to this blog. :thumbsdown:

If the BDO class is only 4 days of classrom training and 1 day OJT, it is inadequate. You're giving these SPOTniks just enough information to be dangerous and the end result is harassment.

You guys aren't El Al or Mossad. You don't have the personnel with real intelligence experience conducting these "interviews." SPOTniks are easy to identify and arguably work outside the area they're supposed to (I know of people harassed outside the checkpoint in the public area by SPOTniks), lending creedence to the assertion that this is nothing more than a drag net.

I question the training that TSA is providing. First, "behavior detection" is more an art than a science. Secondly, it's going to take a lot more than a week to even begin to do it. And how much experience do they get in this class? Do they play pretend with each other, trying to "hide" something in a make believe situation? Really, it sounds like DHS and TSA bought into a money scheme hook, line, and sinker.

TSA is there to screen for prohibited items, and it can't even do that well with their high failure rate. SPOT is just another element to the smoke and mirrors to look like it's doing something, by catching "bad guys" with fake ID.

News flash guys: if a terrorist gets to the airport, it's probably too late. That means the intelligence and law enforcement agencies didn't do their job. And with TSA's dismal record, I can't count on TSA to catch them either.

TSA isn't FBI. It isn't the DEA. It isn't ICE. It needs to be what it was meant to be: TSA.

@Giuseppe: if you truly have nothing to hide, then you would have no issue with police coming to your door to toss your house looking for national security items, right? You'd have no issue giving up your 4th amendment rights because they're trying to "protect" you, right? You'd cooperate? After all, you have nothing to hide. I'm guessing you wouldn't mind being roughed up if it were menat to protect you? Or secondaried, or harassed by a SPOTnik or anything else to make you feel safe?

I find it sad that so many Americans so willingly give into terrorism, all to feel "safe." Sad thing is that the terrorism that's harming this country isn't coming from Islamic terrorists (though they are a threat), but rather our own government by organizations like TSA. "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

salty said...

The best part about the people who are picking on BDO's for "going after folks who look shady", etc.... is that these same people would call the cops in a second if they saw a "shady character" in their neighborhood - and would not mind the cops stopping the guy.

Anonymous said...

"All of TSA's Policies, prohibitied items, all of it is located on its website... " "Open your eyes and read..."

Several of us have asked where the info on document requirements are on YOUR website (not some airline's).

I do not believe you have answered us. Please provide a link to this info.

Thanks

Nate said...

"Several of us have asked where the info on document requirements are on YOUR website (not some airline's)."

I would click on What to Know Before You Go. Just a hunch.

As far as documents, Boarding Pass and Government Identification is all you need in your hand, not at the bottom of your suitcase digging for it at the front of the line.

Invisus said...

Anonymous said...
Originally posted by invisus:
That seldom, if ever happens. For example, if the person feels as if they have the need to challenge the process on principle, that person will be forced to make a choice between challenging the system and making the flight. The decision is theirs alone.


So what will BDOs do to someone who refuses to speak to them at all? Are you going to make them miss their flight "on principle?" On what grounds are you going to detain them? (TSOs/BDOs do not have detention power, and courts have ruled that refusal to answer questions is not probable cause for law-enforcement to arrest someone. You may have eviscerated the 4th Amendment, but the 5th still stands.)

Why not just screen them for prohibited items (like everyone else), and let them go about their business? It's none of TSA's business where I am going, why I am going there, or if I am worried about my job or an argument with my spouse. TSA's business is to screen for weapons and explosives, and they are welcome to use their x-ray, metal detectors, and ETD to do so.

As far as I know, no law requires me to speak anything to anyone at an airport, save to communicate my real name to a law-enforcement officer upon request.

- There are several pieces of your reply that indicate an unfamiliarity with the 4th/5th Amendments and the BDO/SPOT referral program.

1st - The BDOs are not LEO's. Other than asking you the basic questions that they are trained to, they know they are not LEO's and do not detain. Referrals are made to LEOs who decide whether or not to detain. It's that simple. Should you decide to be discourteous to a TSO, there will be no repercussions other than that the TSO may find it necessary to refer you to an LEO so that the LEO can make some kind of determination as to your need for additional attention.

2nd - The 4th amendment is not eviscerated in any way by the screening process. Other than prisoners on extradition flights (who have already surrendered certain rights) no one is forced to fly. Therefore, no one is forced to be searched. Air travel is not a right, but a privilege. You are payng for the privelege of getting to your destination on someone else's conveyance. Due to the potential danger involved, it is regulated. In order to travel through the regulated corridor, you must agree to be searched. Airports are privately owned, as are most commercial planes, however in order to operate in US airspace, they are subject to regulation. One of the stipulations of that regulation is that passengers be screened. It's a simple exclusion to the 4th, which has been held up time and again in most courts including the Supreme Court.

3rd - In reference to the 5th Amendment, no one is forcefully led to the ticket counter to purchase a ticket and marched to the checkpoint in order to initiate the self-incrimination process. The 5th amendment reference is irrelevant. Should you wish to avoid all possible avenues of self incrimination you have two options: 1) Don't engage in criminal activity or 2) Travel by the means least likely to place your path at odds with regulatory and/or law enforcement authority.

4th - TSA's job is not to only to screen for weapons, explosives, etc. It is also to identify potential sources of disruption to the traveling public. In the right circumstances, an unarmed mentally disturbed individual can be equally detrimental to the safety of a plane as a terrorist. People who engage in criminal precursor behaviors are also statistically more likely to be concealing something of interest to the safety and well-being of the public. It's not TSA's job to arrest people (only certain elements of the TSA have arrest authority), but in the course of normal duties, if the TSO discovers anything that he or she reasonably believes to be evidence of relating to a crime, they are required both by most state laws and TSA policy to make a referral to the appropriate authorities. With that said, again, few people are forced to fly.

5th - In reference to communicating information other than your name to the TSA, you are right in most cases, but laws vary by state. Some states may not have laws that even require you to identify yourself to a LEO. The caveat to this is that TSOs don't have to let you through screening if there is an articulable reason for doing so. Before that state is reached, however, they (and you) will have gone through a few layers of 'vetting' including supervisors, LEOs and potentially the Federal Security Director's staff.

6th - Having traveled extensively internationally, there are very few countries that are not employing similar programs. Try traveling to the UK, France, Germany, Japan or Korea. Then tell them you don't want to talk to them. I guarantee you will find your rights more than generous here.

Good luck to you. The one suggestion I have for members of the unconstructively disgruntled sector of travelers is that if you want to understand what happens behind the scenes to keep you able to voice your constitutionally protected opinion, take some responsibility for it rather than trying to tear it down because of your distaste for it. The people with the most vehement complaints about >insert name of program or agency here< are seldom the people rushing forward with solutions. Usually they are voicing their opinions based on an overinflated sense of ego/intelligence. When they are challenged to put up, they usually shut up. It's the difference between being a civilian and a citizen.

Anonymous said...

Nate:

First:

"I would click on What to Know Before You Go. Just a hunch."

Go click, your hunch is wrong.

Then,

"As far as documents, Boarding Pass and Government Identification is all you need in your hand, not at the bottom of your suitcase digging for it at the front of the line."

Well, duh. Your remark has nothing to do with the point. While several posts have asked for a link to document requirements, none has been provided.

This is supposed to be easy info to get.

Nate, how about contributing facts, like the link, instead of hunches (or are you applying to be a BDO (grin)).

Anonymous said...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,334702,00.html

Have a Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, or South Carolina driver's license? If your states don't agree with Chertoff's mandate then you will get the additional screening process beginning March 1.

States have less than a month to send a letter to the Homeland Security Department seeking an extension to comply with the Real ID law passed following the 2001 terror attacks. Some states have resisted, saying it is costly, impractical and an invasion of privacy.

Four states — Maine, Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina — have yet to seek an extension.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argues that the law fixes a critical gap in security identified by the commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks: the ease of obtaining government-issued ID. It will also hinder would-be con artists and illegal immigrants, he said.

Real ID-compliant driver's licenses would have several layers of new security features to prevent forgery. They would also be issued after a number of ID checks, including verification of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immigration status. Officials acknowledge it will take years to phase in all the different security measures.


So this program takes time to fully put into place since many people living in those states will be grandfathered in. Literally you are looking at this program taking 120 years to fully implement.

Anonymous said...

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/index.shtm#0

The travel assistant portion of the TSA website explains that a government issued photo ID is necessary. It doesn't state that if it's expired you will be allowed through security but selected for extra screening. If someone leaves their ID at home they will be allowed to fly, but selected for extra screening probably by the airlines before they even get to the checkpoint.

49 CFR part 1542 is the government regulation that gives responsiblity for screening.

http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/49cfr1542_03.html

TSA screener

TSO PHX said...

@ Invisus

Excellent rebuttal!! I'm impressed and slightly sad because I don't hold the ability to post as eloquently. Your post will surely clear up some confusion about those amendments.

Anonymous said...

Originally posted by Invisus
Air travel is not a right, but a privilege. You are payng for the privelege of getting to your destination on someone else's conveyance. Due to the potential danger involved, it is regulated. In order to travel through the regulated corridor, you must agree to be searched.


Ahh, the old "air travel is a privilege" argument...

The privilege is granted by the airline in exchange for the traveler forking over money for the ticket. Not by the TSA or the federal government. I personally have no problem with a private airline refusing anyone travel for virtually any reason, because travelers will fix the problem by choosing airlines with more sane policies. I do have a problem with the US government feeling it has the power to grant or deny permission for law-abiding citizens to travel, because I can't fix that by changing carriers.

The right to travel freely (without unreasonable restrictions) within the borders of one's own country has been held up by numerous courts, international bodies, etc. Claiming air travel is unique in being a "privilege" is disingenuous at best, especially when TSA is trying to extend its intrusions into other modes of travel like rail. (e.g., recently TSA had a VIPR team performing ID checks and warrant checks on the trolley in San Diego. Papers please?)



3rd - In reference to the 5th Amendment, no one is forcefully led to the ticket counter to purchase a ticket and marched to the checkpoint in order to initiate the self-incrimination process. The 5th amendment reference is irrelevant.


Nobody is forced to go to work, go to school, buy groceries, etc., either, but that doesn't mean the government is allowed to interrogate them or search them in the course of those law-abiding, non-suspicious activities.


If the TSO discovers anything that he or she reasonably believes to be evidence of relating to a crime,


Courts have upheld that silence is not evidence of criminal activity.


The caveat to this is that TSOs don't have to let you through screening if there is an articulable reason for doing so. Before that state is reached, however, they (and you) will have gone through a few layers of 'vetting' including supervisors, LEOs and potentially the Federal Security Director's staff.


Again, I'd like someone to explain how silence is an articulable reason for refusing passage, especially given court rulings that we are not required to speak to anyone.

Your answer to my original question seems to be that a passenger who refuses to speak will be referred to law-enforcement, presumably detained by law enforcement, and then referred to supervisors.


Try traveling to the UK, France, Germany, Japan or Korea. Then tell them you don't want to talk to them.


When I am a guest in another country, I feel it is proper to follow their rules and give their rules/customs wide latitude.

When I am being subjected to basic rights violations, increasing loss of liberties, and mission creep in my own country, I feel it is proper to speak up, complain all the way up and down the chain of command, and try to do something to restore the free country in which I grew up.

I visited East Germany prior to the Wall coming down. I have no desire to see my country turn into that. But the fear-inspired knee-jerk-reacting security complex is doing exactly that.

Anonymous said...

Bob,
I thought covert test results were classified. Didnt the Asst Secretary recently order OI to classify both their SOP and their handbook? Are you not releasing covert testing protocol information when you reveal the types of items used in testing and the locations of those items?

Robert Johnson said...

Invisus, please show me where in the Constitution or any other law that says I give up Constitutional rights to get a privilege.

Travel is a right. There is no restriction on how that right is accomlished. Please check out Justice William O. Douglas's opinion in Kent v. Dulles:

"The right to travel is a part of the "liberty" of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment ... Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, was a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country, may be necessary for a livelihood. It may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values. "Our nation," wrote Chafee, "has thrived on the principle that, outside areas of plainly harmful conduct, every American is left to shape his own life as he thinks best, do what he pleases, go where he pleases.""

Refusing to talk to someone is not grounds for referral for secondary or anything like that. Have you ever thought that people might want to limit their interactions with TSA? Again, just because I choose to fly doesn't mean I give up my right not to talk to a government official, LEO or not. You can play your SPOT games with someone else.

Not talking to TSA is not an articulable reason to deny someone passage thru the checkpoint if they are screened properly.

I think you need some remedial training the Constitution, law and rights. While certain activities may be required to perform certain activities (say like flying a plane so planes don't crash mid air), as a passenger, I'm not subject to that. I'm paying the airline to get me to a place. I'm not paying the airline to let me fly their plane. As such, what you are advocating is essentially an infringement on a right.

And another point, we're not talking about other countries. Those are irrelevant and a straw man. We're talking about TSA and rights in the US. The "we're not as bad as everyone else" is not a valid defense and it won't hold up in court (just read some plagiarism cases for example and you'll see that judges threw that general argument out on its ear). When I visit another country ... their house, their rules. As this is the US, we're set to a higher standard ... we say so ourselves right? So why do you want to stoop to those levels?

I think it's very scary that people with attitudes like yours work for TSA. It's no wonder people complain when there's such little understanding of how this country is supposed to work.

Invisus said...

Originally posted by anonymous…
Ahh, the old "air travel is a privilege" argument...

The privilege is granted by the airline in exchange for the traveler forking over money for the ticket. Not by the TSA or the federal government. I personally have no problem with a private airline refusing anyone travel for virtually any reason, because travelers will fix the problem by choosing airlines with more sane policies. I do have a problem with the US government feeling it has the power to grant or deny permission for law-abiding citizens to travel, because I can't fix that by changing carriers.

The right to travel freely (without unreasonable restrictions) within the borders of one's own country has been held up by numerous courts, international bodies, etc. Claiming air travel is unique in being a "privilege" is disingenuous at best, especially when TSA is trying to extend its intrusions into other modes of travel like rail. (e.g., recently TSA had a VIPR team performing ID checks and warrant checks on the trolley in San Diego. Papers please?)
--There is no argument that air travel is a privilege. It is a simple statement of fact. The only right that a citizen has to free travel is their feet, and only if it doesn’t cross a line legally controlled by another entity. The fact is that the law is what it is, and in order to cross whatever lines the law has delineated, you have to abide by whatever respective laws govern it. Period. I don’t think you grasp the responsibilities that go with your rights. For the privilege of operating their planes, the air carriers are regulated. The planes belong to them. When you purchase a ticket, you are agreeing to travel by their rules, which are also regulated… mostly by the Fed. Like I said earlier, highways are not an unreasonable restriction, in fact the Fed has gone out of their way to provide you with unrestricted travel by making them in the first place, and then by giving individual states the right to govern their traffic. If the responsibilities of air travel are too intrusive for you, your car is much less likely to get you screened.

In reference to VIPR in the rail system, that is federally regulated as well, so if the Fed and the railways decide screening is necessary, it will happen.





3rd - In reference to the 5th Amendment, no one is forcefully led to the ticket counter to purchase a ticket and marched to the checkpoint in order to initiate the self-incrimination process. The 5th amendment reference is irrelevant.


Nobody is forced to go to work, go to school, buy groceries, etc., either, but that doesn't mean the government is allowed to interrogate them or search them in the course of those law-abiding, non-suspicious activities.

--In the course of walking into a school, grocery store, or any other area in which the controller of the area has set a condition of entry, should you violate those conditions, it doesn’t matter who reports you, if LE chooses to intervene, it will ultimately be the local courts which first sort it out. The legal entity in control of the area has the right to set access control. Have you ever been to a school in south central LA? I have, and I remember all my stuff on the belt. No one got shot inside the school either.


If the TSO discovers anything that he or she reasonably believes to be evidence of relating to a crime,


Courts have upheld that silence is not evidence of criminal activity.

--That wasn’t in the syntax of my point. That was related to the discovery of evidence in a lawful search. Silence in itself is not evidence, but neither is your destination or name. You shouldn’t need to conceal either in fear of self incrimination since I know of no law making it a crime to say your name or destination. Access control is the point, however, and if policy requires x, y, or Z to enter, then as a regulated activity, you are required to provide x, y, or Z before entry. Whether it’s a contract security guard or a federal employee (with no arrest authority) that denies you entrance is irrelevant.


The caveat to this is that TSOs don't have to let you through screening if there is an articulable reason for doing so. Before that state is reached, however, they (and you) will have gone through a few layers of 'vetting' including supervisors, LEOs and potentially the Federal Security Director's staff.


Again, I'd like someone to explain how silence is an articulable reason for refusing passage, especially given court rulings that we are not required to speak to anyone.

Your answer to my original question seems to be that a passenger who refuses to speak will be referred to law-enforcement, presumably detained by law -enforcement, and then referred to supervisors.
--There is no presumption that law enforcement will detain you, but as either a resident or guest of a particular state, it is your responsibility to comply with local law. If local law requires you to identify yourself, you probably should. Local law enforcement controls virtually all access in the end, and will usually make the ultimate decision to detain or refuse you entry. As a matter of course, you will deal with a TSO supervisor before LE is called. In the event that the situation can’t be mitigated, then LE is called. Again, most airports are privately held by city or county entities. The federal presence is a regulatory matter. Ultimately the local stakeholders have more input in the screening process than most travelers realize. The Fed is only there to provide the requisite access control assistance that is required by the regulations that bind air travel.


Try traveling to the UK, France, Germany, Japan or Korea. Then tell them you don't want to talk to them.

When I am a guest in another country, I feel it is proper to follow their rules and give their rules/customs wide latitude.

When I am being subjected to basic rights violations, increasing loss of liberties, and mission creep in my own country, I feel it is proper to speak up, complain all the way up and down the chain of command, and try to do something to restore the free country in which I grew up.

I visited East Germany prior to the Wall coming down. I have no desire to see my country turn into that. But the fear-inspired knee-jerk-reacting security complex is doing exactly that.
--It’s not a perfect system, but I think you lost my point. Regardless, you are supposed to be a responsible citizen, and are even more beholden to our laws than theirs. To admit otherwise degrades the value of your own citizenship. Our laws are not unreasonable. Hundreds of thousands of people travel by air every day without unreasonable delay. They seem to have it down.
As you are fond of pointing out, courts have upheld many different tenets of law pertaining to travel. Almost all of the case law governing air travel and screening has been in place for over a decade. If you were really trying to combat ‘mission creep’ and ‘basic rights violations’, you would do well to note that very few laws have changed. The only major changes have come in the form of federal oversight and the entity paying the screener’s salary.
I grew up in the same free country you did, but with a lot less freedom and more responsibility. I lived in a society (I grew up on a military base) where you were held accountable for your actions, as was your guardian. I have never had the level of privacy that you do because I went straight into government service, where every facet of my background was checked, and vetted. I would love to have the level of privacy that you do. What’s distressing to me is how so few of the people the people I serve understand exactly how much freedom they have. It makes them sound like spoiled brats to me.
Rights are good and well, but the responsibilities that go along with the rights elude many. Civil liberties wax and wane with the social climate. One of the reasons we have a bipartisan government is to tweak these things as the climate changes. It’s a continuous process that has less to do with individual opinions as it does group consensus. The fact is that most of the travelers are somewhat cognizant of why we do what we do and accept it, for now. Part of enjoying the myriad rights you enjoy is compliance with the laws we have to set until they are changed… and paying taxes.
If you have any doubt that this is true, look back through American history. Think about Japanese internment in WWII. Then look back to the 50’s and the cold war. You’ll see that your civil liberties have roller-coastered through it all just as they will continue to do. They have been MUCH more intrusive than they are now, and probably one day will be again for a time.
When you live here, questioning authority is fine, but voting is better. The real votes that count for things like this are your local and state (senators / representatives) elections. I’m not so much attacking your opinion (I admit to being somewhat sarcastic) as I am explaining why you are accountable for your actions in relation to your opinion and the logic used by the courts that have already upheld the basic tenets of what we do. Good luck nonetheless.
Believe it or not, I’m not a suit sitting at my desk with my dark glasses looking for ways to trounce on citizens’ rights. I am a citizen like you, who is subject to the same laws and pays the same taxes as you. I would love to live in a society that requires less oversight, but unfortunately I don’t. People want to destroy my way of life from within and without. If you think our reaction to security concerns is bad, think of the alternative. I’m sure we wouldn’t get much sympathy from certain other forms of government.
Think about this… With your current points of view about civil liberties, you would not have always been seen as a good American.
In the 1600-1700’s you would have been branded a heretic (The Church of England held no such illusions about civil liberties)
In the 1800’s you would have been seen as a Patriot (at least in half of the country)
In the 1900’s you would have been seen as loose, or a non-conformist.
In the 50’s you would have been seen as a communist (because you didn’t conform to the paranoid norm of the time) and probably wiretapped, surveilled and possibly interrogated.
In the 60’s you would have been a slack-jawed hippy (by those in “The Establishment”)
Just food for thought..

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Robert Johnson -- travel is not a "privilege".

As a person trying to travel by air, I have paid money to an airline in exchange for a ticket. That makes me a CUSTOMER. I am not a supplicant seeking the privilege of an audience with a member of the nobility. I expect to be treated like a CUSTOMER, not a criminal.

The TSA is fond of citing that its security procedures fall under the "administrative" exception to the 4th amendment. That being the case, the TSA needs to conduct its operations in a manner befitting an "administrative" process. Take the local DMV for example. One could come there in the attempt to title a stolen car, get a driver's license under a false identity, etc., and the DMV looks out for such things, they still treat the person in front of them with civility and courtesy. The fact that there's a few criminals out there doesn't justify treating everyone in line like a criminal.

I don't mind appropriate security checks, but I do mind the hostile attitude of many TSO's. When I walk up the the checkpoint and hear TSO's shouting at would-be passengers, barking orders like drill instructors, etc. this hardly engenders respect for the TSA.

I'm old enough to remember the TV show Adam-12, and the motto on the police car's doors -- "To Protect and To Serve." The TSA ought to give that concept some hard thought.

There'd be a heck of a lot less friction with the flying public if the TSA started the screening process with cordiality instead of hostility. I feel quite confident that if I walked up the a checkpoint and evidenced the same sort of attitude towards the TSO's that they evidence towards the passengers, they'd be going over me and my belongings with a fine-toothed comb, calling law enforcement, etc.

Who knows, if the TSO's treated the flying public with civility and courtesy, we might spend less time on this blog arguing the fine points of the constitution.

Invisus said...

Originally posted by robert johnson...
"Invisus, please show me where in the Constitution or any other law that says I give up Constitutional rights to get a privilege.

Travel is a right. There is no restriction on how that right is accomlished. Please check out Justice William O. Douglas's opinion in Kent v. Dulles:

"The right to travel is a part of the "liberty" of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment ... Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, was a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country, may be necessary for a livelihood. It may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values. "Our nation," wrote Chafee, "has thrived on the principle that, outside areas of plainly harmful conduct, every American is left to shape his own life as he thinks best, do what he pleases, go where he pleases.""

--The ‘due process’ was the establishment of airspace control by the Fed and the legal purchase of the property on which the airport rests by whatever entity owns the property. As a concession to allow dangerous goods to fly over your neighborhood (i.e. an aluminum tube filled with flammable liquid) federal regulations (including safety and security) were established.
As such, your rights are modified (4th amendment exclusions have been LONG upheld in the Supreme Court as they pertain to air travel and the need for screening) when you enter into the area controlled by the airport, and areas controlled by federal regulation. Your travel is your right. If you don’t like federal regulations, you need to find a non-regulated method of conveyance. You can argue semantics all you like, but if you loop-holed every law and constitutional argument, the only result would be anarchy.

Should we also extend from your quotation that if I want to travel abroad and cross other countries’ borders that my US constitutional rights supersede theirs? That is the way it is written.

"Refusing to talk to someone is not grounds for referral for secondary or anything like that. Have you ever thought that people might want to limit their interactions with TSA? Again, just because I choose to fly doesn't mean I give up my right not to talk to a government official, LEO or not. You can play your SPOT games with someone else.

Not talking to TSA is not an articulable reason to deny someone passage thru the checkpoint if they are screened properly.

I think you need some remedial training the Constitution, law and rights. While certain activities may be required to perform certain activities (say like flying a plane so planes don't crash mid air), as a passenger, I'm not subject to that. I'm paying the airline to get me to a place. I'm not paying the airline to let me fly their plane. As such, what you are advocating is essentially an infringement on a right.

And another point, we're not talking about other countries. Those are irrelevant and a straw man. We're talking about TSA and rights in the US. The "we're not as bad as everyone else" is not a valid defense and it won't hold up in court (just read some plagiarism cases for example and you'll see that judges threw that general argument out on its ear). When I visit another country ... their house, their rules. As this is the US, we're set to a higher standard ... we say so ourselves right? So why do you want to stoop to those levels?

I think it's very scary that people with attitudes like yours work for TSA. It's no wonder people complain when there's such little understanding of how this country is supposed to work."

--Actually, sir, you need the remedial training. Referrals can be made by any citizen for any reason, good or otherwise. As screeners are also citizens (it is a job requirement) they may refer whomever they wish to whomever for whatever reason, ludicrous or otherwise. Policy simply gives them guidelines for doing so. Through laws legally passed by local jurisdictions, local LEOs handle referrals. Their handling of referrals is independent of the federal side of things.

If you want to limit your interaction with the TSA or whoever is screening, you do not have to fly. Regardless of what your layman’s interpretation of the Constitution may be, the operation of our aviation system has been continuously upheld by the highest courts in the US. Unless you profess to have some insight into the Constitution that the tens of thousands of professionally trained legal experts that have spent millions of hours collectively interpreting don’t have, I suggest you research case law pertaining to the 4th Amendment and aviation.

As far as you not being subject to regulation in the air, Federal Aviation Regulations say otherwise. They are legally passed regulations with statutory authority based on the sovereignty of US airspace and special maritime rules. The history goes back to before the US was a country and relates to the country’s right to govern its territory.

“we’re not as bad as everyone else.” was never a legal defense. It is simply a call to perspective.

I don’t think it’s scary that people like me work for the TSA. People with attitudes like yours are what allowed general security in this country to deteriorate to the point that we were seen as vulnerable enough to attack. Tell me where that is American.

Now that I know you have a concept of ‘rights’, tell me how reasonable it is to expect those rights to come without responsibilities. If you are so well versed in Constitutional law, tell me what alternative we have to govern our territory if we strip away laws based on the Constitution we hold so dear (all of the laws you refer to have constitutional basis, however you fail to adequately grasp the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law). You seem have only looked at a small part of the picture when it comes to the constitutionality of government regulation. The basis for most of our current aviation law is centuries old because it was adapted from maritime rules incorporated into our sovereignty.

Invisus said...

There seems to be some confusion as to whether air travel is a privilege or a right.

It is a privilege only because you are free to travel by any other means you can as long as you do so within the laws governing the land you travel on.

The 'administrative' exceptions have nothing to do directly with administrative bureacracies like the DMV. It is a term used to convey the idea of judicial notice of allowed exclusions to the 4th amendment. Basically it means the case has already been tried and the statutory authority has been upheld.

Just because you gove money, you do not secure any form or 'right' It's not your travel that's being regulated here, it is the airlines' operation of their equipment through US airspace.

The laws governing air travel are old. They have been tried again and again in court. When the Fed regulated air travel, they incorporated rules that say that the air carriers have to operate within certain parameters. The parameters they operate under are linked intrinsically with county and state laws, but ultimately fall under federal regulation.

When you buy a ticket, you are consenting to travel under all of the guidelines, the federal ones included.

If it were a right for you to travel by air, each carrier would be responsible in hundreds of lawsuits every year filed by passengers who do not feel that pinching the hind end of a flight attendant is rude enough to be cause for an eggregious denial of their right to fly.

Uninformed and uneducated people seem to latch onto 'rights' every chance they get while conveniently forgetting responsibilities. You are responsible for following the law. There are plenty of layers of law surrounding both the airline industry and the Fed's regulation of it. Don't presume that because you heard some half-baked constitutionist hack somewhere on AM radio say that you have every right in the world that it's true.

Do the research. You are perfectly free to travel unrestricted, but when you do so by air, you are doing so on a federally regulated, privately owned conveyance, operated on property that is also privately owned and regulated.

All of these layers of law say that when the Fed, the air carriers and local governments come to a reasonable business operating agreement, they carriers can operate and the airports can open. That makes it a regulated private enterprise. If being a customer of that enterprise means you have to pass through a federally regulated screening process, then that's what you have to do... if you still want to fly.

Sorry, the whole idea of air travel as a right doesn't hold ny water. Unrestricted TRAVEL is a right. The use of whomever's conveyance you want is not guaranteed. The 'rights' argument for air travel would then have to extend to people being completely outside federal authority while in the air. It's not going to happen as long as there is a USA and it has the capability to regulate its airspace. The laws that were used to draft air travel laws are steeped in history and culture older than the US.

As far as the surliness of TSO's... That's something that may need working on, although I haven't seen it much. That's a customer service issue, and a good one. I've run into just as many surly fast food workers, store clerks, bankers, cops, DMV WORKERS and elementary school librarians as I have TSO's, so I would guess they are on-par with everyone else.

Anonymous said...

To the screense who posted:

"http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/index"

Thank you!

Now if everyone just adds .shtm to the end it will work.

,>)

Anonymous said...

Originally posted by Invisus:

When you buy a ticket, you are consenting to travel under all of the guidelines, the federal ones included.

If it were a right for you to travel by air, each carrier would be responsible in hundreds of lawsuits every year filed by passengers who do not feel that pinching the hind end of a flight attendant is rude enough to be cause for an egregious denial of their right to fly.

Uninformed and uneducated people seem to latch onto 'rights' every chance they get while conveniently forgetting responsibilities. You are responsible for following the law.


I'm not sure what assaulting a flight attendant has to do with government denying law-abiding citizens unrestricted travel. Assault is a crime, and I doubt many people would have problems with such a criminal being prosecuted criminally (by the government) and banned (by the airline, not the government) from future travel on that airline.

I'm not arguing against consenting to an administrative search for weapons and explosives; I'm arguing against being denied travel for "thought crime" (silence or other behavior deemed "suspicious" by a BDO) or because of a secret blacklist.

My root question is, do you believe the following are legal? How about ethical or "fair?" How would you feel if any of these things happened to you or your spouse/kids?

1) Government (TSA) denies a law-abiding US citizen air travel, although he consents to and clears an administrative search for weapons and explosives, solely because of his refusal to speak to a BDO.

2) Government (TSA/DHS) denies a law-abiding US citizen air travel because his name matches one on a secret no-fly list. Passenger is detained, sometimes by law enforcement, if he attempts to check into a flight. No effective means of redress is available; the would-be passenger is just stuck with the situation. TSA/DHS blocks all efforts of passenger to achieve due-process and clearance, including court cases, using national security as an excuse.

3) Government (TSA/DHS) delays and detains a law-abiding US citizen every time he travels by air because his name matches one on the no-fly list, although he usually makes the flight (if he shows up an extra hour earlier than everyone else) and is only occasionally detained. Passenger is not afforded the conveniences offered to non-matching travelers, including online checkin and kiosk checkin, adding an additional 30+ minutes to his travel process. As above, no effective means of redress exists and all efforts toward due process are blocked by TSA/DHS.

Randy said...

The comments of Invisus crysalize everything that is wrong with the attitude conveyed by TSA at their checkpoints.

screeners are not doing us any favors by allowing us to travel. I'd sure like to hear the TSA lawyers reaction to these comments.

Bob said...

March 3, 2008 10:01 PM Anonymous said... Hey Blog Team - the Delete-O-Meter has been stuck on 105 since you posted it. I'd offer to fix it but you wouldn't let me bring my Leatherman here.

Holster that Leatherman, sir/mam! Our web guru is just as trusty and versatile as any Leatherman I've ever seen. The Delete-O-Meter is not updated in real-time, so I imagine updates will come weekly.

Thanks!

Bob

Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 29, 2008 10:05 PM
Anonymous said... Why did you choose to have the video on this page parked on what looks like an image of 9/11?


Not intentional... The video actually starts off with a pleasant outdoor scene. I simply linked the clip and that's where it's parked.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

March 3, 2008 9:35 AM Anonymous said... Bob, while you may be upset when passenger misses their flight due to a more detailed screening than normal. What does the TSA do fir the passenger in that case?

I'm sure the airline will tell you to buy a new ticket.


The TSA does not reimburse passengers for missing their flights due to screening.

In most every case I've been involved in where a passenger missed their flight, the passenger was either running late prior to arriving to the checkpoint, or they were the unfortunate victim of a cancelled flight and only had a few minutes to make their newly rebooked flight. The exception would be the times where the passenger had to be interviewed or detained by the police.

I realize there are several reasons passengers could be running late, so you’ll never catch me using the “you should have been here 2 hours prior” line on a passenger, however I will say it’s pretty good advice. I travel at least once a month. I arrive 2 hours early and I’ve never missed a flight. I have to go through screening just like everybody else and I’ve also received the dreaded Quadruple S’s before. It pays to arrive early when you can.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

" I simply linked the clip and that's where it's parked."

Point taken. Still, you must have known what inage was up there. You went with a large image of terror to illustrate your post.

Bob said...

March 5, 2008 6:49 PM
Anonymous Said:" Point taken. Still, you must have known what inage was up there. You went with a large image of terror to illustrate your post.


After previewing my post, I saw what image the clip was parked at, however my intent was not to strike fear in the hearts of passengers.

My intent was to use the clip to show that the ticket agent had a gut feeling about the hijackers. A gut feeling he didn't know how to deal with.

If a similar situation occurred today, the Ticket Agent could possibly request a BDO where Mr. Tuohey didn't have that option on 9/11/01.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote by Invisus: "-The ‘due process’ was the establishment of airspace control by the Fed and the legal purchase of the property on which the airport rests by whatever entity owns the property. As a concession to allow dangerous goods to fly over your neighborhood (i.e. an aluminum tube filled with flammable liquid) federal regulations (including safety and security) were established.
As such, your rights are modified (4th amendment exclusions have been LONG upheld in the Supreme Court as they pertain to air travel and the need for screening) when you enter into the area controlled by the airport, and areas controlled by federal regulation. Your travel is your right. If you don’t like federal regulations, you need to find a non-regulated method of conveyance. You can argue semantics all you like, but if you loop-holed every law and constitutional argument, the only result would be anarchy.


Well, apparently TSA is trying to stick its fingers into other methods of travel. How about the trolley near the border in San Diego?

No one's saying air travel shouldn't be regulated. That's a straw man. However, that doesn't mean that agencies like TSA have a carte blanche to do what they want and say "if you don't like it, don't fly."

The checkpoint is what TSA controls and baggage screening. The sterile side is still public property.

TSA tries to "secure" aviation to the point that it's unusable. That isn't security if the system is practically unusable. Security theory 101 teaches that.

The search itself is supposed to be reasonable. An adminsitrative search has a limited scope. Unreasonable searches happen every day at checkpoints. If you exceed the scope of the search, even with a warrant, things can go south real quick.

Read United States v. Young, No. 07-4060 (10th Cir. Feb. 5, 2008)where a drug conviction was overturned because the scope of a warrant was exceeded. Keep pushing and let's see if another decision like that comes out.

Anarchy is a straw man. It's not going to happen. It's not a loophole. It's making you guys stick to the law. That's like Bush saying all intelligence is going to go dark without telecom immunity when that's clearly bunk.

Quote: Should we also extend from your quotation that if I want to travel abroad and cross other countries’ borders that my US constitutional rights supersede theirs? That is the way it is written.

You seem to like straw man arguments. No one is arguing that and clearly he refers to the US. He's talking about our means to travel freely, both within the country and internationally when we leave and enter the country.

The Constitution only applies to US citizens outside the country with regards to what the US government can do to them. For example, this means the USG can't spy on a US citizen just because he/she is out of the country.

Quote: --Actually, sir, you need the remedial training. Referrals can be made by any citizen for any reason, good or otherwise. As screeners are also citizens (it is a job requirement) they may refer whomever they wish to whomever for whatever reason, ludicrous or otherwise. Policy simply gives them guidelines for doing so. Through laws legally passed by local jurisdictions, local LEOs handle referrals. Their handling of referrals is independent of the federal side of things.

Guess again. When you put on the TSA uniform and you work the checkpoint, you are a government actor first and foremost. Otherwise, any federal worker could infringe on someone's rights and say "I was doing that as a private citizen."

If you see something when you're visiting someone's house on your offtime. Go ahead and call the cops. That's within your right as a citizen. But you have to play by different rules when you act in an official capacity. It's why I could Google myself or any other US citizen when at home but could not when I was working in an official capacity at work lest I violate 4th amendment rights.

I can't violate someone's rights when I'm a private citizen. I CAN when working in an official federal capacity.

It's really disappointing TSA doesn't teach you that.

Quote: If you want to limit your interaction with the TSA or whoever is screening, you do not have to fly. Regardless of what your layman’s interpretation of the Constitution may be, the operation of our aviation system has been continuously upheld by the highest courts in the US. Unless you profess to have some insight into the Constitution that the tens of thousands of professionally trained legal experts that have spent millions of hours collectively interpreting don’t have, I suggest you research case law pertaining to the 4th Amendment and aviation.

Oh please. These things are argued about all the time in legal circles. If they weren't, lawyers wouldn't be coming up with creative arguments to defend things.

Additionally, the operation of the aviation system isn't what's in question here. It's TSA and it's practices. Quit the straw men already.

Quite honestly, the 9th blew US v. Aukai when they cited terrorism as a reason for letting things go on. They clearly state that terrorism was the reason for determining the search reasonable and threw out existing precedents because "9/11 changed everything."

A lot of what is ruled on depends on how it was argued. If certain things aren't challenged and argued, they're not considered. That's also clear throughout the ruling. Meaning had some things been argued, like whether he changed his mind about flying, the outcome would have been affected.

I've provided links to case law to back up my assertions. I'm studyign law now and all we do is argue it. :p I could provide more if I had more time. You have not provided anything to back up your assertions.

Quote: As far as you not being subject to regulation in the air, Federal Aviation Regulations say otherwise. They are legally passed regulations with statutory authority based on the sovereignty of US airspace and special maritime rules. The history goes back to before the US was a country and relates to the country’s right to govern its territory.

True, but these powers and regulations are not absolute.

Quote: “we’re not as bad as everyone else.” was never a legal defense. It is simply a call to perspective.

I'd argue that other countries have better perspective when it comes to security than the US does.

Quote: I don’t think it’s scary that people like me work for the TSA. People with attitudes like yours are what allowed general security in this country to deteriorate to the point that we were seen as vulnerable enough to attack. Tell me where that is American.

It wasn't security that failed on 9/11. The terrorists complied with the security regulations for the time. I still think they were largely adequate and risk based. That didn't and doesn't need there isn't room for improvement, but security in general made a lot more sense.

What failed us on 9/11 was intelligence (intelligence essentially ignored the warnings of a pending attack) and the mentality that flight crew should cooperate with hijackers. No one ever thought that a plane could be used with as a missile. Those vulnerabilities have been fixed in hardened cockpit doors, flight crew NOT opening that door in a hijacking attempt and passengers willing to make a stand against anyone who causes a ruckus on the plane.

The brave folks of UA93 already proved that their technique wouldn't and didn't last long.

America is about liberty. America is about accepting the risks of living in a free society, that sometimes bad people go free to ensure that innocent people aren't imprisoned. That's what America is about. Land of the free and home of the brave? Not with DHS, TSA and other agencies in the federal government spreading fear and trying to circumvent the legal system.

Quote: "Now that I know you have a concept of ‘rights’, tell me how reasonable it is to expect those rights to come without responsibilities.

Of course rights come with responsibilities. It's also the responsibility of the people to speak up when rights are infringed too. It's also your responsibility as a government actor not to infringe on those.

Quote: f you are so well versed in Constitutional law, tell me what alternative we have to govern our territory if we strip away laws based on the Constitution we hold so dear (all of the laws you refer to have constitutional basis, however you fail to adequately grasp the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law). You seem have only looked at a small part of the picture when it comes to the constitutionality of government regulation. The basis for most of our current aviation law is centuries old because it was adapted from maritime rules incorporated into our sovereignty.

I don't have to tell you because it's already evident that it's happening. We're watching it happen right now. Regulation is one thing. But regulation can occur without violating rights too.

I don't know how you can accuse of me looking at the letter of the law and not the spirit when the spirit is what I've been arguing the whole time.

And you can't tell me that Congress never makes bad laws that are unconstitutional. Just look at the Communications Decency Act that was held unconstitutional in Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997). And sometimes judges get their interpretations wrong. That's why we have appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Jim Huggins said...

Invisus:

As far as the surliness of TSO's... That's something that may need working on, although I haven't seen it much. That's a customer service issue, and a good one. I've run into just as many surly fast food workers, store clerks, bankers, cops, DMV workers and elementary school librarians as I have TSO's, so I would guess they are on-par with everyone else.

Except that the situations really aren't comparable. It's a bad analogy.

If a fast food clerk refuses to serve me, I'm only out $5.80. If a TSO is refuses to allow me to pass the checkpoint, I'm out $580 (or whatever my plane ticket cost).

If a fast food clerk refuses to serve me, I can usually find an alternative food source within a few minutes. If a TSO refuses to pass me through a checkpoint, alternative transportation make take days.

If a fast food clerk thinks I'm guilty of a crime, there usually isn't a LEO nearby to whom I could be referred for further investigation. TSOs usually have LEOs immediately available.

During screening, there is a differential power relationship between a TSO and a passenger. The TSO has far more ways to exercise power over the passenger than vice versa. In that situation, the person with the power needs to be exceedingly careful with the use of that power.

Having said all of that, let me state for the record ... I've been blessed to have encountered professional TSOs in all my travels.

Bob said...

March 5, 2008 10:08 AM Anonymous said... Bob, I thought covert test results were classified. Didnt the Asst Secretary recently order OI to classify both their SOP and their handbook? Are you not releasing covert testing protocol information when you reveal the types of items used in testing and the locations of those items?

Anonymous,

The TSA covertly tests their employees daily through several different methods. No Secret.

Terrorists are likely to conceal explosives, knives and firearms anywhere on their person or in their accessible property. No Secret.

I’m not pinpointing the type of test, test location, or the date and time of any future tests. Officers are tested when they least expect it with items that are concealed anywhere on any passenger or in their accessible property.

Now if I said there was going to be a test in Dead Horse, Alaska tomorrow at 1400 using a moose with exploding antlers, we’d have a problem.

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"The TSA covertly tests their employees daily through several different methods."


And the screeners continually fail to find the majority of threats.

Anonymous said...

I'm a LEO at a Cat-X airport. About 90% of the SPOT checks that I've been dispatched to turn out to be Hispanics. How about TSA leave the illegals that are self-deporting alone and get back to looking for terrorists?

Bob said...

March 6, 2008 4:00 PM Anonymous said... I'm a LEO at a Cat-X airport. About 90% of the SPOT checks that I've been dispatched to turn out to be Hispanics. How about TSA leave the illegals that are self-deporting alone and get back to looking for terrorists?

CatX LEO,

Thanks for posting. Many self deporting Hispanics are referred because they are displaying certain behaviors. Why? Because they are in the country illegally. Even though they are self deporting, many of these folks have fraudulent Social Security Cards and other documents they don't want us to find.

While we're watching their behaviors, we have no idea if the passenger is carrying fraudulent documents or a firearm. We just know they are displaying involuntary physical and physiological behaviors indicative of somebody that is afraid of being caught.

With your experience as a CAT X LEO, I hope to read more from you in the future.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Ephena said...

Isn;t this process going down a fast slippery slope? "looks suspicious" would mean diferent things to different people. Ethnic groups, manner of dress, hairstyles, what they are reading, doing or not doing. We are trampling the constitution I fear.

Anonymous said...

How many completely innocent people are singled out for additional searches?
What is the ratio of innocent to guilty passangers checked?

Anonymous said...

While we're watching their behaviors, we have no idea if the passenger is carrying fraudulent documents or a firearm. We just know they are displaying involuntary physical and physiological behaviors indicative of somebody that is afraid of being caught.

Silly me, I thought that becoming an expert on document fraud took years of training. I guess that document accuracy is now able to be accurately done using just a jeweler's loop and a UV flashlight. Does the FBI know about these techniques? I be you could teach them a thing or to.

Hmmm, can't find a firearm on an illegal? That's what the x-ray machine and metal detectors are for. Please tell me how your illegal alien identification process works. What is your false positive percentage? What are your false legal percentages?

Anonymous said...

"Silly me, I thought that becoming an expert on document fraud took years of training."

Not according the most bouncers you see at bars.

saizai said...

Bob -

I happen to be familiar with Ekman's work, having read nearly all of it. (It relates to my own research interests.)

The problem, has he has discussed openly in his publications - though perhaps not so much when he's being paid as a consultant? - is what everyone else has said. The ONLY thing that these techniques detect is stress. And being in a TSA line is inherently stressful.

So, what's your false hit rate? Where do you get your purported 'success rate' when you probably don't even know the base rates? Do you require BDOs to SPECIFICALLY list what behaviors they saw that matched the list, or is this just training that gives them a license to make a call (and thus easily revert to their biases)?

For that matter, what about the (obvious) counter-techniques - the fact that all of the things you look for are completely controllable by someone who knows to do so?

Sorry, but this is just as bogus as polygraphs. The only "effectiveness" is from the fact that you're screening more people.

Invisus (Straw Man) said...

Hey Bob, In reference to your last post and the one by Anonymous pointing out my penchant for Straw Man arguments, I'd look at the relevancy of my case law vs. yours and see who is making the Straw Men. You do a great job of nit-picking irrelevant points and citing case law that doesn't even apply to aviation: (States v. Young, No. 07-4060 (10th Cir. Feb. 5, 2008) <- Tell me how a botched warrant served off of a traffic stop relates to aviation... and (Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) - Telecomm relates to aviation how again?

That kind of arguing looks great and one without much sense is easily swayed by good looking empassioned arguments, however the truth of the matter is that you dressed up your opinions with window dressing case law, and are very transparent.

Your comment about intel failing is dead wrong, by the way. We knew all that we needed to about the trerrorists pre-9/11, however policy at the time prevented us from doing anything about it. Painful but true. Don't blame the intel community, blame your politicians who set the policy that held us back.

As far as your need to see case-law, here's some relevant stuff for you. I was looking for something good that addressed all of my "Straw Man" arguments... Enjoy. (NOTE: There are a few points to this case that could conceivably be seen as irrelevant and will no doubt be good purchase points for Mr. johnson's deflection game.)

John Gilmore v. John Ashcroft, et al., No. C02-No. C02-3444 SI (N.D. Cal.):
1. Fifth Amendment: violation of his due process rights as an unconstitutionally vague government policy or directive;
2.
3. Fourth Amendment: violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures where he faced the "penalty" of being denied permission to fly if he refused to comply with either;
4.
5. Right to Travel: violation of his fundamental right to domestic travel as the requirements were unreasonable government burdens and restrictions on his movement;
6.
7. Freedom of Association: violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights to freely associate with others who also sought to travel to Washington, DC, for political purposes;
8.
9. Right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances: violation of his fundamental right to petition government by unduly burdening his exercise of travel to where the seat of government is located.

The named defendants subsequently moved the district court to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On March 23, 2004, the district court issued an order dismissing all of the plaintiff's claims, finding that the identification and search requirements
1. were not necessarily vague as they were permissible means of providing screening of all passenger and property aboard a passenger aircraft (49 U.S.C. section 44901) and the airline was within its right to deny transport to passengers who refused consent to search (49 U.S.C. section 44902)—since the plaintiff's claim squarely attacked the orders or regulations issued by the TSA and/or the FAA with respect to airport security, the district court was without jurisdiction to hear the challenge and, without the unpublished regulations or statutes before it, the court was unable to conduct any meaningful inquiry as to the merits of the plaintiff's vagueness argument and, therefore, dismissed the claim for lack of standing or jurisdiction. See 49 U.S.C. section 46110(a).
2.
3. did not constitute a search for Fourth Amendment purposes where the plaintiff was free to refuse without pain of criminal or other governmental sanction; or, if it was a search, it was reasonable in that it was for a limited purpose and the plaintiff could have avoided it by choosing not to fly. See U.S. v. Cirimele, 845 F.2d 857, 860 (9th Cir. 1988), Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210, 216 (1984), Torbet v. United Airlines, 298 F.3d 1087, 1089-90.
4.
5. did not infringe any right to travel, as that right does not guarantee travel by any mode and the plaintiff could have chosen alternative means. See Miller v. Reed, 176 F.3d 1202, 1205 (9th Cir. 1999), Monarch Travel Serv. Assoc. Cultural Clubs, Inc., 466 F.2d 552 (9th Cir. 1972).
6.
7. did not infringe any right to free association where the plaintiff's inability to travel by commercial airline only indirectly affected his ability to associate with others in Washington, D.C. See Storm v. Town of Woodstock, 944 F.Supp 139, 144 (N.D.N.Y. 1996) (the plaintiff's allegation fails as a matter of law because the only actions which violate this right are those which are "direct and substantial or significant").
8.
9. did not violate the plaintiff's right to petition government as the restriction on travel only made it more difficult–not impossible–to exercise that right. See Hilton v. City of Wheeling, 209 F.3d 1005, 1006-07 (7th Cir. 2000).
The district court also appears to make additional conclusions given the facts and law. First, the district court concludes that the plaintiff lacked standing to attack the validity of CAPPS and any government "watch-lists" or "no-fly" lists where he could not show actual harm to himself from their existence. Second, the district court concludes that the court of appeals shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to hear arguments against the validity of any TSA/FAA order or directive.


There's plenty of reading nestled into the text, but it's all relevant to air travel and was denied writ in Jan 2007 by the Supreme Court.

Good luck with the rest of your education in law, by the way.

For Jim Huggins,

Good point about the power differential between TSOs and passengers, however, to be denied travel takes a LOT of bucking the system. Every day, I see people of ALL origins walking the airports, and even raising issues with the screening process.

Many of the arguments here are from people who have never even been referred for SPOT but have a problem with the principle of it. People like robert johnson (I don't know why he doesn't capitalize his name) usually have good intentions, but tend not to understand a whole lot about the practical application of law (as opposed to the letter of some obscure point seemingly granting some right or another), which is why he is going to law school.

All in all, the people reading this might be surprised at the lattitude we have here in the US. It's easy to get caught up in the hype over lost liberties, etc. We still have the best bang-for-buck when it comes to the balance of freedom, taxes, and safety.

Don't forget that while 9/11 was almost indescribable in its scope in terms of people lost, and freedoms lost, in many other countries, 3000+ dead is a paltry sum (comparatively. Any loss of life for such causes is reprehensible). One of the reasons for this is that we have a great way of balancing civil liberties and public safety. We pay taxes, part of which go towards public safety, and we vote for the people who set policy.

Oh, and for Anonymous, you are too funny (the jeweler's loop and UV light comment), but even a one day class is enough to spot most of the fraudulent documents that people try to pass. Not every splinter group or terrorist organization has the resources to pass CSI-proof documents, so given the number of arrests recently (by LEO's, not TSO's, Mr. johnson) I'd say it's justifying itself.

Invisus said...

Saizai,

There is a learning curve inherent in all endeavors requiring judgment, and fals positives will occasionally occur. Even the term 'false positive' is misleading, however because there is an overall image presented by the traveler that is compared against known behaviors.

There are many things that are not controllable by most people, trained or otherwise. True, these people exist, and so does the training, however in the cases that we are looking for, there are certain other mental processes at work that are contradictory to the application of the discipline necessary to fool the system.

By no means am I purporting the technique to be perfect, however given its success in other countries, our adaptation of it is more than warranted.

Stress is a many faceted thing. Control in one area often leads to overcompensation in another. It is only the most pathological or extremely well trained (which often are the most pathological anyway) people that can present all of the right signals if they are truly out to get something done.

The average 'person of interest to the program' will not be the people so well trained, as those people tend to be in the top echelons of organizations and as such are seldom the operational component, but rather the intel gatherers or planners, which are usually watched by others.

In some cases, as has been seen in past terrorist events in the US, the most dangerous people tend to be the 'lone wolves', which are seldom so well trained or capable. These people tend to be a little easier to read.

Of course, I'm not saying that the worst case scenario isn't possible, but taking into account the potential for diverting potentially disruptive people from the aviation domain, it's still a reasonable program.

I hope I've answered more questions than I have raised...

Anonymous said...

Interesting how self justification works. Food for thought... There were 677 Mil. air passengers in 2007 in the US and there are 43,000 'screeners' at the TSA. That is 1 screener for every 15,744 passengers.

There are 150 Million licensed drivers in the US and 840,000 licensed law enforcement officers. That is 1 officer for every 178 drivers.

If you think the TSA is actually helping anything, ask yourself this question. Have I ever seen someone speeding or running a red light that wasn't caught?

In Law enforcement, officers need just cause to pull someone over, at the TSA, everyone is guilty and must be proven innocent.

Get rid of the TSA and save the money. I'll take my chances.

Anonymous said...

You people talk about having a bad day. The way you talk you have a bad day every day. Well lets see if you can work on that. First of all lets see if you can get to the airport with enough time to get checked in, get through the security check point and to the gate on time. Wouldn't that be a marvel idea. Now lets work on packing you bags so we don't have to check the inside of them everytime you come thru the check point. I know that everyone does not fly but only once or twice a year. But they will spend hours on the internet to find low air fares, but will they get on the TSA web to see the lastest and greatest as to what they need to do to go flying, NO. Will they pick up the phone and call TSA to answer there question. No! TSA has always put the Traveling Public first and has provided them with all the info need to complete this process. Now the traveling public needs to step up to the plate and do their part.

Invisus said...

Anonymous,

Interesting point. I've often wished for a cop around when I haven't seen one, but it's the world we live in.

It's also the best counter for your own argument. When people put their own freedom on a pedestal higher than the safety and security of the people around them, they become a liability to any society.

Saying, "Get rid of the TSA and save the money. I'll take my chances." smacks of a naivete that's all to common among youth and those with little-to-no real sense as to the amount of danger out there.

Since screeners themselves don't prosecute anyone, and seldom end up prosecuting people in court, how is it that you can be guilty until proven innocent. For that to happen, you would have to be charged with something.

As far as 'taking your chances', if I wanted to hurt someone in the aviation environment and had to go to through no screening to get there, you most assuredly would lose. Not because I am Steven Seagall or anything, but because without decent screening, it would be a piece of cake to put together a surprise that would guarantee mayhem and there would be nothing you could do about it.

The VAST majority of the flying public doesn't feel the same as you do. That's why out of the 677 mil. air passengers in 2007, only a small handfull had any real problems traveling, and some of those were true criminal cases involving really bad behavior like assault.

Anonymous said...

You people talk about having a bad day. The way you talk you have a bad day every day. Well lets see if you can work on that. First of all lets see if you can get to the airport with enough time to get checked in, get through the security check point and to the gate on time.

I drive 70 miles to the airport. It takes 90 minutes. I leave the house 3.5 hours before flight time and have done it for the past 6 years. So please tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Wouldn't that be a marvel idea.

You're part of the problem.

Now lets work on packing you bags so we don't have to check the inside of them everytime you come thru the check point.

Oh, please, please, please tell me how I can pack my tool chest so that TSA won't have to go through it every time I fly. Please tell me how it can arrive with both locks locked.

I know that everyone does not fly but only once or twice a year. I fly weekly 2x or more and on short term notice, paying full price.

But they will spend hours on the internet to find low air fares, but will they get on the TSA web to see the lastest and greatest as to what they need to do to go flying, NO.

I would do that if there was any consistancy from airport to airport. I say "but that didn't happen at any airport but this one." That gets me a "well they do things wrong at all of the other airports." A discomforting attitude at best when I go to TSA web site and find diametrically opposed information.

Will they pick up the phone and call TSA to answer there question.

I've talked to TSA managers for hours on end and still have no resolution to any issues discussed with them. How many more hours of conversation time are required?

No! TSA has always put the Traveling Public first and has provided them with all the info need to complete this process.

TSA puts TSA's needs first and foremost. Traveling public needs are secondary.

Now the traveling public needs to step up to the plate and do their part.

I comply with TSA rules and regulations in an attempt to fly without harrassment. It still doesn't work. Nothing the traveling public does (except for not traveling) pleases TSA.

Anonymous said...

I'd say, BDO is the way to go. Anyone can fool technology if they try hard enough, but psychology is much harder to fool.

On the other hand, what reason is there to post video from 9/11 to make us believe that this is important? That is the most gratuitous propaganda I've ever seen on this blog! It should be removed as soon as possible out of respect for those who are IN that video and deserve better than being propaganda!

Anonymous said...

In one part of your explanation you said that they don't specifically look for drugs, but report what they find. That is a good policy.

But a few paragraphs later you brag about how thanks to training your drug "busts" have increased dramatically. Sounds like you are trying to be cops, which you are not.

Anonymous said...

interesting.

trade212 said...

Understand it is necessary to keep the nation's airports safe and the TSA needs to screen passengers for that reason. But at what point do you cross the line.

This past Thanksgiving I was returning from a trip from Manchester, NH (MHT) to New York, NY (LGA) where I live. I was asked to enter into this circular, transparent security searching device. But what offender me the most, was that while I waited at least 15 minutes to enter due to long lines. I found my self to be the only male or person for that matter. I guess the behavior specialist must have thought I was arab or muslin or something. I did not shave while I was visiting family for that week, so I did have facial hair and I did have a tan from a recent vacation.

What troubled me the most was the fact that the screening area was near my airline and I happened to notice that for the next 15-20 minutes maybe even longer they dod not screen one more single person.

I actually began to laugh to myself, because these are the same people that if I had pulled this stunt at my former employer where we had to single out people and randomly reach them, they would have been insulted.

The best part of all of this... was that there were several member of the TSA staff at the checkpoint talking to each other, laughing , one on a cellphone...etc. I guess if they were busy searching others and wouldn't have noticed this matter.

Sincerely, Proud American, Insulted Citizen

Scott

PS since this post has to be approved by the blog author, I can not imagine it being posted.

Anonymous said...

I am an American living in Europe. My wife is a Greek national, we are married with one child. This past Christmas I traveled with my daughter (aged 8) to the US via Newark airport. We were both traveling on American passports (and same last names). It was not the first time she and I traveled internationally by ourselves. It was however the first time I was given the “3rd degree” by a TSA employee. I know, expect and don’t complain about what have become standard security procedures traveling today. What I don’t appreciate is the hostile and harassing attitude given to travelers, unprovoked, especially when arriving exhausted from a long flight.

The questions from the officer were: Where are you going? (Indiana)Why are you going? (For the holidays)Who do you know that lives there? (my parents and family) How long will you be there? (10 days). Then turning to my daughter he asks: Where’s your mommie?, don’t you want to be with your mommie during Christmas? How come your mommie didn’t come with you? He wanted some answer, and my daughter, being eight years old, dazed and exhausted from the long trip and a bit scared from this strange man in a uniform first barking out questions to me as if I had done something wrong (and I did feel guilty by this point) and then talking to her in a “sweet” voice which all parents warn their kids about and is one of our biggest fears: (child abductors). So, the result, she clammed up and I answered for her. And I felt guilty about having to answer knowing he was trying to determine if I had indeed stolen my daughter and was on the run to the USA. Where is mommie: She is at home. (why?)Because international air travel is expensive for “normal people” and well, though she loves my family, she would rather spend the money and go someplace more interesting, because we are self employed and someone has to keep the business going. There were many more details and factors that all added up to, okay, I will take our daughter by myself- not the best solution for us but, we all do what we can.

I held my tongue. I am a very mild mannered person. It was the only moment one would wish they had a tragedy story to tell such a person that might snap them back into having some respect in the way they treat other people. I feared any wrong response or reaction to the TSA officer’s harassing questioning would find us in an airport jail (separately) with the officers presuming I had kidnapped my daughter and was attempting to escape to the USA with her. Of course maybe these were just crazy thoughts of mine due to a 11 hour flight cramped in a small airline seat.

So I often wonder why we had to endure this and it is a story I have told now to countless friends. The TSA officer had our passports in hand. Scanned them through whatever equipment he has to check that they are real. Seen on the computer that neither I nor my daughter are wanted for crimes of any nature, perhaps the computer would even when the last time we traveled to the states was, where exactly and for how long. IN the least he could have seen from the stamps in the passports that we have traveled many time back and forth to the States. Given all that information and that we both have the same last names and that I am of age to be her father and that she and I look quite a bit alike and that it was the holidays and family often try to get together on the holidays, and that we were US citizens coming into our country not leaving—why such harsh treatment?

Finally the TSA officer said I should have a letter from her mother the next time we travel alone. I had never heard of this and wonder what a letter anyone could have written would prove and what a letter even notorized by a lawyer in a foreign country would prove claiming to be from (in this case the mother), would prove to the TSA officer.

The bottom line is as parents of a child of mixed nationalities living in Europe we try to educate our child to not make stereotypes about different nationalities. In particular, when she make negative comments about the USA (yes even at such an early age) we always correct her and remind her that it is her country as well and not to judge based on just what you hear. Well, now she has an experience of her own.

The TSA /customs officers are the front door of America, the first people visitors and residents encounter when arriving. The first impression. What message, what first impression are thousands of visitors to the USA taking back with them every day.

Anonymous said...

What about when the TSA pulls people out of line who don't look suspicious? Last weekend I say the TSA in Dulles make what must have been an 80 year old disabled woman get out of her wheelchair. How is this a worthwhile use of TSA funding?
Whenever I travel with my mother (a 55 year old, 100lb Caucasian woman) she always gets pulled out of line for extra screening by a surly-looking TSA agent; if it was me I could understand it since I'm a 6'3" man, but some of the people I've witnessed being searched simply makes your organization look ridiculous.
I'm convinced that in many cases you're searching people that you shouldn't be in order to appear racially unbiased. NOT ONCE have I heard of a 55 year old woman traveling with her only son attempting to blow herself up.

cruisemates said...

I am amazed at the number of people here who think this is junk science or infringing on passenger's rights. You are probably the same people who are in favor of profiling, meaning you are hypocritical of anything the government does.

The system has increased "catches" by a huge percentage, whether they are terrorists or other criminals doesn't matter, it proves the BDO system works. If they can catch a smuggler they can certainly catch a terrorist with it.

I was amazed and thoroughly impressed by the story, and I am a frequent traveler.

I have been pulled out of line for secondary screening a few times, and I have to say I have never been treated with anything less than full courtesy and respect by screening officers.

If you have a problem with this program, my personal SPOT system is telling me you have something you want to hide. I know from experience that if they catch you with "mustard" you aren't going to jail, so they are doing their job and took it away. Lost your mustard? Get over it. It isn't your right to break the law just because you are a US citizen.

TSA, if it works then use it. And by the way, I am one of those people who gets airport anxiety and I also sweat much more than normal. Still, even when pulled out of line I was always treated with courtesy. I don't have a problem with these people doing their jobs and that is my response when I get selected. Perhaps that is why they treat me courteously.

There are there for our safety, I appreciate that. Treat them with the respect they deserve (for what they do, not their uniform) and you won't find it such an ordeal.

Watch the video and think about what the Portland agent would have done differently if he had been aware of BD science. His instinct told him who Atta was, he would have known to act on his instinct. 9/11 would have been 1/2 as bad or not happened at all. That is something you can't ignore.

Anonymous said...

What other duties do BDOs have? I hear they make really good money. Do they just get to walk around for their 8 hour shifts, and are these salaries paying off in "hits"?

Or, do they also do some other tasks that help the mission?

I hear Minneapolis alone has over 30 BDOs assigned.

Can somebody elaborate on the duties assigned?

Anonymous said...

Whenever I travel with my mother (a 55 year old, 100lb Caucasian woman) she always gets pulled out of line for extra screening by a surly-looking TSA agent; if it was me I could understand it since I'm a 6'3" man, but some of the people I've witnessed being searched simply makes your organization look ridiculous.

I suspect this is done to keep the numbers up. How many secondary searches were done to today? How much stuff did you find? High secondary numbers and low confiscation numbers make the TSA appear to be doing what it is chartered to do. The disabled, aged, very young, military, etc. make for easy targets because they, for the most part, comply without grief.

Anonymous said...

TSA needs to wake up and hire qualified people .. I recently applied for a Hazmat Endorsement on my drivers license, so DMV has you go through TSA for a fingerprint and a background to determine if one is a risk. I did all that and TSA sent me a letter rejecting me as a potential threat. They obviously didn't do their homework one bit as I am a U.S.Citizen born abroad, been in the U.S. Military 22 years, have had a U.S. passport since birth, have a social security card, etc etc. The letter stated that If I could show proof like a green card or working permit that they would consider their verdict. I obviously got it all squared away but not after spending numerous hours of my time. They could of atleast refunded me the $100 they charge. Good thing I wasn't a civilian looking for a job that needed that endorsemtn asap. Wake up tsa and do proper background checks! I am obvious a u.s. citizen... don't even have any felony convictions or a police record... ok, thanks..

Anonymous said...

I am an American living in Europe. My wife is a Greek national, we are married with one child. This past Christmas I traveled with my daughter (aged 8) to the US via Newark airport. We were both traveling on American passports (and same last names). It was not the first time she and I traveled internationally by ourselves....

Have your daughter say "my mommy doesn't like flying in the US. She's been fondled too many times by TSA and doesn't like it at all." The louder she says this the better the reaction.

TSA needs to concentrate on what it is supposed to be doing like checking luggage and passengers for weapons. Leave the social engineering at the door.

Larry said...

Checked liquids:

Why would properly checked liquids be confiscated?

My son purchased expensive liquers in Amsterdam and did not carry them aboard. On his connecting flight from Detroit to JFK, his luggage was inspected and the bottles were removed.

A subsequent claim for reimbursement was denied.

Please expalin.

Anonymous said...

"cruisemates said...
I am amazed at the number of people here who think this is junk science or infringing on passenger's rights. You are probably the same people who are in favor of profiling, meaning you are hypocritical of anything the government does.

The system has increased "catches" by a huge percentage, whether they are terrorists or other criminals doesn't matter, it proves the BDO system works. If they can catch a smuggler they can certainly catch a terrorist with it."

Airports are not intended to be dragnets. The TSA is there to protect us from someone destroying airplanes or airport assets (and the people there) or hijacking planes. It is not there to "catch" an illegal immigrant that is self-deporting.

Even if you dismiss the foregoing, I am highly doubtful that the BDO's are catching any higher numbers of persons with issues than the percentage of those people in the general population.

Christopher said...

I'm sure this has been said somewhere in the hundreds of posts on this subject but the behaviors that drug dealers, ID forgers and self deporting aliens exhibit are the same behaviors that we expect to see from terrorists.

Looking for signs of stress, fear and deception are directly related to airport security. We're not looking specifically for these individuals but the fact is that we're seeing people exhibiting suspicious behavior in airports and we're responding.

Christopher
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Having recently been the object of your idiotic procedures - not once, but twice - I find that you are hiring people who think that because they have some sort of authority they have power. They are nothing more than $15 per hour employees who wouldn't have a job if they weren't working for the government. I am so tired of the ridiculous attitude of the TSA employees who take everything that is said about the system as a personal offense and then make it worse.

Anonymous said...

TSA needs to wake up and hire qualified people .. I recently applied for a Hazmat Endorsement on my drivers license, so DMV has you go through TSA for a fingerprint and a background to determine if one is a risk. I did all that and TSA sent me a letter rejecting me as a potential threat. They obviously didn't do their homework one bit as I am a U.S.Citizen born abroad, been in the U.S. Military 22 years, have had a U.S. passport since birth, have a social security card, etc etc. The letter stated that If I could show proof like a green card or working permit that they would consider their verdict. I obviously got it all squared away but not after spending numerous hours of my time. They could of atleast refunded me the $100 they charge. Good thing I wasn't a civilian looking for a job that needed that endorsemtn asap. Wake up tsa and do proper background checks! I am obvious a u.s. citizen... don't even have any felony convictions or a police record... ok, thanks..

LOOK, IF YOU WOULD HAVE DONE YOUR HOMEWORK A BIT BETTER, THAN YOU WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT WAS REQUIRED EVEN BEFORE APPLY FOR PRECIOUS ENDORSEMENT

Anonymous said...

Whenever I travel with my mother (a 55 year old, 100lb Caucasian woman) she always gets pulled out of line for extra screening by a surly-looking TSA agent; if it was me I could understand it since I'm a 6'3" man, but some of the people I've witnessed being searched simply makes your organization look ridiculous.

TELL ME THIS, IF SOME ELDERLY LADY OLDER THAN YOUR MOTHER BOARDED A PLANE THAT YOUR MOTHER WAS ON AND IT WENT DOWN WOULD YOU COMPLAIN THEN?..SURE YOU WOULD, CAUSE YOU WOULD BLAME TSA FOR NOT CATCHING THAT ELDERLY TERRORIST. WAKE UP

Anonymous said...

TELL ME THIS, IF SOME ELDERLY LADY OLDER THAN YOUR MOTHER BOARDED A PLANE THAT YOUR MOTHER WAS ON AND IT WENT DOWN WOULD YOU COMPLAIN THEN?..SURE YOU WOULD, CAUSE YOU WOULD BLAME TSA FOR NOT CATCHING THAT ELDERLY TERRORIST. WAKE UP>

Posting in all caps is considered to be screaming. Do you work as a TSO? You should look up the demographics for a terrorist. If the woman isn't wearing a burka then she's probably okay since she's older than 55.

Anonymous said...

BDO's have been successful...if you count success by thwarting criminal activity. Some of you say, "catch a terrorist and Ill believe the program works".....Well, no one anywhere has caught any terrorist....at least conclusively...But its better to try than not try.
Please stop trying to hold everyone else but yourself responsible for your own mistakes.
If you get referred for additional screening and interviewed by a BDO, and miss your flight....chances are you were uncooperative and that resulted in your delay.
Tell the truth, be forthcoming and cooperate and you wont be detained (at least for very long) Pretty simple.
As for those of you who dont seem concerned about criminals being allowed to roam free on airplanes or other transportation systems....dig your head out of the sand. Every criminal allowed to conduct their unlawful business costs YOU money. Dont be so naieve.
Stop being tolerant of wrong.
I cant tell you how appreciative most Law Enforcement Agencies are of the BDO's. The system works, the Law knows it and its appreciated.

Pretty soon you wont be able to fly at all without valid ID. This is just the first step in curtailling illegal activity...many of which are fronts or precursors to terrorist acts.

Anonymous said...

that is sick !!! i'm never coming back to the states again, ever !

Orwell's nightmare is merely a fairy tale compared to what the usa are facing.
good thing is, these pepole don't have a clue, there are good professionals everywhere, including in crime and as usual with such methods, only the small fish gets caught, so the big one can enjoy ...

plain disgusting!

Tom said...

It sounds like it could be a worth while project if it is administered properly. To the individual that is never coming back to the States, GOOD.

Anonymous said...

Hello facecrime, goodbye 14th Amendment! I'm sorry, but your SPOT program just does not add up - this is a flimsy, pathetic excuse for racial profiling. I get searched EVERY SINGLE TIME I FLY...No matter how calm I am, no matter how many deep breathing exercises I do, no matter how hard I try to be polite to the moronic screeners, I still get pulled aside for "special screening". The saddest part is that I'm not even of Middle Eastern descent - and I am a law-abiding United States citizen with all the proper paperwork! Each time, their humiliating searches have turned up NOTHING! I just have dark coloring and the TSA screeners think that I'm of a "terrorist" racial minority! Sucks to be me, I guess! Thanks for the gross violation of my rights each time I try to fly, TSA!

Anonymous said...

I'll be short and sweet... If you have nothing to hide then don't worry about the "hassles" as you all call this screening. Get to the airport early, get screened, get on the plane and fly!

I'd be willing to bet most of you would be the first to gripe "We should have had better screening and this wouldn't have happened!" if an actual terrorist WAS able to get through security and cause an incident.

Are you all the same people who don't vote in an election but are the first one's to raise a stink about the elected official???!!!

Anonymous said...

I'll be short and sweet... If you have nothing to hide then don't worry about the "hassles" as you all call this screening. Get to the airport early, get screened, get on the plane and fly!

I'd be willing to bet most of you would be the first to gripe "We should have had better screening and this wouldn't have happened!" if an actual terrorist WAS able to get through security and cause an incident.

Are you all the same people who don't vote in an election but are the first one's to raise a stink about the elected official???!!!

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of whiney babies!

The case in Orlando, FL proves that BDO operations and training really work. Pity that some of you have forgotten that TSA was created as a result of the terrorist activity on Sept. 11, 2001. I lost eight friends that day in Tower One. Now, I work for TSA, and I will do whatever is necessary using my training and wisdom and personal experience, to ensure that no one else has to die during my watch. Give TSA a break, and quit moaning about nothing. The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance. If you don't need extra scutiny of your affairs, stay home and watch TV. Otherwise, cooperate with us and read the signs posted, then maybe you can catch your flight in a timely manner. For those professionals who know how to travel, thank you for your patience.

Anonymous said...

Now, I work for TSA, and I will do whatever is necessary using my training and wisdom and personal experience, to ensure that no one else has to die during my watch.

So if TSA had been in existance during the events of 9/11, using the rules in place at 9/11 do you suppose for just one second that you could have prevented anything? Do whatever is necessary? Does that include intimidating passengers? Does that include illegal actions?

Give TSA a break, and quit moaning about nothing.

No. Get your collective act together.

The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance.

So please tell me how you/TSA maintains our freedom. From what I've personally witnessed TSA is rather repressive.

If you don't need extra scutiny of your affairs, stay home and watch TV.

I really hope that I never encounter you at any screening. I don't need any of your scrutiny in any of my affairs. It isn't your job.

Otherwise, cooperate with us and read the signs posted, then maybe you can catch your flight in a timely manner.

So you're one of those 'do you want to fly today' types. FYI we sure don't need your bad attitude.

For those professionals who know how to travel, thank you for your patience.

Scream at me and I will report you. Abuse the elderly, infirm, children, military in uniform traveling under orders and I will report you. Tyranny begins when we voluntarily surrender our rights for security.

Anonymous said...

Bob wrote "No traceable personal information is recorded unless you have committed a crime."

Bob, this is not true. I have been pulled aside for secondary screening. The TSO turned me over to the airport police. The airport police determined that I had done nothing wrong, but copied my identification and contact information "in the event the TSA wants to pursue civil legal action" (probably standard practice for the police) and provided a copy of it to a TSO at the checkpoint. I know you have little to do with the airport police practices, but when the information is provided to a TSO, you are proved wrong.

Anonymous said...

For all the people that disagree with TSA and its policies, why don't you come up with a solution...

How would you protect air travel if we rid the nation of TSA?

Bob said...

Test #1 ---

Bob said...

Test #2 ---

Bob said...

Test #2

Bob said...

Test #3

Phil said...

see also: "TSA's 'behavior detection' leads to few arrests", Thomas Frank, USA Today, November 17, 2008

"A TSA program launched in early 2006 that looks for terrorists using a controversial surveillance method has led to more than 160,000 people in airports receiving scrutiny, such as a pat-down search or a brief interview. That has resulted in 1,266 arrests, often on charges of carrying drugs or fake IDs, the TSA said."

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Airport behavior detection and security theater :

"If you do the math, you’ll discover that fewer than 0.65% of the people identified as a potential terrorist were actually doing anything that led to an arrest. One might imagine that most of those were people with bench warrants for their arrest because of unpaid speeding tickets, had a baggie of hydrocodone pills in a backpack, or were otherwise far from being grave dangers to society. Of those arrested, zero were terrorists, according to the article.

There’s some question whether the TSA would achieve roughly the same results by picking out 43,000 people at random. In fact, that may effectively be what they’re doing. There’s not really any good evidence to suggest that these behavior detection agents of theirs are any more effective than picking every seventh person out of line at a security checkpoint to harass. There’s talk of further developing the technique, to hone it for greater accuracy, and to automate some of it."

Anonymous said...

So you have arrested 514 people so far in the programs infancy. How many terrorists have you arrested? I will assume by nondisclosure that you have arrested none. So far your "program" has only arrested ordinary, albeit law breaking, citizens and has a 0 success rate catching terrorists. Either the terrorists already know how to thwart your detection capabilities, or there are no terrorists to find.

Basically the airport IS a dragnet and the TSA agents no matter how justified are simply searching to find potential law breaking citizens. No terrorist is ever going to hijack another plane here, too many on the plane would now do something to make sure that terrible day was never repeated again. At least until history was forgotten by the next generation.

Pickalots said...

http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/bdo_mco.shtm

So quick are we to forget when there are not big explosions and planes hitting buildings...

I really wish facts would get 'straight'.

Anonymous said...

I believe in the fact that people do exhibit uncontrollable behaviors that could lead to the discovery of deception. I don't understand why if TSA or any other agency agents would publish detrimental information as to what they look for. There will always be public interest in anything that the government may do. Publishing this information could also train future terrorists on how to suppress these behaviors. What will government agencies do then when this happens.

Leroy said...

For all of you, people who so despise the BDO program, I will have you know that it is very obvious in your posts that you have absolutely no idea of what the program is/does or even about. Thanks to how politically correct the US government is, there is no room for prejudice or profileing in this line of work. Everything is done based off expressed and proven facts, and we have to be sure it can hold up in the US courts of law. So get off the profileing and prejudice kick! As to who TSA hires...We have hired countless ex law enforcement officers, retired military and many others from even more distinguished careers. TSA is here for safety and security YOUR safety and SECURITY! If you don't like it...DON'T FLY!! As to the BDO program...It is the ONLY PROACTIVE program TSA has, so unless you want to wait and see, and hope nobody blows up your airport..I suggest you stop bad mouthing the BDO's and let them do their job, maybe even support them, in the job they were TRAINED to do. And unless you have been through the BDO program, You have no idea what they go through. So with that being said. I wish you all a Happy New Year. And know..where there is a BDO, we are watching, and waiting, just to make sure you are safe.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that you're trying to implement programs that focus on keeping bad people off planes, as well as bad things. I have absolutely NO sympathy for anyone who gets caught with contraband of any kind, and they deserve everything they get if they are caught. After reading the messages here, I see a lot of whiners who don't recognize the reality of the dangerous world we live in. Sorry, but I'm glad there are people on the lookout for your shady behavior, in all its forms. Civil liberties are tough to enjoy when you're DEAD. I guarantee these intellectually challenged complainers would also be first in line to point the finger at airport security for not doing enough to stop a terrorist if one gets through. Thank your lucky stars one hasn't been successful. As they saying goes, "security has to get it right every time. Terrorists only have to get it right once." Here's a novel thought: if you don't like it, DON'T FLY. Conversely, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Pathetic crybabies.

Tony Austin said...

Well, I don't like flying so I am nervous when I am at the airport. I fiddle and fidgit a lot since I have ADD, and I don't want to be film naked!

How is this post suppose to make me feel comfortable?

Anonymous said...

OK FOR ALL OF YOU OUT THERE THAT WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEY CAN CATCH. I HEARD THE MAN WHO TRIED TO BRING ON A PLANE IN HIS CHECKED BAGS BOMB MAKING MATERIAL WAS CAUGHT BY BDO'S. SO FOR YOUR INFORMATION THERE ARE SUCCESSES OUT THERE AND PROBABLY MORE THAT YOU JUST FAIL TO SEE OR LISTEN TO. LOOK THEY ARE DOING ALL THEY CAN TO MAKE LIFE SAFE FOR US. WE HAVE THE MILITARY DURING TIMES OF PEACE BUT I DON'T SEE NO ONE SAYING WE DON'T NEED THEM. THEY ARE HERE TO MAKE IT HARDER OR EVEN STOP SOME ONE FROM HURTING OUR WAY OF LIFE AND LOVED ONES. STOP AND TRY TO HELP BY BEING CONSTRUCTIVE. I BET THE PEOPLE COMPLAINING ARE THE SAME ONES WHO WILL SAY THAT FULL BODY IMAGING IS TO INTRUSIVE TO USE. SO HOW WOULD YOU STOP SOMEONE WHO IS BENT ON MAKING LIFE FOR US MISERABLE?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but for some reason the TSA makes me nervous and I am in the military and have a TS clearance, lol. It's like when you see someones dog for the first time and you are uneasy or unsure if it will attack you for no reason. I think the whole biggest thing is that the "people watcher thing" promotes paranoia and fear in itself. I have see people observe me and other passengers before. Then you got, the long security lines, noise, shuffling around, people staring at you like you are in prison, tight scheduals for making flights and connecting flights, disorienting and frustrating terminal layouts, the fear of loss or damage to your baggage, dealing with the airlines, delays, missed flights, etc. It's enough to make anyone nervous and anxious. And then for passengers that are already afraid of flying, add all of what I mentioned, and hell yeah your going to have angry, frustrated and fearfull people. I hate the airport, but don't mind flying personally, it's the stress full ramp-up to takeoff that gets me. Once we are on the tarmac and the engines are roaring, wheels up, and we are in the air, then I can take a deap breath and relax, because I am not in the airport, I'm on my way home, or to where I need to go.

Jemmyd said...

Personally I will never fly if I have any other option. I would rather hitch hike to Florida from NY when I have to bury my mother- God knows if I go to an airport I wouldn't ever get there anyway. I have anxiety, suffer from paranoia, and take antidepressants because I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11/01. I KNOW for a FACT that the spotters will see my obvious discomfort at being in crowds and in a new dangerous situation- yank me up by the neck and throw me in jail. Its a shame. What many of you don't realize is that the people who don't feel guilt or fear,the real psychopaths, won't display any sort of emotional "signals" for you to spot. They will be the ones smiling and giggling about the heinous acts they can't wait to commit.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

As a very frequent traveler I do not always like the lines and screening process we must undergo but I fully agree with them. First TSA screens bags but bag handlers and other other airport employees and persons who service the planes and airport are responsible for the vast Majority of all bag thefts at airports once they clear the screening process and are in the secure area. If you hire normal people some of them will steal. Second this is only one part of the larger screening process and yes many weapons are found in bags at check points on a daily basis, which do not make the news because people forgot them in their bags or claim to have forgot them. Every one whants freedom from law enforcement and critize the police until they need them and then they are the first to scream for help, or ask why there are not more available to keep them safe. Third if a person makes it on a plane the general public will not be able to stop a determined terrorist who has been well trained in the martial arts, and has nothing to lose because he or she is willing to die for their cause, there are video's out that show the training they are conducting to carry out an attack. The system is not perfect, but until someone can come up with some type of suggestion to fix it and make it perfect then this is what we have at this time. Also people are currently angry about the cost of travel increasing then show me a cheaper way to do it. I am not in the TSA but I am in law enforcement and do know of many things a good TSA screener has prevented from getting on a plane, and I am greatful. No one can deny that terrorists have targeted the airlines because of the impact a single crash can have on the economy.

Gerry said...

I have a better idea...profiling

Anonymous said...

I travel weekly for my job, and I'm all for security and reasonable searches being performed. But why is it that being pregnant now means I'm a terrorist? Every single time I fly now, I'm pulled aside for additional screening? Feels like profiling to me..... But why?

SS

Anonymous said...

I'll bet my pension that a used car salesman could fool the TSA.

Anonymous said...

The BDO program is a complete fraud. BDOs spend more time on break and drinking coffee than observing suspicious individuals at the checkpoints. The program is a huge waste of money and Congress should get rid of it. The money would be better spent spending the BDOs back to the screening force to check bags and run the x-rays. Not to mention the program is not being applied in a constitutionally sound way at many airports. It is a huge inconvenience on passengers who have nothing more than anxiety or just happen to be Mexican. Yes, the BDO program has it's share of "professional profilers" who assign behaviors to those passengers who they believe will result in an arrest ie: Mexicans, and people who look like drug abusers. Finding these sort of passengers and arresting them is the only way BDOs try to validate their program but as I said it is a FRAUD. The program is completely subjective. The passenger can assign any behavior necessary to yield a referral for additonal screening. Catching Mexicans and people w/ drugs is not the mission of TSA. I don't feel any safer w/ this program. In fact, I feel less safe because precious resources and manpower are being senselessly allocated away from areas of airport security that are critical.

Max said...

Any small inconvenience is worth putting up with to prevent possible catastrophe. If you're stopped and have nothing to hide surely there is no problem?

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I am a 2 million mile frequent flyer. I want to get past checkpoints as fast as possible. However, by asking me to provide my name by screening agent when I have just handed them my drivers license is insulting my intelligence. Saying "good morning" or striking up other conversation to gauge if I am a threat or not is more palatable.

I feel like you are making me just through a hoops just because you have the power to do so. Quite frankly, I have a serious problem with it.

I would like a response please. Perhaps you can reduce the profound irritation I have with this matter.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be taking my first ever plane trip from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ. I have a form of social anxiety that leaves me mute when talking to strangers. I won't be traveling alone but i'm aware that out in public especially around large crowds I do not make eye contact and fidget. Will the TSA draw extra attention on me?

Anonymous said...

It may be interesting to read what the DHS Office of the Inspector General has to say about the SPOT program five years on. You can find their redacted report here:

http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2013/OIG_13-91_May13.pdf

Note that it is a PDF. I make no comment other than to point out the availability of the report.

Anonymous said...

Your anecdote is not "proof" that the program works, simply evidence to support the program. The woman with plastic explosive breasts could have been a random stop. A direct relationship between the disassembled weapon, plastic explosive simulants and her detention and the subsequent discovery of the outlawed items would have to be demonstrated, to the exclusion of other possible factors for her being stopped.

Anonymous said...

Is not the mustard but what could be disguised as it what is the problem. In the past we caught a lot of coke paste in shampoo bottles.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I feel the least bit annoyed with the TSA, I consider the alternatives, to them not doing the best job they can. One of the alternatives, could be ending up like the passengers who were on the flights to the world trade centers. No thanks, I'll wait in line.