Thursday, January 8, 2009

TSA’s Work Abroad

With more than 2450* daily inbound flights to the U.S. from all over the world, TSA has put a major focus on collaborating with foreign aviation authorities and sharing best practices, intelligence, technological innovations and expertise so that flights coming into the United States have the same level of security as those departing the U.S.

In collaboration with DHS and Department of State, TSA coordinates transportation security bilaterally with individual countries and multilaterally through major international aviation-related organizations including the Group of Eight (G8), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the Asia –Pacific Economic Conference (APEC). Twenty-two TSA Representatives (TSARs) are deployed worldwide to serve as DHS’s “boots on the ground”; interfacing with international partners, coordinating the DHS response to transportation-related terrorist threats and incidents, and facilitating the security assessments conducted by TSA’s security specialists at more than 300 airports in more than 100 different countries. TSA’s international teams have successfully vetted 100% of airports with direct flights into the United States.

Here’s a brief overview of some of TSA’s international activities:

On August 1, 2008, TSA JFK Inspections and Screening coordinated security measures with Emirates Airlines to ensure the successful arrival of the first commercial A380 ‘superjumbo’ jet direct from Dubai.

For the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, TSA coordinated security efforts with the People’s Republic of China. This partnership began in the summer of 2007 when U.S. Federal Air Marshals hosted a training exchange with members of the Chinese Air Marshal Program at our facility in Atlantic City. From July 19 until August 24, TSA successfully coordinated security operations at China’s Joint Operation’s Center with teams deployed at airports in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

When thousands of anti-government protesters took over Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) on November 25 of this year, TSA responded by sending a team to assess the risk associated with flights departing for the United States. The team was able to ensure the security of direct flights to the United States by December 6, allowing Americans to return home safely.

In a brand new 2009 initiative, TSA plans to deploy special teams of veteran security experts to various international locations to assist host nations with enhancing and sustaining local aviation security. St. Lucia will be the first nation to participate in this initiative, and TSA’s assessment team will work with the St. Lucian Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation to assess training needs, equipment, and aviation security legislation.

For additional information on TSA’s international efforts, please visit http://www.tsa.gov/approach/harmonization.shtm

Paul

*Number edited on 1/5/10 to correct a missing zero. The number changed from 245, to 2450, which was the correct number at the time this post was published.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where have you been Paul? Getting some training for posting incorrect information to the public in the past?

Are you still compiling an extensive list of dos and donts through airport checkpoints?

NoClu said...

Please remember, we can learn from those overseas as well as teach them. In other words, don't spend too much time forcing the world to conform to our policies and practices.

Step one would be the liquid analyzer that is used in Japan. Perhaps we could effectively end the war an fluids here in the US.

Marshall's SO said...

"TSA has put a major focus on collaborating with foreign aviation authorities and sharing best practices, intelligence, technological innovations and expertise"

otherwise known as strong arming.

If your "best practices" and "expertise" are so great, why do not foreign airlines follow them in their home countries?

How many other countries require passengers to remove their shoes and forbid liquids for their in-country or even intercontinental, but not US bound, flights?

Robert Johnson said...

So pretty much, there are TSA representatives teaching other nations how to reduce security and respond irrationally to threats while mandating that they meet TSA's standards or else they won't be able to fly into the US.

Sounds like a wonderful program, Bob.

Security is a comparative treat in other nations when not on US bound flights. No shoe carnival, liquid harassment, barking and rude security, and so forth. Screeners are polite and efficient. I don't have hour waits even at busy international hubs like Seoul Incheon and Tokyo/Narita. Can always tell when you're heading back to the US as that's when the harassment at the airport begins.

Security doesn't have to be a hassle, overly burdonsome, or downright ludicrous, but it's what TSA's trying to export across the world.

Considering the poor record TSA has, I always find it amusing to read reports where TSA says airport XYZ's security isn't up to snuff.

Robert

Andy said...

On August 1, 2008, TSA JFK Inspections and Screening coordinated security measures with Emirates Airlines to ensure the successful arrival of the first commercial A380 ‘superjumbo’ jet direct from Dubai.

So what exactly did TSA do? If the plane came from the UAE, wouldn't the passengers have been checked by Customs first? How was this flight different than any other international flight? It was just a bigger plane filled with more people.

When thousands of anti-government protesters took over Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) on November 25 of this year, TSA responded by sending a team to assess the risk associated with flights departing for the United States. The team was able to ensure the security of direct flights to the United States by December 6, allowing Americans to return home safely.

So what did the TSA do? The airport was closed while the protesters were there. By December 6th, the protesters had been gone for a couple of days.

Why don't you tell us what the TSA did in plain English? The post is full bureaucratic babble like, we "assessed" this and "coordinated" that. It was just cut and pasted from press releases. As far as we know, you tried to tell foreign governments what to do, and they said,
"Okay, whatever."

The TSA should be held as an example of what not to do. An example of security theater instead of real security.

Jim Hall said...

I'm a former Army Warrant Officer and I spent several tours in then-West Germany during the Cold War. I remember that we had numerous agreements with the Germans such as Status of Forces Agreements signed by both goverments. The SOFAs contained details about the interactions between, in this case, the militaries of both countries, including rights and privileges of dependents and foreign nationals working on US posts.

Having read your post, I'm hoping you might post some details about the various agreements you have with all the foreign countries where you have TSA people. Do they agree to screen passengers and cargo according to US standards? Do you inspect them like you do your own operations? Do we pay countries money to come up to our standards? What happens if a country refuses your help? Do we have the political clout to tell them they can't fly to the US? How does the State Department get involved?

As you can probably tell, I managed this type of work at several bases during my career.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the Coast Guard just extract Americans from BKK instead of leaving them there for an undetermined amount of time in a hostile area? Way to go DHS.

Anonymous said...

Even if you don't post this I hope the blog staff will take a look.

Blogging a la Air Force:

http://www.globalnerdy.com/2008/12/30/the-air-forces-rules-of-engagement-for-blogging/

Anonymous said...

I despise TSA searches done at the door of US-bound flights in my country. They openly state they do not trust local security. All they look for are liquids. They never test for anything that could be actually dangerous, like traces of explosives. They also never look at shoes, which do not have to be removed for local security. Of course, we all know that there is nothing dangerous about shoes, but it makes no sense to re-check only for liquids.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, we all know that there is nothing dangerous about shoes, but it makes no sense to re-check only for liquids."

It also makes no sense to check liquids in the first place, as we all (including TSA and its apologists) know!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed about people here complaining about removing their shoes. I think the old and disabled get extra screeening if they can't remove theirs. Everyone else whining is really hopeless and just looking to complain. Amazing.

That goes for people complaining about liquids also. If there was a plot to use liquid explosives, just suck it up and bring a smaller bottle of shampoo. TSA has measures to work with those who NEED it.

Hey, I guess I'm a TSA apologist, aka, a normal "adult."

HSVTSO Dean said...

NoClu wrote:
Step one would be the liquid analyzer that is used in Japan. Perhaps we could effectively end the war an fluids here in the US.

Perhaps if the liquid analyzer could be set up to detect explosives instead of just combustibles, that'd be an awesome idea.

Anonymous said...

"I'm amazed about people here complaining about removing their shoes."

Why? Shoes pose no threat to air travel, and mandatory show removal wastes time and is unsanitary. If someone's shoes don't set of the metal detector there should be no reason for that person to take off their shoes. This is a simple suggestion that would make screenings much faster, and do nothing to reduce air safety.

"That goes for people complaining about liquids also. If there was a plot to use liquid explosives, just suck it up and bring a smaller bottle of shampoo."

TSA has yet to provide any independent, peer-reviewed evidence that so-called "liquid explosives" could possibly harm an aircraft. The 3.4-1-1 policy has no basis in scientific fact, and is just another choke point in screenings that does nothing to enhance security. Ergo TSA must revoke this pointless policy to conform with its mission.

Anonymous said...

Would it be too much to ask for the TSA to learn abroad as well?

Anonymous said...

Yea sorry the technology is just now out there. Nothing the Japanese use would work in the USA for the liquids explosives.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from one anonymous: "Would it be too much to ask for the TSA to learn abroad as well?"

DHS has a very strong "not invented here" mentality. Thus if they didn't come up with it, it can't be good and useful.

Quote from a different Anonymous: "Yea sorry the technology is just now out there. Nothing the Japanese use would work in the USA for the liquids explosives."

And yet the Japanese still don't have planes falling out of the sky like TSA claims would happen without the technology.

Of course, nothing TSA is doing now with its liquids explosives is working here either. The Japanese are at least doing something REAL to address the threat. It's just a real a threat to them as it is to us. The Japanese probably did some real risk analysis to determine that their machines mitigated the risk to an acceptable level.

I'd be curious to see what TSA's acceptable risk level is. I'm guessing it's probably somewhere to mitigating to .000000000000000000001% chance of occuring for CYA purposes.

Just another of the things TSA does that make you go Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

does everyone realize that tsa is not just looking for metal in shoes how about paper detonators or C4 these things wouldnt alarm the metal detector.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Yea sorry the technology is just now out there. Nothing the Japanese use would work in the USA for the liquids explosives.

January 10, 2009 9:50 AM
........................
One has to wonder just why the Japanese do not consider "Liquid Exlosives" to be a significant threat.

I have to believe that a country of people as well educated as the peoples of Japan considered the risk from liquid explosives and decidied the risk was nil.

Or is the state of matter just different in the TSA controlled USA?

Anonymous said...

"Why? Shoes pose no threat to air travel, and mandatory show removal wastes time and is unsanitary."

If Richard Reid had a lighter that would have worked. He walked through a metal detector or had it packed in a bag, I assume, so that wasn't enough.

Some shoes have shanks and will alarm. That, IF ANYTHING, slows down the process because those people have to walk through twice now. Take off your stupid shoes. I was in France and a guy's shoe's alarmed. So the screener there patted down the top of his shoes and let him go. What did that tell him? I'd rather everyone take theirs off. Some shoes have lights and rollers. They could hold anything.

"If someone's shoes don't set of the metal detector there should be no reason for that person to take off their shoes. This is a simple suggestion that would make screenings much faster, and do nothing to reduce air safety."

No reason, just explosives and detonators. You, obviously are no kind of expert if I know more than you. Just comply, please, and get out of my way so I can make my flight. Thanks.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "No reason, just explosives and detonators. You, obviously are no kind of expert if I know more than you. Just comply, please, and get out of my way so I can make my flight. Thanks."

And just how many shoe bombs have been found? And how many planes have fallen out of the sky from shoe bombs in places don't have a shoe carnival?

If shoe bombs are the number one threat to aviation security as TSA claims in its "Why?" video series, then surely, it would have found many more shoe bombs thanks to the shoe carnival.

If Richard Reid would have succeeded, we would have had no idea that he was using a shoe bomb.

I don't know that you are any more an expert than who you're arguing with sir/madam.

Don't you think we all have flights to make too, or are you just myopic in thinking you're the only one with a flight to make? As TSA would say, if you're in a crunch for time, get to the airport earlier.

Quote from another Anonymous: "does everyone realize that tsa is not just looking for metal in shoes how about paper detonators or C4 these things wouldnt alarm the metal detector."

Paper detonators? If that's the case, virtually any paper could be made into a detonator. Is paper going to be next on the prohibited items list?

Interestingly enough, C4 wouldn't alarm the metal detector, but the puffers and ETD swabs would pick them up. Interestingly enough, in airports where puffers are still used, shoes come off before going thru the puffer, thus bypassing an instrument that WOULD detect them for something that won't (TSO and x-ray).

So arguably, we are less safe because of the way TSA handles shoe explosives.

Robert

Ronnie said...

Shoes must be worn or carried into the "puffer". At least thats the way it works @ DEN. I wouldn't think it would be different in other places.

Anonymous said...

Robert Johnson said

Don't you think we all have flights to make too, or are you just myopic in thinking you're the only one with a flight to make? As TSA would say, if you're in a crunch for time, get to the airport earlier.

Do you think your the only one with a flight to make. There is a large majority of us that happen to agree with the shoe carnival as you call it. I listen to these TSO and intelligence info. If there is any chance in the world that an explosive could be hidden in a shoe, then it needs to be x-ray'd. There are other machines that could detect explosives, but I don't know if you noticed but not all airports have the same equipment. There was an article a long time ago (I don't remember when) that stated that the puffers weren't 100% so thats why accessable property still needs to be sent through the x-ray. Metal detector only detect metal.

DON'T PLAY GAMES WITH MY SAFETY!

Anonymous said...

Paper detonators? If that's the case, virtually any paper could be made into a detonator. Is paper going to be next on the prohibited items list?


A paper detonator is an improvised detonator that uses little or no metal. Most will go undetected by a metal detector.

Anonymous said...

And just how many shoe bombs have been found? And how many planes have fallen out of the sky from shoe bombs in places don't have a shoe carnival?


Could it be that the TSA searches all shoes is what keeps them from finding them? Why would someone try to hide explosives in shoes if the TSA looks... Bad people are not that dumb.

Phil said...

Robert Johnson wrote:

"And just how many shoe bombs have been found? And how many planes have fallen out of the sky from shoe bombs in places don't have a shoe carnival?

"If shoe bombs are the number one threat to aviation security as TSA claims in its `Why?' video series, then surely, it would have found many more shoe bombs thanks to the shoe carnival."


Someone anonymously responded:

"Could it be that the TSA searches all shoes is what keeps them from finding them?"

I would hope that their shoe searches would allow them to find any shoe bomb that someone attempts to take aboard a commercial flight. Maybe this person meant to suggest that it is TSA's shoe search policy which stops people from hiding things in their shoes for TSA to find. That's logical. But as Robert wrote, shoe bombs do not seem to be a problem in any of the places where airline passengers' shoes are not searched.

"Why would someone try to hide explosives in shoes if the TSA looks... Bad people are not that dumb."

A better question is why TSA bothers searching shoes when anything that can be hidden in the sole of a shoe can be hidden -- by people who "are not that dumb" -- in places TSA does not and very likely will never search.

We have had this discussion here already. In TSA's July, 2008, "Leave your shoes on?" post, I wrote:

"I maintain that best TSA can possibly hope for with this policy of searching the shoes of every commercial airline passenger is to foil the plans of a person who intended to carry contraband through the checkpoint hidden in his shoe but cannot think of any alternative place to smuggle it -- like in his rectum, under his arm, under his waistband, or in his pocket.

"The odds of that `if I can't hide it in my shoe because TSA searches shoes I'll just give up and not try to bomb the plane' plan happening are miniscule, and the cost of avoiding it is enormous. Doing so via this ridiculous shoe search policy is a security countermeasure that makes people feel secure but provides little or no improvement to security. It is security theater. We're being forced to pay for it. This misinformed person is defending it."


Again, I ask: What would U.S. Government checkpoints in airports be like today if Richard Reid had carried his explosive under his arm, taped to the small of his back, tucked in his crotch, in his mouth, or in another body cavity?

Are we to assume that TSA never considered the possibility of someone smuggling an explosive in his shoe until Richard Reid did? Did this one man's action increase the risk of not searching passengers' shoes? Of course not. Would we be searching shoes if instead of finding Richard reid with an explosive in his shoe, someone had simply written a high-profile fictional story about someone doing so? Would we begin submitting to body strip- or body cavity searches if someone wrote such a story about a criminal smuggling a bit of explosive tucked under his belt, taped to his back, or in his rectum? Would we do so if one man was actually caught doing so? Would TSA apologists tell us to remember the buttocks bomber?

Is the risk of small amounts of explosive being smuggled onto an airplane in one of the many places where someone could easily do so really any less now than the risk of it would be after we caught one person doing so? Why on Earth are we searching shoes via x-ray when we allow mouths, armpits, rectums, and every other area of the body where something sized similarly to that which will fit in the sole of a shoe through airport checkpoints with nothing but a walk through the magnetometer?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Steven Wevodau said...

This was quite an interesting post to read. So much whining about all of the safety measures being taken and the inconvenience of having to "take off your shoes"...how about just being thankful that our commercial aircrafts have been safe and not hi-jacked by any terrorists since 9/11...

Sure, it's an inconvenience when you are in a hurry to catch your flight...but it is all done for a reason.

Viral Marketing Widget said...

TSA is doing a great job! I feel so much safer when I travel now. It may be a little slow at times, but at least I get there in one piece. Great Post!

Jim Huggins said...

Steven writes:

This was quite an interesting post to read. So much whining about all of the safety measures being taken and the inconvenience of having to "take off your shoes"...how about just being thankful that our commercial aircrafts have been safe and not hi-jacked by any terrorists since 9/11...

Sure, it's an inconvenience when you are in a hurry to catch your flight...but it is all done for a reason.


With all due respect, you're missing the point. Most of us aren't saying that we want no security at all. Rather, we want security to be spent on the proper items. The noble cause of security does not justify any and all means to get there.

Security is all about tradeoffs. As others have sarcastically noted, about the only way to truly secure commercial travel would be for all of us to fly naked, strapped into our seats by the flight crew. Obviously, that ain't gonna happen (thank goodness). So the level of security to be applied will be somewhere on the continuum between that point and no security at all.

What is that point? That is a question upon which reasonable people may (and do disagree). It's not "whining" to question whether a given security procedure provides benefit commensurate with its cost (in time, resources, and dilution of effort).

TSA has done this before. Lighters used to be banned aboard aircraft. TSA reversed itself ... partially because it felt that the threat of lighters was minimal, and partially because TSA was spending so much attention on lighters that it was missing other banned items that were a greater threat to aviation.

So, let's continue to fight.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Steven Wevodau: "This was quite an interesting post to read. So much whining about all of the safety measures being taken and the inconvenience of having to "take off your shoes"...how about just being thankful that our commercial aircrafts have been safe and not hi-jacked by any terrorists since 9/11...

Sure, it's an inconvenience when you are in a hurry to catch your flight...but it is all done for a reason.


Stephen, who says we aren't thankful?

That still doesn't mean that TSA's procedures are actually doing anything to keep us safe. Considering Schneier's last expose that shows TSA for the farce that it is, poor screening test results, and employing security mechanisms that do little to nothing to enhance security, it seems like we haven't had a plane fall out of the sky because they're trying.

As I said in other posts (I have 2 on here you've censored since this weekend Bob that don't fall afoul of the rules ... where are they?), countries that don't have the same silly rules have shown to be just as safe as we are with them.

Yes, there is a reason for what TSA does. It's a security blanket to make people FEEL safe without actually MAKING them safe. Big difference between feeling and being safe.

Robert

Trollkiller said...

Steven Wevodau said...
This was quite an interesting post to read. So much whining about all of the safety measures being taken and the inconvenience of having to "take off your shoes"...how about just being thankful that our commercial aircrafts have been safe and not hi-jacked by any terrorists since 9/11...

Sure, it's an inconvenience when you are in a hurry to catch your flight...but it is all done for a reason.

I am very thankful that we have not had a repeat of 9/11, I am thankful that the airlines decided that locking the door to the cockpit would prevent a take over of the plane, I am thankful that passengers will no longer be encouraged to follow the hijacker's demands but are instead encouraged to beat the snot out of anyone that tries to endanger the plane and lastly I am thankful for the TSOs that limit themselves to thier job of searching for weapons, explosives and incendiaries.

What I am not thankful for is TSA policies that are illegal, such as the forced ID verification, or that compromise security, like allowing pilots to bypass screenings or luggage that has to be unlocked but then is not secured by the TSA after screening, or wasted money on faux police uniforms.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Have you regularized procedures with your northwards international neighbor since July: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/158629-Canadian-TSA-backs-airport-staff-in-breast-milk-dumping-dispute.

My wife is looking at some international travel soon and wonders how to safely and reliably transport the breastmilk she will need to pump during her 10 days. Can you tell us anything reliable?

Anonymous said...

Viral Marketing Widget said...
TSA is doing a great job! I feel so much safer when I travel now. It may be a little slow at times, but at least I get there in one piece. Great Post!

January 13, 2009 4:16 PM


More SPAM slipping through the cracks.

HappyToHelp said...

Mr. Gel-pack said...

My wife is looking at some international travel soon and wonders how to safely and reliably transport the breastmilk she will need to pump during her 10 days. Can you tell us anything reliable?

Link to CATSA Permitted and Non-Permitted Items

"Baby formula and food, juice, water, breast milk and other baby items - These are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be travelling with an infant under two years of age (0-24 months). All items including formula or breast milk must be presented to the screening officer and will be inspected.

Note: Gel or ice packs are subject to the liquid restrictions. We recommend that passengers freeze a bottle of milk or formula or carry a small bag of frozen solid vegetables (peas for instance) to keep their baby products cool."


Hope this helps.

-H2H

Anonymous said...

@HTH. From your post, it seems that this "harmonization" process in the OP isn't really working. Canada's notes don't really help because my wife is traveling far overseas: A small bag of frozen peas isn't going to cut it on a 28 hour trip. And if, internationally, frozen breastmilk isn't treated as a medication that needs refrigeration (like TSA did to us in STL) trying to carry it on seems risky as well.

Anonymous said...

I guess I just really worry about anyone who says that liquids are not a threat. If the London attacks had not been thrwarted would you still say that? Had a dozen or so airliners that were bound for the US crashed into the ground killing thousands upon thousands would you still say that? The same goes for shoes. Yes, it is reactive, but should it just be left to chance? Should we leave the door open for anyone to walk through? C'mon folks. Aren't we a little smarter than that? We know enough to know that just because the walkthrough doesn't alarm doesn't mean that you can't hurt anyone. They are METAL DETECTORS folks. Not explosives detectors. Don't we all know this by now?

Anonymous said...

HappyToHelp said...
Mr. Gel-pack said...

My wife is looking at some international travel soon and wonders how to safely and reliably transport the breastmilk she will need to pump during her 10 days. Can you tell us anything reliable?

Link to CATSA Permitted and Non-Permitted Items

"Baby formula and food, juice, water, breast milk and other baby items - These are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be travelling with an infant under two years of age (0-24 months). All items including formula or breast milk must be presented to the screening officer and will be inspected.

Note: Gel or ice packs are subject to the liquid restrictions. We recommend that passengers freeze a bottle of milk or formula or carry a small bag of frozen solid vegetables (peas for instance) to keep their baby products cool."

Hope this helps.

-H2H
___________________________________

I am a TSO. H2H is incorrect. See this is where people need to pay more attention to the rules. Breast milk is allowed, whether or not there is a baby present. For the simple fact that women have to pump when away from the baby so that they have milk when they are back with the baby. It should not be different at different airports, but breast milk is allowed with or without an infant.

Again at our airport, we do not recommend that you freeze anything. If you have infant liquids, breast milk or others, you are absolutely allowed to carry a gel pack to transport that liquid. Frozen peas are not going to keep things at the temperature needed. That is non-sense.

See this is where mistakes happen. Like the women who had her gel packs taken, and her milk was ruined. Things like this should never happen.

TSO's need to use their common sense and make smarter decisions. When interpreting the rules, be smart about it!

Anonymous said...

Apparently those are canada's rules. That I am not familiar with. Maybe you do have to have an infant with you. Not very logical, but.......

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...

I am a TSO. H2H is incorrect.


First I would like to thank you for joining the dialogue. Second I am not wrong.

That is a direct cut and paste from the CATSA site. CATSA is the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. Mr. Gel-Pack was asking about CATSA's policy on the subject.

Just to make it clear. CATSA does not make TSA policy and TSA does not enforce CATSA policy.

Thanks for pointing out where there could be confusion with people just entering the dialouge. I owe you one my friend. :p

-H2H

HappyToHelp said...

Also, I would like to add that you made it sound you where going to canada based on the article you brought up Mr. Gel-Pac. My best advice is to go to that countries airport security website and read their prohibited items list.

hope this helps

-H2H

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "I guess I just really worry about anyone who says that liquids are not a threat. If the London attacks had not been thrwarted would you still say that? Had a dozen or so airliners that were bound for the US crashed into the ground killing thousands upon thousands would you still say that? The same goes for shoes."

Interesting that the only ones that are saying the liquids are threats are DHS and a few companies that have a lot to gain by purporting that liquids are a huge threat to airlines. I haven't seen any peer reviewed evidence that shows that liquids are a threat.

I'm worried about people that think liquids are a huge threat to aviation security. People want to bring thru things that you'll probably find in your own home ... water, shampoo, hair gel, etc. Are you worried about those same things blowing up your house?

"Yes, it is reactive, but should it just be left to chance?"

Billions of shoes are screened ever year. How many shoe bombs has TSA found? 0. How many shoe bombs were responsible for bringing down planes in the 75-80 years of aviation history? Even, how many shoe bombs were responsible for bringing down planes since airport security has been in place?

Same thing with liquid bombs. The only one people can point to is Bojinka, and even then, the liquid was stabilized with cotton because it was unstable. It pretty much became a solid explosive at that point. Considering that was in a saline solution bottle, which would be allowed thru if x-rayed, even TSA's current "security" wouldn't have stopped it. Swabbing it with ETD would have, and the puffer probably would have picked up the traces on the carrier.

I have a chance at winning the lottery for every dollar I spend. Does that mean I should spend all my money with the hopes of winning?

No, because the chance of me winning is so small that I'd better spend my money in other endeavors like investing, education, and so forth, that will pay back.

Resources are finite. Threats are pretty much infinite. The chance of each threat attacking varies. Some are greater than others. For example, TSA regularly finds guns and since finding them is pretty likely, it makes sense to allocate resources to screen for them.

Shoe and liquid bombs, on the other hand, have such a low probability of being attempted. TSA can't even point to how many times it's been attempted to try to justify it. So far, we have 1 attempt at a shoe bomb ... ever, and 1 attempt at a liquid bomb (Bojinka), which was arguably a solid explosive anyway.

There will always be a chance of something getting thru, even if we have the best security in the world. Stuff will still get thru. Stuff will still happen. I'd rather make sure we have the stuff that's more likely to happen mitigated to an accepted level of chance and let the ones that are extremely small left to chance, like shoe and liquid bombs.

Take today's US Airways crash in the Hudson today. There's always a chance of a bird getting sucked in an engine and going down. Should bird sirens or something like that to warn birds away be installed on all planes, or should we just accept the risk? By your logic, every plane should have bird sirens installed.

"Should we leave the door open for anyone to walk through? C'mon folks. Aren't we a little smarter than that?"

No one's saying that. I'm really tired of this straw man. No one's saying we leave doors open ... that's why we have screening.

"We know enough to know that just because the walkthrough doesn't alarm doesn't mean that you can't hurt anyone."

Anyone can hurt anyone else. It doesn't take metal, explosives, or anything like that. The only way we can completely mitigate that "threat" is to keep people off of planes entirely. That's not an acceptable solution though.

"They are METAL DETECTORS folks. Not explosives detectors. Don't we all know this by now?

Now insert x-ray machines there. Same thing applies.

The only real way to detect explosives is with the ETD and puffers. TSA already kiboshed puffer use a lot, pretty much abandoning technology that can get rid of a threat rather than working with the vendor to make them perform better. That would have been money well spent. Instead, we have money spent on virtual strip search machines and new cop uniforms.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Phil said:

"Is the risk of small amounts of explosive being smuggled onto an airplane in one of the many places where someone could easily do so really any less now than the risk of it would be after we caught one person doing so? Why on Earth are we searching shoes via x-ray when we allow mouths, armpits, rectums, and every other area of the body where something sized similarly to that which will fit in the sole of a shoe through airport checkpoints with nothing but a walk through the magnetometer?"

So TSA should do nothing? But most importantly, TSA must not do anything to inconvience someone, anyone, enought to untie their shoes or slip their shoes off once more during the course of their day. Security should not be their top priority? How about if we just let passengers screen ourselves? Yeah, that's the ticket.

BTW, some airports have technology that can see the whole body. I'm sure you have problems with that, too, Phil. Some sue puffers. You seem to be against any advances or do you just now want to use anything that exists now or ever since TSA can't possibly find everything? Illogical, sir.

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

"I guess I just really worry about anyone who says that liquids are not a threat. If the London attacks had not been thrwarted would you still say that?"

As has been discussed here repeatedly, what those people reportedly planned to do was not feasible. If you're really interested in this and not simply trying to make excuses for TSA's mostly-useless procedures, please Bruce Schneier's August, 2006, "On the Implausibility of the Explosives Plot" blog post, and "Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible?", by Thomas C. Greene, August 17, 2006, The Register, and the comments in TSA's "The path forward on liquids" post.

"The same goes for shoes. Yes, it is reactive, but should it just be left to chance? Should we leave the door open for anyone to walk through?"

Have you read the discussion here?

I wrote:

"Are we to assume that TSA never considered the possibility of someone smuggling an explosive in his shoe until Richard Reid did? Did this one man's action increase the risk of not searching passengers' shoes? Of course not. Would we be searching shoes if instead of finding Richard Reid with an explosive in his shoe, someone had simply written a high-profile fictional story about someone doing so? Would we begin submitting to body strip- or body cavity searches if someone wrote such a story about a criminal smuggling a bit of explosive tucked under his belt, taped to his back, or in his rectum? Would we do so if one man was actually caught doing so? Would TSA apologists tell us to remember the buttocks bomber?

"Is the risk of small amounts of explosive being smuggled onto an airplane in one of the many places where someone could easily do so really any less now than the risk of it would be after we caught one person doing so? Why on Earth are we searching shoes via x-ray when we allow mouths, armpits, rectums, and every other area of the body where something sized similarly to that which will fit in the sole of a shoe through airport checkpoints with nothing but a walk through the magnetometer?"


--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Sandra said...

"I am a TSO. H2H is incorrect."

I don't think H2H has posted any correct information yet.

He/she needs to be ignored.

Why does Ellen's thread still have only 11 comments posted, none since Thursday. Are you all getting ready to go to the inauguration to harass attendees or are all the comments being censored?

Irish said...

An Anonymous TSO said

"Frozen peas are not going to keep things at the temperature needed. That is non-sense."

Actually, bagged frozen peas (or bagged frozen corn) that have been frozen to 0F have similar cooling qualities to gel packs. That's been documented by a number of sports medicine professionals who measured skin temperature under controlled conditions after indetical applications of gel packs and frozen veggies, and published in several peer-reviewed professional journals (cites on request). Bagged frozen peas or corn have the advantage that they're more malleable to fit space available than gel packs or ice, and they should remain frozen (and therefore retain their cooling qualities) at least as long as a gel pack in a well-insulated mini-cooler.

Irish

Anonymous said...

"Frozen peas are not going to keep things at the temperature needed. That is non-sense."

Actually, bagged frozen peas (or bagged frozen corn) that have been frozen to 0F have similar cooling qualities to gel packs. That's been documented by a number of sports medicine professionals who measured skin temperature under controlled conditions after indetical applications of gel packs and frozen veggies, and published in several peer-reviewed professional journals (cites on request). Bagged frozen peas or corn have the advantage that they're more malleable to fit space available than gel packs or ice, and they should remain frozen (and therefore retain their cooling qualities) at least as long as a gel pack in a well-insulated mini-cooler.

Irish
___________________________________

Who cares, thats not even the point of what I was saying. The point was you can have a gel pack if needed. No need for all of the statistics on peas!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: "Who cares, thats not even the point of what I was saying. The point was you can have a gel pack if needed. No need for all of the statistics on peas!"

If you are unlucky enough to draw a TSO who determines the gel-pack to be prohibited, then no, you can't take the gel pack. And then the breast milk spoils, and then the wife cries.

Most of TSA's published rules aren't really rules, they are just public relations lies.

Irish said...

An Anonymous TSO asked:

"Who cares, thats not even the point of what I was saying. The point was you can have a gel pack if needed. No need for all of the statistics on peas!"

The first point is, you were in error in a post castigating others about errors. The second point is, the original question was about the CANADIAN EQUIVALENT of the US TSA, and you reflexively spouted the party line about US conditions (which may or may not apply, depending upon which layer of unpredictability in which one is caught at a given airport) -- ergo, errors #2 and #3 on your part. (Not a good rate for someone correcting errors.)

Frankly, I don't think the frozen peas and corn would have helped the gentleman whose wife was forced to trash her breast milk -- I'd be my best guess that frozen peas wouldn't make it past the screening process. But, who knows? It's SSI, right?

Irish

p.s. That wasn't ALL the statistics on peas. I know lots more about freezing stuff, but you're probably not interested. ;o)

Anonymous said...

Billions of shoes are screened every year. How many shoe bombs has TSA found? 0. How many shoe bombs were responsible for bringing down a plane? 0 One of my many concerns with TSA is that they are focusing to much on foreign aviation and sharing practices. Well my question to them is why do all American Carriers have to go through security screening even private charters. But Air Canada Charters have found a loopwhole in our laws, that allows them to leave from the USA from FBO's with absolutely no screening. Most of these fights are professional sports teams I guess they feel these flights are not a threat. American Carriers must screen even if it is a private charter with a sports team. Why has TSA allowd a foreign countries airline, to come here and implement their own laws?

Anonymous said...

TSA security checks will always be a controversial topic. I am a believer of common sense, reasonable security procedures, not undressing 90 year old grandmothers in public. X-ray radiation for everyone? One thing I learned in x-ray school is the fact that there is no such thing as a "SAFE AMOUNT" of radiation.

Andy J. said...

This was quite an interesting post to read. So much whining about all of the safety measures being taken and the inconvenience of having to "take off your shoes"...how about just being thankful that our commercial aircrafts have been safe and not hi-jacked by any terrorists since 9/11...

Sure, it's an inconvenience when you are in a hurry to catch your flight...but it is all done for a reason.