Friday, July 18, 2008

Calling All Lurkers

We have about 4000 unique readers on our blog per week and only a very small percentage of those readers comment. We’d like to hear from the silent majority. You know – the lurkers.

We're going to dedicate this post to taking your top 10 questions. Ask away and on Monday at close of business, I'll begin tallying up the questions and we'll see to it that the top 10 questions are answered. We’ll try to get them all posted within a week.

Of course, these are aviation security related questions, so please don’t ask me what the meaning of life is. (42) The blog team probably doesn’t know how to fix your stove or build a suspension bridge, so save those questions for another blog.

Before all of our current commenters get their feelings hurt, we appreciate you guys and of course we want to hear from you too, so even if you’ve asked a question before, ask again if you haven’t received an answer yet.

We’ll see how this goes. This may be a good manageable way to get your questions answered 10 at a time.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

NOTE: to see comments above 200 click on the "post a comment" link to make a comment (you can view the 200+ comments from the blogger.com website). Or Click Here.

286 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 286 of 286
E Pitts said...

Quote from HSVTSO Dean: "I was just pointing out how one could conceal a possible threat in something as ridiculous as that."

I could conceal something in a body cavity, too. If TSA is that risk averse, why doesn't it search there too?

HSVTSO Dean said...

Of course the card's been in play. It's been in play for years. The fact remains that you made a comment about how ridiculous the removal of flipflops, sandals, and ballet slippers were. I'm assuming you meant that it's ridiculous from the point of view of, "What could possibly be hidden in them to require them to be x-rayed?"

And then I showed you one example of how something can be hidden in a sandal, without any other kind of commentary attached to it. It was nothing more than a simple statement of fact.

Though you did say something else that I've felt will one day become an issue:

Sandra wrote:
Anyone who wants to carry harmful liquids on board is going to use their baggie to do it, not a pair of flipflops.

We do agree on that point. I personally feel the 3.1.1 exemption that TSA made for passengers is just us inviting trouble. I view it in much the same light as I do the changing of the policy regarding nipple piercings (or, more specifically, body piercings in a sensitive area; nipples aren't the only places those things go, after all), in that it's a policy change for the sake of PR damage control.

Abelard said...

TSA has demonstrated to many people (including me) just how little regard TSA has for the traveling publics belongings.

And me.

I had my $700 digital SLR camera treated like rags on a recent trip to Atlanta even after I very nicely asked the TSOs to handle my camera with care.

Obviously, this was too much of a burden on them. I would have been more than happy to have submitted to a hand inspection of the camera and case but I guess treating other people's property with just a modicum of respect is beyond many TSOs.

I really wish the TSA would instituted a "secret shopper" program and see what the rest of us see.

Then again, that would probably mean they would lose about 75% of their TSOs at PHX.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Here I go again, stepping outside of the parade formation...

[post-script: this got off on a big tangent somehow; I'm still not entirely sure how it did.]

Robert Johnson wrote:
One can only cry wolf so many times ...

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest problems that the Department of Homeland Security itself faces. Just take one look at the color-coded "threat level" nonsense, for example; it didn't take very long at all for that to just start getting either mercilessly (and rightfully, IMHO) lampooned, or just outright ignored.

A lot of things happened in the knee-jerk reactionary period following September 11th, 2001. Some of it was needed and for the good, some of it was unnecessary and detrimental.

Opinions differ, obviously, but I lean toward the idea that security screening is a necessary thing following the past thirty or so years of aviation being targeted.

However, at the inception of the TSA and, to a lesser extent even now, there was/is a lot of that "terrorist behind every bush" thing. Much like the color-coded... thing... it was harped on too much, and in return has generally started turning off the American public (a group of people notorious for their short memory spans, and no that's not a reference to any number of people making asinine "why 4 u no rmmbr 9/11, omgwtf!?" comments) to what legitimate threat that there is, and the baseline level of screening necessary as a precaution against that threat.

Believe it or not, though, the TSA understands that the current way of doing things is expending about 90% of our resources screening completely harmless people. Kip's said as much in internal broadcasts. That's one of the reason why the Evolution thing is taking place; it's a shift away from known, static screening procedures to become a more adaptive, agile thing.

The blue uniforms (an absolute godsend, even from the point of view of an atheist, in terms keeping the damn things clean) and the mood music are actually only a very small part of the Evolution process. The rest of it is internal, in a major shift of procedure in terms of how TSA performs it's duty.

I just don't necessarily understand how that's supposed to happen just yet, since Huntsville hasn't started the Evolution training yet.


e pitts wrote:
I could conceal something in a body cavity, too. If TSA is that risk averse, why doesn't it search there too?

For the same reason that not all liquids and gels are prohibited, all passengers aren't given a full-body pat-down at the checkpoint and then again at the boarding gate, all carry-on items aren't given a full open bag search at the checkpoint and then again at the boarding gate, and all passengers don't have their identity verified by the operations center regardless of what identification credentials they might carry, and require all passengers to arrive at the airport twenty-four hours in advance: We actually do want people to fly.

I think TSA views it as a calculated risk to be taken, and would then have to rely on other layers of security besides the checkpoint.

Kind of like how that dude smuggled the mace in his rectum that Bob posted about with the aviation news of the weird thing further down the list.

Miller said...

Just posted two posts with 10 minutes of each other. One was posted and the other went into the memory hole. One was critical of TSAs actions and the other was a bit of TSA history. Sometimes history is unpleasant but deleting it doesn't make it go away.

We've seen obfuscation and deception on the part of upper level TSA. We don't like it.

What does it take for TSA to properly screen passengers and their luggage without items going missing/lost?

What would TSA do if the person who travels with high dollar camera equipment has a TSO damage/destroy that equipment during the screening process?

How long would the 'investigation' take?

How long would it take to get reimbursed for the damaged/destroyed equipment?

What does the professional photographer do in the mean time since this is how they make their living? Not everyone has deep pockets to replace the damaged equipment.

In the case of the injured soldier returning home from Afghanistan (jaws wired shut):

Who would be responsible for his death (from drowning in his own vomit) had he been unable to cut the wires holding his jaws shut after the piers issued to him do do that were confiscated by TSA?

Your open loop local policy means that pretty much anything can go on with no responsibility towards the passengers and their belongings. Who takes responsibility when TSA goes too far and people are hurt or their belongings damaged?

Trollkiller said...

Sandra said...

Boy you guys are really grasping at straws re sandals and flipflops.

Please post pics of all the detonators that have been found in sandals.


Sorry Sandra you are off base with this one. There is ample room in a flip-flop sole to hide a weapon, explosive, incendiary or other contraband.

Reef Stash sandals come ready made with a hidden compartment. I have seen these flip flops personally and they look like regular flip flops.

To ask a TSO to try to determine, on the fly, if someone is wearing regular flip flops or ones with hidden compartments without requiring the passenger to take them off would be overly difficult and prone to error.

One thing we have been asking for is consistency in the rules and application of the rules. Now you are asking for an exception to be made for flip flops.

The only time an exception should be made is when the passenger is disabled and unable to remove their shoes. In that case a TSO needs to get on the floor and politely hand inspect them.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Trollkiller: Sorry Sandra you are off base with this one. There is ample room in a flip-flop sole to hide a weapon, explosive, incendiary or other contraband.

Reef Stash sandals come ready made with a hidden compartment. I have seen these flip flops personally and they look like regular flip flops.

To ask a TSO to try to determine, on the fly, if someone is wearing regular flip flops or ones with hidden compartments without requiring the passenger to take them off would be overly difficult and prone to error.

One thing we have been asking for is consistency in the rules and application of the rules. Now you are asking for an exception to be made for flip flops.

The only time an exception should be made is when the passenger is disabled and unable to remove their shoes. In that case a TSO needs to get on the floor and politely hand inspect them."


Sorry Troll. I agree with you on a lot, but the shoe carnival is not one of them.

They system that was in place before was much better than mandatory shoe carnival, even if it still needed tweaking for the better. All shoes off is a regression in security.

Billions of shoes go by every year. TSA and the FBI have even admitted in an LA Times article (archived, can't link) that THEY knew of NO attempt had been made for another shoe bomb. There are much bigger fish to fry, and we're wasting so much resources looking for a miniscule threat.

X-rays don't detect explosives. Using the puffers/ETD and the WTMD's will detect explosives and metal, respectively, without having to remove shoes. The puffers and/or ETDs will detect will detect the explosives and the WTMD should detect the metal. If there's an alarm on either one of those, THEN examine the shoes more closely based on the alarm.

TSA shows this lack of logic by requiring shoe removal BEFORE walking thru a puffer. It's bypassing one machine that WILL detect explosives in favor of screening them with one that WON'T.

It's a much more risk managed approach rather than the current risk averse policy TSA has now. TSA isn't about risk management. It's about CYA. Shoe carnival is a prime example of CYA.

Robert

Phil said...

What Dean and Sandra are dancing around is the fact that we cannot prevent people from carrying small dangerous things onto airplanes unless we subject people to a strip searches and body cavity searches.

To have our federal employees focus on things like flip-flops when there are any number of other places one could hide a similar amount of arbitrary substance on one's person when walking through the magnetometer is a waste of tax dollars, an inconvenience to millions of people, and a convenient way to condition those people to going along with ridiculous practices in the name of national security.

But this ridiculous practice is not a bit surprising. TSA has never been focused on transportation security and safety. Their focus is on 1) making foolish, uninformed, or oblivious people feel safer when flying via commercial airline and 2) creating an infrastructure to facilitate the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's restriction of the movement of people using its blacklists. I suspect that everyone who is paying attention knows that the majority of what TSA does supports those two goals alone.

Remember, the difference between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" or even "political agitator" is politics. Our nation now restricts the movements of its people based on politics.


Quoting John Gilmore's "Gilmore v. Ashcroft -- FAA ID challenge FAQ":

Q. So then how should we figure out who is a terrorist?

It's a good question, that goes to the heart of the post-9/11 civil liberties issues.

Who is a terrorist? Any IRA member from the last twenty years? A member of the Irgun (led by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin)? Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for sabotage for 27 years by the South African government? A WTO protester? The US Government killed more Afghani civilians in the last year than the number of US people killed on 9/11; does that make US soldiers terrorists? Israel and Palestine both claim that the other is terrorist. So do India and Pakistan. So do leftists and rightists in Colombia.

Ultimately the line between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" is a political one. Our freedom to travel should not depend on a politician's decision about whether they agree with our aims or not. Every "anti-terrorist" measure restricts people based on their politics, not just based on whether they use violence. Violence was already illegal.

In other words, any list of "terrorists" will inevitably contain many individuals that have never committed a terrorist act, and not contain many individuals that have actually committed a terrorist act.



Q. Isn't an ID check needed to stop known terrorists from flying?

If we knew who the terrorists were, we could just arrest them all, rather than stopping them when they try to fly. So what do you mean by "a known terrorist"? A previously convicted hijacker? A card-carrying member of Al-Queda? A Green Party member, who seeks to change our established form of government? Someone on probation, convicted of non-violent civil disobedience for protesting the Star Wars program at Vandenberg Air Force Base? A member of Earth First!?

There is good reason to believe that any list of "known terrorists" contains "suspected" terrorists, not actual terrorists, and is full of errors besides. Particularly when the list is secret and neither the press nor the public can examine it for errors or political biases.

"Johnnie Thomas" was on the watch list because a 28-year-old "FBI Most Wanted" man, Christian Michael Longo, used that name as an alias. But Longo was arrested two days after joining the "Most Wanted" list for murdering his family. After he had been in custody for months, 70-year-old black grandma "Johnnie Thomas" gets stopped every time she tries to fly. Her story is in the May 2002 issue of New Yorker magazine. It's not clear why an ordinary criminal like Longo was on the list in the first place -- nor why he wasn't removed from the list when he was captured two days later. What is clear is that this secret watch-list is poorly controlled and ripe for abuse. And, of course, there is no guarantee that an actual terrorist would be carrying their real ID.

There are many ways to deter terrorism, but checking IDs against a watch list is not one of them. It is an exercise in futility that provides a false sense of security.


I completely agree with Gilmore's statements. Patriotic Americans should resist this practice of restricting people's movements based on blacklists.

Tomas said...

In reading through the TSA site's "Know Before You Go" pages I was suddenly struck by a question.

While the page repeatedly states the limit for most liquids and gels is 3 ounces (as opposed to 100mL), it does confirm that one is allowed to take on-board any size liquids purchased after passing through the Prüfpunkt, uh, checkpoint.

The question that suddenly popped into my head was "Are all liquids and other artifacts for purchase beyond the checkpoints individually screened and somehow certified as being safe?"

Let's be honest here, if some items are so potentially dangerous they are seized from passengers and discarded before the passenger is cleared, and post-checkpoint-purchases are not just as rigorously screened, a cohort working on the "sterile" side could "sell" the much larger "special bottles" and associated "detonator enhanced" ballpoints and even fresh batteries to their associates and completely skirt the existentialist theater taking place outside the safe zone.

If the workers and all merchandise for sale (most especially anything kept behind the counter so it can be easily given out to only certain individuals) is not thoroughly screened, what is to prevent knives, garrotes, penguns, explosives, poisons, or gasses from being handed out to "black hats" at will?

Just wondering...

(Please do not consider this one of the ten lurker questions, but possibly as the first of the post-ten questions for further discussion and answers. Thanks!)

Tom
non-lurker

"I put my name to what I say."

CBGB said...

Robert,

unfortunately thats the worst part of al lof this...it will almost inevitably come true.

in the last 8 years there has been a nearly incontrevertable pattern of them crying wolf at times when it gives them political gain.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/18056504/truth_or_terrorism_the_real_story_behind_five_years_of_high_alerts

@Bob, I was just using my sense of humor ;) Nice to see you guys answer a question quickly and effectively :)

Trollkiller said...

Miller said...

What does it take for TSA to properly screen passengers and their luggage without items going missing/lost?

What would TSA do if the person who travels with high dollar camera equipment has a TSO damage/destroy that equipment during the screening process?

How long would the 'investigation' take?

How long would it take to get reimbursed for the damaged/destroyed equipment?

What does the professional photographer do in the mean time since this is how they make their living? Not everyone has deep pockets to replace the damaged equipment.


A professional photographer making their living with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment should have insurance on that equipment. If they don't they are a fool.

With that said, it does not excuse a TSO from damaging someone's property through rough handling or indifference.

It should be SOP to allow a passenger to request special handling of delicate items by a supervisor.

Tomas said...

Miller said...
"Your open loop local policy means that pretty much anything can go on with no responsibility towards the passengers and their belongings. Who takes responsibility when TSA goes too far and people are hurt or their belongings damaged?"

Upper level TSA and DHS folks will simply take the tried and proven path they have always taken and disavow that it is TSA's policy to do whatever was done and blame the poor soul at the very bottom of the food chain for the "error."

In all seriousness it is "deniability by SSI" and works quite well in protecting those at the top.

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...
Sandra said...

Boy you guys are really grasping at straws re sandals and flipflops.

Please post pics of all the detonators that have been found in sandals.

Sorry Sandra you are off base with this one. There is ample room in a flip-flop sole to hide a weapon, explosive, incendiary or other contraband.

Reef Stash sandals come ready made with a hidden compartment. I have seen these flip flops personally and they look like regular flip flops.

To ask a TSO to try to determine, on the fly, if someone is wearing regular flip flops or ones with hidden compartments without requiring the passenger to take them off would be overly difficult and prone to error.

One thing we have been asking for is consistency in the rules and application of the rules. Now you are asking for an exception to be made for flip flops.

The only time an exception should be made is when the passenger is disabled and unable to remove their shoes. In that case a TSO needs to get on the floor and politely hand inspect them.

July 22, 2008 1:43 PM


Great Job Trollkiller, you got this one dead to rights. The link to the reef Sandals was spot on. And your mention of the exemptions was perfect and also what the policy is. Thank you for correcting Sandra on this.

Anonymous said...

Paging Mr. Smith, Mr. winstonsmith, please come to the TSA blog, we have an important message for you. Where have you gone? We miss your comments and questions.

Anonymous said...

re: Freedom Bags

The term was coined by Ryan Bird after he felt his constitutional right to free speach had been violated by the TSA at a checkpoint.

The term satirized the actions of some legislators who had renamed french fries as freedom fries when the French failed to buy into the lies being spun by the American government.

Ryan Bird's website was up just a few days ago. It now appears to be down.

The site is archived here.

I read on the intertubes somewhere that the Ministry of Love has found a new home for Mr. Byrd. He and Winston Smith can be reached care of:

Rm. 101
Camp Justice
09360

,>)

Sandra said...

Believe me, Sandra is neither "corrected" nor convinced. There is no return on the investment of time and resources in making everyone remove their shoes.

Phil, I had written in one of my comments, but removed before I posted, that the only way to assure that passengers don't bring small "dangerous" items on a plane is to make them fly naked with no luggage.
Thank you for saying it better than I.

Robert Johnson, a big thank you to you too.

Now would someone answer my question about how many dangerous items, items that could bring down a plane, have been found in shoes?

Anonymous said...

re: Color coded threat levels.

It did not take long for this administration to use the system to manufacture fear and control news cycles.

The former United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, acknowledged that the threat level was often raised over his objections, without real cause, by the Bush administration.

Of course, Tom Ridge was replaced by the more 'loyal', more compliant, Michael Chertoff, an author of the so-called "Patriot" Act.

TinHat said...

How many actual terrorists has TSA caught and charged since the implementation of TSA?

Trollkiller said...

Ok the suspense is killing me.

What are the top 10 questions?

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Tomas: "Let's be honest here, if some items are so potentially dangerous they are seized from passengers and discarded before the passenger is cleared, and post-checkpoint-purchases are not just as rigorously screened, a cohort working on the "sterile" side could "sell" the much larger "special bottles" and associated "detonator enhanced" ballpoints and even fresh batteries to their associates and completely skirt the existentialist theater taking place outside the safe zone.

If the workers and all merchandise for sale (most especially anything kept behind the counter so it can be easily given out to only certain individuals) is not thoroughly screened, what is to prevent knives, garrotes, penguns, explosives, poisons, or gasses from being handed out to "black hats" at will?"


Take it a step further. If these toiletries are so dangerous that they can't be let on planes, why did TSA DONATE them to the homeless?

Additionally, there was a Senate Bill sponsored by Senator Florez that would require TSA to separate unopened items to give to homeless shelters and other charities that request them.

Story

The problem that Senator Florez misses is if these items are unopened and should be given to the homeless, WHY should they have even been taken by passengers to begin with?

TSA's and Senator Florez's logic completely baffles me on this. Either the items are dangerous or they are not. If they are dangerous, they need to be disposed of according to HAZMAT procedures and not tossed in the garbage without a care in the world like TSA currently does. If they're not, then there is absolutely NO reason they should not be let on the plane.

Otherwise, it's just mandatory charity supported by theft from passengers. It's what it really is.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Why don't we give these guys a break. One of these days something bad is going to happen again, and we'll be mad at TSA for not being more of an arse pain at the checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

I just flew half way around the world, and as a result of my two most recent flights have seen the TSA-equivelants of the United Arab Emirates, Germany, England, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

As a result of dealing with the attentive, alert and well trained security professionals present in those airports, I have never felt so unsafe flying in the United States before in my life. So here are my questions:

1. When will the TSA train their people to the same level of professionalism as ORD C&I? Or even LAX C&I? Or any C&I?

2. When will the TSA fix problems with their current security implementations without creating new ones?

3. When will the TSA realize that they need to get rid of their bad apples and keep their good people instead of the other way around?

4. When will the people who fixed the issues with LAS airport security lanes be recognized/rewarded? They did a fabulous job and it is now a pleasant experience.

5. Why, oh why, is the new female 'fake-cop' uniform designed along the idea of 'every woman is one size up top'? I have heard many complaints about the 'compressive nature' of the cut.

Thank you,
Iflytoomuch

Karen said...

My question is... What is the scoop with these new "Airline Bracelets"? How do they work? What is their purpose? And, What problems do they solve or create?

Dunstan said...

Trollkiller said...


A professional photographer making their living with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment should have insurance on that equipment. If they don't they are a fool.

With that said, it does not excuse a TSO from damaging someone's property through rough handling or indifference.

It should be SOP to allow a passenger to request special handling of delicate items by a supervisor."

In a perfect world...

Trollkiller-
Even having the insurance does not protect anyone from all the damage. It is not instant- replacement of equipment and materials takes time and in the art and media world could mean lost work, and loss of reputation.

Anonymous said...

I've followed the blog quietly since the beginning. I travel somewhat frequently. I try to treat the workers with the utmost respect, even to the point of utilizing "sir" and "ma'am." I always dump my water bottles before the checkpoint and refill them at the water fountain after, obey all the other crazy rules wrt laptops and shoes and such.

Still, like so many others, my experiences with TSA have been mostly negative. There are certainly exceptions, but I've found the officers to be generally rude and curt even when passengers (myself and others) seem to be making a genuine effort to cooperate fully. The incredibly long lines at major airports are a hassle even for the unharaSSSSed. I remember that I used to breathe a sigh of relief whenever my plane landed safely. Now my biggest such sigh comes after clearing the checkpoint. Unlike the TSA, airlines have to work for their dollar, and provide friendly service.

Like so many others, I follow this blog mainly to see what crazy scheme awaits me the next time I fly. I've followed the questions that have been respectfully asked and respectively repeated by the regulars. I've noted that official responses tend to ignore the point entirely, mock the questioner, or answer an entirely different question.

I guess I should mention that my sister was a TSO for a while before quitting due to stresses of the job. She lives across the country though and we never really discussed her experiences.

Anyway, I feel like most of the TSA nonsense is a waste of time, money and hassle since there are ever so many disasters likely to befall me than a terrorist attack on a plane. As a freedom-loving American, the no-fly and selective screening lists, the ID checks, the "papers please" atmosphere and the imposition of arbitrary rules rub me the wrong way. I don't see how any student of history could feel otherwise.

So, to cap a long rambling response, I don't really have a question, and it doesn't matter, since it doesn't seem that you folks are really in the business of answering them anyway. As with all other government bureaucracies, my general hope is to keep my time wasted to a minimum and do what I can to help you guys do your thing, even if I disagree with it. At the moment, you guys are the most unpleasant thing about flying, and I hope you'll straighten out your priorities, quit it with the secrecy/proto-fascist nonsense and go back to the basic task of keeping dangerous items off of planes. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but it's a sad day when I consider it totally plausible that that CNN reporter got blacklisted. It's also shame that feedback on this blog has so far been powerless to affect positive outcomes. SSI isn't an excuse for refusing to engage the folks you are charged with protecting and who cut your checks.

All that said, I wish this whole thing didn't have to be so adversarial. I'm sure your hearts are in the right place and you've just gotten caught up in the paranoia of the moment. Hopefully you guys can come to the table with some honesty, humility and good intentions, and we can all get through this and laugh about it later. I also hope that I haven't gotten my anonymous-posting self blacklisted. In all matters of course, time will tell.

Cheers.

Adam said...

I would like to know of the 2 billion people that have gone through the airport since 9/11 (number provided by a TSA official), how many of them have been pulled aside to be frisked/strip searched?

Kathy said...

Tomas said:

...The question that suddenly popped into my head was "Are all liquids and other artifacts for purchase beyond the checkpoints individually screened and somehow certified as being safe?"

Wow, just minutes ago (before reading your post) I did the exact same thing and asked myself that very question!

Once when I was going through security I observed an airport employee taking a big stack of cases of bottled water through to the other side, obviously for sale. When he got to the WTMD, he divested his keys and walked through while a TSA pushed the cart full of water bottles AROUND the WTMD. No screening at all for those liquids!

Again, it's the steel door on the grass hut phenomenon. Overkill some areas and ignore others. That's why some of us call it "security theater."

CBGB said...

trollkiller said:
A professional photographer making their living with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment should have insurance on that equipment. If they don't they are a fool

that doesn't mean they should have to use it when a little bit of simple care and personal responsibility would not cause any damage in the first place. Insured or not, damage caused by the TSA is the fault of the TSA.

This also goes beyond just camera equipment or anythign expensive for that matter. Imagine what you would say if the police kick down your door beause they have the wrong address and then tell you: "sorry we were wrong but we aren't paying for your door because we were trying to do good"

Kathy said...

Anonymous (July 23, 2008 1:03 AM) said...

I've followed the blog quietly since the beginning....

All that said, I wish this whole thing didn't have to be so adversarial. I'm sure your hearts are in the right place and you've just gotten caught up in the paranoia of the moment. Hopefully you guys can come to the table with some honesty, humility and good intentions, and we can all get through this and laugh about it later...

Cheers


To my quiet, cheerful, anonymous friend: thanks for this wonderfully written post!

Dunstan said...

"Anonymous said...

Why don't we give these guys a break. One of these days something bad is going to happen again, and we'll be mad at TSA for not being more of an arse pain at the checkpoint."

Just my deeply rooted cynicism, but...

The "just as likely" scenario:

Something will happen and be circumvented outside of an airport, TSA will not be involved but will try to take credit anyway, or something will happen and the TSO's will be asleep at the checkpoint, and miss it entirely, and blame someone else.

Dunstan said...

TinHat said...

"How many actual terrorists has TSA caught and charged since the implementation of TSA?

July 22, 2008 5:49 PM"

Tinhat, try to ask questions that they can actually answer, not ones about hypothetical situations...

FreqFlyer said...

Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions regarding the TSA.

Here goes:

1. Why is it ok to lose and ID but not ok to refuse to show one? What is the difference with regard to safety?

2. Why do passengers have to remove their shoes before screening?

3. Was a CNN reported added to the no fly list after reporting on the TSA?

4. Why isn't cargo screened since passengers are?

That's a start!

HSVTSO Dean said...

Phil wrote:
Wired News reported this to be accurate in 2002. Has this policy changed?

You know, I thought that was an interesting, very good question. One that I did not, at the time, know the answer to.

Since it came up on my off-day, though, I had to wait until I was back at work to do some research on that. Tapping a friend of mine at the airport, we scoured over their airline regulations looking for an answer to that question. What we found was something that, paraphrased, said, "TSA now requires that all passengers' identification be checked at check-in."

However, it didn't have any kind of Security Directive reference to it, it didn't even have a date attached for when that got added.

So, in search of a definitive answer, we cracked open the Security Directives. Searching one by one through them, on my lunch break, I finally found an answer.

Now, granted, the vast bulk and majority of everything on the whole document was -- you guessed it -- SSI, so I can't quote you verbatim stuff and I can't even give you the Security Directive number, but I can tell you that it's pretty much the same thing in line with the rest of the stuff you posted. The earliest reference to that, that I could find, was from January 2007.

At first, this seemed like it did require airlines to have ID from passengers, right up until the point that I double-checked the stuff you had already put up here (namely, the Wired thing and the FFA letter) and, comparing the two of them together, found that there's not really so much of a difference at all.

To wit:

From the FFA letter circa 1996:
"While an airline is required to request identification, the actual presentation of identification by the passenger is not absolutely required, and there is currently no prohibition against allowing someone on an aircraft without such identification. However, the absence of identification may result in the use of alternative measures that provide the same level of security protection."

Which, basically, sums up the whole story of how the airlines handle that sort of business anyway right now. If you don't have a valid government ID to show the airlines, they automatically make you a selectee with the SSSS marks and move on with life.

The only real inherent difference between what happened then, and what happens now, is that when you come through the checkpoint without ID the TSA has to get the process rolling on the positive validation of identity.

Phil wrote:
I suspect that you have stated a common misunderstanding.

And, indeed, that seems to be the case. :)

Bob said...

Ok, just so you know, these are not the answers to your top 10.

Those answers are being worked on as I type this.

These are some of the many questions you asked that didn’t make the top 10 list. Not all, but some…

The top 10 will be posted as a new blog post when it is ready to be published.

Here goes…

Why do checkpoints NEVER have complaint forms when we ask for them? Is the TSA Complaint Form available on-line as a printable PDF, and if not, why not?

I have no idea why a checkpoint wouldn’t have them, but I can tell you that they’re supposed to. Keep an eye on the blog around August 1st for an announcement on how we’re going to start handling complaints. In the meantime, it’s not a downloadable PDF, but this link will take you to an online complaint form that will be sent to our contact center.

Why is the "complaint form" SSI?

The form is not SSI until it is filled out.

How many layers of approval does one of your blog posts have to go through before you are allowed to post it.

One and sometimes two.

Why were my bare arms patted down?

That’s a good question. They shouldn’t be.

how do you get OFF the terrorist watch list?

Visit this web page.

What are the names of every person on the watch/no fly lists?

You’ll have to ask the FBI.

How does the blog team feel about their supporters within the comments who resort to childish name-calling of their critics?

I don’t like it, but when we allow posts that regularly call our supporters and employees idiots, can you blame a few folks for getting mad?


How heavily are your responses edited/reviewed.

Blog posts are vetted through one to two people. Blog comments are not vetted. Sometimes we might run a comment by somebody to make sure we’re not off base, but they are not required to be vetted.

How is the counter updated?

As we reject comments, we cut and paste them into a word doc and file them. Glen tallies them up and then updates the delete-o-meter. It’s not a realtime update as some might think. You can read about it here.

How many people run this blog

Christopher, Lynn, Nico, Jon, Jay, Glen, Neil and myself.

How often do screeners' gloves get washed? How you done any research on the ability or propensity for them to spread disease?

I don’t know about the study, but our TSOs are required to change gloves when asked. They are also supposed to change gloves when they are torn.

Why-- ah, screw it. I really doubt I'll ever see answers to any of my questions from you people, at this point I'm convinced I'm wasting my time with yet another marketing stunt.

Your loss.

Why do screeners get offended when I ask them to change thier gloves before touching me or my possessions?

I don’t know. They shouldn’t.

Why do you have a consistent pattern of certifying positive comments before negative ones?

Sometimes negative comments take a little longer to look at, so we’ll come back to them for a second look later. Also, if we’re not sure about a comment, we’ll let it sit in the queue so another mod can take a look at it.

Why do you believe that so many people are posting on this blog anonymously? How can you allay their fears?

I think it’s a mixture of reasons. I think some would rather not take the time to register. I think others are mistakenly concerned they’ll be added to a watch list for voicing their opinion. There are also Officers who would rather not draw attention to who they are. There are many reasons. We want folks to be able to post anonymously, so that’s fine.
As far as fears, I’m afraid I can’t allay their fears unless they are willing to trust us. That just comes with being part of the Govt.

why do your policies differ between the blog and the airport?

I don’t know, can you cite some examples?

Since the TSA does not take any measures at all to reduce the 30 - 40 thousand deaths that occur every year in the United States due to autmobile accidents, why does it feel compelled to systematically trample on people's rights in the name of preventing a few hundred deaths from terrorism?

This kills me. Pun intended… Please provide an example of when an automobile accident crippled our economy?

Does the TSA use any technology more advanced than a dog to detect dangerous chemicals, explosive devices or nuclear material on passengers?

We use explosive trace detection machines. Certain folks at airports wear alarms that will sound when they are near radiation.

If my CPAP is out of the bag and x-rayed, why is it also swabbed for explosives? Is that the process for laptops?

Procedures differ for laptops and CPAPS. There are certain things about the way CPAPS look on the Xray that require us to do additional screening on them.

If there is a new administration next year do you think that some managers of the TSA are going to be replaced? If you don't think so tell us why.

What do you mean “if” there is a new administration? :) There are 4 appointed positions within the TSA which will almost definitely change as any other Presidential appointment would. TSA Administrator, Assisatant Adminitrator of Public Affairs, Assistant Administrator of Legislative Affairs and the Administrator's Executive Assistant.

I wear ortho shoes and screening staffers do not all know it is OK for me to keep them on. Even more troubling is the variations in the screening after I clear the WTMD without alarming it. Why don't screeners know the SOP? Or, is the SOP totally variable?

This one is hard to answer without actually being there and seeing it happen. The way you are screened is determined by certain triggers. If a happens, then procede to b. Etc… You are correct that you do not have to take off your orthos. Ask for a Supervisor or Lead next time this happens.

Since your organization is called TSA -> Transport....when do you address to secure the transportation via bus, car, ship, train to the standards like the ones now in air travel?

Read Here

Some time ago as I recall you mentioned that the Blog team was going to be expanded by several people. Did that happen or is it still in the plans?

It is still in the plans. After I finish a project that I’m working on now, I am going to dive into this and we will have 10-15 folks from various positions in the field join the team as commenters and contributors.

Why are you giving all your regular readers the finger in asking for the lurkers to comment?

You simply took it the wrong way. We wanted everybody’s feedback and I explained that. We also want more commenters. I think it’s frustrating to anybody to see that they have 4,000 unique readers a week and such a small number of them comment.

Why can a TSO refer you to secondary screening when you cooperate fully but roll your eyes at their stupid demands? I thought retaliatory screenings were banned.

If in fact that was the reason they referred you for extra screening, they were violating the procedures currently in place. In fact, a broadcast e-mail was just sent to the field as a warning that retaliatory screening will not be tolerated.

When entering the USA from abroad we are confronted by the TSA, immigration and customs. The TSA has done some impressive work to get people through a pretty complicated process. When will Immigration adopt the same techniques? For example predicting when planes arrive and staffing accordingly.

Thanks for the kudos. As far as Immigration, I’m afraid you’ll have to ask them.

How did Blogger Bob get so darned handsome?

It’s not easy being me, folks.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Phil said...

Nice work, Dean. Thanks for checking into that.

So, to recap, best we can tell, airlines are not required to verify the identity of passengers prior to transporting them, but are required to ask passengers to present credentials (i.e., to ask them to show ID). Surely I'm not the only person who thinks that policy has done little to nothing for air travel security, but has, for over a decade, conditioned people to think that it's normal to have to identify themselves before flying, all the while avoiding judicial review because there is no requirement that people show ID, only the manipulative appearance of such.

The details of this FAA policy are seen by TSA as crucial to national security, and thus they will not allow the public to examine the it (since we might, say, help plot a terrorist attack or determine whether the policy is constitutional). However, the thousands of low-level TSA agents who work airport checkpoints, those who turn over at something like 30% per year, are allowed to see the policy, and to describe it to the rest of us.

Good work, TSA. Constitution be damned; our transportation infrastructure is safe in your hands.

Quoting John Gilmore's "Gilmore v. Ashcroft -- FAA ID challenge FAQ" once again in hopes that interested people will go read the excellent points he made:

"Q. Why are you challenging the ID requirement?

"People in the US have a right to travel and associate without being monitored or stopped by their government, unless they are actually suspected or convicted of a crime, and unless that suspicion is reasonable.

"Clearly it is not reasonable to suspect every American of being a criminal bent on hijacking an airplane. There is no evidence against the vast majority of Americans, and a multitude of evidence that most people harbor no desire or intent to hijack airplanes. Yet they are being identified, tracked, and searched nevertheless. This policy violates decades and centuries of court decisions about the rights of innocent Americans. The mere demand for an ID is a search, which the Fourth Amendment protects us from.

"Also, the ID requirement is not part of any law passed by Congress, or any regulation published by the Executive Branch. Yet somehow it is being imposed on every traveler. The USSR was full of "secret" laws and directives, which abrogated the fundamental rights that had been written in the published laws and constitution. I believe that a law which the government is unwilling to publish cannot be enforced, and there are many lawyers who agree with me."

Dunstan said...

"It’s not easy being me, folks.

Bob

EoS Blog Team"

ditto...
Honesty, however, is something creative people learn, and never forget.
Thanks Bob, for being a real person, and putting your heart into this blog.

Anonymous said...

I just read about a TSA screener making an elderly man at O'Hare undo his belt and then she pulled his pants down to his ankles, because his artificial knee set off the alarms. Explain to us, please, how that keeps us safe.

Here is the link if you'd like to read about it for yourself: http://cbs2chicago.com/investigations/xrated.security.screenings.2.777423.html

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said in part..."In fact, a broadcast e-mail was just sent to the field as a warning that retaliatory screening will not be tolerated."

What will the penalty be for a person who is in violation of this directive? Fired, time out without pay, letter of reprimand?

And while we are asking questions, why are TSA procedures not standarized at all TSA served airports?
If TSA HQ puts out a policy should it not be implemented in the same manner regardless of location?

CBGB said...

Why do checkpoints NEVER have complaint forms when we ask for them? Is the TSA Complaint Form available on-line as a printable PDF, and if not, why not?
I have no idea why a checkpoint wouldn’t have them, but I can tell you that they’re supposed to. Keep an eye on the blog around August 1st for an announcement on how we’re going to start handling complaints. In the meantime, it’s not a downloadable PDF, but this link will take you to an online complaint form that will be sent to our contact center.

Why is the "complaint form" SSI?
The form is not SSI until it is filled out.

Why is a complaint SSI? For the purposes of growing trust in your agency shouldn’t the process with which you deal with complaints be public. I do not see how this can possibly affect security. It could be as simple as a website that lists complaint numbers and whether resolution has been achieved with the person issuing the complaint. More appropriately, it could list a type of complaint such as “violation of procedures” “rude” “threatening” “retaliatory” etc.

As someone who has issued a complaint, I saw no followup and wonder if this is the reason. What is the point of a blackhole complaint? What I mean by that is that I have no idea if it was even received, much less investigated or acted upon.


How is the counter updated?
As we reject comments, we cut and paste them into a word doc and file them. Glen tallies them up and then updates the delete-o-meter. It’s not a realtime update as some might think. You can read about it here.

I’m guessing by that you can’t post the deleted comments for whatever reason, could we at least get a synopsis or statistical overview of what they were deleted for?


How often do screeners' gloves get washed? How you done any research on the ability or propensity for them to spread disease?
I don’t know about the study, but our TSOs are required to change gloves when asked. They are also supposed to change gloves when they are torn.

You missed the easy answer…they don’t get washed they get changed. On a serious note, This would be something I would like to see addressed, especially given the ability of germs and diseases to spread on unsanitized aircraft with recycled air and given that the highest travel times (holidays) are concurrent with cold and flu season.

Why do you have a consistent pattern of certifying positive comments before negative ones?
Sometimes negative comments take a little longer to look at, so we’ll come back to them for a second look later. Also, if we’re not sure about a comment, we’ll let it sit in the queue so another mod can take a look at it.

Why do negative comments need a second review? There are positive and negative comments that violate the comment rules, and there are positive and negative comments that don’t violate the rules. I understand your answer and what your saying, I just feel its in need of clarification because the way its written you seem to be admitting a bias.


why do your policies differ between the blog and the airport?
I don’t know, can you cite some examples?

You also choose to answer the following three questions as a part of your post. This alone shows anecdotal proof (first question and second question) that it happens, and an admission by the TSA (question 2) that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. I could google a fairly large number more but me and google are taking some personal time right now.

I wear ortho shoes and screening staffers do not all know it is OK for me to keep them on. Even more troubling is the variations in the screening after I clear the WTMD without alarming it. Why don't screeners know the SOP? Or, is the SOP totally variable?
This one is hard to answer without actually being there and seeing it happen. The way you are screened is determined by certain triggers. If a happens, then procede to b. Etc… You are correct that you do not have to take off your orthos. Ask for a Supervisor or Lead next time this happens.

Why were my bare arms patted down?
That’s a good question. They shouldn’t be.

Why can a TSO refer you to secondary screening when you cooperate fully but roll your eyes at their stupid demands? I thought retaliatory screenings were banned.
If in fact that was the reason they referred you for extra screening, they were violating the procedures currently in place. In fact, a broadcast e-mail was just sent to the field as a warning that retaliatory screening will not be tolerated.


Why are you giving all your regular readers the finger in asking for the lurkers to comment?
fair enough, thank you for the clarification





How did Blogger Bob get so darned handsome?
It’s the new uniform

Overall Bob thank you for the answers they are appreciated. The point of this blog is the back and forth discussion and you guys answering questions. Thank you for doing so I think that will help bring civility back here. It really was beginning to feel (from our end) like we were being ignored.

KF said...

Bob wrote:
Since the TSA does not take any measures at all to reduce the 30 - 40 thousand deaths that occur every year in the United States due to autmobile accidents, why does it feel compelled to systematically trample on people's rights in the name of preventing a few hundred deaths from terrorism?

This kills me. Pun intended… Please provide an example of when an automobile accident crippled our economy?


So it is not our safety TSA is concerned about, but the state of the economy? How about doing something about the price of oil and reducing greenhouse gases - they'll both have far bigger economic impact than a terrorist attack, and also more real (likely to happen).

More seriously, if flow on economic costs in the event of a successful terrorist attack are being included as a benefit in justifying security arrangements, then the flow on economic costs of the security must be deducted as a cost in the cost-benefit analysis. Don't forget to deduct for lost time, loss of international trade and tourism, opportunity costs, etc.

Anonymous said...

Please comment definitively on why Drew Griffin of CNN has been added to the no-fly/selectee list. This deserves a complete answer, not mere finger pointing. The TSA's lack of candor in this implies that Griffin has been targeted for his speaking out against the TSA and DHS.

Rus said...

I also find it interesting that Bob made the comment:

"This kills me. Pun intended… Please provide an example of when an automobile accident crippled our economy?"

So, it appears that (probably to no-ones great surprise), that safety is at best a tertiary goal of all this. IE:

Priority 1: Condition the citizen-taxpayers (hereforth to be referred to as surfs) to hand over their ID to any government employee, regardless of any legitimate reason. Reinforce the lowly position of said surf by ensuring that a number of employees, falsely dressed as legitimate Law Enforcement Officers, act like thugs and mis-handle surfs and their meager professions. If the surf dares to look the crown in the eye, off with their heads (metaphorically speaking)


Priority 2: Ensure that those at the "top" continue to get their kickbacks, bribes and favors at the expense of the citizen-taxpayer. I'm sure if one were to follow the money trail for all these fancy puffers and blowers and x-ray machines and whatever ridiculously overpriced and under performing products come along, it would end up in the wallet of one of "President" Bushes gang of thieves, or at least one of their buddies from the yacht club.


3. Security Theater - make sure that you put the citizen-taxpayer through the grinder, and don't forget to make them discard their drinks so they have to pay twice as much again on the other side. Ensure airside vendors are controlled through large corporations run by friends of "President" Bush.

But don't worry about all that cargo going unscreened, the airlines have to make a buck, yes?

Anonymous said...

I have a statement about complaints that doesn't violate SSI. The complaint form is also a compliment form and one day we will get a compliment about how professional and polite we are and the next day it will be a complaint about how rude and unprofessional we are. Without specifics these type statements just balance each other out and we shrug our shoulders and move on.

MSO Tso

Trollkiller said...

How did Blogger Bob get so darned handsome?

It's all about the tie.

Anonymous said...

How many terrorists has TSA caught?

Jim Huggins said...

Someone wrote:

Since the TSA does not take any measures at all to reduce the 30 - 40 thousand deaths that occur every year in the United States due to autmobile accidents, why does it feel compelled to systematically trample on people's rights in the name of preventing a few hundred deaths from terrorism?

Bob replied:

This kills me. Pun intended… Please provide an example of when an automobile accident crippled our economy?

With respect Bob ... I think you're not seeing the point of the questioner.

Someone repeatedly posts on these pages (sorry, I can't find the reference) an analysis that shows that (a) since more people are choosing to drive instead of fly to distant locations because of heightened airport security procedures, and (b) since the risk of dying while in an automobile is significantly higher than dying while in an airplane, we get the conclusion that (c) more people are dying because of heightened airport security procedures. This ends up making transportation (in general) less safe, not more safe.

No, one automobile accident won't cripple the economy. (Though I suppose it depends on which one ... the automobile accident that killed Princess Diana probably affected the UK economy for awhile.) But we don't notice the hundreds (or thousands) of extra deaths that happen because people choose to drive rather than fly ... because all of those deaths occur in isolation, three or four at a time. The only reason those deaths don't cripple the economy is because we're not afraid of car accidents, while we are afraid of plane crashes.

But now we get back to the point ... is it TSA's mission to preserve the economy, or make transportation safer? If the former, there's a lot of other things you could do ... like figure out how to cut the price of oil so that my airline won't have to charge me $15 to check my bag (which, by the way, gives me a serious incentive to bring all my stuff through the checkpoint so that y'all have to look at it). But I'm sure you'd agree that this isn't TSA's job. TSA job is to make transportation safer. The question is ... at what cost?

This oversimplifies a lot of the argument, and I'm not necessarily sure I agree with it. But I think there's an interesting philosophical point in there that is worth discussion. (Maybe not here, though.)

Anonymous said...

jim huggins said...

I've asked this several times without an official answer. But you invited non-lurkers to ask, so I'll ask ...

Current SOP requires passengers to present ID and a boarding pass to enter the screening checkpoint. IDs are being validated to ensure that the passenger matches the ID. But IDs aren't matched against the
selectee/no-fly lists; they are matched against boarding passes, which are unauthenticated. Given that it's trivially easy to forge a boarding pass, how does presentation of validated IDs do anything to ensure that people on selectee/no-fly lists don't enter the sterile area?

July 18...

Unfortunately the validation of the no-fly list still rests in the hands of the airlines. TSA does not have the equipment(yet, I hope) to check against the list. So in the meantime, TSO's do what ever they can do to check identity. Although that may not be the answer you are looking for, hopefully things will get better.

Hope this helps just a bit.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm Liquid policy bad.. Screen for the bad stuff (SCREEN) Screen is NOT an instantaneous activity now is it. So then the gripe would become "Why do they have to screen all our liquids and take so much time??"

Phil said...

Jim Huggins asked:

"is it TSA's mission to preserve the economy, or make transportation safer"

TSA's mission statement is "The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce."

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Phil: "
TSA's mission statement is "The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce."


My irony meeter just pegged.

Robert

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes (in response to a question of mine):

Unfortunately the validation of the no-fly list still rests in the hands of the airlines. TSA does not have the equipment(yet, I hope) to check against the list. So in the meantime, TSO's do what ever they can do to check identity. Although that may not be the answer you are looking for, hopefully things will get better.

Which means that, basically, that the ID check gives no assurance that people on the selectee/no-fly lists don't get a free pass into the sterile area. As such, I wonder what purpose it serves ...

Michael said...

To all, this is my 2 cents. I work in a field that puts me on both sides of the fence. Current screening is a pain in the rear. As far as TSA just being a show, I disagree. Lets look at it this way. If you lock your car door it doesn't stop anyone from stealing it, but it is a deterent. If you add an alarm it makes that deterent stronger, but it can still be stolen. It all depends on how motivated an individual that wants to commit the act is. If a "bad guy/gal" wants to do bad he/she can. There are lots of items out on the market that can be used to do bad things. As a culture that wants to try and be safe and get from point A to B in one piece, all we can do is our best. There is no perfect system. There will always be change. Get over it. Tolerate others. The screeners don't make the rules, but it is their job to do it. It is your choice to fly. You are choosing to go through that screening. Driving and walking are options. And yes i do feel safer now that TSA is screening. We as Americans cherish our rights to privacy but flying with 200 other people is not private. Maybe we should all fly in our birthday suits. thats my 2 cents.

BlognDog said...

Since the TSA does not take any measures at all to reduce the 30 - 40 thousand deaths that occur every year in the United States due to autmobile accidents, why does it feel compelled to systematically trample on people's rights in the name of preventing a few hundred deaths from terrorism?

This kills me. Pun intended… Please provide an example of when an automobile accident crippled our economy?


1) AFAIK, the TSA's mission is to make travel safe, not to protect the economy

2) No terror incident has ever "crippled" an economy. Acts of terror and accidents all have economic costs associated with them, generally in proportion to the scale of the accident, although arguably a small accident that kills, for example, a rock star who sells millions of dollars worth of music and concert tickets might have a bigger economic impact than the death of a bus load of migrant fruit harvesters. But the causation of a death (by terror group, by car accident, by lightning strike, whatever) has no impact on the extent of economic damage.

3) If the mission of the TSA was changed to "protecting the economy," the first thing they would need to do is address the enormous drag on the economy, loss of productivity, opportunity cost, inefficiency, and other economic burdens that result from having millions of man-hours lost every day in the process of satisfying TSA's "security" procedures. This is an economic cost that FAR outweighs anything that has ever resulted from any terrorist activity.

4) In addition to imposing a greater economic burden than the terrorism it supposedly prevents (not that there has been has measurable decline in the long-term average number of deaths from terror since the establishment of the TSA), it is likely that the TSA policies themslves cause more deaths than they prevent. It's clear that the hassles associated with security have led to increased numbers of people to choose to travel by road, a statistically far more dangerous mode of travel than going by air; the end result is that more people die, not less, so it doesn't look like TSA procedures can be defended on either a safety or an economic basis.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Michael wrote:
Maybe we should all fly in our birthday suits.

It'd probably speed up the process! :D

winstonsmith said...

To Mr. Anonymous who asks:

Paging Mr. Smith, Mr. winstonsmith, please come to the TSA blog, we have an important message for you. Where have you gone? We miss your comments and questions.

I'm still here. Just have a lot less time to devote to writing in these past couple of weeks due to some huge things going on at the job that actually allows me to support the folks who depend on me to keep the food in the belly and the roof over their heads.

Been spending a great deal of time in airports of late and am still consistently appalled by what I see. I cooperate with the people at the TSA podium. I remove my shoes and pull out my "Freedom Baggie" and just get through the screening ordeal on my twice weekly series of Constitutional violations as I strut and fret my way across the stage of Kip Hawley's Security Theater Matinée.

I can say that I'm pleased with the quality of the posts in this particular thread, particular with the fine work that Trollkiller has done in putting up the poll of questions, which I took the time to answer, although I'm not sure I managed to get to in time to have my votes count.

In the spirit of contribution, here are my 10 questions:

1. How many actual terrorists has the TSA caught since it came into existence?

2. How many actual terrorists has the TSA caught since it came into existence using its new and improved methods that were not in place on 9/10/2001 that it otherwise would not have caught were those methods not in place?

3. How many lawsuits have been filed against TSA alleging harrassment or infringments of civil rights in any court?

4. How is it that not every person entering the sterile area of an airport gets screened each and every time he or she enters the area.

5. How is it that not every vehicle entering the tarmac area of the airport gets screened each and every time it enters the area?

6. How is it that 7 years after 9/11/2001 that we are flying on top of unscreened cargo?

7. How is it that you are able to check my political affiliation should I refuse to produce valid identification?

8. How is it that you have not seen fit to answer Trollkiller's very valid legal questions?

9. How is it that the TSA is free to violate the Constitution as a matter of policy, specifically: the first amendment guarantees of freedom of assembly; the 5th amendment guarantees of due process; the 6th amendment guarantees of being able to be confronted by one's accusers; and the 14th amendment guarantees of equal protection and treatment of all under the law?

10. Where are the unadulterated images from the strip search machines, why have the frontal images that you posted on the blog not been posted in Phoenix where you have put one of them (I fly through there frequently and I do look), and why are the signs for the virtual strip search machines in English only when half the population in Phoenix is Spanish language dominant?

Tomas said...

Michael said...
To all, this is my 2 cents. I work in a field that puts me on both sides of the fence. Current screening is a pain in the rear. As far as TSA just being a show, I disagree. Lets look at it this way. If you lock your car door it doesn't stop anyone from stealing it, but it is a deterent. If you add an alarm it makes that deterent stronger, but it can still be stolen.

With putting alarms on one's home or vehicle what one is doing is increasing the chance the 'bad guy' could be caught. The way that helps to protect you is to simply make it easier, simpler, safer for the bad guy to move on to a nome or vehicle hat does NOT have an alarm - there are plenty of choices.

That's the trick, Michael: You aren't actually reducing the total bad acts, but simply moving the target from your to your neighbor's property.

It all depends on how motivated an individual that wants to commit the act is. If a "bad guy/gal" wants to do bad he/she can.

and will...

There are lots of items out on the market that can be used to do bad things. As a culture that wants to try and be safe and get from point A to B in one piece, all we can do is our best. There is no perfect system. There will always be change. Get over it. Tolerate others. The screeners don't make the rules, but it is their job to do it.

The TSOs are increasing the difficulty of staging an attack from the passenger compartment of a commercial airliner, but in so doing the are for the most part redirecting the bad guy to some easier target, not stopping him.

It may be a mass of folks lined up waiting to be screened, it may be at an amusement park, it may be a crowded theater or restaurant, it may be an athletic stadium, but it will probably be some place without the screening that is destroying air travel. If they really want to, they will.

It is your choice to fly. You are choosing to go through that screening. Driving and walking are options.

Now here I must disagree with all those who keep repeating that idea.

If I need to get to Florida because of a death in the family, or whatever, my only real option (from Seattle) is flying. Even if I were not handicapped and limited to walking about 200 feet at a time.

A 3000 mile trip by car is not time or cost effective, nor is bus or train really that great a choice (though if the time is available, train is an enjoyable choice for me).

By car that is a tiring two week round trip with over 6000 miles of fuel, two weeks of motel costs, and two weeks of eating out, and that is not even counting ANY time spent at the destination.

Another problem is that neither bus nor train will allow me to carry or check my firearm for such a trip (Florida grants reciprocity to my concealed carry license), and there are a number of states between here and Florida where having a firearm in my vehicle is distinctly frowned upon.

Only air can get me from one corner of this country to the other at a reasonable cost, in a reasonable time, and with my legal firearm. (No, don't even ask: It is going with me.)

It's not really a "choice" to fly: If for whatever reason I must get from here to wherever within a confined time period and at a workable cost, air travel is the only real-life option. This isn't a small country. LA to NY is roughly equivalent to Lisbon to Moscow...

(...and I won't even bother to mention driving to Hawai'i.) :o)

sporkboy said...

At my local kitchen store they were pushing ceramic kitchen knives. I didn't like them as they are too light for my normal kitchen work but the lady said that lots of people like them.

The blades are now durable for daily kitchen work as they have figured out the brittleness issues with the ceramic blade. My question regards weather or not these knives are caught or not. I'm not sure what the handles are made of but I would hope there is some sort of metal in there but it was really light.

Technical bits aside the ceramic kitchen knife is within the financial reach of most people and should be widely available. What kind of safeguards does TSA have to defend against these blades?
Thanks,
Graham

HSVTSO Dean said...

Phil wrote:
However, the thousands of low-level TSA agents who work airport checkpoints, those who turn over at something like 30% per year, are allowed to see the policy...

Sucks, huh? :D

You know what this means, don't you? It means that you, too - even Mr. Gilmore himself - could just get a job with the TSA if ya'll want to see these security directives bad enough, since you don't have to have a top position within the organization to do so.

That used to be a problem a while back, the SOP was kept secret even from the TSOs by the FSDs, who ran the airports like their own little fiefdoms. That's changed, now; about.. oh.. five years ago or so I'd say, it was explicitly stated that the standard operating procedures and all relevant security directives and such must be made available to the TSOs.

Though, incidentally, if you did get the job you'd probably find out first-hand why the turnover rate is so high.

CBGB said...

@dean

not if some TSOs are patting down bare skin :)

Anonymous said...

"
Since the TSA does not take any measures at all to reduce the 30 - 40 thousand deaths that occur every year in the United States due to autmobile accidents, why does it feel compelled to systematically trample on people's rights in the name of preventing a few hundred deaths from terrorism?

@bob: This kills me. Pun intended… Please provide an example of when an automobile accident crippled our economy?"

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

Bob, TSA is crippling our economy and killing people. 2,000,000 people per day doing the TSA-hokey-pokey-dance has a real cost:
millions of passengers choose more risky forms of travel and some die.

TSA's layers of security could at best provide only marginal safety improvements over the pre-existing measures, like the armored cockpit doors.

TSA cannot claim credit for saving the economy without a real accounting of its costs. 2,000,000 person-hours per day is just one of the TSA taxes on our economy. What does it buy us that we didn't already pay for? Jobs for 100K TSA employees?

Anonymous said...

Has the black diamond program been working and will it become permanent/expanded to all airports?

HSVTSO Dean said...

Sporkboy wrote:
What kind of safeguards does TSA have to defend against these blades?

The fact that, aside from the fact that they're not made of metal and, so, don't show up like a blazing beacon of light atop the Vulcan, these kinds of things typically have a very distinctive x-ray footprint on the screen.

TSA has known about these things for years, yo. The training documentation on them goes all the way back to 2003.

CBGB:

not if some TSOs are patting down bare skin :)


Hey, everyone boneheads something every now and again. :P

Anonymous wrote:
Has the black diamond program been working...

That depends wildly upon whom you ask. :P

Anonymous wrote:
...and will it become permanent/expanded to all airports?

Not likely. There are some things with the Evolution that is going everywhere - a few new signs, new uniforms, metal badges - and there are some things that are not.

We were basically told by a screening manager the other day that we at Huntsville won't be getting the MMW, the AT-4, the new 24-gun WTMDs, the big glo-panel light displays, the whisper systems communication, none of it. Not for a very, very, very long time, anyway.

I'm 26, now, and I'll be thinking that it might come in around the time I'm getting ready to retire.

Personally, though, if all the Evolution was, was new uniforms? I'd totally still be all about it. Anything to get out of that white, man.

Tomas said...

HSVTSO Dean wrote...
You know what this means, don't you? It means that you, too - even Mr. Gilmore himself - could just get a job with the TSA if ya'll want to see these security directives...

Heheheheh... I didn't know TSA/DHS was hiring handicapped 60+ year old medically retired folks, Dean. :o)

Actually, "secret laws" are just too redolent of the stench of the old Soviet.

Any American should expect to not only be provided access to the "laws" they are expected to follow, and if they are accused of not following them, they have every right to know EXACTLY who their accuser is and what law they broke.

Both of those have been tossed aside by this administration, and sadly it will take a long time for us to win our country back from those enemies within. :o(

I'm not blaming the TSAs, Dean, but some of those higher up in the food chain seem way too enthralled with the power they have usurped.

(And a small number of TSAs seem drunk on their own imagined power. They and the higher-ups really are the ones making it hard for the rest of you.)

Hang in there.

NPS said...

Is TSA management training employees on approved ID's. A lot of us who travel cross border between Canada and the US have Government issues Nexus cards, it seems very few TSA ID checkers know what this card is and bluntly refuse to accept it even though you list it as an approved ID.

http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/apis_documents.pdf

Can we get an answer of what the breakdown here is? TSA airport directors not training their employees, employees who couldn't care less or TSA management who put Nexus on the approved document list to travelers by mistake? Is there a reason the ID checkers don't have the above document on hand before they dumbly say "No, we can't accept that"

Consistency here folks!

Anonymous said...

Let me start off my saying that I have worked for TSA since 2002. I am not trying to answer any quesions using any SSI information but I will try to address some of the questions that people are asking. I also want to address some of the hate filled statements that some individuals are making. In fact let me start off with that.
It would be nice to know where some of these individuals work, only in the since that NO ONE works at a place where EVERYONE is perfect. We all work with people that are not professional in thier job, people are rude no matter where you work, and every job has things that they do that, we dont like and would like answers for. That being said, lets try to remember that rule about glass houses.
TSA has certain rules and regulations that the work force is asked to implement and sometimes we cant explain the reasons why, but I will try to address a few of them.
With the ID issue first. It is really simple, we are asking for ID's to verify that the person who is holding the boarding pass is the person standing in front of us. We (TSA Officers) do not check the names on ANY list, that is the airlines job, they provide a boarding pass, we check and verify. It is different for those that do not have any ID, then those that refuse to show an ID. We are ask a few simple questions that help us verify the individual is who they say they are, unless your name is John Smith and you tell me you live in say, LA, it should take only a couple of minutes. If you refuse to show your ID and that is your stance then I (TSA officers) can not verify who you are, and we(TSA) do not have to allow you to proceed through the checkpoint, we send you back to airline and they get to deal with it. In a perfect world this is how it should work, and no it does not happen this way every time, because the circumstances may be different each time.
We are not allowed to see the image, of how was it put one time, "a virtual strip search" machine, of the person being screened using the millimeter wave machine to protect the identify of the person being screened. The information that is on the image and any issues with the scan is relayed to the person who is doing the screening to resolve that issue. If there are no issues then the person is allowed to proceed with out having any additional screening of the individual, unless the bags require additional screening. The person is doing the screening does not get to see the image either, it protects the individuals right to privacy. I believe that we started doing this because of the comments that were being made about everyone having to have a pat down and not wanting that done is public by the way.
Everyone wants better security, we want it to be complete, and everyone wants to be save. But no one wants to wait in order to have this done. Everyone wants to rush through the checkpoint, they get mad when we ask someone to go for secondary screening, and yes sometimes it is just randam, they get mad when they are selected by the airline, SSSS, and they sometimes take it out on the officers who are going to be doing the screening, who had nothing to do with thier being selected. We try to screen everyone has quickly as we can, and also try to be as complete as we can, but for some people that is still not good enough.
I have gone weeks at a time with out anyone saying thank you for what we do, and sometimes I can not go an hour with out someone cussing an officer out, making some type of demand, screaming at us, refusing to comply with some type of screening, telling us they we are idiots, stupid, or telling someone that they are a moron.
I have been spit on, degraded, hollered at, cussed at, and the butt in of a lot of jokes for working for TSA, at yet I am still here, because I believe in what I do. I am a professional in my responses, and I have been a professional in my appearance, and I take pride in what I do.
Now just a little about me: I am a former Marine, a college graduate, and I am almost 50 years old. I know what it is like to have my entire team killed in the bombings of Beirut in 1983, and I know first hand what it is like to go through some horrible times. I do what I do because I dont want anyone else to have to go through that. I read this a couple of times a week. I regret that we have some people that have made the news for some bad decisions that they made, I hope that we all learn from the mistakes of others. Semper Fi

Anonymous said...

I'm a TSO and I'm a "lurker". Obviously I don't post here in response to anything for good reasons. I'm just going to say one thing. We aren't all bad.

Anonymous said...

re: With the ID issue first. It is really simple, we are asking for ID's to verify that the person who is holding the boarding pass is the person standing in front of us. We (TSA Officers) do not check the names on ANY list, that is the airlines job, they provide a boarding pass, we check and verify. It is different for those that do not have any ID, then those that refuse to show an ID. We are ask a few simple questions that help us verify the individual is who they say they are, unless your name is John Smith and you tell me you live in say, LA, it should take only a couple of minutes. If you refuse to show your ID and that is your stance then I (TSA officers) can not verify who you are, and we(TSA) do not have to allow you to proceed through the checkpoint, we send you back to airline and they get to deal with it. In a perfect world this is how it should work, and no it does not happen this way every time, because the circumstances may be different each time

..................................

Lets see if I understand this;

A person who does not have ID gets ask a few questions and you can ID them by those questions, however a person who wishes not to show ID does not get the questions and cannot pass the checkpoint.

How is one different from the other? Hint, it's not!

BS Flag is waving!

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

Lets see if I understand this;

A person who does not have ID gets ask a few questions and you can ID them by those questions, however a person who wishes not to show ID does not get the questions and cannot pass the checkpoint.

How is one different from the other? Hint, it's not!

BS Flag is waving!


Not only is the BS flag waving, it also contradicts what Dean has told us. Dean has stated that there is no difference in how the TSOs are supposed to handle the two situations. I tend to trust that Dean knowns his stuff, so the TSO you were replying to perfectly illustrates one of the problems with the TSA: too many TSOs don't even know their own SOP and need additional training. Or Dean just imagined those flow charts that he mentioned awhile back.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason nobody comments on this site is that it's not really informative to the masses. I work for TSA and to tell you the truth the news we get is already being reported by CNN and Fox before we even get it.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Wintermute wrote:
Or Dean just imagined those flow charts that he mentioned awhile back.

Dean can imagine a great deal of things, since he writes fantasy short-stories as a hobby when he's not playing video games (I'm back into Oblivion right now, for those that know what it is, or care~), but one thing he did not imagine was those flow charts.

There are two of them. One is very rigid with straight lines, the other has big goofy-looking arrows hopping from box to box. Our training coordinator is still trying to figure out why TSA put two of them into it.

An Anonymous person, who I will assume is a TSO:
It is different for those that do not have any ID, then those that refuse to show an ID.

Incorrect. In both instances, the next slot on the flow chart is whether or not the passenger will cooperate with the ID verification process, which is nominally handled with the ID verification form (gotta love the naming scheme there!).

If they are not cooperative, then both of them move to the right -- which is a big red box labeled "Deny entry into sterile area."*

If they are cooperative, then both of them move down, to the white box labeled "Call Ops Center for ID verification."*

An Anonymous person, who I will assume is a TSO:
We are ask a few simple questions that help us verify the individual is who they say they are, unless your name is John Smith and you tell me you live in say, LA, it should take only a couple of minutes.

More or less correct. The TSOs aren't the ones who're supposed to do this - first option is for the BDOs to perform this task, second is for Leads. The powers that be would prefer the TSOs and the STSOs to busy themselves with screening functions.**

An Anonymous person, who I will assume is a TSO:
If you refuse to show your ID and that is your stance then I can not verify who you are, and we do not have to allow you to proceed through the checkpoint,

I think what he meant by "and that is your stance" is by way of saying that you also refuse to cooperate with the ID verification process. This is another example of what I meant by people not using enough words to convey their ideas. If that's the case, then that's correct. If that's not the case, then he's patently incorrect (rather like that one screener who declared, with all confidence, that prescription bottles had to have the labels on them).

In other news, though, I may have discovered the root of these discrepancies in the form of a supervisor attending some kind of big training event:

We here at Huntsville have at least one hour a day set aside for training.

Supervisors at some of the larger airports told my supervisor that sometimes they were lucky to get one hour a week.

Another Anonymous person, also whom I will assume to be a TSO, wrote:
I work for TSA and to tell you the truth the news we get is already being reported by CNN and Fox before we even get it.

Most of the time, that's all too true.

( * - Paraphrased, because I don't have it in front of me, since I'm at home. )

( ** - I don't think the TDC is considered a screening function by the TSA. Screening functions are hand-wanding of passengers, physical searches of property, physical pat-downs of passengers, walk-through metal-detector screening, explosive-trace screening, and x-ray screening. This occurred to me earlier today at work when I glanced over a part of the SOP that dictated TSOs without certifications had to be assinged to non-screening functions [such as exit-lane monitoring, bin-loading, or shoe-running]. Like the fact that the TDC podium exists outside the footprint of the checkpoint, this may very well be another technicality to Trollkiller's legality argument, since I do not believe [though I may be wrong!] the TDC position is considered a screening function.)

Meh. Still waiting for the Top Ten, since I assume TK's question will be answered there more definitely.

"Just trust us, it's a good thing."

...Just kidding. :D

Anonymous said...

Gents,

Some feedback from a retired (and disabled) Marine regarding an experience he had at LAX in July. It is disrespectful, at the very least, not to know of or acknowledge US military IDs as identification. Without further ado, here it is (I have deleted the author's name):

"PS last Month I took the remains of a dear friend home to Hawaii, at LAX

when I went airport security they ask for ID I had my Military ID in a pouch

around my neck. This TSA guy ask three times for it I just held it out he

said "I need a Drivers License or Passport. OK now the line is backed up. I

told him I did not have a Drivers License and did not bring my passport

because I thought Hawaii was still part of the USA!" Bad Idea I was then

escorted to a secondary area. Again ask for ID I took my ID card out and

read it to them Dept of Defense , United States Marine Corps ...They had to

call a supervisor because they had never seen a DOD ID. ...Plus they said I

was uncooperative, ok I am 60+ years old and they said you are to old to be

a Marine and plus your in a wheelchair. Ok now in my most calm voice I

explained "I am Retired from the Marine Corps and I am in this wheelchair

because on 23 Oct 1983 a Building fell on me. OK still no clue..I am dealing

with the people who guard our airports and I am thinking maybe I should go

by boat. Then the Supervisor shows up. He looks at my ID says its fine and I

may pass. Now the to TSA workers are all smiles and tell me they were just

doing their jobs..And oh by the way they have a friends son that is in the

Marines and do I know him...I wish I knew him because I think I still know

people that could get him orders to someplace the devil would not enjoy!

TSA what a great Minimum Wage outfit!"

By the way, the author's mention of October 23, 1983 refers to the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon by terrorists using a truck bomb. Well over 200 personnel were killed. People should remember the sacrifices of our military - they pay the ultimate price in big numbers.

T.R. said...

When will the TSA and Mr. Chertoff realize that the U.S. Constitution has not been repealed.

When will the TSA realize that taking a laptop from a traveller without just cause violates the constitution.

Tomas said...

T.R. Wrote...
When will the TSA realize that taking a laptop from a traveller without just cause violates the constitution.

Actually it is border and customs folks who can grab your laptop AT THE BORDER, analyze its content, and keep it for as long as they want, not the TSA.

Border and customs folks have ALWAYS had the power to confiscate anything for any reason (or none) and that is one of the recognized exceptions to constitutional protections granted to all ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN GRANTED ADMISSION.

PLEASE read and understand the history of border entry before declaring this unconstitutional: All the courts have done is to affirm that the rules remain the same as they have been for the last 200 years and clarify that they apply to laptops, cellphones and MP3 players, too.

I'm not going to bother to repeat all the readily available information on this - Google is your friend in many cases...

(Note I'm only replying to your single sentence, NOT to your comment about Chertoff, with which I agree.)

Ayn R. Key said...

Hi guys, I'm back form my blog vacation.

Anyway, I've got a question to throw into the mix.

Laptop seizures, laptom detaining, and data security.

Suppose I'm an employee of Coca-Cola, and I've got our secret formula on my hard drive - yes, Coca-Cola knows I have it and are ok with me having it. How will I know it will be safe if you reserve the right to detain laptops without warrants and mine the data without warrants? Suppose I'm a laywer and I have my client's legally protected attorney-client information on there, making you felons if you access the documents?

What will you do with those who encrypt their hard drives and password protect in the BIOS? How do you plan on staying ahead of those who want privacy and load systems like TrueCrypt?

Unfortunately I think this is too new a question to be included in the "top 10" but I hope you decide to address it soon.

Ayn R. Key said...

I realized now that my question is more of a DBP and ICE question, even though those two and the TSA are both part of the Department of Fatherland Security.

Does the TSA ever inspect laptop contents? If so, the question still stands.

Anonymous said...

Nope the TSA does look at the contents of someones laptop other than through a physical x ray or inspection and ETD test.

Anonymous said...

Re " Anonymous said...

I'm a TSO and I'm a "lurker". Obviously I don't post here in response to anything for good reasons. I'm just going to say one thing. We aren't all bad."

I know. The real question is whether the good that TSA does balances out the bad. 2,000,000 passengers per day, each spending the TSA-recommended extra hour to half-protect against something less likely than a lightning strike seems like a huge waste.

Compared to what we get from TSA, how much good could be done with 2,800,000* person-hours per day?

(*including 100K of you TSAers)?

billy b said...

USA Today front page story on August 8 states TSA will decide whether people like myself with long-held concealed-carry permits will become felons by traveling on a freeway that leads to an airport. This is a bad idea, and would become quite a hot potato for the TSA. TSA employees should kindly refrain from interfering with State laws. Please stop barking up the wrong tree!
Thanks

Anonymous said...

You have to remember that this a FEDERAL agency, so they have to hire a certain number of people from every group to have DIVERSITY. Qualifications are not as important as gender and race. The way the agency runs is as a big bureacracy, all changes come slowly as groups decide what is best. The truth is many good people leave because of the "punishing" ways of the Government. Passengers' want to know if poor performance is punished, Oh yes. Of course the most common "sins" are not bad performance on the job, but being 1 minute late (docked for 15 minutes and possibly written up) and not being in uniform, NO TIE! how can you lift 200 bags without a tie?! Again, written up for such minor abuses, many good people have opted for other jobs instead putting up with so much BS for mediocre pay. The standard of training is getting better, with much more checking, again if you don't make the grade, you get hit. The real work is dificult, the changes constant, with little or no recognition for real ability or extra effort. Trying to treat everybody the same even though you are looking for that 2%, means that you will have to treat everbody like suspects. More security will mean more inconvienence, can't get around it. In time the operation will get better if allowed too. BUT the pay scale WILL have to go up to attract the level of professionals you want. Bear with it.

Anonymous said...

Is the TSA a God-Centered and Faith-Based organization?

Jeff said...

As a business traveler who flies every week to many different cities, I find that some airports ask to see the "checked" boarding pass after passing though the scanner and other do not. Why isn't there a consistent policy at all airports? Since all screening is done by TSA, shouldn;t there be a single national policy on this? Some places I put away my boarding pass and then have to get it. Other times I am ready to present it and no one cares. Can't TSA pick one way and use it everywhere?

Jim Huggins said...

Ayn R. Key writes:

Suppose I'm an employee of Coca-Cola, and I've got our secret formula on my hard drive - yes, Coca-Cola knows I have it and are ok with me having it. How will I know it will be safe if you reserve the right to detain laptops without warrants and mine the data without warrants? Suppose I'm a laywer and I have my client's legally protected attorney-client information on there, making you felons if you access the documents?

Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. (But I have watched a lot of lawyers on TV. :)) So, this is my personal opinion only.

My best guess is that, in either case, you're the one who's in trouble, not DHS. DHS has told you that they might inspect anything you bring through the border ... so you're on notice that bringing that information through puts the information at risk of disclosure.

DHS wouldn't be liable (civilly or criminally). DHS didn't sign the non-disclosure agreement with Coca-Cola: you did. DHS isn't bound by attorney-client privilege, because it's not acting as anyone's attorney: you are.

If I was an attorney, and left my client's confidential files sitting on an open table at a restaurant, and someone else read them, they wouldn't be at fault: I would be.
Similarly, if I bring a laptop through border control with confidential information on it, and I know that someone at DHS might look at it, and someone does, it's my fault for putting that information there in the first place.

We're criticizing TSA for letting one of its contractors act carelessly with a laptop containing confidential information. Should we not apply the same standards to ourselves?

Tomas said...

A couple months ago I asked the customs service about privileged information on computers. Below are my question and their answer. I think that pretty much says it all. :o(

________________
Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it within the next 7 days.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

06/30/2008 06:20 PM
________________
I've seen numerous news items, and a couple of news releases, about USCBP demanding to search the content of personal laptop computers and hard drives being brought back into the United States. There has even been talk of the 'right' of CBP to copy the contents and retain them.

My question is solely about privileged communications between myself and my attorneys that resides on my laptop, and in it's backup hard drive: Are those privileged communications still protected from discovery and perusal as they should be, and if so, how does one indicate this to CBP folks wanting access to them?
________________

08/06/2008 09:01 PM
________________
They are not. However, the Privacy Act prohibits U.S. CBP from releasing said confidential information.
________________

Tomas said...

In response to Billy B above mentioning the current TSA look into banning legally carried firearms on all airport property, including parking lots and roadways, let me add two things.

I have been licensed to legally carry firearms for decades, and do so on a regular basis. If I'm heading to an airport to pick someone up or drop them off, I WILL have my weapon with me.

If TSA decides to ban even legally carried firearms from terminal buildings, I could possibly go along with it and leave my weapon locked in the mounted secure gun case in my vehicle, but if the TSA attempts to ban firearms from roads, highways and parking lots on airport property, they are going to very simply run into great resistance and most likely civil disobedience of an unacceptable fiat.

Unless the TSA is going to provide me with armed escort from home to airport, they'd better leave me at least a place to park within the confines of the airport where I can secure the weapon(s) I carry.

Additionally, the rules allow me this one remaining means of public transportation to transport my firearms legally cross country with me, from one place where I have legal permission to carry to another.

If TSA determines that US citizens are not allowed to bring legally carried firearms into airport terminals, how will it be possible for me to check them for travel with me?

TSA, think VERY carefully about this. Many of us still believe we have a RIGHT to be armed to protect ourselves from black hats - in our out of our government.

Here's the USA Today article:

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2008-08-07-tsa-gun-ban_N.htm

Anonymous said...

I am a TSO and I will take a shot at these, you may not get the answers you want to hear, but at least you get answers.

1) What logical sense does it make to xray a ziploc bag full of liquids, when xrays are incapable of distinguishing the volatility of liquids?

The point of Xraying liquids is to ensure there is no tampering to the actual container/liquid itself.

2) What is the logic for xraying shoes to detect explosives (see question #1)?

Normal shoes show up normally, while shoes with explosives are very easy to spot with an xray. (I.E. they look a LOT different.)

3) What is the logic in requiring photo ID at checkpoints (especially for domestic travel), when TSA "officers" are not even capable of finding my last name correctly on said document?

Unless an ID has been amended, the last name is always on the first page. It sounds like you have a passport that was altered after marriage. The page for that amendment is on the other side of a passport than the "normal" page. And ID is required, just like a VIN for a car, serial number for any electronic you purchase, everything must be verifible.

4) Other than window dressing and additional expense, what is the rationale for TSA's new uniforms, and elevating their title to "officer" for screeners?

TSO's have always been federal officers. Even before the new uniforms. The point of the badge and uniform is to express calmness while maintaining the responsibility that TSO's have every day of making sure you and your loved ones are safe.

5) If the strategy at play is discretion, why do air marshalls, flight deck officers, and other firearm-carrying individuals draw inordinate attention to themselves by entering airports through the exit lanes, and continue to board flights early?

Good question. That is one I cannot give you a credible answer as a TSO. Some airports have a crew/employee only lane that allows armed personnel a little more "privacy." My suggestion is if you are that worried, keep mentioning it until you can get a better answer than the one I was able to provide.

6) Besides "another layer," what possible benefit do random gate screenings have on aviation security?

Gate screening is there to protect against anyone with all airport access that do not pass through a TSA checkpoint. Those people can pass off items to a cleared passenger. And yes, it has happened.

As promised, I gave answers to your questions. Not all were answered the "best" they could have been, but I hope I was able to help.

Anonymous said...

I don't actually have questions. I read this in order to keep up on what's happenning. As an ex-pat with kids, I really appreciate some of the changes, such as the "green" line, as we have two toddlers and lots of baggage, car seats, strollers, etc. I have seen a real change in the attitude of screeners to be more professional and helpful and we appreciate it. Last time we came back from Disney, 8 suitcases, two car seats two strollers, 4 carry ons,a backpack, a diaper bag a purse, and a swim noodle, and we were amazed at how smoothly it went. We really appreciate the addition of benches after security, so we can sit down, get everyone's shoes back on, gather laptops and stuffed animals, and regroup.

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