Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How Intelligence Drives Operations at TSA

Bloggers Note: Keith Kauffman heads up TSA’s Office of Intelligence. He is a 20-plus year veteran of the National Security Agency (NSA) and is a well-established and respected member of the Intelligence Community. He joined TSA in May 2007. Click here for his full bio.


The Office of Intelligence (OI), which I lead, is part of the larger Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Enterprise and is responsible for integrating timely and actionable information into TSA's daily operations. We also use intelligence to educate and inform the TSA workforce, our partners in airports, airlines, mass transit, etc., and law enforcement on terrorist threats and the tactics, techniques and procedures used by our adversaries.

My office staffs a 24/7 watch operation, which receives intelligence information around the clock from a variety of sources. We have analytic personnel integrated into Intelligence Community organizations, which also gives us insight into evolving threats to U.S. transportation systems. In addition, first thing every morning, Kip Hawley, Mo McGowan (who leads our Office of Security Operations) and I, attend a daily meeting led by the National Counterrorism Center and all the major players in counterterrorism activities, which enables us to discuss and track emerging and ongoing threats.

My office briefs the TSA senior leadership team every morning on the intelligence we obtain and analyze. It's after these briefings that we discuss and use the information presented to make operational decisions. Intelligence we provide routinely results in decisions, such as determining which flights will be covered by our Federal Air Marshals (FAMs). Intelligence also leads to the development of new operational policies at the checkpoints. One recent example has to do with remote control (RC) toys. Our adversaries have been observed using RC toy components to help build, or to detonate Improvised Explosive Devices. The policy developed to help counter this threat in the aviation domain did not mandate prohibiting passengers from carrying RC toys on commercial airplanes. Rather, it educated our Transportation Security Officers about the potential threat from these devices and directed them to use their judgment in selecting passengers with RC cars for additional screening. We also made this information public at the same time—a first for us.

We also routinely use intelligence to inform our government and industry partners about threats we receive to their respective transportation modes, so they can take appropriate actions. We focus on threats to the U.S., but track and report on threats abroad as well.

For example, if we receive intelligence about threat to a foreign airport used by U.S. carriers, we make sure all the carriers providing service to that airport are aware and might also use that information to increase FAM coverage at those locations. We also work with foreign governments to increase security as needed. We also use intelligence to assist with operational exercises and joint exercises. Along with the Federal Aviation Administration in December, we used intelligence to design 13 realistic terrorism scenarios. Those scenarios, which were played out during the exercise, helped us and our FAA partners review and refine contingency plans and determine how best to work together, in the event that any of those or similar scenarios occur in the future.

I spent 24 years as a member of the Intelligence Community before coming to the TSA. Often, intelligence agency personnel don’t see the results of their efforts. It’s been incredibly rewarding personally, to see how the work done by the dedicated men and women of our agencies involved with the counterterrorism mission, is put to great use at TSA each day.

I also travel with my family and talk to my friends, some of whom have been know to grumble from time to time (and you know who you are!) about taking off their shoes, etc. I wanted to join this blog effort, so I could relay the same message to you that I’ve discussed with my family and friends. There really is a robust and dedicated intelligence effort in place at the TSA, that is well connected to the larger Intelligence Community and which drives everything we do on a daily basis, to protect our Nation’s transportation systems and those who use them for travel and commerce.

Keith Kauffman

246 comments:

1 – 200 of 246   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

So, are we supposed to be impressed with even more rabid attempts to justify the TSA's existence?

Doesn't do anything for me other than to confirm that the TSA is struggling against the ever-increasing numbers of people who just don't believe that it is doing anything worthwhile.

Each thread that is thrown up on this blog serves only to confirm that the TSA is fighting a losing battle to win the hearts and minds of the American people with all the good you keep telling us you are doing keeping us "safe."

I'm so sick and tired of hearing about terrorists. Let's spend the money we are throwing at the TSA on health insurance for the under or uninsured citizens of this country, on hunger and homelessness instead of throwing it away.

Anonymous said...

Please explain the national travesty and embarrassment that is the Do-Not-Fly list, which has been highlighted on such shows as 60 Minutes.

DoogieSD said...

Before you get too many

"you're a Fascist Nazi who's is stealing my civil liberties"

..responses

Thanks for what you (and your staff) do...

Remember most these folks are pissed they cant take their pot on vacation with them anymore and generally need something to bitch about over their pitiful existence and their mythical lost freedoms...This blog makes it easy for them...

Dave Nelson said...

Sir --

I've been in the IC for a lot longer than you, so, rest assured, I have read between the lines of your resume.

Although your expertise is in IT systems, much like my agency's CIO, I think you should explain for the readers, in the interests of being fair & balanced, your experience in areas of the business that I would expect of an agency head of intelligence:

1. How many entries (just a number will do) have you gotten all the way through to a PDB?
2. How much original analysis have you successfully completed and defended that was published in documents such as MIDs and NIEs? Please describe your experience as an NIO for a particular discipline.
3. What rotational assignments have you had to other IC organizations, which, as I'm sure you're aware, is a requirement for entry into the SES or SIS.

To be fair to the other blog readers, I feel it necessary to calibrate your portfolio with the following:

1. EVERY federal agency has a 24/7 intelligence watch. My guys read the same message traffic your guys read.

2. EVERY federal agency has morning briefings or a morning read file.

3. EVERY federal agency participates in "command post" exercises. Finished intelligence is how they build the scenarios.

Congratulations on your assignment, but, for the sake of the taxpayers who pay your salary, let's not overstate the case, OK?

Christopher said...

Okay Dave. You're in intel and so is Keith, we get it. That doesn't mean Keith is in intel to your detrement or you're better because you've written a President's Daily Brief (PDB for those not "in the know") I don't personally know if Keith has or not but we are confident enough in his abilities and experience that we've hired him and put him in charge of intel for us. We get it, you're smart too. Welcome to the blog.

We thought it would be interesting for the readers of this blog to know that TSA is part of the Intel Community and has an active intel shop. He's a guest on this blog and we're glad he took the time to explain what his shop does and how it fits in to the overall transportation security picture.

We're always looking for good folks to work with Keith and frequently post jobs on usajobs.gov if you're interested. With your experience, you'd be a great fit here.

Christopher
TSA Evolution Blog

Anonymous said...

Remember most these folks are pissed they cant take their pot on vacation with them anymore and generally need something to bitch about over their pitiful existence and their mythical lost freedoms...This blog makes it easy for them...

----

ah yes.

"If you question the witch hunt, then you're obviously a witch!"

(never smoked pot in my life)
(rarely drink)
(still thinks that the constitution is worth protecting)

trollkiller said...

Dang Christopher I thought for sure you would have said "With your attitude, you'd be a great fit here."

Anonymous said...

I think Dave Nelson's comments are very valid. If what Keith is writing is accurate (and since it's on an official blog and I'm sure it was vetted by everyone up to Kip Hawley I believe that it is) TSA decisions are being made on the basis of the intelligence that he is bringing.

Now, the TSA continues on with stuff like the liquids ban and the removal of shoes. The intelligence behind these is classified. We're repeatedly told that we need to trust those in the TSA to know that there's really a method to the madness. Since you've made it impossible for us to evaluate you on the facts we have to evaluate the TSA on its personnel.

Keith has written a blog post that essentially says "I'm an expert, trust me, all the stuff you think is stupid has a real purpose." The only thing left to evaluate is whether or not Keith is an expert. Dave has asserted that he is also an expert and has said that Keith's description of his qualifications is inadequate for another expert to evaluate him and he should post some more. I think it's fair game.

There has to be some level of transparency in our government agencies. You work for the citizens of the United States - it's not the other way around. Assertions that the intelligence is classified and "just trust us" don't play so well anymore - it's a post WMD world nowadays. If you're going to assert that the intelligence is classified, expect to be challenged on your qualifications. If you don't like being evaluated on your qualifications then start looking for ways to share your actual data and decision making process.

tai_pan1 said...

Christopher said..

We're always looking for good folks to work with Keith and frequently post jobs on usajobs.gov if you're interested. With your experience, you'd be a great fit here.

You don't want him, he's arrogant with a self inflated ego and and an overwhelming sense of self importance.

Anonymous said...

"We get it, you're smart too. Welcome to the blog."

Christopher, you have an style that engages.

Please give "Bob" over in the BDO post some couseling on interpersonal dynamics in written communication.

I treasure the screaners who have your style. I get too many in the mold of "Bob", or worse.

Anonymous said...

re: doogiesd

I, and many others are concerned with the direction this country has taken during this administration. Its called a slippery slope.

I have watched as the country I have served has done things that I was taught to hate.

I was brought up to believe that govts that were not transparent, that appointed party members, apparatchicks, to impose party bliefs on others by threats, that suppresed scientific facts, that monitered the movemant and communiactions of people and that had gave petty officials great power over people were evil.

I was brought up to believe that these govts should be opposed. And I am watching my govt, my country, move in that direction.

If you don't think there is a problem, then you are symptomatic of the problem.

Anonymous said...

If your job is a joke, does it make any difference how qualified you are?

Chance said...

To Dave Nelson,

Chance here. Are you really suggesting that if Keith hasn't written an entry for a PDB, that somehow makes him less credible as an intelligence officer? The entire intelligence community doesn't revolve only around PDBs, and the vast majority of analysts will never write one. It has little to no bearing on his overall qualifications and credibility.

Chance - Evolution Blog Team Member

Anonymous said...

dave nelson, Sir please get over yourself. You sound like someone who applied for this position and didn't make the cut. I think that this whole blog site shows just exactly how this agency is trying to be transparent as possible and is taking the steps that the American people would like them to. I commend them in this endeavor and wish that the fringe element could get over their self-centered biases and stop being part of the problem, try as hard as possible to recommend ways to help them improve the way they do business, you know be part of the solution. This post 9/11 world we live in is not going to change overnight, unfortunately the trying times we live in calls for some drastic and unpleasent measure to combat those that wish to destroy our great country. Intelligence is by far and away the first line of defence. Keep up the great work, most Americans support the need for this, even if we don't like the process.

Anonymous said...

I'm a frequent critic of TSA security theater both on this blog and elsewhere, but I see some grounds for kudos and credit here.

First, a decent intelligence operation using good old-fashioned police work is far more likely to prevent bad guys from doing harm than confiscating toothpaste or making infants remove their shoes.

Second, I see a least a ray of hope that TSA dealt with the perceived RC-car threat using a technique other than prohibiting law-abiding citizens from carrying a harmless everyday item.

A question, though. It is widely-known that TSA and DHS knew about the perceived liquid-bomb threat for months before it was revealed. Yet there was an instant and knee-jerk ban of an entire state of matter. As soon as the "threat" was revealed, the war on water began. It seems ironic that you banned law-abiding citizens from carrying harmless, non-threatening items only after the plot had been disrupted. Please justify this behavior as something other than CYA or feel-good security-theater for the masses?

Come on, TSA. The idea that liquid explosives can be constructed airside from common liquids that will not alarm the ETD has been debunked. The idea that nitrated liquids (which will alarm the ETD) cannot be combined airside from allowed 100 mL containers to make an explosive has been debunked. And not even you believe that even a fraction of the liquid confiscated is harmful, or your screeners wouldn't aimless toss this "hazmat" into a bin next to the checkpoint with all the other "hazmat."

Surely your intelligence infrastructure realizes that conventional solid explosive are much more practical for the bad guys, and yet are still disturbingly easy to get by. Quit focusing on toothpaste and juice, and improve your catch rate for guns, large knives, and bombs. Redirect the effort wasted on toothpaste toward using the ETD and puffers more; they do a wonderful job catching solid and liquid explosive traces, and they are far less intrusive to passengers.

Banning an entire state of matter for nearly two years is just asinine. TSA's benefit-of-the-doubt on this issue ran out before the end of August 2006. It makes your front line guys, many of which seem to mean well, look like idiots with no credibility. What's next, making us fly naked when some wacko proposes weaving explosives into fabric? Banning non-threatening items is not the answer; good intelligence and police work is.

Unless TSA starts to focus more on the latter and less on the former, some day, Americans are going to wake up and stand up to this abusive agency. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I'm one those folks that regards the various court-decision-permitted exemptions to the 4th amendment as being ripe for abuse, and I think the TSA tends to abuse this authority.

I don't have so much a problem with dealing with items that are obvious contraband (drugs, child porn) as I do with the "petty bureaucrat on a power trip" mentality of the TSO's.

Some of the procedures would be a bit more palatable if they were carried out by TSO's acting more like security professionals and less like bullies looking for an excuse to throw their weight around.

If the TSO's get 120 hours of training on how to look for prohibited items, they need at least that much on how to treat people with civility and courtesy. They should also be evaluated on their customer service skills as frequently and intensively as they are evaluated for finding prohibited items.

Sandra said...

Anonymous said:

"Unless TSA starts to focus more on the latter and less on the former, some day, Americans are going to wake up and stand up to this abusive agency. I just hope it's sooner rather than later."

I submit that we are already there and proof of that is this very blog, wherein the TSA is trying desperately to justify all the many abuses perpetrated upon the flying public..

Sandra said...

http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1311526.html

Anonymous said...

So now we have a representative of the "intelligence community" helpfully informing us that everything the TSA does that looks arbitrary and stupid to the uninformed public is actually a proper and necessary reaction to "robust and dedicated intelligence." He's proud to see the "results," which presumably include all the stuff with shoes and liquids as well as the bullying treatment of passengers.

The presumed inference here is that since we have an "intelligence" person telling us that it's all necessary, good, and effective, we should be convinced of the value of whatever the TSA does, cease our skepticism and criticism of it, and be grateful every time we have to take off our shoes and forfeit a small shampoo bottle that lacks a manufacturer's label. It's all in reaction to "intelligence."

I'm sorry, but thanks to "robust and dedicated intelligence" about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that fraudulently justified a costly and damaging war in Iraq, pronouncements from someone in "intelligence" deserve exactly the same skepticism as any other pronouncement from the TSA. But I'll give you half a mark for trying to make such a case.

The problem, I think, is that the TSA is dealing with Americans. Americans have a lengthy tradition of questioning and distrusting their government and generally not being easily persuaded by officials who say "trust me." The tradition apparently goes back to the days when a certain monarch named George played fast and loose with the rights of his colonial subjects.

Bartlett said...

You know, a lot of this is really silly.

For the record, I'm one of those guys who flies every week. I probably average six segments a week, most of them not connections. I get screened a LOT.

I've got to say that the overwhelming majority of the TSO's I deal with are professional, courteous, and in most cases downright friendly. I try to help the cause by not being stupid - the rules are what they are, and I don't argue with the guys on the front lines about bottles of liquid. I don't carry 'em anyway, or anything else that won't go through security easily.

It generally takes me about thirty seconds to go from packed to ready to screen, and about sixty the other way (gotta tie the shoes). If I get selected for additional screening (doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen) I grin and put up with the additional couple of minutes. Total screening time is always less than the total time I spend walking to the gate, and a lot less effort. Waiting can be painful, but over the past year the waits have gotten better all over the system.

I do carry a lot of junk in my bag, some of which (like the portable scanner) seems to be a little unusual, but I've never had more of a problem than an occasional bag check.

I don't run across very many TSOs on power trips. It's been YEARS since anyone official was personally rude to me. I don't doubt that other people's mileage varies, and every job has its misfits and losers, but I see way too much of the system from the perspective of an ordinary peon to believe that there's anything really systemically broken.

Now the civil liberty questions are real. Do I HAVE to give up this degree of autonomy? Is it good to build an area in society that is so rigid and controlled that it bears little resemblance to our historical roots? And is this a slippery slope or just a temporary setback for liberty? We did a lot worse in World War II, with arguably less justification, and yet the Republic survived somehow. I don't mind this discussion, but the fact is that the TSA is doing an unexpectedly good job at an impossible assignment, with a minimum of brain damage to those of us most directly affected. I appreciate it, and them, and I love the openness of the new blog.

John said...

Dave, Thanks for your service. I am in the IC too and I'm pretty sure that none of my analysis has made it to a PDB. That's because, like the TSA, I work at the operational level, not strategic. I assume by the haughty tone of your reply that you do work at a 3 letter agency who focuses on the strategic.

Christopher, to split hairs, TSA is not an independent member of the IC. It is a member through DHS. The only organization in DHS that is an independent member of the IC is CGI.

hawthorn said...

Well, I'm one of those folks who is generally supportive of TSA and TSO's in particular, appreciates their thankless work, etc, and I also agree that Dave Nelson overstates his own case above...

but could someone over there please sit "christopher" down for a little talk on human relations? Senior TSA people spend hours writing reasonable explanations in hopes of nudging the public acceptance-meter over a couple of ticks - and he undoes half of it in two sentences.

As far as I am concerned, the standards of behavior for TSA representatives here in the blog should be the same as out on the airport floor: polite, respectful, calm, helpful. Anyone who cannot meet those standards should be given a back office job where they cannot embarrass the agency.

MSPLEAD said...

Bartlett you are the reason I do what I do everyday
And why I do it with a smile on my face. Thank you for appreciating it; more so thanks for your patience.

Anonymous said...

To the first anonymous - having lived and worked in New Orleans before and after Katrina.....just what we need....more money thrown at people, most of whom have been taught from day 1 the gov will provide all. Unless they are mentally challanged or physically unable how about stop throwing fuel on a never ending fire. I know, I have no compassion....I say I have lived it, and yes came from it. Encourage people to climb out not help them stay down with a meger gov. hand out.

As for the other regarding " Doesn't do anything for me other than to confirm that the TSA is struggling against the ever-increasing numbers of people who just don't believe that it is doing anything worthwhile." This same logic is used after you pay your insurance bill but had no accident during the year...what a waste of money". I would argue the best weapon we have is good intel. I wonder if those alive and well in the 1940's felt the code breakers in Britten and the US were a waste? I mean they could have had more fighting men on the front line but then again we would not have broken the Japanese code or the German Enigma. If not we would not have had orur navy positioned at Midway and the US/UK would not have known where the U-boats were then who knows what the outcome of the war might have been. Maybe we would be devided up and speaking either German or Japanese...you are so corrent...intel is just a waste.

Anonymous said...

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjmin Franklin

Ayn R. Key said...

If there is a robust and dedicated intelligence effort at the TSA and the parent agency DHS, howcome nobody involved in it has discovered that you cannot make an explosive out of liquids in mid-flight?

Anonymous said...

You would not post this link for my compadre this a.m., perhaps you will post it now:

http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1311526.html

or perhaps this one:

http://www.myfoxkc.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=5931374&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=3.1.1

I am reading comments by TSO's who are disgusted by this behavior on the part of their co-workers and to them I say "thank you".

Dave X the first said...

Hey TSA, I get that there are threats, and that the IC can identify them. What looks like idiocy to me is that TSA does not seem effective at ameliorating them.

Take the stupid liquids ban. If a terrorist can disguise a $150 liquid bomb as a bottle of water and the most TSA does with it if they catch it is toss it in the trash can while waving the guy through, what prevents the guy from just trying again the next day?

If 20 terrorists tried to bring what looked like water onto 20 different planes, how many terrorists would have their 'water' taken from them? 80%?

Same thing for the penknives. If the 9/11 terrorists tried the same thing over again, how many knives would they carry through? More than 1 per plane? They'd get clobbered by the passengers before they could try to scratch open the armored cockpit door, but those improvements in are not due to TSA.

How are you not Security Theatre? You say 'Boo!" with things like "RC cars are weapons" and "liquids explode" and parade credentials and warnings, but the best you can catch are warrant offenders and nutty razor-hiding priests.

You are selling us intangible fear and providing no measurable benefit.

Bob said...

March 5, 2008 11:13 AM Sandra said...http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1311526.html

Sandra,

I took the time to follow your link and started reading the article you suggested.

I have to admit I lost interest and stopped reading at the point where the author started comparing TSA checkpoint lines to the lines at NAZI gas chambers. I'm at a loss for words...

Bob

TSA Evolution Blog Team

Sandra said...

The author did not compare the TSA lines to Nazi gas chamber lines, he compared behaviors of the people in the lines.

This, in part, is what the article said:

"I'm ashamed of myself. I'm ashamed of all of us.

He appeared to be about 80 years old and disoriented. He was in a wheelchair, pushed along by a middle-aged man, himself disabled, who may have been his son....

The two men were pulled aside and searched. Not a cursory search, but an ongoing, interminable search of themselves and everything they brought with them, conducted by a team of stern-looking TSA agents who not only examined the contents of carry-on items but the contents of wallets. A search that lasted long enough to perhaps have caused the men to miss their flight. A search that you would consider abusive if it happened to you.

The other hundred or so of us in the line stood by and watched. There was visible disgust on some of the faces, but nobody said a word. If any of us had, our collective wisdom told us we would have gotten into trouble with the authorities and possibly have missed our own flights.

That is exactly how millions of people walked without protest into the gas chambers during the nightmare of the Nazi holocaust, many of them knowing full well what was to be their fate. Nobody said a word. If they had, they would have gotten into trouble with the authorities, and so they crowded, unspeaking, into eternity.

Oppressors do business that way. We're systematically being taught to be afraid. We're afraid of the shampoo and mouthwash in our carry-on luggage. We're afraid of our government.

Most sadly, we're afraid of each other. The tragedy of September 11, 2001, was not the cause. It was the excuse. Since then, every government excess, every billion dollars squandered, every personal right given up, every American military life lost, every no-bid contract awarded to a well-connected corporation, every American principle compromised has been for your own good, to protect you from The Terrorists.

Or so we've been told again and again, as though it were an advertising slogan. "Tastes great! Less filling! Let us run roughshod or The Terrorists will get you!" And quite literally, "Vote for me or The Terrorists will get you!"

The perpetual bogeyman lurking under the bed. Or, more truthfully, hiding in plain sight in Pakistan, where we're not even looking.

Many books have been written about human motivation, and the central lesson in most of them is that people are motivated by money, power, fame, sex and fear. In view of the drastic shortage of money, power, fame or sex coming our way from our government, it appears that fear is the high card.

We've bought their story, swallowed it hook, line and sinker. And so we're willing to stand by, disgusted but silent, while our government infringes our rights, at the same time invasively searching old men and infants. Because we're afraid not to let them.

It wouldn't have changed anything, but I wish that I … I wish that someone in that airport line … had felt enough outrage to summon the courage to say something."

DoogieSD said...

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety

Did you want to get the quote right?

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The omission of those key qualifiers–”essential” and “little”– makes all the difference in the world.

Ben Franklin has been hijacked to endorse an untenable and deadly view that no sacrifice of any liberty for any amount of safety at any time should ever be made. Michelle Malkin

Anonymous said...

"March 5, 2008 11:13 AM Sandra said...http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1311526.html

Sandra,

I took the time to follow your link and started reading the article you suggested.

I have to admit I lost interest and stopped reading at the point where the author started comparing TSA checkpoint lines to the lines at NAZI gas chambers. I'm at a loss for words...

Bob"

Yup Bob, that article is exactly how many of us feel about the way some members of TSA act. You might not be Jack Booted Thugs, but hey, you strike the same chilling nerve. What you have is a customer service image problem. In great numbers of the posts on this blog people are telling you what their perception of your public relations problem is. Read the postings and apply I. F. Stone's method to find the truth. Please don't insult us by glossing it over. A 3 day old dead fish with a fresh coat of paint is still a dead fish...

Ryan said...

Recently read a news story discussing a pilot program that was being tested by TSA in a few US airports involving all electronics to be removed from carry on luggage. Apparently, the pilot program was discontinued. Just came through JFK, terminal 3 and was told by TSA agent that pretty much every electronic piece in my carry on needed to be taken out and scanned. I have never heard of that and have never experienced that until tonight. Is this a new policy? It seems that when "new" rules are put into effect, the traveling public is the last to know. I was told (unfortunately, rather rudely)that I should have read the sign outside the door (I did and it made no such mention of this rule). I have NO problem taking anything out of my bag if it's necessary. But it still seems as if there is alot of inconsistency among agents, airports, etc. I read the TSA web site travel guidelines and clearly, it states that large electronics (laptops, etc.) need to be removed while small and portable need not be removed. I was told tonight that my keyboard, etc. needed to be removed and scanned separately. Is this true or not true? A consistent policy would be helpful. As I travel alot with electronics, laptop and otherwise, knowing exactly what's expected would be a great help.

Anonymous said...

Bob may be at a loss for words, but I'm not. I read the whole article and think it has some good points, especially the one about manipulating the populace via fear.

I've experienced the yelling, shouting, barked orders and having myself and my fellow travelers treated sometimes like cattle and other times like criminals. Too often the TSO's makes it look like they get their interpersonal skills training by watching episodes of Lockdown.

While the comparison to Nazi guards may be extreme, the "do as I say or you'll live to regret it" mentality is obviously part and parcel of how the TSO's operate. How many posts do you see on this blog where a traveler's question has been met with "do you want to fly today", being ganged up on by multiple TSO's, the threat of arrest, or the actual summoning of law enforcement?

Where is the TSA's introspection to determine whether these heavy handed responses are necessary? Where is the accountability for unnecessary threats? Why doesn't the TSA place value on looking for ways to de-escalate a tense situation instead of making it worse?

The TSA has managed to alienate a lot of people with its unnecessarily heavy handed treatment of travelers, both individually and collectively. The TSO's act like they are above not only the law, but also ordinary civility. This mentality inspires a lot of resentment, and invites comparison to any of a variety of historical villains.

Any Star Wars fan knows Master Yoda's line "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." The TSA needs to learn that managing the flying public by fear is not a sustainable.

Act more like responsible security personnel and less like villains, and there will be less opportunity to be compared to villains. Admit that the manner the TSA treats the flying public needs improvement, then do something to improve it.

Alex said...

Dave X the first said...

You are selling us intangible fear and providing no measurable benefit.


Dave, do you really feel that airports would be safer if TSA wasn't in place?

I need not make statements you will just deny, however, on a constructive note.

What can the TSA do better, security or customer service, to enhance the safety and happiness of the travelers without jeopardizing them?

Anonymous said...

I had a conversation with a former member of the British Intelligence Service a number of years ago about the United States approach to intelligence gathering. The British were appalled by the US reliance on satellite surveillance as opposed to on the ground local intelligence assets. The WMD Iraq fiasco and its ultimate cost, is an example of the bill of goods that we have been sold. It hasn’t done us a bit of good in capturing Bin Laden.
This blog is a free gold mine of intelligence information given to you by the public that the TSA serves. Please use it to correct your misguided mission profile.

Anonymous said...

While I believe the TSA is doing a great job, I think there could be some improvement in gathering intelligence. No one lives and works in a vacuum. Many of the terrorists are from neighborhoods that have thriving communities. As with those
upstate New York terrorists.

There should be a method of warning TSA of a potential terror threat. The no fly list is handy, but how long does it take to get a potential terrorist posted to the list?

I suggest that a toll-free anonymous tip line that could be used to build a more dynamic system of passenger intelligence. Suspected terrorists could be added to the database before they even arrive at an airport.

Anonymous said...

"Dave, do you really feel that airports would be safer if TSA wasn't in place?"

I'm not Dave but will answer this question.

I don't think airports would be less safe without TSA.

Cargo is not inspected, workers are not cleared daily and problems of theft continue in the baggage handling areas with TSA present.
If someone can take something out of a bag then they can also place something in a bag.

Post one case of TSA catching a possible terrorist that went before the courts and was found guilty.

Anonymous said...

" was told by TSA agent that pretty much every electronic piece in my carry on needed to be taken out and scanned."

Hmmm. I ws starting to think this blog might serve the citizens. Silly me.

Dig back through the past postings. The bloggers boasted about stopping this type of search.

Guess it was just pro TSA propaganda.

Anonymous said...

"What can the TSA do better, security or customer service, to enhance the safety and happiness of the travelers without jeopardizing them?"

Alex, just like Christopher, I like your tone. It is engaging.

How about 2 very simple things?

STOP THE SHOUTING!!!

And... Make your personell wear clearly visible ID where we can see it without risking them threatening us because we asked who they are.

They would be simple and cheap to implement.

Chance said...

Maybe I've just been lucky, but when I travel I've never had a problem like those described by the many people on this blog. I don't use my TSA ID, so it's doubtful I'm getting any special treatment.

However, one point I wanted to bring up, though I might have talked about this before, is that threat is only one part of the overall risk assessment TSA does. The other two parts of the equation are vulnerability and consequence. It may be possible to have a low threat in one area, yet have a high vulnerability and high consequence leading to a moderate to high risk. This works in the other direction as well; perhaps the threat is moderate to high, but the vulnerability is low, leading to a lowered overall risk.

So intelligence, while a valuable part of the equation, is still only one part. I can't tell you for any one specific policy which input had the most influence, but they all have some influence, as you might expect.

Chance - EoS blog Team member

Chance said...

To address the following points also brought up by Mr. Nelson earlier:

To be fair to the other blog readers, I feel it necessary to calibrate your portfolio with the following:

1. EVERY federal agency has a 24/7 intelligence watch. My guys read the same message traffic your guys read.

With due respect sir, they likely do not. The focus for every agency's watch is completely differant, depending on the mission of that agency. Your guys will have the same access to information ours do, but Not to mention thast there are a number of sources you have we don't, and vice versa. That's why sharing and collaboration is so important.

2. EVERY federal agency has morning briefings or a morning read file.

Mr. Kaufman never claimed otherwise. He was simply describing how our operations work to those who may be unfamiliar with the system.

3. EVERY federal agency participates in "command post" exercises. Finished intelligence is how they build the scenarios.

See above comment.

Chance - Eos Blog Team

Chance said...

To Sandra:
Wheelchair bomber kills top Iraqi policeman


In case the link doesn't work, here is the article:

SAMARRA, Iraq - A suicide bomber in a wheelchair killed a top policeman and wounded four others in an attack on the police operations centre in the Iraqi city of Samarra on Monday, police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but it bore the hallmarks of Sunni Islamist Al Qaeda, which the US military says carries out most suicide attacks in Iraq.

The bomber entered the operations centre in Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, and asked to speak to assistant police chief Major-General Abdul-Jabbar Rabee Muttar, said Captain Luay Mohammed.

Mohammed, an official in the Samarra police chief’s office, said the bomber detonated explosives hidden in the wheelchair. The attacker had met Muttar previously but he did not know what they had spoken about.

‘I was with the assistant police chief and we went downstairs to meet him (the bomber) in the reception area. He said he wanted to talk to the assistant police chief alone so we moved a few metres away,’ Mohammed said.

‘Then we saw flames and an explosion. The assistant police chief was beheaded. There were pieces of flesh from the suicide bomber,’ said Mohammed, who was slightly wounded in the explosion.


------------------------------
So, while I certainly am sorry that we have to inconvienance people, especially people in wheelchairs, incidents like the one above (2 weeks ago no less) are evidence that we aren't just making up some imaginary threat.

Chance - EoS Blog Team member

Anonymous said...

chance,

If America was in the middle of a civil war with an active insurgency, then, perhaps, your comparison might be valid. However, we are not.

If you want to disagree with the commentary by Sandra, then do so. But please refrain from the dramatic hyperbole that draws any comparison with a wheelchair bomber in a horrific place like Iraq to a wheelchair-bound passenger in, say, Sacramento or Dayton.

Sandra said...

Yep, Chance, I just knew that would be your response!

Joe Screener said...

To: "Dave X the first"

You have stated elsewhere in this blog that you do not and will not fly as long as TSA is in operation. Yet you return to this blog over and over again, with the same unchanging message. In any other forum you would be called a "troll."

Screening at airports has been going on for thirty years. We are doing the same work the former commercial screeners were doing. We are just doing it vastly more thoroughly.

Chance said...

Last post for a while I swear, but I just had to point out that once again, Godwin's Law has been proven:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

Chance - EoS Blog Team member.

Anonymous said...

So, while I certainly am sorry that we have to inconvienance people, especially people in wheelchairs, incidents like the one above (2 weeks ago no less) are evidence that we aren't just making up some imaginary threat.

Chance - EoS Blog Team member


Okay, fair enough. There has been at least one homicide bomber who was wheelchair bound. There have also been cases of explosive devices strapped to a donkey. Enough levity as we can both find absurdities to support our positions. I look at the intense screening procedures given to some the handicapped as an effort to get them to stop flying altogether. It is difficult to properly screen them. It might be highly unpleasant for your screeners to come in contact with the disabled. That being the case, I propose that your screeners give the handicapped/ill the full treatment so as to drive them away from airports and the screening process. Humans are intelligent and when presented with a process that they know from past experiences will be highly unpleasant are less likely to do things that subject them to the same experience in the future.

Dave X the first said...

Alex: "Dave, do you really feel that airports would be safer if TSA wasn't in place?"

If the Transportation Security Administration cares about transportation safety, it has to balance the costs of pushing people into other modes of transport. Flying is safer than driving, and TSA makes flying more awkward and expensive The Impact of Post 9/11 Airport Security Measures on the Demand for Air Travel finds 100 excess traffic fatalities due to TSA's screening. There is a significant cost of TSA forcing 2,000,000 passengers per day to do the hokey-pokey, and it is measurable in lives.

On the benefits side of the risk-tradeoff equation, is TSA more effective at keeping planes in the air than the armored cockpit doors? With your detection rates of 25-80% finding thousands of knives each day, hundreds to thousands of knives are getting through undetected and aren't causing planes to fall out of the sky. How many terrorists are trying to fly? Are you catching them all? Are there any to catch? Would we be better off with 38,000 more clerks aiding cops and the FBI rather than 38,000 TSOs?

If we spent twice the time and money on TSA, how many more terrorists would you catch? Would we be measurably safer?

From the insurance perspective, what will TSA do if a terrorist brings a plane down? Say "no one could have foreseen that Bluetooth could be as dangerous as an RC toy", "100% is impossible", "that TSO was a bad apple", "I guess they evolved quicker than us," and other excuses before you double your budget? Insurance isn't protection, it is a bet that should make you whole if the bad thing happens. TSA won't be able to make people whole after a terrorist attack. There is an insurance scam that works like TSA -- take people's money for very improbable events and sell the sham of safety, it is called meteorite insurance. BDOs cause arrest rate of about 1 in a million, and those don't seem to be terrorists, just ordinary criminals. Maybe TSA thinks of itself as firemen, soldiers, or police, but firemen actually save lives from real fires, soldiers actually fight real enemies, and police actually arrest criminals. TSA scares people and takes some of their waterbottles and knives, and lets the local cops arrest the priests who want to hide razors in bibles.

If Al Qaida was dumb enough to try 9/11 over again, how many of their box cutters would TSA find and take before waving them on through? Would they only need another 20 or so low-risk accomplices in order to fully arm themselves with knives. Of course they'd get themselves beaten unconcious by the passengers while trying to scrape their way into the cockpit, but that save wouldn't be a credit to the TSA.

If you are seriously looking for constructive suggestions on how to better spend the extra travel hour of 2,000,000 passengers per day and the time of 38,000 employees for safety, I'd say dump the liquids and shoe bans, and spend the time offering courses in first aid and self defense. With the first aid course, you might offset the cost in lives of inconveniences demanded by the TSA. With the self defense course, you'd make it harder to take hostages anywhere, even off of airplanes. But that's just my opinion on how to better make use of 2.3 million person-hours per day to improve security.

There's always a tradeoff, and TSA has not made the case that its even examined the costs of its policies, nor that it is responsible for the safety we do have.

And Chance: SPI isn't Samarra. TSA should adapt to the local risks rather than assume one size fits all.

Anonymous said...

The disabled only get the 'treatment' because they are inconvenient to the screening process. Make enough invalids fear flying and you don't have to deal with them.

Anonymous said...

TSA endangers teenager's life: http://tinyurl.com/392j2k

And, as always, there will be no repercussions, apologies, or changes from the arrogant and unaccountable TSA. Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Screening at airports has been going on for thirty years. We are doing the same work the former commercial screeners were doing. We are just doing it vastly more thoroughly.

No, you're doing it WORSE, at a massive inconvenience to travelers and an astronomical cost to the nation. We can't AFFORD to let TSA keep screwing up air travel -- it wastes millions of dollars that could be spent on things that might actually keep us safe, instead of stealing our shampoo and baby food.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Chance
Just feel free to violate Reuter's copyright protections by printing their article verbatim without credit. Violating other people’s rights seems to be a right taken for granted by TSA.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

The disabled only get the 'treatment' because they are inconvenient to the screening process. Make enough invalids fear flying and you don't have to deal with them.

So true:

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A sick teenager said an over-zealous security screener at Orlando International Airport put his life in danger. After Channel 9 started making calls, the TSA opened an investigation into the matter.

James Hoyne, 14, has a feeding tube in his stomach and carries a back-up in a sealed clear plastic bag. Hoyne said two weeks ago a TSA officer insisted on opening the sterile equipment, contaminating his back-up feeding up tube which he later needed.

"I said 'Please don't open it' and she said 'I have to open it whether you like it or not. If I can't open it, I can't let you on the plane,'" Hoyne said of his conversation with the TSA screener.

TSA officials apologized to James and said they're looking into the incident to see what corrective steps need to be taken.

Anonymous said...

"Joe Screener said...

To: "Dave X the first"

You have stated elsewhere in this blog that you do not and will not fly as long as TSA is in operation. Yet you return to this blog over and over again, with the same unchanging message. In any other forum you would be called a "troll."

Perhaps Dave X is just a thorn in your side, Joe Screener. He is as welcome to his point of view as you are, and expresses himself quite articulately, as well. He has got you on the defensive...

Anonymous said...

I have a question for the public:
what does it Take to satisfy you? Every effort that TSA leadership has made to INFORM you of what we ARE doing, someone has to throw up a comment abouut how they don't believe it. First of all, our president said it himself "there are going to be things we don't tell you" Remember that news conference? I DO! What does it take? I recently watched a TSA web cast for employees of the agency in which Kip and other top management officials stated "the tone of the blog has changed" I'm sorry guys, I'm not seeing it. This is NOT constructive criticism, this is a public that is not satisfied with ANYTHING and its getting annoying. We the front line people who work the checkpoints go to work every day with one goal in mind, "No airplanes are going down on my shift!" And let me ask you this Mr. Anonymous, HOW MANY PLANES HAVE GONE DOWN IN AMERICA SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001? What's that you say, NONE? That would be correct. Here's a suggestion for ya, stop questioning the procedures, think OUTSIDE the box, and realize that there are going to be things that go on that you DON'T know about. There's a reason for that...if we told you EVERYTHING (for the person who thinks we should publicize our SOP), we would also be telling the bad guys everything which would make our sop useless! IT is what it is, I have to deal with it, and so do you. Now when you get to the checkpoint and I've noticed this, alot of the passengers are smiling more than they were before the blog went up, and I'm getting more "thank you"'s and less "expletive deleteds" but they are still complaining at times. So the blog is not a total waste it is showing some improvement, but guys all this complaining and doubting is getting OLD!

Anonymous said...

I would wager that the "tone" of this blog is "improving" only because it's being innudated by screeners trying to rationalize and defend their jobs.

You don't really believe that enough people are reading this blog to make a difference in their attitude at checkpoints, do you? If so, I've got a bridge that I'd like to sell you.

Anonymous said...

"I'm getting more "thank you"'s and less "expletive deleteds"

Congratulations!!!

Well the blog IS giving you an avenue to vent your frustrations, that must be a benefit. All things considered, far better than venting on the job or taking it out on loved ones.

Maybe the expletives will someday be as low as the plane losses. We can hope....

Anonymous said...

"This is NOT constructive criticism, this is a public that is not satisfied with ANYTHING and its getting annoying."

No, this is just your point of view, and you are certainly welcome to express it.

Personally, I'd be happy if the public was treated more like when I travel through General Aviation. I doubt that different security standard will change soon, because of the political donations involved. Private Aviation just has better Lobbyists than the average American.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick post from someone outside the USA...

You have the outside world terrified of you. Seriously. My family will not even consider trips that route us through the USA due to the fear that we're going to have our rights trampled on by some overzealous TSO.

I wonder if you realize how horrible you look to the rest of the world and how things, like the responses of people like "Bob" in this blog, do NOT help place confidence that what you're doing has ANYTHING to do with safety.

As for the last post about "What do you (the public) want?"... YOU are exactly the type of person who makes us afraid to even consider visiting your country. YOU are the type of person that represents the USA to many of us foreigners, and your lack of tact, class, and a basic understanding of human rights and decency is astounding.

(Apologies if this is a double post... I've seen no confirmation that this comment was received... great piece of coding here, folks)

Chance said...

To respond to

"There has been at least one homicide bomber who was wheelchair bound. There have also been cases of explosive devices strapped to a donkey. Enough levity as we can both find absurdities to support our positions.

and

And Chance: SPI isn't Samarra. TSA should adapt to the local risks rather than assume one size fits all.


First point: we don't (to my knowledge) allow donkeys through passenger screening, while we do allow wheelchairs through. If, to use the example you yourself called absurd, we did let donkeys through, then yes it would make perfect sense to take into account a suicide attack that used a donkey, and screen the donkeys accordingly. I'm not going to make the obvious wisecrack here.

Second point: if wheelchairs were only found in Samarra, or only wheelchairs overseas could contain explosives, or if the hirabi local around SPI were easily identified, then I could see your point. But there is nothing I can see that makes the Samarra incident impossible for an extremist to attempt to reproduce here, which is why the example and the screening are justified. If that doesn't satisfy you, a quick google search found several incidents involving weapons or other contraband hidden in wheelchairs right here within the US.

Chance said...

Hey, Chance
Just feel free to violate Reuter's copyright protections by printing their article verbatim without credit. Violating other people’s rights seems to be a right taken for granted by TSA.


I should have added that it was from Reuters, and for that I apologize, but if I were trying to plagiarize, why would I have added the link to the article? Would you prefer MLA, Chicago, or APA style citations in the future?

Chance - EoS Blog Team Member

Chance said...

I would wager that the "tone" of this blog is "improving" only because it's being innudated by screeners trying to rationalize and defend their jobs.

Even if this were true, and neither you or me could know this, TSOs have just as much right to comment on this blog as anyone else does, so I'm glad to see their posts, as well as yours.

Anonymous said...

Someone asked: "I have a question for the public: what does it Take to satisfy you?"

1. Proper capitalization from you, Anonymous.
2. To be able to get through security without having to take off my shoes, undo my belt, take off every piece of jewelry I have on from watches to hair clips, unpack all electronics to submit to some stupid idea that if you "scan" it then it'll be okay, and defend my right to not have some stranger paw through my wallet.
3. For the blog team to learn a small amount of customer service and stop snapping at commentators. My god, you guys have gotten a lot snippier since the last time I checked in at the blog.

Thanks.

P.S. I just really want my shampoo and baby food back. That's all. And maybe my bottles of water. I remember when all you might be asked to do with a bottle of liquid (like water, juice or soda) is take a swig going through the security line to prove it wasn't any toxic or an explosive. Can we go back to that now, please?

Anonymous said...

"You have the outside world terrified of you. Seriously. My family will not even consider trips that route us through the USA due to the fear that we're going to have our rights trampled on by some overzealous TSO."

No one is more terrified than the bullies in Washington who make our policy decisions.

As a country, we are slow to learn from our mistakes. President Eisenhower warned us as a nation of what was occurring. We went from Isolationism to Cops of the World in less than 10 years, and we haven't been able to hand over that job to the United Nations. The money spent on WWII was like crack cocaine to the arms manufacturers and military in our country. Many of us are working and voting for policy changes, and to get the money spent where it is really needed, on our own people and infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

As for the last post about "What do you (the public) want?"... YOU are exactly the type of person who makes us afraid to even consider visiting your country. YOU are the type of person that represents the USA to many of us foreigners, and your lack of tact, class, and a basic understanding of human rights and decency is astounding.

Actually, I'm one of the nicer people you'll meet on the checkpoint. You really should visit my airport, your opinion will surely change. :-)

Anonymous said...

Chance and other TSA folks, so in the previous 10 years to 9/11 how many aircraft were 'taken down' in the US by terrorists? How many were hijacked and by whom? How many deaths resulted from those hijackings?

The real threat probably won't come from hijacked airliners but from another area in our (mostly) still free country.

I noticed that you responded to the explosives laden donkey but conveniently ignored the "give the handicapped the special treatment all the time so they stop flying and we won't have to deal with them ever again."

Care to comment on that or is that one of your unwritten, super-secret, eyes only, destroy after reading policies?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I'm getting more "thank you"'s and less "expletive deleteds"

Congratulations!!!

Well the blog IS giving you an avenue to vent your frustrations, that must be a benefit. All things considered, far better than venting on the job or taking it out on loved ones.

Maybe the expletives will someday be as low as the plane losses. We can hope....

March 6, 2008 2:40 PM


I have many ways to vent my frustrations actually, this blog does nothing more than add to my frustrations in reality. However I do see some constructive ideas coming out of it. I would like to see MORE constructive ideas and less hate messages truth be told.

Anonymous said...

We the front line people who work the checkpoints go to work every day with one goal in mind, "No airplanes are going down on my shift!

Tell me why is noone saw fit to copy and paste this snippet of my post? Maybe because its true that NO AIRPLANES have gone down since 9/11/01, gee I wonder why that is?

Chance said...

If 20 terrorists tried to bring what looked like water onto 20 different planes, how many terrorists would have their 'water' taken from them? 80%?

Historically terror groups will tend to attempt what they believe will cause the greatest impact most easily for the least resources. They do a cost-benifit analysis just like anyone else. With only a one-in-four chance of getting a bomb on the plane, they are going to need to reevaluate their entire plan - is 20% acceptable? Maybe. But it is much more likely they will turn to a plan or target that gives them a much higher probability of sucess.

Same thing for the penknives. If the 9/11 terrorists tried the same thing over again, how many knives would they carry through? More than 1 per plane? They'd get clobbered by the passengers before they could try to scratch open the armored cockpit door, but those improvements in are not due to TSA.

Out of the 5 aircraft hijackings I know of in 2007, at least 2 involved a breach of the cockpit. Just thought I'd mention that.

How are you not Security Theatre? You say 'Boo!" with things like "RC cars are weapons" and "liquids explode" and parade credentials and warnings, but the best you can catch are warrant offenders and nutty razor-hiding priests.

I do not recall having used the word "boo" in any of my products, and we did not say that RC cars = weapons. We stated that "Our adversaries have been observed using RC toy components to help build, or to detonate Improvised Explosive Devices." The purpose of warnings like these are to provide our work force, the law enforcement community, and in this case the public with situational awareness of a threat that we had seen. If you feel that this threat is not valid, and/or that locked cockpits and passengers are sufficient countermeasures for such threats, fine, but please do not assume that we somehow sit around a table thinking of new ways to scare the public. If I wanted to do that, I'd go to Hollywood and get paid more for it to boot.

Chance - EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Someone asked: "I have a question for the public: what does it Take to satisfy you?"

1. Proper capitalization from you, Anonymous.
2. To be able to get through security without having to take off my shoes, undo my belt, take off every piece of jewelry I have on from watches to hair clips, unpack all electronics to submit to some stupid idea that if you "scan" it then it'll be okay, and defend my right to not have some stranger paw through my wallet.
3. For the blog team to learn a small amount of customer service and stop snapping at commentators. My god, you guys have gotten a lot snippier since the last time I checked in at the blog.

Thanks.

P.S. I just really want my shampoo and baby food back. That's all. And maybe my bottles of water. I remember when all you might be asked to do with a bottle of liquid (like water, juice or soda) is take a swig going through the security line to prove it wasn't any toxic or an explosive. Can we go back to that now, please?

March 6, 2008 3:22 PM

1. Proper capitalization from you, Anonymous. How's this for proper capitalization? :-)

2. To be able to get through security without having to take off my shoes, undo my belt, take off every piece of jewelry I have on from watches to hair clips, unpack all electronics to submit to some stupid idea that if you "scan" it then it'll be okay, and defend my right to not have some stranger paw through my wallet.

It goes without saying that x-ray screening is the BEST way to ensure safety of these items.

3. For the blog team to learn a small amount of customer service and stop snapping at commentators. My god, you guys have gotten a lot snippier since the last time I checked in at the blog.
Possibly because we are dealing with a very snippy public.

P.S. I just really want my shampoo and baby food back. That's all. And maybe my bottles of water. I remember when all you might be asked to do with a bottle of liquid (like water, juice or soda) is take a swig going through the security line to prove it wasn't any toxic or an explosive. Can we go back to that now, please?
Sorry that's not gonna happen anytime soon for obvious reasons which I'm sure you or someone else will expect me to explain.

Dave X the first said...

Joe Screener said...

To: "Dave X the first"

You have stated elsewhere in this blog that you do not and will not fly as long as TSA is in operation. Yet you return to this blog over and over again, with the same unchanging message. In any other forum you would be called a "troll."

Cite please. I think the unchanging message I've tried to get across is that I think flying is safer than driving, but the pain that TSA inflicts on people could potentially outweigh any benefit TSA is claiming. I don't recall ever saying that I would not ever fly as long as TSA is in operation.

Anonymous said...

Dave X the first said...
Joe Screener said...

To: "Dave X the first"

You have stated elsewhere in this blog that you do not and will not fly as long as TSA is in operation. Yet you return to this blog over and over again, with the same unchanging message. In any other forum you would be called a "troll."

Cite please. I think the unchanging message I've tried to get across is that I think flying is safer than driving, but the pain that TSA inflicts on people could potentially outweigh any benefit TSA is claiming. I don't recall ever saying that I would not ever fly as long as TSA is in operation.

Has anyone considered that TSA is a young and CHANGING organiztion that has been charged with a very difficult and challenging task, protecting the flying public? And despite what some of you may say, we are doing a hell of a job! GO TSA!

Anonymous said...

To "anonymous" who talked about how many planes have "went down" since 9/11...

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, there was little or no security, and there were a few incidents in which planes were brought down by bombs, whether by suicidal people or by people seeking to kill someone on board (most notably United Airlines flight 629 on November 1, 1955 and Continental flight 11 on May 22, 1962).

After that, airlines took over security. From then until September 11, 2001, no plane leaving an American airport was the victim of sabotage by bomb (the two main plane bombings in the meantime, Air India flight 182 and Pan Am flight 103 weren't from US airports, and had different security systems placed by different countries).

9/11 happened, which would've happened even if the current systems were in place, since boxcutters were perfectly legal to bring on board.

And nothing's happened since.

So no planes leaving US airports are bombed/hijacked for 40 years with airline security. Then 9/11 happens. Then no planes bombed/hijacked for 6.5 years since 9/11. And that 6.5 year gap is completely the credit of the TSA?

(note: I am completely aware that during the 1960s and 1970s, there were numerous US planes "hijacked" according to aviation safety databases, with most "hijackers" demanding to be taken to Cuba. However, there's little information on those hijackings, and each was resolved quickly with no deaths)

reality said...

Dave said:

"If the Transportation Security Administration cares about transportation safety, it has to balance the costs of pushing people into other modes of transport. Flying is safer than driving, and TSA makes flying more awkward and expensive The Impact of Post 9/11 Airport Security Measures on the Demand for Air Travel finds 100 excess traffic fatalities due to TSA's screening. There is a significant cost of TSA forcing 2,000,000 passengers per day to do the hokey-pokey, and it is measurable in lives."

That is just rediculous. They may have little alternative for transportation because they opted out of flying, but TSA didn't force them to drive. Holding TSA accountable for what happens on the road is just plain stupid.

Dave X the first said...

@ Chance: "Historically terror groups will tend to attempt what they believe will cause the greatest impact most easily for the least resources. They do a cost-benifit analysis just like anyone else. With only a one-in-four chance of getting a bomb on the plane, they are going to need to reevaluate their entire plan - is 20% acceptable? Maybe. But it is much more likely they will turn to a plan or target that gives them a much higher probability of sucess."

If there is a 1 in 5 chance of getting a bomb past security (some say 3 in 4), and if the only consequence of the bomb being detected is that the TSO tosses their water bottle bomb into the trash can before they wave him through, all your brilliant evolving terrorist group needs to do to is buy a few tickets for couriers to deliver a bomb to the suicide guy. The couriers don't even need to be suicidal themselves. With a probability of detection of 80%, 4 couriers would succeed in getting a bomb to a killer 1-.8^4=59% of the time. At 50% detection, 93% success. How many prohibited knives and liquids flow past like booze on bourbon street?

Re: "Out of the 5 aircraft hijackings I know of in 2007, at least 2 involved a breach of the cockpit. Just thought I'd mention that."

-- Would TSA's screening have prevented any of these 4 in 2007? How many lives were lost due to inadequate screening?

It was me that first used the word 'boo!', and I think it is an appropriate description of a post describing the possibilities of danger without going deeper. To be taken more seriously than chicken little or the boy who cried wolf, you need to show some dead sheep, pieces of the sky, or some wolf pelts. A nutty priest or 514 criminals aren't terrorists, heck America is 1% criminal, far higher than the 1 in a million detection rate of your BDOs. I do indeed assume that there are people in TSA paid to consider scary threats. What I don't see is any indication that TSA is doing analysis of the costs of their actions, or that TSA's procedures actually eliminate the threats you advertise.

I think we've set you an impossible task, and rather than say it's impossible to keep us safe, TSA is pretending to do it. That's why it seems like Security Theatre.

Anonymous said...

I bet that woman in Hawaii doesn't care about baby food, she wants her baby back.

And just recently the TSA almost kills another child.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

We the front line people who work the checkpoints go to work every day with one goal in mind, "No airplanes are going down on my shift!

Tell me why is noone saw fit to copy and paste this snippet of my post? Maybe because its true that NO AIRPLANES have gone down since 9/11/01, gee I wonder why that is?


Well perhaps it is presumptuous of you to take full credit for something that had little to do with you going to work, possibly screaming at people, treating them like criminals, inventing new regulations on the spot, and being a pain to deal with.

reality said...

anonymous said:

"I bet that woman in Hawaii doesn't care about baby food, she wants her baby back.

And just recently the TSA almost kills another child.

Keep up the good work."


wow good job sir/maam. I guess you aren't aware that was a customs issue. They detained her when she got off the plane. TSA was not involved in any way. that just shows more ignorance by indidividuals like yourself. TSA isn't the only agency in the airport, sherlock. I bet you think TSA is the bad guy taking away your oranges, apples and bananas too.

Anonymous said...

"I should have added that it was from Reuters, and for that I apologize, but if I were trying to plagiarize, why would I have added the link to the article? Would you prefer MLA, Chicago, or APA style citations in the future?

Chance - EoS Blog Team Member"

Chicago style citation is most appropriate, but I'll leave that up to you, Chance, it's your call. Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
To "anonymous" who talked about how many planes have "went down" since 9/11...

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, there was little or no security, and there were a few incidents in which planes were brought down by bombs, whether by suicidal people or by people seeking to kill someone on board (most notably United Airlines flight 629 on November 1, 1955 and Continental flight 11 on May 22, 1962).

After that, airlines took over security. From then until September 11, 2001, no plane leaving an American airport was the victim of sabotage by bomb (the two main plane bombings in the meantime, Air India flight 182 and Pan Am flight 103 weren't from US airports, and had different security systems placed by different countries).

9/11 happened, which would've happened even if the current systems were in place, since boxcutters were perfectly legal to bring on board.

And nothing's happened since.

So no planes leaving US airports are bombed/hijacked for 40 years with airline security. Then 9/11 happens. Then no planes bombed/hijacked for 6.5 years since 9/11. And that 6.5 year gap is completely the credit of the TSA?

(note: I am completely aware that during the 1960s and 1970s, there were numerous US planes "hijacked" according to aviation safety databases, with most "hijackers" demanding to be taken to Cuba. However, there's little information on those hijackings, and each was resolved quickly with no deaths)

March 6, 2008 5:11 PM


I appreciate the history lesson as most of what you talked about occurred prior to my birth in 1964. However, my statement pertained to POST 9/11 not PRE 9/11. And yes I do take credit for some of it. I don't yell at people unless I have to, and I'm generally polite and helpful, while most other passengers will stand there and let the single mother struggle with her stroller and two children at the same time, its usually a TSO who offers to help. But that's okay, since its not YOUR job to help anyway right? You're only interested in getting YOUR stuff through security which is a general PAIN to you right? You guys amaze me. You talk about incidents that occurred in the 50's and 60's and compare it to today, yesterday and tomorrow. Newsflash, this is a totally different world we're living in. The airlines didn't a very good job securing their own flights which lead to TSA's birth. But since we're not good enough, perhaps it should go back to the airlines, and the first jet that gets highjacked and blown up, the American public will cry about security. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

RE the anonymous TSA person who wants to know "What do you (the public) want?"

Realistically, I think what the public wants can be deduced from even a cursory, common sense examination of the most common complaints on this blog. Never mind that I think the answer to your question is obvious, I'm going to recap from some of my previous posts and spell out what I want from the TSA:

- Professionalism, ordinary civility, and common courtesy.
- To be treated the same way the TSA expects me to treat their personnel.
- Basic operational competence.
- Realistic, common sense rules, clearly stated.
- To be treated as a law abiding citizen until my actions prove criminal intent.
- Accountability for actions and for failures to act.
- To have my belongings treated with due care and respect.
- To have means of redress if the above items don't happen.
- To be offered assistance when needed.

That's what this traveler wants from the TSA. Unfortunately, this is what I have personally seen or experienced from the TSA:

- Screeners barking orders at passengers when simple instructions delivered in an ordinary conversational tone of would get the job done. (Flint MI, Atlanta GA, Orlando FL)
- Screener shouting in such heavily accented English that we couldn't understand a word being said. This was followed by the same screener being obviously irritated that we weren't doing what she wanted. (Orlando FL)
- One screener yelling at us to "expedite gathering your belongings because the line is backing up", when another screener had had been giving our bags the "fine toothed comb" treatment, and we weren't sure she was done with us yet. No attempt to see if there was a problem or if we needed help -- just more yelling. (Pensacola, FL)
- Screener yelling because of a tube of lipstick not being in the ziploc bag. (Flint, MI) Though the TSA's web site and its people love to throw the catchphrase "liquids, gels, and aerosols" around, the TSA web site does not effectively explain what is a "liquid, gel or aerosol". The only examples I could find listed are toothpaste and shampoo.
- Being treated like a criminal for not understanding how to split the hairs regarding what is a "liquid, gel or aerosol" and what is not.
- Having a checked bag opened for inspection and not reclosed, making it possible for my belongings to simply fall out. (Flint MI)
- Not being able to have an eyeglasses repair kit or nail clipper for the longest time. Talk about lack of common sense! What security risk do these items present? "Give me control of this plane, or I'll disassemble your glasses and mess up your manicure?" What is the security risk posed by these items?

FWIW, I spent nine years in the Navy, five of them as an active duty commissioned officer. I learned a long time ago that it's possible to be authoritative in your manner without coming across as an authoritarian bully. Borrowing from one of my previous posts, if the TSA gives its personnel 120 hours of training on how to detect prohibited items, they need at least this much training on how the deal with the public.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this about intelligence? I am embarrassed that people are still writing about being "yelled at". I've seen so many travelers act like cattle at the TSA sites that I am shocked that these people can function at all. If someone is yelling, perhaps it is because the passengers aren't reading the signs or are busy chatting with others, the aircraft is docking, the public address is calling out names, etc.

Maybe it would be best if a TSO were to chat amicably with each and every traveler. Suppose the travelers will complain if they have to arrive a day early for this service?

The job of the TSO is to get a great amount people through a screening process that allows a reasonable level of security. Were a firefighter to roughly drag you out of a burning building to save your live would you moan, groan and complain because of lacked manners?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Isn't this about intelligence? I am embarrassed that people are still writing about being "yelled at". I've seen so many travelers act like cattle at the TSA sites that I am shocked that these people can function at all. If someone is yelling, perhaps it is because the passengers aren't reading the signs or are busy chatting with others, the aircraft is docking, the public address is calling out names, etc.

Maybe it would be best if a TSO were to chat amicably with each and every traveler. Suppose the travelers will complain if they have to arrive a day early for this service?

The job of the TSO is to get a great amount people through a screening process that allows a reasonable level of security. Were a firefighter to roughly drag you out of a burning building to save your live would you moan, groan and complain because of lacked manners?

March 6, 2008 7:58 PM

Thank you for your support. And what you say is correct. Take today for instance, I'm at the mag, we're getting slammed hard because the airline changed their flight patterns. No big deal though. I have to raise my voice to be heard because of the following:

1. Public address system paging passengers who failed to show up two hours early as required.
2. The fans are blowing full force because the checkpoint is HOT!
3. X-ray operators calling for bag searches because passengers failed to follow directions on liquids, gels and lotions. Figure that one out.
4. Passengers with children who done't want to listen to their parents and are screaming.

These are all checkpoint noises that we face every day, so we raise the tone of our voice to make sure that we are being heard...you know what....most passengers don't even hear us when we yell. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

RE Anonymous post at March 6, 2008 7:58 PM

I'll grant you that the original message of this blog section is about intelligence, but the discussion has gone in the direction of the general problems with the system. If there's someplace else this should have gone, I'm open to feedback.

To your points, maybe some people act like cattle, but I don't think that treating all passengers as the worst-case person solves anything. People wil live down to your expectations.

In Flint MI, for example, I was the first of four passengers in line. Count them 1-2-3-4. The screening area at this airport has very little background noise. I already had my plastic bins on the table, my notebook PC in a bin, my regulation ziploc in the bin and was starting to take off my shoes. The people in line behind me were doing similarly. Obviously, we all "knew the drill." Then, the screener / wannabe drill instructor started barking orders. "TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND PUT THEM IN THE BIN. PUT ANY NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS IN A BIN. KEEP YOUR BOARDING PASS AND PHOTO ID IN YOUR HAND AT ALL TIMES."

Did the screener really expect people to remove footwear, pull out notebook PC's, pull out ziploc bags, handle bins, etc. one handed in order to keep their boarding passes and photo id in their hand at all times? What is that supposed to accomplish? What's wrong with a simple request to "please have your boarding pass and photo id in hand as you approach the metal detector"? Is it necessary to yell at four people in a fairly quiet area? I think not.

I'm not asking for and don't expect the screeners to "chat amicably with each and every traveler", though a smile when checking my documents is immensely preferable to the permanent scowls I see in Atlanta. I am asking for civility, even when dealing with groups. It is possible to deal with groups without yelling and treating them like idiots. I know, because I've done it -- I've stage managed choral concerts of up to 300 people. It takes thought, planning, and a helpful spirit, all of which seem to be in short supply at the checkpoints.

>>The job of the TSO is to get a great amount people through a screening process that allows a reasonable level of security.<<

Point well taken, but it is possible to handle a large volume of people without resorting to blanket rudeness. See my previous point.

>>Were a firefighter to roughly drag you out of a burning building to save your live would you moan, groan and complain because of lacked manners?<<

IMHO, that's comparing apples to oranges. A firefighter is dealing with an immediate danger to life and limb. The TSA's problems at airports are crowd management 101. I don't expect to be treated rudely when all I've done is walk up to the checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

I recently flew from Mpls through Amsterdam (Schiphol), went through passport control, rescreening, and reboarding. They said "don't take off your shoes." My steel toed shoes set off the metal detector. Instead of being given the treatment and being treated like a criminal (like I have been here in the US) I got to remove the shoes and walk through the metal detector. The screeners were pleasant and professional. I still can't say that about TSA screeners in the US.

The traveling public does have rights. It also has responsibilities. TSA has a job to do and they should use common sense when evaluating a situation. Does this situation need for me to escalate it to the "do you want to fly today" mode usually results in heightened emotions on both sides. Do we have traveling public who try to push the rules? Yep, and they make life difficult for professional travelers. The attitude of 'well, I'm privileged and the rules don't apply to me' on the part of some travelers needs a slap down. The liquids ban has been in place for over a year. Start charging $10 for every liquid not properly bagged. Word would spread fast and you guys could party hearty on the money. Oh, and you do have to define what a get is and isn't. Peanut butter is a solid and I've heard of it being confiscated.

FYI what impressed me most about Schiphol was how quiet the airport was and how friendly airline staff was to passengers.

Anonymous said...

"1. Public address system paging passengers who failed to show up two hours early as required.
2. The fans are blowing full force because the checkpoint is HOT!
3. X-ray operators calling for bag searches because passengers failed to follow directions on liquids, gels and lotions. Figure that one out.
4. Passengers with children who done't want to listen to their parents and are screaming.

These are all checkpoint noises that we face every day, so we raise the tone of our voice to make sure that we are being heard...you know what....most passengers don't even hear us when we yell. Go figure."

Well, it is YOUR workplace, so you file a complaint. Ask for sound adsorbing panels, replace the public address system, quieter fans, hand out TSA themed toys to the screaming kids who need some comfort. Be a professional who cares about the job, or find another career path.

Anonymous said...

These are all checkpoint noises that we face every day, so we raise the tone of our voice to make sure that we are being heard...you know what....most passengers don't even hear us when we yell. Go figure.

You've been tuned out and people have become desensitized to the eternal drone of the PA system. Try cutting it off for a few days. People will be amazed at how quiet it is.

Anonymous said...

>> These are all checkpoint noises that we face every day, so we raise the tone of our voice to make sure that we are being heard <<

There's a difference between projecting your voice to be heard and yelling at people. Most people are not trained in projecting their voices, and thus resort to yelling in noisy environments. The voice "splatters", creating havoc with intelligibility, and adds to everyone's stress levels.

Assuming that were to happen, what the TSO's need to keep in mind is that a lot of the yelling is not used to be heard -- it is used at close range as an intimidation tool. I've seen a lot of yelling done when it simply is not necessary.

Here's an interesting quote straight off Dr. Phil's web site. "Dr. Phil introduces Peggy Post, etiquette expert and author of Excuse Me, but I Was Next ... 'The key thing is not to embarrass a person, not to make a big scene in front of other people' [my emphasis], Peggy explains. 'The other thing is to have a clear policy for employees because every employee is going to have a different interpretation.'"

Crowd noise is a factor at checkpoints, but "it is what it is". The TSA needs to work with the airports to improve the acoustics at security to dampen the crowd noise, which should lessen the need for screeners to raise their voices "to be heard."

Unfortunately, my experience is that TSO's shout and yell unnecessarily, and make a public scene when a civil statement to the individual involved will get the job done. If the TSA thinks that yelling at someone in public is going to win them over to the TSA's point of view (especially given the inconsistent interpretations of the rules), I want to know what they've been smoking. :)

John Pollard said...

So are these some of the operations that "intelligence" drives at TSA?

In the interests of full disclosure, I've compiled the TSA accomplishments for this week. There's still three days to go. And, unlike Kippie, I cite my sources.

1 confirmed retaliatory secondary screening -- Philadelphia. Retaliatory Secondary: Link.

4 acts of screener power trips, child endangerment, elder abuse: Link.

- Child endangerment: Teen Says TSA Screener Opened Sterile Equipment, Put Life In Danger <

- Elder abuse: Elderly Handicapped Woman Strip-searched at LAX Link.

- Intrusive passport inspection: Page-by-Page Passport Inspection -- Chicago Link.

- Power Trip: One Bin Per Person Power Trip -- Baltimore Link.

1 act of fear-mongering: Government Warns Of Terror Threat To Trains Link.

1 act of extortion: TSA launches search for the perfect laptop bag Link.

If there's intelligence in this operation, either brains or the "other" kind, I sure as heck don't see it.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: Has anyone considered that TSA is a young and CHANGING organiztion that has been charged with a very difficult and challenging task, protecting the flying public? And despite what some of you may say, we are doing a hell of a job! GO TSA!

Good grief. It's been 6 years. How long do you need to do the same job that has been being done for years.

And now, according to this article, you're asking for ANOTHER 16 years and $22 billion to make it happen?

Yeah, you're doing a hell of a job alright. Just like Brownie did.

And as a side note, with the attitudes of a lot of the screeners on here, is it any wonder why your agency is despised? You see the public as the enemy. Guess what? Apparently they see YOU as the enemy too.

You screeners really don't help your case at all. I've even heard TSO's that read this blog saying a lot of you guys are doing more harm than good.

Robert Johnson said...

Oops. Forgot to link the article I referred to.

MSNBC.

Anonymous said...

"most passengers don't even hear us when we yell. Go figure."

SO, STOP THE YELLING.

Ahem. I mean stop the yelling.

It _will_ make things better. Slightly less stressful SLF (self loading freight) will make your job slightly easier.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
>> These are all checkpoint noises that we face every day, so we raise the tone of our voice to make sure that we are being heard <<

There's a difference between projecting your voice to be heard and yelling at people. Most people are not trained in projecting their voices, and thus resort to yelling in noisy environments. The voice "splatters", creating havoc with intelligibility, and adds to everyone's stress levels.

Assuming that were to happen, what the TSO's need to keep in mind is that a lot of the yelling is not used to be heard -- it is used at close range as an intimidation tool. I've seen a lot of yelling done when it simply is not necessary.

Here's an interesting quote straight off Dr. Phil's web site. "Dr. Phil introduces Peggy Post, etiquette expert and author of Excuse Me, but I Was Next ... 'The key thing is not to embarrass a person, not to make a big scene in front of other people' [my emphasis], Peggy explains. 'The other thing is to have a clear policy for employees because every employee is going to have a different interpretation.'"

Crowd noise is a factor at checkpoints, but "it is what it is". The TSA needs to work with the airports to improve the acoustics at security to dampen the crowd noise, which should lessen the need for screeners to raise their voices "to be heard."

Unfortunately, my experience is that TSO's shout and yell unnecessarily, and make a public scene when a civil statement to the individual involved will get the job done. If the TSA thinks that yelling at someone in public is going to win them over to the TSA's point of view (especially given the inconsistent interpretations of the rules), I want to know what they've been smoking. :)

March 6, 2008 9:48 PM

And out of all of this finally we get some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Thanks for your thoughts, and you're absolutely right, yelling doesn't help. And it is a fine line between projecting your voice and yelling and its something that not a lot of people are adept at. This is what I was hoping for, active dialogue instead of constant put down. Thanks again. :-)

Anonymous said...

Robert Johnson said...
Quote: Has anyone considered that TSA is a young and CHANGING organiztion that has been charged with a very difficult and challenging task, protecting the flying public? And despite what some of you may say, we are doing a hell of a job! GO TSA!

Good grief. It's been 6 years. How long do you need to do the same job that has been being done for years.

And now, according to this article, you're asking for ANOTHER 16 years and $22 billion to make it happen?

Yeah, you're doing a hell of a job alright. Just like Brownie did.

And as a side note, with the attitudes of a lot of the screeners on here, is it any wonder why your agency is despised? You see the public as the enemy. Guess what? Apparently they see YOU as the enemy too.

You screeners really don't help your case at all. I've even heard TSO's that read this blog saying a lot of you guys are doing more harm than good.
Robert is seems your only pop into the blog when you have something disparaging to say. Why is that might I ask? Have you anything useful to add to this blog?

Anonymous said...

"Tell me why is noone saw fit to copy and paste this snippet of my post? Maybe because its true that NO AIRPLANES have gone down since 9/11/01, gee I wonder why that is?"

I wonder too... Skill or or just dumb luck?

You have not had any exploding Zeppelins or UFO landings on your watch either. You can take credit for that as well. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in knowing, which airports do you hear the most yelling at? Just curious here.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to say that, as a passenger, it looks like most of the screeners posting here "don't get it". Many of us have objected to the treatment we receive at checkpoints.

I've noticed various posters saying that passengers are treated like:

- cattle
- criminals
- prisoners
- self loading freight (my personal favorite)

In other words, not as human beings.

I've also noticed the actions of the TSA's personnel being described with terms like:

- bullying
- intimidating
- angry
- hostile
- condescending

In other words, the TSA is perceived as placing itself above the people they are supposed to protect and serve.

Instead of all this being a call to constructive change, most screeners that post here justify this atmosphere, based on some excuse about the flying public not knowing the rules -- tarring the entire flying population with an extremely wide brush.

Given the various TSO's convoluted interpretations of the rules, the TSA needs to get its own house in order first. Also, it's obvious that the TSA's treatment of the flying public is simply not working.

Unfortunately, it's reached the point that it's not a question of whether we're going to get yelled at when going through the checkpoint, but over what and for how long. No wonder passengers have tuned out the constant prerecorded announcements about the terror alert level de jour and keeping control of your bags, as well as the screeners shouting.

This reminds me of the typical parent who does nothing but yell at his/her kids. They think they have to yell to get through, when the real problem is their own communications style is ineffective.

If the purpose of the blog is to help win back the hearts and minds of the flying public, justifying the existing behavior of the TSA's personnel is not helping. No wonder so many passengers feel alienated by the TSA. The TSA could soften its image considerably and still get its job done.

Somebody on the TSA blog team please pass this along to Kip Hawley. This kind of problem needs to be addressed from the top. I see attempts to make the lines move faster (bravo for that!), but nothing so far on the hostile atmosphere at so many checkpoints.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is time to direct The Office of Intelligence inward. Read the comments on this blog and really think about what your public relations problems are. As far as I can see it is the way the TSO's relate to the public, how you disseminate the information about proscribed goods, training problems, theft and noise issues.

Maybe you are necessary, maybe the security issue can be tackled in an entirely new approach. My personal experience has been quite pleasant with General Aviation's way of dealing with this problem.

Short of completely overhauling the way TSA implements it mission, what are you doing to reduce the friction between the TSO's and the traveling public?

Chance said...

@Dave X

If there is a 1 in 5 chance of getting a bomb past security (some say 3 in 4), and if the only consequence of the bomb being detected is that the TSO tosses their water bottle bomb into the trash can before they wave him through, all your brilliant evolving terrorist group needs to do to is buy a few tickets for couriers to deliver a bomb to the suicide guy. The couriers don't even need to be suicidal themselves. With a probability of detection of 80%, 4 couriers would succeed in getting a bomb to a killer 1-.8^4=59% of the time. At 50% detection, 93% success. How many prohibited knives and liquids flow past like booze on bourbon street?

This scenario you describe would require more personnel than you originally outlined, requires public exchanges of material, and all in addition to the logistics that led up to this point. In other words, the complexity has increased, presenting more potential points of failure for the hirabist. Your cited 93% rate of sucess ignores BDOs, Local Law Enforcement, and Air Marshals all looking for signs of suspicious behaivior. Not to mention the traveling public. Do we discount the posibility? No, but you appear to be saying that since our system may not be 100% effective, we shouldn't bother having a system at all.

Re: "Out of the 5 aircraft hijackings I know of in 2007, at least 2 involved a breach of the cockpit. Just thought I'd mention that."

-- Would TSA's screening have prevented any of these 4 in 2007? How many lives were lost due to inadequate screening?


But you've changed the subject. Your original point was that strengthened cockpit doors and passenger alertness makes a cockpit breach practically impossible. The fact that two breaches have occured in just the last year refutes your hypothesis.

It was me that first used the word 'boo!', and I think it is an appropriate description of a post describing the possibilities of danger without going deeper. To be taken more seriously than chicken little or the boy who cried wolf, you need to show some dead sheep, pieces of the sky, or some wolf pelts. A nutty priest or 514 criminals aren't terrorists, heck America is 1% criminal, far higher than the 1 in a million detection rate of your BDOs.

Nobody is a terrorist until they commit, or at least seriously intend to commit, a terrorist act. That's pretty much common sense. We've had numerous requests on this blog to show "just one example" of a terrorist we've stopped. But how is this even possible? No one we catch, from the "nutty priest" to the many people we catch with concealed weapons, will ever be wearing the word Hirabi across their forehead. TSA will likely never be able to point to a single person stopped or arrested as a terrorist because at that point no terrorist act has been committed. Was that person's intention to commit an act of air piracy or suicide terrorism? Why did they have that weapon? Was there a plan to commit a terrorist act? We don't know, and in many cases never will know. So the request is an impossible one to fill, at least in the vast majority of cases. When an extremist with an intent to commit a terrorist act is identified through intelligence or law enforcement means, he or she will be stopped well before screening. I understand that this answer will be less than satisfaying to you and others, but that is my answer.

I do indeed assume that there are people in TSA paid to consider scary threats. What I don't see is any indication that TSA is doing analysis of the costs of their actions, or that TSA's procedures actually eliminate the threats you advertise.

I don't work in policy, so I don't know the details of how every single decision is made, but in the occassions where I have been involved, the costs and consequences of TSA's actions have been analyzed and debated. Obviously you disagree with the efficacy of these actions, which I can understand.

Chance - EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"I'd be interested in knowing, which airports do you hear the most yelling at? Just curious here."

Go back and read the postings on this blog- too bad there isn't a user friendly search function. Many people have mentioned the airports that seem to have a lot of yelling.

I am going to just take a wild guess and suggest that the yelling comes from the TSO's individual upbringing...

Anonymous said...

More on the hostile environment perceived by travelers by the TSA staff.

I've had the opportunity, as a government employee, to work at various US Embassies overseas. The security of our embassies is mainly delegated to sometimes very young, yet very professional marines. In my more than 15 years of service, I have never, I mean never seen a US Marine show any sign of disrespect or hostility towards anyone going through their security check points at embassies. They get the job done in a very meticolous and professional manner without having to go down the road of rudeness and hostility. On the contrary, they are well-know for their courtesy and politeness when treating the public.

Perhaps the TSA should allow the Marine Security Guard folks at Quantico train their staff in the art of dealing with people and security without compromising integrity.

Anonymous said...

Yelling? Chicago, O'hare. St Louis, KCI, Newark.

I suspect that the latest outrage over handicapped people might result in an ADA lawsuit against TSA. Those ADA lawsuits potentially do much more damage to your public image than TSA could ever imagine.

Anonymous said...

"I'd be interested in knowing, which airports do you hear the most yelling at? Just curious here."

Open a site, where at the TSA's request, passengers can can send video clips. If TSO's knew that they could be subject to public observation, it is possible that their behavior might improve. It has worked in a lot of other situations.

Anonymous said...

Someone asked: "I have a question for the public: what does it Take to satisfy you?"

I'm going to attempt to give you my thoughts on why your question is faulty. Just my opinion and your YMMV.

Credibility: TSA as an agency has a problem, real or perceived, of credibility with travelers. It may be too late at this point to correct this impression with the public. If it is possible to correct it will take a determined effort by the most senior officials at DHS and even possibly the replacement of the current leaders. The first step is to acknowledge that a problem exist.

Integrity: While the vast majority of TSO's are upstanding people a few bad apples have caused extensive harm to the image of a TSO. TSO actions at checkpoints across the country (retaliation, rudiness, and such) add to the negative opinion of the public. An overhaul of current procedures will be required to reverse this negative opinion. This is not to say a less valid inspection but a vastly different way that TSA interacts with the traveling public. Right now you are your own worst enemy and continue to prove it every day.

Organizational Stability: Current turn-over at TSA is a known problem. This indicates an internal problem that I cannot address. Until this is corrected the other issues will remain.

You probably will not agree with my thoughts but anyone with just a touch of sense knows something is amiss at TSA. The real question is do your leaders have the ability to do something about it? I am not sure they do!

Anonymous said...

Attempting to take a video of TSA workers will at least get you yelled at or threatened with arrest/camera confiscation.

Anonymous said...

RE the anonymous TSA person who wants to know "What do you (the public) want?"

I think your question is faulty. This is why.

Credibility: TSA as a whole has an issue of credibility with the flying public. Many travelers question the process and their treatment by your agency. The damage at
this point may not be reversable without extreme actions by the most senior leaders of the agency up to and including the replacement of these leaders.

Integrity: While the vast majority of TSO's are most likely upstanding people a few bad apples have caused extreme damage to the image of a TSO. Additional reports of poor treatment (disrespect, retalitation, abuse, etc) of travelers by TSO's occuring almost daily add to this poor image. TSO training and screening procedures will require a total overhaul to start a reversal of this. The public will not stand for continued poor treatment and abuse at the hands of poorly trained screeners.

Turnover: The high turnover of TSO's is well known. This is indicative of a serious internal problem. Until this issue is addressed all other actions will be for naught.

My question, are your leaders up to the task of fixing a broke agency?

I have my doubts.

John Pollard said...

I find it interesting that a post I made last night, questioning TSA incidents (with links provided) that happened this week with respect to TSA intelligence haven't been published. Can you please explain why?

There was nothing offensive in there and it met the posted criteria. Or TSA is trying to evade the question?

John

Vernon Weeble said...

Robert Johnson said:
Quote: Has anyone considered that TSA is a young and CHANGING organiztion that has been charged with a very difficult and challenging task, protecting the flying public? And despite what some of you may say, we are doing a hell of a job! GO TSA!

I agree. TSA compared to other federal agencies such as the FBI is in its infancy and has a lot of growing pains to go through.

hawthorn said...

Three quick points.

#1, you may be aware that your fan club over at Boing Boing is running another hate-minute thread over the backup feeding tube incident. You might want to post something about this here - it'd be pointless there.

#2, the fuss over "yelling" is amazing. You have one TSO in the screening area who calls out reminders loudly enough to be heard by the folks waiting in the feed line and the screening lines. In a normal 5-10 minute security wait, each passenger probably hears the same set of reminders two or three times from this announcer person. Yet when they get up to the conveyor, and are close to the announcer, they suddenly reach the horrible conclusion that this guy is YELLING at them! It's all about me these days, I guess.

#3, the more you read all this stuff, including some of the stuff from frustrated TSO's, it seems as though TSA is by definition in a no-win, punching-bag situation. Everything about the post-9/11 security environment is latently hurtful and annoying, and stressful on passengers and screeners alike. The TSA places itself in "emotional harm's way" and bears the brunt of passenger angst. Some bear it more gently than others. I think that the agency really should work on the human-factors angle. I'm not sure this is the thread for suggestions but maybe you should open one.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the IC with several different organizations during my career, if I had just a penny for every time I've heard the old joke that government (or insert agency or branch of military) + Intelligence is an oxymoron I'd be retired by now. But I never thought of it being true until I heard of TSA Intelligence. That may be harsh to the guys working in the Intel component, but I only say that because I've never met any of your "frontline" guys in the airports that have given me any confidence in TSA intelligence. Also, I'm looking at Intel reports everyday and I haven't seen TSA be much of a contributor to the Intel effort, more like just a consumer often with over the top knee-jerk reactions to what they receive and the flying public suffers for it.

And you should realize that these blog comments always get WAY off topic because users are just latching on to the latest and most active post regardless of the original subject because you've closed the Gripes and Grins and many of the other topics, so there's nowhere else to go.

All the ranting and Nazi comparisons aside, people want to believe their concerns are being heard and that changes will occur. If the screeners themselves thought for even a moment that the public had a way of reporting their behavior that would actually lead to them being discipled, I'm sure many of the problems would resolve themselves. But no, these people continue to be allowed to operate as though the have free rein to do whatever they want and treat people however they want and that their supervisors will back them up and no one will ever take the passengers complaint seriously.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody on the TSA blog team please pass this along to Kip Hawley. This kind of problem needs to be addressed from the top. I see attempts to make the lines move faster (bravo for that!), but nothing so far on the hostile atmosphere at so many checkpoints.

Unfortunately, Kip seems to have his own issues when being criticized. Could it be that the attitude displayed by screeners comes from the top down?

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=797633&highlight=

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous March 6th:

what does it Take to satisfy you? Every effort that TSA leadership has made to INFORM you of what we ARE doing, someone has to throw up a comment abouut how they don't believe it.

Try being honest. For instance, it has been demonstrated that the 3-1-1 liquid rule is bunk. So why does the TSA continue to say "we enforce this rule because it's a real threat but we can't show you the secret document which proves it." We know it is bunk, we know the secret document says it is bunk even though we haven't seen it. We are tired of being lied to.

Additionally I've read several times when Chance or Christopher said "that is not TSA policy" with regards to some complaint about a local TSO. Why don't the TSOs know TSA policy?

Finally it would take one of the blog team members to respond to me once in a while, instead of seeking easier targets.

First of all, our president said it himself "there are going to be things we don't tell you" Remember that news conference? I DO! What does it take?

"Things you can't tell us" include an active investigation of a plot. It does not include the list of prohibited items, the names of screeners, the fact that your secret 3-1-1 document says that there is no scientific basis for the 3-1-1 rule, the way for an innocent person to get off the extra screening no-fly list, etc. Try using some common sense in determing what can't be told to us.

And let me ask you this Mr. Anonymous, HOW MANY PLANES HAVE GONE DOWN IN AMERICA SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001?

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. How many of those non-downed planes can be credited to the TSA stopping a terrorist plot? The fact that there are no news reports of such indicates the number is zero, because otherwise you would be touting your success in stopping such a plot. You would make that public, you would remove the secrecy, because you could use it as pro-TSA propaganda.

Here's a suggestion for ya, stop questioning the procedures, think OUTSIDE the box, and realize that there are going to be things that go on that you DON'T know about.

Don't think, obey. Don't question, obey. Don't dissent, obey.

Anonymous said...

"Attempting to take a video of TSA workers will at least get you yelled at or threatened with arrest/camera confiscation."

No surprise there. Thats why it should be a welcome, open TSA policy to allow passengers to record misdeeds by TSO's. Sounds like you have a serious endemic problem. So perhaps every passenger should be prepared to video the entire TSA experience.

Mikado said...

hawthorn said:

#2, the fuss over "yelling" is amazing. You have one TSO in the screening area who calls out reminders loudly enough to be heard by the folks waiting in the feed line and the screening lines. In a normal 5-10 minute security wait, each passenger probably hears the same set of reminders two or three times from this announcer person. Yet when they get up to the conveyor, and are close to the announcer, they suddenly reach the horrible conclusion that this guy is YELLING at them! It's all about me these days, I guess.

Most of us can tell the difference between somebody shouting to be heard over the noise and being yelled at.

Anonymous said...

I am greatly concerned about the TSA's ignorance of those travelling with medical conditions. Case in point, reported on wftv.com :

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A sick teenager said an over-zealous security screener at Orlando International Airport put his life in danger. After Channel 9 started making calls, the TSA opened an investigation into the matter.

James Hoyne, 14, has a feeding tube in his stomach and carries a back-up in a sealed clear plastic bag. Hoyne said two weeks ago a TSA officer insisted on opening the sterile equipment, contaminating his back-up feeding up tube which he later needed.

"I said 'Please don't open it' and she said 'I have to open it whether you like it or not. If I can't open it, I can't let you on the plane,'" Hoyne said of his conversation with the TSA screener.

TSA officials apologized to James and said they're looking into the incident to see what corrective steps need to be taken."

I would like to hear of the TSA's results of looking into this incident, and how they intend to minimize harm to travellers with medical devices/conditions etc.

Thank you.

Vernon W said...

Anonymous said:
"More on the hostile environment perceived by travelers by the TSA staff."

On this blog, there is continuous mention of the hostile environment perceived by travelers by the TSA staff. However, there is no mention of the TSA staff being verbally and/or physically assaulted or abused by passengers. I think some of the bloggers on this site need to go to anger management classes.

Anonymous said:
"I've had the opportunity, as a government employee, to work at various US Embassies overseas. The security of our embassies is mainly delegated to sometimes very young, yet very professional marines. In my more than 15 years of service, I have never, I mean never seen a US Marine show any sign of disrespect or hostility towards anyone going through their security check points at embassies. They get the job done in a very meticolous and professional manner without having to go down the road of rudeness and hostility. On the contrary, they are well-know for their courtesy and politeness when treating the public.

Perhaps the TSA should allow the Marine Security Guard folks at Quantico train their staff in the art of dealing with people and security without compromising integrity."

There is a tremendous respect for our armed services. They are the most respected armed services in the world. However, TSA officers do not have the same respect by some passengers. TSA officers have a tough job and deserve respect.

Vernon W said...

Anonymous said:
"As a member of the IC with several different organizations during my career, if I had just a penny for every time I've heard the old joke that government (or insert agency or branch of military) + Intelligence is an oxymoron I'd be retired by now. But I never thought of it being true until I heard of TSA Intelligence. That may be harsh to the guys working in the Intel component, but I only say that because I've never met any of your "frontline" guys in the airports that have given me any confidence in TSA intelligence. Also, I'm looking at Intel reports everyday and I haven't seen TSA be much of a contributor to the Intel effort, more like just a consumer often with over the top knee-jerk reactions to what they receive and the flying public suffers for it."

The amount of righteous anger in your post leads me to believe that you applied for a job with TSA and didn't make the cut.

Concerned citizen said...

Please, do tell what kind of "intelligence" drove this operation:

http://www.wftv.com/irresistible/15511359/detail.html

Anonymous said...

"There is a tremendous respect for our armed services. They are the most respected armed services in the world. However, TSA officers do not have the same respect by some passengers. TSA officers have a tough job and deserve respect."

Perhaps because they have earned their respect by acting professionally and by maintaining a calm demeanor when carrying on their duties. You reap what you sow, and so far you are reaping disgruntled travelers due to your attitude not because of what you do. We all understand what you're doing and we respect your job, but the TSO (the person) should earn the publics respect by treating the public properly. There's nothing wrong with being over zealous about your job, just keep it to yourself. React when it is necessary and don't assume that all travelers are potential bad guys. When you do so, you all loose credibility. Just apply the golden rule...it never fails.

Alan said...

Based on the inconsistencies I've seen from TSA screeners from airport to airport, I'm certain that the TSA doesn't seem to be investing any resources into finding out what is going on with its own employees.

That, and the TSA's legendary history of knee-jerk overreactions to highly improbable threats (while test bombs continue to get through checkpoints at an unacceptably high rate), makes me skeptical of the claim that the TSA is competently scanning intelligence reports and using the information wisely.

Anonymous said...

BURN BEFORE READING TSA Intelligence Briefing 030708A Item 1: TSA Intelligence uncovers plot to highjack planes using 150 tiny Swiss Army knives. Item 2: TSA Intelligence has determined that its "Officers" lack the capacity to distinguish between a weapon and a grooming tool or between a beverage and an accelerant. Item 3: TSA Intelligence has determined that there are thousands of weapons, including hammers, power tools and electrician's knives, inside the secure areas of every airport in the US- residing in mechanics' tool boxes, shops and service vehicles. Item 4: TSA Intelligence has determined that there are thousands of gallons of gasoline and kerosene inside the secure areas of every US airport-used in service vehicles and airplanes. EYES ONLY No public release

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Vernon: The amount of righteous anger in your post leads me to believe that you applied for a job with TSA and didn't make the cut.

Given TSA's hiring standards, he was probably too qualified.

Vernon W said...

Anonymous said:
"BURN BEFORE READING TSA Intelligence Briefing 030708A Item 1: TSA Intelligence uncovers plot to highjack planes using 150 tiny Swiss Army knives. Item 2: TSA Intelligence has determined that its "Officers" lack the capacity to distinguish between a weapon and a grooming tool or between a beverage and an accelerant. Item 3: TSA Intelligence has determined that there are thousands of weapons, including hammers, power tools and electrician's knives, inside the secure areas of every airport in the US- residing in mechanics' tool boxes, shops and service vehicles. Item 4: TSA Intelligence has determined that there are thousands of gallons of gasoline and kerosene inside the secure areas of every US airport-used in service vehicles and airplanes. EYES ONLY No public release"

While I found your post amusing, I am pretty sure there were other intelligence briefing items.

(1) December 2001: Richard Reid's Attempted Attack

(2) May 2003: Iyman Faris's Plot to Collapse the Brooklyn Bridge

(3) August 2004: James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj's Plot to Bomb a Subway Station in New York City

(4)December 2005: Michael Reynolds' Plot to Blow Up a Pipeline

(5)July 2006: Assem Hammoud's Plot to Attack Underground Transit Links with New Jersey

(6)August 2006: Liquid Explosives Plot to Load 10 Commercial Airliners Headed to the United States with Liquid Explosives

(7)June 2007: JFK Plot to Blow Up a Jet Fuel Artery

You can read more about these plots at http://www.heritage.org/Research/HomelandDefense/bg2085.cfm

WinstonSmith said...

Intelligence clearly does not drive TSA policy. When the TSA can show us one -- even one -- single instance in which all of the security theater has caught an actual terrorist or prevented a plane from being taken down you might gain some credibility. Sure you have prevented some stuff from getting on a plane, but the existence of a thing does not prove anyone's intent to do anything with it.

When the TSA can show that it actually screens ALL of the cargo that goes into the bellies of the planes -- ALL of it, we might start to take you maybe a little bit seriously.

When the TSA starts to work with actual law enforcement agencies who track actual people who are suspected terrorists or known associates of known terrorists or who have demonstrable links to known terrorists or something that might actually give someone probable cause to check up on someone, maybe it could be considered to be earning its keep.

However, until these actual security measures are going to be happening, no amount of fearmongering, no amount of security theater, no amount of tossing water bottles, breast milk, hassling wheelchair bound seniors and pregnant women is going to make your case. I'd personally rather face 1000 terrorists and die fighting like an American than to surrender even one of the liberties my grandfather fought for in WWII and his father and grandfather fought for before that to an ever more overreaching federal government that seems determined to turn the once proud USA into a nothing better than a corporatist police state.

Please, Everyone, write your representatives in the House and Senate. Write letters to the editor. Write to the heads of the airlines. Get active. Demand that the TSA be revamped or disbanded. It is your constituional right to be heard. Be heard.

Anonymous said...

Regarding exploding wheelchairs: Why not require airports to use wheelchairs made of non-ferrous or even non-metallic materials, perhaps with mesh seats and backs to reveal possibly hidden items, so they could pass through the detectors without an alarm and could then be swiped or "sniffed" for explosives? Persons wishing to receive a rolling screening would have to use one of these special chairs, but then would be saved from having to totter or be dragged through the detector. TSA should respond to the public's need and not vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

"Hoyne said two weeks ago a TSA officer insisted on opening the sterile equipment, contaminating his back-up feeding up tube which he later needed."
As a TSA officer, I can say that this is sooooo against our SOP. The screener who did this need to be removed from screeneing until he or she rereads the SOP. BAD TSA! NO DONUT! TSO-Joe

Anonymous said...

ayn r. key @ 3/7 11:55 AM

I think this may be an example of cum hoc ergo propter hoc (correlation does not equal causation) and not post hoc ergo propter hoc (since X happened, it happened because of Y), but otherwise, great post.


-----

Otherwise, I'm sick of the argument that says that "accept it, we're post 9/11, it's a different world, deal with it". It's not a different world. If the government had been in charge of security on 9/11, it still would've happened. To say otherwise is ludicrous.

I want a justifiable explanation as to why a huge governmental agency can do a "better" job of security than the private airlines. The TSA drones and the TSA bloggers seem to present a false dichotomy that says "either the government controls security or airports become a free-for-all". Completely untrue. Let the airlines resume their own security and I guarantee you that things at least stay AS safe (if not become safer) and better for the flying public.

Unfortunately, once the government gets its claws on something, it's never letting go.

Anonymous said...

Methinks that several comments that have been posted to this thread, that do not violate the Comment Policy, have not come to light.

I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Re: Vernon W's 3:56 PM posting----Vernon, Please explain the connection between those failed attempts you cited and the ban on the small Swiss Army knife-or TSA airport security in general. Thanks

winstonsmith said...

Vernon W... are you kidding?

1) December 2001: Richard Reid's Attempted Attack

--and now we all get take off our shoes -- oh goody! --

(2) May 2003: Iyman Faris's Plot to Collapse the Brooklyn Bridge

-- with a blowtorch? --

(3) August 2004: James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj's Plot to Bomb a Subway Station in New York City

-- foiled by the FBI, NOT the TSA --

(4)December 2005: Michael Reynolds' Plot to Blow Up a Pipeline

-- foiled by the FBI -- NOT the TSA --

(5)July 2006: Assem Hammoud's Plot to Attack Underground Transit Links with New Jersey

-- more good work by the FBI -- NOT the TSA --

(6)August 2006: Liquid Explosives Plot to Load 10 Commercial Airliners Headed to the United States with Liquid Explosives

-- The TSA, again, had NOTHING to do with this, and in fact the people involved hadn't even so much as purchased plane tickets. Good old fashioned police work on the part of the London police force did the trick here, and now we can't have our water or baby food or juice --

(7)June 2007: JFK Plot to Blow Up a Jet Fuel Artery

-- Uh, anyone who knows anything about this knows that at WORST they might have started a fire and there was little chance of even that succeeding --


Do you really think that posting a few snippets of failed terrorist plots, many of which never even got off the ground, several of which didn't even take place in the US, that come off of an obscure section of a right-wing think-tank are in any way convincing evidence that the wholesale violation of the rights of the American traveling public by an inept, inefficient, and ineffective bureaucracy such as the TSA is in any way reasonable?!?

If you do then you, Sir, are beyond hope. This country is better than that. This country was built by people who stand up to tyranny, whether brought to us from abroad by the British or the Japanese, or from within as did Senator Joe McCarthy. A dozen penny-ante "terrorists" thinking that foolishness such as felling the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch is not exactly something this country should be fearing. We used to put people like that in what we used to refer to in less PC days as "laughing academies."

There is no justification that you or any government hack can cite that would convince this American that my rights as a citizen of this country ought to be handed over -- even "temporarily" -- because someone might try to do something bad. Life is risky. We're better than they are. If we live in fear, the bad guys have won. If we live in fear of our government, then the government are the bad guys.

Could we compromise on this? Sure... do I want loaded firearms on planes? Probably not... might not be such a bad idea to keep them off. Do I want some nutcase with a machete in his carryon and a mental condition in his head sitting next to me? Not sure about that one really. Might be a good idea to make sure that some of those manifestly dangerous items don't make it into the passenger compartment of the plane. But that would involve a simple metal detector. You find it, you say... uh, can't take that. You offer the person an opportunity to check it or send it via mail or fedex or whatever, and off you go. No harm no foul. If the locality sees fit or is looking for something in particular or the feds are looking for someone in particular, they are welcome to station someone there to monitor what's going on. Do I care if someone has a penknife or a small pair of scissors... not really... sure someone could get cut... ok... life is risky. If someone went haywire on the plane, in this post 9/11 world, does anyone really think that that individual or those individuals would stand a chance against a planeload of angry passengers?

Let's dispense with the fearmongering guys... and let's go with common sense.

Anonymous said...

"I'd personally rather face 1000 terrorists and die fighting like an American than to surrender even one of the liberties my grandfather fought for in WWII and his father and grandfather fought for before that to an ever more overreaching federal government that seems determined to turn the once proud USA into a nothing better than a corporatist police state."

I'm sure thought like this keep the family, relatives, and friends of the 3000+ victims of the 9/11 attack comfortable at night.

"When the TSA can show us one -- even one -- single instance in which all of the security theater has caught an actual terrorist or prevented a plane from being taken down you might gain some credibility."

I'd like to see if our actions are preventing and deterring any terroists from using aiprplanes as targets. An interview with a captured terrorist said that he watched the color threat level, and if it went up to orange, he would stop doing whatever he was planning because he wasn't sure if it was his plans that were being detected. I alway felt the threat "stoplight" was kinds dumb. Especially the green, as we are never going to green, ever.

A fellow TSO back from a tour of duty in Iraq feels that once the US is done there, the terroists will come here to US home soil. Why travel halfway around the world to blow up US citizens, when you can go next door into Iraq and do it?

TSO-Joe

Vernon W said...

Anonymous said:
"I'd personally rather face 1000 terrorists and die fighting like an American than to surrender even one of the liberties my grandfather fought for in WWII and his father and grandfather fought for before that to an ever more overreaching federal government that seems determined to turn the once proud USA into a nothing better than a corporatist police state."

I am grateful for your grandfather's service. It is interesting to note that people from your grandfather's era "actually fought" for the love of their country. As one who was on active duty in support of the Global War on Terror, I served in the military for the love of my country, not the money. I am sure TSA officers do their job for the love their country, not the money.

Robert Johnson said...

Vernon W, you're speculating as to whether or not the reports exist. They may or may not, and a lot of what's out there in the IC is biased to support an analyst's ideas, correct or not. Been there, done that.

At any rate, half of the incidents you cited weren't plausible to begin with. I'm sure you can find many people somewhere on the Internet "planning" to do something. The question is, how many of them actually have the means to do it and how many of them just have a pipe dream?

Talk is cheap and it's the analyst's job to figure out who's blowing smoke and who isn't. It's tough work, and they CAN be wrong. Just ask George Tenet how certain he ws that there were WMD's in Iraq.

TSA takes a threat, plausible or not, battens down the hatches and sticks it's head in the sand as to whether it's actually true or not. "Better safe than sorry®" and "out of an abundance of caution®" are classic CYA maneuvers TSA employees.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Ayn R. Key said...
Anonymous March 6th:

what does it Take to satisfy you? Every effort that TSA leadership has made to INFORM you of what we ARE doing, someone has to throw up a comment abouut how they don't believe it.

Try being honest. For instance, it has been demonstrated that the 3-1-1 liquid rule is bunk. So why does the TSA continue to say "we enforce this rule because it's a real threat but we can't show you the secret document which proves it." We know it is bunk, we know the secret document says it is bunk even though we haven't seen it. We are tired of being lied to.
Is it bunk? You haven't seen the document but you know that it says its bunk? interesting. I haven't seen the document either, I don't know if its bunk or not, I can tell you for sure that I don't agree with the procedure. I think that if we are going to ban liquids it should be a total ban, period. Or lift the ban, period. My thoughts and I'm being honest.

Additionally I've read several times when Chance or Christopher said "that is not TSA policy" with regards to some complaint about a local TSO. Why don't the TSOs know TSA policy?
Local TSO's do know the policy but like any other business policies sometimes get stretched. Again, I don't believe in going outside policy, and I do my best to make sure I am within guidelines of our SOP. I speak for me and only me and I represent only me.

Finally it would take one of the blog team members to respond to me once in a while, instead of seeking easier targets.

First of all, our president said it himself "there are going to be things we don't tell you" Remember that news conference? I DO! What does it take?

"Things you can't tell us" include an active investigation of a plot. It does not include the list of prohibited items, the names of screeners, the fact that your secret 3-1-1 document says that there is no scientific basis for the 3-1-1 rule, the way for an innocent person to get off the extra screening no-fly list, etc. Try using some common sense in determing what can't be told to us.
The prohibited items list is clearly visible on www.tsa.gov

And let me ask you this Mr. Anonymous, HOW MANY PLANES HAVE GONE DOWN IN AMERICA SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001?

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. How many of those non-downed planes can be credited to the TSA stopping a terrorist plot? The fact that there are no news reports of such indicates the number is zero, because otherwise you would be touting your success in stopping such a plot. You would make that public, you would remove the secrecy, because you could use it as pro-TSA propaganda.
Fact remains no planes have dropped from the sky since TSA took over.

Here's a suggestion for ya, stop questioning the procedures, think OUTSIDE the box, and realize that there are going to be things that go on that you DON'T know about.

Don't think, obey. Don't question, obey. Don't dissent, obey.
Now you're getting cocky. I'm sayin think outside the box, the procedures may not make sense to you, hell some of them don't make sense to me at first either, but once I start following them I understand why I'm doing and I see the point. A security stand point is different then a lay person stand point. This will never change.

I hope I've answered some of your questions and I'm sorry if I seemed to have come off with an attitude early on.

March 7, 2008 11:55 AM

Robert Johnson said...

@TSO Joe: I'm sure thought like this keep the family, relatives, and friends of the 3000+ victims of the 9/11 attack comfortable at night.

And what about the other 300 MILLION people in this country? Do their rights not matter any more because something bad happened?

I didn't know that a small minority's rights trumped that of the people. Where have I seen that before? Feudalism, communism, fascism ... you know, things the US is AGAINST?

I'm sorry 9/11 happened, but this country is a lot bigger than those people who died on 9/11 and their families.

If I were a 9/11 victim, I'd be spinning in my grave with how my memory was being perverted to subvert freedom in this country. Dispicable, and you should be ashamed.

Quote: I'd like to see if our actions are preventing and deterring any terroists from using aiprplanes as targets. An interview with a captured terrorist said that he watched the color threat level, and if it went up to orange, he would stop doing whatever he was planning because he wasn't sure if it was his plans that were being detected. I alway felt the threat "stoplight" was kinds dumb. Especially the green, as we are never going to green, ever.

Did he say that before or after he was waterboarded?

Seriously, we've been on code orange forever now despite Chertoff and Kip stating that they don't have anything actionable. It's fear mongering, nothing more. Also, the color code is losing its efficacy anyway. You can only cry wolf for so long before people roll their eyes and ignore it.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Should I be afraid of terrorists or my government? To be honest, I'm more afraid of what my own government can/is doing rather than an obscure terrorist.

Quote: A fellow TSO back from a tour of duty in Iraq feels that once the US is done there, the terroists will come here to US home soil. Why travel halfway around the world to blow up US citizens, when you can go next door into Iraq and do it?

And that makes him automatically right, huh?

Iraq is our generation's Vietnam, without the draft. I think if terrorists really wanted to do something in this nation, they could do it now with little problem. They don't need to even get inside security. All they have to do is detonate a bomb in one of the huge landside lines TSA created "to keep us safe" and you'll have bodies flying everywhere.

TSA makes us less safe. You guys put on a good show though. It's sad and hilarious at the same time ... like a clown on fire.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Please pardon the long post, but I had to get a lot off my chest after reading the blog today.

>> There is a tremendous respect for our armed services. They are the most respected armed services in the world. However, TSA officers do not have the same respect by some passengers. TSA officers have a tough job and deserve respect. <<

That comment hit a bit of a nerve with me. TSO's may have a tough job, but as myself and others have pointed out on this blog respect has to be earned.

In my own service as a Navy officer, I could expect certain military courtesies (such as salutes and being addressed as "sir"). However, these were purely a function of my rank. I never held the illusion that anyone would respect me purely because of my rank, or that I should expect respect on that basis. I knew that I had to earn respect, because that's a function of the individual's character, as evidenced by that individual's behavior. No one ever had to tell me that treating my subordinates with contempt was a really bad idea.

In my corporate career, I have a tough job, too, as does my girlfriend. Lots of us do nowadays -- welcome to the club. We, too, have to "earn our wings every day", as the old airline commercial used to say. TSO's get tested every day to make sure they're catching prohibited items (doing their job, in other words). I deal with multi-million dollar projects and have responsibilities that I perform every day, all of which have to be done with timeliness and accuracy, and are subject to ongoing evaluation. My girlfriend can hold a person's life in her hands, because she works in a hospital blood bank. Transfuse a person with the wrong blood type, and they can die. Also, neither of us has the luxury of threatening our customers with arrest for "not cooperating".

Please bear the following in mind when comparing the military to the TSA. US Military personnel go through quite a bit of training to become what they are. For example, Marine Corps recruit training is 12 weeks long. Marine embassy guards go through an even more rigorous process after becoming Marines. Compare that to the training a TSO gets -- no comparison. If anyone expects me to be impressed by the TSA's training process and to automatically respect them on that basis, it's not going to happen.

In any case, I will treat a TSO civilly and courteously when I first encounter one, as I would anyone else. But they're on their own to earn my respect. Start treating me rudely, and I'll be civil, but nothing more -- and you can forget about "respect".

The behavior I see out of too many TSO's at the checkpoints reflects a weak character and simply doesn't command respect. The continual yelling, the threats, treating passengers like cattle (or worse) all adds up to behavior that will not inspire respect. Anyone in power who expects to be respected must first respect others.

Interestingly, if you look into what motivates bullies, you'll see a common theme "Because it makes me feel, stronger, smarter, or better than the person I'm bullying". (Here's the link for the quote - http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/index.asp?area=whydoi) The TSO's need to knock off the air of superiority -- the flying public sees right through it, as the posts on this blog illustrate.

Bullies are fundamentally cowards, whether they're some kid in a schoolyard, or a TSO who likes to throw their weight around. When I see any person in a position of power whose favorite motivational tool is fear, I see two things. (1) A person who lacks the knowledge or the willingness to accomplish what needs to happen any other way. (2) A person who is taking the "easy way out" to get others to do what they want. Neither of these scenarios should be acceptable to TSA leadership.

As the old saying goes, "if the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail." Too often, it seems the only tool the TSA knows how to use is fear.

In my experience, most people are fundamentally cooperative as long as you treat them with courtesy and reasonableness. As soon as you start with the stupid rules (such as the long-standing prohibition on nail clippers) and continue by treating people with contempt, that cooperation fades rapidly.

Basically, people start looking for a way to hit back, if only indirectly. For example, look at some of the posts on this blog.

I've said it before on this blog, and I'll say it again -- you can be authoritative without being an authoritarian bully. The TSA needs to train and evaluate its employees on people skills with the same level of attention as they do on detecting prohibited items.

On top of that, the TSA needs to look at the factors that make the screening process unpleasant and work to eliminate or mitigate these factors as much as possible. For example, if the TSO's feel they need to yell to be heard above the noise, find out why. How noisy is it really? Sound level meters are easy enough to find and easy to learn to use. How much of the noise is self inflicted -- such as multiple screeners shouting at the passengers? Is is really necessary (as one poster implied) to yell so you can be heard at the back of the line? What's wrong with working your way up and down the line, addressing just the people right in front of you?

Is it really necessary to have the PA blaring endlessly saying to "keep control of your luggage to prevent introduction of prohibited items", interleaved with announcements of the terror alert level de jour? (What difference does it make to me whether it's a yellow day or an orange day, anyway?) Can the noise be reduced with better acoustics in the screening area?

Summing up, the "alright maggots, listen up" mentality simply does not work with the American public. As long at the TSA harbors that mentality, we're both in for a rough ride.

Once again, sorry for the long post, but IMHO, this needed saying. ...

Anonymous said...

In response to peanut butter being a solid:

I would like to know your explanation of why it is so.

I usually spread peanut butter on my bread, now if it was solid how would I even begin spread it? Peanut butter has a viscocity similar to hair gel, maybe even a heavier conditioner. Do you get it? sinking in much?

The tabletop I had the bread on is solid. The plate is solid. the only way I see it being a solid, is if you had your "BRICK" of peanut butter taken away.

it comes from peanuts which is solid. then made into peanut butter... its not very "solid" anymore now is it?

Anonymous said...

"Might be a good idea to make sure that some of those manifestly dangerous items don't make it into the passenger compartment of the plane. But that would involve a simple metal detector. You find it, you say... uh, can't take that. You offer the person an opportunity to check it or send it via mail or fedex or whatever, and off you go."

I thought that's what we do now.

"Do I care if someone has a penknife or a small pair of scissors... not really... sure someone could get cut... ok... life is risky. If someone went haywire on the plane, in this post 9/11 world, does anyone really think that that individual or those individuals would stand a chance against a planeload of angry passengers?"

No, but the flight attendants have a say in this. They would be the first one to get stabbed in this "haywire" sernario. They were promised training on what to do in cases like this, but the airlines and DHS cannot agree on who pays for it. So they have not received this training. Now when the idea is floated to drop the small knife restrictions, the flight attendants (through their union, I think) oppose the idea. The rumor is that one of the 9/11 terrorist decapitated one of the flight attendants before that plane hit the towers.
TSO-Joe

Anonymous said...

Chance wrote:

Nobody is a terrorist until they commit, or at least seriously intend to commit, a terrorist act. That's pretty much common sense. We've had numerous requests on this blog to show "just one example" of a terrorist we've stopped. But how is this even possible?

I'm sorry, I can't believe that you actually wrote that.

How would you know if you caught a terrorist?

Well, how about catching someone with an actual bomb? How about catching someone with a gun or a (big) knife, interrogating them and finding out that they were part of a terrorist plot?

No, instead we get priests with razors in a Bible. Did the TSA just say "Oh, give me those razors and I'll walk you up to the gate. Oh, and let me carry those bags for you sir!"? No. I'm sure he was subject to quite a bit of interrogation, as he should have been since smuggling razors in a Bible sounds like it could be part of a terrorist plot. But, he wasn't a terrorist.

I don't think anyone here will deny that screening has a deterrent effect on terrorists. Keeping bombs off planes is a great idea - I would like to see more emphasis on the checked baggage and air cargo, though, since if I were a terrorist I would much rather blow up the plane without me being on it! Keeping guns off planes is a good idea and so is keeping off large knives.

Likewise, it is important to screen everyone. There was a case, in 1986 where a Syrian terrorist sent his pregnant girlfriend (he had started the relationship and impregnated her with the intent of using her as the means to get a bomb on a plane) off on a plane trip with a bomb, unknown to her, concealed in her baggage. It got past basic screening but El Al's security personnel thought something was suspicious and searched again, finding the bomb. This is the kind of thing that the TSA could point to as a win, as well, however the TSA as we know it would probably have spent their time hassling her about her baby formula and making her put her lipstick into a Baggie. And we would have wound up with an exploding plane and a bunch of dead people.

The liquids thing, keeping off small tools and small knives, is a distraction for everyone. The TSA is distracted trying to enforce the liquids ban - how many of the test bombs that get past screening get past because the screeners are busy taking someone's Pepsi away from them? Passengers don't know what they can't take because the rules don't make sense. We all know that our water, lipstick, fingernail clippers and Leatherman tools are not a threat to anyone. That's why we forget to take them out of our bags and that's why so much time is wasted on them.

When someone with a gun is caught at a checkpoint you don't hear people talking about how draconian the search was. You hear people saying "What an idiot - why would you think you could take a gun on the plane." When someone is caught with a bottle of water or baby formula, you hear people saying the rules are out of control because they are.

The TSA needs to do a risk evaluation, stop looking for nonsense and start focusing on real threats. Looking for knives, guns and bombs instead of make believe threats will make screeners more effective. Realize that 99.999999% of passengers are not terrorists and start treating them that way. The odds of a TSO ever meeting a terrorist in their career are infinitesimal. You need to be alert, you need to be firm in applying the rules but you need to be respectful and sympathetic.

When someone pleads with a frontline screener that their medical equipment can't be opened (ala a recent case cited above) the screener shouldn't just let it go through or rip it open if they don't understand the rules, but they should be helpful and willing to buck it up the line to someone who knows what they're doing.

We'd all give the TSA a pass if the rules being enforced were sensible and TSOs treated passengers respectfully and sympathetically. We'd applaud the TSA if you were catching terrorists with guns that can be assembled out of fingernail clippers or liquid bombs. Instead the public sees you as a bunch of bumbling clowns intent on enforcing petty, nonsensical rules.

Oh, and above a TSO posted something about how the only people who help the mother with her kids are TSO's. Well, the reason for this is that everyone is afraid that if they go over to someone else or step out of line that you'll think they're terrorists and search all of their bags six times or threaten to keep them off the flight.

Sensible rules and reasonable TSO's will lead to respect for the TSA. It's that simple. And if you get to that point whether you're actually catching terrorists or just deterring them by the screening will be a moot point.

winstonsmith said...

Oh Dear Dear TSO-Joe

"I'd personally rather face 1000 terrorists and die fighting like an American than to surrender even one of the liberties my grandfather fought for in WWII and his father and grandfather fought for before that to an ever more overreaching federal government that seems determined to turn the once proud USA into a nothing better than a corporatist police state."

I'm sure thought like this keep the family, relatives, and friends of the 3000+ victims of the 9/11 attack comfortable at night.

Joe, when you can find me one, just one, that's all I ask, family member of someone who lost someone on that tragic day in 2001 who actually believes that the magical mystery security theater you put us through at the airport and absent the reinforcement of the cockpit doors (which actually would have done something) would actually have saved anyone that day given TSA's abysmal track record of actually capturing things at the checkpoints, and, given complete disclosure of these facts, would be willing to put their faith and trust in the TSA publicly, then I'll take that statement seriously. Otherwise, absent such validation, I'm going to take it for what it is, a pile of putrid TSA propaganda that is meant to keep the gullible cowed and silent.

As to the other points you make on your reply about the color threat level, and the anonymous "terrorist" who was concerned about things when the threat level got raised, I have to wonder. This guy could have been no more brilliant than the guy who tried to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. Former Director of DHS, Tom Ridge, has publicly admitted that the White House directed him to manipulate the threat level for political purposes (forgive the lack of a citation but I will research and provide if needed). Again, not exactly a ringing endorsement of your point.

And finally, as for your fellow TSO who has served in Iraq, first, to your camarade, thank you for your service to your country; however, with all due respect to your opinion, there is NOTHING that would stop an actual terrorist who was truly determined to make it over here from doing harm on US soil. The "they'll follow us home" argument is a strawman put out there by the government for the gullible to make them buy into the war. If they truly hated us for our freedom as we are told that we would see a great deal more in the way of aggressiveness?

Joe, your arguments don't convince. I'm not drinking the kool-aid.

Anonymous said...

In response to peanut butter being a solid:

I would like to know your explanation of why it is so.

I usually spread peanut butter on my bread, now if it was solid how would I even begin spread it? Peanut butter has a viscocity similar to hair gel, maybe even a heavier conditioner. Do you get it? sinking in much?

The tabletop I had the bread on is solid. The plate is solid. the only way I see it being a solid, is if you had your "BRICK" of peanut butter taken away.

it comes from peanuts which is solid. then made into peanut butter... its not very "solid" anymore now is it?


Wow, hair jell with the consistency of peanut butter? That would be some painful stuff to put in your hair.

Copper is a solid isn't it? I can spread copper with a table knife on the table. Does that make it a liquid?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and above a TSO posted something about how the only people who help the mother with her kids are TSO's. Well, the reason for this is that everyone is afraid that if they go over to someone else or step out of line that you'll think they're terrorists and search all of their bags six times or threaten to keep them off the flight.

I avoid children of strangers like the plague. Given the "sue at the drop of a hat" nature of people today. I also avoid touching either them or their belongings for much the same reason. I still manage to hold open doors for others when their hands are full.

Anon, you are correct in your assessment that all it would take is for a person standing in line to innocently help someone who was flagged for reason for the innocent person to get dragged into a situation that would have them dealing with intense unpleasantness.

winstonsmith said...

TSO-Joe... are you for real????

"The rumor is that one of the 9/11 terrorist decapitated one of the flight attendants before that plane hit the towers."

With a boxcutter? Huh? Let's not get gory here, but in a tense and pressure filled situation such as that, I can't picture one of the terrorists taking the considerable time it would take to accomplish such a completely pointless thing (although I will stipulate to the possibility that a FA may have been attacked). You're reaching my friend. You need to learn to start questioning your sources.

Sandra said...

TSO Joe said:

"I'm sure thought like this keep the family, relatives, and friends of the 3000+ victims of the 9/11 attack comfortable at night."

How dare you presume to speak for these people? You don't have a clue as to what they think or how they feel.

Vernonsmith said:

"Joe, your arguments don't convince. I'm not drinking the kool-aid."

Two thumbs up to that statement. Where some of the people on this blog get some of the things they post is beyond me.

Anonymous said something to the effect that comments that do not violate the Comment Policy are not being posted.

I can vouch for that!

รงeviri said...

nice log..

Chance said...

How would you know if you caught a terrorist?

Well, how about catching someone with an actual bomb? How about catching someone with a gun or a (big) knife, interrogating them and finding out that they were part of a terrorist plot?


And yet when we give you numerous examples of weapons and dangerous/suspicious items being found, you dismiss them as not "really" being examples at all. And to your other point, laws vary from state to state, so a weapon found in one airport may be a serious offense, while in another the offense is considered much less serious. If an in-depth interrogation and investigation were done for every single one of these violations, the strain on law enforcement resources would reach the breaking point.

Chance - EoS Blog Team

Chance said...

Anonymous said something to the effect that comments that do not violate the Comment Policy are not being posted.

I can vouch for that!


Sandra, as has been stated here many times, there is often a delay in posting comments, which can vary depending on many factors. If your comment was in fact deleted rather than delayed, it either violated the policy, or (possibly) was deleted in error. In our team discussions we have repeatedly been instructed to err on the side of posting comments rather than deleting them. Please ensure that your comments were in fact not in violation, and repost them if you still feel they were deleted in error.

Chance - Eos Blog Team

Chance said...

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. How many of those non-downed planes can be credited to the TSA stopping a terrorist plot? The fact that there are no news reports of such indicates the number is zero, because otherwise you would be touting your success in stopping such a plot. You would make that public, you would remove the secrecy, because you could use it as pro-TSA propaganda.
Fact remains no planes have dropped from the sky since TSA took over.


You are correct about the logical fallacy of course, but I especially like the way you pro actively spin any possible success stories by TSA in a negative light ("pro-TSA propaganda). Darned if we do, darn if we don't. Oh well.

Chance EoS Blog Team.

Anonymous said...

"The rumor is that one of the 9/11 terrorist decapitated one of the flight attendants before that plane hit the towers."

Thanks, for the rumor. Thanks, for the fear mongering. Thanks, for spreading terror.

Thanks for helping the terrorists in their mission.

Chance said...

@ Anonymous the former Navy Officer:

First, thank you for your service, and I think most everyone would agree with your points that respect must be earned rather than given. Verbally abusive TSA personnel should definitely be reported to the local TSA Federal Security Director.

And while this may be of only minor relevance, I would like to point out that a good number of the people I work with in my office, and a large number of of TSOs are retired or otherwise honorably discharged military veterans, so many of our people have had both types training and experience.

Chance - EoS Blog Team

Chance said...

Now, since it's Saturday, I'm going out. I'll try and review comments again, but in case I don't have the opportunity, y'all have a good weekend.

Chance EoS Blog team.

TSO NY said...

Someone stated on 3/5 on this blog that TSA should stop focusing on harmless liquids and use the ETD and puffers more. I agree to an extent. I think TSA should either ban all liquids except baby liquids and meds or test everything that comes through (even crew). It makes more sense.

I think all airports should be mandated to have puffers, they are safer than just a WTMD. But to have a machine that's an x-ray, puffer and metal detector all in one is even better, hopefully they are working on it. It would cover all bases when to comes to people hiding things on thier person.

I enforce the liquids ban on a daily bases and I have found so many holes in the system is scary, and I agree it's not working. The rules aren't going to change anytime soon, so in the meantime it doesn't matter if you agree with or understand the rules, just follow them. It is quite simple.Nothing over 3.4 ounces and it all must fit in 1- 1 quart size baggie. Unless baby liquids (of limited amounts) or medication (with a prescription). Take the baggie out of your carry-on and place it in a bin. Easy. Just do it and your stuff won't get taken away and your bag won't have to be searched. Many people do this without problem, I don't understand why it is still such a problem for so many. I don't understand how people can still claim they have no idea about the liquids ban when they pasted 7 signs in the line explaining it to them. I don't understand people who think toothpaste and yogurt aren't liquids. The ban is on all liqids, gels, creams, pastes, lotions, beverages and sprays. If you can squeeze, spread, drip or drink it, it's a liquid. A lot of time could be saved if people would co-operate with us.

Now for how stupid it is, you're completely right. But TSA I think tries too hard to appease the passengers and not focused enough on security. If we really wanted to catch everything, we'd do full body pat downs and full bag checks and ETD's on every bag and every person that wanted to get on a plane.If we did that, you'd be on line for half a day. In reality that's the only way to catch everything, everytime. But TSA wants to please passengers, so we forego a lot of security to make lines shorter and to make people less angry. Yet, lines are still horrible and people are still angry, so why not just go the distance and do security the right way.

Let people have their shampoo, but test it. Let people keep thier shoes on, but test them. Let the lines get 10 miles long, let people complain about thier rights being violated. I'm tired on people saying how much TSA misses IED's and gun and knives in testing. And how it's only show and no safer. You can't loosen up and make security better. If we're going to bother people with the incoinvence of security, let's make it worth it.

I believe in customer service, but I also believe in security. As a TSO, I've seen many officers get angry, upset and abusive towards passengers, that I won't tolerate. If a TSO ever threatens you or yells at you in a rude and unnessesary matter, report him/her. Passenger abuse needs to stop! I recently reported a fellow TSO for such behavior and now...well, I'm not well liked anymore. But no one has a right to treat you like an animal.

Anyone, my point is, passengers aren't going to get safe flights without security (which most want) and security can't be done well without upsetting many passengers (which TSA wants). You can't make everyone happy, but I'm glad this blog is here, at least we can continue to talk about it and try to work out the problems.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I've found won't get posted:

Talk about the next attack in relationship to air travel.

FYI I am outside of the IC, currently possess no security clearance and the comment goes to the bit bucket.

TSA types may have limitations on what they can say due to security concerns. but the public can analyze away.

winstonsmith said...

Ah, Chance... you tell us:

"And yet when we give you numerous examples of weapons and dangerous/suspicious items being found, you dismiss them as not 'really' being examples at all."

You see, the problem here is that yes, you give us myriad examples of "suspicious" items being found (water, baby food, breast milk, wheelchairs, ipods, laptops, nail clippers, hair gel, perfume, and egad shaving cream that wasn't in a 1 quart baggie that was carried outside my carry-on!) and you sensationalize the odd nutball who does try to bring something dangerous through security (the priest with the razor blades in the bible comes to mind). What you have yet to do is to show that any of this has done anything to protect any of us from anyone.

Did that priest actually intend to do anyone on the plane any harm? Did he even know that the blades were in the Bible? I'm not suggesting that it is not right to question why one might have some kind of a cutting device hidden in a book, but there is no proof of intent there. Were those razor blades intended to hijack his plane to the Vatican? The existence of a thing is not proof of intent. Give me a break Chance.

You make these sensational claims Chance to say what a fantastic job you're doing but your own auditors show your agency fails in its mission as often as it succeeds. If I had such a track record at my job, I'd be collecting unemployment.

And then Chance, you continue:

"And to your other point, laws vary from state to state, so a weapon found in one airport may be a serious offense, while in another the offense is considered much less serious."

Chance, let me guess, you did go to high school, right? You did take Civics, right? You do realize that we live in a federal republic made up of 50 states, each of which has its own laws and regulations, right? If you have trouble grasping that and working within those parameters, then you have little business working for the government. If a uniform standard is necessary, then a uniform federal standard is needed that can be applied even-handedly across the country. This is not a difficult concept. Even the TSA should be able to get this (does Intelligence really drive what the TSA does????)

And finally, you say..

"If an in-depth interrogation and investigation were done for every single one of these violations, the strain on law enforcement resources would reach the breaking point."

To me this sounds like so much whining. Since I've yet to hear that your agency has actually caught a terrorist, I'm kind of scratching my head trying to figure out how you're being overworked investigating all these terrorist plots. Are you saying that you don't have the resources to question someone who is carrying an actual loaded gun through a checkpoint? Kind of pathetic if you ask me. You certainly seem to have the resources to shake down the innocent and treat people as if they are criminals simply because they need to go somewhere.

Chance, I'm snarky and cynical about the role that TSA plays not because I don't believe in security -- it's a necessary evil, but because I have yet to see that what you do is in any way effective. When I see TSA turn its focus to the actual prevention of the introduction of MANIFESTLY and IMMEDIATELY dangerous items (i.e. guns, big knives, billy clubs, poison gas canisters, etc.) into the passenger compartments of planes and away from the theoretically possible but excruciatingly improbable (liquid bombs assembled in an airport bathroom -- get real) I might start to accord you some of the respect you think you deserve. Until that happens however, I'll treat you and everyone at TSA with whom I come in contact civilly, but with the same cold contempt that I would have for a petulant 9 year old on a power trip.

Anonymous said...

Anyone, my point is, passengers aren't going to get safe flights without security (which most want) and security can't be done well without upsetting many passengers (which TSA wants).

Huh? Security = Upset travelers?

You already do that quite well (upsetting travelers). Now about that little issue of your job description called security.

We the traveling public want:

Treat us like humans
Respect our property and persons
Be consistent in what is allowed and what is disallowed from airport to airport.
Shut down the endless droning of the PA system, especially on the concourse.
Act professional. Go on break then at least eat and drink outside the screening area.
Knock off the horseplay

Anonymous said...

"Darned if we do, darn if we don't. Oh well.

Chance EoS Blog Team.

March 8, 2008 10:24 AM"

We've been tiptoeing around another elephant as well, General Aviation seems to be just as safe as commercial airports. So 2500 airports with entirely different security, equally safe. The present administration leaves their major donors with a way of traveling without interaction with TSA.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 11:16 AM said:

Treat us like humans
Respect our property and persons
Be consistent in what is allowed and what is disallowed from airport to airport.
Shut down the endless droning of the PA system, especially on the concourse.
Act professional. Go on break then at least eat and drink outside the screening area.
Knock off the horseplay


AMEN!

Anonymous said...

GOLF BALL STEALERS

I recently flew to Dom Rep on a business/pleasure trip. I brought my golf clubs as they were closing a private course down so we could play. I am hooked on the Srixon golf ball and brought 26 of them. The day we went to play I opened the pocket where I keep my golf balls and found a TSA tag saying my bag was searched and 3 balls remaining. Somehow I don't see this as a threat to national security and I am pissed they took my golf balls.

Anonymous said...

If you can squeeze, spread, drip or drink it, it's a liquid. A lot of time could be saved if people would co-operate with us.

Hmm, how much force are you talking about to spread something? If you're talking about only hand forming then copper, lead, silver, gold, etc. are all disallowed as liquids because you can spread them by hand.

You can't squeeze, drip, or spread ice, but you won't let it through, will you?

This is a prime example of why the traveling public has issues with TSA inspectors.

Lip balm - solid or liquid? Well, it behaves like a solid, but if you apply enough force to it then it smears (lead does that with moderate force in that you can write with a chunk of lead).
Peanut butter - varying viscosities from nearly liquid to a solid. The stuff I eat won't flow. The stuff you eat may easily squirt out of a toothpaste tube (see astronauts). Easier to ban it all than to make a judgment call.

TSO NY, we, the traveling public, aren't, for the most part, a bunch of uneducated, just fell off of the turnip truck, hicks. I detect from you a rather confrontational/contempt for the traveling public at large. Could be just a NY thing, but it could be a personal thing.

winstonsmith said...

"We've been tiptoeing around another elephant as well, General Aviation seems to be just as safe as commercial airports. So 2500 airports with entirely different security, equally safe. The present administration leaves their major donors with a way of traveling without interaction with TSA.

March 8, 2008 11:21 AM"

Great point Mr. Anonymous. Would any of our illustrious TSA "Intelligensia" care to comment on this?

Anonymous said...

Since you like to have posted signs and announcements at every security point, how about signs and announcements explaining passenger's rights, and how and who to lodge a comment, compliment, or complaint with if a traveler feels that they have been well treated or mistreated? You know, posters at every checkpoint with:

"Please ask for Supervisor X or Y if you have any comments, suggestions, or issues during our security check. Our job is to make your travel as safe as possible, please do your part."

Sort of a posted passenger's "Bill of Rights" that everyone can see and hear.ication

Anonymous said...

TSO NY said: " I enforce the liquids ban on a daily bases and I have found so many holes in the system is scary, and I agree it's not working. The rules aren't going to change anytime soon, so in the meantime it doesn't matter if you agree with or understand the rules, just follow them. It is quite simple.Nothing over 3.4 ounces and it all must fit in 1- 1 quart size baggie. Unless baby liquids (of limited amounts) or medication (with a prescription).



Well TSO NY looks like your another TSA person who is not fully familar with your TSA guidelines.

Her is what it says on the TSA.GOV website about medications:

"Additionally, we are continuing to permit prescription liquid medications and other liquids needed by persons with disabilities and medical conditions. This includes:

All prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including KY jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes;
Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;


See the mention of over-the-counter medicines (liquids, gels and aerosols? So if I didn't have a perscription for an over-the-counter liquid medical item you would confiscate it. That would be directly against TSA policy. Perhaps you need a few more hours of training.

Vernon W said...

winstonsmith said:

"Do you really think that posting a few snippets of failed terrorist plots, many of which never even got off the ground, several of which didn't even take place in the US, that come off of an obscure section of a right-wing think-tank are in any way convincing evidence that the wholesale violation of the rights of the American traveling public by an inept, inefficient, and ineffective bureaucracy such as the TSA is in any way reasonable?!?"

Please let me guess. You are a far left wing liberal. I am shocked.

Anonymous said...

"GOLF BALL STEALERS

I recently flew to Dom Rep on a business/pleasure trip. I brought my golf clubs as they were closing a private course down so we could play. I am hooked on the Srixon golf ball and brought 26 of them. The day we went to play I opened the pocket where I keep my golf balls and found a TSA tag saying my bag was searched and 3 balls remaining. Somehow I don't see this as a threat to national security and I am pissed they took my golf balls.

March 8, 2008 11:48 AM"

TSA: Culprit or Scapegoat?

How about resealing the bags with randomly color coded plastic (wire) ties with a matching tag section on the paper tag. Maybe even an RFID embedded in the tie to scan....

Anonymous said...

winstonsmith said:

Great point Mr. Anonymous. Would any of our illustrious TSA "Intelligensia" care to comment on this?

March 8, 2008 12:35 PM

Well you have to remember how young TSA is. 5 years old. Barely out of training pants. You really don't want to visualize a BDO annoying Mr. Buffett or Mr. Gates, DO you. They might face a funding cut.

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

Vernon W.,

I am anonymous that wrote, "As a member of the IC with several different organizations during my career,"...blah blah...

I don't think it sounds angry and I am at a complete loss for how it would lead you to believe I ever applied to the TSA. I started my Intel career in active military and I currently work for a federal law enforcement organization much more respected than the TSA, and have always been relatively happy and well paid (GS level-wise) for it. I’m simply making an observation from my knowledge of the IC and TSA’s participation, or lack thereof, in it. Trust me, for many many reasons other than whether or not they are a member of the IC, I would be embarrassed to be TSA employee. My deeply held disagreement with the way TSA operates has nothing to do with my status as a federal employee or working in Intel…it comes from being an American. Either you work for the TSA or are some inexplicable TSA groupie, but you're not doing a very good job of defending the organization with the nonsense you spout.

TSO NY said...

To anonymous above (11:50am), I have no contempt for the public. I'm more on the public's side most of the time. But when the public refuses to comply with very simple rules and ends up making the screening process harder on themselves and other passengers by holding up lines, I get frustrated. To answer your questions… Lip bam, goes the same route as deodorant, if it's a stick it's a solid, if it's liquid, well... Peanut butter is not allowed. It's in the same category as creams. And ice does drip as it melts. Ice is water, water is not allowed. Frozen liquids are not allowed. If in doubt don't bring it or pack it in your checked baggage. But you're right; it is easy to just ban it all. But passengers complained when all liquids were banned and so TSA came up with this fabulous rule. Like I said before, you can’t make everyone happy. I don’t think the public in general is uneducated or stupid, but very misinformed and confused about many things about TSA. The public seems to want to know what, when, who, why, where and how, and sometimes it’s not always possible to explain it when there is a hundred people on line or even at all. However, I do believe TSA is trying to explain what they can about what we do, I believe that's why this blog was created. But there are still people who will believe that no matter what TSA says or does nothing will ever be right.

winstonsmith said...

Vernon... I was waiting for someone to drop the "L" word on me...

Please let me guess. You are a far left wing liberal. I am shocked.

March 8, 2008 3:23 PM

and how am I shocked, shocked I tell you that it came from you?

Fact is good Sir, that my political leanings are not at issue here. I am an American who loves and respects this country, the Constitution, and would die to protect both. What I will not abide, however, is to see my rights eroded by power grabbing rightist and corporatist thugs who are interested in nothing more than advancing an agenda that is inimical to the very founding principles of this country.

However, if you care to characterize someone who cares about the rule of law, the rights granted to all of us under the Constitution, the gradual erosion of privacy and personal freedom in this country, and the ever growing menace of police state tactics on the part of agencies such as the TSA as a liberal, then I'll be pleased to take the label and wear it with pride. (With thanks and apologies to John F. Kennedy for the paraphrase)

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the Children's Crusade. Send off the street children and poor to the Middle East to do OUR dirty work. Kill the infidels, rid the world of ------- people. Get it?
Who pays the tab?

Anonymous said...

"winstonsmith said...

"We've been tiptoeing around another elephant as well, General Aviation seems to be just as safe as commercial airports. So 2500 airports with entirely different security, equally safe. The present administration leaves their major donors with a way of traveling without interaction with TSA.

March 8, 2008 11:21 AM"

Great point Mr. Anonymous. Would any of our illustrious TSA "Intelligensia" care to comment on this?

March 8, 2008 12:35 PM"

winstonsmith said...

"We've been tiptoeing around another elephant as well, General Aviation seems to be just as safe as commercial airports. So 2500 airports with entirely different security, equally safe. The present administration leaves their major donors with a way of traveling without interaction with TSA.

March 8, 2008 11:21 AM"

Great point Mr. Anonymous. Would any of our illustrious TSA "Intelligensia" care to comment on this?

March 8, 2008 12:35 PM

Nope... NEVER!

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

@tso ny

"Frozen liquids are not allowed."

Wow. I mean, simply wow. Do you have ANY idea what the WORDS you are saying mean? I recognize that you have made no claims of being a trained chemist or physicist, but I assume that to be hired as a TSO you have to have a high school diploma which should require middle-school level science. Any solid is a "frozen" liquid. Any liquid is a "melted" solid. Some materials at room temperature in normal pressure environments will choose one or the other state of matter, but are easily convinced to switch with the addition of heat (think melted steel) or frozen (add dry ice to strawberry jelly)

Marshall said...

Over in the thread about what the TSA does when they find something illegal, there's an interesting post towards to bottom by Sandra regarding Kip Hawley.

You might want to go over there and read it as it's quite enlightening.

Anonymous said...

Hello TSO NY -- RE your comment

"But when the public refuses to comply with very simple rules.... Lip balm, goes the same route as deodorant, if it's a stick it's a solid, if it's liquid, well... Peanut butter is not allowed. It's in the same category as creams. And ice does drip as it melts. Ice is water, water is not allowed."

I'm going to ask that you set your TSA training and knowledge aside for a moment and look at the screening process from the point of view of the flying public and to think in terms of only the information available to the traveling public. Also, let me start by saying I'm not trying to get personal or a TSA basher here, I'm trying to point out how the process needs to be improved.

The TSA web site uses the phrase "liquids, gels and aerosols" a lot, as do the screeners. As a business and technology consultant by trade, one thing I do is crafting "operational definitions" -- explanation of what you're looking for that's detailed enough for the target audience to draw the desired conclusions.

I don't see any definition of "liquids, gels and aerosols" on the TSA web site, leaving these terms to individual interpretation. (I'm also proficient at navigating web sites. We have a saying in my line of work, "if the user can't find the information, then it's not there".)

Interestingly, I see phrases in your posts that suggest that you have some sort of guidelines in mind that are not communicated on the web site, such as "If you can squeeze, spread, drip or drink it it's a liquid" , as well as using the word "creams", which I do not see mentioned on the web site.

Here's a hypothetical question -- is a Hershey bar a solid? It will melt if you hold it in your hand for a few minutes and start to drip. Does that dripping make it a liquid? How about M&M's? They "melt in your mouth, not in your hand", but still melt. (I'm not trying to split hairs here, but I am trying to point out how the rules need clarity. Otherwise, varying interpretations create the impression of bureaucratic hair splitting.)

Here's a few examples from personal experience with the supposedly simple rules:

-- If lip balm in stick form is a solid, I would think that a traditional lipstick would also be a solid. However, the screeners in Flint MI consider it a gel and start yelling.

-- In Pensacola FL, lipstick is considered a solid, but mascara is considered a gel. (Cue the yelling.) The same screener that made such a fuss over my girlfriend's mascara missed the 1 oz tube of sunscreen in my bag that I overlooked when loading my ziploc.

As I've read through through this blog and various news reports, I've also noticed the following:

-- Screener insists that the bottles in the ziploc have to bear factory labels. Generic bottles from the drug store aren't kosher. (As if I couldn't take a Pert plus bottle, wash it out and load it with something else. Factory labels mean nothing.)

-- Screener will not allow a quart bag from a commercial travel kit due to its zipper top, because it's not a "ziploc". The TSA web site specifies a "quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag". The design of the zip-top is not specified. I guess this means a bag with a velcro closure is out. What's the critical point here? That the bag has a specific type of closure, or that the bag be capable of closing securely? (i.e., the "no sandwich bag" rule.)

-- Screeners arbitrarily limiting quantities of medical items, such as contact lens solution, that are supposed to be exempt from the 3-1-1 rule, as long as the passenger declares them first. What training do screeners have as to what is a reasonable amount of any medical material? What guidelines to they apply? An amount of medicine or specialized nutrients that would be ample for a weekend could be hopelessly inadequate for a week. Why is the TSA even trying to make this judgment call?

Couple these sorts of problems with rule interpretations with the attitudes of too many screeners, and that's why there's so much acrimony over 3-1-1. I could handle a reasonable amount of inconsistencies and gray areas in the rules, as long as the people enforcing the rules were civil about it.

Look at the number of posts on this blog that contain phrases such as "yelling", "shouting", "barking orders", "bullying", and "intimidation". I expect the TSA's personnel to treat me the same way the TSA expects me to treat their personnel, but I've had to many experiences where the yelling begins the moment I approach the checkpoint. Please don't ask me to believe that I could walk up to the checkpoint, not say a word without yelling, and this be tolerated.

Now, add this to the mix -- the TSA's history of nonsensical rules, such as the prior prohibition on nail clippers and eyeglass repair kits (my pet peeve). Also add the "no fly" list that is based purely on a list of names without other identifying information, resulting in children and active duty military military receiving the third degree, along with Senator Ted Kennedy.

When you mix an ambiguous set of rules, varying interpretations of the rules, implementers of the rules with an attitude, and a reputation of lacking common sense, you've got a perfect storm of epic proportions. Ineptitude and arrogance are never a good mixture, and, unfortunately, that's what the TSA has a reputation for.

Bear in mind the recent study of satisfactions with government agencies that ranked the TSA in a tie with the IRS -- tied for second to the last. Only FEMA scored worse.

This is what I think needs to happen:

-- The TSA needs to hire some outsiders to help with crafting operational definitions that lay people can understand, then publicize them. Bear in mind that not everyone has web access or knows how to use it.

-- Whatever guidelines the TSA provides to its own people need to be provided to the flying public. Let's get everyone on the same page.

-- Instead of blaming the passengers for the screening problems, look at how the process can be improved. We have another saying in my field that 85% of the problems found in any process are inherent in the process itself.

-- Bring a new era of civility to the checkpoint process. I don't care if the screener feels the last person they screener dealt with was a doofus, I expect to be treated with civility. If you somehow think I didn't follow the rules on 3-1-1, explain what I need to do in a calm, measured manner -- no yelling.

-- Assume that 99% of the public wants to play by the rules, they just may need help getting there. Quit assuming that everyone walking up to a checkpoint is a criminal or worse.

-- Finally, the TSA needs to publicly acknowledge that they've gotten off on the wrong foot, and detail the actions that they're taking to make things better. The TSA needs to publicize its "contract with the public", detailing what we can expect from the TSA, and then put accountability measures in place to make sure it happens.

Then, the "simple" rules might feel more "simple", and the public might have an easier time getting with the program. In the end, all our lives would be easier.

JMHO...

TSO NY said...

To anonymous above 3/8 3:22pm, If it's obviously for a medical need it goes. Cold meds, contact solution, juice for diabetics, shakes for people on special meal plans and such are allowed, but I was talking about those passengers who come to me with 16 oz bottles of lotion and say their doctor says they need it for dry skin. That may be true, but without a prescription it doesn't go. It's all well to know the rules, but when you're on the checkpoint sometimes the rules get "changed" to suit the situation.

For example: those 3oz plastic bottles you can buy at the store for air travel. TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go. But you'll find that many TSO's will let them go anyway and many won't. We know they are 3 oz, but each TSO and his/her supervisor must decided how strick they want to be with the rules. I let them go. Same thing goes for liquids 3.5 or 3.75 oz. Many times we'll let them go and just explain the limit to the passenger. I am fully aware of the rules, but some rules can be broken.

Anonymous said...

Hey TSO ny -- RE "For example: those 3oz plastic bottles you can buy at the store for air travel. TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."

Please post a link to the labeling requirement. I sure don't see it anywhere at http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm

All I see is "3 ounce bottle or less (by volume)"

Anonymous said...

TSO NY said the following;

"that may be true, but without a prescription it doesn't go."

"It's all well to know the rules, but when you're on the checkpoint sometimes the rules get "changed" to suit the situation."

"TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."

TSO NY, I suspect your a good guy but I have major issues with your statements. For one, on the TSA.gov website in the information for travelers it just does not say what you posted.

Medical items, prescription and over the counter. Must be declared but no prescription is required. Why do you think they call it over-the-counter?

Two, your going to change the guidelines at the checkpoint? By what authority? Does your personal authority exceed that of your agency?

And finally, how about a reference that says a bottle has to be labled?

I think your making up rules as you go and that is one of the big issues the traveling public has with TSA in general and TSO's in particular. The standards are on the TSA website, why don't you take a minute to read them.

Anonymous said...

to tso ny -

you said that contact solution is allowed - how come if i bring the smallest bottle i can buy (which is 4oz) they toss it out? it's pretty obvious that if i'm wearing glasses, bringing a contact case with spare contacts i might need the contact solution?

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

@tso ny

"Frozen liquids are not allowed."

Wow. I mean, simply wow. Do you have ANY idea what the WORDS you are saying mean? I recognize that you have made no claims of being a trained chemist or physicist, but I assume that to be hired as a TSO you have to have a high school diploma which should require middle-school level science. Any solid is a "frozen" liquid. Any liquid is a "melted" solid. Some materials at room temperature in normal pressure environments will choose one or the other state of matter, but are easily convinced to switch with the addition of heat (think melted steel) or frozen (add dry ice to strawberry jelly)


Before you start busting someone for their lack of education you might want to consider the lowly piece of wood. As you see it would fall under your definition of "any solid", but I doubt you can turn it into liquid. Or take dry ice, it goes straight from a solid to a gas, skipping over the liquid phase.

Reading tso ny's post I can see that by "frozen liquid" he is referring to to things that would be liquid at room temperature.

So, no you can't sneak two liters of water past security because it is frozen.

The TSA has enough real problems to work on without having to deal with you trying to play smart.

Jim Huggins said...

TSO NY: this is precisely one of the problems. If the rule says "it's not allowed", but some TSOs allow it and some don't, TSA creates confusion in the mind of the traveling public.

What's worse, you end up with chaos in mid-trip. If the TSO at my home airport lets something through, but the TSO at my destination airport doesn't, I end up losing the item without much recourse.

Anonymous said...

And yet when we give you numerous examples of weapons and dangerous/suspicious items being found, you dismiss them as not "really" being examples at all. And to your other point, laws vary from state to state, so a weapon found in one airport may be a serious offense, while in another the offense is considered much less serious. If an in-depth interrogation and investigation were done for every single one of these violations, the strain on law enforcement resources would reach the breaking point.

Chance as a fellow TSO, I take acception to the State to State part of your comment. While State laws do vary, Federal laws have jurisdiction where weapons are concerned at airports. I have found that it is discretion by the local LEO as to whether to arrest the person or not. Sometimes we get the silliest excuses and the cops buy into it. Example: "I forgot my gun was in my bag" Yes this has happened, and yes that guy was arrested anyway. We've found full boxes of bullets and the person was not arrested by law enforcement. This demeans what we do, and makes us think, WTF?! On the other hand we've had military personel come back from being deployed and have found rifle magazines (clips) in their bags, scopes, etc. These guys truly were not intending to harm anyone and were permitted to put the items in checked baggage after a LEO was called and a report taken. Its a case by case basis, but Federal law has jurisdiction.

TSE-TSE flyer said...

TSA TSO NY: "For example: those 3oz plastic bottles you can buy at the store for air travel. TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."

Where does TSA state this? The best I could find contradicts you: TSA Prohibited Items leads to this which says: "We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to assist with the screening process."

When you TSA folks say things like this, people think you just make shtuff up.

As far as I can tell, TSO screeners are making up the unlabeled liquids, aerosols, and gels (and creams, pastes, ices, solids, gases, plasmas) confiscation rule in order to make their jobs easier.

Can you point me to anything official that tells me if I can take my squishy banana, even if I cut it into three ounce chunks (only one of which would say "Chiquita Banana") before I put it in my quart bag? If TSA can't, TSA is not doing a good job making simple and clear rules.

I don't think TSA gets the small stuff right, so I really can't trust them on the big stuff.

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous March 7, 2008 11:55 AM
Is it bunk? You haven't seen the document but you know that it says its bunk? interesting. I haven't seen the document either, I don't know if its bunk or not, I can tell you for sure that I don't agree with the procedure. I think that if we are going to ban liquids it should be a total ban, period. Or lift the ban, period. My thoughts and I'm being honest.

The reason I know it is bunk is because of Chemistry and Physics which say you can barely make binary liquid explosives in a laboratory with proper equipment and perfect conditions, and you cannot do it on a plane at all.

You don't need to see the classified document to know that the rules is bunk, because government edict cannot change a law of science. Some things are truly outside the scope of the TSA.

sayin think outside the box, the procedures may not make sense to you, hell some of them don't make sense to me at first either, but once I start following them I understand why I'm doing and I see the point. A security stand point is different then a lay person stand point. This will never change.

I've never seen the point in following STUPID rules, rules that don't make sense, rules that are counter-productive to the end goal.

I hope I've answered some of your questions and I'm sorry if I seemed to have come off with an attitude early on.

Try finding a way to differentiate the quote and the response.


Chance March 8, 2008, 10:24 AM
You are correct about the logical fallacy of course, but I especially like the way you pro actively spin any possible success stories by TSA in a negative light ("pro-TSA propaganda). Darned if we do, darn if we don't. Oh well.

Propaganda isn't necessarily false. It can be true. You can use the truth to persuade people that you are right. The point is that if you had actually foiled a real plot, you would use that news story. The fact that you haven't used that news story proves it doesn't exist.

Now how about addressing the fact that everyone, yourself included, knows that 3-1-1 is bunk. Or since this blog entry is about the uses of government intelligence, how they failed to realize that 3-1-1 is bunk.

TSO-NY March 8, 2008 6:48 PM
Frozen liquids are not allowed.

Do you realize that almost every single solid in the universe is a frozen liquid?

Vernon W said...

winstonsmith said:

"Fact is good Sir, that my political leanings are not at issue here. I am an American who loves and respects this country, the Constitution, and would die to protect both. What I will not abide, however, is to see my rights eroded by power grabbing rightist and corporatist thugs who are interested in nothing more than advancing an agenda that is inimical to the very founding principles of this country.

However, if you care to characterize someone who cares about the rule of law, the rights granted to all of us under the Constitution, the gradual erosion of privacy and personal freedom in this country, and the ever growing menace of police state tactics on the part of agencies such as the TSA as a liberal, then I'll be pleased to take the label and wear it with pride. (With thanks and apologies to John F. Kennedy for the paraphrase)"

Thanks for the theater response. I guess TSA isn't the only one that does theater.

Anonymous said...

How about posting information on what other efforts you are making to secure checked baggage from item theft? Since TSA searches both carry-on and checked bags, the average traveler who does have items lost in transit will make the assumption that those items were in your care. Perhaps once checked, those bags could be sealed with some type of tamper proof tie? $31 million was probably the tip of the problem, I am sure that only covers some or most of the reported theft, not the real amount.

Anonymous said...

Another example of your "intelligence":

The TSA has been known to take issue with products designed in Cupertino before, but for one particular traveler, it was Apple's thinnest laptop ever that caused the latest holdup. Upon tossing his ultra-sleek slab of aluminum underneath the scanner, security managed to find enough peculiarities to remove it from the flow, pull it aside and wrangle up the owner for some questions. Apparently, the TSA employee manning the line was flabbergasted by the "lack of a drive" and the complete absence of "ports on the back," and while hordes of co-workers swarmed to investigate, the user's flight took off on schedule. Thankfully, said owner was finally allowed to pass through after some more in-the-know colleagues explained in painfully simple terms what an SSD was, but the poor jet-setter most definitely paid the price for trying to slip some of the latest and greatest under the sharp eyes of the TSA (and cutting it close on time, of course).

winstonsmith said...

To Vernon W who wrote:

"Thanks for the theater response. I guess TSA isn't the only one that does theater.

March 10, 2008 7:32 AM"

Why thank you most kindly both for the compliment, and for the acknowledgement of the TSA's "theater of the absurd."

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the poster who ended with;


"Then, the "simple" rules might feel more "simple", and the public might have an easier time getting with the program. In the end, all our lives would be easier.

JMHO...

March 9, 2008 1:17 PM"

Vernon W said...

Anonymous said:

"I am anonymous that wrote, "As a member of the IC with several different organizations during my career,"...blah blah..."

I don't think it sounds angry and I am at a complete loss for how it would lead you to believe I ever applied to the TSA. I started my Intel career in active military and I currently work for a federal law enforcement organization much more respected than the TSA, and have always been relatively happy and well paid (GS level-wise) for it. I’m simply making an observation from my knowledge of the IC and TSA’s participation, or lack thereof, in it. Trust me, for many many reasons other than whether or not they are a member of the IC, I would be embarrassed to be TSA employee. My deeply held disagreement with the way TSA operates has nothing to do with my status as a federal employee or working in Intel…it comes from being an American. Either you work for the TSA or are some inexplicable TSA groupie, but you're not doing a very good job of defending the organization with the nonsense you spout."

You say I am a "TSA groupie." Who is spouting nonsense?

Instead of spouting a bunch of complaints, please offer some solutions or make a difference by by working for TSA intelligence to improve that office.

Please answer one question. If your in the intelligence career field, shouldn't you be discreet about your job? I am guessing you work for the FBI.

TSA said...

"Many holiday foods like cake and pie have characteristics similar to liquids, gels and aerosols. These items are permitted but may require further inspection."

What level of intelligence drives TSA to operate as if "further inspection" means "not allowed"?

Truly, if you can't even present or implement a consistent policy on 3 oz vs 100ml, or impermissible gels vs permitted gel-like foods, it is no wonder you get no respect.

yosax said...

Do you realize that almost every single solid in the universe is a frozen liquid?

Anonymous said...

yosax said...
Do you realize that almost every single solid in the universe is a frozen liquid?


OK...you're prohibited. In fact, planes are prohibited...

Apparently your common sense was prohibited and confiscated at a checkpoint well.

Dave X the first said...

Chance @ March 7, 2008 8:54 AM:

So, you think the "Hirabi"s don't have the coordination, skills or logistics to pull one over on the TSA.

You all would be better off thinking of what a platoon of church-burning Klansmen who've been through basic training could do. Thinking that the TSA can outwit a band of disorganized goatherds by using its visual x-ray inspections, massive intelligence, secret 25-80% detection rate, and BDOs is wishful thinking.

With an imperfect detection rate, the credit for keeping the planes in the air isn't your detection skills, it is the fact that hijackers are less frequent than you present. Maybe TSA uniforms are scaring the suicidal terrorists away, but the hijackings since 9/11 in places where TSA does 'protect' people, really don't seem as dangerous as you claim.

If you want to prove TSA as something more useful than Henny Penny or the boy who cried wolf, you need to show that you would reliably thwart the threats you publish. 25-80% of liquids, knives, guns, bombs, or bomb components is just a sham. It's security theatre.

TSA causes a real and significant cost to society with no measurable benefit.

Again, I do think TSA has set itself an impossible task in guaranteeing safety--How it justifies its actions should be closely scrutinized. I'd be more likely to give you a break if you didn't claim you could do what seems impossible.

Anonymous said...

"We the traveling public want:

Treat us like humans
Respect our property and persons
Be consistent in what is allowed and what is disallowed from airport to airport.
Shut down the endless droning of the PA system, especially on the concourse.
Act professional. Go on break then at least eat and drink outside the screening area.
Knock off the horseplay"

I have to agree, that pretty much sums up the complaints.

How about posting a "Passenger Bill of Rights" at each security point?
How and who tho go to with questions and complaints? Put the current shift supervisor's names on it so passengers can ask to talk with them. Really make the process fair, transparent, and interactive, leaving no one in doubt that they have received reasonable due process. Is that too much to ask for?

Anonymous said...

I've worked at places that you had better keep moving. Their attitude was that motion = work.

Rather than going through motions of security, get rid of things that have a proven low return on security, i.e. the liquids issues.

Anonymous said...

Intelligence in the TSA? It just took me 35 minutes to case clear security to get to my vegas flight. And I was the only one in line!

DFW A terminal

Tsa: id please
Me: that is my id (pointing to my PASSPORT)
Tsa: sir where are going?
Me: las vegas
Tsa: last time I checked a map, las vegas is in the US!
Me: and?
Tsa: well then you don't need a passport to go there
Me: and?
Tsa: so your passport is not valid id for this trip
Me: excuse me?
Tsa: yes I need a government issued id
Me: my passport is government issued, its issued by the government of the netherlands, would you like me to show you where that is on a map?
Tsa: that government is not recognized by the tsa. And I know that the netherlands is in norway. So I need to see a drivers license.
Me: the government of the netherlands is not recognized by the tsa? That's dissappointing, im sure my queen will be absolutely distraught to hear that an id checker at the dfw airport is not recognizing her as a legitimate government. Its a good thing though that the tsa doesn't set foreign policy, and that that's left to the state department. Have you informed condileeza rice that the tsa is now deciding what governments will be recognized by the us government? Are you guys the jokers that decided to regonize kosovo as an independent state?
Tsa: condeleeza who?
Me: So my passport really isn't going to work? And you need to see a drivers license?
Tsa: yes
Me: well here's the problem ( I hand him my dutch drivers license ) see this is also issued by that government that you don't recognize.
Tsa: hmmm.... Don't you have anything that's issued by the government in the us?
Me: I have my greencard but the problem is, like you said las vegas is in the us, according to the map you just checked, the same one that told you the netherlands is in norway. So since I don't need a greencard to travel to las vegas, my greencard won't work either even though it was issued by the dept of homeland security, the same part of the us government that the tsa is a part of.
Tsa: yes that's true. Ok so you don't have any valid id for travel in the US?
Me: apparently not, since my passport and drivers license is not recognized by the tsa and my greencard is not valid for travel within ths us.
Tsa: ok well you can travel without id, you'll just need to go through additional screening.
Me: great
Tsa: I need a male assist.

Ten minutes later

tsa2: hi sir
Me: hi
tsa2: im going to go through your bags and then wand you, is that ok?
Me: sure
tsa2: sir what's this? (pointing to my passport)
Me: that's my passport
tsa2: but you told the id screener that you don't have id
Me: that's right
tsa2: so you lied to him
Me: no
tsa2: no?
Me: according to his requirements I did not have id that met his requirements for travel.
tsa2: huh?
Me: since im going to vegas, apparently my passport is not valid for traveling there, because accoridng to his map las vegas is in the us and since its in the us and I don't need a passport to travel there, my passport is not valid for travel.
tsa2: huh?
Me: exactly
tsa2: ok?

Anonymous said...

TSA Week at a Glance (March 3-9) -- Our Version

-----------------------------------

In the interests of full disclosure, I've compiled the TSA accomplishments for this week. There's still three days to go. And, unlike Kippie, I cite my sources.

1 confirmed retaliatory secondary screening -- Philadelphia. Retaliatory Secondary

4 acts of screener power trips, child endangerment, elder abuse:
- Child endangerment: Teen Says TSA Screener Opened Sterile Equipment, Put Life In Danger
- Elder abuse: Elderly Handicapped Woman Strip-searched at LAX
- Intrusive passport inspection: Page-by-Page Passport Inspection -- Chicago
- Power Trip: One Bin Per Person Power Trip -- Baltimore

1 act of fear-mongering: Government Warns Of Terror Threat To Trains

1 act of extortion: TSA launches search for the perfect laptop bag

I hope somebody picks up on this and posts it over on the blog. I dare them to publish it.

Anonymous said...

"Tsa: that government is not recognized by the tsa. And I know that the netherlands is in norway. So I need to see a drivers license."

Great story!

Ah, OK, got a computer and printer I can use for a few minutes? Someplace quiet, maybe a rubber room?

Cheer up, I got lost in the mountains north of Santa Fe a few years ago, and stopped at the gatehouse of a gated subdivision and asked directions from a Secret Service agent, he couldn't help me and neither could a NM State Trooper... They wanted ID too. The SSA recognized my ID as valid, however....

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