Friday, February 8, 2008

Why We Screen Veterans and Active Members of the Military

I’ve noticed many comments from concerned passengers as to why we screen soldiers and veterans at our checkpoints. Some folks find this shameful while others (including most soldiers and vets) realize it’s a necessity.

Let me preface this post by saying I have the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform. My Grandfather who I never met was a Combat Medic in an 82nd Airborne Glider Battalion during WWII. He lost his life during a practice rescue mission while serving in Alaska in 1949. I grew up hearing stories about his military career, which helped foster my fascination and respect for the military. My father was in the National Guard for 10 years. I was raised to respect soldiers and spent many a Sunday morning on the couch with Dad watching war documentaries and John Wayne movies. I eventually joined the Army myself and became a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Decontamination Specialist with the 3rd Armored Division. I served in Desert Storm and spent 3 years in the Army before being honorably discharged and starting college. While in the Army, I met some of the best people I’ll ever meet. Hardworking, loyal, trustworthy, respectable… It is natural to see one of our soldiers in uniform and instantly put them up on a pedestal. We should… they deserve respect for their service to our country. They sacrifice much of their freedom to protect ours. However, let me caution you that simply because somebody wears a uniform, it does not warrant blind trust.

Did you know that we’ve had soldiers bring grenades with them to the airport? Chances are there was no ill intent, but a grenade on a plane is a grenade on a plane. It just shouldn’t be there. (Kind of like snakes on a plane) We’ve also caught passengers impersonating soldiers thinking they would be able to bypass the screening process. Go to any Army/Navy store in America and for less than $50 dollars you too can look just like an active duty soldier, sailor, airman or marine.

The fact that any soldier serves is honorable, but soldiers and veterans are just as capable of committing unspeakable acts as any other human being. In Kuwait in 2003, US Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar killed two 101st Airborne officers and wounded 14 when he lobbed two grenades into a command tent. John Allen Muhammad (The DC Beltway Sniper) was a Sergeant in the Army and served for 16 years. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City Bombing) were both Army Veterans. My roommate of 2 years in the Army stole weapons from an armory and died in a shootout with police after killing two officers. My first year on the job with the TSA, a young man serving in the U.S. Air Force told me he was going to blow up the plane he was about to depart on. These are just a few examples of many. Would we need military prisons if all of our soldiers were the spotless squeaky-clean individuals we believe them to be?

The TSA gives Soldiers special accomodations , but just like any other passenger, if they alarm the walk through metal detector, or have something in their bag we need to look at, they will undergo secondary screening. We owe that to the safety of all passengers to resolve any alarm we receive. In fact, the same thing happens to a TSA employee when they are traveling. If they alarm, they get screened.

Lastly, I just want to touch on the amount of respect TSA employees have for our members of the Armed Forces both current and veterans. Many in our ranks are prior military. Some of us served for a couple of years and others retired with 20 plus years under their belts. Some during times of peace and others during war. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a TSO stop to shake a service members hand and thank them for their service. Some of our employees even have family members and friends serving in Iraq or Afghanistan right now. At my airport and I’m sure many others, we have written letters and sent care packages to soldiers. In fact, some of us have adopted platoons and send items regularly. I’ve also screened many soldiers and veterans who have thanked me for screening them including a Battle of Bulge vet who limped due to frostbite from the war.

Read about the experience a Lead TSO had with a Medal of Honor Recipient this past summer.

Bob

Evolution Blog Team

66 comments:

Dmitry said...

I recently heard a story about you guys trying to screen an airplane full of soldiers that already had their weapons on the plane. The incident happened as they came back from a stop-over at an airport on the way back from active duty. The TSA screeners attempted to screen them but once informed about the "weapon situation" this was stopped.

Impersonation of soldiers though is definitely a big issue, so in theory i support this process.

What bugs me more is something i recently found out, you dont need an ID to fly on a domestics flight. My co-worker some months back forgot his ID and got on the plane without issue (after a more "extensive" check). While i do understand this must happen very often and maybe cannot be avoided, it does really make me question how easy it would be for a criminal to escape jurisdiction with this loophole.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,

I don't want to doubt the validity of your post, but when I saw "we’ve had soldiers bring grenades with them to the airport" -- I went wow, how interesting. I immediately went looking for a news article or something regarding this. I couldn't find anything in the web-sphere. For edu-ma-cational purposes, do you think you could point me in the direction of some reference to this?

Thanks.

John said...

I'm confused. If soldiers are a risk (and it certainly seems sensible to not treat them differently to me), and footwear is a risk, why are soldiers allowed to keep their boots on when in uniform as a
"special accomodation"?

I would have thought army boots are even better places to hide IEDs that the average trainer.

Anonymous said...

For another view of TSA interaction with Medal Of Honor recipients, do a google search on "Joe Foss" and TSA. The snopes.com and wikipedia articles are reasonable.

Essentially, screeners caught an 86-year-old WWII Medal of Honor winner carrying a small knife, dummy-bullet keychain, and his Medal of Honor awarded by President Franklin Roosevelt.

They allowed him to mail the knife and bullet home to himself (OK), but then detained and harassed him for about 45 minutes, threatening to confiscate the Medal of Honor itself because of the metal points and edges of the small star on the medal. Apparently they didn't even know what a Medal of Honor was.

badgers said...

This article's title is strange to me . I travel quite frequently and have been to many airports and not one of them have I ever seen a military personnel screened. At each security checkpoint, they were put to the front of the line (or, in many cases, the "reserved for pilots and airport employees line") and allowed to go though WITHOUT going through a metal detector or "sniffer" machine. This article is quite misleading or you are being misled in your belief that TSA employees ACTUALLY screen military personnel. THEY DON'T, believe me.

I understand that untying and retying of combat boot laces would make it a burden for many, I even think it is ridiculous that you make ME remove my shoes, but you really need to NOT make an exception for military personnel in the future.

hawthorn said...

I fly a lot too, at airports like ABQ and ATL where lots of active duty personnel pass through, and I am accustomed to seeing ACU's in the security line. They seem to get the same treatment I do. At some airports, soldiers are waved to the flight crew screening line in appreciation for their service, but they are still screened. If anyone knows a specific airport where it happens otherwise, they should name it here.

Jack said...

Military traveling under orders:

1)Uniform
2)Orders
3)Military ID Card

Got problems with a military person bringing an unauthorized weapon through the check point? Contact his/her commander and let the commander deal with the military member.

I remember Joe Foss getting the 'process' over his Medal of Honor. Only one word describes what I felt over that one - SAD. Most MOH folks got their medal after they died. A surviving MOH member deserves all the respect we can give them. What ever became of that one? I also remember a member of the military, home on medical leave, recovering from a broken jaw (bullet) he sustained in Afghanistan. His jaws were wired shut. He was given a small set of wire cutters so if he was vomitting then he could cut the wires holding his jaws shut to keep from drowning in his own vomit. He travelled one leg of his journey to an airport with the pliers. He attempted to board the plane again and the pliers were taken from him by TSA. He told them why he needed pliers. TSA refused to even give the pliers to a member of the aircrew. One word describes my feelings about this misuse of power - angry. No common sense was used. This man was in full uniform, under orders, and carrying a military issued ID.

How many grenades has TSA 'recovered' from active duty military members? Was the airport cleared when the grenade(s) were found? If not then why not as a grenade has a lethal raidus of about 5M? Was the military member turned over to military authorities?

Dave X the first said...

"I’ve noticed many comments from concerned passengers as to why we screen soldiers and veterans at our checkpoints."

Really? Is that up in the top 100 of comments? I'd imagine most soldiers and vets would step right in themselves to defend your policy of no special treatment.

I noticed more comments complaining about special treatment for TSA employees than for our military.

Sojourner said...

What bugs me more is something i recently found out, you dont need an ID to fly on a domestics flight. My co-worker some months back forgot his ID and got on the plane without issue (after a more "extensive" check). While i do understand this must happen very often and maybe cannot be avoided, it does really make me question how easy it would be for a criminal to escape jurisdiction with this loophole.

What concerns me is the mentality that we need identification to travel in this country. Criminals will always be able to easily bypass ID requirements through forgeries, bribes, or other more complicated systems. Even if we had a foolproof ID system for flying, is the advantage in fighting crime relevant considering they can flee jurisdiction by car, boat, or foot?

Please consider the privacy you surrender for such small security gains.

oldjarhd said...

On the subject of military, veterans, military retirees, etc.

When returning home to Tampa from BWI last November, my wife, adult daughter and I approached the final security ID checkpoint before being physically screened.

A middle-aged TSA screener stood at the entry point checking everyone's picture ID against their boarding pass. Next to him was a much younger man. It was clear from the time the experienced man took with each passenger, and pointed out various items on ID cards, that he was training the younger man.

As a 73 year-old retired Marine officer, who had given his country nearly 30 years of his life, I've always been proud that when required to display an ID card that I could present my federal government-issued retired military ID card. I was (and am) very proud of my service, and being able to present federal government identification instead of a state driver's licence was a point of pride with me.

Following my wife and daughter, I approached the lectern, smiled and said good morning, and laid my retired Marine Corps ID card and my boarding pass down for examination. The same thing I've done hundreds of times in this country and others throughout the world.

The TSA screener picked up my ID card. Looked at it carefully, then turned to point out something on the card to his young understudy. It was noisy in the terminal, and he was speaking very softly, so I couldn't hear what he was saying. I assumed he was pointng out to the trainee that this was a federal ID card, and that in comparison to a state driver's license, this one is far superior.

He looked back at me and said, "Sir. Do you have a driver's license?"

I said, "That card in front of you is a federal government ID card. It's far better than any state driver's license."

He continued to look at me. He didn't acknowledge my comment. He said, "Sir. Do you have a driver's license?"

By this time I was getting a little hot, and replied, "Why? Why wold you ask for a state driver's license when right in your hand is a valid federal government ID card showing that I'm a retired Marine?"

Again, he made no acknowledgement that I'd spoken. He looked at me and said again, "Sir. Do you have a state driver's license?"

The people behind me were now getting unsettled, and my wife and daughter had come back to see what the problem was. He simply stood there, unmoving, making no comment other than the single sentence, and not acknowledging my remarks whatsoever.

My wife asked me what the problem was, and I told her the man was refusing to accept my retired military ID card as an acceptable form of picture ID. She looked at the man and said, "Why not?"

The man looked at me. He did not acknowledge my wife's question. He said, "Sir. Do you have a state driver's license?"

In a fit of anger, I whipped out my Florida driver's license and handed it to him. He made a show of examining both sides of it very carefully before handing everything back to me. He said, "Thank you, sir."

I was prepared to argue the point some more, but me wife pulled me away, warning me that if this kept up the man would have me arrested.

I let he pull me away about five feet, and turned back to the man and said, "I just don't get it. What's this all about?"

He turned to me, and it was clear that he was angry too. He said, "Your ID card doesn't have an expiration date on it!"

I pulled away from my wife. I walked back. I said, WHAT? The only way that ID card could expire is if I drop dead here on the floor! It says "Indefinite" because I'm a retired Marine until I die, and this card is good until I die!"

He did not acknowledge me. He turned back to the passenger he was screening and continued what he was doing.

I let my wife drag me to the metallic screening machines, and we went through and continued our journey home.

I never wrote to TSA about this until now because I was too angry. But when I spotted this TSA blogsite, I decided to write and let you hear about it.

It would be nice if your screeners were made to understand just a little more about the "expiration" status of retired military ID cards.

Will Kamm said...

I am one of the servicemembers who posted in regards to special treatment - not because I believe we should receive such treatment, but because it is applied unequally. I would have no problem with being screened as a regular passenger, however, it made me angry when I saw a group of soldiers on leave from Iraq being screened as normal passengers, while I was put in the aircrew line. They still had desert dust on their boots, while I was in REMF corfams and dress blues. If anything, our positions should have been reversed.

In response to "badgers"' comment, I can assure you that we are screened according to the same procedures as any other passengers. I believe the sole exception is combat deployment (they're carrying M-16s, why bother screening?), but personnel go through far tighter inspections before even arriving at the airport before deploying.

Anonymous said...

Screen the veterans. Be polite to everyone, and when a CMOH passes through with the medal, don't treat them like Joe Foss was treated.

Anonymous said...

(well, I mean, it *can* be a verb, but the way you've used it is ugly, grammatically speaking!)

ToastyKen said...

dmitry, re: not needing an ID on a domestic flight and criminals escaping jurisdiction:

Criminals can easily drive from one state to another anyway. And as long as you're in the US, anyone who's committed a serious crime can't really escape jurisdiction. Meanwhile, I think it's a good not to require ID for flights (potentially soon to be changed with Real ID) because that could lead to a slippery slope of abusively restricting legitimate travel.

Besides, the TSA's job is to make the plane safe, not to monitor the movements of Americans traveling around the country and assuming that we're all potential criminals until proven innocent. If a passenger gets an extra security check, then the plane is likely to be safe, so what's the problem?

hawthorn said...

Of course the Joe Foss incident was an embarrassment for the TSA, but in all fairness, it occurred in early 2002, when the post-9/11 security effort was in its infancy. I know that MOH recipients fly all the time without reported incident. One of the hazards of the Internet is that a six year old faux pas is treated as if it were breaking news.

For those who are curious, here are the TSA rules for travelling military personnel. Except for the boots, they have the same rules as the rest of us, or actually more. Having spent some time among Army grunts, I assure you TSA is doing a public service by not taking their boots off! :)

TSA TSO NY said...

In response to oldjarhd -
So the screener checking IDs while training another screener kept his cool while you obviously got agitated, asked you for a driver's license because he was unfamiliar with your Gov't ID (which granted, he should have been) and maintained his focus on you when your wife stepped in.

You admitted several times you got hotter and hotter when he refused to engage you in verbal confrontation. You even admit holding up the line while he asked you several times for a Driver's License. You even turned back and attempted to confront him again after he was done checking your ID.

Just trying to show you that there are 2 sides to every story. When he didn't have full understanding of your military ID, was it so difficult to simply hand him a driver's license and go on your way? Obviously it was a "point of pride" with you to show your military ID. Guess what? Quite a number of our screener's are NOT military, have never been military and are unfamiliar with ALL forms of military ID. However, they are familiar with state driver's IDs. Get over yourself, hand the guy who has to screen 10,000 passengers IDs a day, your driver's license, and get on with your life!

Anonymous said...

"However, let me caution you that simply because somebody wears a uniform, it does not warrant blind trust."

Unless, of course, it's a TSA uniform in an airport then you should do whatever they say.

ELP TSO said...

OldJarHd - Sorry to hear about that inconvenience. When I was trained in travel document checking, I too was confused about the "IND" or "INDEF" in place of the expiration date I was looking for. My coach was quick to point out, though, that ID cards such as those never expire. I'm a little surprised and concerned as to how someone who is qualified to coach a trainee could be so oblivious. In any case, thank you for your service!

Badgers - What are you TALKING about? I live in a "military town" so we have tons of soldiers come through our airport everyday. If they ring on the metal detector, we screen them. If they have prohibited items in their bag, they get their bags checked.

I unfortunately get a lot of soldiers (and sailors, airmen and marines) who scoff at the whole process, and give me non-humorous "laughs" without ever looking at me when I ask them to raise their arms while I use the hand held metal detector.

But I assure you. They get screened. While I show them great respect, I don't screen them any differently than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Why does TSA not implement a program in which people who have United States Government National Security Clearances go through less scrutiny? I understand that everybody needs to go through some amount of screening, such as the case in which a soldier accidentally brings a prohibited item through security, but if the CIA or DoD has decided that I can be entrusted with national security information with little to no risk, isn't it safe to assume that I'm not a Terrorist, or for that matter, any sort of criminal?

Anonymous said...

I would hope you don't remove this comment...I truly mean it in a positive way.

If the US government would just be honest, American's would be less upset with the status. Announce we live in a police state...tell the people this is the best possible world. Society can't survive without constant and complete monitoring of the public. WHO says that a free society is sustainable! Where are there ANY examples of where that has been true for hundreds of years? Society evolves...the US had it's "free" period...it is time to move on. GET USED to it. At least the tools we have now for control are far more effective than Nazi Germany or the former USSR.

I suppose this email will rile some feathers, but it won't change anything...we are what we are...moving in the direction we are and a few little bleeding people talking about freedom won't stand in the way. I can't think of a more politically correct term than police state.

Anonymous said...

OK, you have a mandate to screen travelers, including cabin crew and the 'front office'. Whether or not this is effective I will leave to another.
However, this is like locking the front door to the barn and leaving the back door open. Do you screen every one with access to a runway area? Including all FBO's? If what I understand is correct, you don't even screen most workers with access to the runway areas at commercial airports.
If it is so critical to insure that no potentially hazardous materials be introduced into an area that might allow them to enter an aircraft, why haven't you closed the door on private aircraft, shutdown all unmanned airfields, implemented strict inspection of all aircraft transported packages (air freight), etc.? Could it simply be that business lobbies wouldn't put up with the impact on profits that such real security measures would have and it's easy to fob off on the average public citizen that it all for the "public" good?
Just wondering, that's all.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous- "everyone" that passes thru the "screening checkpoint" gets screened including employees. this includes pilots, the pizza hut workers, the shop workers and so forth. If they alarm or if they have something suspicious in their bags they get additional screening. TSA's job is to "screen passengers getting on the planes". TSA was not hired as law enforcement. Monitoring doors, stairways and the flight line is the airlines and local law enforcements responsibility.

Anonymous said...

CDR, USN. The last time I flew on business willingly was on official orders, in uniform, with my ID card in my left breast pocket. After being set aside at the Providence RI airport for special screening, the TSA employee also had no clue re Active Duty ID cards, and openly criticized me for questioning his actions. The supervisor I requested to speak with was even more useless. I share the retired Marine's concern with this behavior, and have refused to fly since. The only fight we have in this battle is to refuse to use the airlines.

jry22153 said...

I am an active duty Naval Officer serving a one year tour in Pakistan and have travelled through multiple airports throughout the Middle East, Europe, and US. Our TSA security personnel are by far the most rude and arrogant human beings of all other airport secuirty personnel I have observed. There is absolutely no reason for this other than poor training programs. It does not make the screening of passengers more effective if you alienate them. The stero typing and humiliation focused upon our Middle Eastern looking or Muslim (by identification) passengers does not make us safer. Security procedures can be completed with regard to protocols that treat people with respect and politeness, because I have seen it done well in London, Muscat, Dubai, Haifa, and Islamabad. TSA has a lot to learn about being thorough and meticulous without being arrogant and intimidating. I only hope the blog comments are utilized to make your training more effective but expect that it is a mere exhortation. Your tales of arrogance, rudeness and ignorance will continue to characterize your organization until you improve your training and hold your people accountable for their actions. Post this comment but I expect it will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

All you people who would rather show your military ID or some other government ID than your driver's license, and then try to pick a fight with the TSOs ... please understand that you are just adding to the problem. I'm not defending all TSOs in all situations, but this is just silly.

Yes, I understand you are justifiably proud of your years of service to the US Navy, the Army, the IRS, the Dept of the Interior, or whatever. And as a taxpayer and citizen, I appreciate it. But also understand that the TSOs are not familiar with every single ID ever issued over the last 80 years to every government employee. If you show the ID you got when you started working for the government in 1952 and they ask you nicely, "Do you happen to have a driver's license?" just say "yes" and show it and give everyone in line beyond you a break.

Don't make a capital case out it.

Recce1 said...

As a retired disabled veteran I have no problems with going thru searches and verifying identity. That includes being taken aside for special treatment. I’ve always found search agents to be respectful and professional.

However, I do object when my Federal government issued ID card isn't considered an acceptable identification. There's no reason federally employed TSA agents can't have books showing current ID cards; such charts are available. To date I have never received an answer as to why such occurred despite having contacted Norwest, TSA, and my congressman.

A Soldier's Girl said...

I'm confused. If soldiers are a risk (and it certainly seems sensible to not treat them differently to me), and footwear is a risk, why are soldiers allowed to keep their boots on when in uniform as a
"special accomodation"?

I would have thought army boots are even better places to hide IEDs that the average trainer.


I don't know where you've been through, but every time I've flown in uniform, both to and from the sandbox, I've been forced to remove my boots.

Anonymous said...

I think you've identified a key point: why are unstable individuals handed automatic weapons and permitted to serve in the military? The Dept. of Homeland Security can't even keep us safe from our own military so I have to suffer at the hands of TSA every time I fly? Ludicrous!

Anonymous said...

Recce1,
There are undoubtedly hundreds, if not thousands of different federal government issued ID cards. To have such a book for TSOs to flip through to find your specific card just makes the job more difficult. What is so difficult about showing a driver's license, non-drivers state ID or passport?

Anonymous said...

"'However, let me caution you that simply because somebody wears a uniform, it does not warrant blind trust.'

Unless, of course, it's a TSA uniform in an airport then you should do whatever they say."

Ha ha ha ha! Genius. And so true. TSA tells us "don't trust uniforms" and then we have to take off our shoes, unbuckle our pants and let them feel us up, all because they're wearing the TSA uniform. Nice.

Anonymous said...

I will note that one of the more unusual screens I recently underwent involved my service dog in training, Tom. Tom successfully passed through the magnetometer (without alarming), only to have his "vest" (a flimsy piece of fabric) patted down.

While this quick feel did not inconvenience us, it certainly made the screeners look a bit foolish, and might not be particularly appropriate for a working service dog.

That said, having taken Tom through several airport checkpoints, the TSA screeners have been exceptional with us. The only other exception was the screener that saw the dog and thought I was blind. Perhaps he didn't read the big letters on Tom's vest that read, "FUTURE Guide Dog."

Anonymous said...

TSA TSO NY and others

First of all, ID is not security. Are you checking names against a database? The no fly list seems to, but obviously anyone who has received a ticket to fly that day has been checked to that list and permitted to fly.

Second, for most who hold federal identifications, they have had to go through ID verification far in excess of what is required for a drivers license (fingerprints, interviews, background checks etc), even more so for those who hold a position of public trust or security check.

Thirdly, the regulations state government issued photo identification. I am curious why ID considered good enough to get me into the oval office a few weeks ago, is not considered good enough to get me on a plane.

Fourth, whats the point of requiring ID if you can just take your SSSS and go through secondary.

Anonymous said...

"Recce1,
There are undoubtedly hundreds, if not thousands of different federal government issued ID cards. To have such a book for TSOs to flip through to find your specific card just makes the job more difficult. What is so difficult about showing a driver's license, non-drivers state ID or passport?"

Whats so difficult about following the rules for the TSA. Its the TSO's job to present a prima facie case that my ID is not valid. U

This can be particularly amusing for any federal employee with a clearance when the government has spent $5,000 to $75,000 to verify their identity and background.

Will the TSA still have issues with other agencies federal IDs once HSPD-12 is fully implemented?

Gambari said...

Well written article; covers various arguements and present a common sense approach to a simple justification. TSA generally works with airports to ensure appropriate accomodations are provided Military Folks and their families; in OAK we have gone as far as liaising with the airport authority to secure conference rooms for photo-op/press events, worked with the airines to ensure identified members of a military familiy returning from Iraq are provided with escort passes to the gate areas, and dedicated screening lanes to facilitate easier passage though the screening process...even as we applauded our men and women in uniform. Our charge requires that we do these things.

fubargunny said...

This whole crying act for active duty members is just that a crying act. This screening for members of the military is no more than getting pulled over at the gate to any base and having your vehicle checked as a extra layer of security. Hell yes we all hate it but, if what everyone is crying about with security clearances and service to country, they shouldn't be searched, then cry to your commanders and SGT majoprs on base because it is no different. The incidnet with the honorable Foss will never happen again, TSA was a just being organized when that incedint happened. Stop the whining and beat the bad guys! Semper Fi

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying completely. However, please listen to my story. My husband, an active duty soldier, was recently stopped at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport on his way through security. However, it was for none of the above stated reasons; it was to, and I quote, "Make sure you're not hiding anything we can't see in your bag" search. Please know that his carry-on bag made it through the screening perfectly; however, once at the end, a TSA agent (who apparently woke up on the wrong side of the bed) pulled my husband over & then began to go through the bag. When my husband questioned her she replied, "Even though your bag made it through the screening without any difficulty, it doesn't mean something is hiding in there." Are you kidding me? It was an invalid, waste of time search, and when she completed searching the entire bag (of course finding nothing), she refused to shut the bag, claiming that she can take the belongings out, but she is not permitted to place them back in the bag. Again, are you kidding me? As I stated above, I support valid TSA searches when they are used appropriately. When this is clearly not the case (as it was not in my husband's), what then are we to think? I have no doubt that if this happened to my husband, it has certainly happened to countless other soldiers too. I'd love to see this question addressed along with an explanation.

Bob said...

February 8, 2008 10:51 AM
Anonymous said... Hi Bob, I don't want to doubt the validity of your post, but when I saw "we’ve had soldiers bring grenades with them to the airport" -- I went wow, how interesting. I immediately went looking for a news article or something regarding this. I couldn't find anything in the web-sphere. For edu-ma-cational purposes, do you think you could point me in the direction of some reference to this?


Good morning. Just to keep you up to speed, I have asked for some specifics from HQ and they are going to get back to me with some dates and locations.

As far as not finding it on the web, many of these types of incidents are not reported to the media – we resolve the alarm and take the appropriate actions.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

Nice try with the Joe Foss story. While the story does make me cringe, this was private security.

The event occurred on January 11th, 2002. The TSA had not federalized any airports as of this date.

If you take a close look at the Snopes article that was mentioned, the TSA is not mentioned once.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

SkyWayManAz said...

I may be beating a dead horse here by bringing up Gov. Joe Foss again but I notice no one mentioned he actually has an airport named after him. Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It is also staffed by TSA screeners now. It's also a good thing the late Gov. Joe Foss didn't mention to his screeners what he won the Medal of Honor for, shooting down airplanes.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you'll reasonably explain it like you did the question of why active duty soldiers are screened, but can you please address why high security clearance federal law enforcement employees are screened, sometimes even secondary, without any professional courtesy? It's actually easier, and faster, sometimes to travel WITH a firearm by just signing the sheet and avoiding screening than it is to just be traveling without a service firearm and be told to stand in line with everyone else and be subject to all the taking off garments and shoes and unpacking bags. If I can avoid screening by taking my gun, why can't I just go through even easier without it? Or if I go through with my gun, why can't the Analyst traveling with me, who is cleared and sworn and carries credentials, but doesn't carry a weapon, go though with me rather than through the gaunlet with everyone else?

Jack said...

Yes, I understand you are justifiably proud of your years of service to the US Navy, the Army, the IRS, the Dept of the Interior, or whatever. And as a taxpayer and citizen, I appreciate it. But also understand that the TSOs are not familiar with every single ID ever issued over the last 80 years to every government employee. If you show the ID you got when you started working for the government in 1952 and they ask you nicely, "Do you happen to have a driver's license?" just say "yes" and show it and give everyone in line beyond you a break.

TSA just made their problem (not knowing government issued IDs) your problem. FYI some people don't have a driver's license or any other state identification because other folks know how to at least read and draw a logical conclusion from what they just read.

Anonymous said...

I notice no updates on this for a whole day, I'm sure people had plenty to say, so is this topic closed out or what?? Can you answer the question...if ID isn't even necessary, then why can't any ID do? That doesn't make sense, you don't HAVE TO have one, but this one you have is no good! What?? And...really...there aren't a million different govt IDs, even if there are "thousands"...focus on a few that are common...military; four branches active and reserve...that's 8 different IDs..oh, that's tough. If the airline ticket counter accepts it for you to pick up your ticket...how is it they know it's good enough and valid and govt employees can't figure that out???

Dave X the first said...

@ February 12, 2008 9:54 AM Anonymous said...

I'm sure you'll reasonably explain it like you did the question of why active duty soldiers are screened, but can you please address why high security clearance federal law enforcement employees are screened, sometimes even secondary, without any professional courtesy? It's actually easier, and faster, sometimes to travel WITH a firearm by just signing the sheet and avoiding screening than it is to just be traveling without a service firearm and be told to stand in line with everyone else and be subject to all the taking off garments and shoes and unpacking bags. If I can avoid screening by taking my gun, why can't I just go through even easier without it? Or if I go through with my gun, why can't the Analyst traveling with me, who is cleared and sworn and carries credentials, but doesn't carry a weapon, go though with me rather than through the gaunlet with everyone else?

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

It's because TSA is security theatre and has no connection with reality. Get your Analyst a weapon.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the post referrencing the incident involving Medal of honor winner Joe Foss. The incident occured before Phoenix Sky Harbor was federalized, the screeners were not part of TSA.

Anonymous said...

I left a critical, but reasonable post regarding federal law enforcement on here a couple days ago and it didn't make it through your review process and wasn't posted. Now, I either really hit a nerve and (hopefully, but I doubt it) my post was pulled so the issue could be looked in to, or maybe my examples were too embarassing or revealing about the process. I don't know, but...to repeat the main point; If a federal law enforcement officer (not an on duty Air Marshal) can take the security bypass hallway when he's armed, why can't they be offered that option when they are unarmed..they're the same person in the same position with the same credentials, it should be even easier to let them through unarmed, not make them go in line without everyone else just because they're traveling unarmed that day.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time coming to this site, I think it's great that everyone can come here and comment. I'm a TSO in New Orleans, as well as a reservist in the Coast Guard. I have the utmost respect for all members of the military, and along with the majority of my coworkers, do all that I can to pay that respect at the checkpoint whenever those serving our country approach the checkpoint. Referencing a few of the comments here, one; I've never seen a member of the military "not getting screened" two; the incident involving the medal of honor recipiant being harrased because of the sharp points on his medal occured at the time when TSA was just getting stood up, it makes it no less shameful, but lets try and reference something more recent. Lastly, oldjarhd; I apologize for the ill informed screener in BWI, your military ID is sufficiant and you do not need to show your state DL, but just try and keep in mind that not everyone in TSA is that cretinous. In fact, many of us are current military or veterans that havek or are, proudly serving our country.

Bob said...

February 8, 2008 10:51 AM Anonymous said... Hi Bob, I don't want to doubt the validity of your post, but when I saw "we’ve had soldiers bring grenades with them to the airport" -- I went wow, how interesting. I immediately went looking for a news article or something regarding this. I couldn't find anything in the web-sphere. For edu-ma-cational purposes, do you think you could point me in the direction of some reference to this?

Sorry for the wait, I just received some of the info I was looking for.


March 2005 – Maryland – Police were summoned when x-ray showed image of grenade in carry-on bag of active duty soldier.

September 2005 – Florida – Inert novelty grenade found in carry-on bag of active duty soldier. Lane was closed until alarm resolved.

May 2006 – Texas – Hand grenade found in carry-on bag of active duty soldier – turned out to be inert…

June 2007 – Virginia - Three undeclared firearms and a smoke grenade found in checked bag of active duty Marine.

December 2007 – North Carolina - Smoke grenade found in x-ray of active duty passenger’s carry-on bag.

Just to reiterate what I said before, many incidents never make it to the press. For example, we have found many firearms at my airport in the past 5 years and I can’t remember a time that any of the incidents made the local news.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

So if you "Screen Veterans and Active Members of the Military", why are they exempt from your silly shoe screening?

You say you have found test munitions, etc, why not subject them to the same footwear fetish that you subject everyone else to?

JD said...

I am a Marine and a veteran of deployments to Iraq. I find the screening of military members to be a disgrace. What is your purpose? Why are we deployed to a foreign land. The answer to both contain a common theme. I totally disagree with need and existence of the TSA. My time in Iraq has shown me that the TSA is just another wasteful government program. I support those who support smaller government. The TSA does not comply with a smaller government platform. Hopefully, good riddance to TSA.

Navy LT said...

I can't believe the rhetoric of some of our uniformed servicemembers and veterans. Let's see, when I board a Naval vessel, my bags are checked to ensure I am not bringing anything prohibited. When I enter a base, I have to show ID and am subject to random vehicle inspections. When I enter the commissary, I have to show ID. So our own military requires us to be screend to some extent and show ID, veteran or otherwise, but you want th TSA to give you a free pass when your own servcie won't even do that? Keep screening every military member TSA. I feel safer for you doing so.

Anonymous said...

I am a active duty soldier. I have never had any problems with the TSA at all. I have only talked to and dealt with the TSO (screeners). And they seem nice enough. All I can say is that I am not impressed with any of the ones I have personally met. I am not saying this concerning all TSO, just the ones I have dealt with. Glorified rent-a-cops or mall security guards comes to mind. The ones I have met, see like mall security wash outs. Not very disciplined, or professional. I am not sure if TSO go to some sort of TSA basic training camp. If they do not, i highly recommend setting up one. Everytime I meet a TSO I just laugh to myself.

Miami R. Limo said...

Every time I go through the security checkpoint, I feel like it is pretty stupid to generally harass so many people in order to catch the 1 in a billion person who is going to try to harm the plane. I'm all for having soldiers on planes protecting them.

RJ said...

This goes for everyone and not just the military, but it has to do with firearms and ammo.

Good: DFW does a great job of screening firearms (other good places - Denver, Pierre) - it's great to see what they're doing rather than the case just disappearing to somewhere as they do at BWI.
Suggestion: Make this visible scanning standard at all airports.

Bad: Checked bag was searched by TSA. They did not do a good job of repacking and did not place the security strap back on the bag, but put it inside (this is not the first time this has happened). Fortunately it didn't come open!

Suggestion: Most people that hunt and bring firearms also bring ammo. Create a tag similar to the "Firearms Unloaded" tag for ammo and have people place it with the ammo. Then if TSA wants to check they don't have to rifle through and mess up the entire bag. Then please ensure that any external security straps are replaced.

Chris said...

SGT, USA. I'm not sure what airports you people are flying through, but I travel a lot by air, and I have hit just about every major airport in the country in the past couple of years. I have traveled both in uniform and in civilian clothes. I have never had a problem with using my military ID, nor had issues with rude or obnoxious TSOs. I always had to take off my boots, and go through screening lines just like everyone else too. (The only exception was deploying to Iraq, and we had our own terminal at Ft. Hood so we didn't have TSOs)

Anyways, the TSOs always thank me for my service and I always reply, Thank You for YOUR service.

USCG LT said...

I am active duty USCG LT and therefore a DHS team mate of TSA. I have worked with the TWIC rollout and a number of VIPR ops at SJU (San Juan). I have never had a problem at DCA (Reagan) but surprisingly at IAD (Dulles) and other airports I've been downright insulted by TSOs for traveling in uniform and requesting pat down. In fact last time I was at PVD (providence) a STSO told me to speak with the FSD if I had a problem with security. I understand that TSA isn't a military organization but I would assume that a GS-12 equivilant would be addressed properly and treated with the respect he has earned. I don't understand why USCG in uniform with orders can't be treated the same as CBP and TSO officers in uniform. I don't have to take off my shoes why do i have to take off my service jacket. Secretary Napalitano reminds us we are one DHS but sometimes alls I want to do after stripping at a check point is find out who owns a boat and conduct a screening in my world.

WendyLou said...

I know this is an old post and this is an old story, however I have a funny in my mind story about this.

So my husband's unit has been deployed to the sandbox. They saw action. They shot guns. They had explosives go off around them. Praise the Lord only one soldier came home with a Purple Heart, and no one came home in a box.

They also train in their gear. Again shooting and blowing things up. Train how you fight, correct.

So VERY early one morning the entire unit leaves the SLC airport heading to some base in the middle of nowhere, USA. In uniform, BTW.

And would you guess what happened when they tried to check their bags? DING DING DING the luggage sniffer alarm goes off on EVERY SINGLE BAG. And they have to open and search these bags all over the lobby of the airport. Tightly packed sea bags. It was like the keystone cops trying to manage this. It's the first time I've seen a plane held for passengers. They arrived 2 hours early, but still couldn't make the plane. Wish I had a cell phone which could have gotten this all on a video.

Then what do you think happened when these same soldiers went through the puffer at SLC for their personal screening to board the plane? After about 3 they sent the rest to another line.

Lather Rinse Repeat this whole hulla bull luu when they left. Only this time they came earlier. However there was no TSA to screen them, so they still waited.

I will point out, I've traveled with my husband in his uniform with my ID being my military spouse ID. The hilarity of him leaving his honking boots on while I have to take off ballet flats where there is barely room for my feet... Made total sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the TSA is screening the troops and veterans.

Remember Vietnam. They're ALL ticking bombs.

Napolitano herself said so.

Steve M. - San Diego said...

My wife is in the US Army. I was just with my wife putting on her a plane to Afghanistan here in San Diego for a deployment, and I have never seen such an unprofessional, arrogant, abhorrent treatment of my wife.

She was of course travelling in uniform, and with her ID, orders, and boarding pass.

She asked to be put down for a pat down, and she was taken to secondary, where she was told to take off her boots. She then was wanded, and ordered to remove her ACU jacket, her belt, her dog tags, her undershirt, and everything down to her T-Shirt and panties. Meanwhile, she's explaining every piece of metal that is setting off the metal detector. She broke out in tears, as the TSA agent (who refused to give me her name) treated her with complete disrespect. After I finally called for the supervisor, who refused to give me her name, but finally caught it when she wasn't hiding her name tag, yelled at me saying "You aren't making this any better."

Not only was my wife appalled, but every one around was absolutely aghast at the treatment my wife received. Mainly the comments were disgust at the TSA in essence strip-searching a soldier.

At best, this is a bad PR move for the TSA, and at worst, you've just shown a deploying soldier who is going to fight for our freedoms that there are no freedoms left worth fighting for.

SHANE ON YOU TSA!

Bob said...

Steve,

Please either send me an e-mail to tsablog@tsa.dhs.gov or use the Got Feedback program so you can provide more details on this.

http://www.tsa.gov/gotfeedback

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

dr.norm said...

Having retired from military service as a commissioned officer with more than 20 years honorable active service, I am offended every time that I am subjected to a TSA search - several U.S. Presidents reposed, "special trust and confidence in (my) patriotism, valor and fidelity" and I successfully passed three expanded background checks for security clearances, but TSA can't figure out a way to certify me and other retired military personnel as "Safe Travelers" exempt from screening! - Go figure???

Anonymous said...

My husband just went through security at the San Diego Airport, and he got x-rayed, and the TSA not seeing anything suspicious, ALSO patted him down. He had his military ID with him, his orders, so what made them do that? Now I'm looking forward to being patted down on a future flight..............NOT!!!!

Anonymous said...

To John and hawthorne regarding Soldiers not having to remove there boots: I have flown many times from the U.S. to europe and back agian and have not been required to remove my shoes every time the same for my domestic flights. My husband is a Non-Commissioned Officer in the Untited States Army and during his journey home from Iraq for R&R leave to see our first child born he was asked to take off his boots. I know this because he informed me that he stunk out security. So they are not totally exept from shoe scans.

Brian said...

This sounds crazy, armed soldiers going to civilian airplanes?
or stealing weapons?

I don't want to generalize, it is clear that the vast majority do their work, but in time I see more madnesses of this type

Security Guards London

spago said...

In response to "badgers"' comment, I can assure you that we are screened according to the same procedures as any other passengers. I believe the sole exception is combat deployment (they're carrying M-16s, why bother screening?), but personnel go through far tighter inspections before even arriving at the airport before deploying.

Daniel Johnson said...

I think that screening medal of honor recipients is quite unnecessary, due to the sacrifice they have already given their country. Do you REALLY think that after winning a Medal of Honor, the individual in question would jeopardize free college for his kids, and full benefits for his family? C'mon people! Its just like Vietnam all over again, kind of like Obama threatening to cut the military budget in half after they have sacrificed so much already! It seems that our country is being sold down the river to the highest bidder!! What about protecting your identity? I wonder how many travellers get their identity stolen? Check this out:
http://www.empowernetwork.com/willy1971/?p=121 and see just how dumb people can be with their information--i.e.--putting your passport on Facebook!!

Toronto Limo Services said...

As a disable vet with 26 years of military service I personally don't need or expect any favors while taking a flight. I loved the military, all its branches and the heroes I had the honor of serving with and just expect to be treated like the rest of the passengers taking a trip. Anyway I have met many 100% disabled vets but some, to look at them you would never no they even served yet are disabled. The only way the TSA would even know you were military disabled is you would have to show your summary of benefits (which would have your service-connected disability evaluation percentage listed) which could be possibly forged if not presented with one's VA care and or military ID card. I plan to travel in the month of December and expect no special treatment. Semper Fi