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

181 comments:

KBCraig said...

C'mon, Bob, admit it: the reason why the blue-eyed great-grandmother from Minneapolis is given a hard time while four young Middle-Eastern men sail through, is not because of her knitting needles ("She might knift an Afghan!" *rimshot*). It's because the government is terrified of "racial profiling".

People who fit absolutely no terrorism profile are sometimes treated more harshly so you can really, really, prove you're not profiling.

txrus said...

I guess I must have missed the press announcement-exactly how many terrorists, potential or otherwise, has your BDO program flushed out since it's inception?

TSORon said...

Thanks Bob, I could not have said it better myself.

I also get those questions all the time, and I dont have a better answer than that.

Anonymous said...

Bob, why aren't secondary barriers required for all commercial aircraft? I believe only one airline does this. This would be a (relatively) cheap, simple, safeguard against hijacking.

TyX said...

From the recent DHS Intel, my guess it is the person on the right. Everyone should give a second glance at anyone "on the right."

And, THAT fits with the whole Cyber Security threat that all cyber security people know very well: The threat is often from WITHIN an organization.

So, since over half of DHS employees are probably "more to the right," and since they are insiders, we need to suspect the people with the uniforms first!!

GSOLTSO said...

Nice post Bob! I have explained this sometimes trying to get some posters to understand that we are not applying a "guilty until proven innocent approach", but that we are using a equal application approach. Thanks for the post and the link to Newsweek.

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Now take all the parts in your post where you ask "what does a terrorist look like", and change it to say "what does a terrorist behave like". In much the same way that terrorists don't have a common look, they also don't have a common set of behaviors.

Behavior detection may work well on the hit Fox TV show "Lie to Me," but in the real world it's nothing but junk science, with no legitimate research to back it up.

I work for DHS Science and Technology Directorate, so I don't make that statement lightly. Behavior detection is junk science.

Jim Huggins said...

TSORon writes:

I also get those questions all the time, and I don't have a better answer than that.Might I suggest something like the following?

"I'm sorry. I realize these procedures are inconvenient for everyone. Unfortunately, our procedures require that we screen everyone, regardless of [age | appearance | ethnicity | gender | whatever]. Can I help you so that we can complete this procedure faster and get you on your way?"

Anonymous said...

You "know" that your Behavior Detection Program is "effective protection" against terrorists. But we don't.... and we can't take any chances and just take the TSA's word, no matter how often they repeat it. We focus on objective measures of effectiveness, not the appearance of security theatre.

But just what are those measures of effectiveness? How can we know that the Behavior Detection Program is any more effective than a Magic 8 Ball? We all know the TSA's answer to that question: "Trust us."

Since I have seen no press reports (or blog posts here) crowing about BDOs stopping any terrorist plots, I have to assume that every BDO "success" reported here or in TSA published metrics has been a false positive. By that I mean the incidental detection of drugs, cash, fake military jackets, T-shirts criticizing the TSA, or other items that are illegal, immoral, or offensive but pose no actual threat to aviation.

But how many BDO "alarms" have have been negative? In other words, how many innocent travelers have been interrogated or otherwise subjected to stressful "encounters" with BDOs and then let go, without finding as much as a Reefer or even enough cash to be worth calling in the police?

That's the sort of information we need to evaluate the effectiveness of the Behavior Detection Program. But if the TSA does compile that information, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that it's classified, or at least SSI. Publicizing information about the actual effectiveness and value of the Behavior Detection Program would obviously cause severe damage to national security, especially if it shows that the program is no better than the Magic 8 Ball.

Since that important information is unavailable, we're left with taking the TSA's word for its effectiveness. Since they don't take our word for anything, why should we have any reason to accept theirs? So I can only conclude that the Behavior Detection Program is nothing more than the latest addition to the TSA's Security Theatre script.

Anonymous said...

TSORon: "I also get those questions all the time, and I dont have a better answer than that."

Of course you don't. Bob is a highly-skilled PR professional who is an acknowledged expert at crafting highly detailed, appropriately humorous non-answers that boil down to some variant of "... because we said so" or "trust us." You'd do best to leave the spin to the professionals, and stick to "Do you want to fly today?"

West: "I have explained this sometimes trying to get some posters to understand that we are not applying a "guilty until proven innocent approach", but that we are using a equal application approach."

In other words, "EVERYONE's guilty until proven innocent. Now bend over!"

Anonymous said...

So instead, you look at everyone as being an unindicted terrorist wannabe? Classy when you've managed to bypass the courts and convict(in your mind) every passenger.

Disgusting behavior on the part of an out of control agency.

elle said...

You are right Jim

Anonymous said...

"This is another reason why our Behavior Detection Program is so important. We focus on behaviors to flush out the possible terrorists, not appearance."

Bob, you forgot to mention that your BDOs don't find much of anything other than false positives.

You also forgot to mention that TSA has never, ever, ever caught a single terrorist.

Were you being dishonest or disingenuous, I wonder?

TSORon said...

Jim Huggins wrote...
"Might I suggest something like the following?"

I didnt say I dont have one, I just dont have a better one. Yours is nice, but not better.

Anonymous said...

I recall watching in amusement as TSA instructed a fellow wearing a NAVY SEAL t-shirt to take off his shoes for screening. Seemed kinda funny to be searching him for weapons when his shirt declared "I am a deadly weapon".

GSOLTSO said...

Jim Huggins wrote - "I'm sorry. I realize these procedures are inconvenient for everyone. Unfortunately, our procedures require that we screen everyone, regardless of [age | appearance | ethnicity | gender | whatever]. Can I help you so that we can complete this procedure faster and get you on your way?"


I agree that this would be outstanding! I also know that not everyone has the same attitude as myself or you. I would even settle for someone asking:

"Sir/Ma'am, all passengers are screened the same way"

"Is there something that we can help you with?"

That is professional and courteous and should be able to garner a response that allows the TSO to help or finish the screening. I will not apologize for following the rules and regulations, but I will help someone that needs it and offer help freely.

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Not wanting to take the thread off topic, but you mentioned in passing at the end of your post, Bob, that somehow this discussion related to Behavior Detection Program.

That program is going out of business. TSA managers recognize it as a waste of resources, capable only of capturing druggies, doing nothing to enhance security.

How many genuine, immediate threats to aviation have been thwarted by BDOs?

RB said...

Well we may not know what a terrorist looks like but it seems we know what they do not look like.

They do not look like any of the 10's of millions of people who have flown commercially since 9/11.

If I'm wrong then please point to a terrorist that TSA has identified.

Ryan62 said...

RB,
To apply your logic elsewhere, my local fire station didn't respond to any fires last year. I guess that means it was a total waste of time and resources to have a fire department. We should shut them down because they can't point to a single fire they put out.
They got side tracked by some car accidents and things but they should stick to "their real mission" of putting out fires and stop that "mission creep."

Anonymous said...

A post a few ahead of mine claims that TSA's BDO program is "going out of business". That may be what you're wishing for, for whatever reason, but it is the furthest thing from the truth.

First off, I can see that you are not "in the know", since you claimed that "managers" see it as a waste. Managers do not have the capability to implement or eliminate programs. In fact, a number of managers at each airport are assigned as the heads of programs, including behavior detection. It is management (FSDs, AFSDs, etc.), not managers, that determine what programs are implemented.

I thought it was interesting that you worded it as if it were fact. I'm not sure where you got this information from, but the BDO program is anything but done. In fact, it is continuing to grow in numbers. More will be seen from this program in the future, and it will continue to expand.

RB said...

Ryan62 said...
RB,
To apply your logic elsewhere, my local fire station didn't respond to any fires last year.
.......................
Well done to your community.

What I'm getting at is that TSA screens people that ride on the planes and it does not matter if a person is a terrorist or not if they cannot take aboard any weapons or such materials.

At the same time TSA does not screen its people nor other airport workers 100% of the time and they do not do 100% screening of cargo loaded onto the airplanes.

So tell me Ryan, what is the most likely method to get any type of weapon on an aircraft?

If I lock the front door to my house all the time but leave the backdoor standing wide open how good is my home security plan?

That is your TSA's idea of security!

The whole thing is just a show for the kettles!

Anonymous said...

Some other Anonymous sez:

I thought it was interesting that you worded it as if it were fact. I'm not sure where you got this information from, but the BDO program is anything but done. In fact, it is continuing to grow in numbers. More will be seen from this program in the future, and it will continue to expand.

Well, Mr. Anonymous (do you work for TSA?)--let's meet here in 18 months and see who's right and who's wrong, shall we? Behavior Detection Program is dead meat.

Andy said...

I don't know what it is that bothers me so much about this post, but I really don't like the whole "you're guilty until proven innocent" vibe I'm getting from his post. This is a nation where you're innocent until proven guilty. TSA's job is to screen us for explosives, guns, and other dangerous items. Leave the determination of who's a terrorist and who isn't to the FBI, CIA, and other agencies who know what they're doing.

In America, you're not supposed to have to prove that you're not guilty in the first place. That's what probable cause is for. Blogger Bob claims that he doesn't know if we're a terrorist or not. Why does it matter? As long as you don't have any explosives, guns, or other dangerous items on you, then you're deemed safe to be on an aircraft.

I don't see why TSA is even posting this in the first place. Again, their responsibility is to screen us for the following mentioned above, and they're not FBI.

Gunner said...

Well, that was wonderfully insulting.

And you know it is insulting and pedantic if TSORon agrees with it.

Geoff said...

Thank you for finally posting this! I can't tell you how many times I have to explain this, not only to passengers and airline employees, but also to friends and family.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...

Nice post Bob! I have explained this sometimes trying to get some posters to understand that we are not applying a "guilty until proven innocent approach", but that we are using a equal application approach. Thanks for the post and the link to Newsweek.

West
EOS Blog Team

*************
An "equal application approach"??!! In other words guilty until proven innocent. This is the same double speak that the TSA uses when it claims it does not confiscate anything, instead passengers "voluntarily surrender" their items.

You can

TSOWilliamReed said...

RB said...
Well done to your community.

What I'm getting at is that TSA screens people that ride on the planes and it does not matter if a person is a terrorist or not if they cannot take aboard any weapons or such materials.

At the same time TSA does not screen its people nor other airport workers 100% of the time and they do not do 100% screening of cargo loaded onto the airplanes.

So tell me Ryan, what is the most likely method to get any type of weapon on an aircraft?

If I lock the front door to my house all the time but leave the backdoor standing wide open how good is my home security plan?

That is your TSA's idea of security!

The whole thing is just a show for the kettles!
---------------------
Hello again RB

Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them. Terrorists are actually pretty smart. What they do is take all the parts of an IED through security except the explosives. We notice that they are hiding these items and realize why they are doing it. They test our checkpoints but we are not allowed to hold them or arrest them because they aren't doing anything illegal. All we can do is deny them their flight privelages and the TSOC watches their movements for awhile. Also TSA would love to screen cargo. I belive but am not sure that TSI's are doing this at the moment with explosive detection dogs. We just got a team of 3 canines in juneau this year.

Anonymous said...

I can't give a general description of a terrorist, but more and more seem to work for government agencies.

Sandra said...

"60 Minutes asked TSA if any of the 180,000 passengers stopped by the behavior officers for an interview turned out to be a terrorist. They wouldn't tell us, but congressional sources said no."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/18/60minutes/main4675524_page2.shtml

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "An "equal application approach"??!! In other words guilty until proven innocent. This is the same double speak that the TSA uses when it claims it does not confiscate anything, instead passengers "voluntarily surrender" their items."

It is not double speak, it is plainly written. Just because the answer is not what you want, doesn't change the fact that AN answer is there. You are not guilty of anything when you walk into the checkpoint except wanting to fly. When something that could be a threat is found, then the situation changes. I don't think of anyone as being guilty unless they do something wrong willfully. If you bring an item that is prohibited, you may be guilty of nothing more than misunderstanding the rules or something equally mundane. On the other hand, it could be a test to see what the person can get away with on a redgular basis. That is the reasoning for the equal application approach. What a lot of posters here are asking the organization to do is make an assumption that certain groups of people are not a threat, and that is just not effective and as I have posted before it is illegal (look up the definition of profiling). We perform screening the same on all because we want to insure the safety of all, not because (as a lot of you wrongly state) because you are guilty until proven innocent.

West
EOS Blog Team

Oridis said...

Thanks for the post and the link to Newsweek.

Dunstan said...

Why would any TSO or BDO recognize a terrorist, none of you have ever encountered one. After billions of false positives, however, and annoying countless innocent travelers, you do keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Right on TyX. Last year, I was a "terrorist supporter". This year, I am a "right-wing extremist." Net result: I am still barred from flying commercial aircraft for political reasons. Said political reasons supposedly protected by the First Amendment but in reality used as a justification for suppression.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Andy, you are such a babe in the woods. The Bill of Rights is a dead letter and the Constitution is rapidly getting there. TSA has no respect for either: Just look at the no-fly list, which doesn't have a single living terrorist on it, but a whole lot of people who either are members of the loyal opposition or in one case a reporter who exposed DHS for what it is.

And if you think it will get better under The Chosen One, you've got another think coming.

Anonymous said...

How much has TSO spent on BDO training? How many hours of training are required to become a BDO? Is the science behind the BDO program peer-reviewed?

None of these questions should be difficult to answer.

AKM said...

If you claim that anyone can be a terrorist, doesn't that mean one of your employees could be a terrorist in disguise?

Clark said...

GSOLTSO Said: "...that we are not applying a "guilty until proven innocent approach", but that we are using a equal application approach."Yea, so did Hitler. He didn't hate one Jewish person more than the next, he used an equal application approach. The only difference here is that the "Jewish people" (passengers) aren't one group, they're every group!

Anonymous said...

"A post a few ahead of mine claims that TSA's BDO program is "going out of business". That may be what you're wishing for, for whatever reason, but it is the furthest thing from the truth."

Sorry, sources closer to the inside than you are say that it is so.

Jim Huggins said...

GSOLTSO wrote ...

(well, a lot of nice things about what I previously wrote, which I won't repeat for the sake of modesty)

And then he wrote:

I will not apologize for following the rules and regulations, but I will help someone that needs it and offer help freely.

If I may make a small suggestion? I think it's perfectly appropriate to apologize for the inconvenience of the rules, while not apologizing for following those rules. It is a small distinction, to be sure. But, like my original suggestion, it helps to lessen any tension that sometimes arises at the checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

Reading chicken entrails replaced the highly (un)successful BDO program. In double blind studies reading chicken entrails had a 200% improvement in detection over BDO operatives.

Dunstan said...

"And if you think it will get better under The Chosen One, you've got another think coming."

Oh, you would like to believe that, wouldn't you?

Progress is incremental. Our current President will probably choose several new Supreme Court Justices, and that in of itself will have a lasting effect on our nation. The fact that he was elected shows that there is an increasing movement towards the acceptance of racial and religious diversity. A preponderance of people in our country now accept the concept of gay marriage. I am happy to disagree with your bleak vision of the future.

RB said...

TSOWilliamReed said...
RB said...
Well done to your community.

What I'm getting at is that TSA screens people that ride on the planes and it does not matter if a person is a terrorist or not if they cannot take aboard any weapons or such materials.

At the same time TSA does not screen its people nor other airport workers 100% of the time and they do not do 100% screening of cargo loaded onto the airplanes.

So tell me Ryan, what is the most likely method to get any type of weapon on an aircraft?

If I lock the front door to my house all the time but leave the backdoor standing wide open how good is my home security plan?

That is your TSA's idea of security!

The whole thing is just a show for the kettles!
---------------------
Hello again RB

Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them. Terrorists are actually pretty smart. What they do is take all the parts of an IED through security except the explosives. We notice that they are hiding these items and realize why they are doing it. They test our checkpoints but we are not allowed to hold them or arrest them because they aren't doing anything illegal. All we can do is deny them their flight privelages and the TSOC watches their movements for awhile. Also TSA would love to screen cargo. I belive but am not sure that TSI's are doing this at the moment with explosive detection dogs. We just got a team of 3 canines in juneau this year.

May 3, 2009 10:58 AM

.............................
So a TSO will refer a person to LEO's for having $4700 but not for having a suspected component of an IED?

A TSO will refer to LEO a person who has a false ID but not for having a suspected compnent of an IED?

And are you also claiming that 100% of cargo loaded onto commercial aircraft is inspected by some arm of TSA as mandated by congress?

GSOLTSO said...

Clark sez - "."Yea, so did Hitler. He didn't hate one Jewish person more than the next, he used an equal application approach. The only difference here is that the "Jewish people" (passengers) aren't one group, they're every group!"

Let me get this straight, you are comparing this organization to the Hitler regime, simply because we are applying the rules equally to everyone? That is kind of a reach, like stretcho reach from the Fantastic Four. The organization does not detain, arrest of physically accost anyone, and I believe if you paid attention, we would be more like Hitler's people if we were to do what a lot of the posters on here want us to do by excluding the elderly and children. That would be selecting one group of people to be scrutinized and held to a different standard than the rest of the people. That is part of the reason that Hitler was able to move upward so effectively, he snowed people into thinking that as long as one group of people were being persecuted, then MY group should be ok. The problem with that type of thinking is that after he runs out of other groups to persecute, there is only YOUR group left. All need to be subject to the same set of rules and regulations regardless of appearance, dress, preferences, age, shoe type, car keys, political affiliation or any other definable characteristic.

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

OMG!

"Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail.Do you truly believe this?

Anonymous said...

Tell us again why all airport employees shouldn't be screened each time they enter the SIDA area?

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/tv/stories/wfaa090501_wz_mechanics2.e837aa8.html

Don't get me wrong - I understand the need for airport security. But, having worked in operations and seen more than just the checkpoints and baggage rooms, I have seen so many holes in security, it made my head spin. But as long as the TSA is protecting our aircraft from Diet Pepsi and breast milk, then YAY for the USA!

All the while, the gangs at the commuter terminal are trading weapons and drugs are passing back and forth at the international terminal. But again, we are safe from deodorant and shampoo! YAY!

Dunstan said...

"Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them. Terrorists are actually pretty smart. What they do is take all the parts of an IED through security except the explosives. We notice that they are hiding these items and realize why they are doing it. They test our checkpoints but we are not allowed to hold them or arrest them because they aren't doing anything illegal. All we can do is deny them their flight privelages and the TSOC watches their movements for awhile."

Yeah, right...

A bit of fluffy sensationalism on your part, probably just about anything can be used as the non-explosive part of an IED.

Lets start a list-

a paper clip, headphone cable, any type of watch, clock or cellphone, the elastic from underwear, a pill bottle, plastic or cardboard box, tupperware, the list of seemingly harmless items is endless....

why don't you just ask:

"Do you have ANYTHING in your bag that can not possibly be used to make an IED?"

So everyone can be counted as guilty, right....

Sandra said...

TSOWilliamReed wrote:

"Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them. Terrorists are actually pretty smart. What they do is take all the parts of an IED through security except the explosives. We notice that they are hiding these items and realize why they are doing it. They test our checkpoints but we are not allowed to hold them or arrest them because they aren't doing anything illegal. All we can do is deny them their flight privelages and the TSOC watches their movements for awhile. Also TSA would love to screen cargo. I belive but am not sure that TSI's are doing this at the moment with explosive detection dogs. We just got a team of 3 canines in juneau this year."

There is so much wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.

Do you truly believe that terrorists are caught all the time, William? Why? Can you show us proof?

"we are not allowed to hold them or arrest them because they aren't doing anything illegal."

The TSA can't "hold" or "arrest" anybody, William. You are not law enforcement. Neither can you determine that someone is doing something illegal.

"...TSOC watches their movements for awhile"

And just how do they do that?

Abelard said...

Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them.This is exactly why people think the TSA is security theater.

If you are a terrorist on the no-fly list and have done nothing illegal, you get sent away to try again.

If you are an innocent citizen who is not on the no-fly list and has $4700 on your person when you go through airport security (which is not illegal), you are detained and questioned.

Anonymous said...

TSO Reed said...
Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail.This ofcoarse is all speculation by TSA employees. You can't prove your statement.

-James

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO Said
It is not double speak, it is plainly written. Just because the answer is not what you want, doesn't change the fact that AN answer is there.
**********
This article was very clear and the single statement by Bob sums it up; “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.” In other words we assume that everyone may be a terrorist until they have been cleared through a TSA checkpoint. If this had been written as “You are not guilty of anything when you walk into the checkpoint except wanting to fly. When something that could be a threat is found, then the situation changes.” that would have said innocent until proven guilty. Bob’s statement, along with the rest of the post, says guilty until proven innocent because we have no way of knowing what a terrorist looks like and we have to check everyone to make sure.

No matter how much you spin it, the official TSA article says we assume you’re a terrorist until we can prove otherwise. Just because you think you are doing things differently at your checkpoint doesn’t change how the policy works.

RB said...

Just thought I would clarify something for you. TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them.
.......................
How sporting to play catch and release with terrorist.

Anonymous said...

TSOWilliamReed: "TSA catches terrorists all the time, they just don't go to jail. They are denied access to their flight and sent away from the airport after it has been determined they don't have anything dangerous on them."

If these people "don't have anything dangerous on them," on what basis can you possibly identify them as "terrorists"? What I think you really mean is that you often find people who are on the "no-fly" watch list (or people whose name is the same or similar to those on the list) and dutifully follow your orders to "send them away from the airport."

As you're surely well aware, these lists are even more of a shameful fiasco than the War on Liquids, the Shoe Circus, and the BDO false positives. Some of the names on the list might indeed belong to "terrorists," but too many of them are there because of dodgy "intelligence," because agencies apparently are encouraged to expand the list by some secret monthly quota, or for no reason at all. Other than perhaps compiling some "terrorist interdiction" metric on some classified PowerPoint chart, it's just another kind of security theater that does nothing but abolish the right to travel for thousands of people who aren't "terrorists" but have inexplicably (and irrevocably) ended up on the list.

Are you truly proud of your role in implementing a Kafkaesque system that arbitrarily brands thousands of people too dangerous to fly but not dangerous enough to be arrested and detained even under the Patriot Act? That shameful travesty is just one more reason to despise and distrust the TSA.

Ayn R. Key said...

West,

Until the TSA gives out receipts for voluntarily confiscated items and allows reclamation of said items at a later date, it is doublespeak. You know it. I know it. The company line requires you to say otherwise.

"Just following orders" didn't work at Nurembert. Do you expect it to work here?

Anonymous said...

The sad, frustrating, stupid and wasteful part of TSA is that even when they know someone isn't a terrorist they still screw with them.

When I was active duty military, travelling in uniform on orders, I had a TS/SCI clearance (probably knew more about terrorists than TSA too) and they still ran me thru all the crap. Take off the combat boots, empty the pockets, etc.

What a waste of resources. TSA needs to go away.

Anonymous said...

From today's www.tsa.gov home page --

LATEST NEWS:

Man Tries to Board Plane with Cocaine Hidden on Legs (OCRegister.com)

Oops -- 2 months old, but in TSA land, this is still the top "Latest News" story?

Doesn't your organization have something better to go with yet, or is your homepage really the Old News Archive page?

Let's call a spade a spade. TSA finally got a news story justifying why they search old ladies in wheelchairs, and wants to keep it on the front page. This isn’t news, this is FAQ material.

Anonymous said...

Behavior detection may work well on the hit Fox TV show "Lie to Me," but in the real world it's nothing but junk science, with no legitimate research to back it up.

I work for DHS Science and Technology Directorate, so I don't make that statement lightly. Behavior detection is junk science.
___________________________________

Well you may work for DHS, but if you are not a BDO than I am not too sure of how educated you are on the position. And without the education that the BDO is given I would believe that one would not understand what it is that goes into being a Behavioral Detection Officer. So thank you for your opinion.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry. I realize these procedures are inconvenient for everyone. Unfortunately, our procedures require that we screen everyone, regardless of [age | appearance | ethnicity | gender | whatever]. Can I help you so that we can complete this procedure faster and get you on your way?"
___________________________________

This is pretty good Jim. Maybe you could apply for the position since you are so understanding. The only thing that is not correct is the apology. I have been told not to apologise to the passengers. We are doing our job and there is nothing to apologise for. This is not an inconvenience it is simply security. Something that we are not sorry for, but work hard to do correctly and get you on your way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing out the complete inanity of verifying "identity" as a credential for "identified people are not terrorists".

Brilliant that you've actually argued against proving people against a list. Nice job.

Bob (Not a TSOBob or anything like that).

Anonymous said...

"I work for DHS Science and Technology Directorate, so I don't make that statement lightly. Behavior detection is junk science."I agree, but why don't you be part of the solution? Certainly you can use your influence to effectively change a bogus TSA program.

BDOs go through a couple days of training and are somehow experts on human phychology? Nothing but smoke and mirrors.

pacman said...

Great post! I completely agree with you, many people judge by appearance rather than by behavior. If we fix this skrewed philosophy we might be able to stop more crime.

Anon Charlie said...

Andy said "Leave the determination of who's a terrorist and who isn't to the FBI, CIA, and other agencies who know what they're doing"

Hahahahahahahaha - that would be the CIA and FBI that did such a great job of preventing 9/11 right?

AKM said...

Jim Huggins Wrote:

If I may make a small suggestion? I think it's perfectly appropriate to apologize for the inconvenience of the rules, while not apologizing for following those rules. It is a small distinction, to be sure. But, like my original suggestion, it helps to lessen any tension that sometimes arises at the checkpoint.

My Reply:

I agree. You can apologize (even though its not your fault) for any inconveniences. NRT (Narita Airport, Japan) security are very friendly, yet strict with the rules. My mom got caught with liquids over 3oz, and the security was apologetic that she can't bring it in the plane. They offered the best solution to check it in. They helped my mom with the items, escorted her back to the check-in area, and helped her check-in the items. Very nice! I am pretty sure there are US airports that do that as well.

Anonymous said...

The BDO program is a waste of money and man power. They stand around and do nothing while lines build up because there is no one to check backs for water bottles. Biggest mistake made by TSA.

Bob said...

FYI - I'm wrapped up in a conference all week. I'll jump in and moderate soon. Sorry for the delay...

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

FYI - I'm wrapped up in a conference all week. I'll jump in and moderate soon. Sorry for the delay...

Bob

EoS Blog Team

-------------
Refreshing your training on how to simultaneously scan for tiny movements and twitches in the face and discount the infinite layers of warring subconscious factors (i.e. the drive to profile vs. the drive to avoid profiling) i.e. stopping obviously nervous folks to see if they have weed? Four whole days wasn't enough?

compensation claim said...

when asked what does a terrorist look like i always see the American stereotype of a black male with a turban wearing a white robe. or it that just me

sunny said...

I am sure Government agencies are doing what ever it takes to find out who the real terrorist is. Because of these measures there are no more attacks like 9/11. One shouldn't question "do I look like a terrorist". Because terrorists try to behave like normal safe people. I think everyone should co-operate with airport authorities rather than questioning them.

RB said...

Bob said...
FYI - I'm wrapped up in a conference all week. I'll jump in and moderate soon. Sorry for the delay...

Bob

EoS Blog Team

May 5, 2009 11:45 PM

...................
I hope ya'll are discussing just why TSA cannot drum up any significant support from the public.

Perhaps it's time to look inward.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for a coherent explanation as to how you expect us to believe that you can train a reliable human lie detector in 4 days.

Anonymous said...

FYI - I'm wrapped up in a conference all week. I'll jump in and moderate soon. Sorry for the delay...

Bob

EoS Blog Team
-----------
Why did you post an inflammatory thread if you're at a conference all week?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..
"I recall watching in amusement as TSA instructed a fellow wearing a NAVY SEAL t-shirt to take off his shoes for screening. Seemed kinda funny to be searching him for weapons when his shirt declared "I am a deadly weapon".

Right, because a t-shirt saying NAVY SEAL on it must mean that he is indeed a SEAL and therefore should not be screened like everyone else. Apparently you can't by FBI, DEA, CIA, or any other government agency shirt as a civilian - oh wait, yes you can. Just like I can't buy or wear someone else's military BDU's or the t-shirt of someone who really is a Navy SEAL. Your assessment that by wearing a shirt the claimed he was a SEAL made it ridiculous for him to be screened proves Bob's point. You can not make assumptions on potential behaviors solely on appearance. Just because someone looks like they are Pakistani, Saudi, Iraqi, etc does not make them more likely to be a terrorist and just because someone looks like Average Joe American does not mean that they can not be a terrorist. And unfortunately, disabled people, children, and the elderly are sometimes as mules by people with bad intentions.
Terrorists do not walk around with t-shirts that say "I am a terrorist" on them and they will do everything they can to blend in with the population where they are trying to commit terror acts.
It is a depressing reality, but reality nonetheless.

RB said...

Bob said...
FYI - I'm wrapped up in a conference all week. I'll jump in and moderate soon. Sorry for the delay...

Bob

EoS Blog Team

May 5, 2009 11:45 PM
......................
So Bob, are you the only one authorized to moderate the blog?

What happened to Lynn, Nico and Paul?

Phil said...

TSOWilliamReed:

* Is it unlawful to photograph, film, or video record computer monitors at TSA checkpoints?

* Under what circumstances are passengers who wish to carry medication through a TSA airport checkpoint required to carry a doctor's prescription for that medication? Under what circumstances must passengers present that prescription?

* How does the No-Fly List process comply with the Constitutional protections against trial in absentia, the right to confront one's accuser, the right to a statement of the charges, and the right of due process?

* TSA bars passengers from securing their checked luggage in a manner that prevents TSA and others from opening that luggage. How does TSA ensure that items are not stolen from checked luggage after it is out of passengers' sight? How does TSA ensure that contraband is not inserted into checked luggage after it is out of passengers' sight?

* What does the TSA consider a liquid?

* If a passenger is selected for secondary screening, what provisions are made to secure that passenger's belongings from theft until the passenger rejoins his belongings?

* Why are persons evaluating full body screens hidden from the person being submitted to the scan? How can the person being scanned guarantee that the images generated are not being stored in some form, used inappropriately, or hacked into while being transmitted to the distant location in which they are currently analyzed?

* In checkpoints using MMW scans as primary screening instead of metal detectors, what is the standard operation regarding small children not capable of going through on their own? Are they all patted down? What body parts does the pat-down include? How are parents traveling alone with small children screened? Must they abandon their child in the check point area to go through the MMW?

* MMW images are analyzed in a "remote undisclosed location", but are not stored or transmitted in any form, according to TSA information. How do the images get from the scanners to the remote location if they are not transmitted?

* Where has TSA published a list of all the rules and regulations that TSA will subject someone to if that person wishes to cross a U.S. Government checkpoint at an airport en route to the gate from which his domestic flight will depart, not including laws that the person is required to abide by outside of the airport checkpoint (i.e., just those rules and regulations that apply specifically at the checkpoint)?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

TSOWilliamReed said...

Yes we really do catch terrorist test runs all the time. I am currently working on getting permision to post some articles for the blog to prove it but they are UFUO (SSI only government wide not TSA wide). Sometimes they aren't terrorists and they are just people who want to hurt others. Someone mentioned that the latest news on TSA.gov hasn't changed in the last couple months. Thats because that was the last incident that we are allowed to release to the public and thats not a TSA rule thats your entire governments rule. UFUO is a government wide SSI not TSA. We have had plenty more incidents since then but they were all considered UFUO. Trust me I am not some long time working high up TSA managment guy trying to string you all around. I have only had this job for about a year now and I have learned alot of scary things having SSI and UFUO clearance. Our TSA.gov website is much different when we log on through the secure DHS network and is updated with new incidents daily. We also have daily briefings with a new list of incidents in it every day all the time. The reason the information is UFUO isn't because the information doesn't exsist, its because there is so much information that our government doesn't want people to freak out and not fly. Sort of like what happened after 9/11, no one was flying for a very long time. Also, everyone knows sometimes the news puts up information that we really wished the bad guys wouldn't know. Like when a news crew says the government is gonna bomb or attack a place tomorrow....well now the enemy knows and can prepare. Same concept with this idea we don't want to assist the bad guys by unkowingly giving them useful intel.

TSOWilliamReed said...

Sorry needed to add an edit to my last comment. The proper acronym for that government SSI is U//FUOU
which means

Unclassified//for official use only

Thank you

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - ""Just following orders" didn't work at Nurembert. Do you expect it to work here?"

The name of the city was actually Nuremberg and this is not double speak. What the people in Nuremberg were tried and convited of was racial policies, eugenics, euthanasia programs and concentration camps charges. If you can make a compelling argument that TSA is implementing those types of programs, please include a link here so I can brush up on what I have not noticed before.We have none of those policies in effect and if some were sent down to me I would be the first to cry out loud about them to the press. This is a totally different situation and the rules have remained essentially the same for a couple of years now (with minor variances and the introduction of TSO discretion). The rules remain the same, things are voluntarily surrendered - IF you are unable (or unwilling) to take advantage of the options given, there is nothing I can do about that. I understand that some times a passenger will not have the chance to take advantage of the options. I know this happens everyday, but the rules do not change just for that person based on the fact that they are in _______ (pick a reason to insert here). The rules are applied equally to all travellers as they should be. I personally have no problem with being screened going to work everyday. The organization made a decision to change that rule, and I abide by it (once again, that is something that came from waaaaayyyy above my pay grade). I understand the frustration when someone has to voluntarily give something up, but once again - the rules don't change for someone just because they are running late or at an out of town location.

West
EOS Blog Team

P.S. If you would like some bsic information on the Nuremberg trials, here is a link to Wiki, they ahve a decent distilled version of what happened:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials

Earl Pitts said...

@Anonymous: "Well you may work for DHS, but if you are not a BDO than I am not too sure of how educated you are on the position. And without the education that the BDO is given I would believe that one would not understand what it is that goes into being a Behavioral Detection Officer. So thank you for your opinion."

What education is that? The 4 day course? I don't think anyone in their right mind would call that education. Training maybe ... but most likely inadequate training.

If someone's posting from DHS's Science and Technology Directorate, don't you think that that's the place where your "training" comes from?

The government uses junk science all the time. It's called a polygraph and its used for high level clearances. People fail it all the time - even my security officer did. And of course, they accuse people of lying during those "interviews" as well. I've had friends accused of growing and selling drugs, stealing things, and so forth all from little squiggly lines on a polygraph. Even I got tripped up on unreported and unauthorized foreign national contact (which I had nothing I hadn't reported).

Of course, it doesn't really detect much of anything, but it causes a lot of hassle for good people who haven't done anything wrong with the trust they've placed them.

Just because the government uses it and says it works doesn't mean that it actually does.

Earl

George said...

@Anonymous (BDO?), May 4, 2009 4:48 PM: "without the education that the BDO is given I would believe that one would not understand what it is that goes into being a Behavioral Detection Officer."

If you are a BDO yourself, could you let us know where we might read an actual description of "what it is that goes into being a Behavioral Detection Officer," so we might understand it? Is there a curriculum description or something that describes the type and extent of the training they receive? Given the secrecy of every other facet of the TSA's operation, I would strongly doubt that any such information is available to the public (beyond the carefully spun PR pieces on this blog). But I thought I'd ask anyway, even though by now I should know better than to expect an answer other than "SSI." Or, for that matter, any answer at all.

In the absence of real information, how can we form any sort of useful opinion? Bob's original post makes some very legitimate points about the inherent difficulty of identifying "terrorists" by their appearance. In theory, a "behavior detection" strategy should be more effective than the current approach of TSOs interdicting "prohibited items" based on secret criteria. But is there any reason to believe that the strategy as implemented by the TSA actually does anything useful?

Is there really enough valid information about "terrorist behavior" to allow BDOs to reliably identify it, particularly in a crowd of people who have every reason to appear stressed, nervous, and angry? And if that is indeed possible, can BDOs actually do it reliably enough to stop terrorist plots? Have there been any scientifically valid tests of either the "behavior detection" methods, the training BDOs receive in those methods, and the BDOs' efficacy at implementing them? How many of their "detections" are false positives (drugs, cash, etc)? And how many of their "detections" are negatives, for which the passenger has been needlessly subjected to a stressful intrusive encounter with an "officer"?

The TSA insists that BDOs are effective. But since the specifics are secret we're just supposed to trust them, and accept those assertions on faith. But is there any reason why we should trust them and accept anything they say on faith? The best "objective" information available to us is a few press releases trumpeting BDO "successes." But those "successes" all involve things like drugs and fake military jackets. The press releases don't even bother to explain how the individuals in question threatened aviation. Rather, they ask us to take a leap of faith, that their ability to identify a drug courier through behavior proves that they can spot a terrorist, should one ever happen along. I'm sorry, but I can't find that very convincing.

In the absence of any information that would let me evaluate the actual value of the BDOs, I can only conclude that they're no more effective than any other part of the TSA's security theater. What I can see of the TSA's operation that's visible at checkpoints gives me no reason to believe that what goes on behind the curtain of secrecy is any different, any more competent, or any more effective. That's an inherent problem with any agency that insists on keeping most information about its operations secret. They have no way of convincing us that what they do is effective and justified other than to keep repeating "it is." But when they give us no reason to trust them, that repetition only gives more reason not to believe them. That's a real problem indeed.

Ryan62 said...

RB,
As you may have noticed TSA DOES screen for potentially dangerous materials. Unfortunately, as has been pointed out by others in this thread many of the components needed for an IED are commonly available items, watches, cell phones and the like, explosives present many challenges in detection, its not as cut and dried as many people make it out to be. Hence the layered security approach.
To use your house analogy, the doors might be locked, but the homeowner realizes that and has a dog too. Can any of these systems be beaten? Sure, no security is 100% but the idea is to make it as difficult as possible.
I agree cargo screening is an area that TSA needs to make up a lot of ground. But to argue that they should stop everything else in its tracks while the cargo issue is addressed is a strawman.

Also for our Anon service member who was in uniform on orders etc. Military uniforms are easy to come by, I still have a few sets of old travel orders in my file cabinet, it wouldn't be too difficult to make some changes to fix the dates... and how exactly are the TSOs supposed to know about your clearance? To whom should we exempt from screening? Everyone with a TS? What about people with just a Secret? Where do we draw that line?

Anonymous said...

To: Ayn R. Key

Why should passengers be given a reciept for pickup later when it is posted everywhere for what cannot be brought through a checkpoint. Last I checked, TSA is not my babysitting service. It's just stupidity on the passengers part because they forgot. If it is THAT expensive, leave it at home.

Irish said...

GSOLTSO said...

"It is not double speak, it is plainly written. Just because the answer is not what you want, doesn't change the fact that AN answer is there."


It is Hobson's choice. That is, it is an "all or nothing" choice, which is no real choice at all.

Plain speak: If you want to fly today, you will allow TSA to confiscate and destroy your prohibited item. (It's confiscatory because there is no avenue by which you can reclaim your prohibited item.)

Double speak: If you want to fly today, you will "voluntarily surrender" your prohibited item.

No one said that's not AN answer. That answer p***** everyone off because that answer deliberately obfuscates what's actually going on. Just say what you're doing in plain language and stop trying to make it sound like a free choice. In actual practice in the real world, there's nothing whatever "voluntary" about it. Of course, if TSA says it in plain language, they would break the extraordinarily thin legal ice they're skating on.

Irish

TSO-Joe said...

""...TSOC watches their movements for awhile"

And just how do they do that?"

here's a link on TSOC:

http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/inside_tsoc.shtm

As to how they do that, we don't know. Unlike the SSI reason that's given out here for not giving out information, TSOC needs a Top Secret Clearance to even enter the room. TSO-Joe

Jim Huggins said...

Ryan62 writes:

and how exactly are the TSOs supposed to know about your clearance? To whom should we exempt from screening? Everyone with a TS? What about people with just a Secret? Where do we draw that line?

I don't know. But TSA draws that line already --- in a fairly inconsistent way.

See, airport employees aren't subject to screening when they enter the sterile area. Pilots and flight attendants are given broad exemptions to various rules (e.g. the liquids rules). When asked, the usual answer posted in forums like is something along the lines of "well, they've passed security clearances, so we know we can trust them".

But passengers who have clearances which meet or exceed the standards used by airport and airline employees are still subject to screening. It doesn't matter that the federal government already has judged these people worthy of trust; they still have to obey all the rules that the rest of us do.

Do you see the contradiction?

Either a federal security clearance should grant someone an exemption to screening, or it shouldn't. Right now, that's not the case.

Anonymous said...

"When I was active duty military, travelling in uniform on orders, I had a TS/SCI clearance (probably knew more about terrorists than TSA too) and they still ran me thru all the crap. Take off the combat boots, empty the pockets, etc."

I was @ Camp Pennsylvania in 2003 when an 101st airborne soldier decided to drop a few frags into a command tent. I'm in the Signal Corps and have a clearance too...as does everyone else in my unit. However, I still lock my barracks room door when I step out, and my car doors after I park it. I think it's funny when people use the military as an excuse for special treatment.

Dunstan said...

" sunny said...

I am sure Government agencies are doing what ever it takes to find out who the real terrorist is. Because of these measures there are no more attacks like 9/11. One shouldn't question "do I look like a terrorist". Because terrorists try to behave like normal safe people. I think everyone should co-operate with airport authorities rather than questioning them."

I prefer the concept of putting authority on the defensive- IF their actions are outside of the boundaries of either law, or even common sense. TSO's are paid to follow a set of rules, not make them up.

Dunstan said...

" AKM said...

I agree. You can apologize (even though its not your fault) for any inconveniences. NRT (Narita Airport, Japan) security are very friendly, yet strict with the rules. My mom got caught with liquids over 3oz, and the security was apologetic that she can't bring it in the plane. They offered the best solution to check it in. They helped my mom with the items, escorted her back to the check-in area, and helped her check-in the items. Very nice! I am pretty sure there are US airports that do that as well."

Some friends recently went online to TSA.gov, read up on the 3-1-1 rules, ordered 3oz bottles, baggie and labels on the internet, and set off on a trip. They were fine
outbound, on the return were told they "didn't have the original product labels and the original TSO was wrong to let them through".
TSA won't hear from my friends, I agreed, TSA can't get its own employees to follow its own rules.

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous:

Because there are secret rules that change at a moment's notice and at the whim of the TSO.

Because the rule itself is in error.

Because this isn't confiscation according to the spokespeople of the blog.

Ayn R. Key said...

Wow, West, I made a typographical error. That does happen occasionally.

It doesn't matter if you are violating our rights in a large and dramatic way or if you are violating our rights in a small and petty way. In either case you are violating our rights. And if you are violating our rights but say that you are folllowing orders, you are invoking the Nuremberg defense. It doesn't matter if you are using the Nuremberg defense for slaughter or petty theft, you are using it.

I don't need to show that you are committing the slaughter that the Nazis engaged in. I need to show that you are violating our rights at all, and I need to show that you are excusing said violations by claiming to be following orders. There's ample evidence of rights violations all over this blog, in the comments.

Just as you are following orders when you insist that all items stolen at the check points are voluntarily confiscated. Yes, the rule applies equally to everyone. You enforce unconstitutional rules uniformly. Does the lack of discrimination make the unconstitutional suddenly constitutional? Does the uniformity mean that you simply obeying orders makes it right? No. It doesn't change a thing. It only shows that you are consistent in your violation of our rights instead of haphazard in the violation of our rights.

So now that you have jumped all over the typographical error instead of the subject of my post, and I have now spelled the city correctly, you are free to address the subject of my post. Until the TSA gives out receipts for voluntarily confiscated items and allows reclamation of said items at a later date, it is doublespeak. You know it. I know it. The company line requires you to say otherwise, and you are just following orders.

Phil said...

Ayn R. Key wrote:

"Until the TSA gives out receipts for voluntarily confiscated items and allows reclamation of said items at a later date, it is doublespeak. You know it. I know it. The company line requires you to say otherwise."Someone anonymously responded:

"Why should passengers be given a reciept for pickup later when it is posted everywhere for what cannot be brought through a checkpoint."That information -- a comprehensive list of items that are not allowed to be carried past one of TSA's passenger search stations in an airport -- is not published anywhere, much less posted in airports. TSA flatly refuses to publish it, presumably so that bad people will attempt to carry dangerous items onto airplanes and get caught doing so. If you disagree about the fact that this information is available, please back your assertion with a link to the information on the Web (not to tips for travelers, suggestions on how to pack our bags, hints, clues, guidelines, or press releases, but to a list of everything that is prohibited), name of the document that includes it, or an image of the posting in an airport.--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

George said...

@Dunstan: "Some friends recently went online to TSA.gov, read up on the 3-1-1 rules, ordered 3oz bottles, baggie and labels on the internet, and set off on a trip. They were fine outbound, on the return were told they "didn't have the original product labels and the original TSO was wrong to let them through". TSA won't hear from my friends, I agreed, TSA can't get its own employees to follow its own rules."

Your friends took the trouble to study and understand the published rules, ordered the appropriate materials, and did everything they could to comply with TSA requirements as they understood them. But the TSO on the return flight nonetheless found them in violation of a rule requiring original product labels on the bottles. That rule wasn't anywhere on TSA.gov. It wasn't published anywhere else that your friends could have seen. But it was in effect at that checkpoint, at that moment, for that TSO. After the TSO courteously and respectfully informed your friends of the wide range of available options for correcting the violation, they freely chose to voluntarily abandon their bottles before proceeding merrily on their way.

Please correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I assume that as a result of this experience your friends have now joined the growing ranks of travelers who despise the TSA. Or at the very least they have now acquired a negative opinion of the TSA that will be difficult to change.

That's an achievement for which that TSO deserves all appropriate credit. But could someone from the TSA explain how it contributed anything to aviation security?

Clark said...

GSOLTSO says:
Let me get this straight, you are comparing this organization to the Hitler regime, simply because we are applying the rules equally to everyone? That is kind of a reach, like stretcho reach from the Fantastic Four. The organization does not detain, arrest of physically accost anyone, and I believe if you paid attention, we would be more like Hitler's people if we were to do what a lot of the posters on here want us to do by excluding the elderly and children. That would be selecting one group of people to be scrutinized and held to a different standard than the rest of the people. That is part of the reason that Hitler was able to move upward so effectively, he snowed people into thinking that as long as one group of people were being persecuted, then MY group should be ok. The problem with that type of thinking is that after he runs out of other groups to persecute, there is only YOUR group left. All need to be subject to the same set of rules and regulations regardless of appearance, dress, preferences, age, shoe type, car keys, political affiliation or any other definable characteristic.
Hitler applied prejudice, hate, persecution etc. to the Jewish People just as the tsa is applying to airline passengers. I wasn't comparing application of the rules I was comparing the rules themselves and the way they're applied, to Hitlerism. The tsa is becoming dangerously close to what Hitler implemented in Germany.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

I wonder why you delete-o-metered my post.

Basically, it taked about some of George's concerns with "effective". How do you measure effectiveness? Cost? Sensitivity? Specificity? Precision? Positive predictive power? Negative predictive power? Health of the airline industry? Health of the economy? False IDs and Druggies arrested? Thousands of items confiscated?

In what way is TSA more "effective" than the pre-9/11 WTMD?

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
Ayn sez - ""Just following orders" didn't work at Nurembert. Do you expect it to work here?"

GSOLTSO said…
The name of the city was actually Nuremberg and this is not double speak. What the people in Nuremberg were tried and convited of was racial policies, eugenics, euthanasia programs and concentration camps charges.
************
West the defense used by many of the convicted was “I was following orders”. This legal defense became known as the “Nuremberg Defense”. The reason it does not hold up is if you do something that you know is wrong or illegal, being ordered to do it by a superior does not abrogate your responsibility. It does not matter what the crime is.
This link should help; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Defense

When you continue to use double speak it would help if you understood what you are talking about.

Isaac_Newton said...

GSOLTSO said: "The rules remain the same, things are voluntarily surrendered - IF you are unable (or unwilling) to take advantage of the options given, there is nothing I can do about that. I understand that some times a passenger will not have the chance to take advantage of the options. ... the rules don't change for someone just because they are running late or at an out of town location."----
West, what you need to understand, as you show up every day at the same old airport, is that more than half of the people passing through an airport terminal are "out of town". The simplest trip a person can take is A to B, then B to A. At location B, they're "out of town" - that is, half of the airports they go through. More complicated trips are A to B to C to... and ... C to B to A, where at locations B and C, they're out of town - 2/3 of the airports.

When you and your colleagues dismiss the "out of town" as if it's a rare occurrence, you just look foolish. Being "out of town" is the whole point of airline travel, not the exception to the rule.

Now if I could be sure that airports A, B, C and the rest had exactly the same rules and standards, then any problems with an item would occur at airport A, where I might be able to go back to my car, leave it with a friend, etc. (Although if I took a taxi or public transport to the airport, I still don't have those options even at my home airport.) But if airport A allows it through and then airport B, C or D gives me grief, I have no options. Not a matter of "unwilling" not a matter of "running late", simply "no options". In that case I am not voluntarily surrendering; you are confiscating.

Or maybe you believe that when a mugger sticks a gun in your face and says, "Give me your wallet or I shoot", he's not robbing you. You voluntarily surrender your wallet because you had other options such as being dead.

I challenge you to pack a carry-on bag full of odd but completely legal items and spend a week flying around the country, and see what it feels like. Until then, stop making excuses for silly rules.

Anonymous said...

ryan62 said:

"Also for our Anon service member who was in uniform on orders etc. Military uniforms are easy to come by, I still have a few sets of old travel orders in my file cabinet, it wouldn't be too difficult to make some changes to fix the dates... and how exactly are the TSOs supposed to know about your clearance? To whom should we exempt from screening? Everyone with a TS? What about people with just a Secret? Where do we draw that line?"

I was travelling on orders in uniform. The orders clearly state who I am and my military ID card is as official an ID as there is. Yet there I and every other member of my unit (155 of us) are taking off our shoes and emptying our pockets. Why?

Ryan62 said...

Jim Huggins with regards to your one size fits all idea. Having a clearance isn't a all or nothing deal with any organization. Should we argue that because a person is exempt from screening at the airport they should be allowed unfettered access to the White House without screening "because the government trusts them?" The idea behind some people do and some people don't also ties back to the security idea of "Need to Know" there is a compelling interest in flight crews and certain employees receiving different screening. There is no compelling need to try and give everyone with a certain clearance a different set of rules.

With regards to Isaac Newton's comments. I find this continued insistence that it is so terribly difficult to get through security a bit absurd. You "challenge" the TSO to pack a bunch of unusual items then fly around the country. My thoughts are if you recognize a number of your items are so unusual and liable to garner attention put them in your checked baggage. As I have mentioned previously I spent several years flying weekly post 9/11 and never had a problem at a checkpoint and never had to abandon an item. Its just not that hard.

RB said...

Isaac_Newton said...
GSOLTSO said: "The rules remain the same, things are voluntarily surrendered -


Or maybe you believe that when a mugger sticks a gun in your face and says, "Give me your wallet or I shoot", he's not robbing you. You voluntarily surrender your wallet because you had other options such as being dead.

May 8, 2009 11:13 AM
............................
I appreciate the gravity of your post!

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Maybe you delete-o-metered my post because I said a plain non-magic 8-ball that said "NO" all the time would be a more effective terrorist detector.

Try working the numbers out for TSA terrorist detection like this example of sensitivity, specificity, false positives, false negatives, positive predictive power, and negative predictive power. 2,000,000 people per day for 2 years without a terrorist is less than 1-in-a billion. There's stories about the positive predictive value of BDOs ( less than 0.1%, much less if you don't count fake IDs and drugs as terrorists) And there's stories about failures to detect red-team bombs that have sensitivities of 20-80% (and that's including guaranteed secondaries due to metal knees)

Maybe you think a less than 20% chance at catching 1-in-a-billion terrorist is worth 12B$ and more than a billion-person hours (1600 life-spans), but it seems like terrorist-repellent rock would be more effective.

Manny said...

Behavior detection is a pretty effective tool. People have a difficult time masking their instinctive responses whenever they are hiding something or fear being found out. Or to put it another way, a person has to have extraordinary self-control and discipline to pull it off. Actors and actresses, who for all intents and purposes could be regarded as "professional liars" because they play a role, might be able to pull it off; however, even they require a brief period of time to "get into the role," and that becomes a vulnerable point for them as well.

The challenge for TSA is to follow a uniform minimum standard of performance when screening passengers and property, and still be able to single out a person with bad intentions from a passenger who may be nervous for a variety of legitimate reasons. I believe a TSO can pick up on the signs of deceptive behavior; the only difference is that a BDO is trained to look for certain specific signs while a TSO may instinctively detect the signs but simply not understand them. Then there are TSOs who are "naturals," but that's a different story. As a Lead TSO, it was not unusual for me to hear from a TSO who had just discovered a prohibited item to say that he "knew" there was something odd about how passenger was behaving but he couldn't exactly put his finger on it.

The reason BDOs frequently detect people smuggling drugs is because these passengers are exhibiting signs of deception above the norm. At that point, the BDO has no idea why the person is being deceptive; the BDO only knows that the person is either attempting to mask his or her behavior or is just unable to control the signs of nervousness. Still, this shows that the behavior detection program does what it's supposed to: identify people exhibiting signs of deception.

Racial profiling is the equivalent of the Maginot Line. May seem satisfactory to some, but in reality would be easily defeated by terrorists and other people who pose a threat to aviation security.

Given all the publicity about TSA screening, it never ceases to amaze me that to this day, we still catch passengers bringing loaded firearms to the checkpoint. Does this make them terrorists? Not at all. However, it does mean that still is a need for a process that prevents dangerous items from being brought onto commercial aircraft.

GSOLTSO said...

Irish sez - "Plain speak: If you want to fly today, you will allow TSA to confiscate and destroy your prohibited item. (It's confiscatory because there is no avenue by which you can reclaim your prohibited item.)"

Ok, plain speak has been given to you. This is another version of plain speak - the items are not permitted, if you bring them into the checkpoint you will be presented options on what you are able to do. Once again, just because you don't like the options does not mean it is double speak. I escort people out of the checkpoint almost everyday to take advantage of the options afforded them. I can't make this any plainer for you the items ARE NOT ALLOWED and you will be presented with OPTIONS THAT YOU ARE ALLOWED to take advantage of. I will not issue you a return slip because we are not a coat check room and do not have storage rooms for you to use, or a group of people at each airport that are dedicated to making certain that your 1/3 full water bottle will be returned to you when you come back from a two week trip to Europe or similiar circumstances. You can argue all you like, but the rules are the same and have not had major changes for quite some time. I have given you plain speech over and over and over and yet you still don't understand that there is a difference between what you say and what I say. You can claim semantics, doublespeak or any other description that you like, but it is plain english there for you to read and you are just not happy with hearing it.

West
EOS Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "West the defense used by many of the convicted was “I was following orders”. This legal defense became known as the “Nuremberg Defense”. The reason it does not hold up is if you do something that you know is wrong or illegal, being ordered to do it by a superior does not abrogate your responsibility. It does not matter what the crime is.
This link should help; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Defense

When you continue to use double speak it would help if you understood what you are talking about."

I understood perfectly what I was talking about. I know that several of the people convicted used the "I was told to" defense and failed - rightly so, they were performing crimes against humanity, not telling you that a prohibited item is not allowed. It is a sily reach and sensationalistic to even try to compare the voluntary surrender of a half full soda to the atrocities that people were tried for in Nuremberg. Once again, I used no doublespeak, I tell you exactly what I mean to say. I was merely pointing out to Ayn that his comparison (as your is) was completely senseless and wrong. There is just no reasonable way to make that link and I think it is sad that either of you tried to make it.

West
EOS Blog Team

Mr. Gel-pack said...

So is it delete-o-meter worthy SSI to point out that your red team uses metal knees to guarantee secondaries and still gets lame 25%-80% bomb detection success rates?

Anonymous said...

I think I have figured out why it is that the TSA has issues with the military, and vice versa. Most of the fine men and women serving in the US Armed Forces understand the concepts of Physical Security, Defense in Depth, and Mission Planning. It is evident that the TSA, for the most part, slept through those classes or decided to skip the lessons learned because they weren't 'invented here'.

The TSA is not the first organization in the world charged with securing airports, but it sure acts like it is.

There's a saying about excuses... everybody's got them.

Manny said...

I guess I haven't figured out just how to post comments on this thing, so at the risk of being repetitive....

Racial profiling is to airport screening what the Maginot Line was to the French defense against Nazi Germany. It is completely untrue, for instance, that a blue-eyed grandmother is given additional screening while four young Middle Eastern men "sail through." Fact of the matter is that the young men were physically able to pass through the walk-through metal detector and, if they successfully divested all metal objects and didn't have anything prohibited in their bags, were permitted into the sterile area because they were successfully screened. Meanwhile, the grandmother was probably in a wheelchair or otherwise physically unable to walk through the metal detector. Instead, she was wheeled to an area where another screening method was used, depending on her physical abilities, limitations and medical needs (such as having a pacemaker or other special need). Passengers in both situations were screened equally; it's just that one had special needs. It would be more upsetting if the elderly woman was forced to pass through the metal detector even if she was physically unable to do so.

The point here is that TSOs cannot afford to presume what a terrorist may look like.

I think the BDO program is effective at detecting deceptive behavior in people. I think the fact that BDOs often detect people attempting to smuggle drugs shows that the program works as far as spotting people who are truly showing signs of suspicious behavior. Would it be equally as effective if there was a terrorist in line trying to smuggle a weapon or bomb? I don't see why it wouldn't.

Jim Huggins said...

Ryan62 writes:

Jim Huggins with regards to your one size fits all idea. Having a clearance isn't an all or nothing deal with any organization. Should we argue that because a person is exempt from screening at the airport they should be allowed unfettered access to the White House without screening "because the government trusts them?"

.

Of course not. But if someone has unfettered access to the White House, I'd certainly trust them to board an aircraft without causing an incident.

Yes, security clearances have levels to them. My point remains that it's inconsistent for TSA to exempt airline and airport employees from screening because they've been "cleared", while people who have greater security clearances must be screened.

Besides, the real paradox is that airline and airport employees still have to be screened if they're not on-duty when they approach the checkpoint (e.g. when flying on vacation). TSA trusts a pilot with extra water when he's flying a plane, but not when he's a passenger? That doesn't make sense to me.

There is a compelling interest in flight crews and certain employees receiving different screening. There is no compelling need to try and give everyone with a certain clearance a different set of rules.Well, my answer would be that everyone who goes through the checkpoint must be screened, regardless of status ... a much simpler and consistent standard. But TSA seems to disagree with me. :)

Irish said...

GSOLTSO said...

"Ok, plain speak has been given to you. This is another version of plain speak - the items are not permitted, if you bring them into the checkpoint you will be presented options on what you are able to do."

Perhaps. Depending on the screener, one may be given "options" or (more commonly) one will simply be presented with the infamous "DYWTFT".


"Once again, just because you don't like the options does not mean it is double speak."

It isn't a question of whether I like the options. It's the fact that your "options" are illusory in a majority of cases. If the "options" are illusory, then it's double speak to even offer them. As someone else pointed out, your "options" presume that the traveler has access to baggage, or that the traveler is accompanied by someone who could take possession of the object, or that the traveler has an accessible vehicle. This will only be the case for the minority of travelers going through a checkpoint at their home airport embarking on the first leg of a journey, and it is all too common (as has also been pointed out) for an object to survive screening at one point and become contraband at the next, virtually at the whim of the screener.


"I escort people out of the checkpoint almost everyday to take advantage of the options afforded them. I can't make this any plainer for you the items ARE NOT ALLOWED and you will be presented with OPTIONS THAT YOU ARE ALLOWED to take advantage of."

That's very sweet of you. However, you don't screen at my home airport. Therefore, your "options" are not realistically available to me if I'm transiting your airport.


"I will not issue you a return slip because we are not a coat check room and do not have storage rooms for you to use, or a group of people at each airport that are dedicated to making certain that your 1/3 full water bottle will be returned to you when you come back from a two week trip to Europe or similiar circumstances. "

Therefore, you are confiscating and (presumably) destroying the item. It doesn't matter WHY TSA is unwilling to allow passengers an avenue to reclaim their items; the bottom line is the bottom line.


"You can argue all you like, but the rules are the same and have not had major changes for quite some time. I have given you plain speech over and over and over and yet you still don't understand that there is a difference between what you say and what I say."

There certainly is a difference. What you want to do is to justify a confiscatory policy by listing all the justifications for confiscating. You list options unavailable to most travelers or lack of facilities, or inconvenience for TSA. Those are justifications (or excuses, take your pick) for the confiscatory action; justifications don't change the nature of the action.


"You can claim semantics, doublespeak or any other description that you like, but it is plain english there for you to read and you are just not happy with hearing it."

You miss the point completely. Probably all that TSA training.

Irish

George said...

@West: " I can't make this any plainer for you the items ARE NOT ALLOWED and you will be presented with OPTIONS THAT YOU ARE ALLOWED to take advantage of.....You can argue all you like, but the rules are the same and have not had major changes for quite some time."

That would be entirely fine if we could know with certainty what items ARE NOT ALLOWED when we get to a checkpoint. tsa.gov (and this blog) provide "guidelines," but the unfortunate reality is that the "guidelines" are (intentionally) incomplete, and TSOs are not bound by them. The "guidelines" even specifically state that TSOs have unlimited discretion to prohibit any item, even if it's specifically listed as permitted. So in practice, the rules are NOT "the same." They can vary at the whim of individual TSOs, apparently with the full blessing of their superiors. And passengers can find themselves in violation of "rules" they can't possibly know about.

I have had two experiences with TSOs who enforced rules that were not in the "guidelines." One of them was the now-infamous "rule" requiring bottles in Freedom Baggies to have official manufacturer's labels. The other was a TSO who decided that my Crystal SOLID deodorant was a "liquid" that he ordered me to "voluntarily abandon" because it wasn't in a Freedom Baggie. And by the way, neither TSO offered me any "options" other than "Do you want to fly today?" in tones that were anything but respectful or courteous.

These incidents were at two different airports. Was I just unlucky to hit two "bad apples"? Or is there some sort of systemic failure in TSO training, in both "the rules" and in passenger relations? Either way, the incidents convinced me that the TSA are just a bunch of arrogant buffoons.

So tell me, West. Just what are the rules? Do bottles in Freedom Baggies have to be in official manufacturer's labeled bottles? And does all deodorant have to be in a Freedom Baggie even when it's a SOLID crystal (as the TSO insisted was the rule)?

More generally, how can we tell whether a "rule" we never heard about actually exists, as opposed to an improperly-trained TSO incorrectly "interpreting" or imposing something he misunderstood or just made up? Passengers don't seem to have much recourse when the rules are secret, and when TSOs can definitively end any argument with "Do you want to fly today?"

Do you still wonder why so many people despise the TSA?

George said...

@Manny: "I think the BDO program is effective at detecting deceptive behavior in people. I think the fact that BDOs often detect people attempting to smuggle drugs shows that the program works as far as spotting people who are truly showing signs of suspicious behavior. Would it be equally as effective if there was a terrorist in line trying to smuggle a weapon or bomb? I don't see why it wouldn't."

Even assuming that BDOs can effectively detect "deceptive behavior," it seems almost certain that they would actually detect an amazingly large number and range of false positives. Many people at airports are involved in "deceptive" things that may or may not be illegal but are no threat to aviation. Besides the drug smugglers, there are Wall Street investment bankers and politicians on their way to an assignation with a mistress, along with more ordinary folks who are nervous for any number of reasons.

If BDOs indeed have preternatural sensitivity to "deceptive behavior," how can they reliably spot a "terrorist" amid all the other "deceptive" behavior? Have they trained with actual "terrorists," to learn to distinguish them from the other types of "deceptive" or "suspicious" people? Or do they just go after every false positive on the assumption that eventually they'll stumble upon a "live one"? The assumption that the proven ability to spot drug smugglers implies an ability to spot "terrorists" is theoretical at best. And it requires a leap of faith that I see no reason to make.

For that matter, I could even propose that terrorists may be distinguishable by their lack of nervousness or "deceptive behavior." Whatever training they undergo that displaces the normal human survival drive may make them more like actors, politicians, or other "professional liars." If that's the case, it's those unusual people who bear the travel experience with unnatural cheer, grace, and calm who have to be worried about a false positive "encounter" with a BDO.

Anonymous said...

West said:
I understood perfectly what I was talking about. I know that several of the people convicted used the "I was told to" defense and failed - rightly so, they were performing crimes against humanity, not telling you that a prohibited item is not allowed. It is a sily reach and sensationalistic to even try to compare the voluntary surrender of a half full soda to the atrocities that people were tried for in Nuremberg.

*****
It is statements like this that seriously make me question your ability to understand the basis of the Nuremberg Defense. The Nuremberg Defense is “I was following orders”, it does not matter what the crime is, if you do something that you know is against the law you are still liable even if you were ordered by a superior to do it. So please get past this mental block about how the Nuremberg Defense only applies to the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. While it may not apply to every soda surrender that does not abrogate the TSA when it uses administrative searches as away to bypass laws protecting citizens. Like the recent situation in St. Louis.

Ayn R. Key said...

West wrote:
Once again, I used no doublespeak, I tell you exactly what I mean to say. I was merely pointing out to Ayn that his comparison (as your is) was completely senseless and wrong.
No, it clearly isn't wrong. The issue is "violation of rights" and saying it is ok because you were "just following orders". You are trying to confuse everyone by saying the scale is different but the scale isn't a factor at all. It doesn't matter what the scale is. All that matters is that you are violating peoples rights and excusing it because you were ordered to do so.

THAT is plain speak. Any mention of how "just following orders" isn't the Nuremberg defense on the grounds that the scale is different IS doublespeak.

The link is "doing something wrong" and "just following orders". You have already made the link for us. It doesn't matter what the "doing something wrong" is. It simply doesn't. All that matters is that it is something wrong. It can be big or small, it just has to be wrong.

The link is made, deny it with doublespeak all you want. You are excusing the crimes of the TSA on the grounds that people are "just following orders."

Anonymous said...

Dunstan,

You replied to a post by "sunny".

Do you realize that sunny is one of 5 posts in this thread that is gaming this blog? (A new record I beleive.)

There are 5 posts where the author's handles are commerical links.

This drives their sites up in the search engines.

The links that the moderators have allowed in will especially benefit the ratings of the security sites that they link to as they now have links from the TSA pointing to their sites.

TSORon said...

Another Anonymous poster said:
[i]I think I have figured out why it is that the TSA has issues with the military, and vice versa. Most of the fine men and women serving in the US Armed Forces understand the concepts of Physical Security, Defense in Depth, and Mission Planning.

There's a saying about excuses... everybody's got them.[/i]

You miss the point that the majority of those who serve in the TSA have also served in the US Military. We fully understand all of the concepts you say that we don’t, we just have a more accurate and indepth understanding than many of those like yourself who dislike what TSA is charged with doing.

But your right about the excuses thing, [b]everyone[/b] has one. Some even make sense.

Anonymous said...

"What does a terrorist look like?"

A terrorist looks like an airport employee. A terrorist looks like a flight crew. A terrorist looks like a TSA employee. The rules should apply to anyone and everyone entering the secure zone.

George said...

@Irish: [I]t is all too common (as has also been pointed out) for an object to survive screening at one point and become contraband at the next, virtually at the whim of the screener
.
It's not "virtually" at the whim of the screener. It is at the whim of the screener. This inconsistency is one of the TSA's most obvious failings. It's inevitable when TSOs with inconsistent and/or inadequate training are given unlimited discretion to implement and "interpret" rules that are secret and intentionally vague. It's also a failing of a TSA culture that encourages TSOs to act capriciously, or at least fails to take any action against TSOs who do act arbitrarily or even improperly. It's the fertilizer that helps "bad apples" grow into large thorny trees.

The inconsistency is highly visible (and highly frustrating) to anyone who does any significant amount of travel. If you spend even a few minutes thinking about it, the inevitable conclusion is that so much inconsistency doesn't just cause needless frustration, but can only impair whatever effectiveness airport screening provides.

Kip apparently recognized this embarrassing deficiency, and addressed it in the typical TSA fashion. He re-branded the inconsistency as "unpredictability," and declared it a "Security Strategy" that enables the TSA to always keep one step ahead of terrorists. So when a TSO declares as contraband an item we have carried through a dozen checkpoints without incident, we should be grateful rather than upset. We're not seeing an inept TSO or a failed system. It's just the TSA's "unpredictability" at work keeping us safe, part of a carefully-coordinated system of layers upon layers that adds up to highly effective protection!

I think I understand why it's taking so long to appoint Kip's successor. It's very difficult to find someone so supremely gifted at spinning obvious deficiencies into "Security Strategy."

GSOLTSO said...

Irish sez - "Perhaps. Depending on the screener, one may be given "options" or (more commonly) one will simply be presented with the infamous "DYWTFT"."

The options are supposed to be offered every time an item of question is found. If something else occurs (IF the item is not a gun, IED or something deemed of a similiar nature) then you need to speak to a supervisor or file a complaint. DYWTFT is not something we are supposed to be using, I have never used it and will not sanction someone using it while I am on the checkpoint. We recently underwent Engage training nationwide and this was one of the big things that the training was supposed to address - the attitude and use of phrases like this are more inflamatory than helpful and it is not supposed to happen.

"It isn't a question of whether I like the options. It's the fact that your "options" are illusory in a majority of cases. If the "options" are illusory, then it's double speak to even offer them"

It is not illusory, the options are available to you at all airports, the fact that you for whatever reason fail to take advantage of them are of your own reasoning.

"This will only be the case for the minority of travelers going through a checkpoint at their home airport embarking on the first leg of a journey, and it is all too common (as has also been pointed out) for an object to survive screening at one point and become contraband at the next, virtually at the whim of the screener."

I have posted ad nauseum about the fact that I hate the inconsistencies in the screening process. If an item is of the right size, in the baggie and not something that is specifically prohibited - IMHO it should be allowed to go through ALL checkpoints. I have posted this several times and will continue to post that, I am a dedicated "All or nothing" fan when it comes to the LAG ban, it would make things easier on the passengers, the TSO's and all people that come through the checkpoint. I agree that the inconsistencies are a negative result of the discretionary rules.

"Therefore, you are confiscating and (presumably) destroying the item. It doesn't matter WHY TSA is unwilling to allow passengers an avenue to reclaim their items; the bottom line is the bottom line."

Once again, the options are supposed to be afforded to you at all checkpoints, if they are not speak to a supervisor. If you are unable to take advantage of the options, then you voluntarily surrender that item. It is the same sort of rule that applies at any military installation, if you enter the installation, you are subject to search at any time, and the presiding authority has the right to deem items as a threat of that it is not allowed, no exceptions. The same types of rules are in effect at a checkpoint, once you cross into the checkpoint area you are subject to screening at any time (gate screening, the entry process) and the presiding authority has the right to designate what is able to be allowed and what is not.
TSA is not a storage company, nor are they going to make exceptions to that for individuals. If an item is surrendered for whatever reason, it will be disposed of according to the refulations of the presiding authority. I could give you the details, but they are fairly mundane.

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said
I was merely pointing out to Ayn that his comparison (as your is) was completely senseless and wrong. There is just no reasonable way to make that link and I think it is sad that either of you tried to make it.
********
There is a very reasonable link between current TSA policy and “I was following orders”, the incident in St. Louis. According to a TSA policy memo large sums of money are to be considered contraband, contraband is defined as;
1.Illegal or prohibited traffic in goods
2.Goods or merchandise whose importation, exportation, or possession is forbidden

Because of this memo a passenger was detained, interrogated, and threatened with arrest because he would not explain why he had a large sum of money with him. There is no law prohibiting American citizens from traveling with or possessing a large sum of money. Nor is their one requiring them to explain why they have it, the only exception is if they are traveling outside of the United States and they have to declare it to customs not the TSA. The memo does not state that what law they is applicable, instead it is an internal administrative decision.

The TSA has created a policy that appears as if traveling with a large sum of money is illegal. Any TSO or member of law enforcement who detains and interrogates a passenger with the knowledge that there is no law against traveling with a large sum of money is using the Nuremberg Defense. Because they were following the orders of their superiors via a policy memo.

Dunstan said...

George said...

@Dunstan: "Some friends recently went online to TSA.gov, read up on the 3-1-1 rules, ordered 3oz bottles, baggie and labels on the internet, and set off on a trip. They were fine outbound, on the return were told they "didn't have the original product labels and the original TSO was wrong to let them through". TSA won't hear from my friends, I agreed, TSA can't get its own employees to follow its own rules."

"Your friends took the trouble to study and understand the published rules, ordered the appropriate materials, and did everything they could to comply with TSA requirements as they understood them. But the TSO on the return flight nonetheless found them in violation of a rule requiring original product labels on the bottles. That rule wasn't anywhere on TSA.gov. It wasn't published anywhere else that your friends could have seen. But it was in effect at that checkpoint, at that moment, for that TSO. After the TSO courteously and respectfully informed your friends of the wide range of available options for correcting the violation, they freely chose to voluntarily abandon their bottles before proceeding merrily on their way."

Yes, George, my friends read the website, and tried their best to be in compliance with the 3-1-1 rules.

I was recently in a local high-end shop that sells creams, lotions and cosmetics, so I posed a question about the sales of less than 100 ml sizes and baggie/bottle kits. Not a big item, according to the owner, people are not buying travel sides bottles, just the larger sizes, and presumably filling travel bottles that are hopefully acceptable by all TSOs.


"Please correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I assume that as a result of this experience your friends have now joined the growing ranks of travelers who despise the TSA. Or at the very least they have now acquired a negative opinion of the TSA that will be difficult to change."

I didn't get that impression- applied stupidity maybe, TSA as a whole probably not. They were homeward bound and didn't bother to talk to a supervisor. We know where that goes, anyway, a needless exercise in frustration and lamely worded form letters.

Dunstan said...

" TSOWilliamReed said...

Sorry needed to add an edit to my last comment. The proper acronym for that government SSI is U//FUOU
which means

Unclassified//for official use only

Thank you"

Sort of the stuff too embarrassing to let the public in on? Really, the TSA PR department's trumpets would be blaring if you even got the dirty socks of one proven terrorist. Bob would probably rush right out of a conference with a swagger to give us the news.

Anonymous said...

PHIL:

TSA.GOV has a prohibited items link

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

It even breaks it down to what can and can't be carried in your carry-on and checked bag. Go figure.

Trollkiller said...

Manny said...

Behavior detection is a pretty effective tool. People have a difficult time masking their instinctive responses whenever they are hiding something or fear being found out. Or to put it another way, a person has to have extraordinary self-control and discipline to pull it off. Actors and actresses, who for all intents and purposes could be regarded as "professional liars" because they play a role, might be able to pull it off; however, even they require a brief period of time to "get into the role," and that becomes a vulnerable point for them as well.


Sorry the numbers do not bear out your assertions. A 99.21% failure rate by BDOs indicates the methods being used are very flawed and based on junk science.

I know someone out there will be desperate to defend the BDO program enough to complain that the less than 1% arrest rate is based on everyone the BDOs feels obligated to engage.

91.56% of the people that the BDOs felt were nefarious enough to involve law enforcement were NOT arrested.

Let's review, BDOs had a 99.21% overall failure rate and a 91.56% failure rate on LEO referrals.

You would have better luck using "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe".

Note to BDOs: I do not blame you for the failures. The TSA gave you a rifle with a bent barrel and busted sights and told you it was the best one on the market.

Anonymous said...

For the umpteenth time: are we or are we not allowed to refer to the publicly-posted, widely-known educational requirements for TSOs?

Anonymous said...

Ok, no answer, so I'll ask again: How much has TSO spent on BDO training? How many hours of training are required to become a BDO? Is the science behind the BDO program peer-reviewed?

None of these questions should be difficult to answer.

Anonymous said...

When I was active duty military, travelling in uniform on orders, I had a TS/SCI clearance (probably knew more about terrorists than TSA too) and they still ran me thru all the crap. Take off the combat boots, empty the pockets, etc.
***********************************
They made you take off your shoes?! Oh, the inhumanity!! Grow up.

Anonymous said...

West the defense used by many of the convicted was “I was following orders”. This legal defense became known as the “Nuremberg Defense”. The reason it does not hold up is if you do something that you know is wrong or illegal, being ordered to do it by a superior does not abrogate your responsibility. It does not matter what the crime is.
This link should help; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Defense

When you continue to use double speak it would help if you understood what you are talking about.
***********************************

Ayn R. Key....it would also help if you knew what you were talking about. Unlike the Nazis, TSOs are not complying with illegal or criminal acts. The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states the defendant was "only following orders" and is therefore not responsible for his CRIMES. TSOs are not blindly following orders resulting in criminal acts (though some of you think having to remove your shoes constitutes one). Whether or not you or others think what TSA does is wrong is purely subjective. You're entitled to your opinion, but saying TSOs are using the Nuremberg Defense is melodramatic foolishness.

Anonymous said...

"They made you take off your shoes?! Oh, the inhumanity!"

Stupidity more than inhumanity, since shoes are not a threat to air travel.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"They made you take off your shoes?! Oh, the inhumanity!! Grow up."

I am a grownup. I have a TS/SCI clearance - which is more than the TSA guys running the checkpoint have - and wasting time and resources on me and others like me is stupid.

Why is it the DoD can trust me to protect PL1 resources, carry a weapon and keep secrets but the TSA has to see me take off my shoes?

Something is not right with that picture.

RB said...

Anonymous said...


Ayn R. Key....it would also help if you knew what you were talking about. Unlike the Nazis, TSOs are not complying with illegal or criminal acts. The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states the defendant was "only following orders" and is therefore not responsible for his CRIMES. TSOs are not blindly following orders resulting in criminal acts (though some of you think having to remove your shoes constitutes one). Whether or not you or others think what TSA does is wrong is purely subjective. You're entitled to your opinion, but saying TSOs are using the Nuremberg Defense is melodramatic foolishness.

May 12, 2009 3:24 PM


.......................

If your average TSO doesn't understand that subjecting a child to a TSA "Strip Search" machine is wrong then I feel the Nuremberg Defense may well be attempted again.

What other defense will your attorney offer?

It will not work this time either.

RB said...

TSA is not a storage company, nor are they going to make exceptions to that for individuals. If an item is surrendered for whatever reason, it will be disposed of according to the refulations of the presiding authority. I could give you the details, but they are fairly mundane.

West
EOS Blog Team

May 11, 2009 12:03 PM
..............................
TSA stores "confiscated" items long enough for a re-seller to take custody of these items.

Why can't TSA make a reasonable effort to allow a person to reclaim their property if the other means of "confiscation" are not viable?

What TSA is doing now is a buch of hogwash!

TSORon said...

Another Anonymous Poster said:
“Because of this memo a passenger was detained, interrogated, and threatened with arrest because he would not explain why he had a large sum of money with him. There is no law prohibiting American citizens from traveling with or possessing a large sum of money.”

And none of this was at the direction of the TSA or its officers. In cases of this type we hand the issue over to a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) to deal with. The only issue that should be directed to the TSA is that the TSO in question used inappropriate language with the passenger. That’s all, fini. The detainment, threats of arrest, and interrogation were done by the LEO’s, not the TSO.

Another Anonymous Poster continued with:
“The TSA has created a policy that appears as if traveling with a large sum of money is illegal.”

Wrong. The policy says that large amounts of cash are contraband, not illegal. Read the definition you posted again, then apply it correctly please.

And Another Anonymous Poster finished with:
“Any TSO or member of law enforcement who detains and interrogates a passenger with the knowledge that there is no law against traveling with a large sum of money is using the Nuremberg Defense. Because they were following the orders of their superiors via a policy memo.”

Wrong again. TSA does not give direction to Law Enforcement. They have their own rules and laws to enforce, the two are separate agencies. TSO’s who refer large amounts of cash to LEO’s are doing their job. Not investigating, not detaining, not interrogating. Referring to Law Enforcement, just as their directives instruct. Those directives fully comply with the laws of our nation and the rulings of the courts.

Anonymous said...

The guys in charge of security for the airports in Israel put it best: The three most effective things in security are: profiling, profiling, and profiling. One said, "If you're spending an equal amount of energy on every person, you're wasting most of your energy."

Anonymous said...

Ok, no answer, so I'll ask again: How much has TSO spent on BDO training? How many hours of training are required to become a BDO? Is the science behind the BDO program peer-reviewed?

None of these questions should be difficult to answer.
___________________________________

I will tell you why this has not been answered. Because this is no ones business! Why would you think that it is your business to know how much is spent on BDO training. And don't say because you pay taxes. Until you are putting your money straight into TSA's hands and they are telling you that you are the sole funder of the BDO program, it is none of your business!

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...
Sorry the numbers do not bear out your assertions. A 99.21% failure rate by BDOs indicates the methods being used are very flawed and based on junk science.
___________________________________

Nice that you put the link in your post, but what does that prove. Those satitstics are not coming out of the mouth of TSA reps. They are coming from reporters from the news (USA Today). One sentence says, "Critics say the program is flawed". So who are these critics. Do they work for TSA? Probably not. So how much do they really know?! How many of these facts would they bet their lives on!? I bet not many. The news just needs something to report on and they need to make it sound interesting.
This coming from someone who NEVER watches the news. I don't believe a thing that comes out of news. There for I am not interested.
There is a chart in the link you provided. It shows how many people have been questioned by TSA, how many have been questioned by the police and how many arrests were actually made. Now why would anyone outside of TSA have access to this information. No one does. At the bottom of the chart it says, "By Julie Snider, USA Today". Wow good job Julie, you made a chart of information that has no relevence because you couldn't actually know the real numbers. Now if it said that the chart was constructed by a TSA rep than yes it may be believable. Don't believe everything that you hear.

GSOLTSO said...

Clark sez - "Hitler applied prejudice, hate, persecution etc. to the Jewish People just as the tsa is applying to airline passengers. I wasn't comparing application of the rules I was comparing the rules themselves and the way they're applied, to Hitlerism. The tsa is becoming dangerously close to what Hitler implemented in Germany."

You are implying that the equal treatment of each person that comes through the checkpoint is the same thing that Hitler did - you are truly a lost soul. You submit to the screening - you voluntarily enter the screening area and submit yourself to be screened and your items. There are posted rules identifying that 3.4 oz or less are permissible, that shoes have to be removed, and that certain items are prohibited, certain items are to be removed from the bag and run through separately. If you follow these rules then if we have an equal application of the posted rules you should have no problem. I understand that there are situations where things may be deemed as a possible threat and need further checking and clearance. If you have a prohibited item, it will not be allowed through the checkpoint and unless it is a serious prohib you will be presented options that you can take advantage of (whether you take advantage of them or not for whatever reason, they are afforded to you). There is a set of rules (and I am working on the comprehensive listing and link consolidation, but it is a time consuming task - on my own time now!) and if they are followed, there is less friction. Detail which rights you think are being violated and I will address each one on its merits and post back to you.

West
EOS Blog Team

Clark said...

Ayn R. Key....it would also help if you knew what you were talking about. Unlike the Nazis, TSOs are not complying with illegal or criminal acts. The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states the defendant was "only following orders" and is therefore not responsible for his CRIMES. TSOs are not blindly following orders resulting in criminal acts (though some of you think having to remove your shoes constitutes one). Whether or not you or others think what TSA does is wrong is purely subjective. You're entitled to your opinion, but saying TSOs are using the Nuremberg Defense is melodramatic foolishness.If Germany had won, the actions wouldn't have been illegal. Perhaps at some time they would have had to answer for their actions just like tsa, bush, cheney etc. will.

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous,

I do know what I'm talking about when I accuse the TSA of invoking the Nuremberg defense. What those accused then, who pleaded "I was only following orders", what they did was legal too because the law can be written any way. What they were charged with was "in spite of the law what you did was wrong." The Nazis were obeying the law when the committed the acts under which they were tried. People forget that too easily. What they did was not just legal but mandatory according to the law.

Some of what the TSA does is illegal. Some of it is legal but still wrong. Violating peoples rights, whether by law or against the law is wrong. If done by law then we have a case where the TSA is either disobeying orders or invoking the Nuremberg defense.

Your response is really interesting, and I wouldn't be surprised if you regularly comment with a name but when anonymous to reply this time. That is because the words "Nuremberg defense" are despised by all who care more about government than about people. That phrase reminds people that at one time even the United States government recognized a standard above simply legal positivism. Just because the law says one thing doesn't make it right.

The whole principle of the TSA is a combination of legal positivism and might makes right. By even daring to think "Nuremberg defense" and "TSA" at the same time people undermine the very premise of the TSA. It says that government officials are not entitled to violate the rights of others simply because they have an office and a title. That runs counter to everything that the TSA stands for. An office and a title does not absolve you.

As I wrote to West, it doesn't matter whether the crime is big or small. He tried to confuse the issue by saying that the situation is not comparable because the crimes of the Nazis were big while the crimes of the TSA are small. But the Nuremberg defense doesn't care about the size of the crime but only that title, office, and orders do not absolve a person of guilt.

Title, office, and orders do not absolve a person of guilt. The TSA would do well to remember that.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Anonymous said...

PHIL:

TSA.GOV has a prohibited items link

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

It even breaks it down to what can and can't be carried in your carry-on and checked bag. Go figure.

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

The list you point at is incomplete and unreliable, since the TSOs can make up rules and enforce non-rules at will. Would printing out that list guarantee that I could keep a frozen gel pack with 13 oz of my wife's breast milk? Can you point me to anything that would guarantee my wife could carry 30+ partially-filled 5oz bags of frozen breast milk?

(Keep on fighting the good fight, Phil.)

Anonymous said...

Everyone criticizes the BDO program because they haven't flushed any terrorists out. Well, it's not like there are thousands of terrorists coming through airports everyday. So no the program doesn't have a history of stopping terrorists because there won't be many to stop. But on that day when that 1 person out of 10 million want to do harm, I would rather have someone there to at least attempt to catch them. Also, maybe if they know we are there looking for them, they might think twice about even entering the building. Big picture people.

Anonymous said...

West: "We recently underwent Engage training nationwide and this was one of the big things that the training was supposed to address - the attitude and use of phrases like this are more inflamatory than helpful and it is not supposed to happen."

Are TSOs held accountable for the behaviors taught in the Engage training? Does TSO performance evaluation criteria include proper interaction with passengers? Do TSOs face disciplinary action for DYWTFT and other "inflammatory" behavior that "is not supposed to happen"?

Having worked in several large bureaucratic organizations, I'm quite familiar with the mandatory training employees periodically receive on things like "ethics" and "sexual harassment." The sole purpose of this training is to allow executives to truthfully claim they're complying with regulations or doing something about potentially embarrassing problems. The attendance sheets prove compliance to any auditor who's interested. But once the training is over and all the boxes are checked, it's all forgotten until the next training cycle.

The TSA is a large bureaucratic organization that has severe public relations problems, and has earned the animosity of many travelers. So it's not surprising that they'd address the problems with mandatory training. They can put high compliance figures on the classified powerpoint slides and claim "Mission Accomplished." But unless the TSA also consistently makes TSOs personally accountable for their behavior across the board, the training will be utterly worthless.

Things that are "not supposed to happen" occur regularly at TSA checkpoints. And the TSOs who do those things get away with it and suffer no consequences. That's almost inevitable when the rules are secret, and when most passengers thus have no way of knowing that what just happened to them was "not supposed to happen." The secrecy and lack of accountability are institutional failings that are the root cause of many problems. Check-the-box mandatory training won't solve it.

Ryan62 said...

To Anon who commented:

"I was travelling on orders in uniform. The orders clearly state who I am and my military ID card is as official an ID as there is. Yet there I and every other member of my unit (155 of us) are taking off our shoes and emptying our pockets. Why?"

Because you have shown no cause why someone in the military should receive special treatment in this regards. Speaking as a veteran, I can't see why you think you are entitled to anything above and beyond the general public. As was mentioned elsewhere, service members have committed crimes, people with clearances have done horrible things in the past. A uniform (as I mentioned before easy to get) orders (easy to forge) and a military ID card (go to some of the posts and listen to how the critics here scream about TDC being a waste because of the easy of getting various fake IDs) don't prove anything.
The bottom line is you announce a new policy that little old ladies in wheelchairs, small childre, military in uniform, whatever are exempt from something and people will find a way to exploit it.

Irish said...

GSOLTSO said...

"The options are supposed to be offered every time an item of question is found. If something else occurs (IF the item is not a gun, IED or something deemed of a similiar nature) then you need to speak to a supervisor or file a complaint. DYWTFT is not something we are supposed to be using,"

The gap between what should happen and what does happen appears to be fairly wide. I think this is one of the major problems flyers have with TSA -- regardless how one tries to comply with the standards, every trip is a crap shoot.


"It is not illusory, the options are available to you at all airports, the fact that you for whatever reason fail to take advantage of them are of your own reasoning."

If I'm transiting any large airport, I cannot access my luggage, however willing I may be to do so. Nor would I have friends or relatives there to see me off to whom I could pass my item, nor would I have a vehicle in which I could stow the item. That's what makes your "options" illusory -- they're functionally unavailable. You may as well offer to have Tinkerbell deliver my item to my destination. An "option" that doesn't exist is not an option at all; it's the illusion of an option.


"I have posted ad nauseum about the fact that I hate the inconsistencies in the screening process. If an item is of the right size, in the baggie and not something that is specifically prohibited - IMHO it should be allowed to go through ALL checkpoints. I have posted this several times and will continue to post that, I am a dedicated "All or nothing" fan when it comes to the LAG ban, it would make things easier on the passengers, the TSO's and all people that come through the checkpoint. I agree that the inconsistencies are a negative result of the discretionary rules."

Upon this point, we couldn't agree more.


"If you are unable to take advantage of the options, then you voluntarily surrender that item."

Be realistic, West. If Tinkerbell isn't available, then the options are an illusion. The only options available in the Real World are "fly or don't fly". For probably 99% of travelers, "don't fly" is not a realistic option. We're at the airport for a reason. It may soothe your conscience (and, more importantly, give TSA some legal cover) to call it a "voluntary surrender". But if it's realistically the only option, then it's functionally a confiscation.


"TSA is not a storage company, nor are they going to make exceptions to that for individuals. If an item is surrendered for whatever reason, it will be disposed of according to the refulations of the presiding authority. I could give you the details, but they are fairly mundane."

It is the very lack of an avenue to reclaim the item that makes the action functionally confiscatory, by definition. That's the operation of the Real World, for ya. Doesn't matter why I can't get it back. If I can't get it back it's been confiscated. (That is btw, West, the flip side of your "options" argument. Reality bites.)

Irish

Anonymous said...

Okay guys, while this sounds like snark on the part of TSA, it really isn't. If you come through the checkpoint and ask me if you look like a terrorist, I'm more likely to take a second look at you with more intent than the first time. My job is security, and that means that I have to do everything I can to make sure that NO ONE getting on that plane has bad intentions. So if you pose this question to me, not only will I answer the same way Bob did, but I will likely spend a little more time with you in additional screening. Call it retaliation if you will, but if you have bad intentions, and I determine you may be a threat to the plane, you will not be going anywehere for a little while.

Anonymous said...

"Why would you think that it is your business to know how much is spent on BDO training. And don't say because you pay taxes."

Guess what? The answer is, in fact, because we pay taxes. Sorry that upsets you so much, but the facts are the facts. Deal with it.

George said...

Anonymous, May 14, 2009 3:00 PM: "So no the program doesn't have a history of stopping terrorists because there won't be many to stop. But on that day when that 1 person out of 10 million want to do harm, I would rather have someone there to at least attempt to catch them. Also, maybe if they know we are there looking for them, they might think twice about even entering the building. Big picture people."

What gives you any reason to believe that BDOs will be able to spot and catch that terrorist, should one ever happen to turn up at an airport? They have proven success at catching drug smugglers, but why does that give any reason to believe that translates into effectiveness in catching terrorists? We can only hope there isn't also a drug smuggler in the terminal on that day when a terrorist turns up. The BDOs would likely home in on the drug smuggler and ignore the terrorist!

Your expressed an understandable desire to "have someone there to at least attempt to catch them." But that's the very definition of Security Theater. Having someone there Doing Something (and demonstrating their effectiveness by regularly bringing a quota of drug smugglers to justice) feels better than doing nothing, even if there's no evidence that it's effective. Yes, there's a possibility that if they "talk to" enough people they might one day stumble upon a terrorist. But is that actually worth what it's costing us in dollars, and in innocent people needlessly subjected to a stressful encounter with the TSA? That's the "big picture."

Regarding the observation of Anonymous, May 13, 2009 4:59 PM, questioning the validity of numbers in Trollkiller's USA Today article, that's a good question. I would expect that TSA statistics about BDO performance would be classified or SSI, if only to protect the agency from any fact-based challenges to its effectiveness. So where do the numbers come from? What facts can the TSA officially offer to refute them? Or will they follow their usual approach of ignoring or spinning away any adverse information and telling us to just trust them? And what does "truth" really mean in connection with the TSA?

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

Because of this memo a passenger was detained, interrogated, and threatened with arrest because he would not explain why he had a large sum of money with him.

TSORon replied:

And none of this was at the direction of the TSA or its officers. In cases of this type we hand the issue over to a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) to deal with. The only issue that should be directed to the TSA is that the TSO in question used inappropriate language with the passenger. That’s all, fini. The detainment, threats of arrest, and interrogation were done by the LEO’s, not the TSO.

Except that:

(a) The LEO couldn't have done anything unless the TSO had called him over. The TSO didn't have cause; the amount of money he was holding didn't pass the $10K limit described in TSA's SOP.

(b) I'm not a lawyer, but I'll quibble about whether or not the TSO was "detaining" the passenger before the LEO arrived. Escorting the passenger into a private screening area and telling them to wait for a LEO to come and ask questions is awfully close to "detainment" ...

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "As I wrote to West, it doesn't matter whether the crime is big or small. He tried to confuse the issue by saying that the situation is not comparable because the crimes of the Nazis were big while the crimes of the TSA are small. But the Nuremberg defense doesn't care about the size of the crime but only that title, office, and orders do not absolve a person of guilt."

I did nothing of the sort. The rules are there, placed into effect by the sitting government (and maintained under the current adminstration). By entering the checkpoint area, you submit (of your own free will) to the screening standards posted - to paraphrase "all persons and property entering this area will be screened based on the SOP". You can argue (wrongly) that you have the right to fly - you do not, you have a right to enter into a contract with the carrier and purchase a ticket from said carrier. You have the right to purchase an aircraft and operate said aircraft IF you complete all of the mandated licensing and regulatory demands. IF you purchase a ticket from an air carrier, you are then required to process through the checkpoint area that is controlled by the federal government at this point (whether that is a good or bad thing is a subjective issue that is irrelevant, it is the situation as of now). The rules for screening (passenger and baggage)are outlined, issued and maintained by the federal government through the TSA and the rules are mandated by Congress (the minutiae of the regulations and SOP are done by the members of the organization under congressional oversight). You are making a comparison that is completely ridiculous and I will not even respond to it. I understand that you are frustrated and angry over perceived rights violations, but the fact is you voluntarily submit to the screening process - there is no question of that - when you enter, YOU chose to enter regardless of the rules or your own desires or needs. I agree 100% that the inconsistencies are a pain, for the flying public and also for the TSOs. As much of a pain as those inconsistencies are, they are done within the framework of the rules and regs posted by the organization (and therefore under the eye of the Congress), and if they are serious enough to you, I encourage you to petition your governmental representatives. When I have had issues with the laws in my life, I petition the govenrment the correct way, present my case and work towards an equitable resolution. I also understand that I am not always going to get what I want.

West
EOS Blog Team

P.S. I do not post here under anything other than what this is posted under, so if you find someone else making the same arguments, it means that someone else feels similiar to the way I do.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Are TSOs held accountable for the behaviors taught in the Engage training? Does TSO performance evaluation criteria include proper interaction with passengers? Do TSOs face disciplinary action for DYWTFT and other "inflammatory" behavior that "is not supposed to happen"?"

I can tell you that professionalism and customer service are considered part of the review process. I can not tell you that anyone has ever faced disciplinary action for that particular phrase, but there are TSOs that have been disciplined for "conduct unbecoming" in situation where they were interacting with passengers and were unprofessional in some way. I personally speak to people that work with me when they are being unprofessional or rude (just ask some of them) and if it becomes a recurring problem I forward it to the supervisor.

West
EOS Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Irish sez - "The gap between what should happen and what does happen appears to be fairly wide. I think this is one of the major problems flyers have with TSA -- regardless how one tries to comply with the standards, every trip is a crap shoot."

Agreed, I hate the inconsistencies and will continue to post that.

"If I'm transiting any large airport, I cannot access my luggage, however willing I may be to do so. Nor would I have friends or relatives there to see me off to whom I could pass my item, nor would I have a vehicle in which I could stow the item. That's what makes your "options" illusory -- they're functionally unavailable. You may as well offer to have Tinkerbell deliver my item to my destination. An "option" that doesn't exist is not an option at all; it's the illusion of an option."

The options are still available, once again if you are unable to take advantage of them, the rules are not going to change for you. Tink is off this month, mebbe she can help us next month.

"Upon this point, we couldn't agree more."

Amen!

"Be realistic, West. If Tinkerbell isn't available, then the options are an illusion. The only options available in the Real World are "fly or don't fly". For probably 99% of travelers, "don't fly" is not a realistic option. We're at the airport for a reason. It may soothe your conscience (and, more importantly, give TSA some legal cover) to call it a "voluntary surrender". But if it's realistically the only option, then it's functionally a confiscation."

Realism is a relative term, your reality is different from say RB's, or TSORons. I wish I could offer you a more relative explanation that would make us see eye to eye on this particular issue, but it just ain't gonna happen. At this point, the rules are designed with the inconsistencies built it and that is madly frustrating for most parties involved, however, they are the rules as of now. I lobby for more consistency to everyone that will listen (to the point that MOST people have stopped listening to me). I truly understand what you are saying, but I do not necessarily agree with your point of view. I think that even with the posted rules, and incorporated inconsitencies, most people get through with a minimum of hassle or time (depending on the airport! LAX can be murder to get through sometimes). It may be a functional confiscation to you, but in the eyes of the law, it is a voluntary abandonment. You can call that a fine line, obfuscatory statement if you like, but according to the rules it is a voluntary relinquish.

"(That is btw, West, the flip side of your "options" argument. Reality bites.)"

Awwww, you hurt my wittle feelings... No really, it is an almost identical situation, the wording is similiar and the rules are similiar. If you think that bites, more power to you.

West
EOS Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "TSA stores "confiscated" items long enough for a re-seller to take custody of these items.

Why can't TSA make a reasonable effort to allow a person to reclaim their property if the other means of "confiscation" are not viable?

What TSA is doing now is a buch of hogwash!"

I can't comment on the process once the confiscated items leave the checkpoint because I have no experience with those procedures. I do know that hazmat is processed to a third party disposal crew, but I have to say I am sadly ignorant of the process once it leaves my possession.

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... Everyone criticizes the BDO program because they haven't flushed any terrorists out. Well, it's not like there are thousands of terrorists coming through airports everyday. So no the program doesn't have a history of stopping terrorists because there won't be many to stop. But on that day when that 1 person out of 10 million want to do harm, I would rather have someone there to at least attempt to catch them. Also, maybe if they know we are there looking for them, they might think twice about even entering the building. Big picture people.This organization was put in place as a knee jerk reaction to 9/11. We have forced ever expanding intrusions, at huge costs, onto one industry.

Big picture -- similar or worse carnage could have and has been done by vehicles driving on public streets carrying explosives here and elsewhere in the world. Carnage could occur in a shopping mall, park, or at a parade. Yet for some reason, we would never tolerate these behaviors by a government organization before we entered a grocery store, or theater, or rented a Ryder truck.

This is pure and simple, a case of "not on my watch, at any cost."

There is not a cost/risk/benefit analysis that can justify what is being done here.

If there was, we'd have restrictions like a 15mph national speed limit, because of the "look at all the lives we'd save" type of mantras.

Why didn't Oklahoma City have the same impact on how we drive a car?

Ayn R. Key said...

So now, West, having been routed on "those were big these are small" as an attempted refutation of your use of the Nuremberg defense, you are falling back on "what we do is legal, the law says so."

But as I pointed out, the law can be written to say anything and that does not invalidate my calling you on the Nuremberg defense. Part of what the accused at Nuremberg tried to plead was that what they did was legal, it was authorized by law, it was in fact mandated by law. And the prosecution in the Nuremberg trials said that the law was wrong and any reasonable person would have known that what the law required was wrong.

That also applies to the TSA. The law that you are using as your shield to say you do no wrong, that law is wrong. Yes, your crimes are legal. That doesn't mean that they aren't crimes.

Ponter said...

@West "At this point, the rules are designed with the inconsistencies built it and that is madly frustrating for most parties involved, however, they are the rules as of now. I lobby for more consistency to everyone that will listen (to the point that MOST people have stopped listening to me)."

I'm very surprised that you'd say that. I think you have a serious gap in your training.

Kip has publicly stated that what the public sometimes perceives as "inconsistency" is in fact a Security Strategy of Unpredictability. By making the screening experience unpredictable, the TSA wields a powerful weapon to keep the terrorist enemy continually off balance and to stay one step ahead of any plotters. If the TSA enforced consistent rules, the terrorist enemy could easily learn to circumvent them. Building Unpredictability into the screening procedures greatly complicates the terrorist's job, and provides a layer of highly effective protection. The fact that it's "madly frustrating for most parties involved" means that it's especially frustrating for those who intend to do harm to America. I think we'd all agree that's a very good thing.

Unpredictability is merely one of the many layers of the TSA's Security Strategy that work together in powerful synergy to give the traveling public highly effective protection from a serious threat. Rather than being frustrated and questioning the competence of the TSA, passengers should recognize the Unpredictability as an important element of protecting aviation. They should gratefully and accept the small risk of unexpectedly having to abandon their property as a small price to pay for keeping the homeland safe, secure, and free.

The people you "lobby" are right to ignore your desire to undermine a vital element of the TSA's Security Strategy.

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "So now, West, having been routed on "those were big these are small" as an attempted refutation of your use of the Nuremberg defense, you are falling back on "what we do is legal, the law says so."


I do not consider you arguing oranges, and me arguing apples and neither one being able to make the other side convert being a rout. You keep indicating that your rights are being violated, while I keep indicating that your rights are not being violated, because they are not. When you enter the airport screening areas, you willingly submit to the process - in essence you state that you are going to comply with the screening protocols whatever they are. I have agreed with you that the inconsistencies are infuriating. I have also pointed out that the defense you are mentioning does not apply to this situation because you willingly submit to the process and all of its inconsistencies and limitations. That is the argument I have been making here, and you just are not grasping it. The constitution does not say in it that you have the ability to walk unhindered to the plane. Show me a specific right/article of the Constitution that you are being violated under and I will address it directly. As it is, your argument is a non argument because it is a totally different situation.

West
EOS Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Ponter sez - "I'm very surprised that you'd say that. I think you have a serious gap in your training."

I seriously doubt it, I understand the theory and application behind the intentional inconsistencies. I know that it can be an effective tool to deter someone with ill intent. I also know that the same effect can be accomplished by accelerating the technological capabilities of the organization or implementing an all or none policy with increased LAG testing. I think that in the long run, the inconsistencies are a public relations disaster for TSA and it is not going to get any better (read back through any of the previous posts here and you can see that for yourself). If we had a program that installed the new tech and did away with the ban, I would dance a jig (and that ain't a real pretty site...) and help them roll the equipment in and wire it up. However, that does not seem to be a near future solution and it is frustrating to the public and the TSOs.

West
EOS Blog Team

RB said...

The constitution does not say in it that you have the ability to walk unhindered to the plane. Show me a specific right/article of the Constitution that you are being violated under and I will address it directly. As it is, your argument is a non argument because it is a totally different situation.

West
EOS Blog Team

May 20, 2009 7:30 PM


West, the Constitution gives certain responsibilities to the Federal Government.

Rights for the people do not have to be spelled out because those things not given to the Federal Government are reserved for the States.

fore your review:

Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So actually the question is where does the Federal Government derive the right to exercise a limitation on the people?

George said...

@West: "I understand the theory and application behind the intentional inconsistencies. I know that it can be an effective tool to deter someone with ill intent. ..... I think that in the long run, the inconsistencies are a public relations disaster for TSA and it is not going to get any better (read back through any of the previous posts here and you can see that for yourself)."

I think what Pointer was getting at was the way Kip attempted to address the "public relations disaster." Kip wrote a blog post last year (which I'm too lazy to spend time looking for) that "re-branded" the inconsistency as a "Security Strategy." So when we encounter maddening inconsistency we're absolutely wrong if we see it as evidence of vague and inconsistent rules, inadequate training, poor management, incompetence, or any other failing of the TSA. It's actually a brilliant coordinated Security Strategy guaranteed to foil terrorist plots!

He probably was referring to the use of "intentional inconsistencies" just as you describe. But the way it came across only demonstrated his contempt for the traveling public. I don't know if that was his intent, but it certainly looked like a condescending attempt to spin a visible and well-publicized failing into a "Security Strategy."

Obviously the "intentional inconsistencies" won't change. Inconsistency is a lot easier and cheaper to implement than "accelerating the technological capabilities of the organization or implementing an all or none policy with increased LAG testing" (whatever that means in English). And even if they did decide to "roll the equipment in," the equipment would only be an addition to the inconsistencies that makes screening even more of a hassle. There's no way any TSA administrator would ever risk being accused of "weakening security" by removing a "layer." And of course, "intentional inconsistencies" are an ideal way to cover up actual failings in the TSA, as they're effectively indistinguishable from ineptitude.

The obligatory question: If "intentional inconsistencies" are indeed "an effective tool to deter someone with ill intent," does the benefit of this approach really justify the difficulty, frustration, and expense it inflicts on millions of innocent travelers? I know I'll never get an answer to that, since cost-benefit analysis is an anathema to the TSA. But I had to ask it.

GSOLTSO said...

George sez - ""accelerating the technological capabilities of the organization or implementing an all or none policy with increased LAG testing" (whatever that means in English). "

Translation to "Momma" english as opposed to organization speak - It means putting xrays with advanced detection technology (the ability to determine whether a LAG is consistent with boom making materials) in the checkpoints quicker than originally planned. Or we could implement more testing of the LAG and let more go through (all), OR we could let NO LAG go through.

West
EOS Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "West, the Constitution gives certain responsibilities to the Federal Government."

As a part of those responsibilities, the TSA has been tasked with security of the airports. You choose to submit to the screening process and by doing so agree that you will abide by the rules and decisions of the security organization. I understand that any specific rights that are not assigned under the articles are left to the states and individuals, this does not apply becuase of the federal mandate to provide security for the airports (and other transportation areas - rail, mass transit, etc).

West
EOS Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

George sez - "He probably was referring to the use of "intentional inconsistencies" just as you describe. But the way it came across only demonstrated his contempt for the traveling public. I don't know if that was his intent, but it certainly looked like a condescending attempt to spin a visible and well-publicized failing into a "Security Strategy.""

I really don't think Kip had contempt for the travelling public like you are indicating here. Kip was under tremendous pressure from the public to make them happy, the upper echelon to make them happy and the demands of both groups never seem to meet at an acceptable compromise. There is some serious discussion in security circles about intentional inconsistencies - just a fancy way of saying varying your security measures to make them unpredictable. Like the military guard posts we had to stand in basic - we never rotated at the same time, we were always between 5-15 minutes off of the half hour and the hour. This is the same theory with a much different application. It provides a less agreeable situation for someone trying to get something through or test the system. I think there is merit to the thought process, but I think that with planning, technological advances available to us now and the training capabilities of the organization (regardless of what a lot of posters think, we train more than any other organization - military branches excepted - I have ever heard of!), we have the opportunity to move past the LAG situation we are in now. I seem to be in a minority currently, but I do a lot of research on the side and know some of the tech stuff that is out there, and the future looks a lot brighter. I also know that I work for a huge government entity and moving towards advances can sometimes be slow in coming - understandably so based on how ideas are developed and forwarded up the chain, it takes time.

West
EOS Blog Team

Ayn R. Key said...

GSOLTSO "West" says:
I do not consider you arguing oranges, and me arguing apples and neither one being able to make the other side convert being a rout. You keep indicating that your rights are being violated, while I keep indicating that your rights are not being violated, because they are not.

Nice way to sneak the conclusion into the premise. How about this:

I keep indicating that my rights are being violated, while you keep indicating that my rights are not being violated, even though they are.

Do you find that sentence to be as unbaised as your attempt?

I have agreed with you that the inconsistencies are infuriating. I have also pointed out that the defense you are mentioning does not apply to this situation because you willingly submit to the process and all of its inconsistencies and limitations.

The insonsistencies don't enter into it man. In fact the inconsistencies are a good thing sometimes because it means you occasionally don't violated someone's rights. You argued earlier that you aren't guilty of the Nuremberg defense because you violate EVERYONE's rights, as if that somehow made it better. It doesn't. It's hand in hand with your erroneous size of the offense defense.

Show me a specific right/article of the Constitution that you are being violated under and I will address it directly.

Ever read the 10th amendment? You show me where you have authorization to do anything first. Only after you justify yourself do you have any further case and only then do I have to find constitutional counter-indications, such as your depriving people of their property without due process in violation of the fourth amendment.

As it is, your argument is a non argument because it is a totally different situation.

But the burden is on you, not me, to prove you have a right to exist as an agency.

L├Ždersofaer said...

Good post - the judgement of look is disgusting in our time! hate when i see it!

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "The insonsistencies don't enter into it man. In fact the inconsistencies are a good thing sometimes because it means you occasionally don't violated someone's rights. You argued earlier that you aren't guilty of the Nuremberg defense because you violate EVERYONE's rights, as if that somehow made it better. It doesn't. It's hand in hand with your erroneous size of the offense defense."

You are choosing to fly, it is not a right, it is a privilege and you enter into a contract with the air carrier knowing that you have to submit to the screening protocols. Your rights are not violated simply because YOU choose to submit to the entire process. That means that you choose to enter the checkpoint and submit your items and yourself to the screening area and processes. When you make this choice, you are consenting to a search of your items and person as part of this process. This is essentially different than the violation of the 10th Amendment that you are arguing. If the TSA were to come to your house, set up a metal detector and etd machine in your living room and make you pass through to get into your house every time, that would be a gross violation of your rights, but that is not what happens. TSA is tasked with providing the security at the checkpoints and baggage areas (and several other locations), as part of this tasking they are required to screen the people and items being brought with them into these areas. You choose to enter, you submit to the screening and protocols and inconsistencies that are inherent in the current system, therefore when an item that is in violation is discovered (whether it is a gun, knife, IED, or 12 oz soda) it is subject to the protocols. This is not a violation of your 4th amendment rights, this is the TSO doing their job and following the SOP, and you choosing to be there. So I once again indicate to you that some of the people here are arguing apples, while I am arguing oranges.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Oh yeah, Ayn this link is for you - What Authority we operate under This page also has 49CFR on it so you can peruse that at your leisure as well. I meant to include it in the previous post, but I forgot it. Hope this helps out some.

West
TSA Blog Team

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said:
I was travelling on orders in uniform. The orders clearly state who I am and my military ID card is as official an ID as there is. Yet there I and every other member of my unit (155 of us) are taking off our shoes and emptying our pockets. Why?
***********************************
Anon, for future reference, military personnel ARE exempt from the shoe policy as long as they are in uniform. They are not however exempt from screening. They must still take out all metal objects, submit their property for x-ray screening, and walk through a metal detector. And IF their boots alarm, they must be removed and x-rayed. This is a courtesy to the men and women who fight for our country overseas. Most TSO's that I know have the utmost respect for military personnel and we show it when you come through the airport. Many of us our veterans ourselves and know full well what its like to serve in war time. We respect what you do for us, and we in turn are attempting to protect our country on the home front.

Ayn R. Key said...

No, West, you are wrong again.

First of all, it is true that I do not have a right to force an airline to sell me a ticket. I have to find a willing seller and pay for the ticket. That is a private contract between myself and the airline.

Once I have that private contract, THEN I have a right to fly.

The TSA is a third party interfering in the right of a private contract and has no right to do so.

Unless you invoke the Nuremberg defense again, which you just did. I asked for the constitutional basis for the unconstitutional law you operate under, and you gave me a link to the unconstitutional law you operate under (by the way, it would help if the link worked). You then go on to say that because everything you do is legal therefore everything you do is right.

You say that because everything you do is legal therefore everything you do is right.

Think about that for a second.

That is the Nuremberg defense. In one sentence.

You say that because everything you do is legal therefore everything you do is right.

You are a third party interfering with a private transaction. You confiscate property in violation of the fourth amendment but insist that it's not confiscation because you call in "voluntary abandonment." That's two rights that you violate right there, and that's before we get to the absurdities.

But because violating those rights is legal therefore violating those rights is right.

Now the question I had for you wasn't under what unconstitutional law you operate but under what constitutional provision you operate. You threw a red herring at me. Should I take that as an admission that you have no constitutional provision under which you operate?

"Apples and oranges" isn't the nature of this argument. It is "Apples and Red Herrings."

GSOLTSO said...

Sorry Ayn, here is a link 49CFR This details the Fed codes relating to Transportation.

This link ATSA this details the authorities detailed by congress.

You indicate that the contract between you and the air carrier is a private contract, you are correct. When you sign this contract, you are indicating that you accept that you are to submit to the screening process (and all the flaws and foibles you point out on here). I can continue to post here ad nauseum about how you are wrong and how I am right, and you can do the same, but that serves no purpose. You will not see things from my point of view and I will not come over to yours, therefore we are at an impasse and I included these links to show you where you can research the transportation rules and the TSA rules for yourself. You keep claiming red herring, I keep giving you the information (barring the faulty link above, sorry bout that btw), so we will have to disagree with each other at this time.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"What Does A Terrorist Look Like?"

A terrorist is one who terrorizes, correct? The only US terrorist I can think of is the TSA.

RB said...

So Bob or any other TSA employee, We're half way through 2009 now.

How many terrorist has TSA caught so far this year?

How about any previous year?

Come on, this should be a real easy question.

Anonymous said...

How many terrorists has teh TSA caught in the last few years....none. So...how many planes have we lost due to terrorist activity since then?...also none. And would you like to know why? Apparently all of these proceedures that everyone complains about ARE WORKING. Imagine that. TSA isn't a police force... they don't arrest you and punish you for commiting a crime...its prevention.

copnsultgp said...

I have just read this 'What does a terrorist look like' piece of nonsense.

As usual the writer is clouding the issue with half truth's that sound oh so plausible. Why don't we simply do what the Israeli's do.

They treat security seriously, they ignore those oh so costly things the TSA does simply to make the twice a year traveler feel good. They don't try to kid the public that lots of activity or lots of heads equates to lots of security. They PROFILE and in their airports they ARE successful.

Its not the vast amount of heads we need 'on the look out' for those dastardly people carrying a sewing kit, its the intelligence we need to determine who IS NOT likely to pose the threat leaving fewer people for the smaller number, but higher trained screeners to concentrate on.

If that means more pre-arriving at the airport background checks then so be it. Lets start being smart and not just politicaly correct.

Jim Huggins said...

We focus on behaviors to flush out the possible terrorists, not appearance.

Like the physics major who, when he approached the checkpoint, was polite, fully cooperated with the TSA in answering all of their questions ... and as a result, was handcuffed and detained for several hours, then released without as much as an apology or explanation?

Bob said...

Hi Jim. I'm quoting the article you linked to:

"TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis tracked down a report on George's encounter, and said that it wasn't the flash cards that got him flagged.

Davis said that George had been selected for screening before he even reached the metal detector by TSA behavioral-detection officers, personnel trained to screen passengers for "involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered."

Davis said that the report indicates that in the screening area, George's "behavior escalated to a point where our officers deemed it necessary to contact the Philadelphia Police Department."

Davis couldn't say what behavior had caught the officers' eye or what escalating behavior he exhibited. She said the report did note that George had Arabic flash cards, but 'that's not why we would call law enforcement.'"

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Jim Huggins said...

Bob:

George's testimony, in the same article reads quite differently.

[George] said that it's "crazy" to think that he was acting suspiciously in line or that he had exhibited "escalating behavior" while being questioned.

He insists that he patiently explained everything, including the card with Arabic writing - his student ID from Jordan - which he keeps as a souvenir.

"I never raised my voice," George said, "but I did ask once or twice how much longer this was going to take because my flight was about to leave."


Something isn't adding up here.

Bob said...

Jim, most of the behaviors our BDOs are looking for are involuntary physiological reactions that people have no control over. They don't even know they're doing it.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Jim Huggins said...

So if he doesn't even know he's doing it, what justifies confining this guy for several hours, some of them in handcuffs? From what I see in the article, he answered every question asked of him, and he didn't have any dangerous or prohibited items with him. Isn't it possible that his involuntary actions might've had absolutely nothing to do with malicious intent?

Nick said...

Really great post

"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.
"


Hahahaha well if the world was that simple we couldn't function properly.

I think the only way to truely judge *anybody* is off of the actions they make rather then off of the way they look.

Thanks for the post

Matron said...

This is realy a tough one. Western looking people have to be checked, yes, because they are being recruited. I have heard people argue at airports when they are picked to be checked in a queue - "I'm blond and blue eyed, am I the 1 in 10 you pick out just to make it look like you are not racially profiling?". Get over it folks. Let the airport security do their job and don't take life so seriously.

Robert Dunn Arthur Clarke said...

y dont u show a photo?

Anonymous said...

Has TSA EVER stopped a real terrorist plot? To quote the late (and brilliant) Milton Friedman "Take any three letters of the English alphabet, put them together in any order and you end up with a useless federal agency." TSA is an EXCELLENT example.

Anonymous said...

Seems profiling works.
http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/will-profiling-make-a-difference/
http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/airport-security-solution-tsa-profile-travelers-prevent-terrorist/story?id=9476997
http://www.businessinsider.com/israeli-airport-security-it-really-just-works-because-of-the-profiling-2010-1

Steve said...

As a very frequent traveller I understand the need and reason for such screening and checks at airports. Some years ago I underwent hip replacement surgery, resulting in a metal hip which sets of the detectors. Subsequently I then undergo the full pat down procedure which is both intrusive, uncomfortable and totally unnecessary.

My question is why can't the TSA implement some sort of verified list for certain travellers who meet certain requirements? Why not eliminate the guesswork of trying to pick out a terrorist by his or her appearance or behaviour.

I for one have been travelling regularly for over 20 years and would be more than happy to have my personal details scrutinised if it meant that I could avoid the usual airport inconvenience.

Jasmine Dhillon said...

Yeah, and that's why my dad who wears a turban and has a beard, who is a SIKH gets stopped at the airport, while others are allowed to pass through without hesitation.