Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What In the Heck Does That Person Do: TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)

First off, I decided the use of “A Day in the Life Of” was cliché, so I changed it to “What in the Heck Does That Person Do?” It’s going to be a long running series highlighting various TSA positions across the nation. Our first one was a few weeks ago with Jim’s Transportation Security Inspector post.

For this installment, I reached out to Paul who works with TSA at the Orlando International airport. Paul is the Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager.

So, what in the heck does he do? Let’s find out…

Blogger Bob: When, why and how should a passenger contact a TSA Customer Support Manager?

Paul: Should travelers require additional information or care to share more detailed concerns or express a compliment related to their experience, they can reach me through the TSA Contact Center, Got Feedback, or complete a Comment Card. Passengers can always leave general feedback on the TSA blog.

Blogger Bob: You mentioned comment cards. Some of our readers in the past have posted comments stating that they were required to show a supervisor their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Should this happen?

Paul: Not that I’m aware of. Passengers are welcome to submit a comment card without fear of retribution. Naturally we do receive a number of ‘anonymous’ cards. We review them and then share comments with the workforce.

Bob: I actually knew the answer to that one in advance. I was just testing you. That’s one of the main things that lit the fire for us to launch Got Feedback. We cringed when we read that passengers were being required to show their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Speaking of Got Feedback, I notice that you’re really active with the Got Feedback program. Your airport is among the top 10 most popular airports in the Got Feedback program. Tell me a little about your experiences with Got Feedback and how the program is working out for Orlando International Airport. Are problems resolved faster when a passenger uses Got Feedback?

Paul: Yes, we do resolve them more efficiently. It provides a quick snap shot of the issue with easy contact info to initiate a reply to the traveler. We receive all types of inquiries: What can I take on a plane, lost items, why was my prohibited item taken, rude, inattentive employees etc. I do want to note that we actually do receive compliments and requests for advance assistance through the passengers with disabilities lane.
Traveler concerns are important to us and we take great pride in working to address their inquiries. Keep in mind that more than 40 million travelers process through the Orlando International Airport annually … that is a LOT of feedback!

Blogger Bob: Which Disney character has the most difficulty with airport security and why?

Paul: Sleepy (For obvious reasons) and Buzz Lightyear because he always needs to undergo secondary inspection. (Can’t divest!)

Blogger Bob: What did you do prior to working for TSA?

Paul: 33 years with the Government. 26 years with US Customs (Law Enforcement, Customs Inspector, Supervisor, Passenger Service Representative) and 7 years with TSA. (Started 2 months after the federal roll out) It’s also important to mention our program assistant Bill has spent 35 years working for the Government. 28 years with the Air Force. (Aircraft Maintenance Manager/stock clerk in grocery store) 7 years with TSA.

Blogger Bob: As a customer support manager, do you coordinate with passengers who have special needs to help make their travel experience a little better?

Paul: We provide support to travelers with special needs as well as to support local community groups. We are sensitive to providing the utmost attention to travelers with disabilities and children who may require special attention as well as wounded soldiers. As this is a tourist destination, you can image that we are busy working to provide necessary support. We also work with our airport stakeholders to coordinate various travel groups. Recently, we became aware of a local high school girls softball team (15th in the country) that was traveling to California for the tournament. We gave them a rousing send off! Our partnership with the airport and the local community has greatly improved the perception / image that travelers have of TSA.

Blogger Bob: I think that’s great that passengers with special needs can plan ahead and coordinate their travel. I’m sure that makes things much easier for all involved. What is the one best piece of advice you could give to a traveler?

Paul: Divest your items before entering the checkpoint.

Blogger Bob: Like what? The usual phones, keys and change? Do people still forget to do this? I imagine that could hold the line up quite a bit.

Paul: Yes … these items still become the most frequently forgotten items. It does impede the throughput quite a bit.

Blogger Bob: How often is a Transportation Security Officer accused of theft by a passenger who later finds the misplaced item and notifies you?

Paul: We rarely hear of this when it happens because they are too embarrassed to call back. One was a contact we received from an older woman who did call back to tell us that the missing envelope containing one thousand dollars was located on her kitchen table when she returned home. Her husband packed the luggage and forgot the envelope!

Blogger Bob: I get to read the incoming Got Feedback emails from all of the airports around the nation and I see this does happen from time to time. I just wanted to add that it’s much appreciated when the passenger calls back to admit the mistake, because it halts investigations and clears any officers who may have been wrongly accused of theft.
Blogger Bob: What is the oddest experience you have had as a TSA Customer Support Manager?

Paul: A traveler called stating that a mouse was found in her checked baggage. She later called back to say that her husband had killed the mouse and her cat placed it next to the laundry pile with all of the unpacked dirty clothes!

Blogger Bob: Ha! I hope it wasn’t Mickey or Minnie. It’s been great talking with you and I’m sure our readers will enjoy our interview. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I know you and Bill are extremely busy. By the way, I don’t care what Snopes says, I know Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen in a secret compartment beneath the Magic Kingdom. \
Please note this is not an interview with Blogger Paul from DC. This is an interview with Customer Support Paul in Orlando. ~ Bob

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought Friday was the day for puppy posts. I guess after the drubbing the TSA took in the last thread someone thought they needed a safe topic, instead of actually give us official answers. As opposed to the ill-informed answers from TSA's who posted.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

Bob said...

Oh Eric, I guess I'm just as predictable as you are. :)

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Why does this remind me of "Good Morning Vietnam"?

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing that woman's husband forgot to pack the $1000, so she wouldn't have faced abuse and threats from a TSO making policies up on the spot.

Why weren't the TSOs forcing people to show ID to get complaint cards reprimanded or fired, Bob?

Why aren't you updating the St. Louis and photo posts' comments, Bob?

Anonymous said...

"Oh Eric, I guess I'm just as predictable as you are. :)

Bob

EoS Blog Team"

Yes you are predictable, Your post above demonstrates that the culture of the TSA is to show disdain to the traveling public. That your job is not to answers legitimate questions, but rather be a spin master. You demonstrate when serious issues arise, the TSA first response is to circle the wagons rather than aggressively work to make corrections.

Anonymous said...

"I guess after the drubbing the TSA took in the last thread someone thought they needed a safe topic, instead of actually give us official answers. As opposed to the ill-informed answers from TSA's who posted."

Yup, when the going gets tough, the TSA punts.

Anonymous said...

Scabies outbreak at Logan amongst TSOs working there - any comments?

Phil said...

Who in the heck are purchasing goods or services from TSA, causing it to need someone to manage customer service?

Why in the heck is it considered inappropriate to share information received from TSA customer service managers?

Bob, why are you refusing in your airport photography post, to allow comments that link to places where someone has published the information he received from your customer support managers?

Also, what about Paul's November project to pull together a list of the rules you require us to follow? We haven't heard any more about that since he announced it almost five months ago.

And is it unlawful, or simply a violation of your checkpoint policies to photograph TSA's baggage search equipment?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

RB said...

Is this a lame attempt at deflecting attention away from the real issues of the moment?

What law states a citizen must declare any amount of currency to TSA?

What law states that a citizen cannot photograph the monitor of a TSA Xray machine?

What law states that a person must answer questions posed by any TSA employee?


Answer these Bob, I'll have more ready.

Anonymous said...

Bob, that lump under the rug keeps growing. Please provide an honest answer to the questions.

Anonymous said...

Watch this space carefully, the first posters are always the ones seeking to complain about something. If only they could add to the conversation rather than complain, what a cool place this would be.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Watch this space carefully, the first posters are always the ones seeking to complain about something. If only they could add to the conversation rather than complain, what a cool place this would be.

April 7, 2009 3:14 PM


Yep, keep at it while memory is fresh.

Phil said...

At Bob's suggestion, I submitted a question to 50 airports via TSA's "Got Feedback?" program a week ago. (Bob won't allow me to link to the FlyerTalk thread where you can read about this, even though such a link in my comment does not violate any of TSA's published blog comment policies.) As of today, I've only received contact from representatives of 20 airports. Orlando was on my list, but no one has replied.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Watch this space carefully, the first posters are always the ones seeking to complain about something. If only they could add to the conversation rather than complain, what a cool place this would be.

April 7, 2009 3:14 PM

Perhaps if the TSA Staff would be upfront and answer questions when asked you would see fewer complaints and snarking.

This behavior you speak of goes back to the first days of the blog when Bob told us this would be a place of discussion.

I may be many things but a place of discussion it is not.

A tool for Public Affairs announcements, perhaps.

A Spin Machine to deflect public concern, most likely.

A place of open, frank discussion, not hardly.

Are the people who participate here at fault?

The character of this Blog is soley because the Blog Staff has decided to not engage in discussion as promised.

I say the nature of this blog is a direct result of the Blog management.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

You cant win. Not with most of the people who post here. You say night, they say day. You say left, they say right. You say up, they say down.

They don't seem to get it; its like the boy who cried wolf. If they cry out at everything, who is really going to listen to them? And after a casual read through many of the post (not all), so of these people seriously need a life... eve

Im sure they will attack this post. I would be surprised if they didnt. Happily surprised.

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
Is this a lame attempt at deflecting attention away from the real issues of the moment?

It's just the blog moving forward. Important issues usually receive a few blog posts such as liquid restrictions and shoe removal.

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Miller said...

Anonymous said...

They don't seem to get it; its like the boy who cried wolf. If they cry out at everything, who is really going to listen to them? And after a casual read through many of the post (not all), so of these people seriously need a life... eve

Im sure they will attack this post. I would be surprised if they didnt. Happily surprised.

April 7, 2009 3:28 PM


Perhaps if Bob and others provided some real answers instead of dancing around the issues then the posters, myself included, wouldn't be as acerbic as they usually are.

I've had one question that no one at TSA has been willing/able to answer and that is how do I make my luggage secure enough to arrive locked? The stock answer is to use TSA approved locks. My answer to that is I've had TSA cut off TSA approved locks and that those locks aren't sturdy enough for travelers to rely on them. That's one open issue for me.

Another is TSOs can pretty much either say or do anything and with very few exceptions get called on it (see previous posting about cash). Many of the questions there went unanswered or had people with TSA providing wrong answers.

Anonymous said...

Questions and discussion about important substantive issues raging out of control on other posts? That means it's time to crank up the spin machine and put up a fluffy puppy post.

That seems to be how the TSA defines "moving the blog forward."

Forget_the_Drama_Give_me_the Trauma said...

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
Is this a lame attempt at deflecting attention away from the real issues of the moment?

It's just the blog moving forward. Important issues usually receive a few blog posts such as liquid restrictions and shoe removal.

-Tim “H2H”


I consider issues that have been asked repeatedly and ignored to be dodging the issue. "moving forward" as you put it is TSAs way of trying to use smoke and mirrors to divert attention away from themselves when they have been blackeyed for the acts they have perpetrated on the American public.

speaking of the liquid restriction the public still doesnt have a answer on where they pulled the data/numbers out of (i can speculate) or the peer reviewed study that supports TSA assertion that 3.5oz is dangerous while 3.4 oz isnt.

Dont point at the london incident either because it doesnt support your fantasy theory either as the chemicals mixed were done by a robot and the smell coming off them would have incapacitated a person and werent stable enough for a person to walk them through open field let alone take any type of shocks.


Speaking of Scabies at BOS thats just plain disgusting and a health hazard to the flying public. So bob how you gonna spin that because Im sure the Health departments of the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts would like to know. And screeners wonder why I wear nitrile gloves through a checkpoint and use antimicrobial wipes after my bags have been pawed through by TSA personnel that fail to follow CDC rules for proper BSI in regards to gloves. if you cant figure out on your own then you need help.

Anonymous said...

TSA sycophants and foes, we've got to cut Bob some slack as he walks a very thin line. If he sounds too pro TSA then the foes tear into him with embarrassing links/facts. If he leans too far towards the antagonists then he's just asking for trouble from his management. Approaching a hot button issue like STL and Logan scabies doesn't give him much time to breath, let alone think. When we can fact check him seven ways from Sunday in less time than it takes to enter the word verification makes for a rough day.

Bob, relax, go home and get dinner. We'll still be here tomorrow with maybe even more pointed questions.

Harry Nicholson said...

This interview was more contrived than a presidential campaign "town hall." Give me a break.

I can't add anything to what posters ahead of me have been allowed to say other than to say, "Don't patronize us."

Anonymous said...

HappyToHelp said...

RB said...
Is this a lame attempt at deflecting attention away from the real issues of the moment?

It's just the blog moving forward. Important issues usually receive a few blog posts such as liquid restrictions and shoe removal.

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team




Oh my. H2H moved up to the majors.

Anonymous said...

Quote: " Anonymous said...
Watch this space carefully, the first posters are always the ones seeking to complain about something. If only they could add to the conversation rather than complain, what a cool place this would be.

April 7, 2009 3:14 PM"

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

Whya re the 1st posters always the same people? I guess they have nothing better to do than sit on their pcs waiting with baited breath for an update to the TSA Blog site.....

......or building TRON custumes.

RB said...

Since Bob has shifted the discussion to a Customer Service point of view I would like to direct TSA's attention to FINCEN Form 105 where it directs a traveler to file said form at the Port of Entry with the Customs Officer in Charge.

It doesn't say to file or disclose this information at a TSA Checkpoint. Nor does it indicate any need to discuss ones travel arrangements with TSA.

Now if TSA would restricts itself to clearing peoples possessions of Weapons, Explosives and Incendiaries and other restricted items we would all have a better Customer Service experience.

Anonymous said...

Breaking (into bags news) from Philadelphia.

"Transportation Safety Administration investigators have fired a lead TSA official from his Philadelphia International Airport duties for alleged theft from passengers' bags. The mid-level transportation security officer was caught stealing from checked baggage on April 1, said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis. She declined to identify the TSA officer."

Guess background checks don't work very well. Why wasn't he charged?

Anonymous said...

Your attempt at damage control over the St Louis Incident is laughable. That's all this blog post is -- a laughable attempt at damage control.

Anonymous said...

When I first read this blog entry, I wondered why the questions relating to false accusations of stealing.

Then, on another site, I saw this:

"Transportation Safety Administration investigators have fired a lead TSA official from his Philadelphia International Airport duties for alleged theft from passengers' bags. The mid-level transportation security officer was caught stealing from checked baggage on April 1, said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis. She declined to identify the TSA officer."

GSOLTSO said...

Forgive the drama... said "I consider issues that have been asked repeatedly and ignored to be dodging the issue. "moving forward" as you put it is TSAs way of trying to use smoke and mirrors to divert attention away from themselves when they have been blackeyed for the acts they have perpetrated on the American public."

You know, those other threads are STILL active, and actually have subject matter about what you are asking. I understand that you might have frustration about not hearing what you want to hear, but they are still there. This was an explanation of position and duties so there would be a better communication opportunity for passengers. Someone will take advantage of the chance to speak with a CSQIM when they have questions, or have had a problem travelling because they saw it here. This was not an attempt to deflect anything, it was the next scheduled blog post.

The liquid threat is viable. Not as easily done as some sensationalists would have you think, but VIABLE.

The London incident was a case of radical losers failing in what they wanted to do. It was still a viable plot, just poorly executed.

The scabees break out.... ummm, I got nothing on this one. Sorry.

West
EOS Blog Team

Sandra said...

It's simply mind-boggling the lengths the TSA will go to in order to attempt to deflect criticism.

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
RB said...
Is this a lame attempt at deflecting attention away from the real issues of the moment?

It's just the blog moving forward. Important issues usually receive a few blog posts such as liquid restrictions and shoe removal.

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team


April 7, 2009 3:33 PM

We can agree that this Blog as well as the whole TSA organization is moving, but it's not forward.

Anonymous said...

In response to what I had post Anonymous post:

"Perhaps if Bob and others provided some real answers instead of dancing around the issues then the posters, myself included, wouldn't be as acerbic as they usually are."

My response is who decides what a "real answer" is? You? You seem to be saying TSA has a flawed system cause they are judge/jury/executioner, if I get the jist of what you mean. But isn't that what you do too? If you decide you don't like an answer, why do you get to decide TSA hasn't met *the* standard?

You also post:

"I've had one question that no one at TSA has been willing/able to answer and that is how do I make my luggage secure enough to arrive locked? The stock answer is to use TSA approved locks. My answer to that is I've had TSA cut off TSA approved locks and that those locks aren't sturdy enough for travelers to rely on them. That's one open issue for me."

My response is I've had that happen too. Flying back from Maui I watched my bag being screened by TSA, it was cleared then sent back. When I got home the bag was damaged and the lock gone. I was told by my airline, United, TSA must have done it. Are you kidding me? I watched them screen it, and they didn't even go into the bag! Which made me remember various news stories I had read in the last year or so: at various airports airline baggage employees had been arrested for breaking into bag - while they were being loaded onto the plane. I am sure some employees at TSA steal. Employees from every organization/company steal. But to claim that if your lock is cut off, it must be TSA everytime, is a little far fetched. I'm sure the airlines love TSA - it would be intersting to see what amount of monetary claims the various airlines have paid out for damage/lost/stolen items PER CAPITA before and after TSA. And its glaring to notice how those who post on these blogs mention TSA theft, but ignore airline employee theft...they seem to not even consider it.

You wrote:

"Another is TSOs can pretty much either say or do anything and with very few exceptions get called on it (see previous posting about cash). Many of the questions there went unanswered or had people with TSA providing wrong answers."

My response is to repeat what I originally wrote: if you cry wolf every time....

George said...

After spending several minutes reading this post, I can only commend Bob for being a good loyal soldier. It looks like he did an excellent job of following orders from the TSA Public Relations Office to quickly post a suitable "human interest" story as a diversion while they get the Definitive Press Release about the STL Incident vetted and tweaked through the appropriate layers of bureaucracy. All the Disney references were cute as a puppy, showing that Bob approaches even the task of obscuring and deflecting unpleasant publicity with a good sense of humor.

The Definitive Press Release will most likely put the entire blame for the Incident where it correctly belongs-- on the uncooperative passenger whose inappropriate demeanor and intransigence left the highly professional TSOs no choice but to call in the police, who completed the interrogation in an entirely appropriate fashion. It will then remind passengers of their obligation to fully cooperate with TSOs throughout the screening process, including providing complete, truthful, and unhesitating answers to any questions that uniformed TSA employees may ask.

And that will be the Definitive Disposition of the incident as far as the TSA is concerned, with no need for any further discussion. But until that's ready, bring on Mickey Mouse!

Forget_the_Drama_Give_me_the Trauma said...

GSOLTSO -

well considering some of those threads haven't had new posts in weeks to months its hard to get answers. Even with the ropadope answers that have been given that tapdance/sidestep/beat the bush but dont explain anything and arent helpful as they add to the smoke and mirrors.

Considering my background and training, as well as contacts whose knowledge of chemistry and physics far exceeds mine, but is still good enough to know a bull cookie when i smell it. I dont even need 100cc's of liquid to remove someone from the gene pool all i need is a 60cc syringe. Give me a 100cc of "liquid" and I could make it a slow, painful, and breath taking process that takes about 6 minutes, as opposed to the other method that takes less then 30 seconds.

The threat you claim as viable is far from viable, and to my contacts is laughable and they can prove it. The sensationalism is from TSA that really cant explain or prove there point in fact based and peer reviewed research. The Tang bomb is straight BS as the london "evidence" was done by a robot because the mixture was so volatile and noxious that a robot had to handle it. which tells me there isnt a chance it could be used in reality as it would be sniffed out like bad kimche.

scheduled puppy story... gee what else is on the blackeye deflecting list when real issues with TSA " made up laws" and unconstitutional actions and blatant disregard for the constitution.

I figured TSA wouldnt have anything to say about there own personell having anything to do with bad personal hygene that contributes to harming the health of the traveling public till it was dragged out from underneath the rug that it was buried under.

BTW scabies is a nice way of saying mange and all you have to do is wiki search to see that beyond the shady characters employed by TSA that steal from there own customers (PHL theft incident not even 10 days old) and that get away with actions that get others arrested (alvin crabtree bring your gun to work day), and also make up laws and do dragnet searches that violate the 4th amendment there also dirty as well. sorry just doesn't inspire any trust or confidence in a org that has proven beyond a reasonable doubt they cant do there job other then violate the law and haraSSSS there customer base for no reason.

As the president has said Its Time for a Change and I agree with him there is, start with TSA as based on my travels as of late is WAY overstaffed and I think that's contributing to all of the black eyes lately (Scabies, Theft at PHL and other airports, as will as the BS at STL that I hope the perps go to jail for) like the 6 TSOs at EWR 2 sundays ago just standing in the exit way doing nothing but looking at the long line of 200+ people trying to get through security. whats that old line about idol minds?

George said...

@West, EOS Blog Team: The London incident was a case of radical losers failing in what they wanted to do. It was still a viable plot, just poorly executed.

That's most likely an accurate assessment.

But let's not overlook the fact that despite the failure of their plot to cause mass destruction, they succeeded spectacularly in causing mass disruption. They fortunately never killed or injured anyone, but the reaction to their failed plot created an everlasting "pain point" that makes air travel frustratingly difficult for every air traveler, numbering in the millions. In a way, the restrictions and the additional difficulties from their inept and inconsistent implementation at checkpoints provide a permanent memorial to that group of "radical losers" who otherwise would be deservedly forgotten.

The real lesson a terrorist group might learn from the TSA's War On Liquids and Shoes is that they they can easily inflict significant damage on the Infidels without the risk, effort, and expense of bringing a plot to fruition. Since anything can be potentially threaten aviation, they need merely concoct a plausible plot involving one or more common items. Then they leak it to the nearest intelligence agency, and allow a few expendable flunkies to be arrested for it.

After the police make their triumphant announcement about foiling the plot, the TSA will immediately come up with new reactive restrictions that, when implemented in the usual ham-handed fashion, will add significantly to the hassles imposed on every air traveler. The terrorists need only repeat this a few times at random intervals, and the resulting accumulation of reactive "security" measures will be so burdensome that air travel becomes completely unusable. The terrorists will have succeeded in destroying a vital sector of the Infidel economy, all without firing a shot and at no cost beyond those expendable flunkies.

It brings to mind certain infections like SARS, in which patients die not from the virus but from their own immune system's attempts to fight it. Al-Qaeda would surely prefer to destroy us with dramatic and spectacular mass killing. But given their reputed patience, they'd probably be content to let us slowly smother ourselves in continually increasing (and dubiously effective) reactive "security." Is the TSA protecting us from the terrorist threat, or are they (inadvertently?) furthering the terrorists' goal of destroying us?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
My response is who decides what a "real answer" is? You? You seem to be saying TSA has a flawed system cause they are judge/jury/executioner, if I get the jist of what you mean. But isn't that what you do too? If you decide you don't like an answer, why do you get to decide TSA hasn't met *the* standard?


When the TSA acts as judge, jury, and executioner and determines a passenger has not met the standard is the passenger can be harassed through the use of law enforcement or denied clearance to board their flight until they comply. When we don’t feel the TSA has met the standard in answering a question there is nothing that can be done unless the national media picks up the story.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

Anonymous said...

it would be intersting to see what amount of monetary claims the various airlines have paid out for damage/lost/stolen items PER CAPITA before and after TSA. And its glaring to notice how those who post on these blogs mention TSA theft, but ignore airline employee theft...they seem to not even consider it.

Airlines have paid less out due to baggage thefts under the new arrangement because bags aren't secured anymore. The airlines points at TSA while TSA points at the airlines. A win win situation for both parties while the air traveler gets stuck holding their pilfered luggage and no one accepts responsibility. TSA strongly discourages the use of good locks and if your baggage isn't secured the airlines denies the claims.

I don't recall the truth ever being considered crying wolf. As to accountability TSA answers to no one. How is that crying wolf? Complaints of baggage thefts on the part of TSOs who've been caught and complaints about the existing system; how are they crying wolf?

Patrick (BOS TSO) said...

I can comment on the scabies outbreak.

The Boston and Mass Health Departments already know about it.

The infected TSOs (two of whom I work with) were sent home on sick leave until they were told they had a clean bill of health.

On top of that, Massport, the operators of Logan Airport, have throughly cleaned the infected areas.

We have been told to wash our clothes and any other items that were located in those areas.

RB said...

CSQIM?

Please tell us who TSA sees as the Customer and what it is they are trying to improve the quality of?

I don't consider myself as a person who wishes to use commercial air a customer of TSA. I have no option to use or not use TSA.

However, I am a customer of the airlines because I can pick which carrier I wish to give my business to.

As for a Quality Improvement, what product are you trying to improve?

I see people telling TSA on a daily basis that they are not happy with the actions TSA forces travelers to endure yet TSA doesn't seem to listen or care.

Whatever TSA is trying to do the first step is to listen to the public. The messages are being sent loud and clear, the problem is that no one on TSA's end is listening.

Miller said...

RB said:

I see people telling TSA on a daily basis that they are not happy with the actions TSA forces travelers to endure yet TSA doesn't seem to listen or care.

Whatever TSA is trying to do the first step is to listen to the public. The messages are being sent loud and clear, the problem is that no one on TSA's end is listening.

April 8, 2009 10:17 AM


TSA has no reason to change anything because they answer to no one. If TSA were held accountable to someone in the government then TSA would be forced to change/improve their actions. As it stands now, change only happens when incredibly bad publicity over outrageous activities on the part of TSA employees makes the press and people begin complaining to their elected representatives.

TSA still hasn't managed anywhere near 100% cargo screening for passenger aircraft. They were under a mandate to do so. Where's the outrage at TSA failing a fundamental task? Who at TSA is accountable?

Anonymous said...

Patric, how many passengers were exposed to Norwegian scabies during this outbreak? How many passengers contracted scabies because of the sick TSOs being on station prior to being diagnosed? How does TSA plan to prevent either another outbreak of scabies or something much, much worse?

RB said...

Patrick (BOS TSO) said...
I can comment on the scabies outbreak.

The Boston and Mass Health Departments already know about it.

The infected TSOs (two of whom I work with) were sent home on sick leave until they were told they had a clean bill of health.

On top of that, Massport, the operators of Logan Airport, have throughly cleaned the infected areas.

We have been told to wash our clothes and any other items that were located in those areas.

April 8, 2009 9:42 AM

...................
Although this particular problem is not widespread it does make a strong case for TSO's to not put extra gloves in pockets as seems to be common practice when doing gate checks.

Keep the gloves in the box until time to put them on. Please!!

RB said...

Paul: We provide support to travelers with special needs as well as to support local community groups. We are sensitive to providing the utmost attention to travelers with disabilities and children who may require special attention as well as wounded soldiers. As this is a tourist destination, you can image that we are busy working to provide necessary support. We also work with our airport stakeholders to coordinate various travel groups. Recently, we became aware of a local high school girls softball team (15th in the country) that was traveling to California for the tournament. We gave them a rousing send off! Our partnership with the airport and the local community has greatly improved the perception / image that travelers have of TSA.

Blogger Bob: I think that’s great that passengers with special needs can plan ahead and coordinate their travel. I’m sure that makes things much easier for all involved. What is the one best piece of advice you could give to a traveler?

......................
I find the above exchange interesting given recent discussions on this blog.

As a person who may have to combat a sudden drop in Blood Glucose I stay prepare to combat the event should it occur. I find a regular soft drink to be an excellent means to quickly boost BG.

But we have TSO's like TSORon who insist that a common high sugar beverage like Pepsi is not suitable yet would be ok with a fruit juice.

Who in TSA is qualified to make medical decisions? Is it the TSO at the checkpoint? The supervisor at the checkpoint? Some other person? Would any of these people be qualified as a medical practioner, nurse or have other medical training?

Exactly what are TSO's trained to do when clearing a person with an illness or diability?

George said...

@RB: Please tell us who TSA sees as the Customer and what it is they are trying to improve the quality of?

The answer to that is pretty obvious, although I didn't think of it until I read your comment.

The TSA specializes in Security Theatre. They surely realize that their airport screening cannot possibly provide effective protection against terrorist plots that involve airplanes, at least not without instituting measures so costly, time-consuming, and intrusive that nobody would tolerate them. So they use a strategy that makes planning terrorist plots somewhat more difficult and (perhaps) might stop an inept plot. But its main purpose is to reassure the public that the government is protecting aviation. That actually serves a useful and essential purpose, as even Bruce Schneier would acknowledge.

The problem so frequently discussed on this blog is that the TSA seems to take the approach that the effectiveness of their security theatre is directly related to the amount of hassle imposed on passengers. So the more hassle, the more intrusiveness, and the more bullying the "checkpoint experience," the more the public will be convinced that the TSA is providing effective security. Unfortunately, a growing number of people are starting to challenge this assumption, and are asking embarrassing questions about whether the increasing hassle and intrusion is really providing security.

So it's clear what "Customer Support" is, along with all the talk about "quality improvement" and "teamwork." It's a logical and obvious complement to the TSA's Security Theatre, so I'll call it Quality Theatre. Just as the TSA provides the appearance of protecting aviation, they provide the appearance of Quality! They create and staff positions with Quality Theatre names, such as "TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)," who write press releases extolling the TSA's commitment to its "customers" and pretend to listen to passenger complaints. They set up this blog, which claims to promote dialogue that helps the TSA "evolve security."

Having set up their Quality Theatre, they let passengers use the associated vehicles and forums to discuss, complain, and ask questions. For a while, those "customers" feel better about the TSA, since they assume someone actually is listening. That is, until they realize that their questions aren't getting answered, their comments aren't getting acknowledged, and their complaints are getting ignored. And more importantly, they see no evidence of "quality improvement" at the airport. They're still treated like criminals, animals, or children, still being requested to "voluntarily abandon" items that violate unpublished rules, and still being asked "Do you want to fly today?"

So that's what the heck a "TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)" actually does. He (or she) is a stage manager for the Quality Theatre that plays as a side-show diversion to the TSA's main Security Theatre.

Dan Kozisek said...

Who handles TSA Victim support?

Anonymous said...

Hey yeah... I second RB & George:

What the heck does a TSA Quality Improvement Manager do?

Although the headline says TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)", bob's questions are all about a "TSA Customer Support Manager" and don't seem to say much about standard quality improvement.


Are there real quality metrics that TSA actually measures and improves? Are they all SSI like Punter said on the blow-your-toys-to-smithereens thread?

Can you show us ways that TSA has improved since its inception?

More people, airports, budget, equipment, blog posts, and comments policies is all I can think of, but I'm not sure I'd count those as improvements.

HappyToHelp said...

George said...
The terrorists need only repeat this a few times at random intervals, and the resulting accumulation of reactive "security" measures will be so burdensome that air travel becomes completely unusable.


This conclusion was based off of the liquid restriction and shoe removal? You find that these two things cripple commercial aviation and are on the brink of making commercial aviation unusable?

Those two policies are not reactionary. Shoes came around with the move from yellow to orange.(1) TSA continues to find prohibited items(have to find these by law) and contraband hidden in shoes(this is a active smuggling method).(2)

The liquid ban was reactionary. The subject was not researched and the former administrator Kip Hawley had to make a call. If he made the right call, that is up to you to decide.(3)

The liquid restriction was developed by experts to reduce the risk of liquids explosives making it onto a commercial flight.(4) It is still believed to be a active plot, viable, and would be a security risk if liquids were allowed through security today.

If TSA policy is reactive as you say George, could you please choose better examples of reactive security.

George said...
Is the TSA protecting us from the terrorist threat, or are they (inadvertently?) furthering the terrorists' goal of destroying us?

No. Not at all. TSA does not equal US destruction. This is a poor conclusion not based on fact. TSA does not rate itself on passenger hassle.
Former Adminstator Kip Hawley

"Liquids restrictions are with us for the better part of the next year but we all realize that a simple, hassle-free security process is good for passengers and security too."(5)
I have not seen any proof of this either from a passengers perspective or working for the TSA. TSA developments would actually contradict what you have posted such as shoe scanners(6) and liquid testers(5) that would allow passengers to bring through liquids.


Source:

(1)Why We Screen Shoes
(2)Artful Concealment

(3)More on the Liquid Rules: Why We Do the Things We Do
(4)Liquids Are Not A Threat, And TSA Should Drop The Liquid Ban Immediately
(5)The Path Forward on Liquids
(6)Leave your shoes on?


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Mr. Gel-pack said...

H2H @ "If TSA policy is reactive as you say George, could you please choose better examples of reactive security.'

Read the TSA-unlinkable article by Bruce Schneier that can be found with a google search including the words 'bruce schneier cover'. He says:

"Since 9/11, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars defending ourselves from terrorist attacks. Stories about the ineffectiveness of many of these security measures are common, but less so are discussions of why they are so ineffective. In short: much of our country's counterterrorism security spending is not designed to protect us from the terrorists, but instead to protect our public officials from criticism when another attack occurs."

and

"People and organizations respond to incentives. We can't expect the Boston police, the TSA, the guy who runs security for the Oscars, or local public officials to balance their own security needs against the security of the nation. They're all going to respond to the particular incentives imposed from above. What we need is a coherent antiterrorism policy at the national level: one based on real threat assessments, instead of fear-mongering, re-election strategies, or pork-barrel politics.

Sadly, though, there might not be a solution. All the money is in fear-mongering, re-election strategies, and pork-barrel politics. And, like so many things, security follows the money."

You've said before that this stuff isn't your/TSA's responsibility and we should blame congress. You may just be following orders, but if you expect us to believe they are good orders, you'll have to do better than quote your own PR.

Anonymous said...

"It is still believed to be a active plot, viable, and would be a security risk if liquids were allowed through security today."

Define your terms. Believed by whom? Independent experts who have reviewed the relevant data? Or Kip Hawley apologists burrowed into TSA with no real expertise on security questions?

In what sense is the "plot" an active one, given that the would-be plotters had neither tickets nor passports nor any workable explosive with a liquid component, and are now in prison?

Earl Pitts said...

@Anonymous: "My response is to repeat what I originally wrote: if you cry wolf every time...."

And if TSA spins and denies these things happen every time ...

Earl

Forget_the_Drama_Give_me_the Trauma said...

H2H - Name those "Experts" and there professional and academic credentials and what there current position is and who signs there paycheck.

Because I honestly don't believe you and either do the people i have talked to at Sandia and Los Alamo's don't either believe the viability of such a threat.

So you admit that TSA doesn't base its security/restrictions on proper use of a threat matrix but rather knee jerk reactions and "gut feelings" like Chertoff had about "eminent" attacks(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19700127/ http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2007/07/expert_chertoff_gut_feeling_co.html http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2007/jul/12/news/chi-security_thursjul12 http://newsbusters.org/node/14004) . Thats pretty poor and proves its all theater like bruce schneier has pointed out repeatedly to this day.


Then the fact that japan has had liquid scanners for a long time and don't have this stupid restriction says a lot, but then again a lot of other countries don't have this stupid restriction either except for US bound flights that they have been forced to comply or have the flight denied (sorry your cooperation and other countries "adopting" your ways is bull) and turned back. yeah thats not cooperation thats blackmail

speaking of threat levels. When you leave a level at high alert for to long (like the 600+ days it has been now) you open yourself up to complacency as well as fatigue (look up adrenalin fatigue associated with combat stress and why you find most fire and ems personnel sleeping when not on a call). So either tell whats going that the threat level is so high or lower it.

HappyToHelp said...

Mr. Gel-pack
You've said before that this stuff isn't your/TSA's responsibility and we should blame congress.

Please quote me so I know the context and response to which you refer. I ask you to not put words into my mouth please. :)

Mr. Gel-pack
Read the TSA-unlinkable article by Bruce Schneier that can be found with a google search including the words 'bruce schneier cover'.

I have sir. The only dispute he has with Cover Your “Self” security is the no-fly list. You can challenge your name on the no-fly list through a federal court.(1) That kills Bruce's argument.

He does however make a claim “The TSA wants to be sure that if there's another airplane terrorist attack, it's not held responsible for letting it slip through” but does not back it up. This is opinion.

However, I do agree with Bruce that there needs to be stronger oversight on DHS. I am also a reader of Bruce and other TSA critics. Feel free to bring Bruce up in the future. :)

Anonymous said...
Define your terms.

Sure. Forgive me for any ambiguous language.
-active plot: A active method used by people who want to do us harm. Example: Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device(VBIED)(2) used on US checkpoints over seas.

-viable: Is possible. A term that is also defined by researchers. Context is important when using this word.

Anonymous said...
Believed by whom?


Dr. Sidney Alford is the UK expert that has hit the airways about his findings.(3)

Science & Technology Directorate Explosives Division is what does DHS explosive testing.(4)

Forget_the_Drama_Give_me_the Trauma said...
Because I honestly don't believe you

I'm not asking you to believe me. That is why I have provided sources to everything I have said. I have excellent credibility. :)

Forget_the_Drama_Give_me_the Trauma said...
“So you admit that TSA doesn't base its security/restrictions on proper use of a threat matrix...”

I did not say “ TSA doesn't base its security/restrictions on proper use of a threat matrix” and I don't agree with Bruce about TSA being security theater. I'm glad you are using critical thinking but I kept the statement short and vague due to space requirements. This would force the reader into going to Kip's statement and deciding for themselves.(Threat matrix is a topic I'm not interested in... Mr. Gel-pack can vouch for that, from one of our previous blog conversations)


Source:
(1)San Francisco Chronicle
(2)Car Bomb
(3)Inside the Liquid Bomb Plot
(4)Science & Technology Directorate Explosives Division

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Tim, you know full well that the would-be London plotters did not even have tickets or passports, let alone explosive components. You also should know that peroxides are incredibly volatile, and that the likelihood of getting safely to the airport with them is virtually nil. No one is claiming that dangerous liquids don't exist; what is not in dispute, however, is that they are not a viable threat and TSA's ludicrous policy is thus indefensible from a scientific point of view.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ "Anonymous said...

Tim, you know full well that the would-be London plotters did not even have tickets or passports, let alone explosive components. You also should know that peroxides are incredibly volatile, and that the likelihood of getting safely to the airport with them is virtually nil. No one is claiming that dangerous liquids don't exist; what is not in dispute, however, is that they are not a viable threat and TSA's ludicrous policy is thus indefensible from a scientific point of view."


TSA *will* dispute it and hype other insignificant threats as long as security theater is their business model.

RB said...

I used the "Got Feedback" tool after traveling through FLL late February.

I addressed two specific issues and the response I got back was to put it plainly not helpful at all.

TSO Barkers were telling everyone to remove "ALL" video cameras from carry-on for screening, which is in direct disagreement with the Official TSA Information for Travelers as posted on the TSA Website.

Secondly, I believe an attempted theft by the screening TSO was averted when I noticed an unusual act, stop and made sure that the TSO knew I was watching closely what was happening.

What was I suppose to do, let the act happen then try to get corrective action and miss my flight?

I made my concerns know to the Checkpoint Supervisor who I felt blew me off.

The response from FLL "Got Feedback" contact was standard boilerplate, say nothing, do nothing information. No indication of any type of investigation or other corrective action. NONE!!

I sent a follow-up in response to and to this day FLL TSA has not had the decency to respond.

If this is TSA's definition of Customer Service and Quality Improvement then I'll take something else because it is ineffective and for my part a total waste of time and resources.

Some people here might think I'm bitter and a bit hard on TSA.

When TSA shows some degree of understanding that thumbing it's collective nose at the people who fly and pay a fee for this cluster -- is poor policy then I might give TSA a second chance.

Not one day before!

FLL, DFW, MIA, LAS and not bit of unity displayed by the whole lot.

TSA Checkpoints are broken.

Hand in hand with that are statements made by TSA that some activity is not permitted yet TSA is unwilling or more likely unable to produce evidence of that restriction.

Example,

the fact that TSA says a person has to have an ID to get through a checkpoint. NOT TRUE. Other methods are available.

or

Taking pictures of Xray monitors are not allowed. Show me the law!

Or

images from a MMW Imager are innocent and tame enough for little kids to view, yet Nico refused to put up images of his family.

Seems to me that TSA needs to get a little more in touch with something called the truth.

Denial is an illness.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
You also should know that peroxides are incredibly volatile, and that the likelihood of getting safely to the airport with them is virtually nil.

Dispute the findings. Don't obscure the situation.

Show me some research that disputes Dr. Sidney Alford's findings. Good luck. The complete explosive cocktail is not in the public domain.

Anonymous said...
TSA *will* dispute it and hype other insignificant threats as long as security theater is their business model.

You are suggesting a international multi-government conspiracy?

Wait. Why? What would be the goal?

I'm thinking the Illuminati are at work again. Those guys(H2H shakes finger at them) :)
If they get to me first, just let my wife know that I love her.

With much love,

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

H2H @ "Anonymous said...
TSA *will* dispute it and hype other insignificant threats as long as security theater is their business model.

You are suggesting a international multi-government conspiracy?

Wait. Why? What would be the goal?

I'm thinking the Illuminati are at work again. Those guys(H2H shakes finger at them) :)
If they get to me first, just let my wife know that I love her."

No, just the invisible hand of capitalism:

"People and organizations respond to incentives. We can't expect the Boston police, the TSA, the guy who runs security for the Oscars, or local public officials to balance their own security needs against the security of the nation. They're all going to respond to the particular incentives imposed from above. What we need is a coherent antiterrorism policy at the national level: one based on real threat assessments, instead of fear-mongering, re-election strategies, or pork-barrel politics.

Sadly, though, there might not be a solution. All the money is in fear-mongering, re-election strategies, and pork-barrel politics. And, like so many things, security follows the money." -- from a TSA-unlinkable article.

Anonymous said...

"Show me some research that disputes Dr. Sidney Alford's findings."

The volatility of peroxides is a matter of simple, common fact and requires no more research than a declaration that water consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

Note, also, that none of the London plotters was convicted of conspiring to target aircraft. What you falsely insist is an "active plot" barely got off the ground in the first place. That the would-be plotters were stopped is, of course, a good thing; that TSA imposed hysterical and pointless policies in response is an act of buffoonery that has done nothing to make anyone safer.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
The volatility of peroxides is a matter of simple, common fact and requires no more research than a declaration that water consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

The volatility of peroxide has never been disputed on this blog or on TSA.gov. The question is “Is the Transatlantic Liquids Plot viable?”. Don't change the subject.

Dr. Sidney Alford says yes and can back it up. You say no and.... well you get the rest.

Anonymous said...
Note, also, that none of the London plotters was convicted of conspiring to target aircraft.

Still doesn't change the question at hand(Is the plot viable?). That is irrelevant information at the specific topic at hand.

Anonymous said...
No, just the invisible hand of capitalism

From the claims on this forum, shoe and liquid policy equals fascist state. As long as we are protected from capitalism from the shoe and liquid policy, then there is no threat from capitalism.

Joking of course.

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Robert Johnson said...

H2H:

Let's put the shoe on the other foot.

I asked this question earlier today and the post didn't make it.

Do you have ANY proof, other than Dr. Alford and DHS, that show that there was a viable, real, and credible threat?

Those two can't be trusted because of conflicts of interest. Dr. Alford is actively selling his services to prevent explosives and it is in his financial interest to ensure the current status quo continues.

And, of course, DHS has continuously shown it is not a trustworthy organization and its conclusions are suspect. I believe even some DHS chemists have posted in this blog in the past and questioned DHS's "findings."

YOU (and TSA) are making the assertion that these things are a threat. SHOW US THE MONEY. Show us independent, peer reviewed science that such a plot is viable and plausible, and likely to succeed if these countermeasures weren't in place. Show us something from someone who doesn't have either a political or financial interest in continuing the status quo and then people will believe you.

The onus isn't on us to prove that these things aren't a threat - TSA wouldn't believe us anyway. The onus is on TSA and you to prove your assertion that these countermeasures are necessary. "Trust us" and reports from scientists with conflicts of interest don't count.

If the evidence is there, as you seem to indicate there is (after all, you challenged us to find something that didn't), surely you can find tons of links fitting the reasonable criteria I described. I haven't seen any.

No one's saying that there aren't liquid explosives. We're questioning TSA's, DHS's, and Dr. Alford's assertions that the threat as described is a threat to aviation security.

Honestly, I think if it was as easy as TSA said it was, it would have been tried a long time ago. There wouldn't have been any need for shoe bombs or other needs because this should have been very easy to pull off and hard to detect. Makes you wonder why terrorists have tried other explosives first.

Robert

RB said...

A Department of Homeland Security employee working as a security officer at Orlando International Airport was arrested Wednesday after detectives found drugs and weapons at his home, Palm Bay police said.

Timothy Monroe, 41, faces several charges including trafficking in cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Police searched Monroe's home on Coral Reef Road Northwest and found cocaine, marijuana packaged in individual plastic bags for sale, a shotgun, pistols, about 100 rounds of ammunition and more than $6,000.

Monroe works for the Transportation Security Administration

....................
Now would one of you expert TSA types like to explain why a background check is reason to not screen TSA employees as well as all other airport workers who enter the secure areas!

Notice also the police didn't have any problems of releasing this characters name.

So who were the actors in St. Louis and Philly?

It's been a good week or so for you guys, eh?

TSA, meeting the publics expectations!

Anonymous said...

Will your TSO's hook me up while I go through the Orlando checkpoint?

Robert Johnson said...

H2H, I'm going to try this again. Apparently, either your or Bob are not allowing my previous posts questioning this thru, but you've probably read them.

Dr. Alford has a conflict of interest. So does DHS. Both have either a financial (Dr. Alford) or political (DHS) motiviation for continued policy on liquids. Dr. Alford is actively making money off this.

Can you link peer reviewed articles from disinterested third parties (meaning NO conflict of interest) backing up your assertions? You seem to indicate that they abound. So please, share them with us so that we can see that aviation would come to a screeching halt due to the liquid threat as claimed by DHS and Dr. Alford.

Like I said before, if it were so easy and so undetectable before, why did terrorists repeatedly use other methods for trying to bomb planes?

Robert

Anonymous said...

H2H, from what I've read on the subject to successfully manufacture these explosives you need a rather substantial ice bath, a fume hood (noxious fumes), lots of water, etc. Seems like someone attempting to make these explosives would have people wondering why the restroom has been locked from the inside, why the co conspirators were carrying lots of ice back to the restroom and why the really bad stench coming from the restroom.

Anonymous said...

"From the claims on this forum, shoe and liquid policy equals fascist state."

From some claims. From a great many more claims, these policies are pointless, stupid policies that do nothing to make anyone safer and much to make us less safe by wasting TSA's time, resources, and attention that could be better spent, oh, say, screening cargo.

Phil said...

Tim at TSA wrote:

"From the claims on this forum, shoe and liquid policy equals fascist state. As long as we are protected from capitalism from the shoe and liquid policy, then there is no threat from capitalism."

I can't speak for others, but I'd say that such policies, justified by information that is kept secret, changing at the whim of people who are not legislators, and use to restrict people's liberty, are closer to being marks of totalitarianism. My understanding is that fascism is a type of totalitarianism involving collusion between corporations and the state -- something with which Americans are becoming increasingly familiar, but not something that is demonstrated by most TSA policies, including the ones Tim cited.

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

HappyToHelp said...

Robert Johnson said...
Do you have ANY proof, other than Dr. Alford and DHS, that show that there was a viable, real, and credible threat?

LOL. You already know the answer to that question. Let me pose some questions that you know the answers to. Should DHS ignore its international partners and DHS explosive experts? Should TSA abolish the 311 solely based off of a few comments from anonymous posters and a IT security expert named Bruce?

Robert Johnson said...
Those two can't be trusted because of conflicts of interest.

Yes they can be trusted. You just choose not to. Thats fair. You welcome to your opinion. Just understand that we have a difference of opinion.

Note, that I am a big supporter of allowing peer review on this subject. I don't think the UK is going to allow it. Thats just the reality of the situation.

Robert Johnson said...
The onus isn't on us to prove that these things aren't a threat

You are absolutely right. My opinion is unchanging because I don't see the government corruption on this issue as the wolf pack does(not calling you a wolf pack member Robert).

Robert Johnson said...
Honestly, I think if it was as easy as TSA said it was, it would have been tried a long time ago.

Please reference. I have never seen anything from DHS, TSA, or bloggers that has said “The Transatlantic Liquids Plot” was a easy endeavor.

Have not seen you in a while Robert. Welcome back.

Have a good weekend everyone,

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

People, people, c'mon now, can we focus please? You are all over the map here, trying to hijack this post.

All comments MUST be about this wonderful interview with Paul from TSA at MCO.

Thank goodness RB showed up to say:

"A Department of Homeland Security employee working as a security officer at Orlando International Airport was arrested Wednesday after detectives found drugs and weapons at his home, Palm Bay police said.

Timothy Monroe, 41, faces several charges "

So, Paul of TSA at MCO, please come back immediately and answer us this:

All them highly-trained BDO's at MCO TSA--not ONE of them noticed anything, ummm, suspicious about their fellow worker, Timothy Monroe?

And that vaunted background check of TSA employees--the basis for allowing on-duty TSO's to enter the secure area unchecked--how's that working out for you guys at MCO?

Anonymous said...

"Note, that I am a big supporter of allowing peer review on this subject. I don't think the UK is going to allow it. Thats just the reality of the situation."

You have no idea what "peer review" refers to. It's not something that the UK could allow or disallow -- it's something done by reputable, independent research journals to ensure that scientific findings are legitimate and replicable. And the simple fact of the matter is that TSA has time and again failed to support its pointless liquid policies with any independent, peer-reviewed studies by people who are not employed by TSA or a similar agency.

In other words, we don't trust you because you are lying.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
You have no idea what "peer review" refers to.

How did you come to that conclusion? These are the results of my google search.

Results 1 - 10 of about 20,900,000 for peer review. (0.06 seconds)

I have discussed this topic time and time again. Are you saying I couldn't take 0.06 seconds out of my time to look that up? I think it is a fair assumption to believe that I have Internet access LOL :o) RB had a pretty good discussion about this topic a while back. If you really want to dig into the achieves, this topic has been discussed in detail.

Anonymous said...
It's not something that the UK could allow or disallow

When your dealing with classified material, information is controlled. If the US or UK do not want to share that information, it is perfectly expectable for them not to share it and is fairly common.

If any independent research would be done on the viability of the Transatlantic Liquids Plot explosive, it would more then likely to come out of the UK. This is just my opinion. I comment on this subject all the time.

Anonymous said...
And the simple fact of the matter is that TSA has time and again failed to support its pointless liquid policies with any independent, peer-reviewed studies by people who are not employed by TSA or a similar agency.

I think you need to read back. The subject was “Is the Transatlantic Liquids Plot” explosive a viable threat to commercial aviation and not TSA's liquid policy. Don't mix the two and you will find my post right on point.

In short, I am for “peer review” on the viability of the “Transatlantic Liquids Plot” explosive. Which is not the “party line”. You can be for it or against it. It is up to you to decide for yourself....ugh.. anonymous.

Nothing new here folks,

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from H2H: LOL. You already know the answer to that question. Let me pose some questions that you know the answers to. Should DHS ignore its international partners and DHS explosive experts? Should TSA abolish the 311 solely based off of a few comments from anonymous posters and a IT security expert named Bruce?

Should it ignore them? No. But it shouldn't put absolute faith in them either, especially when you've had some in this blog calling the results questionable.

If you want the real story, you look at the whole picture. If you have 2 organizations saying one thing, and many others saying another, that, at the very least, should warrant further investigation.

I trust Bruce Schneier with my life a lot more than I trust TSA. It didn't take much for him to poke tons of holes in TSA's security and I think it took a lot of stones for Kippie to blow him off the way he did.

You might bag on Bruce's credentials, but let's take a look at your former administrator, Kip Hawley's credentials. What did he have that made him qualified to be a security expert? I don't count having a law degree as a security credential. Do you? Why would you trust Kip's edicts more?

Bruce has been doing security for a lot of years. If you have any idea about how information security works, you would see that there is TONS of overlap between physical security (essentially what TSA does) and information security. Meaning, you can't have one without the other. There's a rule in the INFOSEC world: if an attacker has physical access to your stuff, you're owned. Bruce understands that.

And considering that a lot of the encryption (both development and attacks) that are used to transmit top secret information had his hand in it, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss him.

311 doesn't work and has been debunked. You want to convice people that there's a liquid threat? Have Dr. Alford take the explosive out to the plane mock up himself and have him survive instead of using a robot.

"Yes they can be trusted. You just choose not to. Thats fair. You welcome to your opinion. Just understand that we have a difference of opinion."

I'm a bit of a computer geek. If you're not familiar with the tech, there are "holy wars" between the two processor companies (Intel and AMD) and the two graphics companies (Nvidia and ATI, which is now owned by AMD).

Each one of those companies puts out benchmarks, showing themselves more favorably compared to the competitor. The conclusions may or may not be true. Some may be true, but only under certain conditions, which may or may not be closed. Others may be dishonest. I've seen both happen. Bottom line is you take them with a grain of salt. There probably is some truth in them, but they can't be trusted.

So what can I do? I go to an "independent" site for verification. They run their tests and their conclusions may or may not match what the company claims.

Can these sites be trusted? Maybe. You see, some of these companies, Nvidia in particular, won't give samples of new products to sites that either have in the past or are unlikely to give a favorable review to the product. The good thing in this case is that it's generally quick to see who the shills are.

So likening what I just said to the situation at hand, DHS is like one of those companies benchmarking their own stuff. Dr. Alford is one of those shills who supports the "company" line. Does it mean they're lying? No, but it does mean that they should be subjected to greater scrutiny because of the conflicts of interest.

To me, the fact that DHS and Dr. Alford are the only ones claiming the viability of the plot while others such as Dr. Jimmie Oxley of URI saying it's infeasible are telling. Quite honestly, she's an academic and doesn't have anything to gain by offering her opinion, so I put more weight on what she says.

"Note, that I am a big supporter of allowing peer review on this subject. I don't think the UK is going to allow it. Thats just the reality of the situation."

Quite honestly, then, the Brits are sticking their heads in the sand and don't truly know if there is a threat or not.

You are absolutely right. My opinion is unchanging because I don't see the government corruption on this issue as the wolf pack does(not calling you a wolf pack member Robert).

I'm not saying that you are.

I'll say this: I have (and continue to do contract work) for a high profile federal agency. So I also know what I'm seeing from actually being there. :)

I think most people in the government have good intentions. But we also know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This also doesn't mean that there aren't bad people in the government that aren't looking for power. Unfortunately, I'm of the opinion that DHS has a disproportionate share of these people.

I also see a lot of incompetent people in the government. In fact, I'm even willing to chalk more of the mess up to incompetence over corruption. People don't know or understand what they're dealing with. Or by the time it gets up to senior management, what the analyst originally wrote has been changed or drastically misunderstood by those above him. I've seen this happen.

So in essence, what we're seeing is Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Neither really leave me confident.

"Please reference. I have never seen anything from DHS, TSA, or bloggers that has said “The Transatlantic Liquids Plot” was a easy endeavor."

I never have said that the bloggers have, but Kip and other officials have implied many times that things like TATP could be mixed aboard a plane. Or that such explosives were stable enough to be brought thru security and onto a plane without blowing up there carrier. These both imply that they're simple to do.

"Have not seen you in a while Robert. Welcome back."

Thanks. My blood pressure's been up lately and this blog wasn't helping. :D

Robert

Anonymous said...

Another Anonymous poster said:
"In other words, we don't trust you because you are lying."

Can we assume that you can support that statement? Please, provide us with peer reviewed research from an indepentdant source showing that the TSA liquids policies, or pretty much any other policy from the TSA, is a lie.

I wont hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

"Can we assume that you can support that statement?"

Sure. If there any were independent, peer-reviewed studies to support the liquids policies, TSA would be trumpeting it as proof of the necessity of those policies. Since they aren't doing any such trumpeting, it is extremely likely that no such studies exist.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "Can we assume that you can support that statement? Please, provide us with peer reviewed research from an indepentdant source showing that the TSA liquids policies, or pretty much any other policy from the TSA, is a lie."Scientists and even DHS chemists on this blog have questioned the validity of the claim. Unfortunately, the government and the Brits are sitting on this and not really allowing peer review to take place, so we're pretty much at an impasse.

Scientists like Jimmie Oxley have given their opinion based on the facts as presented that such a plot isn't feasible or the threat that the gov't makes it out to be.

Using the "I have nothing to hide" argument that TSA apologists love to use, if the threat is real, opening it up peer review wouldn't harm but rather help their case. If it's real, then I think the gov't would welcome independent experts supporting their claims.

However, given DHS's and TSA's reputation, one can't help but be skeptical of the claims.

TSA is claiming that there's a real threat. We're asking them to prove it. The onus is on TSA, NOT the citizens to prove the threat doesn't exist. Why? Because even if we COULD prove it conclusively, TSA wouldn't believe it and wouldn't change a darn thing. They'd simply say "those experts are wrong, we're right" and continue on their merry ways. Tell me, what would that prove?

TSA is subjecting us to great inconvenience over a threat that's questionable at best. Independent, third party verification isn't much to ask for.

I've asked for such proof from TSA on this blog, with citing someone other than DHS scientists and Dr. Alford (whom I believe has a conflict of interest in this case). If the evidence is available from other scientists, it should be readily produceable. All I see is one scientist with a financial interest and an agency with questionable ethics and competence telling us to trust them. I just can't for obvious reasons.

"I wont hold my breath."I won't be holding my breath either for proof that there is a threat as TSA claims.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Robert Johnson said...
“TSA is claiming that there's a real threat. We're asking them to prove it. The onus is on TSA,”

You missed the point Robert. Anon said that the employees of the TSA are liars. I ask for proof. None comes forth.

Jimmie Oxley has an opinion. Well, we all know what is said about that.

Robert Johnson also said...
“if the threat is real, opening it up peer review wouldn't harm but rather help their case.” “I've asked for such proof from TSA on this blog, with citing someone other than DHS scientists”

Peer review is not necessary Robert. The threat is a fact, not speculation. I refer you, again, to the following links:
http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=operation_bojinka
http://911review.com/precedent/scenarios/bojinka.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bojinka_plot

Robert Johnson also said...
“I won't be holding my breath either for proof that there is a threat as TSA claims.”

You can start breathing again. The point has been proven. I don’t expect you to believe this, but then again one can lead a mule to water….

HappyToHelp said...

I commend you for such a good post Robert. To be honest most of my post on this issue is just copy and paste from my previous comments. Yeah I keep them :)
Robert Johnson said...No. But it shouldn't put absolute faith in them either, especially when you've had some in this blog calling the results questionable.You make a good point about about not relying on just one source. I think the former administrator Kip Hawley has done a good job explaining why he made the decisions he did. I can't really comment on that but I understand that relying on one source of information can lead to bad things.
Robert Johnson said...If you have 2 organizations saying one thing, and many others saying another, that, at the very least, should warrant further investigation.Agreed.
Robert Johnson said...I trust Bruce Schneier with my life a lot more than I trust TSA.I like Bruce but I don't trust him with my life. LOL :) I'm really glad we have critics like Bruce and I don't dismiss him.

I read his work all the time. My biggest complaint about Bruce would be he plays to much off of peoples emotion about TSA, he changes to the “Big picture” and “Small picture” when it suites his argument, and can be flat out wrong about TSA policy(not all the time). Of course, I have the inside TSA advantage and can easily pick out fallacies in his arguments. I don't think he is doing it on purpose though.
Robert Johnson said...You might bag on Bruce's credentials, but let's take a look at your former administrator, Kip Hawley's credentials. What did he have that made him qualified to be a security expert? I don't count having a law degree as a security credential. Do you? Why would you trust Kip's edicts more?Just like Bruce, Kip, you, and me, we rely on experts to back up our claims. I try to use as much links as possible to back up my points. Bruce does this as well. His blogs can have up to ten links at times. Kip based his decision on expert recommendations. The trust isn't in Kip(I only met the guy once). It is in those experts in DHS.

I trust them. With my life.
Robert Johnson said...311 doesn't work and has been debunked.I disagree. I don't think it is the answer to the problem though. I can't wait to have 100% liquid testing and the 311 go the way of the dinosaur. You should be seeing a push on 100% screening of 311 exempt liquids.
Robert Johnson said...I'm a bit of a computer geek. If you're not familiar with the tech, there are "holy wars" between the two processor companies (Intel and AMD) and the two graphics companies (Nvidia and ATI, which is now owned by AMD).Now your speaking my language. I often sell my programming services(contract) to indie video game companies(if you can call them companies).

Again, I am all for “peer review” when it comes to the viability of the Transatlantic Liquids Plot. I don't see any significant cons to peer review at this point and time.
Robert Johnson said...Thanks. My blood pressure's been up lately and this blog wasn't helping. :DI'm sorry to hear that. My dad has been suffering from blood pressure issues lately as well. I hope it is nothing serious. :)


-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Stephen said...

Anonymous:

I am sorry but a few incidents doesn't make a trend. What percentage of flights in and out of the many airports all over the country that fly every day have been the subject of plots?

If we look at air travel over the past 20 years, what percentage of flights were directly affected by people acting with malicous intent?

Security is risk management. Risk is about probabilities. Its silly to build a personal protection system to protect you from lightning strikes. It makes sense to put a lightning rod on your house.... and to require them on every house in a city.... because of the real threat. Real fires have been caused, real houses burn down.

The same happens to people, but the odds of it happening is really really low, and when it happens, it only hurts that person, or anyone else right next to them.

Proving that someone was once hit, and someone else was once hit is great... but its the billions of people who were never hit by lightning that make personal lightning shields impractical.

-Steve

TSORon said...

Stephen said:
"I am sorry but a few incidents doesn't make a trend. What percentage of flights in and out of the many airports all over the country that fly every day have been the subject of plots?"

How many would it take to please you Steve? RB? Honestly, give us a number. Per year, month, or week.

RB said...

TSORon said...
Stephen said:
"I am sorry but a few incidents doesn't make a trend. What percentage of flights in and out of the many airports all over the country that fly every day have been the subject of plots?"

How many would it take to please you Steve? RB? Honestly, give us a number. Per year, month, or week.

April 20, 2009 3:01 PM
...................
How many screw ups by TSO's across the country before you call it a trend TSORon?

Honestly, give us a number. Per month, week or day!

John Baigh said...

TSA Customer Support Manager

Travelers can reach TSA Contact Center, Got Feedback, or complete a Comment Card, and Passengers can always post general feedback on the TSA blog.