Wednesday, April 15, 2009

TWIC Casts a Security Net Over Ports

Today is not only the deadline for your taxes, it’s the national compliance day for TWIC! Through a maze of streamers, cake, and party hats, I found my way to Greg, (The TWIC-Meister) and asked him to write a little about TWIC for us. What is TWIC? Read on… ~ Blogger Bob

To most folks, TSA is synonymous with airport security, planes and really spiffy blue uniforms. But for the past few years we have been working hard to add a layer of port security that the maritime industry has never seen before. That’s right; spread the word, TSA is involved in securing other modes of transportation too. They don’t call us the Transportation Security Administration for nothing.

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard began ensuring port workers and mariners nationwide have a new security biometric card known as a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential). Having a TWIC in hand means the holder received a thorough background check, and is now allowed unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels. Beginning today, the card must be presented at the more than 3,200 U.S. maritime facilities and 10,000 vessels from Maine to Guam to gain access. It is a huge win for security to know the folks working at our nation’s ports are not known terrorist threats.

The card itself is huge security benefit. Now instead of security guards examining more than 500 different driver’s licenses and hundreds of other port IDs, there is one uniform card accepted to gain access. TWIC uses advanced technology to embed a template of the owner’s fingerprints as well as a host of other security features that make it nearly impossible to fake.

TWICs are designed to be read by a card reader. TWIC card readers have gone through initial lab testing and approved equipment will be tested further in severe port environments (extreme heat, cold, wind, salt water, etc). At this time, some ports have already installed new readers and more will be soon. Readers are not mandatory yet because TSA listened and responded to industry concerns about cost and the need to test readers at port facilities and on vessels to ensure durability and functionality. We have worked closely with industry every step of the way to maximize security and minimize the effect on commerce.

To date, approximately 1.1 million workers have been vetted and participated in making the Homeland more secure.

Greg, EoS Guest Blogger

126 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow thanks for the information. am surprised that a whole half an hour has gone by without the usual "attack". Keep up the good work. :)

Anonymous said...

Very informative, I didn't realize TSA was working to keep ports secure. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Is this "thorough background check" as a means of security based on the "past performance is a guarantee on future performance" philosophy? The one that works so well with regular TSA background checks.

Now, there's a pool of have approximately 1.1 million people with the trusted "one uniform card accepted" which "now allow[s] unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels."

Way to go! Would you let someone with an all-access TWIC-ish TSO card from Guam unescorted access to secure areas of IAD?

The problem with wide-applicability ID cards isn't that they are that much harder to fake, it is that they are that much more valuable to have.

Sandra said...

Yep, and guess what: Mule-skinners who walk along side a mule-pulled barge at an historical park are going to be required to get TWIC cards. Another display of on-going stupidity on the part of the TSA

Taking TWIC to the extreme
In another case of government regulation run amok, a story published on CNN.com this week discusses the case of mule skinners in a historic Pennsylvania park, who are being required to apply for Transportation Worker Identification Credentials. Though the name sounds like a taxidermy term, mule skinners are people who drive mules. In this case, the mule skinners work at Hugh Moore Historical Park and guide a pair of mules that pull a boat down a two-mile long canal. Despite the fact that the canal doesn't pass through any areas considered to be high-value targets for terrorists, the TSA, as is typical with most government agencies, has thus far failed to use common sense and grant the workers an exemption. According to the story, when Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pennsylvania) tried to get the skinners a waiver, the TSA responded by saying, "We encourage the crew members... who possess Coast Guard mariner credentials to obtain a TWIC at their earliest convenience to comply with these requirements and not risk suspension or revocation of their other credentials.


The above from securityinfowatch.com

Anonymous said...

As with planes, I see the TSA continues to chase at shadows (looking at the "threat" from people) rather than the actual threat that comes from ports -- screening cargo.

Also, this is the quickest I've seen you put up a post after a previous post. This wouldn't have anything to do with taking the St. Louis story off the front page of the blog, would it?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the press release.

However it's still hard for me to believe that our ports are adequately secured. Perhaps I'll have more faith when TSA's background investigation processes for its own screeners manages to catch TSOs who are actively engaged in illegal activities... Like the one from MCO, who was dealing drugs for a while and had unfettered access to all the sterile areas of the airport.

My advice to the TSA is "Physician, heal thyself." We will all be made safer when TSA turns its attention and resources away from needless passenger harassment and focuses upon finding firearms and bombs on airplanes after properly vetting and training its TSOs.

Only then will there be less incidents of TSOs stealing items out of checked luggage and at the airport checkpoints. Only then will good security replace to poor Kabuki theater we are all forced to endure today.

Jay Maynard said...

If the TSA will accept having one card common to all transportation workers everywhere, why won't it accept having one ID card acceptable for access to the general aviation side of airports everywhere? The current TSA st00pidity has every airport issuing its own ID card for about $150, and the card would only be good for that airport.

We've long known the TSA is chronically incapable of being consistent; this is just one more example.

Anonymous said...

Good job on this post, Greg. It perfectly accomplished the intended result - it forced the entry about the shameful St. Louis incident off the page.

Who says TSA can't react to a threat!

T-the-B at flyertalk

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. You created high tech ID cards, but the machines that can view all of the high tech security features are in the testing phase.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the readers have difficulty reading in adverse weather conditions. Tpical of DHS - a day late and a dollar short.

RB said...

Now the real truth, the part that Greg left out.

$250 million dollars spent and two years behind schedule.


http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/surveillance/2009-04-15-port-security_N.htm

By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A six-year, $250 million anti-terrorism effort to secure the nation's ports is delayed for at least two more years because the government lacks machines to read fingerprint ID cards issued to more than 1 million workers.
Truckers, deckhands and others requiring access to secure areas at ports paid $132 apiece for the high-tech ID cards that have their fingerprints embedded in them. But the Homeland Security Department, which is overseeing the program, says it still lacks fingerprint readers that can be used reliably in harsh weather.

Anonymous said...

Oops! Sorry Greg, No biscuit! You are Wrong! The TWIC program has been effectively DELAYED for the next two years due to the inability of the TSA to find a card reader that works!

The majority of the ports in the United States do not require TWIC cards yet.

And since I just happen to have a TWIC card, I can verify that the card readers do not, under any sense of the word, work unless you touch the sensor pad with exactly the right pressure, exactly as you did when your card was activated.

There is also NO standardization of the appearance of the TWIC card. I have seen TWIC cards done in the White CAC, the Flag Back, the Blue Face, and the Red and Blue Scroll with hologram stars formats. Great security for a standardized card. For a piece of 'falsh' identification until the readers actually work, how does a gate guard know the ID is real? Is this another example of 'random layers'?

And why can I not use a TWIC (issued by the TSA) to go through a TSA checkpoint?

Anonymous said...

You really need to talk to the people that are running the TWIC enrollment program. The picture shown at the top of this entry obviously shows a man having both thumbs scanned. Yet when I enrolled in the TWIC program, it was only one of my Pointer fingers that was scanned. Is the picture above in error, or are the contractors who are running the program in error?

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between the 'thorough background check' that the TSA did for the TWIC program, and the 'through background check' that the Coast Guard does for the MMD program? Possibly different signatures? I seem to remember being told that both were background checks were run by checking the FBI's computer systems. Will the MMD be replaced by a modified TWIC or will the DHS continue to effectively 'tax without representation' and collect two fees from me for my chosen form of employment?

Phil said...

Greg, how much has the TWIC program changed since 2004 when Edward Hasbrouck wrote:

"The TWIC program is a threat to us all, not just to transportation workers, and especially those of us who travel. [...] the TWIC program was conceived and planned from the start as a prototype for mandatory identification and personal tracking systems that could eventually be imposed on travellers ("users of the transportation system"). [...] Regardless of any use or effectiveness for access control, the TWIC program seems to have been designed to maximize its potential for surveillance and monitoring of workers' movements, in keeping with its development by an industry/government partnership (not, as it might have been and as was suggested by workers' organizations, by an industry/government/worker partnership)."West, please address my assertion that white powder or a roll of cash don't "have the appearance of being illegal" any more than a digital music player, a pet, or someone with brown skin do. In each of those cases, there may be wrongdoing, or there may be a perfectly legal explanation for the item or person. I'm very curious how you determine which things that might indicate wrongdoing are worthy of stopping from doing your job of searching for dangerous things and initiating an investigation, and which things are not.

Have you received training on estimating the total amount of cash in a roll of bills simply by looking at the roll in the process of searching for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries?


Kelly, in the comments for the "Incident at St. Louis International post, you wrote:

"If while in a bag check for our primary focus items (i.e. liquids/weapons etc) and we find things such as drugs, it IS our "procedure" to inform supervisors and Law Enforcement.

"No matter how big or small, illegal is illegal and we can't just overlook it, sorry. We can't just hand back your kilo b/c it's not a "threat"."
In response, I noted that barring the result of specialized training that I suspect you have not received, you could not in that situation identify "drugs" by sight any more than you could identify unvaccinated pets, information on digital music players that came from unauthorized copying, or people who are not in the country legally.

I asked, "In each of the above scenarios, do you feel that it is congruent with the United States Constitution to stop someone who is carrying something that might indicate wrongdoing, question that person, then "if all is kosher" let that person go on his way?" Do you?


Bob, could you tell us whether people are prohibited by law from photographing computer monitors at your airport search stations? First you told us that it was discouraged, then you told us that it was prohibited, but you have not responded to multiple requests for the source of your information.

When your new partners Kelly, Tim, and West post comments here now, will they be speaking on behalf of TSA?

Why does TSA count people's money when they find it during a search for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries?

Are people required by law to answer questions from TSA staff about their money?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said on April 15, 2009 11:41 PM...You really need to talk to the people that are running the TWIC enrollment program. The picture shown at the top of this entry obviously shows a man having both thumbs scanned. Yet when I enrolled in the TWIC program, it was only one of my Pointer fingers that was scanned. Is the picture above in error, or are the contractors who are running the program in error?They already have your thumb prints.

Anonymous said...

lets go back to the post on the 14th, dont just pass it over like it didnt happen.

question dodging is your biggest flaw, define your role and we can all get along

the more you make this ambiguous and constantly change the rules/create new ones on the spot, the more frustrated the people you have to deal with every day become

DCA TSO said...

I really like my spiffy blue uniform b/c it actually stands out more than the old whites did. There is one issue though, it fades so much from when you first get it.

Patrick (BOS TSO) said...

And why can I not use a TWIC (issued by the TSA) to go through a TSA checkpoint?Actually, you can. We do accept it as a form of government issued ID, the same goes for a Merchant Mariner's Document.

If the TDC refuses to accept it, ask to see a supervisor.

Also, this is the quickest I've seen you put up a post after a previous post. This wouldn't have anything to do with taking the St. Louis story off the front page of the blog, would it?Doubt it. Today was the deadline for TWIC starting. This post was most likely in the works a while back. Regardless of the STL incident it would have been published.

Besides, the previous post has a link straight to the STL incident post.

As for TWIC not working?
*shrugs* Not my department.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blog Team ...

If you could pass along a request to your IT team, the "TSA News Ticker" and the "TSA Latest news" sites are still trumpeting about the Feburary 4th TSA success at the LAX incident (Man in wheelchair caught trying to smuggle cocaine at LAX), more than 2 months after the fact.

With all the blog topics I see here, I'm sure there is more current news than that.

As a matter of fact, may I recommend yesterday's incident where the TSA was alleged to have tossed out the cremated remains of a passenger's mother that were apparently checked in accordance with the recommended guidelines?

Cremated remains missing from passengers luggage - TSA says "oops"

Anonymous said...

Greg: Here's what a couple of people who know what they are talking about said the other day about the failed rollout of TWIC:

"Most people would say it's real dumb to have security cards that rely so much on technology and yet you fail to provide a reader for the card," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "That was not the intent of the program."

Chuck Mack of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said, "It's grossly unfair to spend that kind of money and not have the readers in place."

Care to comment on what Chairman Thompson and Chuck Mack said?

Also, why in the sam hill did you write a cheery, positive story when you knew this is an utter failure--a bunch of people standing around the ports with high-tech ID cards they were forced to buy ($132 a piece!) and no card scanners that work. That's not good news. That's bad news.

Anonymous said...

"As a matter of fact, may I recommend yesterday's incident where the TSA was alleged to have tossed out the cremated remains of a passenger's mother that were apparently checked in accordance with the recommended guidelines?"

I'm really glad I'm not part of the TSA's public relations team. Between the STL "incident," the thefts at PHL, scabies in Boston, and now this, they must be working lots of overtime these last few weeks as they spin, deflect, dodge, and sweep it all under the rug. So many press releases to write (and shepherd through the layers of TSA and DHS bureaucracy) blaming the passengers for everything while commending the TSA's excellent work.

Bob and his staff are doing their bit too, with extra PR posts that push the STL incident off the front page. But I wonder if the TWIC program provides any more effective security than TSA airport checkpoints? Maybe they'll announce a big drug bust that will push any such questions off the front page.

Dunstan said...

"As a matter of fact, may I recommend yesterday's incident where the TSA was alleged to have tossed out the cremated remains of a passenger's mother that were apparently checked in accordance with the recommended guidelines?

Cremated remains missing from passengers luggage - TSA says "oops"

Little respect for anyone, living or dead...

Anonymous said...

BOB!!!

Ya know, you're really letting guys like Phil hijack ever blog with their concerns, valid as they may be! One of the things you've stated to get deleted is to post off topic. Yet you continually let these same posters hijack each topic and make them irrevavent and unreadable. Old posts are filled with rantings that have nothing to do with the topic they are listed under!

THIS topic is about port security, one which trolls have kept asking about over and over again. Yet here's Phil asking about cash on a flight (a topic already covered is another blog), griping about what training you get to spot illegal items, and other crap NOT ON TOPIC!! Constant off topic posts are making this blog unreadable, a waste of your (and my) time, and a waste of taxpayer money!

Now what are you gonna do about it?!?

Anonymous said...

"As a matter of fact, may I recommend yesterday's incident where the TSA was alleged to have tossed out the cremated remains of a passenger's mother that were apparently checked in accordance with the recommended guidelines?"


But we constantly hear that TSA doesn't confiscate anything.

The remains must have been "voluntarily" tossed out...

Miller said...

Dunstan said...

"As a matter of fact, may I recommend yesterday's incident where the TSA was alleged to have tossed out the cremated remains of a passenger's mother that were apparently checked in accordance with the recommended guidelines?

Cremated remains missing from passengers luggage - TSA says "oops"

Little respect for anyone, living or dead...

April 16, 2009 3:02 PM
His last flight ever, and TSA again proves that they could screw up an anvil by hitting it with a feather.

Anonymous said...

Wow, give this guy a break. He and the rest of TSA are doing their best to keep our country safe. If you are so disappointed in their performance, why don't you do something productive about it instead of writing mean comments bringing them down.

abelard said...

Patrick (BOS TOS) said:

As for TWIC not working?
*shrugs* Not my department.
I'll be sure to use this little gem on my customers the next time they ask about something.

I am sure it will go over like gangbusters.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Wow, give this guy a break. He and the rest of TSA are doing their best to keep our country safe. If you are so disappointed in their performance, why don't you do something productive about it instead of writing mean comments bringing them down.

April 16, 2009 7:09 PM

TSA's best is pretty poor if you ask me.

This post completely left out the problems of the program he wrote about.

Two years behind schedule and $250 million dollars down the drain for something that does not work.

I think comments here as well to my elected officials is doing something productive,

TSA is full of non-productve deadwood and needs some clear cutting to get better.

Anonymous said...

If you want to change the subject again and move on, here's a fun 5:00 Friday post:

Bacon as an Incendiary

TSM, been... said...

Quote:
" Anonymous said...
BOB!!!

Ya know, you're really letting guys like Phil hijack ever blog with their concerns, valid as they may be! One of the things you've stated to get deleted is to post off topic. Yet you continually let these same posters hijack each topic and make them irrevavent and unreadable. Old posts are filled with rantings that have nothing to do with the topic they are listed under!

THIS topic is about port security, one which trolls have kept asking about over and over again. Yet here's Phil asking about cash on a flight (a topic already covered is another blog), griping about what training you get to spot illegal items, and other crap NOT ON TOPIC!! Constant off topic posts are making this blog unreadable, a waste of your (and my) time, and a waste of taxpayer money!

Now what are you gonna do about it?!?

April 16, 2009 4:22 PM
----------------------------
I 2nd that emotion!
If the rant (as in "Phil") is off topice - delete it! Phil wants to hold you to the rules - hold him to the same!

Anonymous said...

This article might provide some good insight into the discussion on this blog.

"Lack of trust -- at least a baseline level of trust -- is thus an impediment to dialogue. If your default position is not to trust me, it does not matter what claims I might make, nor what reasons I might offer, to support my position or to counter yours. If my default position is not to trust you, I will regard all the views, facts, and even logical inferences you present as suspect."


How this applies to the TSA-PAX relationship is this: TSA has a mission requirement to mistrust the public. The public can't trust TSA as long as the reasons for its seemingly insensible policies are "not my department", above our pay grade, SSI, etc..

Why should the public trust the TSA? Because they wear a uniform? Because they trust the us? Because they answer our questions?

Anonymous said...

If the bloggers aren't going to give satisfactory answers anywhere, we need to keep asking the questions. Those old threads are dead, and the questions raised in the threads remain unanswered. If TSA changes the subject without answering the questions, and only seems to monitor the top post, the top post is the only sensible place to ask questions.

Also, in one place, BOB! says moderation can't even tell what comments are posted on which post:

"[We delete posts because...]Off-topic comments (and since we can't tell which topic a comment goes under when we moderate, we mean REALLY off topic, think plagues of locust off topic…)" -- Bob.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...If the bloggers aren't going to give satisfactory answers anywhere, we need to keep asking the questions.I agree with your points about not posting in dead threads. I myself don't have time to review anything but the top posts(I have time restrictions). Of course, I can only speak for my blog reading habits.

However, I don't agree with the statement above. If bloggers are not going to answer the questions to your satisfaction anywhere, why does reposting them make the questions anymore answerable to your liking?

This isn't meant to attack anyone but rather to hear your comments on the subject.

Phil maintains a Blog FAQ. If answer tracking is a issue here on the blog, would you think a Evolution of Security Blog FAQ be the solution to tracking official answers?

Have a good weekend everyone,

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from H2H: "However, I don't agree with the statement above. If bloggers are not going to answer the questions to your satisfaction anywhere, why does reposting them make the questions anymore answerable to your liking?"

Because they're questions that need to be answered and TSA's not answering them. Simply ignoring a question isn't going to make it go away even if TSA wishes that to be so.

Answer the question with a REAL answer (nonanswer answers don't count) and people will move on even if the answer isn't agreed with. We'll at least know where TSA actually stands rather than trying to sort thru doubletalk and nonanswer answers.

Robert

George said...

@Robert Johnson: Answer the question with a REAL answer (nonanswer answers don't count) and people will move on even if the answer isn't agreed with. We'll at least know where TSA actually stands rather than trying to sort thru doubletalk and nonanswer answers.We're never going to get real answers to our real questions because candor would be completely contrary to the TSA's security strategy. TSA spokespeople (including Kip Himself) have repeatedly stated that an important part of their strategy is to make airport screening unpredictable. That keeps terrorist plotters off balance, and lets the TSA always stay one step ahead of the enemy.

Of course, this strategy unavoidably means that airport screening also has to be unpredictable for the millions of passengers who aren't terrorists. Keeping the enemy off balance also means everyone else is kept guessing as well. That's the main reason for the frustration so often expressed here. But the TSA seems to have no problem at all with it, since it proves that their security strategy is working. If travelers are frustrated and off balance, it clearly means that terrorists are even more off balance. Since terrorists apparently are so few and far between, the public has to serve as a proxy.

The TSA apparently embraces Orwell's dictum that "ignorance is strength." They seem to believe that effective security requires the public to be kept in the dark about what they do and "where the TSA actually stands." Their "doubletalk and nonanswer answers" are just a normal and expected part of their security strategy.

I would not be surprised if someone at the TSA is meticulously digesting all our expressions of disgust, outrage, and distrust into metrics that are presented at classified briefings as proof of the TSA's effectiveness. In other words, if at least some percentage of the public (the perceptive ones, as opposed to the sheep who find it "reassuring") aren't upset about the TSA, the agency isn't doing its job.

Anonymous said...

Just curious. What role has the new administration played in TSA programs? Doesn't seem like anything has changed, and you're getting more and more oppressive every day.

I'm waiting for the TSA to start "vetting" people who want to operate boats, recreational vehicles, and passenger cars. When will the "gate screeners" come to my garage to make sure I'm not carrying shampoo in my BMW as I drive to work? We all know the day will come, maybe not next year or the year after that, but some day the American people will relinquish every bit of privacy we have left to your all-wise agency. Not that we want--or need--that level of protection, but you'll need to continue to invent new ways to justify your existance--that's the way the government works. And how about a 70% tax bracket to pay for it all! I'm waiting!!!

Anonymous said...

H2H@"Phil maintains a Blog FAQ. If answer tracking is a issue here on the blog, would you think a Evolution of Security Blog FAQ be the solution to tracking official answers?"

I imagine the answers in the "Evolution of Security Blog FAQ" would be as uninformative and incomplete as the blog posts. E.g.: Travelling with Large Amounts of Cash answers neither "How much is a large amount of cash", nor "Am I legally required to answer this question".

A FAQ as a collection of TSO's irrelevant answers like "Customs needs a declaration form for $10,000 for international travel" will not be helpful.

Most of the FAQs would be answered if you could just point us to the rules you enforce upon us.

Anonymous said...

H2H@ "However, I don't agree with the statement above. If bloggers are not going to answer the questions to your satisfaction anywhere, why does reposting them make the questions anymore answerable to your liking?"


Well, if TSA is only able to answer questions to the liking of its own TSOs, it isn't so much an open forum for dialog. It's just some rah-rah PR blog, and shouldn't present itself as with a mission like "We encourage your comments; your ideas and concerns are important to ensure that a broad range of travelers are active and informed participants in the discussion."

txrus said...

In case you missed this one, Bob:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/04/20/weapons_found_in_marines_baggage/

'Davis said TSA was "actively investigating" why the gun and explosive materials were not detected during the screening in Las Vegas'

'TSA screeners in Terminal B at Logan called State Police at 7:10 a.m. after they said they discovered the following items in Reed's luggage: a locked gun box containing a semiautomatic handgun; a fully loaded gun magazine; several boxes of 9 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition; three model rocket engines containing an explosive mixture; military fuses; electronics kit boxes with various components; and a hand grenade fuse assembly with detonator.'
*********************************
Seems to me there wouldn't have been enough room in this man's suitcase for much of anything else, so I'm curious as to how the screener(s) in LAS, where this luggage originated, managed to miss all of this?

RB said...

txrus said...
In case you missed this one, Bob:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/04/20/weapons_found_in_marines_baggage/

'Davis said TSA was "actively investigating" why the gun and explosive materials were not detected during the screening in Las Vegas'

'TSA screeners in Terminal B at Logan called State Police at 7:10 a.m. after they said they discovered the following items in Reed's luggage: a locked gun box containing a semiautomatic handgun; a fully loaded gun magazine; several boxes of 9 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition; three model rocket engines containing an explosive mixture; military fuses; electronics kit boxes with various components; and a hand grenade fuse assembly with detonator.'
*********************************
Seems to me there wouldn't have been enough room in this man's suitcase for much of anything else, so I'm curious as to how the screener(s) in LAS, where this luggage originated, managed to miss all of this?

April 20, 2009 2:15 PM


I bet TSA didn't miss any cash or drugs going through the LAS checkpoints.

We all know that stuff and water, diet coke and such is a bigger threat to flight safety than guns and hand grenade parts.

Anonymous said...

Although this story is off topic, and I don't know why it was posted (It should get a whole topic of its own), I am very concerned on why the machine in checked baggage didn't alarm on this bag so the screeners from the LAS could have the chance to search the bag. Did the bag somehow make it on the flight without getting screened? Or did the machine malfunction? I hope this matter is resolved VERY quickly.

To RB: Your remark would be justified if that bag actually went through the checkpoint. If it had, I have no doubt it would have been caught in a split-second. Since it went through checked baggage, TSA had better think about improving their checked bag screening methods, or find out what the malfunction was.

RB said...

To RB: Your remark would be justified if that bag actually went through the checkpoint. If it had, I have no doubt it would have been caught in a split-second. Since it went through checked baggage, TSA had better think about improving their checked bag screening methods, or find out what the malfunction was.

April 20, 2009 5:56 PM

....................
The bag was screened by methods currently used by TSA. It matters little if it was checked or carry-on.

The point is that TSA is wasting its resources on things that do nothing to improve safety and in some cases have nothing to do with safety at all.

RB said...

So much for trusting anything said by TSA.

http://tinyurl.com/cj94ju

Joe Sharkey, New York Times News Service

In a shift, the Transportation Security Administration plans to replace the walk-through metal detectors at airport checkpoints with whole-body imaging machines – the kind that provide an image of the naked body.

Initially, the machines were supposed to be used only on passengers who set off the metal detectors, to provide them with an alternative to the customary secondary physical pat-downs and inspections by electronic wand.
Here on this very blog we were assured that the Strip Search Machines would be voluntary.

The public must know that their young children are going to be forced by Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, into a screening method that is nothing short of pornographic and will display the child's naked image to a viewer who is hidden away from public view doing who knows what.

It's a sad day when the United States feels the need to routinely strip search children.

RB said...

Anyone find it strange that the Delete-O-Meter jumped from 1049 to 1155 today? In just one day!

Notice the lack of post since the Kelly flame out last week?

Or since the SeaTac incident where even being dead is not good enough to keep TSA's highly trained TSO's from the ultimate passenger harassment?

Have that many post really been so out of line that Bob felt the need to delete them.

What's really going on is that Bob cannot justify the continuing poor performance of his coworkers. His only means to control the Blog is by limiting the speech of Blog participants even when it complies with stated TSA Posting guidelines which are in fact an illegal limitation First Amendment Protections.

So here is to your Blog Team, afraid of free speech all the while telling us they are defending the Constitution of the United States, but only if they agree with the posters position.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Although this story is off topic, and I don't know why it was posted (It should get a whole topic of its own),
It should but I wouldn't count on a posting on the Vegas incident or the cremated remains removed by TSA personnel in Seattle. They really got hammered in the first post about St. Louis, so much so that Francine had to create a second post that answered nothing.

Bob said...

RB - The delete-o-meter hasn't been updated in weeks and I'm pretty sure you know that since you comment on it often. Our web guy updates it and I asked him to make sure he updated it today. As I've explained before, the meter is not automatic.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

RB said...

Bob said...
RB - The delete-o-meter hasn't been updated in weeks and I'm pretty sure you know that since you comment on it often. Our web guy updates it and I asked him to make sure he updated it today. As I've explained before, the meter is not automatic.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

April 20, 2009 9:37 PM

..................
I think I have mentioned the Delete-O-Meter three or four times since the Blog began. If that is often so be it.

What seems to be the problem is an almost total stoppage of posts since the middle of last week.

St Louis, Orlando, and others, now SeaTac and it seems LAS is also in the news.

Then we have the "None Answer" that Francine provided.

And if I remember some folks have ask you Bob if taking photos of Xray Screens is a law or just a policy.

So why the stonewalling?

This blog is all about discussion right?

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...Here on this very blog we were assured that the Strip Search Machines would be voluntary.Still is RB. You can decline to go through any Whole Body Imaging device(1). You can, as well, decline to go through the Walk-Through Metal Detector.(2)

later Rb,

Source:
(1) “Whole Body Imaging Innovation & Technology”(2) “Step 2. Walk-through metal detector”-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
RB said...Here on this very blog we were assured that the Strip Search Machines would be voluntary.Still is RB. You can decline to go through any Whole Body Imaging device(1). You can, as well, decline to go through the Walk-Through Metal Detector.(2)

later Rb,

Source:
(1) “Whole Body Imaging Innovation & Technology”(2) “Step 2. Walk-through metal detector”-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

April 21, 2009 2:07 AM
................................

You apparently did not read the article and the quotes attributed to Robin Kane, your agency's acting chief technology officer.

Perhaps a bit of reading before posting old information is in order.



Initially, the machines were supposed to be used only on passengers who set off the metal detectors, to provide them with an alternative to the customary secondary physical pat-downs and inspections by electronic wand.

But Robin Kane, the agency's acting chief technology officer, said the initial results from tests at some checkpoints at 19 airports in the United States had been so good that the idea of using the machines as the standard checkpoint detectors made sense. Those results included, he said, positive feedback from passengers.

The plan now is that all passengers will "go through the whole-body imager instead of the walk-through metal detector," he said.

Anonymous said...

HappyToHelp said...

Source:
(1) “Whole Body Imaging Innovation & Technology”(2) “Step 2. Walk-through metal detector”-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

April 21, 2009 2:07 AM
------------------------

From reference 2:

"TSA Shoe Screening Policy

You ARE REQUIRED to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector. All types of footwear must be screened..."

Also from Reference 2 (a little farther down):

"Hand-Wand Inspection...

The screener may ask you to remove your shoes, and your shoes may be X-rayed separately."

Do you get to put your shoes back on after the WTMD before the hand wanding?

Of course not. Obviously this is a very minor example, but its part why passengers are frustrated trying to follow the published procedures. They are confusing.

TSM, been here.... said...

Quote:
"RB said...
So much for trusting anything said by TSA.

http://tinyurl.com/cj94ju

Joe Sharkey, New York Times News Service

In a shift, the Transportation Security Administration plans to replace the walk-through metal detectors at airport checkpoints with whole-body imaging machines – the kind that provide an image of the naked body.

Initially, the machines were supposed to be used only on passengers who set off the metal detectors, to provide them with an alternative to the customary secondary physical pat-downs and inspections by electronic wand.Here on this very blog we were assured that the Strip Search Machines would be voluntary.

The public must know that their young children are going to be forced by Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, into a screening method that is nothing short of pornographic and will display the child's naked image to a viewer who is hidden away from public view doing who knows what.

It's a sad day when the United States feels the need to routinely strip search children.

April 20, 2009 8:34 PM"
------------------------------
Boy RB, Do you believe everything you read? TSA has repeatedly said that these machines are in test phase. Not only that, but MANY specific airports can't even fit these machines in the architecture they have in place and the airports (who own said architecture) have no plans to give TSA any more space. In some places they couldn't if they wanted to (including ours)!
Stop being so gullible and sensationalist.

Oh, I forgot, if it's in the news, it must be true!

Anonymous said...

H2H: your link about the metal detector option has some true information, it's just incomplete.

Paraphrasing a poster from another thread: "I [read the links] and apparently they did not do a very thorough job with the [information]. Its like they didn't finish it or something. It is not incorrect. The information shown is correct information, it is just not complete."

A passenger can opt not to go through the unit, but will go through the metal detector and get a pat-down instead.This "improvement" in security leads to the Morton's Fork of getting virtually strip-searched or physically patted-down. Neither is as unintrusive as the pre-MMW policy.

RB said...

TSM, been here.... said...
Quote:
"RB said...
So much for trusting anything said by TSA.

http://tinyurl.com/cj94ju

Joe Sharkey, New York Times News Service

In a shift, the Transportation Security Administration plans to replace the walk-through metal detectors at airport checkpoints with whole-body imaging machines – the kind that provide an image of the naked body.

April 20, 2009 8:34 PM"
------------------------------
Boy RB, Do you believe everything you read? TSA has repeatedly said that these machines are in test phase. Not only that, but MANY specific airports can't even fit these machines in the architecture they have in place and the airports (who own said architecture) have no plans to give TSA any more space. In some places they couldn't if they wanted to (including ours)!
Stop being so gullible and sensationalist.

Oh, I forgot, if it's in the news, it must be true!

April 21, 2009 11:08 AM

......................................
But Robin Kane, the agency's acting chief technology officer, said the initial results from tests at some checkpoints at 19 airports in the United States had been so good that the idea of using the machines as the standard checkpoint detectors made sense. Those results included, he said, positive feedback from passengers.

The plan now is that all passengers will "go through the whole-body imager instead of the walk-through metal detector," he said. ................................

So TSM been here, are you suggesting that Robin Kane, acting chief technology officer for TSA, was being less than truthful in the article as reported?

I take it you have no problem putting young children through these machines since you didn't bring that point up.

Anonymous said...

"A passenger can opt not to go through the unit, but will go through the metal detector and get a pat-down instead.This "improvement" in security leads to the Morton's Fork of getting virtually strip-searched or physically patted-down. Neither is as unintrusive as the pre-MMW policy."

And neither provides any real increase in security. Also note that TSA continually refuses to share the images the virtual strip-search will produce, or say how it will handle small children unable to stand on their own, or provide clear, large images of what the virtual strip-search operators will see at checkpoints. TSA continues to be grotesquely un-American.

Anonymous said...

Although off subject of this specific blog will the TSA have any official comment on the arrest of a US Marine at Boston Logan Airport that had

"...a semiautomatic handgun, a fully loaded gun magazine, a grenade fuse and detonator, and model rocket engines containing explosive mixtures. The bag had been checked without incident at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas."

And the events that allowed this to pass Las Vegas baggage screening.

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...You apparently did not read the article and the quotes attributed to Robin Kane, your agency's acting chief technology officer.I did read the article RB. Thats why my answer was short. I spent most of my time reading and researching LOL. :)

The only thing that is happening RB is the movement of Whole Body Imaging from a secondary screening position to a primary screening position. Just like the Walk-Through Metal Detector(primary screening), you can opt out for some secondary screening.
Anonymous said...They are confusing.Agreed.
Anonymous said...Neither is as unintrusive as the pre-MMW policy.Intrusiveness is in the eye of the beholder. What maybe be intrusive to you wouldn't be intrusive to others. The pilot will determine if using Whole Body Imaging in the primary screening position is worth wild. My personal opinion on the matter is “I wouldn't mind going through the machine”. Again, that is just me. If you don't feel comfortable going through the machine, just decline to go through.

Since everyone is subject to secondary screening at the checkpoint, I don't see a issue with requiring secondary screening if one does not wish to go through a Whole body Imaging unit.



-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "And neither provides any real increase in security. Also note that TSA continually refuses to share the images the virtual strip-search will produce, or say how it will handle small children unable to stand on their own, or provide clear, large images of what the virtual strip-search operators will see at checkpoints. TSA continues to be grotesquely un-American.""I went thru the D concourse at BWI on Wednesday and Thursday and I looked at the sign they had outside the strip search machine where the "pictures" of showing what TSA sees are shown.

I can tell you, the pictures are small and of not very high resolution. There's only one sign after the WTMD and it's in such a place that a person probably wouldn't see it, nor would have time to get a good look at the pictures. Additionally, due to the size and resolution, it would be difficult to even see at a distance what's actually being shot.

I'm willing to bet most people either don't see the sign or can't see enough in the quick look to see just how much they're being stripped.

I'm also willing to bet that if TSA had large size pictures of good resolution with an adequate explanation that the "postive feedback" wouldn't be so positive. Try asking the people AFTER the fact and explain what they just sumbitted to and then tell me if the feedback is positive. At least from anecdotal reports, it's not as hunky dory as TSA makes it out to be. And I can tell you when I tell infrequent flyers what it's about and show them the pics before they travel, they're less than enthused.

I'd sooner stop flying than submit to a strip search if this does become mandatory. I hope the airlines lose enough money that they'll finally get a spine and tell TSA enough's enough, as TSA sure doesn't listen to the public unless it hears what it wants to hear.

Robert

Robert Johnson said...

H2H, if you don't have an issue going thru and don't see any privacy issues, please post a pic of your scan. I have yet to see anyone from TSA say they're fine with it post a scan - even Nico who said he was fine with his kids going thru there.

Quote from H2H: "Since everyone is subject to secondary screening at the checkpoint, I don't see a issue with requiring secondary screening if one does not wish to go through a Whole body Imaging unit."I do. It's an unnecessary invasion of privacy and of questionable constitutionality. I don't know that a court would find this a reasonable search under the 4th amendment. Clearly, it's much more invasive than needs to be, which invasiveness is supposed to be minimized in an administrative search.

The consent is given to a limited administrative search that keeps on getting wider and wider as TSA goes on. When is enough enough? Will TSA not rest until we're flying naked or in paper suits?

Additionally, as I have to be separated from my belongings and can't keep my wallet, etc, on me for the scan, is TSA going to take responsibility and provide on the spot compensation if my wallet or anything in it is stolen? Has that even been thought about? Or is this another "just trust us" piece?

It's sickening that America is getting to this. I'm really starting to wonder which terrorists we should fear.

Robert

Anonymous said...

H2H @"Neither is as unintrusive as the pre-MMW policy.Intrusiveness is in the eye of the beholder. What maybe be intrusive to you wouldn't be intrusive to others. "

Compare:

A) Metal detector

B) Metal detector + pat down

If you are truly trying to say that the intrusiveness of B versus A is "in the eye of the beholder", I can believe you believe that, but I'll think you insane.

RB said...

The pilot will determine if using Whole Body Imaging in the primary screening position is worth wild. My personal opinion on the matter is “I wouldn't mind going through the machine”. Again, that is just me. If you don't feel comfortable going through the machine, just decline to go through.

Since everyone is subject to secondary screening at the checkpoint, I don't see a issue with requiring secondary screening if one does not wish to go through a Whole body Imaging unit.



-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

April 21, 2009 3:59 PM

..................
It sounds like TSA is moving past the evaluation phase and moving the Strip Search Machines to primary screening role while eliminating the WTMD.

I have no problems if a person chooses to be screened in this manner if they know what the actual image looks like that is produced by a Strip Search Machine and a full,life size image should be on the outside of every checkpoint where these Strip Search Machines are being used.

I object to any minor ever being screened by a Strip Search Machine for any reason.

If the images these Strip Search Machines produce is not offensive then why the reluctance on the part of TSA to provide actual images?

Why did Germany refuse to allow Strip Search machines in their airports if they are not offensive?

Oh, it'll be voluntary, trust us, we are TSA!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Intrusiveness is in the eye of the beholder. What maybe be intrusive to you wouldn't be intrusive to others."

H2H, a strip search is inherently intrusive, and far more so than a passive metal detector that only detects metal, and does not show a naked picture of an individual to one or more government agents.

"The pilot will determine if using Whole Body Imaging in the primary screening position is worth wild."

How can the pilot reliably determine this when citizens are not being provided with accurate information about what the virtual strip search scanner displays?

"My personal opinion on the matter is “I wouldn't mind going through the machine”. Again, that is just me. If you don't feel comfortable going through the machine, just decline to go through."

Why does declining to go through now require mandatory groping by poorly-trained government officials?

Why don't you post a scan of yourself in the virtual strip-search scanner to show that you truly have no problem with it?

"Since everyone is subject to secondary screening at the checkpoint, I don't see a issue with requiring secondary screening if one does not wish to go through a Whole body Imaging unit."

The issue, H2H, is that it is one thing for being groped to be a last resort possibility if one is setting off the metal detector repeatedly, and it is quite another to have no choice but to be groped if one does not wish to be strip-searched.

Note, also, that TSA cannot demonstrate any enhanced security from this virtual strip-search scanner above and beyond a flight that was saved from 0.6 ounces of lotion that could not cause any harm to anyone in the first place.

You are not only wasting our time, you are lying to us.

Anonymous said...

Robert @ "I can tell you, the pictures are small and of not very high resolution. There's only one sign after the WTMD and it's in such a place that a person probably wouldn't see it, nor would have time to get a good look at the pictures. Additionally, due to the size and resolution, it would be difficult to even see at a distance what's actually being shot."

If the small and not high resolution pictures are indeed what the screeners are seeing, they are almost useless for screening. If the screeners are seeing higher resolution images on larger screens, then the pictures are not representative of what is being shown. The manufacturer would probably install a big flat-screen rather than an iPod in the private theatre, so I'd go with TSA being misleading rather than inept. However, based on prior experience, it's a toss-up.

George said...

I actually believe that the MMW strip search can provide an improvement in security. In theory, it represents the most significant improvement in the ability to detect "artfully concealed" contraband since airport screening began. But that's the extent to which I will agree with the TSA.

I say "in theory" because the effectiveness depends on the diligence, consistency, and competence of those officers in their secret remote locations entrusted with viewing scanning the images of our unclothed bodies. Since the whole operation will be shrouded in secrecy "to protect our privacy," we will never know how well those officers perform. There surely will be undercover tests, but the results will be SSI (both for "national security" reasons and "to protect passengers' privacy").

And there's the underlying assumption that strip searching to detect prohibited items actually correlates positively with aviation security. We're supposed to accept this assumption unquestioningly as an indisputable fact, but beyond that there's no way to know if it's actually true.

The only thing we can know with certainty is that that the overwhelming majority of items the strip searches detect will be false positives, items that are "prohibited" under the SSI SOP but pose no actual threat to aviation. The TSA will of course periodically issue impressive metrics about the number of items the strip searches interdict, along with the occasional press release crowing about the latest haul of drugs or cash it detected. That should conclusively prove its effectiveness. The five or six people on this blog will point out that those "catches" are false positives, just as they did when Bob posted about the successful detection of an oversized lotion bottle. Those protests will be ignored, as always, and drowned out in an ocean of official spin and propaganda.

That said, the TSA still has to convince the public to accept being strip searched every time they fly, and particularly to accept the TSA's sweetly spun claims that they're protecting our privacy. No matter how they spin it as "family friendly" or "innocuous," the fact remains that the MMW machine is a strip search. I'm not sure that their usual approach of condescendingly insulting our intelligence by insisting that MMW is something other than a strip search will work in this case. Nor will claiming that the strip search is "voluntary," when the other choice is being groped by a TSO (who may well have an agenda of trying to "encourage" passengers who choose the groping to choose the strip search the next time). No matter how the TSA spins it, MMW represents a new level of intrusiveness and invasion of privacy, which is something many people are understandably squeamish about.

Given that the strip search is very costly improvement, both in terms of dollars and a significantly higher level of intrusiveness, I think it's essential to ask whether we're getting anything useful for what we're being asked to pay. The TSA's dismal track record on credibility, effectiveness, and respect for passenger rights and privacy makes this question even more important. Yes, the TSA can always definitively answer that question the same way they've trained those respectful, courteous, and professional TSOs to do whenever passengers need to be reminded of who is in charge: "Do you want to fly today?" But I think (and I hope) that the public is becoming increasingly intolerant of that sort of arrogance.

I've already mentioned my belief that the TSA would do a lot better by actually treating the public with the respect they claim to have. In other words, admit that it's a strip search and explain how it's a genuine advance in security that justifies the acknowledged invasion of privacy. There will always be reluctance to accept being routinely strip searched, but I think the TSA would overcome that more successfully by telling the truth than through condescension and spin. And of course, a reformed TSA culture that includes accountability and transparency would help even more.

George said...

@Robert Johnson: Additionally, as I have to be separated from my belongings and can't keep my wallet, etc, on me for the scan, is TSA going to take responsibility and provide on the spot compensation if my wallet or anything in it is stolen? Has that even been thought about? Or is this another "just trust us" piece?Thank you, Robert!

This is actually the most serious concern I have about the strip search. I have mentioned it several times here, and the responses I received from the blog team have dismissed it as utterly unimportant.

I am willing to be separated from all my other belongings, since if something happens to them I can always replace them. That may require significant expense, time, and effort, but I can replace them. My wallet is another matter entirely, since its loss opens the possibility of identify theft in addition to the loss of the very identity documents I need to travel.

Since the TSA so generously gives us the choice of opting out of the strip search, it may well be that the best option for those who are afraid of being separated from their wallet is to choose the TSO groping. That presumably also includes an inspection of the contents of my wallet and a demand to justify the legitimacy of any item the TSO may question.

It's pretty clear to me that the "security experts" at the TSA never considered the problems and risks inherent to separating passengers from their wallets when they designed the MMW strip search procedures. Or if they did consider it, they disregarded it as a problem outside their mission. This is typical of the TSA. Their narrow focus on the terrorist threat and interdicting prohibited items neglects other aspects of security that are more likely threats to passengers than terrorism.

As for the compensation for the lost or stolen wallet, remember that you voluntarily chose to be separated from it when you chose to go through the MMW strip search machine. When you made your choice, you freely assumed all the risk of losing your wallet or any of its contents. So no compensation is appropriate, since the TSA was in no way liable for the loss. That's why the blog staff are so insistent that everything you do at a TSA checkpoint is "voluntary," since it exempts them from any liability or accountability when a passenger suffers loss or damage at a checkpoint. Francine will surely agree with that!

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "If the small and not high resolution pictures are indeed what the screeners are seeing, they are almost useless for screening. If the screeners are seeing higher resolution images on larger screens, then the pictures are not representative of what is being shown. The manufacturer would probably install a big flat-screen rather than an iPod in the private theatre, so I'd go with TSA being misleading rather than inept. However, based on prior experience, it's a toss-up."I wasn't talking about the screens a screener sees - they're pretty well hidden though I think I can figure out where the booth is.

I'm talking about what was on the sign.

I'm thinking that the pictures were shrunk down at a relatively low resolution for "display" purposes. Think of about the size of an iPod's screener. Enough to get a basic idea, but not enough to convey the detail that TSA is claiming with these things.

So if people are seeing a basic image of an outline, which is what the pics appear to be, then TSA's misleading the public about how much they're actually seeing. No real suprise there though.

Robert

Anonymous said...

"Why don't you post a scan of yourself in the virtual strip-search scanner to show that you truly have no problem with it?"


You don't understand. That would be an unacceptable violation of Tim's privacy.

In the TSA version Newspeak, "privacy" at checkpoints refers only to TSA personnel. A TSO's privacy is absolutely sacrosanct, even when they violate the SOP and the law. But passsengers voluntarily abandon, surrender, and relinquish any rights to privacy the moment they enter a TSA checkpoint. They voluntarily consent to a strip search, voluntarily agree to a public inspection of their belongings, and consent to an obligation to fully answer any questions about the purpose, origin, and justification of any items they carry.

If you simply keep in mind that TSOs have unlimited rights to privacy while passengers have no rights whatsoever (because they have voluntarily abandoned them at the checkpoint), you'll understand what "privacy" means to the TSA.

Of course, the fact that Tim would find posting MMW scans of himself an unconscionable invasion of his privacy doesn't suggest that you or I should have that problem. The TSA assures us they're protecting our privacy during the completely innocous MMW scanning process. So we should believe and trust what they tell us, and try not to overthink any of it.

Anonymous said...

I think the body imager is a great idea for secondary screening. However, as a primary method of screening, it is way too time consuming and creates lines when lines are not necessary. And from what I hear, it does not catch everything. When are the bottom of passengers feet being checked if it doesn't scan the feet and the passenger is standing?

HappyToHelp said...

Robert Johnson said...H2H, if you don't have an issue going thru and don't see any privacy issues, please post a pic of your scan.Robert, don't mix me not having any issues with Whole Body Imaging with me not being concerned with your privacy issues. Also, don't take my personal position on this matter as advocating for it. I just put it up so no one would have to waste there time asking.

You can find what the Transportation Security Officer sees here.(1) These images were posted back in 5.09.2008. I don't expect you guys to keep up with every blog post on this blog, so I added the link for your convenience.(2)
Anonymous said...H2H, a strip search is inherently intrusive, and far more so than a passive metal detector that only detects metal, and does not show a naked picture of an individual to one or more government agents.Again, intrusiveness is decided by the individual. I don't find it intrusive at all. Am I a rare case? I don't know, but your feelings don't change mine. I understand where your coming from, but it is your choice not to go through it or not.
Anonymous said...Why don't you post a scan of yourself in the virtual strip-search scanner to show that you truly have no problem with it?LOL. I can't. :)

Why would you ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself? In my time in the Army, this was a big no-no. It is also not very realistic of what TSA is asking of you. If you do decide to go through the Whole Body Imaging unit, your image is not posted for everyone on the Internet to view. I don't see how posting my image would change your opinion on going through a Whole Body Imaging unit.

Later everyone,

Source:
(1)TSA-Release-Images-2-050808-726403(2)”You asked for it...You got it, Millimeter Wave images.”-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

RB said...

If the small and not high resolution pictures are indeed what the screeners are seeing, they are almost useless for screening. If the screeners are seeing higher resolution images on larger screens, then the pictures are not representative of what is being shown. The manufacturer would probably install a big flat-screen rather than an iPod in the private theatre, so I'd go with TSA being misleading rather than inept. However, based on prior experience, it's a toss-up.

April 21, 2009 5:04 PM

.................
I think you misunderstood what was being said.

The small, low resolution images are the ones being used to demonstrate to the victims what TSA is seeing.

If the victims saw the actual image the degree of acceptance would drop drastically.

As it is TSA is afraid to let their victims see the real images. The Strip Search program would come to a sudden end!

RB said...

When will TSA answer one pressing question?

IF MMW Strip Search Machines are deployed as the primary method of screening will minors be screened in this manner?

Come on Bob, it's not that hard of a question.

Anonymous said...

RB @".................
I think you misunderstood what was being said.

The small, low resolution images are the ones being used to demonstrate to the victims what TSA is seeing.

If the victims saw the actual image the degree of acceptance would drop drastically.

As it is TSA is afraid to let their victims see the real images. The Strip Search program would come to a sudden end!"

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

I do think I understand. I'm not sure what makes it past the censoring and now water down the outrage I feel at this horrid agency.

The very reasonable explanation you propose is that they see higher resolution images than they present to the public. A possible charitable alternative explanation is to take TSA at their word and that the iPod-like images are representative, but then the MMW is nearly useless and the program is an example of TSA ineptitude.

So, with respect to the PR campaign for the MWW program, TSA is either lying or inept. (Maybe some booster TSO will chime in that this is a false choice fallacy, but TSA hasn't given us anything else to work with.) Neither option makes TSA seem worth its budget.

Maybe that's too offensive or vulgar for the part-time censor.

RB said...

I do think I understand. I'm not sure what makes it past the censoring and now water down the outrage I feel at this horrid agency.

The very reasonable explanation you propose is that they see higher resolution images than they present to the public. A possible charitable alternative explanation is to take TSA at their word and that the iPod-like images are representative, but then the MMW is nearly useless and the program is an example of TSA ineptitude.

...........................
My understanding is that the small low resolution IPod size images are whats being used to show the public just how innocuous these Strip Search Machine images are suppose to be.

However, TSA is so concerned with the actual Strip Search Machine images that they feel the need to hide from view the person who is viewing the images. This is a clear indication that TSA fears the public outrage and backlash if these images became public knowledge. When you feel compelled to hide from the light of day like a thief in the night then everyone will question what is being said.

My understanding is that the Strip Search Machine images are displayed on a high resolution monitor and is much larger than an IPod screen (think full size computer monitor).

Germany refused to allow these Strip Search Machines in their airports. One would have to wonder why I think!

And TSA has yet to answer if minors will be screened by Strip Search Machines.

The refusal to answer that simple question should give the public ample reason to question the motives of TSA.

HappyToHelp said...

This is worth posting again. Just in case you missed this post March 20, 2009 6:20 PM “Traveling 101 for Diabetics” blog post...

“Q: Are children screened in the Whole Body Imagers. (WBI)

A: There is no age limit. Anybody who can stand with their legs shoulder width apart and arms raised for 5 seconds while remaining still can be screened in the WBI.

Q: If a child is too small to be screened or cannot stand still for the 5 second duration of screening in the WBI, how will they be screened.

A: If the child cannot be screened in the WBI, they will be screened in accordance with the walk through metal detector screening procedures.

Q: As a parent, will I be separated from my child while I am being screened in the WBI?

A: No. You can opt out for WTMD screening and when necessary you may get a pat-down. You will not be separated from your child.

Bob

EoS Blog Team”


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

George said...

Tim, I know this is pointless but I can't resist.

I don't find it intrusive at all.....Why would you ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself? .... It is also not very realistic of what TSA is asking of you. If you do decide to go through the Whole Body Imaging unit, your image is not posted for everyone on the Internet to view. I don't see how posting my image would change your opinion on going through a Whole Body Imaging unit.I suspect it would change many people's opinions if some TSO-- or better yet, the high-level official who made the decision to strip-search everyone who flies-- posted a full-resolution MMW scan of themselves here. I suspect many people would be horrified at how revealing it is, and how the TSA is asking us to strip for some unknown, unseen TSA employee. I also suspect it would be just as horrifying to see for ourselves that the TSA has been telling the public outright lies about how intrusive MMW actually is, and misleading us by showing us only reduced images carefully selected to conceal the truth.

As a lasting legacy and embodiment of the Bush administration, the TSA has an institutional aversion to the truth, along with utter contempt for both the public and the rule of law. So of course they would never want the public to know the truth about the "Whole Body Imaging unit." (I'm surprised you're allowed to call it that. I would expect the PR department would give it a friendlier official name, such as "Freedom Scan" or "Passenger Privacy Protection Scan"). Spin, lies, deception.... that's the TSA's strategy for effective security.

As for your (understandable) objection to posting a "whole body scan" of yourself, there's a clear difference between yourself and us. You're the one promoting it and telling us that you "don't find it intrusive at all."

If the Kool-Aid you're trying to sell us really isn't putrid or poisonous, you should have no trouble drinking a tall glass of it yourself as we carefully watch you enjoy it. Similarly, if the scanner really is as friendly, innocuous, and non-intrusive as you and your colleagues continually claim it is, you should have no trouble showing us your scan so we can see for ourselves. If you're so convinced that you're telling us the truth, it should be worth the sacrifice of a little of your privacy to put an end to the skepticism and criticism so the deployment can go smoothly. The pleasure of seeing critics resoundingly proved wrong should make up for the small loss of privacy.

The fact that you and your colleagues invariably (and understandably) react with revulsion when we ask you to post a scan of yourself can only indicate that the TSA is yet again showing its contempt for the public by feeding us spin, lies, and deception.

As I've said before, I happen to believe that the MMW strip search is the first genuine improvement in checkpoint security since screening began. Unfortunately, you (the TSA) are undermining its value before it's even fully deployed. Very typical.

I understand where your coming from, but it is your choice not to go through it or not..... If you do decide to go through the Whole Body Imaging unit....Please stop insulting us by claiming that being strip searched is a "choice." Yes, I'm aware that the TSA considers everything we do at the checkpoint to be freely consented and chosen. But in practice, what choice do we have "if we want to fly today?" As I understand it, we have a choice between a strip search and a respectful, courteous grope by Buster the TSO (who may have good reason to make the experience as unpleasant as possible so we'll "choose" the strip search next time and not bother him again). Is that really a choice?

Not flying would obviously be the best choice of all. Unfortunately, that's too often not a real option. Which is exactly what lets the TSA can get away with a "Do you want to fly today?" attitude toward the public.

Anonymous said...

RB: I agree with you: TSA is being misleading about the MWW images.
The only other explanation for the iPod-like images being representative is that they are idiots of box-of-hammers severity.

@ "Germany refused to allow these Strip Search Machines in their airports. One would have to wonder why I think!"

I would guess that they have some sort of national aversion to overly intrusive searches.

H2H@ "This is worth posting again. Just in case you missed this post March 20, 2009 6:20 PM “Traveling 101 for Diabetics” blog post..."

Happy, one of the reasons we want TSA to publish the rules is that comments on the blog aren't TSA policy. This is worth posting again: "TSA does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. TSA may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person."

The blog is PR.

Anonymous said...

Here's my MMW scan, see how innocuous and unthreatening it is:


  O
--|--
  |
 / \

See? No threat to privacy here. How could anyone be offended by such a scan?

(/snark Resolution and size matters. How many of your scannees know that you can see the dangly bits of a male on these machines?)

HappyToHelp said...

George said...
“Tim, I know this is pointless but I can't resist.”

LOL. :)

George said...
“...reduced images carefully selected to conceal the truth.”

Here are the images that a Transportation Security Officer would see TSA-Release-Images-2-050808-726403 --

Here is what the Transportation Security Officer looks like in that secluded area while looking at a Whole Body Imaging scan. CNN “TSA Security or Breach of Privacy: You Decide!”

George said...
“Which is exactly what lets the TSA can get away with a "Do you want to fly today?" attitude toward the public.”

It is not a choice of “if you want to fly today”. All you have to do is opt out of the Whole Body Imaging unit. It is that easy. I know you want to believe it is harder then that and there is some kind of conspiracy behind this George. You are not required to go through a Whole Body Imaging unit in order to traverse a TSA checkpoint at the airport.

I will happily answer questions about the machines but please layoff the conspiracy kool-aide guys. I do care about your privacy concerns. I just don't share them. That doesn't mean I can't advocate for policy change on your behalf.

This is just a joke. I just can't resist George. :)
The Millimeter Wave Machine will also spot your tin foil hat. Luckily, it is not a prohibited item but will need to go through the X-ray machine.
Again, just some morning humor.

Thanks for posting George,


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

I just noticed "...the Homeland..." in the OP. Capitalized and everything.

Are you trying to parody yourselves? Not even the DHS itself capitalizes 'homeland' as if it were a proper noun.

What's next? "TSA work makes freedom"?

RB said...

Blogger Bob or his staff is refusing to allow my post were I refer to the Strip Seach Machine images of children as a term we would all recognize as an illegal activity.

So much for TSA's posting guidelines. If they just don't like what you have to say they just won't let your post go.

So I ask all readers, how would you describe the image of a child where the viewer can see under the childs clothing?

In my world it would be an illegal activity and I say TSA must be held to these same standards.

George said...

@ HappyToHelp: It is not a choice of "if you want to fly today". All you have to do is opt out of the Whole Body Imaging unit. It is that easy. I know you want to believe it is harder then that and there is some kind of conspiracy behind this George. You are not required to go through a Whole Body Imaging unit in order to traverse a TSA checkpoint at the airport.
What you conveniently omit is what happens if I "opt out." Am I somehow incorrect in my assumption that "opting out" means I have "chosen" to let Buster the TSO grope me in courteous and respectful fashion for which the TSA is renowned?

When Buster feels the wallet in my pocket, he will most likely respectfully ask me to remove it and hand it to him. Then he will, at his discretion, respectfully open it up, respectfully and courteously inspect each item in it, and at his discretion respectfully and courteously ask me to fully explain and account for the purpose, provenance, and justification for any and all of those items. If the answers and my forthright cooperative demeanor fully satisfy him, Buster will let me go. Otherwise, he may at his discretion allow me to wait voluntarily at the checkpoint while he calls the police for a voluntary interrogation. If after that I have not learned the Important Lesson that Buster tried to teach me, specifically that an intrusive strip search is infinitely preferable to Buster's far more intrusive and humiliating intrusion, it is strictly my fault. After all, it is entirely up to me which one I voluntarily choose! That's what FREEDOM means!

None of this is a "conspiracy," but simply standard TSA contempt for the public. You admit yourself that you don't share our privacy concerns. That's about what I would expect.


The Millimeter Wave Machine will also spot your tin foil hat. Luckily, it is not a prohibited item but will need to go through the X-ray machine.
Again, just some morning humor. Thanks for posting George,
I think "mourning humor" would be more appropriate. Since you don't share our concerns, you dismiss them with condescension and contempt. And you wonder why we have such a poor opinion of your agency, and so little trust in what you tell us. Thanks for confirming it yet again, Tim.

RB said...

This is just a joke. I just can't resist George. :)
The Millimeter Wave Machine will also spot your tin foil hat. Luckily, it is not a prohibited item but will need to go through the X-ray machine.
Again, just some morning humor.

Thanks for posting George,


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

April 22, 2009 1:26 PM

.................
What happens if the person wearing the hat claims it is a religious article?

Are you going to make them remove the hat in that case?

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
“What happens if the person wearing the hat claims it is a religious article?”

TSA Adjusts Security Procedures for Bulky Clothing“Removal of all headwear is recommended but the rules accommodate those with religious, medical, or other reasons for whom removing items is not comfortable. Transportation security officers have several options for screening passengers who choose not to remove bulky clothing, including headwear.

These options include:

Trace portals (where available)
Trace detection
Pat downs
Private screening will be offered at several different stages of the screening process.

TSA continues to work closely with its community partners to provide security protocols that are thorough and effective while fostering respect.”

George said...
“When Buster feels the wallet in my pocket, he will most likely respectfully ask me to remove it and hand it to him. Then he will, at his discretion, respectfully open it up, respectfully and courteously inspect each item in it, and at his discretion respectfully and courteously ask me to fully explain and account for the purpose, provenance, and justification for any and all of those items.”

Did this happen to you George? Or is this more fiction for our viewing pleasure.

George said...
“Since you don't share our concerns, you dismiss them with condescension and contempt.”

Nope. Got to love that morning humor. LOL :)

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

RB said...

If the MMW Strip Seach Machine is the primary means of screening people will all TSO's who enter the sterile area now be fully screened?

Seems that the metal badges will no longer be an excuse.

If not, why not?

George said...

So Tim, I see you ignored my real question about what happens if I "opt out" of the strip search. Does that mean I have other options besides Buster's friendly fingers? If so, what are they?

I'm serious about that. Specifically, what are the options available to those who "opt out" of the strip search?

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
RB said...
“What happens if the person wearing the hat claims it is a religious article?”

TSA Adjusts Security Procedures for Bulky Clothing“Removal of all headwear is recommended but the rules accommodate those with religious, medical, or other reasons for whom removing items is not comfortable. Transportation security officers have several options for screening passengers who choose not to remove bulky clothing, including headwear.

These options include:

Trace portals (where available)
Trace detection
Pat downs
Private screening will be offered at several different stages of the screening process.

TSA continues to work closely with its community partners to provide security protocols that are thorough and effective while fostering respect.”

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
So your statement "
The Millimeter Wave Machine will also spot your tin foil hat. Luckily, it is not a prohibited item but will need to go through the X-ray machine.
Again, just some morning humor.

Thanks for posting George,


-Tim “H2H”"
that the tinfoil hat would have to go through xray was in fact not correct TSA policy for ever case was it?

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
“If the MMW Strip Seach Machine is the primary means of screening people will all TSO's who enter the sterile area now be fully screened?”

I don't know. Great idea. Thanks RB. :)

George said...
“I'm serious about that. Specifically, what are the options available to those who "opt out" of the strip search?”

"Q: As a parent, will I be separated from my child while I am being screened in the WBI?

A: No. You can opt out for WTMD screening and when necessary you may get a pat-down. You will not be separated from your child.

Bob

EoS Blog Team”

The answer is in the answer to this question. Say that three times fast. LOL :) I'm out for the night guys.

Enjoy the rest of your day,


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

In response to HappyToHelp who said,

"George said...
“When Buster feels the wallet in my pocket, he will most likely respectfully ask me to remove it and hand it to him. Then he will, at his discretion, respectfully open it up, respectfully and courteously inspect each item in it, and at his discretion respectfully and courteously ask me to fully explain and account for the purpose, provenance, and justification for any and all of those items.”

Did this happen to you George? Or is this more fiction for our viewing pleasure."
I don't presume to speak for George, but that pretty much happened to me, at BWI. When I objected to having the TSA screener go through my wallet, item by item, his response was, "What's the problem? Have you got something to hide?"

The strip search machinnes, if actually deployed, will only give a thuggish agency more opportunities for thuggish behavior.

T-the-B at flyertalk

Al Ames said...

So H2H, is this (see post 25) the type of response we can expect when we refuse a strip search?

I had the opportunity to refuse the MMW today at Reagan National.

Them: "Sir, you've been selected for secondary screening. Please step in here."

Me: "No."

OMG!!!...

You would've thought I had dynamite strapped to my forehead.

"REFUSAL!!! REFUSAL!!! PAT DOWN! NOW!!! REFUSAL!!!"

I made a LOT of friends in a very short period of time.
Based on my experience with TSA at DCA, I find it entirely plausible.

Al

Mr. Gel-pack said...

H2H @ ""Q: As a parent, will I be separated from my child while I am being screened in the WBI?

A: No. You can opt out for WTMD screening and when necessary you may get a pat-down. You will not be separated from your child.

Bob

EoS Blog Team”

The answer is in the answer to this question. Say that three times fast. LOL :) I'm out for the night guys."

#########################

Your answer is but one conflicting answer to this question.

Take a look at this February 20, 2009 post of Paul's.

Look at this sign in particular: You have a choice to receive a patdown as an alternative [to the MMW], or read the text of the post.


Who are we to believe? Your toothless blog comment interpreting Bob's old interpretation of some SSI policy? the most recent MMW TSA blog post? Our lyin' eyes?

TSA is not trustworthy.

TSA is inept at control of its own internal procedures, its communication of them to its own employees, and its communication of them to the public.

George said...

@Al Ames: "REFUSAL!!! REFUSAL!!! PAT DOWN! NOW!!! REFUSAL!!!"
This is exactly what I would expect. A "choice" between an MMW strip search and being groped is no choice at all. It's what I'd expect when entering a prison to begin a sentence as a convicted felon, but not as a citizen whose only offense is choosing to fly rather than Go Greyhound.

That makes me very angry, which I'm sure will give Happy Tim a nice little chuckle in the morning.

Bob said...

Mr. Gel-pack said... Who are we to believe? Your toothless blog comment interpreting Bob's old interpretation of some SSI policy?April 23, 2009 11:17 AM
------------------------------

Gelguy,

My interpretation? I actually contacted the SOP department and had this question answered by a subject matter expert. I guess this was just probably chalked up as one of those questions we never answer around here.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Bob @ "My interpretation? I actually contacted the SOP department and had this question answered by a subject matter expert. I guess this was just probably chalked up as one of those questions we never answer around here."

Yes. you signed the post, your interpretation. (Which was very likely correct interpretation at the time. Paul's more recent post differs, as I tried to point out.)

The SOP department doesn't post the SSI SOPs, so rather than point to the subject matter experts, you bloggers have to repackage the ephemeral rules information in a set of posts wrapped with this tooth-pulling disclaimer:

"TSA does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. TSA may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person."

You guys do give lots of answers. But sometimes they conflict with other answers or other posters or other bloggers. Sometimes they ignore the question that was asked and give the answer to a different question.

So, does Paul's post which says you will get a pat-down supercede your previous post where you said we may? If so, H2H shouldn't have cited you. If not, what the heck is the point of Paul's post?

Anonymous said...

to all male travelers, especially the ones who post comments to this blog - please stop going on and on about being separated from your wallets to go through the MMW. As a female traveler, I have always been required to give up my wallet because it's in my purse which always leaves my possession to go through the xray machine. most clothing I have as a female that is comfortable for traveling in does not have pockets, so it is impossible for me to carry my wallet, passport, and other documentation on my person at all times like most men. So if you really need to learn how to get over that fear of separation with your wallets, just ask your wives, female coworkers, or any other female traveler you meet just how they manage that task.

Yes, it seems a lot of people are paranoid these days about their belongings especially when flying, and there have been some documented cases of theft, but really all you have to do is keep your eyes on the belt or wherever else your wallet is while it is out of your possession, and if you see something happening - yell. It really is very simple. Yes, it will be hard the first time, and maybe even the second time. But after awhile, it is just not bothersome anymore - its just another fact of flying these days.

HappyToHelp said...

Al Ames said...
So H2H, is this (see post 25) the type of response we can expect when we refuse a strip search?
Al, I can not comment on that specific incident as I was not there. If you ever feel like you were not treated well during the screening process, just check these links out.
10) What immediate measures can a person take when encountering a less than friendly TSA agent?
Contact The Transportation Security Administration

T-the-B said...
...that pretty much happened to me, at BWI.
Define “pretty much” please. Remember, George is referring to Whole Body Imaging in the primary screening function. Thank you.

George said...
This is exactly what I would expect. A "choice" between an MMW strip search and being groped is no choice at all.
You are always subject to a pat-down regardless if a Whole Body Imaging unit is present on a checkpoint or not. Using that logic George, you are always faced with that decision every time you transverse a TSA airport checkpoint.

Please refer to my earlier posts about what it means to “opt out”.

Have a good weekend everyone,

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

Mr. Gel-pack said...
Yes. you signed the post, your interpretation. (Which was very likely correct interpretation at the time. Paul's more recent post differs, as I tried to point out.)
Bob's comment - post March 20, 2009 6:20 PM “Traveling 101 for Diabetics” blog - is what I cited. I posted my cite information in my previous post April 22, 2009 10:28 AM.

Paul's blog post is from February 20, 2009

“...February 20, 2009 post of Paul's”
I have cited the most recent information available to the public Mr. Gel-pack.

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"You are always subject to a pat-down regardless if a Whole Body Imaging unit is present on a checkpoint or not."

Currently the likelihood of a pat-down is very low. If one declines to be strip-searched, however, one will definitely be patted down. You do understand the difference between something having a small likelihood and a high one, yes?

Mr. Gel-pack said...

My apologies H2H.

I didn't know that the diabetic post was the place to look for the authoritative information on MMW rules. I thought your undated quote was from Bob's old top 10 questions post.

However, I still think TSA does an inept job of communicating its rules to the public.

George said...

@Tim: You are always subject to a pat-down regardless if a Whole Body Imaging unit is present on a checkpoint or not. Using that logic George, you are always faced with that decision every time you transverse a TSA airport checkpoint.
What "decision" are you referring to? It looks like the deployment of MMW scanning means we're now volunteering for both a strip search and a pat down when we choose to fly. I suppose that represents a security improvement.

So Tim, remind me again, how is a passenger entering an airport to fly really different from a convicted felon entering a prison to serve a sentence? Oh... that's right.... the difference is that we choose to be strip searched and groped when we buy an airline ticket. It's something we volunteer for, and ask for. But the felon gets strip searched and groped whether he wants to or not. Now I understand.

Since you're so happy to help, it seems you're happily helping to convince me that the best choice (among the wide range of choices the TSA gives passengers at checkpoints) is to opt out of flying altogether.

I made that choice when the TSA first arrived at airports. When I read about all the hassles and confusion during the transition, I decided it would be best to take a vacation from flying until the dust settled. Since I'm fortunate enough to live in a world-class travel destination, I went to the bookstore and bought some guidebooks in preparation for what would today be called "staycations." If I can be grateful to the TSA for anything, it's for the opportunity they provided for discovering so many wonderful places close to home. And to think I had so blindly overlooked all of them them in those innocent days when air travel was fun, convenient, and so terribly vulnerable. These explorations of the treasures in my own back yard were probably some of the most enjoyable travel experiences of my life! And I have the TSA to thank for it.

But after a few years, I had exhausted my list of local treasures and was ready for some new scenery. After I looked at what Amtrak and Greyhound had to offer, I reluctantly concluded that avoiding flying was no longer practical. So I started flying again. And you know what? I was amazed to find that the TSA was a noticeable improvement over the old private screeners. The TSOs were much more courteous, professional, and efficient, although many silly things I saw made me doubt whether the TSA was any more effective than the system that failed on 9/11. But the improvements were nonetheless welcome. Yes Tim, believe it or not I actually once had a very positive opinion of the TSA.

Then came the War On Liquids. I had two unpleasant experiences with what I consider improper and stupid "voluntary abandonment," complete with "Do you want to fly today?". I've already described those "incidents," so I won't repeat the details here. Those experiences completely destroyed any good feelings I had about the TSA, and turned me into a vociferous critic of what I realized was a highly visible embodiment of the arrogance, lawlessness, and secrecy that were the worst aspects of the Bush administration.

I was hoping that the change of administrations would lead to a change in the TSA's culture. That may still happen in the future, since Obama and company have more urgent matters to deal with. But everything I'm seeing here suggests that, if anything, the TSA is getting worse. So in the absence of any improvement in Amtrak or Greyhound service (I've checked), I think my best choice is to go back to the bookstore, buy some new guidebooks, and comb through them carefully to find whatever local treasures I might have missed the last time around. Maybe when I'm done with that, you'll have a new administrator who will clean house, and change the TSA's culture to reflect American values rather than Bush/Cheney contempt for the law and the public. But I'm not holding my breath.

RB said...

RB said...
When will TSA answer one pressing question?

IF MMW Strip Search Machines are deployed as the primary method of screening will minors be screened in this manner?

Come on Bob, it's not that hard of a question.

April 21, 2009 10:22 PM

Anonymous said...

I clicked on Happy's link to "10) What immediate measures can a person take when encountering a less than friendly TSA agent?" It goes to a post from last August that provides official (non-)answers from Kip and Francine to the "top ten" questions asked on this blog.

I found it particularly interesting to look at the many comments in response to that post. They were essentially indistinguishable from the comments posted in response to recent posts. In the eight months separating those comments, nothing has changed. Nothing has been answered. Nothing has been resolved.

Is that what they mean by "evolution of security"?

Mr. Gel-pack said...

H2H:

More apologies. I first read, and then re-read your undated April 22, 2009 6:59 PM post, rather than your April 22, 2009 10:28 AM post

Still, TSA should be able to point the public to some actual authoritative documents rather than have JG bloggers point us towards their unlinkable blog comments in a forum built to embrace obsolescence (blogger).

TSA's document control or content management system does not seem to be effective at communicating what TSA says it is trying to communicate.

Again, who are we to believe? The http://www.tsa.gov/ website? The http://www.tsa.gov/blog posts? The blog poster's revisions? The commenters tagged "EoS Blog Team"? Other commenters with names, profiles, or simply "Anonymous"? Fellow Travellers on FlyerTalk? Fox? Google? CNN? Many of them do a much better job of communication than TSA does.

Anonymous said...

Responding to HappyToHelp -

You asked me to define "pretty much" regarding a hypothetical encounter in a post by George and an actual encounter I had at BWI.

Here goes. I'll put George's hypothetical in italics and my actual experience in normal type.


When Buster feels the wallet in my pocket, he will most likely respectfully ask me to remove it and hand it to him. The screener did want me to hand him my wallet. However; the request wasn't really all that respectful and I'm not sure if his name was Buster.

Then he will, at his discretion, respectfully open it up, respectfully and courteously inspect each item in it, That's what happened to me, but only after I insisted the inspection be done in my presence. He first tried to walk away with my wallet.

and at his discretion respectfully and courteously ask me to fully explain and account for the purpose, provenance, and justification for any and all of those items. That happened, also, including having him examine my credit cards and open up and read some small slips of paper I had tucked inside my wallet. I'm still not sure why he needed to read the phone numbers I had written down as notes to myself. I did get asked what some items were. Apparently the idea of laminated cards for various purposes (e.g. voter registration card, library card) were foreign to him.


I summary, I gathered from George's post that we could expect to receive an intrusive, harrasing and punitive examination if we elect not to go through the virtual strip search machine. I wanted to document that intrusive, harrasing, punitive examiniations are already part and parcel of the "TSA experience". That is what I meant by "pretty much".

Hope that clarifies things.

T-the-B at flyertalk

Ponter said...

T-the-B at flyertalk: "I wanted to document that intrusive, harrasing, punitive examiniations are already part and parcel of the "TSA experience"."
I'm afraid you have this all wrong. The examination was neither intrusive, harassing, nor punitive in any way. Rather, it was completely appropriate and entirely justified because of something you did (or failed to do) that alerted the TSO to investigate further, all in accordance with the SOP.

Since you apparently were allowed to continue on your way after the screening, it simply meant that additional screening was required to clear you. That additional screening was necessary because of something you were carrying, your behavior at the checkpoint, or any number of other things you could have said or done. Of course you can't possibly know what that might be, since the criteria are SSI.

But let me ask you a question. Could this TSO have been less than respectful to you because you were less respectful and cooperative to him than you should have been? The fact is that "unpleasant" screening experiences are nearly always caused by the passenger's bad attitude and/or lack of cooperation. As H2H reminds us, the passenger is in full control at the checkpoint! If you choose to make screening pleasant and efficient by giving the TSOs your full cooperation, respect, and trust, it will be smooth and efficient. But if you choose to make it a negative experience by showing the TSOs your contempt and failing to cooperate fully, that's exactly what it will be!

Instead of getting upset and inappropriately viewing your experience negatively, you would do better if you chose to perceive it as proof that the TSA is meticulous and thorough about their mission to protect aviation from horrifying threats. Rather than complaining about the inconvenience, you should be reassured and even comforted that the TSA is so constantly vigilant to keep aviation safe and secure.

As H2H reminds us, the choice is always yours. You can choose to see the glass as half empty or half full. Just don't say that the glass is bigger than it needs to be, since that could be construed as inappropriate criticism of the TSA.

Al Ames said...

So Ponter, please explain what weapons or explosives could be found to be written on a piece of paper or on a credit card that warranted examination by a screener.

Even if done meticulously, it's still an invasion of privacy that the screener had no business doing.

Al

Ponter said...

Al Ames: "So Ponter, please explain what weapons or explosives could be found to be written on a piece of paper or on a credit card that warranted examination by a screener."
Not knowing the full circumstances, I can't say. What I do know is that he clearly had a reason for it. He might have been acting in response to the latest intelligence about a particular threat at that airport. Or something in the passenger's behavior or demeanor alerted him to the possibility of false identification documents, which merited a thorough inspection of the wallet. The passenger may have been unhappy about this necessary investigation, but we should focus on the fact that ultimately the passenger was cleared and went on his way with everything in his wallet. The TSO clearly did a professional and commendable job, carefully investigating a suspicion and then clearing the passenger while fully respecting the passenger's property and privacy. It's up to the passenger whether he chooses to regard this as "invasion of privacy" or as evidence of the TSA's highly effective protection from a horrifying threat. As I've said before, "unpleasant" encounters with the TSA are nearly always the result of the passenger choosing to make it unpleasant.

As we often see in comments here, TSOs often do things that passengers do not understand. At times those actions may even look absurd to passengers who are not aware of the SOP or intelligence reports that require the TSOs to take those actions. Unfortunately, TSOs constantly have to endure the criticism and even ridicule of members of the public who fail to understand that there is always a good reason for everything the TSA does, and particularly that those reasons must remain unknown to both the enemy and the public.

Most TSOs understand that the nature of their work, and the necessary secrecy of the procedures under which they operate. will often provoke the disdain and animosity of some passengers who unfortunately must remain ignorant of the reasons and necessity for what they perceive as "intrusions." Since TSOs are well trained and very professional, they'll accept it with grace and cheer, and show the utmost courtesy and respect to passengers. Regrettably, a few TSOs, when faced with continual assaults from passengers who do not fully appreciate the threat and the necessary measures to combat it, begin to take it personally and fall short of the professional standards the agency requires. They are, after all, merely human. Be assured that measures are in place inside the TSA to ensure adherence to professional standards. Those measures are not yet perfect, but this difficult situation will ultimately be corrected through the TSA's continual improvement.

The Global War On Terror will be a fact of life for at least the rest of this century. Defeating the enemy will require changes of all aspects of life in the United States. We're still in a transitional period as the public adjusts to the New Normal. Many air travelers have not accepted the new necessary reality, where old notions of "rights" must yield to the need for pervasive security such as we now see at airport checkpoints. Such people create much unpleasantness for themselves and others with their narrow minded insistence on clinging to "liberties" and notions of "openness" that are a weakness the enemy all too frequently exploits. They damage national security by insisting on challenging and questioning security procedures and actions whose underlying reasons must remain unknown to them.

Fortunately, the majority of people are adjusting well to the New Normal. They may not understand why the TSA and other security agencies are asking them to do things, but they do understand and accept that secrecy is the most powerful and effective defense against a terrorist enemy. And they trust their leaders to do what is necessary to win the War. They choose to see security measures and actions as comforting rather than "intrusions," and eagerly do their part to protect the homeland. The more people who make that choice, the closer we will get to Victory!

The thing to remember is that there is always a good reason for everything the TSA asks to do, and for everything a TSO does! The fact that you do not understand that reason should be reassuring, since it affirms the secrecy that is the cornerstone of the TSA's efforts to protect us and our children from an unspeakable threat. If you choose to see it that way, and to treat TSOs with respect and gratitude rather than confrontation, the screening experience will be smooth and pleasant. If you choose the old way of thinking, screening could well be difficult and unpleasant. It's your choice, so choose wisely!

HappyToHelp said...

Mr. Gel-pack said...
More apologies. I first read, and then re-read your undated April 22, 2009 6:59 PM post, rather than your April 22, 2009 10:28 AM post

Not a issue Mr. Gel-pack and no apologies needed.


T-the-B said...
I wanted to document that intrusive, harrasing, punitive examiniations are already part and parcel of the "TSA experience".

Makes a lot more since now. Thank you for clarifying. That does add a lot to the conversation. Screening wallets are a tricky business. Wallets can hold prohibited items. I hope we can all agree on this. However, I can't make any good comments on this. I don't want to give away procedure. Plus, I wasn't there. It is bad business to comment on events were detail can not be independently checked. I hope you understand.
Ponter said...
“As H2H reminds us, the passenger is in full control at the checkpoint!”

“As H2H reminds us, the choice is always yours. You can choose to see the glass as half empty or half full.”


Please don't put words into my mouth. All I said is you have a option to use a Whole Body Imaging unit or not to. That is a personal choice you might have to make one day and both answers(yes or no) are valid for any stated reason.

Don't connect me with phrases like “The fact is that "unpleasant" screening experiences are nearly always caused by the passenger's bad attitude and/or lack of cooperation.” or “Instead of getting upset and inappropriately viewing your experience negatively, you would do better if you chose to perceive it as proof that the TSA is meticulous and thorough about their mission to protect aviation from horrifying threats.”

If you ever have a bad screening experience, you should report it. If the problem goes unreported, nothing will be fixed.
Al Ames said...
Even if done meticulously, it's still an invasion of privacy that the screener had no business doing.

You make a good point Al. A Transportation Security Officer needs a reason to be able to perform any kind of screening function. Such as X-ray images, random screening program, …...and so much more.

Hope I got to everyone. I won't be around much this week because the majority of my time is going into recertification prep.

Thanks for posting everyone,


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Mr. Gel-pack said...

HappyToHelp said...

Mr. Gel-pack said...
More apologies. I first read, and then re-read your undated April 22, 2009 6:59 PM post, rather than your April 22, 2009 10:28 AM post

Not a issue Mr. Gel-pack and no apologies needed.


...

Hope I got to everyone. I won't be around much this week because the majority of my time is going into recertification prep.

Thanks for posting everyone,

################


Well, you accepted my apology for misreading your posting, but you didn't address my comment:

Still, TSA should be able to point the public to some actual authoritative documents rather than have JG bloggers point us towards their unlinkable blog comments in a forum built to embrace obsolescence (blogger).

TSA's document control or content management system does not seem to be effective at communicating what TSA says it is trying to communicate.

Again, who are we to believe? The http://www.tsa.gov/ website? The http://www.tsa.gov/blog posts? The blog poster's revisions? The commenters tagged "EoS Blog Team"? Other commenters with names, profiles, or simply "Anonymous"? Fellow Travellers on FlyerTalk? Fox? Google? CNN? Many of them do a much better job of communication than TSA does.
TSA's obviously poor job at communicating the rules to both passengers and TSOs lead to misunderstandings and real damaage, and TSA appears to be doing nothing more than PR in an attempt to solve it.

Anonymous said...

HwH: "If you ever have a bad screening experience, you should report it. If the problem goes unreported, nothing will be fixed."

And exactly the same thing will happen if the problem is reported. I have no reason to believe that the TSA cares at all about the "screening experience" other than that it finds enough drugs, cash, and oversized liquids to justify the continued expansion of its authority and budget.

"Do you want to fly today?" if the answer is yes, you'll have no choice but to accept whatever "screening experience" that TSO decides to dish out. Since he or she operates under secret rules that allow them to do anything they want, whatever they decide to do is by definition correct and proper. So any report is likely to go right into the circular file.

Thanks for posting, H2H

RB said...

Hope I got to everyone. I won't be around much this week because the majority of my time is going into recertification prep.

Thanks for posting everyone,


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

April 29, 2009 3:43 AM

...................
If your qualified now to do your job, competent in the skills to do your job then why must you spend a great deal of time preparing for recertification?

It should be a snap to do what your already competent at.

Anonymous said...

Responding to HappyToHelps response to my response:

I have to confess that I left out a few salient details in my prior post. I'll try to give a more complete picture this time. I certainly agree that one shouldn't comment freely on an incident that one did not witness.

1. I understand that a wallet can contain a prohibited item.

2. I'm not sure how small pieces of paper with some names and phone numbers on them could be considered to be a prohibited item or could conceal one.

3. I did report my bad screening experience using both the TSA website and by sending a letter to the BWI TSA manager. After a month or so with no response I called the manager and registered my complaint with him. I must have caught him off guard because he let it slip that they had had trouble with a screener stealing from passengers. I wasn't sure if he had been stealing money, credit card numbers or both.

By the way, although the Tool Logic credit card knife is cool, I don't carry one. I have been carrying a different kind of knife that has yet to be spotted in >3 years of travel. The thing that really frustrates me about TSA is that every time I fly they prove once again that all the aggravation is absolutely worthless. If I can get a knife through at will, I'm sure any self-respecting terrorist could as well.

T-the-B at flyertalk

George said...

@Tim: You make a good point Al. A Transportation Security Officer needs a reason to be able to perform any kind of screening function. Such as X-ray images, random screening program, ...and so much more.
But of course we can never know what that reason is, since it's SSI. We can also never know whether a "screening function" like T-the-B's wallet inspection is properly justified for an entirely valid reason, or a punitive or retributive action against someone the TSO just doesn't like. I have to assume that the SSI SOP does not condone punitive or retributive "screening" at the whim of any TSO who feels a passenger needs to be "taught a lesson." But for all I know, the SSI SOP may indeed allow TSOs that authority. And if the wallet inspection was indeed an unjustified, improper invasion of privacy, what consequences does that TSO face for that violation? I don't know, since it's all SSI. How very very convenient!

And since T-the-B considered this wallet inspection egregious enough to constitute a "bad screening experience," suppose he took your advice and reported it? What would happen? Would T-the-B get back a form letter exonerating the TSO? Would he get any acknowledgement at all? Is there any reason to believe it would accomplish anything, other than perhaps putting T-the-B on some watch list? Is there actually a non-SSI process for these reports, available to the public, so we can have some assurance that reporting a "bad screening experience" will actually accomplish anything?

This is exactly why I fear that if I "opt out" of a MMW strip search because I don't want to be separated from my wallet, I will receive the same treatment as T-the-B. The TSOs have every reason to encourage passengers to "choose" the strip search, since it's less effort for them. So that's ample reason to make the "alternative" groping as unpleasant as possible, ostensibly for "security reasons" but also as "aversive conditioning" to discourage passengers from "opting out." What would would happen to a TSO who did that?

After you have your morning chuckle and tell me that I have delusional fantasies, please be truly helpful and explain why that fear is not justified. Everything I've seen here indicates that TSOs have practically unlimited latitude to do whatever they want under their secret rules, suffer no consequences for abusing passengers in (possible) violation of those rules, and are completely unaccountable to passengers who don't know what the rules are. Secrecy provides the ideal dark clammy environment for the mold and fungus of abuse and incompetence to flourish, so why should the TSA be any different? Again, why am I unjustified in fearing the TSA?

I won't be around much this week because the majority of my time is going into recertification prep.If it's a refresher course in "voluntary abandonment" of prohibited items and saying "Do you want to fly today?" in the correct intimidating manner, I'm sure you'll pass recertification with flying colors!

Al Ames said...

Ponter: "Not knowing the full circumstances, I can't say. What I do know is that he clearly had a reason for it. He might have been acting in response to the latest intelligence about a particular threat at that airport. Or something in the passenger's behavior or demeanor alerted him to the possibility of false identification documents, which merited a thorough inspection of the wallet."

No, no, no!

TSA's mission is to keep weapons, bombs, and incediaries off of the plane. There is NO circumstance where a TSO has authority to read thru a person's documents.

We submit to an administrative search that is limited to the above things. Even if we agree or not, things found outside that scope that are found incident to the search, like a bulge in pants that turns out to be a bag of weed, is turned over the to the LEO's.

That said, you are taking an administrative search and expanding it beyond its scope unconstitutionally. You would be hard pressed to tell a judge that your searching of a person's papers and credit cards would be a reasonable search under the administrative search you're conducting - you won't find a weapon or anything like that. By exceeding that scope you are violating that person's 4th amendment rights.

H2H also stated that you need a valid reason to go deeper in a screening, such as an x-ray image, a beep from the HHMD or WTMD, a hit on the puffer, etc. What alarm would you be resolving by looking thru someone's papers?

H2H and other official bloggers, I hope you take note of this and decide to work on some remedial civil rights and constitution training for screeners such as this.

"The passenger may have been unhappy about this necessary investigation, but we should focus on the fact that ultimately the passenger was cleared and went on his way with everything in his wallet."

That still doesn't make it right. Just because nothing was found doesn't make the harassment or violation of his rights any less wrong.

"The TSO clearly did a professional and commendable job, carefully investigating a suspicion and then clearing the passenger while fully respecting the passenger's property and privacy."

And what suspicion would that be? We're not talking about checking a presented ID to a document checker (that's a whole other can of worms). We're talking about going thru a guy's wallet. A cop couldn't search a person's wallet based on suspicion alone. What makes you think you can?

"It's up to the passenger whether he chooses to regard this as "invasion of privacy" or as evidence of the TSA's highly effective protection from a horrifying threat."

And largely unlikely threat. GAO test results don't indicate that TSA's protection is highly effective.

You can use boogeymen all you like to justify your searches. It's still no excuse for breaking the law and violating constitutional rights.

"As I've said before, "unpleasant" encounters with the TSA are nearly always the result of the passenger choosing to make it unpleasant."

Oh right. Always blame the victim. If they're not good little sheep and stand up for themselves when a screener gets out of line (as this one did), it's their fault.

Not to put words in a H2H's mouth, but it seems like he's at least seen where screeners have gotten out of line. Even Bob has cringed at some of the stories about screeners here. You think they're ALL the public's fault? You think TSA is innocent almost ALL of the time? I'm not going to say the public's completely innocent - there are people out there spoiling for a fight and will give attitude. But to say that TSA is as innocent as you claim is naive and foolhardy at best.

You really need to lay off the koolaid and think about what you're actually doing. As a leader once told me "You can justify your way to ... " (you guess). Even if you're intentions are good by thinking such searches are acceptable, that "good" is wiped out by the utter disregard you show for the constitution when you perform such a search and are helping the terrorists reach their goal of creating a less free America.

Al

Jim Huggins said...

Ponter writes:

The thing to remember is that there is always a good reason for everything the TSA asks to do, and for everything a TSO does!

When the TSA policy is ineffective (for example, taking time to verify identity documents and then comparing them to an unverified boarding pass), there is no "good reason" for the policy.

And when the TSO does not follow TSA's own policies (as in the St. Louis incident), there is no "good reason" for the TSO to act as he did.

When you say "there is always a good reason", you presume that the TSA and its TSOs are always perfect. No group of people can meet that standard ... even the TSA.

The fact that you do not understand that reason should be reassuring, since it affirms the secrecy that is the cornerstone of the TSA's efforts to protect us and our children from an unspeakable threat.

You presume that just because I don't know your secret reasons, that means that our enemies don't know them, either. Frankly, our enemies are a lot smarter than I am; I don't think my ignorance implies their ignorance.

RB said...

The issue of complaints have been brought up in this thread even if some other post would be more appropriate.

When dealing with complaints a person gets no acknowledgement that their concern is getting any attention.

If the number of complaints is low as has been stated on this blog then why can a person not get some kind of response from TSA?

Bob?

Phil said...

Bob at TSA wrote:

"I actually contacted the SOP department and had this question answered by a subject matter expert. I guess this was just probably chalked up as one of those questions we never answer around here."Bob, where can we read an official copy of this information? Surely you know that "your blog guy said that he talked to someone how said..." is not going to go over very well at one of your search stations. Until you show us the rules, this is just hearsay.

Mr. Gel Pack wrote:

"So, does Paul's post which says you will get a pat-down supercede your previous post where you said we may? If so, H2H shouldn't have cited you. If not, what the heck is the point of Paul's post?"Bob, you never answered. Could you please do so?

Mr. Gel Pack also wrote:

"Again, who are we to believe? The http://www.tsa.gov/ website? The http://www.tsa.gov/blog posts? The blog poster's revisions? The commenters tagged "EoS Blog Team"? Other commenters with names, profiles, or simply "Anonymous"? Fellow Travellers on FlyerTalk? Fox? Google? CNN? Many of them do a much better job of communication than TSA does."Happy Tim, could you please respond? (Preferably, Tim, without a flood of bold text and the use of my name in every other sentence, Tim. Thank you, everyone, -Phil "Phil".)Also, Bob, you never answered the question about photographing your monitors. First, you told us it was discouraged. Then you told us it was prohibited. Is it unlawful to do so, or will doing so simply disqualify someone from being allowed to cross your airport checkpoints?

Do your new blog assistants Happy Tim, GSOTSOLS West, and Kelly Mae speak on behalf of TSA when they post comments to this blog?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering what to do if someone has been waiting four months to recieve their card and need it to go to work and can't leave until they recieve it

Anonymous said...

I just couldn't believe for such a big security concern for our ports and the new TWIC program they let these offices be run by mediocre individuals.

The people facilitating these offices could care less about this program, our security or us in that matter. We give them all of our personal information and who's to really say it's safe to do when these people are playing around in the offices and listening to Ipods. The offices clearly state no cell phone use at any times but the employees were texting and on their phones.

Leaving hundreds of TWICS sitting on a table next to me in a room unsupervised leaves many questions to be answered. I don't normally make a big deal of things but after thinking about it this just sent me over the edge to say the least.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Phil, on an even later post Bob seemd to backtrack with:

"If you opt out of WBI screening, you will receive a patdown search in lieu of the WBI screening."

So, still, who ya gonna believe? A bunch of Frequent Flyers who get inspected, detected, etc..., or the contradictory posts on TSA's propaganda blog?

Randy said...

I understand the purpose and intent of a TWIC, and generally support its implementation. However, as a commercial pilot, I don't undersand TSA's logic for not establishing the same requirements for pilots. As has been shown, pilots (however ill trained and experienced) have the potential for wreaking substantial harm to this country.

Anonymous said...

lets see....what can u say to a person who has worked at the same job for the last 20 years and has now lost it due to the TSA and DHS not providing the TWIC Card in the timeframe u said?

i applied for my card in sept of 2007 and have not received my card yet!! lost my job 8 months ago and am in the process of losing my home (cant borrow anymore money from anyone or anywhere!) I dont have a criminal record or background. born and raised in the US...

all the stats read on this are about how wonderful this is and how well its moving along. Its not moving!!!!

there are 10,000 people to date that have lost their jobs because TSA and LOCKHEED MARTIN and DHS are not doing what they said they would.

this process is FULL of flaws and blunders at the worker's expense!!

public works energy said...

TWIC uses advanced technology to embed a template of the owner’s fingerprints as well as a host of other security features by public works that make it nearly impossible to fake.

Randy said...

the potential value of a TWIC is still not fully realized, unless it's applied to both airline and private pilots as well as "maritime" workers. Everyone that works in transportation should have one, or anyone with access to ports of entry, such as an airport.

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting for 2 months for my TWIC card to process. I'm a US citizen & I have a clean record. I'm about to lose another open position because the TSA is "backlogged". There isn't anyone to contact to see what's the problem. Thanks TSA!!!!

William B. Doyle, anti-terrorism guy said...

You have got to be kidding me?!!! This is old technology, already fielded and they still don't have everything in place? Solution: Fire everyone presently at TSA, hire only US military retirees to run it.

John said...

The issue of complaints have been brought up in this thread even if some other post would be more appropriate.

When dealing with complaints a person gets no acknowledgement that their concern is getting any attention.

If the number of complaints is low as has been stated on this blog then why can a person not get some kind of response from TSA?