Friday, May 22, 2009

Millimeter Wave Whole Body Imager Photos

It’s tinfoil hat time. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to don your protective headwear and then I’ll begin.

[Intermission Music]

OK. Let’s go… It’s been brought to our attention that the photos we provide of the millimeter wave (MMW) whole body imager (WBI) are different than the ones that CNN used in their article earlier this week. Yes, you are correct. They are different. One photo is a stock image given to us by the vendor and the other is a screen shot taken from a CNN video. Two different photos of two different people…

-Here is what 60 minutes saw, filmed and aired last December. Notice the part at 00:53 where Leslie Stahl says “To be frank, I thought I was going to see something almost pornographic and it’s not.” The video clip also shows the actual image on the screen as the officer sees.
Here is what CNN filmed.
-Here is what Salt Lake’s KSL TV filmed.
Here are the stock photos that TSA uses on its web and blog pages.
Here are the front and back images that CNN used in this week’s article.

Also, there is scuttlebutt that TSA is trying to be hush-hush about this technology. In addition to the links I provided above, here are all of the places we have talked about Whole Body Imaging here on the blog:

-The First Significant Deployment of Aviation Security Technology Since the 1970s
-Catch a Wave and Avoid a Pat Down
-Safety & Privacy Concerns Regarding the Millimeter Wave Whole Body Imager
You asked for it...You got it, Millimeter Wave images.
-Pilot Program Tests Millimeter Wave for Primary Passenger Screening
-CNN Article: Airport security bares all, or does it?
-Will Children be Screened by Whole Body Imagers?

There you have it. (Remove hats now) Have a great holiday weekend.

Blogger Bob

EoS Blog Team

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Explosive Trace Detection

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about or seen firsthand pieces of TSA security equipment affectionately referred to as “puffers.” Officially known as Explosive Trace Portals (ETPs), passengers enter the machine stationed at the security checkpoint before proceeding through the metal detector. Several “puffs” of air are released in an effort to shake loose trace explosive particles on the passenger. Over the years, TSA has determined that trace portals do not meet the requirements for operational suitability due to frequent maintenance issues. TSA also determined that more reliable and effective screening technologies have become available since ETPs were first introduced. For these reasons, TSA has decided to phase out this technology.

ETPs were first deployed to airports in a pilot capacity in June 2004. At the program’s peak, 94 of the 207 units originally procured by TSA were deployed to 37 airports. Over the years, TSA gathered performance data on several variations of the technology.

As the ETP pilot progressed, it became increasingly apparent that tweaks and fixes were unable to resolve ETP maintenance issues caused by dirt and humidity common to any airport environment. In the summer of 2008, TSA made the decision to begin phasing out ETP technology.

All things said and done, TSA spent approximately $29.6 million on explosive trace portals. Of this, approximately $6.2 million was spent on maintenance on the 94 deployed units. Currently, there are 33 ETPs deployed to 15 airports. ETPs that are still in use at airports continue to support a dynamic layered screening approach.

Earlier this year, TSA opened a brand new testing facility called the TSA Systems Integration Facility (TSIF). At this facility, TSA tests a variety of security screening technologies in simulated airport environments. This facility will allow TSA to more effectively measure operational suitability prior to deployment.

Blogger Paul

EoS Blog Team

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Will Children be Screened by Whole Body Imagers?

This question keeps popping up on our blog as well as other forums around the internet. Will children be screened by Whole Body Imagers (WBI)?

Yes and no.

Anybody can opt out of WBI screening. Adults, children, Klingons, etc… If you opt out of WBI screening, you will receive a patdown search in lieu of the WBI screening.

Children are allowed to be screened by the WBI if they’re able to stand motionless with their arms outstretched and feet shoulder width apart for 5 seconds. (If your child is like my 4 year old, they can’t stand still for a single second unless they’re watching that yellow sponge guy who shares my name)

Things to remember:

- Children do not have to be screened by the WBI. (Anybody can opt out)
- Parents carrying infants or children will not be screened by the WBI.
- Parents accompanying children may opt out of WBI screening to prevent separation of family.
- WBI screening is still in the pilot phase and has not been deployed at all checkpoints.
- Did I mention you can opt out?


EoS Blog Team

Monday, May 18, 2009

CNN Article: Airport security bares all, or does it?

CNN has an article in the travel section today on Whole Body Imaging (WBI). Follow the link to read the article along with the many interesting comments.

Airport security bares all, or does it?


EoS Blog Team

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's in a Name?

Starting May 15, when passengers purchase airline tickets, they will be required to provide their name as it appears on the government-issued ID that they plan to use when traveling. This is the first phase of a new TSA program called “Secure Flight.”

So…if you plan to present a driver’s license , purchase tickets using your name as it appears on your driver’s license. If you plan to present a passport, purchase tickets using the name that appears on your passport. (Here is a list of acceptable forms of identification.)

But rest assured, the system will be pretty flexible. For the near future, small differences between ID and reservation information, such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, should not cause a problem for the passenger.

Secure Flight is a multi-phase program developed by DHS that matches passenger information against federal government watch lists for domestic and international flights. Before Secure Flight, airlines themselves were responsible for matching passenger information to the federal watch list. As Secure Flight is implemented, TSA will begin to assume responsibility for the security program.

So what exactly do we mean by “watch list matching”? When you purchase an airline ticket your name will be compared to the “No Fly” and “Selectee” lists, which are distilled from the FBI’s terrorist watch list.

Individuals confirmed to be on the Selectee list, will automatically be subject to secondary screening, but could still be allowed to fly. If an individual is confirmed to be on the “No Fly” list, he or she won’t be able to fly within, into, or over the United States. The number of people that appear on these lists is extremely small, so chances are you won’t run into issues at security checkpoints because your name is on the watch list.

After August 15, domestic airlines will be required to collect (and passengers will be required to provide) date of birth and gender in addition to name (as it appears on the government ID). By providing these pieces of information under the new Secure Flight program, cases of mistaken identity will be virtually eliminated. For passengers who have had problems in the past, this means that you’ll be able to print your boarding pass at home before arriving at the airport. It also means that your 6-year-old won’t be misidentified as someone on the Selectee or No Fly lists.

Blogger Paul

EoS Blog

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shoes on the X-ray belt, or in a bin???

Starting this week, officers will be asking passengers to put their shoes directly on the X-ray belt instead of in a bin at the checkpoint.

This will help to declutter bins and give officers a better view of shoes coming through, as well as everything else. Our officers are seeing some pretty packed bins with shoes, electronics, wallets and other items, and when they can’t get a good look, a cluttered bin is more likely to get pulled aside for additional screening. Nobody likes that.

If you don’t hear the directions or put your shoes in the bin by accident, fear not - you won’t be sent back to the end of the line for a do-over.

Safe travels!


EOS Blog Team

Saturday, May 9, 2009

TSA Urban Legends (Nail Clippers, Knitting Needles and Corkscrews)

Bigfoot is probably one of the best known urban legends, but nail clippers, knitting needles and corkscrews are probably the most believed.

Some time ago, someone out there spread a nasty rumor about us, that lead many of today's passengers to believe that we don't allow any of those three items. The facts though, contradict the myth.

Knitting needles, carried by grandma, Mrs. Claus or Jeremy down the street are permitted. Plastic, metal, clay, titanium... Whatever... Permitted.

Corkscrews are a little tricky, but also permitted. Let's be clear, corkscrews without knives. We know many corkscrews have the little knife that help cut the metal wrapping on a bottle, those are not allowed, but the little corkscrews with no knife are. Clear? No? Let's try this.

Fancy schmancy corkscrews with knives, no. Cheap corkscrews with no knife, yes.

Lastly, nail clippers. I can't even count the number of times I have heard or seen this... Totally not true. Way back when, 2001, pre-TSA, post 9-11, nail clippers were prohibited, probably an immediate reaction to the events of that day. However, when we came along, we changed the list, allowed nail clippers, but still get accused of being pro-long finger nail. Totally not true.
Trim those nails, in flight if you want, just be sure the passenger sitting next to you doesn't mind a flying hang nail.... Oh yeah, no blades on nail clippers either. Nail files on the other hand are OK.

So to sum up, if you are the kind of person who likes to drink wine, knit and clip your nails, you are free to do all three in flight... So long as you don't have any blades. 

TSA Guest Blogger/TSA Spokesperson

Friday, May 1, 2009

What Does A Terrorist Look Like?

We just received some valuable Intel today… We now know what terrorists look like. BOLOs are being sent internationally as we speak. Terrorists wear colorful oversized clothing and have round red noses. They’ve been known to paint smiles or frowns on their faces and often wear wigs and large honking shoes.

In all seriousness…At airports all over the country, day in and day out, Transportation Security Officers hear over and over: “Do I look like a terrorist? You should be spending your time looking for the real terrorists instead of wasting time on me.”

Which got me thinking - what exactly does a terrorist look like? There’s no manual showing you what terrorists look like. We could put a Magic 8 Ball at each checkpoint lane and shake it every time a passenger comes through asking “Is this person a terrorist?” Some of the answers would really prove troublesome:

*Reply hazy, try again.
*Concentrate and ask again.
*Better not tell you now.
*Cannot predict now.
*Ask again later.

If my Magic 8 Ball idea sounds silly, it is. I used that example, because it would be just as effective as taking somebody’s word who says “I’m not a terrorist.”

In a perfect world, TSO training would include a class on what a terrorist looks like. But the fact is, terrorists look like anybody else coming through the checkpoint. All races, sexes, ages, and sizes… They can be an evil genius or dumb as a rock.

You don’t have to be taller than the sign to be a terrorist. You get the point…

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard somebody say “I don’t pose a threat.” Intelligence has shown that western acting/looking terrorists are being recruited just for that reason.

What I’m trying to say is you know you’re not a terrorist, but we don’t…and we can’t take any chances and just take your word. This is another reason why our Behavior Detection Program is so important. We focus on behaviors to flush out the possible terrorists, not appearance.

Blogger Bob

EoS Blog Team