Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why?


Starting today, the Ad Council will launch the “Why?” campaign. The campaign will explain the reasons behind some of TSA’s most controversial security procedures. The goal of this public awareness effort is to reach the largest audience possible explaining to the traveling public what TSA does and why we do it.

Launching just before the take off of the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel season, videos and Web banners will be posted online and complemented by national radio messages. Travelers will find bits and pieces of the campaign when they visit major travel and airline Web pages. They will also see “Why?” at TSA.gov.

More than 23 million passengers were screened at our checkpoints last year during the holiday season, and many of those passengers travel infrequently. Those are the travelers we’d most like to reach. Passenger feedback has shown us that people are more willing to comply with security procedures if they understand the “why” behind the measure. It’s true that for every security protocol there is a relevant security concern. TSA uses its partnerships with law enforcement, global allies and with other federal agencies to review and update security measures based on current information.

As a former Transportation Security Officer, I can attest to the fact that the novice or infrequent travelers slow down the lines a great deal. So by combining the “Why?” effort with the expanded Family/Medical Liquids lanes, TSA is working to increase security while improving the passenger experience. The family lanes will enable families, first time travelers to go through a line where they won’t be rushed or pressured. We are also encouraging people with larger medical liquids in tow to use this lane as well so we can inspect these larger liquids.

TSA’s partnership with the Ad Council will cover a variety of measures. During Thanksgiving the focus is on some of the common pain points: why must I take off my shoes?, why limited liquids in a baggie?.

The bottom line is TSA wants passengers to know that we are on your side and you play a role in security by being ready and cooperative at the checkpoint.

Check out the Videos:

The videos feature one of our very own Transportation Security Officers.
EoS Blog Team

115 comments:

Phil said...

Without even viewing your videos, I can see that you are again misleading the public.

There is no way to answer the question, "why do I have to show ID?" because people do not have to show ID in order to cross your checkpoints. It's not a requirement, and it never has been.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Phil said...

Why are you again posting videos -- publicly funded and aimed at the public -- in a proprietary format (Windows Media)?

We discussed this in March. Then, I wrote:

"You, part of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, chose (unintentionally, I assume) to supply a video not in a format that is free for anyone to use for any purpose without permission, but rather in a proprietary format that, although seemingly not a problem to use, is restricted by a for-profit corporation. The ability to compile Windows Media playback software is restricted by Microsoft, and thus it doesn't happen unless they allow it. Though it's relatively simple for most computer users to acquire such software today, this might not be the case tomorrow. All of this could be alleviated by using open standards.

"Alternatives to Windows Media Video that are free as in "free speech" not just free as in "free beer" include Xvid, H.264, and Ogg Theora. These video codecs can be used in a variety of container formats, including AVI, Quicktime, OGM, Matroska, MP4, and 3GP."


Windows Media players are now available free-of-charge to those who have paid Microsoft or Apple to use their operaring systems. Some Windows Media can be played on other operating systems, but only becuase of the efforts of others who reverse-engineered it. Our ability to view these videos you have produced for us depends entirely upon cooperation with a commercial entity.

Why are you collaborating with Microsoft to make public property less free?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

How much of my tax money are you wasting to lie to the public like this?

Earl Pitts said...

I'm disappointed to see the Ad Council spots being used for propaganda. I don't think that spreading propaganda and misleading the public is a worthy use of the Ad Council. If anything, it diminishes its credibility.

I guess TSA figures it doesn't have any credibility left so it's trying to borrow from an organization that still has some.

khurt said...

I have decided that most awareness campaigns are actually spin.

Anonymous said...

Phil said...
Without even viewing your videos, I can see that you are again misleading the public.

There is no way to answer the question, "why do I have to show ID?" because people do not have to show ID in order to cross your checkpoints. It's not a requirement, and it never has been.
_____________________________________________________

You seem to be a sad person who just wants to find confrontation in everything. Everyone wants their questions answered, they ask over and over again. When answers are given they still are not happy. But I have read this site enough times that I know it is the same sorry 5, 6 or 7 people complaining, complaining, complaining. Traveling is, what it is, get over yourself. There are so many people who are happy to comply with TSA's rules. Your complaints are not ganna get you anywhere. All's they are going to do is hold you up in front of your computer all the time not having a life because you are too worried about things that the general public does not even think twice about.

Jim Huggins said...

First ... kudos for trying to get out front on answering questions.

Now, to the nitpicking. :)

I viewed the "Why ID?" video ... and, frankly, TSA missed the point here. As many have pointed out here, presenting valid identity documents doesn't tell you anything about a passenger's past actions or future intensions.

And TSA almost understands that ... because I noticed the quick line that said that electronic boarding pass scanning (and, by implication, verification) is coming soon. Why do you include that in the video? Of course, because that's the missing piece of the loop: the connection of a passenger's identity documents with the selectee/no-fly lists (which are used in the granting of boarding passes).

TSA would've done much better if it would've addressed the issue directly. TSA asks for and validates IDs in order to compare them against boarding passes, which have been compared against the selectee/no-fly lists. Boarding passes are currently unauthenticated, but TSA is working on that.

Wouldn't that have been a better answer?

Jim Huggins said...

I also viewed the "Why Liquids" video, which answers the question, "Why are my carry-on liquids limited to 3 ounces?"

[ahem]

PASSENGERS ARE NOT LIMITED TO 3 OUNCE LIQUIDS. THEY ARE LIMITED TO 100 ML LIQUIDS!

When you say that over 80 countries have adopted your standards, you're incorrect. 80 countries adopted the 100ml standard.

Seriously, would it be all that difficult just to say 100-1-1 instead of 3-1-1 ... ESPECIALLY on a brand new video that you just made?

Anonymous said...

Those videos are not closed captioned nor are transcripts provided. Good going, TSA. Thanks SO much for leaving a Deaf guy who genuinely wants to know what's going on, out.

Andrew

Anonymous said...

Nice vids... hope they work.

Anonymous said...

"Nice vids... hope they work."

I hope not, since "working" would mean "convincing the public to believe the lies TSA is trying to shovel down our throats."

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Your answer to "why" is "Just because TSA thinks so." Everything else in the videos is "How."

On "Why ID?", you say boarding pass scanners are the next step. Are you going to have them in place by this holiday season? Until you do, checking IDs is security theater. You still have the problem of not being able to verify that the boarding pass the potential terrorist presents that matches their ID is the one that the airline issued.

If you encourage people to ask "Why?" with these Sesame Street videos, they might soon get to the more important question "Why TSA?" Why spend 6B$/yr to, at best, divert some terrorists to blowing up some other target, like one of your conveniently crowded checkpoints. We should spend the money on your "global partners" instead.

BTW, in your liquids video, it looks like you get the 3.4oz/100ml thing wrong again. Why?

Tomas said...

Anonymous wrote...
Those videos are not closed captioned nor are transcripts provided. Good going, TSA. Thanks SO much for leaving a Deaf guy who genuinely wants to know what's going on, out.

Andrew


Per federal regulations, the video (and all on-line pages) put out for the public by DHS/TSA MUST be accessible per http://www.section508.gov/

From that site: "Section 508 requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. IT Accessibility & Workforce Division, in the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy, has been charged with the task of educating Federal employees and building the infrastructure necessary to support Section 508 implementation. Using this web site, Federal employees and the public can access resources for understanding and implementing the requirements of Section 508."

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Adrian McCarthy said...

None of these videos actually answer "Why?". "Because identity matters" is not an answer.

The videos are factually incorrect. For example, the liquids rule is 100 mL per bottle, not 3 ounces.

Why is there no warning to people not to wear shoes with electronic gadgets like pedometers? Twice I've been stuck behind athletes trying to demonstrate to TSOs that they gizmo in their shoes link wirelessly to their iPod in order to motivate their exercise regimen.

Ad Council has been turned from a respectable public service organization to a propaganda mouthpiece. So sad.

And what's with the new comment form not working from Firefox?

Sandra said...

When an organization has to release this kind of propaganda, it is often because the organization in question is making an attempt to legitimatize its own procedures.

To the apologists here, the TSA is being met more and more often from travelers of all levels with total skepticism regarding "security" procedures.

When I first began to take note of the security circus, the majority of the flying public was still accepting of TSA procedures. About the only people who saw through the smoke screen were participants at FlyerTalk. That has now totally changed.

The majority of the flying public now sees security "procedures" for what they really are and does not believe that any of the dog and pony show at checkpoints does anything to make us safer.

Unfortunately, TSA has "done good" at one thing: instilling fear into the flying public should they choose to protest checkpoint procedures. Therefore, the majority of people are afraid to speak up about maltreatment at the hands of the TSA. They are afraid they will miss a flight, that their name will get on some list some where or some other form of retribution for speaking out will fall down upon them.

So, folks, this is nothing but another attempt by the TSA to justify its existence. Only the sheep will accept and believe.

~~

Thank you, Phil, for being so dogged in your attempts to make the TSA take responsibility for its actions. I, for one, truly appreciate your tenacity.

Sandra said...

Andrew wrote:

"Those videos are not closed captioned nor are transcripts provided. Good going, TSA. Thanks SO much for leaving a Deaf guy who genuinely wants to know what's going on, out."

Yes, Andrew, one would think that someone at TSA would be intelligent enough to realize that not everyone viewing their videos can hear, but as with everything else the TSA does, that is not the case.

Anonymous said...

Why? That is SSI. You do what the TSO wants you to do regardless. Do you want to fly today? Better toe the line.

Anonymous said...

"one would think that someone at TSA would be intelligent enough to realize that not everyone viewing their videos can hear"

Why, after the last however many years of shoe carnivals and security theatre and the war on liquids, would one EVER expect ANYTHING resembling intelligence from TSA? TSA is nothing but an arm of al Qaeda at this point.

Anonymous said...

How about answering the real "whys?"

Why does TSA insist on banning liquids when independent scientific/engineering analysis indicates that the liquid-explosives threat is not credible, particularly compared to the solid-explosives threat which TSA is abysmal at detecting?

Why does TSA think it is OK to use a secret blacklist with no due process or means of redress to deny basic freedoms to innocent American citizens?

Why does TSA want to collect information on our flight numbers, seat assignments, destinations, and connection points, with "Secure Flight" if the only purpose of the program is to match names with the blacklist?

Why does TSA think a USSR-like "papers please" society where a passenger must present his internal passport to a government agent in order to request permission to travel is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution and legacy of the founders?

Why does TSA refuse to enforce accountability and discipline on power-tripping TSOs who violate the SOP, confiscate/steal non-prohibited non-threatening items, and abuse children, the disabled, the pregnant, and the elderly?

Anonymous said...

Summary of all the videos: "Why? Because we said so! Now here's what you had better do if you want to fly today."

While I wouldn't quite call the videos propaganda, they're misleadingly titled. They explain what's expected of travelers at airports, which might serve a useful purpose. But they do nothing to explain the rationale behind the mysteriously arbitrary rules and procedures. The assumption seems to be that everyone already buys in to the "fact" that the rules and procedures are necessary and highly effective, it's only a matter of telling inexperienced travelers how to be good docile sheep.

Since it doesn't actually say "Why," it might be better titled "What?" or "Obey!"

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How about answering the real "whys?"

Why does TSA insist on banning liquids when independent scientific/engineering analysis indicates that the liquid-explosives threat is not credible, particularly compared to the solid-explosives threat which TSA is abysmal at detecting?

Why does TSA think it is OK to use a secret blacklist with no due process or means of redress to deny basic freedoms to innocent American citizens?

Why does TSA want to collect information on our flight numbers, seat assignments, destinations, and connection points, with "Secure Flight" if the only purpose of the program is to match names with the blacklist?

Why does TSA think a USSR-like "papers please" society where a passenger must present his internal passport to a government agent in order to request permission to travel is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution and legacy of the founders?

Why does TSA refuse to enforce accountability and discipline on power-tripping TSOs who violate the SOP, confiscate/steal non-prohibited non-threatening items, and abuse children, the disabled, the pregnant, and the elderly?

November 20, 2008 9:00 AM
_____________________________________________________

All of these questions are answered over and over again. Just because you do not like the answers doesn't mean that they have not been covered. Quit wasting space!!!!

Phil said...

Someone anonymously suggested that TSA answer "the real why's" and provided a list of good questions (TSA has not responded).

In response, someone anonymously copied the entire list of questions, then wrote:

"All of these questions are answered over and over again."

No, they haven't. If you disagree, please cite your sources.

Somewhat humorously, this person -- who copied the entire list of questions that he claims have already been answered -- also wrote:

"Quit wasting space!"

Sir or madam, we're laughing at you, not with you.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is stunning propaganda, even for you guys.

A tip: "Because I said so" only works when you're a parent. As the government is neither my mommy nor my daddy, it doesn't work here.

Anonymous said...

All of these questions are answered over and over again. Just because you do not like the answers doesn't mean that they have not been covered. Quit wasting space!!!!

Those questions have not been satisfactorily answered by anyone from either DHS or TSA. They've fed some stock answers out like:

That's SSI.
Trust us.
Remember 9/11.
Because we have your best interests at heart.

Give us some real answers and we might go away. Until then we will 'waste space' with our valid complaints.

Anonymous said...

You have to resort to tax-payer funded propaganda now? How sad.

Alex said...

First,congrats for the post.

Then,I think that these rules,are way too high.

And finally,could you please let us know,some blacklists rules?What rules do you have to blacklist people?

Warm Regards,
Alex

Anonymous said...

Sir or madam, we're laughing at you, not with you.

--
Phil
_____________________________________________________
Phil I bet you are a real hoot to be around (Snore).

Anonymous said...

No, they haven't. If you disagree, please cite your sources.
____________________________________________________
I read this blog, while at work. Just stating the fact that I have never gone home and wasted my own personal time on this garble. I have seen these questions answered. For one example the ban on liquids and ID checks.....
The answers are right here in this blog. The videos at the top of this page. Like I said, if you don't like the answers you disregard them. Just like those two examples, all of the other questions have been answered.
That is all for sources. I am not waisting my time looking for the sources to stuff I don't even care about.

Anonymous said...

I hope not, since "working" would mean "convincing the public to believe the lies TSA is trying to shovel down our throats."

Maybe TSA should include tin foil hats with the ad campaign. That way everyone will be happy. Not just the majority.

Anonymous said...

@ Phil
Sorry Phil... I'm going to have to join the other person. Your post don't help(me) and fill up the blog. Make it hard to read.

@Blog team
Problem: I do believe Phil's opion matters and I'm sure some people want to read them. Others don't want to read them as they are mostly the same stuff over and over again. I also don't like to scroll past them(they are quite long).

Solution: I don't want to limit Phil's post in any way. How bout placing a feature where there is a plus or minus sign next to comments. I can hit the plus sign and it would just hide the comment. If I want to read the comment later I could just hit the minus sign and the comment would show again. That way I can keep up on TSA changes without having to read a TSA thesis by blog lawyers. Just a suggestion.

Ayn R. Key said...

Is there a video that will answer why you think you have legal grounds to conduct MMW searches on people not attempting to access the sterile or secure areas of the airports, as described in blog entries at the end of August or the begninning of September?

Anonymous said...

Okay, a big why. I dare TSA to try and tackle this question sans-spin. Give it a go Paul, Bob... whoever dares! Somehow I doubt there will be any takers...

Why are exceptions to 3-1-1 made only for medically necessary liquid? If a bad guy is trying to get bomb juice through the check point, does it really matter what the label on the bomb juice container says? Your equipment should be able to detect any/all threatening liquid for exceptions to be safely made, therefore it stands to reason that you could just as easily screen a bottle of coke as you could a bottle of liquid codeine.

Now, that being the case, why don't you roll out this wonderful liquid detection technology to every lane at the checkpoint, screen all liquids coming through, and get rid of 3-1-1 which has harmed and inconvenienced thousands of people?

This is simple logic. I get paid way less than you TSA brass and it makes perfect sense to me both from a security standpoint and from a public relations standpoint. You guys see how everything you post is just torn to pieces here right? That's because most of your posts are either defending TSA's latest screwup, pure propaganda, or attempts to "reach out to the community" that are just, well, fake. It doesn't help that you ignore questions you find difficult or inconvenient, that you've never responded to a TSA snafu by saying "We screwed up, this is what we're changing as a result", and that your representatives on the blogosphere (I'm looking at you Bob) enjoy being snarky.

You guys need to get it together. Bold changes need to be made and we're just getting more of the same. This blog isn't a look into the TSA, it's a look into the TSA PR machine, and if you don't see what's wrong with that there's no helping you.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe TSA should include tin foil hats with the ad campaign. That way everyone will be happy. Not just the majority."

It's a plain and simple fact that there is no threat from liquids or shoes, that TSA cannot verify identity with its current procedures, and that verifying identity contributes nothing to security. When TSA claims that these things are true, as it does in these videos, it is lying.

As for anyone being "happy" with TSA, a quick look at how fewer and fewer people fly with each pointless, groundless TSA layer of nonsense puts that notion to rest.

Phil said...

In light of recent complaints about lengthy comments and repeated questions, here are several helpful suggestions for EoS staff:

1. Thoroughly cover an issue when posting about it. The more information you provide up-front, the less your readers will feel the need to tease out of you.

2. Link to supporting information in your posts. This is the World Wide Web. Learn to hyperlink. (And don't respond to a request for a link to a newspaper article that is the topic of your post with "Phil, Phil, Phil... for somebody with a technical background, you sure have a hard time finding information on the web..." Bob, your attempt to avoid bringing attention to an article that cast DHS in a bad light was lame.)

3. When related information that your readers are interested in but that you didn't anticipate when composing your post shows up in the comments, update the post to include that information so readers don't have to wade through the comments to find it.

4. Don't ignore questions from your readers, because we'll just keep asking. If you find that people are frequently asking the same questions, assemble a list of frequently-asked questions along with answers to those questions (perhaps using the community TSA FAQ if you can't accomplish it internally). Link prominently to your FAQ. When a question that comes up in the comments get added to the FAQ, note such in the comments. There are plenty of us here who would be happy to police the comments and refer people who didn't bother to read the FAQ to it when we see a question asked for the 100th time. This problem was solved decades ago with discussions on Usenet.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Thank you Phil, for refusing to take "Because we said so" as an answer.

And to the folks who think that a "because we said so" is a good enough answer from someone in our government to one of our citizens, you are being dangerously un-American. A boring "because Title X USC Section Q, Part Z, Subparagraph n.17.ix says moistness is terrorism" is much more American. That way, we can know our rights.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "Solution: I don't want to limit Phil's post in any way. How bout placing a feature where there is a plus or minus sign next to comments. I can hit the plus sign and it would just hide the comment. If I want to read the comment later I could just hit the minus sign and the comment would show again. That way I can keep up on TSA changes without having to read a TSA thesis by blog lawyers. Just a suggestion."

Better solution: provide the public with real answers and not hiding behind "we say so", "it's SSI" and "it's critical that ..." and I'm sure he'll stop answering.

The one thing that people who complain about the repeated posts don't get is that if TSA would just answer the questions instead of giving nonanswer answers (those don't count), there wouldn't be a need to repeatedly ask.

All we're asking for is real justification and a list of information where everything we need to know can be found. TSA refuses to do either.

As to the other propaganda, does TSA really believe that shoe bombs are the #1 threat to aviation security as the shoe video states? Please. Richard Reid was the only one to EVER attempt this. There have many attempts (and successful ones) at cargo bombs ... Lockerby, Scotland anyone? Maybe TSA thinks that threat rank is like a golf score - the less it's tried the bigger the threat. So do you really think when the videos are filled with information like this that they really answer the question of Why? I don't.

Robert

Anonymous said...

It's a plain and simple fact that there is no threat from liquids or shoes.

I wish that the problem was really that simple. Fact: IT'S NOT. Why aren't your worried about shoe bombs. Whats wrong with you? Seriously. Its well documented that terrorist(real terriost) use shoes as concealment for bombs.

Terrorist use liquid explosives pretty often. Uhhh HTP comes to mind.

Sure you have many reasons not to trust TSA or the government(so scary). Come on. Don't let your hate and mistrust for the government lead you into self enchantment. Come do a tour with me in Iraq and I will show you first hand what liquids can do to you and how dangrous they are.

Hope this helps.

@blog team
and I'm glad to hear that the liquid policy will be gone in late 2010.

Tomas said...

Yes, Phil's repeating the same requests for the same information is tiresome, but I do not blame Phil for it, in fact I congratulate him for continuing.

The folks "answering" questions really do need to understand, somehow, that that a "Why?" question is not satisfied by a "Here's how we do it" reply.

When one asks why, asks for a legitimate, rational, factual, and official justification for seemingly nonsensical actions by the folks who work for us, what is wanted is the basis for the activity.

When gaping holes on the process are pointed out, we quite honestly need more than "it's multiple layers" or "we are working on it."

When serious suggestions are made we need to have those suggestions at LEAST acknowledged.

When very specific errors in the documentation are pointed out, we need to see those errors corrected without delay - by close of next business day would be reasonable - still there after TWO YEARS is not.

In other words, honest, complete as possible answers are desired and needed, not "go away, kid, you bother me" type answers.

Even some of the simple, direct questions I have asked (for example about handicapped access and planning) have gone unanswered.

This blog is a great idea, and a great opportunity, but it needs to be treated with at least the same dedication and attention to detail as goes into keeping 3.5 ounce liquid containers from passing a federal chokepoint.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Bob said...

Andrew Said

Andrew,

Sorry about the delay, but I should be able to post links to the individual scripts sometime tomorrow.

Thanks,

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Flight_Medic said...

Bob

Sorry doesn't cut it in court, and it doesnt either in regards to violations of ADA rules, especially when taxpayer funds where wasted on this project, that causes more questions then answers

Anonymous said...

@Robert Johnson
Better solution: provide the public with real answers and not hiding behind "we say so", "it's SSI" and "it's critical that ..." and I'm sure he'll stop answering.

begin sarcasm
Ohh.. okay. The root of the problem is not phil posting long comments its TSA's fault phil post long comments.

Hmm.. so if TSA just disclosed unauthorized SSI.

Then they would be in violation of the law.(§ 1520.17)

but who passes the law?

ohhh yeah... congress.

So the root cause of phil's long comments is congress and I have no doubt the president was involved.

There seems to be alot of people involved. I think I just stumbled upon a government conspiracy.
end sarcasm

I think phil offered good alternative solutions to mine(the plus or minus solution). I wish some of your would offer good solutions as well.

Just food for thought

Tomas said...

Blogger Bob wrote...
Bob said...

Andrew Said

Andrew,

Sorry about the delay, but I should be able to post links to the individual scripts sometime tomorrow.

Thanks,

Bob

EoS Blog Team

November 20, 2008 6:09 PM

________________

YOUR LINK ABOVE DOES NOT WORK, BOB.

The blog's links are so broken that even the bloggers can't post a link that works.

This has been complained about by comments and e-mails for many months and IT IS STILL BROKEN.

This isn't rocket science, folks - fix your blog.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

"I wish some of your would offer good solutions as well."

Good solutions:

Liquid cannot harm an aircraft. Therefore, end the liquid ban.

Shoes cannot harm an aircraft. Therefore, end the shoe carnival.

ID does nothing to affect security. Therefore, end the minute-long ID checks.

There! Three good solutions that will speed screenings, make citizens traveling by air happier, and do nothing to make air travel less safe!

Al Ames said...

@Anonymous: "I wish that the problem was really that simple. Fact: IT'S NOT. Why aren't your worried about shoe bombs. Whats wrong with you? Seriously. Its well documented that terrorist(real terriost) use shoes as concealment for bombs."

So one nut tries something once and it becomes a threat forever that we must throw billions of dollars at and waste millions of hours of time?

"Terrorist" is right ... there is was only one. Many would say Reid wasn't a real terrorist.

"Terrorist use liquid explosives pretty often. Uhhh HTP comes to mind.

Sure you have many reasons not to trust TSA or the government(so scary). Come on. Don't let your hate and mistrust for the government lead you into self enchantment. Come do a tour with me in Iraq and I will show you first hand what liquids can do to you and how dangrous they are.

Hope this helps."

And how much of that is in a stable form that could be brought on a plane by the average person and be undetectable by explosive equipment?

No one's saying that liquid explosives don't exist ... clearly they do. What's being said is that the threat as TSA makes it out to be is overblown and borderline impossible.

Besides, this stuff wasn't just invented in 2006 ... it existed for years. Why did it all of the sudden become a "threat"? Because a few nutjobs with a pipedream came up with a plot they'd never be able to pull off?

Meanwhile, TSA has largely ignored cargo bombs by not screening for it (though limited quantities are screened now ... about time) despite the fact that they have been used FAR more in REAL incidents that have brought down planes. Think Locherby, Scotland, and the Unabomber.

What was so special about Reid and the liquid bombers that didn't actually do anything (though granted, Reid was a single attempt) when I just gave two examples that actually SUCCEEDED and TSA largely ignored for years?

Food for though.

Al

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "begin sarcasm
Ohh.. okay. The root of the problem is not phil posting long comments its TSA's fault phil post long comments.

Hmm.. so if TSA just disclosed unauthorized SSI.

Then they would be in violation of the law.(§ 1520.17)

but who passes the law?

ohhh yeah... congress.

So the root cause of phil's long comments is congress and I have no doubt the president was involved.

There seems to be alot of people involved. I think I just stumbled upon a government conspiracy.
end sarcasm"


Save your sarcasm. TSA and DHS are widely known for overclassifying documents to avoid sharing them or disclosing them thru FOIA.

While there is certainly some information that is sensitive (remember, everything that a screener does is SSI and is NOT classified), SSI should not be used as a be-all-end-all excuse when a valid answer can be given.

Unfortunately, TSA and DHS both tend to abuse this.

Hence pardon my skepticism when I see "it's SSI."

For example, it's shouldn't be SSI to tell me the rules I need to follow to get thru the checkpoint. Not guidelines. Not suggestions. The actual rules I am expected to follow. SSI is a cop out.

Robert

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

You seem to be a sad person who just wants to find confrontation in everything. Everyone wants their questions answered, they ask over and over again. When answers are given they still are not happy. But I have read this site enough times that I know it is the same sorry 5, 6 or 7 people complaining, complaining, complaining. Traveling is, what it is, get over yourself. There are so many people who are happy to comply with TSA's rules. Your complaints are not ganna get you anywhere. All's they are going to do is hold you up in front of your computer all the time not having a life because you are too worried about things that the general public does not even think twice about.


In the future please attack the argument not the person. Makes for a nicer blog.

Yes everyone wants their questions answered, those of us that make up the 5, 6, or 7 DEMAND our questions be answered satisfactory.

Travel is not "it is what it is" and if you look at history you will see many examples of people who were happy to comply with the authorities rules.

Segregated water fountains and other Jim Crow laws spring to mind. When the civil rights movement started the majority of people did not say "you know what segregation is wrong", instead they had the same reaction that you have, "Why are you uppity people complaining? It is what it is. Your complaints won't change anything."

History shows that complaints WILL change things. You can even look at the history of this blog to see that is true.

The illegal forced ID verification was complained about on this Blog by those 5,6 or 7 you loath. The TSA's stance was that the law was perfect and indisputable the way it was written and yet they still felt the need to change the law October 28 in an attempt to legalize the illegal forced ID verification. That attempt was in vain because I have already proved the updated law still does not allow the TSA to force ID verification as a criterion for entering a sterile area.

Complaints about the liquid ban/limits on this Blog caused a change. Granted it is not the rapid change that most wanted but it is progress. If those 5,6 or 7 had not complained there would be no reason for the TSA to make the change.

Complaints about removing all electronics on this Blog caused a change. If those 5,6, or 7 had not complained there would be no need for change.

Do you see a pattern?

Will I keep complaining about the illegal forced ID verification, insecure luggage, and other issues of importance, you bet. Why? Because it is "ganna" change things.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...
A tip: "Because I said so" only works when you're a parent. As the government is neither my mommy nor my daddy, it doesn't work here.


"Because I said so" works for you? My kids expect logical reasoning for my decisions. Of course I respect my children's intelligence enough to not to even attempt the "because I said so" explanation.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...
I read this blog, while at work. Just stating the fact that I have never gone home and wasted my own personal time on this garble. I have seen these questions answered. For one example the ban on liquids and ID checks.....
The answers are right here in this blog. The videos at the top of this page. Like I said, if you don't like the answers you disregard them. Just like those two examples, all of the other questions have been answered.
That is all for sources. I am not waisting my time looking for the sources to stuff I don't even care about.


So what you are saying is you are a thief and you steal money from you work by spending time on this blog instead of working.

I SPEND my time on this blog and I SPEND my time looking up sources so I can be intelligent in my complaints. You should try it sometime, you may find you learn something. Remember your School House Rock. Knowledge is power.

Trollkiller said...

Blogger Bob I am sure that you were taught how to read body language when you were in BDO training.

For fun watch the videos and see when your spokeswoman shakes her head "no". Shaking the head when saying something positive is a negative signal and may indicate the person does not believe what they are saying.

Food for thought.

As for the lack of closed captioning, Bad Blogger Bob, no tie for you. ;-) I understand that it was an unintentional omission and I am sure that you won't make it again.

The closed captioning complaint reminded me of something that will be useful to you as a parent. At home turn on the closed caption on all the TVs. Your children will learn to read earlier and will be more willing read as they grow. As they are watching SquareBob Spongepants or their favorite shows they will learn to read without even realizing it.

Anonymous said...

Robert Johnson said...
For example, it's shouldn't be SSI to tell me the rules I need to follow to get thru the checkpoint. Not guidelines. Not suggestions. The actual rules I am expected to follow. SSI is a cop out.

The rules you need to follow to get "thru the checkpoint" are not SSI. For example, 49 CFR Part 1540.107:
"No individual may enter a sterile area or board an aircraft without submitting to the screening and inspection of his or her person and personal property in accordance with the procedures being applied to control access to that area or aircraft under this subchapter".

49 CFR Part 1540.111(a): ...an individual may not have a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, on or about the indiviudals person or accessible property, when performance has begun of the inspection of the individuals person or accessible property before entering a sterile area, or before borading an aircraft for which screening is conducted".

Now where would you find what is a weapon, explosive, or incendiary prohibited from carry? On the TSA website, where the list of prohibited items is publically displayed.

You, and most of the rest of the posters are not concerned with the why... you want to know the how. The above regulations give you a good start into why you need to be screened, the "rules" you need to follow (and yes, CFRs are rules created by Federal agencies you (or corporations) need to follow, backed by laws enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President).

So, "Robert", the rules you need to follow are: you must submit youself and your property to be screened (or inspected), and you cannot carry a weapon, explosive or incendiary into a screening checkpoint. The Administrator of the TSA determines what is deemed a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, and that list is posted for the public to see.

How the TSA screens you and your property, or the methods and procedures used, are not public knowedge, just as you would not post the type and make of the lock on your house door, the times and places your dog sleeps, or the fact that your handgun is unloaded on a billboard on your front lawn.

The public (you) are protected from the government (TSA) from abuses when keeping non-public information by oversight agencies, such as the GAO, Inspector General, etc.

As to why liquids are banned, that has been discused in detail. If you fail to believe that liquid explosive is a threat to US commercial aviation, then good for you. In the meantime, the TSA, who has access to information that you do not, has deemed it a threat, big enough to hassle you.

Anonymous said...

"As to why liquids are banned, that has been discused in detail."

Yes: Citizens have posted factual information demonstrating that there is no threat from liquids, and asking TSA to provide scientific, independent support for the current liquid policies. TSA cannot do so, because there is no such basis.

"If you fail to believe that liquid explosive is a threat to US commercial aviation, then good for you."

It is not a question of belief, it is a question of fact: Liquid explosive is not a threat to US commercial aviation. The London plotters did not have a liquid explosive. Liquid explosive cannot be used to destroy or harm an aircraft. These are facts, not questions of belief.

"In the meantime, the TSA, who has access to information that you do not, has deemed it a threat, big enough to hassle you."

TSA is wrong, lying, or both.

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes (in response to Robert Johnson):

The Administrator of the TSA determines what is deemed a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, and that list is posted for the public to see.

Except that (a) it's not the "TSA Administrator", it's each and every TSO; (b) the list is not, in fact, public to see.

I again quote from my favorite TSA publication:

Transportation security officers (TSOs) may determine that an item not on the prohibited items chart is prohibited. In addition, the TSO may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous and therefore may not be brought through the security checkpoint.

Notice that a TSO does not have to check with the "TSA Administrator" to determine whether or not a particular item is a weapon; they have full authority to do so on their own.

And because every TSO is empowered to declare any item to be a dangerous weapon, there is no comprehensive list of weapons, and there never can be. Sure, there's a list on the TSA website, but that list is, by definition, incomplete.

And if you think I'm overreacting ... well, let's pull out the old stories. Like Scot Peele, whose homemade DVD player battery was deemed dangerous and forbidden, even after TSA determined that the item was not in fact a danger to anyone. Or Joe Foss, who was told his Congressional Medal of Honor was dangerous.

Anonymous said...

@Al Ames
So one nut tries something once and it becomes a threat forever that we must throw billions of dollars at and waste millions of hours of time?

I won't fault you on a lack of knowledge or understanding. Here is a article by Dr. Robert Gill. Please read it.

Why shoes get checked PDF warning

Article found at Global Sytems Technolgies


And how much of that is in a stable form that could be brought on a plane by the average person and be undetectable by explosive equipment?

This is two questions so...

"And how much of that is in a stable form that could be brought on a plane"

Short answer: one word "stabilizer"

long answer: Article by Lewis Page: Gilligan's bomb recommended reading by Bruce Schneier


and be undetectable by explosive equipment?

None. Problem... many benign iteams would test hot. Example: hand lotion contains Glycerin. You need a smart detector that tells you what it is. Not if it has bomb traces. TSA has posted that they will have just that in 2010. source:The Path Forward on Liquids
TSA BLOG


Meanwhile, TSA has largely ignored cargo bombs

Cargo time line has been posted. Not sure what more you want. Its going to happen?

source:TSA's Progress in Air Cargo Screening

So.. if repeating questions is how you get things answered around here...

What is wrong with you people? Seriously...

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Anonymous @"
So, "Robert", the rules you need to follow are: you must submit youself and your property to be screened (or inspected), and you cannot carry a weapon, explosive or incendiary into a screening checkpoint. The Administrator of the TSA determines what is deemed a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, and that list is posted for the public to see.

How the TSA screens you and your property, or the methods and procedures used, are not public knowedge, just as you would not post the type and make of the lock on your house door, the times and places your dog sleeps, or the fact that your handgun is unloaded on a billboard on your front lawn.

The public (you) are protected from the government (TSA) from abuses when keeping non-public information by oversight agencies, such as the GAO, Inspector General, etc.

As to why liquids are banned, that has been discused in detail. If you fail to believe that liquid explosive is a threat to US commercial aviation, then good for you. In the meantime, the TSA, who has access to information that you do not, has deemed it a threat, big enough to hassle you."

#####

TSA has gone far beyond "49 CFR Part 1540.111(a) in prohibiting liquids, including water and food. Those items are not "weapon, explosive, or incendiary". Since TSA screeners can't tell the difference between a snowglobe and a grenade, TSA bans non-weapon items in order to make their job simpler.

It is pure security theatre, and taking peoples coffees and lipsticks is just part of the theatrics: it makes it look like TSA is working hard and catching tons of contraband, but it doesn't do anything to actually make it safer. What's a guy going to do with a bottle of contraband water? Something that can't be done with an urine bag? The clear holes in the system, like the non-liquid detecting magnetometer, trains people to take their 8oz toothpastes in their pockets.

The law covers weapons, and the TSA ineptly prohibits non-weapons because it can't do a good job differentiating between the two. In my case, the TSA took my gel-pack that was keeping 13oz of breast milk from spoiling. My wife cried when we poured the milk down the drain. And, when we later checked the internet, we found that the TSO supervisor who did the confiscating was wrong when he said that gel packs were "allowed for medicines, but not infants."

So, why the liquid ban? It is because TSA can't recognize a "weapon, explosive, or incendiary".

Anonymous said...

I think people blow things out of proportion and change the story of what happened to them going through security. Kinda like a rumor does. I think the people that are unhappy with TSA are unhappy just because they cannot comprehend the answers that are given to them or they cannot accept the fact that there is more information out there that is kept from them for reasons unknown.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How about answering the real "whys?"


Ok I will give it a shot. Just to help with clarification.

Why does TSA insist on banning liquids when independent scientific/engineering analysis indicates that the liquid-explosives threat is not credible, particularly compared to the solid-explosives threat which TSA is abysmal at detecting?

They are a threat. Sorry but they are. So they weren't around before well because security was different then. Close loopholes is well just good security. Liquids believe it or not is a loophole and TSA has a security measure in place to screen them in some way to lessen the threat that liquids can be. The stories I have read in regards to the threat not being credible are only specific parts of the threat not being credible, so saying the threat is credible is well not credible! As for second part of the question, I think TSA needs better technology so there is less human error in detecting solid state explosives. The fail rate is too high. The only reason someone hasn't tried anything in my opinion is because of the risk of getting caught by that low passing rate.

Why does TSA think it is OK to use a secret blacklist with no due process or means of redress to deny basic freedoms to innocent American citizens?

I don't know about you but I do not want a terrorist that cleared through security on my plane. They can watch procedures and learn more of a "hands on" experience when actually experiencing flying in the USA. That to me can help them circumvent security measures more easily than it already is.

Why does TSA want to collect information on our flight numbers, seat assignments, destinations, and connection points, with "Secure Flight" if the only purpose of the program is to match names with the blacklist?

From what I read about Secure Flight that is not what they are using. They are using information like your date of birth so people do not get mismatched with names on their watchlist. For example, Bob the terrorist has the same first name as Bob the builder. That to me is a benefit to people not a hassle. Why complain about something good? You give more information to the bank.

Why does TSA think a USSR-like "papers please" society where a passenger must present his internal passport to a government agent in order to request permission to travel is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution and legacy of the founders?

I don't have an argument here really. Just a comment. I show my ID at more places that have less reason to see it than I do at an airport. It is not a big deal to me.

Why does TSA refuse to enforce accountability and discipline on power-tripping TSOs who violate the SOP, confiscate/steal non-prohibited non-threatening items, and abuse children, the disabled, the pregnant, and the elderly?

I love reading this question over and over again. I think I know why. Maybe people do not care enough to bring up TSO abuse to a more authoratative person! Maybe no one wants to take the time to ask for a supervisor or to send an email to TSA or use this GotFeedback program. I think a lot of people see things and do not know the whole story. Why would any good minded person abuse and elderly person? I am sure if someone was abused police would be involved. I do not know about you but I don't care how old you are you need to be screened just like the rest of us. Want things fair everyone needs to be treated and screened the same way? I expect the president to be screened if he went through airport security! Clearly politicians can be bad people as history has showed us. Thank you for reading.

James

Bob said...

Here is the link to the TSA page with the videos. Transcripts have been added below each video.

Clicky>

Bob
EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gel-pack said...

TSA has gone far beyond "49 CFR Part 1540.111(a) in prohibiting liquids, including water and food. Those items are not "weapon, explosive, or incendiary". Since TSA screeners can't tell the difference between a snowglobe and a grenade, TSA bans non-weapon items in order to make their job simpler.


Yea ummmm I don't know if you realize but they take water because that is the quickest way to do it. Just to think that if your liquids don't meet their security measure than it can potentially be an explosive. So liquids can be thought of as an explosive and fits into the CFR then. Can you imagine how long it would take to get through security if there was no liquids restrictions and TSA had to make sure every liquid was not explosive. It is not a feasible approach. The policy is in place to guess what, help passengers.

It is pure security theatre, and taking peoples coffees and lipsticks is just part of the theatrics: it makes it look like TSA is working hard and catching tons of contraband, but it doesn't do anything to actually make it safer.

Even if it really is smoke and mirrors it still creates the chance of someone trying something may get caught. That is enough to keep crazy stuff from happening.

What's a guy going to do with a bottle of contraband water?

What if it is explosives in the water bottle instead? You never know do you!

Something that can't be done with an urine bag? The clear holes in the system, like the non-liquid detecting magnetometer, trains people to take their 8oz toothpastes in their pockets.

I think liquids attached on someone's person are screened. You just don't see it because it is done behind the scenes in a private area so there is no embarrassment to the passenger. Oh and toothpaste alarms the walk-thru. Toothpaste is actually in a foil tub and a breakthrough discovery says that foil is made of metal.

The law covers weapons, and the TSA ineptly prohibits non-weapons because it can't do a good job differentiating between the two. In my case, the TSA took my gel-pack that was keeping 13oz of breast milk from spoiling. My wife cried when we poured the milk down the drain. And, when we later checked the internet, we found that the TSO supervisor who did the confiscating was wrong when he said that gel packs were "allowed for medicines, but not infants."

Sorry for your issue here. Something should be done about that but nothing will be done because you and others never raise these types of problems to the proper people. I also think if supervisors or leads do something like this then they should be held to a higher level of discipline than a normal officer. Should be ZERO tolerance for leaders that are paid enough to know what to do.

Tomas said...

Bob has left a new comment on the post "Why?":



Here is the link to the TSA page with the videos. Transcripts have been added below each video.

Clicky>

Bob
EoS Blog Team


________________

Thanks, Blogger Bob, for getting the transcripts up for those videos, but why on Earth are they in a Microsoft proprietary format instead of something everyone can read (no, not everyone has Microsoft Word, nor does everyone want to pay WHG III to get it).

Please have someone convert them to something that ALL people can use - even if they are on Macs as I am...

Thanks!

P.S. Perhaps the GSA's http://www.section508.gov/ folks can assist...

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for the blog. Please review it and hopefully put it into action. There seems to be some smart people that help clarify questions that are already answered. Some Anon users answer questions and provide feedback. But they could be an average joe just like some of us. I was wondering if it is possible for the administrators to maybe have some kind of endorsement. That way if the message seems legit and true it will have the endorsement of a blog administrator so people could look at the comment and know it was approved as an answer? I am not sure the best way to put my idea in words, but I do think it could maybe save some time for you administrators answering questions over and over again and it could keep some blog users happy they are receiving some kind of feedback.

Anonymous said...

I still think the liquids explanation is not the best! What about a bottle of unknown liquid and you just say it is a medical item? I get to keep it because TSA does not want to be liable for my medical condition that they do not know about.

Tomas said...

Yet another Anonymous wrote...
... Oh and toothpaste alarms the walk-thru. Toothpaste is actually in a foil tub[e] and a breakthrough discovery says that foil is made of metal.

SOME toothpaste is in a metal tube, but one of my favorites is in a plastic tube, and won't alarm a WTMD.

That's a problem with making blanket statements; unless you know all possible permutations it is by far best not to just assume one knows everything.
________________

Again, this Anonymous wrote...
Sorry for your issue here. Something should be done about that but nothing will be done because you and others never raise these types of problems to the proper people.
________________

BTW, Mr. Gel-pack DID Take his matter to a higher level, in fact the highest level he was able to that could have actually corrected the problem. Once the gel-pack was confiscated there is NOTHING that could have prevented the actual problem, spoilage of a significant quantity of breast milk.

His gel-pack was taken (confiscated) by the self-important and misinformed front-line bag-checker, and when Mr Gel-pack escalated the instant problem properly to the on-duty supervisor, the supervisor, either equally poorly informed and trained, or not wanting to admit his front-line checker had made an error, sealed the deal and confirmed the confiscation.

No amount if escalating after-the-fact via written complaint, phone calls, emails or blog posts could possibly go back and correct the injustice and restore the spoiled breast milk.

Mr. Yet-another-anonymous, you made the same sort of error again: Note the word you used in error - "never." It is NOT true that people NEVER properly escalate these matters immediately and to as high a level as possible while still being allowed to travel.

This is a part of the problem. Once a traveler has escalated a problem to the on-site supervisor, any additional disruption of the smooth flow of sheeple through the chokepoint can be (and has been) met with monetary loss (prevented from traveling, usually meaning lost airfare and possibly missed reservations/connections/meetings/etc.). Further arguing, even if absolutely correct, after an incorrect decision by a supervisor can be (and has been) a prelude to arrest in some instances.

As can be seen, with no way for a traveller to assure that the low level people on site make proper decisions based on facts, there really is no recourse.

Add in the fact that there is BETTER than a 50% chance that the traveler in not at their home location, and that all appeals and such are further required to be adjudicated at that likely remote location, the ability of a traveler who has been wronged to be able to recover even a small part of what they may have lost is incredibly slim.

At least try to understand the utter frustration of the wronged traveler faced with a bureaucracy that just plain doesn't care, because it doesn't have to.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

When will TSA begin complying completely with applicable portions of disability laws?

Phil said...

In response to a question about the appropriateness or wisdom of using blacklists to deny freedom of movement and association, someone anonymously wrote:

"I don't know about you but I do not want a terrorist that cleared through security on my plane."

Were we to phrase the question that way ("Do you want a terrorist -- even one who cleared a reasonably-thorough security check -- riding on a commercial flight with you?"), it would take a bit of abstract thinking to come up with an accurate and honest answer. I believe most people would answer, "no," without feeling the need to give it much, if any, thought.

I believe that a significant problem with that question is that it presupposes that we know what a terrorist is. I'm sure most people think they know what a terrorist is, and in the very general sense, sure, they do. I suspect, though, that if most people really thought about it, they'd realize that they don't know specifically what a terrorist is. They hear about terrorists all the time, but really -- let's put it into words. "Terrorist" has been presented to us Americans in a vague, bogey-man kind of way over the past decade or so (particularly during the past seven years).

Please consider the following questions. They, along with the answers I'll quote, were written by John Gilmore, a man who profited from being a really sharp computer software developer and has since devoted most of his life to standing up for the rights of his fellow Americans (and for that matter, for the rights of just about everyone).

John Gilmore, in explaining his position when he challenged the FAA in federal court in 2002, wrote:

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.

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. Won't elimating ID checks make air travel more dangerous?

No. First, air travel is far less dangerous than driving a car or riding a bicycle. This includes the danger from terrorist incidents as well as the much more common mechanical problems and human errors.

A car is dangerous because it's a heavy mass of metal moving at high speeds compared to what is nearby. The energy in that motion can easily crush humans (either inside or outside the car), or other objects like trees, buildings, or cars. Safely using a car requires the application of good human judgment every second. Whenever that judgment is missing (unconscious driver) or poor (intoxicated, enraged, or suicidal), then a car is a danger to those in and around it.

An airplane is dangerous because it's a "car" with much more mass, much higher speeds, the ability to move in three dimensions instead of two, and carrying a much greater load of high-energy material (gasoline). Commercial air travel has been safer than car travel only because of rigorous professionalism, having co-pilots always ready to take over, and safety precautions far exceeding those of amateur-operated cars.

The 9/11 hijackings made it clear that those safety precautions did not keep the pilots in control of the plane. What makes air travel particularly dangerous is that all law-abiding passengers and crew have been disarmed. It's clear that when passengers realize the deadly goals of hijackers, they have the courage to attack the hijackers, with their bare hands if necessary. But we would all be safer if the honest passengers had weapons as good or better than the weapons smuggled aboard by hijackers. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that even with today's security screening, many honest people accidentally bring weapons onto airplanes, and are not detected. If honest people can do it, so can hijackers -- and unlike the honest people, they'll use their weapon to seize the plane.

My philosophy is to "educate and then trust the general public". This philosophy is in line with the basic values of democracies. The government's approach to homeland security is "keep everything secret and trust nobody". This is in line with the basic values of authoritarian governments.


I don't think I can explain my own position on this topic better than I can by referring to Gilmore's explanation of his own position. Does this not make sense to anyone reading this comment thread who would like to have a reasonable conversation about it? Bob? Paul? Other readers?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Al Ames said...

@Anonymous: "I won't fault you on a lack of knowledge or understanding. Here is a article by Dr. Robert Gill. Please read it.

Why shoes get checked PDF warning

Article found at Global Sytems Technolgies


And how much of that is in a stable form that could be brought on a plane by the average person and be undetectable by explosive equipment?

This is two questions so...

"And how much of that is in a stable form that could be brought on a plane"

Short answer: one word "stabilizer"

long answer: Article by Lewis Page: Gilligan's bomb recommended reading by Bruce Schneier"

Do you have any links from anyone who doesn't have a dog in the fight?

Dr. Alford sells his services to the UK government and GSTPA sells their services to DHS. Bias is an automatic question there. Both entities have much to gain by continuing this.

"None. Problem... many benign iteams would test hot. Example: hand lotion contains Glycerin. You need a smart detector that tells you what it is. Not if it has bomb traces. TSA has posted that they will have just that in 2010. source:The Path Forward on Liquids"

True on the glycering ... I know people who got flagged for it.

However, 2010 is a bit late to the game, considering the Japanese will have been using similar tech for nearly 10 years at that point. Does TSA have a "not invented here" mentality?

"Cargo time line has been posted. Not sure what more you want. Its going to happen?"

Again, as I said, it should have been done a long time ago. However, my point was that TSA was ignoring a threat that had been used many times over the years and going after one off "threats." Then it has the gall to say that shoe bombs are the #1 threat to aviation. I don't buy it.

"What is wrong with you people? Seriously..."

We love freedom, we want real security, we hate harassment, and we hate seeing good money thrown down the toilet. I guess that's what's wrong with us.

Al

Earl Pitts said...

James: "They are a threat. Sorry but they are. So they weren't around before well because security was different then. Close loopholes is well just good security. Liquids believe it or not is a loophole and TSA has a security measure in place to screen them in some way to lessen the threat that liquids can be. The stories I have read in regards to the threat not being credible are only specific parts of the threat not being credible, so saying the threat is credible is well not credible! As for second part of the question, I think TSA needs better technology so there is less human error in detecting solid state explosives. The fail rate is too high. The only reason someone hasn't tried anything in my opinion is because of the risk of getting caught by that low passing rate."

Translation: CYA.

"I don't know about you but I do not want a terrorist that cleared through security on my plane. They can watch procedures and learn more of a "hands on" experience when actually experiencing flying in the USA. That to me can help them circumvent security measures more easily than it already is."

Only problem is ... how do you know that the people on there are really terrorists? TSA already admitted on 60 Minutes that real terrorists aren't on the list so it doesn't tip them off that they're on to them. So just who exactly is the list preventing?

If you guys are doing your job, there isn't much a terrorist is going to be able to do on board.

It doesn't require going thru security to watch the show either. These are easily watched from the public areas of the airport.

"From what I read about Secure Flight that is not what they are using. They are using information like your date of birth so people do not get mismatched with names on their watchlist. For example, Bob the terrorist has the same first name as Bob the builder. That to me is a benefit to people not a hassle. Why complain about something good? You give more information to the bank."

They're asking for a lot more information than that. Not only that, it'll be data mined to look for patterns to identify potential terrorists. If all that were required were a birthdate to ensure that people weren't on the list, SecureFlight would be unnecessary overkill.

I choose to give my information to my bank. I also choose which bank I give that information to. I also have redress against the bank if they misuse that information. They also have to tell me what in the information I gave them triggered a problem for denying a service to me. We don't get any of that with SecureFlight. We don't get any of that with TSA as it stands now.

"I don't have an argument here really. Just a comment. I show my ID at more places that have less reason to see it than I do at an airport. It is not a big deal to me."

It is to me. I've been a victim of identity theft. I don't show my ID willie-nillie because I don't know who's using my information.

I can go days without showing my ID. If a merchant asks for it when I use my credit card, I report them as it violates their agreement with Visa and Mastercard and they can and will be fined.

I enjoy and value my privacy. If you don't, that's your call.

"I love reading this question over and over again. I think I know why. Maybe people do not care enough to bring up TSO abuse to a more authoratative person! Maybe no one wants to take the time to ask for a supervisor or to send an email to TSA or use this GotFeedback program. I think a lot of people see things and do not know the whole story. Why would any good minded person abuse and elderly person? I am sure if someone was abused police would be involved. I do not know about you but I don't care how old you are you need to be screened just like the rest of us. Want things fair everyone needs to be treated and screened the same way? I expect the president to be screened if he went through airport security! Clearly politicians can be bad people as history has showed us. Thank you for reading."

I've filed several complaints. They were never followed up on. With my associates that have, at best they get a boilerplate response. Many show that either a machine put out an automated reply or the person didn't bother to read the question and just cut and pasted something on that topic.

Many supervisors blindly back up TSO's. I've had it happen to me.

There are good people that work at TSA. Many wouldn't intentionally abuse a disabled, elderly, or any other person at a checkpoint. There are those that abuse their power too. Unfortunately, many of them are still working the checkpoints even after complaints.

Earl

Earl Pitts said...

Anonymous: "What if it is explosives in the water bottle instead? You never know do you!"

Case and point: CYA. No one wants to be the one who "let something thru" when an "incident" happens. So when in doubt, confiscate it.

But of course, you "don't know" if it's an "explosive" so you can't allow it, but you have no problem nonchallantly throwing into a garbage can where shock can detonate it. In other words, might be an explosive, but we'll treat it like we would a normal water bottle. Real smart.

Earl

Anonymous said...

Posting as anonymous, James wrote:

Liquids believe it or not is a loophole and TSA has a security measure in place to screen them in some way to lessen the threat that liquids can be. The stories I have read in regards to the threat not being credible are only specific parts of the threat not being credible, so saying the threat is credible is well not credible!


If specific parts of a threat aren't credible, that can take away the entire threat. The entire story has to work in order for it to be a threat. The liquid threat falls apart because of the instability of the explosives making them difficult to transport, undesirable outcomes(heat, odor) that happen when trying to mix the explosives, and high detection rate of the components using pre-existing technology (ETD). TSA knows the threat falls apart or they wouldn't have allowed people to travel with large amounts of unscreened medicine for 2 years. A smart terrorist would have much more chance of success sticking a wad of plastique up his bum and wouldn't bother with the liquids silliness.



I don't know about you but I do not want a terrorist that cleared through security on my plane. They can watch procedures and learn more of a "hands on" experience when actually experiencing flying in the USA.


You ignored the question. I'm OK with keeping bad guys off planes if the watchlist is constructed by law-enforcement intelligence going to a judge, presenting probable cause, and issuing an arrest warrant that also contains a no-fly component. All of which can be contested by the suspect in public open court if they believe it is wrong. I personally would also prefer that they then go out and arrest the suspect instead of waiting for him to show up at the airport (and using a papers-please ID check as a general dragnet, which is what they're doing now).

The current watchlist is constructed by any Tom, Dick, or Harry in federal law enforcement, intelligence, or DHS randomly adding any name they want. That's how we've ended up with reporters who write unfavorable stories suddenly appearing on the list.


"Why does TSA want to collect information on our flight numbers, seat assignments, destinations, and connection points, with "Secure Flight" ..."

From what I read about Secure Flight that is not what they are using.


Please read page 6 of the Secure Flight Final Rule (http://tinyurl.com/5ocbo7). It states that air carriers have to transmit to TSA "itinerary information" which includes departure date/time, arrival time, departure airport, arrival airport, and flight number.

If all TSA wanted to do was match names to the blacklist, they would need none of this information. The only logical reason for collecting this information is for a current or future plan to create travel dossiers on innocent Americans which can be used for (inaccurate) data mining and to deny basic rights and freedoms.



Why does TSA think a USSR-like "papers please" society where a passenger must present his internal passport to a government agent in order to request permission to travel is consistent"

I don't have an argument here really. Just a comment. I show my ID at more places that have less reason to see it than I do at an airport. It is not a big deal to me.


I've been to East Germany (before the Wall came down), and I've learned about the Cold War Eastern Bloc. When ID is required for basic activities like travel, it becomes a chokepoint for exercising control over the population. Only the "approved" are granted "privileges."




I love reading this question over and over again. ... Why would any good minded person abuse and elderly person? I am sure if someone was abused police would be involved. I do not know about you but I don't care how old you are you need to be screened just like the rest of us.


Why not ask the TSOs who demanded a woman stand on her injured ankle, causing stress fractures? Why not ask TSA's management which touted the confiscation/theft of a passenger's non-threatening battery pack as a success? Why not ask TSA's management which touted forcing a woman to remove her nipple ring with a pair of TSA-provided pliers as a success? That management supports these activities is proof that they condone them. A passenger is lucky if the police get involved and even luckier if they can persuade the police that it's actually TSA that's in the wrong.

The power-tripping by this agency is unbelievable and out-of-control. The management is so drunk with power and control that there is no cure other than to throw all of them out, disband the agency, and start from scratch.

Anonymous said...

"What if it is explosives in the water bottle instead? You never know do you!"

Yes, you do. There's no explosives in the water bottle. Any liquid that could explode is too volatile to make it to the airport without going off. There is absolutely no threat posed to aircraft by liquids of any sort. When you, or TSA, or anyone else, claims that there is, YOU ARE LYING.

yangj08 said...

@anon-"Can you imagine how long it would take to get through security if there was no liquids restrictions and TSA had to make sure every liquid was not explosive. It is not a feasible approach."

I don't have to imagine. Look over the Pacific at Japan. Bottle goes on machine (This is an updated version of the machine I linked to before). Wait 1-3 seconds. Green means go, red means no. Ta-da! Quick, easy, and professional.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Yangj08 wrote:
I don't have to imagine. Look over the Pacific at Japan. Bottle goes on machine (This is an updated version of the machine I linked to before). Wait 1-3 seconds. Green means go, red means no. Ta-da! Quick, easy, and professional.

Hmm. I followed the link, and encountered a great deal of Japanese. Babelfish translations are direct and literal, making the translated page that followed sometimes... amusing to read (i.e.: "Unstable international situation of these days is reflected, vandalism to the public transportation and the like due to terrorism and the like feels concern.").

:)

However, I've noted one problem: It's not designed specifically to hunt up and detect explosive materials. From what I read, it looks for combustable, hazardous materials such as gasoline, paint thinner, kerosene, and ethanol.

I think for TSA to adopt something like this - which does looks promising to my lowly peon observation - it would have to be refined to detect a much broader array of things besides just combustables.

voip said...

These "Why" videos should be played on the flat screens in every airports, some on-site training would be good enough in my opinion. We all know airport security check will be strict and sometimes rough, explaining why won't help a great deal unless it is played in the right spot. I saw the above link to videos, but I doubt how many people have clicked it. In today's information overload, it's better to grab people's attention shortly before they have to do this thing.

Anonymous said...

@Al Ames
Do you have any links from anyone who doesn't have a dog in the fight?

Sure...

Here you go Countering Terrorism
through
International Cooperation


written by Alex Schmid

Goes over(briefly) why the walk through metal detector is not a good way to screen shoes.

Bruce Schneier a huge critic of TSA said xray machine used for screening shoes "works".

Source:Defeating the Shoe Scanning Machine at Heathrow Airport


As far as liquids go... Sandia National Laboratories was the lab that confirmed the viability of the explosive mixture for the US.

Your going to have to contact them and I strongly doubt your going to get anything out of them.

Placing liquid bomb stabilizer recipes is a huge no-no. You would place passengers at risk and most importantly US soldiers in the field who have to deal with liquid explosives weekly.

hope you understand Al its not TSA's call on this one

However, 2010 is a bit late to the game, considering the Japanese will have been using similar tech for nearly 10 years at that point. Does TSA have a "not invented here" mentality?

Seems like the method TSA picked is not the same as the Japanesse. They will be using Xrays to identifie liquid threats. Yes.. that is new tech.

Again, as I said, it should have been done a long time ago. However, my point was that TSA was ignoring a threat that had been used many times over the years and going after one off "threats.

Here is the report congress got on air corgo. Outlines how we got to the point of where we are now.

Aviation Security: Background and Policy Options
for Screening and Securing Air Cargo


Your not going to get your 100% screening easily, cheap, or in a timely manner.

Also, its IED's that are a #1 threat to avation. You guys misunderstood the video.

We love freedom, we want real security, we hate harassment, and we hate seeing good money thrown down the toilet. I guess that's what's wrong with us.


Not a good enuff answer.

I'll repeat my question for two reasons.. (1)you did not answer the question completly
(2)what you did type was just type spin.

What is wrong with you people? Seriously...

Anonymous said...

"These "Why" videos should be played on the flat screens in every airports, some on-site training would be good enough in my opinion. We all know airport security check will be strict and sometimes rough, explaining why won't help a great deal unless it is played in the right spot. I saw the above link to videos, but I doubt how many people have clicked it. In today's information overload, it's better to grab people's attention shortly before they have to do this thing."

TSA already subjects citizens to inaccurate signage and pointless procedures that do nothing to enhance security. Why should citizens be further subject to videos that include nothing but lies from the domestic terrorists in TSA?

Anonymous said...

If you are so against the TSA then you can CHOOSE an alternate method of transportation. I'm sure Amtrak and Greyhound would love your business.

As for the ID thing... what is to stop a terrorist from buying a ticket and not using his/her real name? At least with TSO's comparing the name on the ticket to the name on a photo ID (as well as checking that the ID is real) helps make sure that the person is who he/she says they are.

Anonymous said...

As a TSO I really have to ask why people insist on making things worse for themselves?? Do you honestly think that we can't see the 12 oz bottle of sunscreen that you "forgot" was inside a sock and stuffed inside your shoe? COME ON PEOPLE. Do you people not realize that we spend a good part of our day looking at images of all kinds of liquids and other items. I can now tell what brand of electric razor is in a man's suitcase. You all complain about the TSA but yet hardly anyone follows the laws which have been in effect for more than 2 years. How many people need a Costco sized bottle of any liquid for a one hour flight? Do you really need a 6 oz tube of toothpaste for a one or 2 hour flight? NO, you don't. A travel secret that I practice when traveling is that I have plastic bins (rubbermaid, sterilite- they cost about $1 for the shoe sized bin in wal-mart) and I place all of my liquids inside ziploc bags and place them in those bins and put them in my checked luggage (they won't squeeze or make a mess that way and if the bin cracks it was only $1). I wear sweat pants and a long sleeve t-shirt with an easily removable jacket with slip on shoes, and I only carry my purse and an i-pod... if you are going to Australia on a 22 hour flight then that is a different story but for a 1-2 hour flight, that is all you need.

Marsha said...

I think this campaign is an excellent idea. It is not an easy task getting through an airport especially if you are not a frequent flier. I have a feeling that a lot of people out there will find this information useful. This information will undoubtedly make their journey to their destination a little easier.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Yes, you do. There's no explosives in the water bottle. Any liquid that could explode is too volatile to make it to the airport without going off. There is absolutely no threat posed to aircraft by liquids of any sort. When you, or TSA, or anyone else, claims that there is, YOU ARE LYING."
**********************************************
You have had liquids used in bombings historically and there are many commercial and military grade liquid binary explosives. Korean Air Flight 858 was brought down using PLX or Picatinny liquid explosive. You also have FIXOR, Kinepak, Kinepouch and etc. These are all cap sensitive binaries that would easily be transported with no threat of detonation. There is no lie in the fact that there is a possibility of using liquid explosives on aircraft. If your argument had been why are liquids banned completely when solids are allowed and statistacally pose a greater threat to aviation I would agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Earl Pitts wrote:
"But of course, you "don't know" if it's an "explosive" so you can't allow it, but you have no problem nonchallantly throwing into a garbage can where shock can detonate it. In other words, might be an explosive, but we'll treat it like we would a normal water bottle. Real smart."
***********************************************
If it made it to the checkpoint and it is a liquid; chances are it is one that is highly stable and would be considered cap sensitive. Needs a detonate to go boom.

yangj08 said...

@HSVTSO Dean- Hmm. I never even tried to use a translator since I know about the... "issues" they generally have. But my Japanese is a bit rusty. The link I found was through another link that stated that those machines were implemented in Japanese airports directly in response to the supposed liquids terror plot, so I'd guessed that they would detect any explosives.

The possibility exists that in Japan something comparable to SSI exists so they can't state publicly what it looks for other than the obvious. I imagine that if the Japanese government OK'ed it it must be at the very least safer than letting through small amounts of liquids with no screening at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi I know bomb guys and liquid explosives are a threat. Don't watch so many movies and think that they will just explode by sitting in the same trashcan. No they will not explode if you are traveling with them because they are so "unstable". The media is not a good source of information by the way because they like to jump to conclusions and not get the whole story or do the research all the way through.

Anonymous said...

As a TSO you don't like having the option to not pay for a first checked bag and carry-on your items do you? Don't deny the public simple pleasures. I may not brush my teeth on the plane but I don't want my bag ruined or lost in the belly of the plane. Do the job that I pay you for and don't complain about what I want to carry-on.

Tomas said...

Still another Anonymous wrote...
How many people need a Costco sized bottle of any liquid for a one hour flight? Do you really need a 6 oz tube of toothpaste for a one or 2 hour flight? NO, you don't.

No, not everyone needs more than 3.4 fluid ounces of whatever in their carry-on, nor do they need a large tuber of toothpaste to make a two hour flight, BUT NOT EVERYONE IS MAKING A TWO HOUR FLIGHT, NOR ARE THEY FLYING TO A METROPOLIS where they can readily re-stock for their vacation.

Last time my wife and I flew to the South Pacific our flight from the US arrived Papeete just after 5AM local, and our fight to the outer islands we were spending three weeks on left at 7AM for Rangiroa. Once we arrived at Rangiroa we were taken by 14 foot powerboat to one of the small bits of the atoll with 13 huts on it.

The population of our little island paradise ranged from 3 to 9 people during our stay, and if it wasn't in our carry-on, we didn't have it with us. Power was a rack of car batteries charged by solar cells and water was what was in the catch basins from rain.

On that sort of trip we pack very economically, but the supplies in our carry-ons MUST be enough to carry us through three weeks.

Sadly, since TSA started paring everyone down to ridiculously small amounts in one's carry-ons we have not been able to take vacations like that again.

Someday I would like to return to some of the small islands in the South Pacific we visited.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

As for the ID thing... what is to stop a terrorist from buying a ticket and not using his/her real name? At least with TSO's comparing the name on the ticket to the name on a photo ID (as well as checking that the ID is real) helps make sure that the person is who he/she says they are.

Assuming that they didn't forget the boarding pass ... which, as has been pointed out previously, is exceedingly trivial to do.

Authenticating IDs doesn't assure anything if you're comparing the authenticated ID to an unauthenticated boarding pass.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see how everyone would react if they got their wish and TSA started screening EVERY SINGLE liquid that came through the checkpoint. That means not only the liquids over 3.4 ounces would be checked, but also every small bottle of cologne, nail polish, travel sized toothpaste, tube of lipstick, etc. Do you guys have any idea how much longer the lines would be? lol Yeah you might be able to take your enormous bottle of shampoo for a 2 day trip but you would have to wait in lines that go out the doors and wrap around the airport. Something tells me you guys would be begging for things to go back the way they were.

yangj08 said...

"I would love to see how everyone would react if they got their wish and TSA started screening EVERY SINGLE liquid that came through the checkpoint. That means not only the liquids over 3.4 ounces would be checked, but also every small bottle of cologne, nail polish, travel sized toothpaste, tube of lipstick, etc. Do you guys have any idea how much longer the lines would be? lol Yeah you might be able to take your enormous bottle of shampoo for a 2 day trip but you would have to wait in lines that go out the doors and wrap around the airport. Something tells me you guys would be begging for things to go back the way they were."

Remember my earlier link? Doesn't have to be that way. Electric fields (or some such thing- according to Japanese online sources) can detect if a liquid is explosive/combustible or not. Screening time? 1-3 seconds per bottle. Out the door? Hardly. Or we can skip this whole "screening liquids" silliness altogether because really, was the first plot even going to succeed?

And if you want to see what a total liquids ban would do, also look over the Pacific. At China. Record number of train riders. Airlines merging. Fun (just not for the airlines).

"Hi I know bomb guys and liquid explosives are a threat. Don't watch so many movies and think that they will just explode by sitting in the same trashcan. No they will not explode if you are traveling with them because they are so "unstable". The media is not a good source of information by the way because they like to jump to conclusions and not get the whole story or do the research all the way through."
Remember, there were chemists here saying it wouldn't work either. We don't all blindly listen to the media.

(-_-||) US airport security

Anonymous said...

When are you going to wake up and abolish these stupid liquid restrictions? The EU is going to do it. Australia doesn't care domestically. At least Kip's days are numbered. Hopefully Obama appoints an administrator that actually has some security sense.

Anonymous said...

"I would love to see how everyone would react if they got their wish and TSA started screening EVERY SINGLE liquid that came through the checkpoint."

No one wants that. However, screening every liquid would add to security precisely what the current liquids policies does: Nothing.

Kris said...

I have a "why" question that needs to answered:

Why is my 4 year old son now on the No Fly List when he wasn't 3 months ago when I flew with him?

Oh wait, HE isn't on the list ... someone who shares his name is on the list. :rolleyes:

I don't think I have to tell you how stupid this makes TSA look. Flagging 4 year olds as terrorists. Now I'll have to deal with this several times a year when I travel with my son.

All in all, I feel extremely justified for wearing my KHIAI t-shirt the last couple years. It was funny and sad at the same time this afternoon when my 4 year old told the TSO's at the checkpoint the same thing.

How many more innocent people are being tripped up like this? My son now joins the Dave Nelsons, Robert Johnsons, John Lewises and other people who have the misfortune to have a relatively common name.

If security is truly this inept that small children have to prove their identities (ironically since one isn't required for them AT ALL due to their age), God help us all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
if you are going to Australia on a 22 hour flight then that is a different story but for a 1-2 hour flight, that is all you need.
=============
Unfortunately the TSA does not make exceptions based on how long your flight is. While you may need very little wait until you get stranded in an airport. Or stuck on a runway for 3 hours while the pilot announces every 15 minutes that we are next in line for take off. When its really a delay due to bad weather.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

Anonymous said...

Bob/Paul

I'm still unable to post from a Mac using Safari or Firefox. I'm not able to see the letters I have to type, the ones that prevent automated responses.

Anonymous said...

RANT coming up..

Anonymous (11/23/2008) doth pontificate:
Yeah you might be able to take your enormous bottle of shampoo for a 2 day trip but you would have to wait in lines that go out the doors and wrap around the airport. Something tells me you guys would be begging for things to go back the way they were.

One of the issues here is that the TSA has failed to deploy any rationally consistent passenger screening processes.

Another issue here is that most passengers aren't happy with having to re-purchase their travel-kit every time they fly.

Another issue here is that the TSA has yet to deploy sufficient procedures and equipment needed to properly screen all passengers and belongings.

Another issue here is the lack of consistent training/professionalism of the TSO. Many know what they are doing, and why they are doing it. But unfortunately every TSO out there knows someone on their team who is slipshod, lazy, or borderline incompetent. People like that exist in my job-field as well.

When Fred the Bouncer down at Mickey's has a better chance at recognizing fake ID than your average TSO it is obvious you have problems ('This US Passport is a fake because it has a brown cover!', exact quote from a TSO.)

Another issue here is that it doesn't matter what the TSA says is a prohibited item, because a TSO has the final right to 'add' something to the list if he/she doesn't like the way it/you look or behave. Combine this with Newark, and you're just asking for trouble.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." is a rather folksy saying in this day and age, but the TSA's currently existing procedural systems are broken, and they need fixing. So how do we fix security? Many would like to see the TSA be eliminated, thus 'fixing' the problem by eliminating the source. Ain't going to happen, McGee. The TSA is one of, if not the, largest cash-guzzling cow on the DHS farm. It isn't going to go away any more than the big Wall-Street Bailout is going to help fix the economy.

Here's my short-list for how to fix the TSA:
1. Eliminate the "We're LEO" attitude. A line TSO is baggage, passenger, and cargo screening. That's it. They aren't CSI. LEO get the training to handle law enforcement properly, so a TSO just needs to focus on screening. If someone breaks the rules, hand them off to your wise uncle LEO without crowing like a bantam rooster.

2. Try to break your own procedures. If you can break one, figure out if it needs to be re-written. If (SSI) can go through (SSI) because it (SSI) which the (SSI) doesn't detect, then that procedure and equipment doesn't work for the job as specified and needs to be fixed.

3. If a TSO can smuggle something in or out of the 'sterile area' (Newark, etc) because of a loophole in your procedures, that loophole needs to be slammed shut.

Ask yourself this: What is going to guarantee that the coffee/water/soda/donuts the TSO brought to the checkpoint from outside the 'sterile area' is actually what they say it is without proper screening?

Danielle Travis said...

If TSA exposes too much information about procedures and the reasoning for rules and regulations, individuals who intend to commit terroristic acts will have more information on how to "beat the system."

Yes there is a legitimate reason for the shoe ban.

And yes, liquid bans are justified based on security reasons.

Why is it that the public thinks that they know or should know EVERYTHING about what what TSA does on a daily basis?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
If you are so against the TSA then you can CHOOSE an alternate method of transportation. I'm sure Amtrak and Greyhound would love your business.
========
I and many of the 5 or 6 are not against the TSA. We are against rules that are not effective and rules that TSO's claim to exsist that can not be verified, and the option the TSA allows all of its employees to alter exsisting rules as they see fit. None of this allows passengers a way to verify or redress them as they are in the checkpoint.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

Anonymous said...

I would love to see how everyone would react if they got their wish and TSA started screening EVERY SINGLE liquid that came through the checkpoint. That means not only the liquids over 3.4 ounces would be checked, but also every small bottle of cologne, nail polish, travel sized toothpaste, tube of lipstick, etc. Do you guys have any idea how much longer the lines would be? lol Yeah you might be able to take your enormous bottle of shampoo for a 2 day trip but you would have to wait in lines that go out the doors and wrap around the airport. Something tells me you guys would be begging for things to go back the way they were.
=======
So would I, because the TSA would only be screening containers above 3.4 ounces/100ml. Since they do not currently screen containers smaller than this nothing would change.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

kellymae81 said...

Anon said: I may not brush my teeth on the plane but I don't want my bag ruined or lost in the belly of the plane. Do the job that I pay you for and don't complain about what I want to carry-on.

Okay, first of all, I understand you pay taxes and you seem to think that you pay my salary, but everyone pays taxes, which includes me. So as far as I am concerned, I pay my own salary!!!
Moving on, about the carry-ons, not only do we (TSA) try to regulate what you carry on, the airlines don't want you carrying on all that luggage either. For TSA's reasons, it helps with the quickness of the security lines. You guys constantly complain about all the things required prior to sending your belongings into the x-ray, and yes it takes time. So regulating how much stuff you have to unload, send thru for us to look at and then collect will certainly help things go along quicker. Plus, you stuff so much in your bags, that when the image comes up, we have to stop the x-ray, look at the image much longer to determine that its clear and if it isn't, we then have to wait for a bag checker, who is probably already busy with another guy who thinks he can bring whatever he wants. (thus causing us to staff more employees which 'YOU pay for') I can go on and on about how this can snowball and back things up.
Honestly, you can't say "Well, TSA should do this or TSA should do that" b/c you don't work here everyday and see what is necessary to carry out the job. I don't always understand why some things are done a certain way and I think it could be done better, but I'm not going to tell someone else their job.

SDF TSO

Anonymous said...

Re: The transcripts of the "Why?" videos... I am using Word 2003 and these files open as nothing but garbage for me. Are they in some non-standard format?

I agree with a previous poster - wouldn't it be better to put the transcripts in a more accessible format - a simple HTML link, perhaps?

yangj08 said...

@anonymous- Hmmm... my last post didn't get through. Like I said earlier, if things were being done right, a person with 10 bottles should have to take a minute extra at most with the right machine. Easy. So don't make it sound like a threat. The only time we'll "be begging for things to go back the way they were" is when we mean pre-2006.

Anonymous said...

Jim Huggins said...
Anonymous writes:

As for the ID thing... what is to stop a terrorist from buying a ticket and not using his/her real name? At least with TSO's comparing the name on the ticket to the name on a photo ID (as well as checking that the ID is real) helps make sure that the person is who he/she says they are.

Assuming that they didn't forget the boarding pass ... which, as has been pointed out previously, is exceedingly trivial to do.

Authenticating IDs doesn't assure anything if you're comparing the authenticated ID to an unauthenticated boarding pass.

November 23, 2008 1:03 PM

Its a good thing we have folks out there that generate fake boarding passes so people can "meet their loved ones" right out of the gate. Its folks like that that force the TSA into adding layers of security to complete its mission. I can see some of the 5-6 of you regulars concerns/complaints as legitimate. However, blurtting out that liquids arent explosive and shoes cant contain bombs is completely out of touch with reality. Lets quit working against each other and start working together...as one Nation.

txrus said...

According to an article on the front page of today's USA Today (11/25/09) by Thomas Frank, $13 million dollars were spent on these ads. Are you kidding me??? $13 MILLION dollars & no one could even be bothered to close-caption them until Andrew came along on this blog??? The TSA continues to find new & improved ways to show the public what a colossal boondoggle this agency is.

Tomas said...

txrus wrote...
According to an article on the front page of today's USA Today (11/25/09) by Thomas Frank, $13 million dollars were spent on these ads. Are you kidding me??? $13 MILLION dollars & no one could even be bothered to close-caption them until Andrew came along on this blog??? The TSA continues to find new & improved ways to show the public what a colossal boondoggle this agency is.

What??? $13 million and they STILL got the liquid quantity wrong in the clip? (Says 3.0 ounce, limit has been 3.4 ounce for two plus years...)

No closed captioning, though, is absolutely stupid. Yes, I said STUPID.

That has been ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED by federal regulation ever since Section 508 went into effect.

"Section 508 requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities."
http://www.section508.gov/

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

"Why is it that the public thinks that they know or should know EVERYTHING about what what TSA does on a daily basis?"

1: Most of us just want to know what we must do in order to have our government leave us alone when it has no good reason to believe that we have done something wrong. TSA refuses to tell us what it requires of us, instead providing hints and tips about what to do, then telling its airport checkpoint staff to make decisions about restriction of our right to travel on-the-fly.

2: TSA staff are our employees. Except in cases where there is strong need for secrecy, we have a right to know exactly what TSA does with the money we pay them. Transparency in government is essential for a free society. TSA's actions are un-American and a danger to our freedom.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

"Its a good thing we have folks out there that generate fake boarding passes so people can "meet their loved ones" right out of the gate. Its folks like that that force the TSA into adding layers of security to complete its mission."

Wrong. That Christopher Soghoian demonstrated the folly of relying upon self-printed boarding passes by creating a fake boarding pass generator is far less significant than the fact that it is folly. Please don't blame the messenger.

Almost anyone who knows anything about computer graphics software and gave it a second's thought would know how simple it is to forge a print-at-home boarding pass. Criminals can easily get around TSA's silly ID policies. TSA's ID checks and use of blacklists affect millions of honest people and maybe a few utterly incompetent criminals.

Paraphrasing words of The Identity Project: No matter how sophisticated the security embedded into an I.D., a well-funded criminal will be able to falsify it. Honest people, however, go to Pro-Life rallies. Honest people go to Pro-Choice rallies, too. Honest people attend gun shows. Honest people protest the actions of the President of the United States. Honest people fly to political conventions. What if those with the power to put people on a 'no fly' list decided that they didn't like the reason for which you wanted to travel? The honest people wouldn't be going anywhere.

TSA is out of control. Americans who value freedom should resist TSA's un-American policies.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

kellymae81 said...
Anon said: I may not brush my teeth on the plane but I don't want my bag ruined or lost in the belly of the plane. Do the job that I pay you for and don't complain about what I want to carry-on.

Okay, first of all, I understand you pay taxes and you seem to think that you pay my salary, but everyone pays taxes, which includes me. So as far as I am concerned, I pay my own salary!!!

So Kellymae, you would be satisfied only the federal taxes you pay represented your entire income?

I suspect you would not.

In a free society the people have an absolute right to know what their government is doing. Very few things are really so sensitive that they must be guarded. TSA's habit of stamping everything as SSI, which is not a security classification anyhow, is nothing more than an end-run on the citizens of this country and is unamerican.

You go on insisting that you pay your salary, I will try to make your wish come true!

Anonymous said...

"Yes there is a legitimate reason for the shoe ban."

No, there is not. Shoes pose no threat to airliners.

"And yes, liquid bans are justified based on security reasons."

No, they are not. Liquids pose no threat to airliners.

"Why is it that the public thinks that they know or should know EVERYTHING about what what TSA does on a daily basis?"

Because we are citizens of a democracy, because we love liberty and privacy, because we want to know how our tax monies are being spent, because we want genuine security and not pointless security theater, because the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Roman said...

Such PR efforts are quite effective imho. Too bad in my country authorities don't focus on public relations :(

Danielle said...

"Transparency in government is essential for a free society."

Do you really think so Phil? If so, then the CIA, Secret Service, Customs and Border Patrol, and Military should be too. Not just TSA.

Get a life Phil. Don't you have anything better to do than to constantly blog your complaints???

Yes, security is an inconvenience. But I would never ever fly without it.

Matthew Jakes said...

While the campaign will make TSA more visible to the public, is it worth it?

Anonymous said...

Okay, first of all, I understand you pay taxes and you seem to think that you pay my salary, but everyone pays taxes, which includes me. So as far as I am concerned, I pay my own salary!!!

Deep breath Kelly. Deep breath. Let's say that you pay your own salary. Taxes on $30,000 a year (guess-timate) wouldn't pay your way for more than a month or so. So what do you live on for the other 10 months? Other people's tax money, that's what.

You shill for current and mostly ineffective TSA policies while expecting the traveling public to take the line of propaganda coming from DHS. Guess what. We're not buying it for a second. We are capable of rational thought processes. We are aware of the capabilities of your equipment. We see other countries version of TSA and know that what your organization does borders on criminal behavior. You, like many of your workers underestimate Americans.

I commented on the x-ray machines only being capable of showing densities of materials. That is basic science. When you either say or do things that show a fundamental lack of knowledge in science and materials, we disregard both you and your organization as being irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

The terrorists won the second tsa and dhs were signed into power by an equally terroristic nutjob of a president.
That said, having a group, specifically a group supposedly looking out for us, like the tsa remain closed in the name of "if the terrorists know, they will use it" is the OPPOSITE of what needs to happen. The same argument is true with operating systems. Guess which kernel is the best, most stable, most secure? Linux. Why? Because its source code is public so honest people can spot the security flaws point them out, and have them slammed shut. If the tsa showed their methods, then "we the people" (sound familiar?) would be able to tell them which methods didn't work, or the loopholes of the ones that did and assuming they'd listen, be able to slam the door shut on that particular flaw.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on people! Just put your large liquids in your checked baggage. After all, if you can afford to go to a private island, you can afford to check a bag!

To make everyones life easier, to speed security lines, I have an idea~ I think that airlines should do away with the fees for checked baggs and require ALL bags to be checked. Make it MANDATORY to check all bags and you are only allowed one 'personal bag' on board with you. (ie purse or man-purse) If you need meds, put them in that. With much less to check thru security the lines would speed along quite well I think. Also check those Hummer-sized strollers (remember when parents actually used to carry their children) and those oversized child seats(cause lets face it, if a plane should godforbid fall out of the sky, that child seat really wont help much will it?)
The airlines could raise fairs across the board
to make up for the fuel costs they claim are so high because of all the weight they fly.

I think the airlines are getting screwed by the passengers now because everyone is trying to get around checking a bag. At the checkpoint we are having to lift 50-75 bags off the belts to do a bag check because the passengers are too cheap to check the bag! Then you passengers have the NERVE to complain about lines you yourselves are contributing to! Just check you bags and have a nice trip.

Tomas said...

Yet another Anonymous wrote...
Oh come on people! Just put your large liquids in your checked baggage. After all, if you can afford to go to a private island, you can afford to check a bag!

It's hot necessarily huge bottles, it could even be simply more small bottles and containers than would fit in a stupid one-quart zip-top Kip Bag.

The problem is not being able to afford a checked bag, the problem is trying to travel light with only what can be comfortably carried if one has to travel by small boat, walk in or walk out. I don't wish to carry a steamer trunk of unnecessary junk with me, only to carry a month's worth of absolute essentials as we leave "civilization" behind for a while.

That is not too much to ask, and we have hit may parts of the world with only what we could easily carry in a carry-on each.

Of course that was before TSA decided that a month's worth of essentials wasn't needed by any traveler in their carry-on.

Let me put it this way, Anon, I don't tell you how to travel the world, you don't tell me, OK?

Thanks,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

I think the airlines are getting screwed by the passengers now because everyone is trying to get around checking a bag. At the checkpoint we are having to lift 50-75 bags off the belts to do a bag check because the passengers are too cheap to check the bag! Then you passengers have the NERVE to complain about lines you yourselves are contributing to! Just check you bags and have a nice trip.

November 30, 2008 10:06 AM

Perhaps the airlines are screwing passengers with the various fees that are being charged, including the checked bag fee some charge.

As far as I am concerned it is none of TSA's concern what kind or size of bags I bring to the checkpoint. Your job is to make sure no contraband is in my baggage. It is the airlines responsibility to limit the amount or size of items into the cabin. I really doubt that anyone could stuff 50 pounds of stuff in a carry on anyhow.

So you TSA types just need to suck it up, stop the whinning, do your job and stop worrying about the airlines responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Stop the war on liquids, everyone crys. I don't know who started the rumor that liquid explosives were not harmful. Oh wait it is those "scientists" who I see posting every once in while. Not only them, but I am sure other people write this nonsense also. Here is a link that will show you what a bottle of liquid could do to a plane.
For what ever reason I am sure that you people will still say that there is nothing harmful about liquids.
Do you know how much funding these terrorist groups have? All of you people who say, "but it is a sealed bottle, its never been opened", you people really believe that the technology is not available for these people to seal up a bottle.
Anyways, I could go on forever! Here is the link - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7536167.stm

A Weston Bulletin Staff Member said...

I've always been waiting for something like this, but don't take my thanks prematurely, because it may be another crackpot scheme to say you're improving.

Cloud said...

I think individuals dramatically overemphasize things and change the tale of what transpired experiencing security. Kinda like gossip does. I think the general population that are despondent with TSA are troubled on the grounds that they can't understand the answers that are given to them or they can't acknowledge the way that there is more data out there that is kept from them for no good reason.