Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test (And other questions answered)

Many shooters and others who work around chemicals or munitions have questions about flying since the recent announcement that TSA has begun randomly swabbing hands for Explosives Trace Detection tests (ETD). We’re also aware of all of the traveling military, firefighters and law enforcement personnel who are around various accelerants and munitions on a daily basis. In fact, we’re aware of all of the different people whose professions and hobbies might cause them to alarm the ETD machine because we’ve been using this technology for years. One thing to understand right away is that TSA has to balance security with convenience. Part of our mission is to keep the flying public safe, and being safe isn’t always convenient. No matter how much of an expert you are at traveling, it’s not guaranteed that you won’t be stopped for additional screening of some sort.

TSA has been using this technology since we started federalizing the airports in 2002. We are well aware that there are occasionally false positives and other cases where people who work around munitions and chemicals will alarm the machines .

From reading responses on our blog and elsewhere, it’s almost as if people think that if they alarm during an ETD test, a net is going to drop from the ceiling and federal agents will start rapelling down the walls. Not so… we have long had procedures in place that help us mitigate real threats while clearing people who pose no threat to travel.

Also, people have been doing some research and have learned that ETD machines can detect narcotics. While this is true, TSA does not calibrate our machines to test for narcotics. Narcotics will not cause catastrophic damage to a plane, so we’re not searching for them. However, we do stumble upon them while searching for other things. Wherever you can hide drugs, you can hide bombs, so we may end up accidentally finding your stash.

I’ve heard on the radio and read on Twitter that some think we’re taking DNA samples with these swabs and testing for H1N1. ETD machines cannot analyze DNA or test for H1N1.

When used to test hands, ETD swabs are not reused on other passengers. (See above photo for examples of what ETD swabs look like)

And the final question I’d like to answer is what happens if you refuse the ETD swab? If you refuse the ETD Swab, you will be referred to additional screening, which depending upon the results may result in a referral to a law enforcement officer.
Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

162 comments:

RB said...

Why are TSA employees and all airport workers given a pass on 100% screening?

Do they present no security threat?

Anonymous said...

Cool! Can we see video of the rappeling federal agents? Why won't you post life size photos of the rappeling agents? And that net!!! Will they use a new, sterilized net each time or will it be the same old nasty, dirty net they used on the last guy?

Anonymous said...

What happens when a whole body image shows the presence of an object in the inguinal area, which may be an adult diaper, menstrual pad or underwear bomb? Are all such objects "visually inspected"? What happens when whole body images detect prosthetic breasts or penises? Are those visually inspected?

If they are, this is very invasive for the innocent persons involved. If they aren´t, there is no addition in security.

amejr999 said...

The title of this post is called ""What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test". This question was never answered.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you will actually tell us what happens if my hands alarm during an Explosives Trace Detection Test(and other questions unanswered)?

Patrick (BOS TSO) said...

Anonymous said...

Cool! Can we see video of the rappeling federal agents?

-------

Here you go:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzogF8-k9Ms

:D

TSOWilliamReed said...

RB said...
Why are TSA employees and all airport workers given a pass on 100% screening?

Do they present no security threat?

February 23, 2010 12:51 PM
-----------------

Airport emoloyees are given a background check every year to recieve their airport Sterile area badge, same with TSA employees. Also, airport employees are screened when they go through security. I have to practice pat downs every day, so by the end of the day I have patted down at least two TSA agents and I have recieved a pat down. Finally, airport employees are exempt from certain areas of the prohibited item list due to the fact that some items are needed to perform their duties in the sterile area. But they are tracked and if an employee is caught trying to sneak things around security, I believe that is a felony in itself.

RB said...

TSOWilliamReed said...
RB said...
Why are TSA employees and all airport workers given a pass on 100% screening?

Do they present no security threat?

February 23, 2010 12:51 PM
-----------------

Airport emoloyees are given a background check every year to recieve their airport Sterile area badge, same with TSA employees. Also, airport employees are screened when they go through security. I have to practice pat downs every day, so by the end of the day I have patted down at least two TSA agents and I have recieved a pat down. Finally, airport employees are exempt from certain areas of the prohibited item list due to the fact that some items are needed to perform their duties in the sterile area. But they are tracked and if an employee is caught trying to sneak things around security, I believe that is a felony in itself.

February 23, 2010 1:31 PM
............
Are you claiming that 100% of airport workers are screened when they enter the sterile area?

kimm said...

Yet another indignity we have to go through because we have a government and airline industry that has to be "PC", doesn't want to take care of the real problem and doesn't bother to check do not fly or terror watch lists.

TSA has to balance security with convenience? Really? Again, I go back to my comment of actually reading no fly lists and also, looking at where someone is going to or coming from.

The underwear bomber would not have happened if lists wee actually looked at, and oh...yeah....our government would have actually listened to his father.

Bet again, passengers suffer because others don't want to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

kimm said...
Yet another indignity we have to go through because we have a government and airline industry that has to be "PC", doesn't want to take care of the real problem and doesn't bother to check do not fly or terror watch lists.
-------

Kimm, I am so very glad you don't run our security. With you in change all AQ has to do is make sure their suicide bombers are not on a list and come from the right location. Wow! That would be extremely difficult.

I am also confused by the reference "passengers suffer because others don't want to do their jobs." I am simple minded but maybe you can explain where the suffering comes in... I hold my hands still for a couple of seconds, an officer rubs a piece of cloth across them and puts it in a machine. In a couple of minutes I am on my way and have a better chance of arriving intact. Help me find the suffering here.

Let's not get into the wee lists you mentioned. If they government starts up a wee list I'm in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Bob, why did you call this post "What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test (And other questions answered)" when you don't say what happens if one's hands alarm during the test?

Anonymous said...

Care to try again? What happens if my hands alarm during the test?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

you are a bit disappointing. After yesterday's post you almost earned some sort of respect from me: You showed compassion for the poor kid, you provided helpful(?) advice and best of all: you didn't ridicule the incident. Well done! In contrast to your "kids on the no-fly list" post this was so much better.

Now to today's post: What a huge disappointment. For one you don't answer the question you promise to answer in the title. How does the resolving of such an alarm look like? Would you unload a poor passenger's bags (you need to be sure, right?)? Would you just strip search that person? (with one of your nice new nude-scanners?) would you empty that poor passengers bags on the floor like you do it in many airports right at the gate now? And how would all that procedure be different form a secondary?

I know you won't answer these questions. But PLEASE for the sake of your agencies credibility stop that nonsense on DNA scanning questions (nobody takes that serious whatsoever). You could just answer the many honest and concerned questions we ask here...

Anonymous said...

Annonymous spewed:

Kimm, I am so very glad you don't run our security. With you in change all AQ has to do is make sure their suicide bombers are not on a list and come from the right location. Wow! That would be extremely difficult.

I am also confused by the reference "passengers suffer because others don't want to do their jobs." I am simple minded but maybe you can explain where the suffering comes in... I hold my hands still for a couple of seconds, an officer rubs a piece of cloth across them and puts it in a machine. In a couple of minutes I am on my way and have a better chance of arriving intact. Help me find the suffering here.

Let's not get into the wee lists you mentioned. If they government starts up a wee list I'm in trouble.


Gate screening after you've spent money and have change in your pockets, cell phone, car keys, ets. That inconveniences passengers to have to remove all of that once they've already been screened. TSOs demanding that amputees remove the artificial limb for additional screening and having those amputees lose their pants in the process. Gate screeners wanting to remove a surgical dressing already cleared by the main checkpoint because the HHMD sounds an alarm on the staples holding a 12 in incision closed.

Those good enough for suffering at the hands of TSA? If you're already on the sterile side then why does TSA need to check you again for anything? Weren't the screenings done properly the first time? Are the items for sale airside hazardous? Are the workers in the shops unscreened and pose a threat?

Randy said...

OK. I'll bite.

What *does* happen if traces of explosives are detected on my hands?

Randy

Randy said...

What else would readers expect?

Bob won't answer your questions and now he won't even answer his own. :-)

To_Protect_and_Serve said...

Bob you didnt answer the question in the post you just danced around it.


TSOWilliamReed - and your point is I have a background check along with multiple security clearances. Background checks dont mean anything, doesnt mean anyone should trust you. You also opened the door on that one but didnt TSA just force RIC to issuing a SIDA to a TSA employee who is a convicted felon that they didnt want to issue one to. Im sorry in my opinion a felon has no right to be in any position like that let alone a government employee. He may have done his "time" but that doesnt give him a pass.

If you dont screen everyone a 100% of the time you leave a whole in security.

Alan said...

This blog entry does not answer the question posted in the entry's title. It's a shame because it's a very good question.

TSOWilliamReed said...

RB said...
TSOWilliamReed said...
RB said...
Why are TSA employees and all airport workers given a pass on 100% screening?

Do they present no security threat?

February 23, 2010 12:51 PM
-----------------

Airport emoloyees are given a background check every year to recieve their airport Sterile area badge, same with TSA employees. Also, airport employees are screened when they go through security. I have to practice pat downs every day, so by the end of the day I have patted down at least two TSA agents and I have recieved a pat down. Finally, airport employees are exempt from certain areas of the prohibited item list due to the fact that some items are needed to perform their duties in the sterile area. But they are tracked and if an employee is caught trying to sneak things around security, I believe that is a felony in itself.

February 23, 2010 1:31 PM
............
Are you claiming that 100% of airport workers are screened when they enter the sterile area?
-----------------

I gave you a run down on the process' that TSA and airline employees go through. Do you think its 100% screening? Do you think we should do more to secure airline employees? Write it up to your congressman if you disagree.

TSOWilliamReed said...

Anonymous said...
Bob, why did you call this post "What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test (And other questions answered)" when you don't say what happens if one's hands alarm during the test?

February 23, 2010 2:14 PM
---------------

You will recieve additional screening just as always. Extra Pat down and a search of your property. probably will take about 5 minutes with a normal suitcase being your carry on.

Anonymous said...

don't say what happens if one's hands alarm during the test?



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

Did you read the post?????
It is answered!

Anonymous said...

"If you refuse the ETD Swab, you will be referred to additional screening, which depending upon the results may result in a referral to a law enforcement officer."

----------

In other words: "if you refuse the ETD SWAB, bad things may happen." Now all you need is a link to "dramatic hamster" to complete the effect.

Anonymous said...

Yet again this is a case of people reading what they want to read while wearing blinders that adjust to their agendas. Bob answered the question and people didn't like the answer. If you really thought he was going to go into SSI alarm resolution protocals - well you were wrong.

HappyToHelp said...

Kimm said…
“Yet another indignity we have to go through because we have a government and airline industry that has to be "PC", doesn't want to take care of the real problem and doesn't bother to check do not fly or terror watch lists.”

TSA and the airlines check every passenger against the No Fly and selectee list.

“The airline will transmit information to Secure Flight, who uses it to perform watch list matching. This serves to prevent individuals on the No Fly List from boarding an aircraft and to identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening. After matching passenger information against government watch lists, Secure Flight transmits the matching results back to airlines.”

Read about Secure Flight here

TSA does not maintain or controls who is added to either list. The two lists are maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) which is part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Kimm said…
“TSA has to balance security with convenience? Really?”

TSA works in an environment were more than 99% of passengers pose no threat to aviation. To not consider passenger convenience (known as passenger impact) would do the American flying public a great disservice. TSA has to look at quite a few factors besides security. An example would be commerce. If TSA mandated pat-downs for everyone entering the sterile area, the airlines would be limited to how many people could enter the terminal. Security lines would be never ending. While it would be great for security, the negative impact on the airlines would be catastrophic. There are many examples of these types of considerations.

Fly happy,

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

The pictured IONSCAN 500DT detects explosives and narcotics simultaneously.

By using this device, albeit not calibrated for narcotics, are you planning for increased "stumbling" and false positives?

Anonymous said...

So, the answer to "What Happens If My Hands Alarm during and Explosive Trace Detection Test" is "[W]e have procedures in place that help us mitigate real threats while clearing people who pose no threat to travel."

Thanks for nothing.

I got some procedures in place myself.

Anonymous said...

Bob answered the question and people didn't like the answer. If you really thought he was going to go into SSI alarm resolution protocals - well you were wrong

So you say it's ok to "answer" the question "what will happen if I trigger the alarm" by just claiming "we will resolve it"? How does that answer the question?

How is outlining what will happen any SSI?

And Bob, while we're at it: if you need to test behind the checkpoint, does that mean you're not doing your job at the ceckpoint? And is it true that you have to check beyond the checkpoint again since you don't test TSOs and airline staff for WEI at the checkpoint? (That's what someone claimed here in the comments). If that's true, why not just check all TSOs (and everyone else) before they enter into the sterile area? That would seem so much easier, wouldn't it?

RB said...

TSOWilliamReed said...
RB said...
TSOWilliamReed said...
RB said...
Why are TSA employees and all airport workers given a pass on 100% screening?

Do they present no security threat?

February 23, 2010 12:51 PM
-----------------

Airport emoloyees are given a background check every year to recieve their airport Sterile area badge, same with TSA employees. Also, airport employees are screened when they go through security. I have to practice pat downs every day, so by the end of the day I have patted down at least two TSA agents and I have recieved a pat down. Finally, airport employees are exempt from certain areas of the prohibited item list due to the fact that some items are needed to perform their duties in the sterile area. But they are tracked and if an employee is caught trying to sneak things around security, I believe that is a felony in itself.

February 23, 2010 1:31 PM
............
Are you claiming that 100% of airport workers are screened when they enter the sterile area?
-----------------

I gave you a run down on the process' that TSA and airline employees go through. Do you think its 100% screening? Do you think we should do more to secure airline employees? Write it up to your congressman if you disagree.

February 23, 2010 3:14 PM
........................
Instead of getting all defensive why didn't you just answer the simple question?

Fact is that TSA does not require 100% screening of all airport workers including TSA employees.

What's so hard about just admitting that?

Chris Boyce said...

William, to quote a famous former president, "There you go again!"

There is absoutely no way that every screener and airport worker receives a yearly background check. The only people in government who are investigated yearly are people who handle crypto. So, you really don't know what you're talking about.

And, your comment about it being a felony for a screener to sneak something past security, taking a gun to work at the checkpoint apparently didn't hinder Alvin Crabtree's TSA career.

Jim Huggins said...

TSOWilliamReed writes:

Finally, airport employees are exempt from certain areas of the prohibited item list due to the fact that some items are needed to perform their duties in the sterile area. But they are tracked and if an employee is caught trying to sneak things around security, I believe that is a felony in itself.

Ahh. So, if an airport employee manages to plant a bomb on my airplane, I (or, rather, my heirs) can be content in knowing that, besides being charged with the murder of everyone aboard the plane I was on, the employee will also be charged with an additional felony of circumventing security procedures.

Gee, that makes me feel better.

Do you honestly think that someone who is thinking about committing an act of terrorism cares one whit about how many felonies they're committing in the process?

avxo said...

TSOWilliamReed said... "You will recieve additional screening just as always. Extra Pat down and a search of your property. probably will take about 5 minutes with a normal suitcase being your carry on."

Meanwhile, Greg Denny, will use his fake badge "U.S. Marshal" badge to breeze right past security to "deport" a woman to the Philippines.

sauronsfinger said...

If you feel you are better than everyone else and that the rules don't apply to you, by all means don't fly.

Society has said that this is the security measures we need at the airports. If you disagree it is because you think you are better than everyone else and want to be a dictator to everyone else.

Anonymous said...

You say you try to balance security with convenience. What about the cost benefit of this and other screening methods? And if you actually do cost benefit, do you take into account the time of the traveling public that is wasted when the over whelming majority of additional screenings are negative?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Despite the title, you didn't answer the question.

So let's try again:

1) What happens if there is an false alarm, and how are you going to make sure we make our flight?

2) If the so-called "inconvenience" due to a false alarm causes us to miss a flight or incur other costs, will TSA pay for our costs or other damages?

3) How will you resolve alarms in a timely manner without a terminal dump?

4) I personally know of a case where TSA offered a friend of mine a choice when his shoes alarmed: TSA confiscates the shoes or he doesn't fly (he owns a farm and uses fertilizer). How will that case be resolved?

Oh, and as for balancing "security" with "convenience", there is no balance at all. Convenience doesn't enter into the equation at all, other that TSA's administrative convenience. Example: the formerly heavily used "diamond" lane at Dulles is now the designated wheelchair line. Or we'll look at the knee-jerk where passengers could have NOTHING for the last hour of international flights. Or, well let's just say I and any other frequent flyer can go on and on.

And as for the guy who thinks TSA is different because of the background check - a number of us fliers have been through more rigorous background check than you - in addition to a SIDA-level check, we've been through government issue TS checks, the former CLEAR checks, employment checks, and concealed weapons checks. Y'all TSA screeners don't know what a REAL background check is.

Anonymous said...

"You will recieve additional screening just as always. Extra Pat down and a search of your property. probably will take about 5 minutes with a normal suitcase being your carry on."
-------------------
5 Minutes? Really? So if I'm one of the last ones on, you're either going to delay the flight or cause me to miss? Try 10 minutes or more IMHO.

If you really suspect a bomb, why aren't you calling a BDO or evacuating the terminal? Oh, wait, sometimes that happens. How about the poor sap that had to wait 30 minutes for the LEO BDO to arrive? "Sorry you missed the flight, but we have to be 'safe'. Too bad you're collateral damage in the war on the American Public".

Anonymous said...

@TSOWilliamReed asserts that additional screening in the form of a pat down and inspection of any carry on should only add 5 minutes to your transit time through the check point.

Thanks to a metal implant I have a LOT of experience with secondaries. First I have waited up to 5 minutes for a gender appropriate TSO to bother to the 'assist call'.

Next the wanding and pat down will take about 5 minutes or more depending on the experience of the TSO.

Finally I had the TSA inspect my carry on bag on a couple of occasions. The quickest they ever did this was in 5 minutes and then I had to repack which added additional time.

So if all things go wrong it adds 15 minutes to my transit time. If all goes right it is only an additional 5 minutes. The problem is I have to always assume to worse because ever time through even at the same airport is differnet.

Anonymous said...

Bob's post sounded something like this
A lot of you have been asking about what will happen if our new awesome (and only 75K a pop!) toys test positive when we rub them on your hands. Well, folks, let me answer that: we here at the TSA have some procedures, and goshdarnit, those procedures may even be followed. What? You want to know what those procedures might involve? Oh, you naive little citizen... don't you realize that that information is such a highly guarded secret that we can only share it with thousands and thousands of employees who have managed to pass a background test. Now be on your way, chickadees... that is, if you do indeed want to fly today...

Isaac Newton said...

Somehow the title of the post gave me the hope that it would tell me "what happens if my hands alarm during an ETD test?".

I read it all three times and still wondering. All you say is that there are "procedures".

Uh, yeah, whatever. As someone else said, now you're not even answering your own questions.

Al Ames said...

Wait a minute - when did TSA start caring about balancing security and convenience? I haven't seen any evidence of their security being balanced for convenience, let alone even balanced for risk of the actual threat vs. the return on investment in safety and value.

If TSA really tried balancing things with convenience, security wouldn't continue to keep being inconvenient and more of a hassle. It also would need to "invent" new gizmos to spare us from the "inconvenience" of security. Furthermore, they wouldn't have to keep trotting out the people who say "Well, I'm for it if it makes me safer. I'll gladly come earlier and give up more liberties to be safe" if there were any semblance of balance in the equation.

TSA and balance mix as as well as TSA and security. Both are complete opposites of TSA.

Al

Rick_in_MCO said...

The call for 100% employee screening is a very valid concern, and yet the TSA response is little more than a jedi-like hand wave, and "these are not the droids you are looking for".

Those of us who depend upon air travel to earn a living continue to be treated like criminals, and subjected to indignities, while TSA turns a sheepish blind eye to the real threat.

FACT: Airport employees successfully smuggled 14 guns onto a plane in Orlando.

FACT: A DHS investigation concluded that TSA was given information about the guns by the Orlando PD and handled it improperly.

FACT: The DHS report concluded that "as technology increases, the 100 percent employee screening will be more feasible and should be enforced"

FACT: The same report found that 100% employee screening was feasible, but not realistic.

WHAT?! Employees are found smuggling GUNS into the sterile area but *we* need our hands swabbed, naked bodies photographed, and bags emptied at the gate?! This incident is another example of the PROVEN THREAT that employees and agents represent!

With all due respect to TSOWilliamReed, how can you say that you dont need 100% screening, given the facts shown here? These all to frequent incidents prove that your silly background checks and vetting are not effective. I was vetted too, as part of my clear membership, and we saw how much that was worth!

You know what makes me feel oh-so-safe when I am at a checkpoint? Its watching the incoming TSOs cruising right by the checkpoint with a playmate cooler full of who-knows-what.

News article, with link to full 54 page DHS report on this incident can be found here:

http://www.wesh.com/travelgetaways/18174271/detail.html

Gunner said...

Blogger Bob mused:

From reading responses on our blog and elsewhere, it’s almost as if people think that if they alarm during an ETD test, a net is going to drop from the ceiling and federal agents will start rapelling down the walls.

Well, Bob, give TSA's history of over-reaction and rogue behavior, you have to admit that it is not an unreasonable thought.

tramky said...

Here's something I'd like to see implemented at airports. Some check-in capability for prohibited items that are confiscated by TSA agents at checkpoints. This would be much like a coat check at a restaurant, club omuseum. The idea is to give the passenger a check slip for confiscated items. When a passenger returns, he/she can present the check slip at a property check window and retrieve the confiscated item. This could be anything from a pocket knife with a 2" blade to a bottle of shampoo to a loaded handgun.

The thing with some mailing service that is both VERY inconvenient and half-baked, not to mention about 1000% too expensive, should be scrapped for something more properly priced considering the conditions of force & duress that exist at TSA checkpoints.

Anonymous said...

People, screening people's hands is not new. Secondly, there are binary explosives that do not alarm on their own. But once mixed does, hence the underwear bomber. They are taking everything into consideration. If all of you stop making such a big deal out of screening and show you have nothing to hide than maybe the ones that do will stick out a little more! THINK about it. While your being screened and complaining and causing a ruckus they are watching you and could be right behind you. While you are taking up those Officers time, YOU could be causing a distraction to security!

Patrick (BOS TSO) said...

What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test?

Here's what happens.

1. You recieve a pat-down to make sure there's nothing on you.

2. We go through bag and search to make sure there's nothing bad in there.

3a. If nothing of concern to us (knives, guns, bombs or bomb components). You go on your merry little way and enjoy your flight.

3b. We find something of concern to us such as a knife, bomb or gun. Most likely LEOs will be called and depending on the severity of item and how much of a threat it may pose, you will be on your way either to your flight if cleared and the item confiscated or a jump-seat ride in a police cruiser (which would only happen in the most extreme of circumstances).

Anonymous said...

Airport emoloyees are given a background check every year to recieve their airport Sterile area badge, same with TSA employees.


...and what exactly does a background check prove?

That's right. Not a thing.

Anonymous said...

Yet another waste of tax dollars and resources to further harass the innocent flying public. i wonder how many stock options janet napolitano has for Smith detections. i still have not gotten an answer regarding WBI scanners ability to store images to a USB flash drive in "operational mode". Why can't the TSA just answer this question?

Not Me said...

Blobber Bob,

I'll join the chorus here ... Please tell us "What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Exlposives Trace Detection Test"

Anonymous said...

Bob, you still haven't said if those gloves will be touching people's hands and if so, if they are changed each time you touch a new person.

Same thing for the pads, do you use a new clean pad for each person?

What chemicals are in those pads? Do I need to go disinfect my hands as soon as you are done touching me with those things?

Anonymous said...

Why are so many TSA agents abusing there power? this clip is so disturbing i bet you guys don't even post it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-jdDE6bFow&feature=related
___________________________________

Wow your right this is disturbing!! It is really sad that the security at the sears tower thinks that it is ok to stop the hand wanding search once the knee beeps. What if there is a gun or some kind of weapon hidden on a different part of the body. How stupid. I am never going to the sears tower! The guy whos pants fell down.... I'm sorry, but hold them up! If they are so lose that when a person pats you down they might fall, tell them so it doesn't happen! Thats the guys fault! As for embarassingly screening in public. There are private rooms on every checkpoint. Request one!! The girl with the fake leg, should never have to pull her pants down! There are tests that can be performed so that does not have to happen. The girl with the body piercings should watch what she wears and carries through the metal detector. Those piercings will not set off the walk through metal detector. Now if for some other reason you set off the metal detector your piercings are going to set off the hand held metal detector. There for if that alarm can not be resolved than yes you will have to leave the sterile area. All of these complaints are things that did not have to occur. So figure out how to get through security correctly and none of this stuff will happen!

Anonymous said...

If the machine tests for drugs and for explosives. Can the drugs scanning part be de-activated? And if that's a yes, WILL it be de-activated?

The language of not being "calibrated" is very vague. If you use a testing machine make sure it is properly functioning. If it doesn't do - don't use it you will be having many thousands of needless false positives and this will make us less safe (since people won't pay attention to real alerts any longer).

Anonymous said...

HappyToHelp said...

TSA works in an environment were more than 99% of passengers pose no threat to aviation.
...................
You and I both know that your 99% claim is just not true.

Otherwise there would be thousands of people found yearly posing a threat to commercial aviation.

Just how many terrorist has TSA found since inception?

How many millions of people fly per year?

The math is pretty simple.

TSA has done nothing for aviation safety other than to make travel by airplane a distinct pain in the hindquarters.

Add in the TSA perverts, thieves, drug dealers and other rotten apples and TSA becomes a larger liability to the public than anything else.

Anonymous said...

The TSA should be using Smiths 400B and GE Itemiser 2 swabs for swabing peoples hands. (When doing hands it is one swab per person) I noticed that they are using the more expensive GE DX and Smiths 500DT swabs. (The Itemiser 2 and 400B do the same exact thing and cost much less. Good job TSA at throwing away more money.

QQ said...

the answer to the question "what happens if I alarm" is this: sorry, SSI. since most people walking around don't handle explosives heavily, you will be alright.

even if you DO alarm, no one is going to slap a bag over your head. no one is EVER getting full disclosure on here so calm your jerking knees.

TSO Jacob said...

What happens if your hands alarm the ETD machine? The same thing that always happens. TSA will give you a pat down to ensure you are not strapped with a suicide vest (or any version of one) and check your bags to make sure you don’t have an IED.

Anonymous said...

"dramatic hamster"

It was a prairie dog.

"Fact is that TSA does not require 100% screening of all airport workers including TSA employees.

What's so hard about just admitting that?"

Cause you'd fire off 100 more questions not necessarily realted to this post.

Anonymous said...

Instead of getting all defensive why didn't you just answer the simple question?

RBRBRBRBRBRBRBRBRBRBRBRBRB-
Fact is that TSA does not require 100% screening of all airport workers including TSA employees.

What's so hard about just admitting that?

February 23, 2010 4:30 PM

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

I asked you this a while ago RB. Maybe now you've formulated an answer.

Who is going to SCREEN TSO's?

TSO's are in charge of keeping WEI's off planes. We dont need to be screened. We do the screening. Enough with your senseless babble.

Kara Jackson said...

wow, this really makes me feel uncomfortable, loss of privacy!!

RB said...

Bob, can you find out why the metric for "Checkpoint Closures/Terminal Dumps" was taken out of the "This Week at a Glance" stats?

Did it become to large an embarassement to keep it in?

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said...
Cool! Can we see video of the rappeling federal agents? Why won't you post life size photos of the rappeling agents? And that net!!! Will they use a new, sterilized net each time or will it be the same old nasty, dirty net they used on the last guy?

February 23, 2010 12:59 PM
***********************************
LOL a little humor on this all too often "way too serious" blog. Thanks for the chuckle anon, I appreciate your light heartedness. And yes, we will use a new 100 k net each time, and the Federal agents rappeling down the walls can be found on Youtube right now....just key word rappelling feds and it will come up.

Anonymous said...

Hey did you forget about this blog? It has been almost a week and there are still only 28 comments on this post?!?! I'm sure there are comments waiting to be approved, they all couldn't all have been that over the top they needed to be censored.

Anonymous said...

RB said:

Fact is that TSA does not require 100% screening of all airport workers including TSA employees.

What's so hard about just admitting that?


That is one of the most important layers of security. Security through obsfucation where no one knows what they're looking for until they find it.

LTSO with Answers said...

Sorry everyone I posted what happens when your hands alarm in the main post but my comment was not approved. I am still unsure what I wrote that disapproved it. I will be more vague. Just as TSO Reed states after the alarm on the hands you will be subject to a patdown and search of your bags.

Bob said...

FYI - I've been under the weather for the last few days. I feel better other than the fact that it feels like I gargled with Drain-O and was beat about the neck and shoulders with a wooden club.

I just moderated a bunch of comments and now I'm off to bed.

Goodnight,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

Another Anon says: I asked you this a while ago RB. Maybe now you've formulated an answer.

Who is going to SCREEN TSO's?

TSO's are in charge of keeping WEI's off planes. We dont need to be screened. We do the screening. Enough with your senseless babble.

February 25, 2010 10:05 PM
...................

Well you make me feel real safe now Anon TSA employee.

What with all of the known TSA perverts, drug dealers, thieves, guys taking guns to work, quiting their post, and the rest of the TSA employees with issues you guys certainly don't need to be screened.

No sir, TSA employees would never need screening!

Give me a fricken break.

Gunner said...

Blogger bob Said:

...it feels like I gargled with Drain-O and was beat about the neck and shoulders with a wooden club.


What happened, did you have to pass through airport security? :)

Anonymous said...

"Society has said that this is the security measures we need at the airports. If you disagree it is because you think you are better than everyone else and want to be a dictator to everyone else."

What utter and rank nonsense. No one is criticizing TSA's policies because they want to be a dictator. People criticize TSA's policies because they are scientifically groundless, provide no added security over what was in place pre-9/11, needlessly invasive, and pointless.

juicy said...

I think we're getting VERY paranoid about security measures. I think there should be regulations in place that controls how much security procedures average citizens must go through because in my opinion it's getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

This is the 5th time i am asking this question;

I was wondering if images captured by WBI scanners can be saved to a USB flash drive or external hard drive in any mode? Also are the TSA screeners allowed to bring USB drives into the viewing room with them, or unblur faces of passengers? Can you give me a yes or no answer or at least tell me you can't comment? Thanks.

Sandra said...

Chris Boyce wrote:

"There is absoutely no way that every screener and airport worker receives a yearly background check. The only people in government who are investigated yearly are people who handle crypto. So, you really don't know what you're talking about."

Thanks, Chris. I was just about to write something similiar in response to Reed when I came across your post.

Anonymous said...

@TSO Patrick:

You outlined nicely what happens. And it confirms what I feared: If you guys would keept the sterile area sterile none of that nonsense would need to happen.

Gosh - it can't be that hard, can it? Screen ALL people when entering the sterile area and then leave people alone.

Don't let TSOs or anybody else into the sterile area without a check and you can spare the whole voodoo later on. Saves us all a bunch of money, keeps things clean and manageable and most importantly doesn't harrass millions and millions of innocent Americans. Why does the TSA not get this concept?

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" Anonymous said...
Bob, you still haven't said if those gloves will be touching people's hands and if so, if they are changed each time you touch a new person.

Same thing for the pads, do you use a new clean pad for each person?

What chemicals are in those pads? Do I need to go disinfect my hands as soon as you are done touching me with those things?

February 24, 2010 2:33 PM
-----------------------------
Chemicals in the pad - already answered. There ARE NONE! It collects chemicals, not deposits them.

Gloves touching people's hands. There should be no reason for anything other than the swab to touch someone's hands IF the person holds out thier hand steadily and doesn't move it as it is swabbed. TSO should not have to hold the hand steady. Also, gloves will be changed as requested.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Cool! Can we see video of the rappeling federal agents? Why won't you post life size photos of the rappeling agents? And that net!!! Will they use a new, sterilized net each time or will it be the same old nasty, dirty net they used on the last guy?"

Here is the image of the net:

http://geeksyndicate.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/tmsuk-t-34-security-robot-with-net-launcher.jpg

And here is the team we used for the raid, sadly they won't let us video them doing a real raid, but we have the basic footage of one of their training runs here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiAkzEzwqh0

As you can see, we only use new nets and the most professional raid members. (I especially like the one that went Haha at the end of the video...).

Now for the disclaimer, this is all a joke.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "What happens when a whole body image shows the presence of an object in the inguinal area, which may be an adult diaper, menstrual pad or underwear bomb? Are all such objects "visually inspected"? What happens when whole body images detect prosthetic breasts or penises? Are those visually inspected?

If they are, this is very invasive for the innocent persons involved. If they aren´t, there is no addition in security."

While I can't comment on specific steps taken, or procedures in place, if an anomoly is discovered by the WBI operator, it hs to be cleared. There are steps in place to cover the clearing process, but they are covered under SSI and can't really be discussed. Sorry if that is not a good enough answer for you, but that is really all I can give you.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

amejr999 sez - "The title of this post is called ""What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test". This question was never answered."

The alarm will be cleared using the same set of protocols that apply at the checkpoint. I can't give the specific steps here, but this is done all day every day at checkpoints (and now in the gate areas) worldwide.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

kimm sez - "Yet another indignity we have to go through because we have a government and airline industry that has to be "PC", doesn't want to take care of the real problem and doesn't bother to check do not fly or terror watch lists.

TSA has to balance security with convenience? Really? Again, I go back to my comment of actually reading no fly lists and also, looking at where someone is going to or coming from.

The underwear bomber would not have happened if lists wee actually looked at, and oh...yeah....our government would have actually listened to his father.

Bet again, passengers suffer because others don't want to do their jobs."


One thing that I will say in defense of some information not being collated - there are hundreds of thousands (perhaps even millions) of the type of complaints filed by AbdulMutallabs father. In many cases, there is no viable threat, it is simply an enemy that someone wants to make trouble for, a family member that is not in good standing with the rest of the family, and any number of other reasons to file a wrongful complaint or report.

There simply are too many complaints, not enough HUMINT and personnel in analysis positions to follow up on all of these complaints.

West
TSA Blog Team

TSO Tom said...

RB said...
Another Anon says: I asked you this a while ago RB. Maybe now you've formulated an answer.

Who is going to SCREEN TSO's?

TSO's are in charge of keeping WEI's off planes. We dont need to be screened. We do the screening. Enough with your senseless babble.

February 25, 2010 10:05 PM
...................

Well you make me feel real safe now Anon TSA employee.

What with all of the known TSA perverts, drug dealers, thieves, guys taking guns to work, quiting their post, and the rest of the TSA employees with issues you guys certainly don't need to be screened.

No sir, TSA employees would never need screening!

Give me a fricken break.

February 26, 2010 4:01 PM
***********************************
RB, TSOs are subject to random screening just like all other airport employees. Obviously, I can not tell you the method of random screening, but we do get screened on a random basis.

Anonymous said...

I asked you this a while ago RB. Maybe now you've formulated an answer.

Who is going to SCREEN TSO's?

TSO's are in charge of keeping WEI's off planes. We dont need to be screened. We do the screening. Enough with your senseless babble.


**********************

Who watches the watchmen? If you implicitly trust anyone in TSA then you open yourselves to a gaping security hole by having a rogue agent on your staff.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "1) What happens if there is an false alarm, and how are you going to make sure we make our flight?

2) If the so-called "inconvenience" due to a false alarm causes us to miss a flight or incur other costs, will TSA pay for our costs or other damages?

3) How will you resolve alarms in a timely manner without a terminal dump?

4) I personally know of a case where TSA offered a friend of mine a choice when his shoes alarmed: TSA confiscates the shoes or he doesn't fly (he owns a farm and uses fertilizer). How will that case be resolved?"


1. The person and their items will be cleared the same as they would at a checkpoint when there is an alarm on the ETD.

2. The process of clearing the person should not take but 5 minutes or so. There should be no conflict with making the flight. Other than that I have no official word on what will happen if the passenger misses the flight.

3. Terminal dump happens when there is a breach or known threat. If there is no viable threat discovered on the individual when they alarm, there would be no dump.

4. I don't know of a reason where shoes would be confiscated unless they had something like explosives or some sort of built in weapon (like those cool old toe knives like they had in Roadhouse!). If the shoe alarms, then physical inspection of it should be able to clear it or identify the threat.

West
TSA Blog team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Bob, you still haven't said if those gloves will be touching people's hands and if so, if they are changed each time you touch a new person.

Same thing for the pads, do you use a new clean pad for each person?

What chemicals are in those pads? Do I need to go disinfect my hands as soon as you are done touching me with those things?"

The gloves do not have to touch a persons hand in order to perform the swab test.

A new pad is used for each persons hand.

The pads have no chemical in them, it is simply a plain swab of paper or cloth that is used to pick up traces of chemicals from a person or item.

West
TSA Blog team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "If the machine tests for drugs and for explosives. Can the drugs scanning part be de-activated? And if that's a yes, WILL it be de-activated?

The language of not being "calibrated" is very vague. If you use a testing machine make sure it is properly functioning. If it doesn't do - don't use it you will be having many thousands of needless false positives and this will make us less safe (since people won't pay attention to real alerts any longer)."

The machine has the ability to detect certain chemicals present in illicit drugs. This is not turned on in the machines we use. Drug residue will not generate a positive result on the machines used at the TSA checkpoints, baggage areas or the gate areas.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

I really try to not read the blog as it continuously proves to show the lack of foresight and basic respect by the AMERICAN traveling public. Officers are "darned" if they do and "darned" if they don't. The people that always have to give their 2 cents will never be happy because they do not fully understand and are probably just miserable people. What I want is for some one to come out and say what they are really mad about .....they are mad because TSA doesn't give them a free pass because of their race or age. Blogger Bob, I do have a question for you....how do you resist not telling these people that flying is not a right....it is a choice. take Greyhound.....please! But of course we know you won't because flying for 7 hours still beats driving for 3 days.

TSO Joe said...

"Sorry everyone I posted what happens when your hands alarm in the main post but my comment was not approved. I am still unsure what I wrote that disapproved it. I will be more vague. Just as TSO Reed states after the alarm on the hands you will be subject to a patdown and search of your bags."

You become a "selectee" and get additional screening.

TSO Joe

RB said...

Reports of TSA employees using the same ETD swab on multiple people are being made at various airports.

So what is going on?

TSM West said...

RB and others who keep bringing up about TSA employees not being screened. Someone (I don't remember who) answered with who will screen TSO's. That answere is kind of right. If you screened 100% of the TSA employees every time they entered the checkpoint you would be waisting the time of every passenger. Heres why, it doesn't matter if the TSO comes through naked with nothing available to him because he will be screening the bags and the person of everyone else that come through screening. What does that mean? It means, if the TSO is a terrorist he doesn't need to take anything with him, since he has access to every prohibited item surrendered at the checkpoint. If he is working with someone else (a terrorist passenger) all he has to do is not call a bag check on his bag and the bad item gets through anyway. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS FOR ADDITIONAL LAYERS OF SECURITY AT THE GATES! So how does screening a TSO make sense? And remember you are the ones that keep saying that TSO's can't be trusted.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for clarity on some questions.

When is a passenger's consent to an administrative search by the TSA given?

When passengers enter the airport gate?
When passengers enter the airport building?
When passengers pass thru the WTMD?
When passengers place their bags on the x-ray conveyor belt?

Also is it true that a passenger's "reasonable expectation of privacy" is lessened when the Country is involved in an international conflict, such as the current war in Afghanistan?

I could not find the answers anywhere on your website?

Please respond and let me know if you can or can't comment.
thanks.

sauronsfinger said...

"What utter and rank nonsense. No one is criticizing TSA's policies because they want to be a dictator."

Society said it. You say that the majority is wrong. That means you think you should replace majority rule with your rule. It's pretty simple.

Robert Johnson said...

So Bob, what happens if a person refuses to submit to a swab outside the sterile area. Say, in the public area of the airport waiting in line to the checkpoint as has been reported happening at DCA, BWI, TPA, and other aiports across the country?

TSA has repeatedly stated that they don't control the lines. They've also stated that the checkpoint doesn't begin at least until the TDC.

Additionally, courts have held that we haven't actually submitted to screening until we've placed our bags on the x-ray conveyor.

So how can TSA legally justify the swabbing of people OUTSIDE the sterile area, way before the checkpoint? I'd really be curious to hear from a lawyer if this is a violation of the 4th amendment. If we're not consenting to screening before the x-ray, and we're not even close to asking for admission to the sterile area before the TDC, on what legal and constitutional grounds do you justify this? Remember, we're talking in the PUBLIC area of the airport.

Robert

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
"You and I both know that your 99% claim is just not true."

You need to reread what I posted Anon.

H2H said...
“TSA works in an environment were more than 99% of passengers pose no threat to aviation.”
February 23, 2010 3:31 PM

As I believe your conclusion about my post was in error, I will not comment on the rest of your blog comment.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
“This is the 5th time i am asking this question;

I was wondering if images captured by WBI scanners can be saved to a USB flash drive or external hard drive in any mode? Also are the TSA screeners allowed to bring USB drives into the viewing room with them, or unblur faces of passengers? Can you give me a yes or no answer or at least tell me you can't comment? Thanks.
You need to reread what I posted Anon.”

Read the TSA blog post: Advanced Imaging Technology: Storing, Exporting and Printing of Images

“AIT machines do have USB, hard disc and Ethernet capabilities, but these are for limited data transfer only - an officer's user ID, log-in and log-out time, and statistical data. Images cannot be transmitted or stored. Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked.”

If you have any other privacy concerns, please refer to the WBI Privacy Impact Assessment (July 23, 2009).

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

Chris Boyce said…
“There is absoutely no way that every screener and airport worker receives a yearly background check.”

Persons employed by the airport, airlines or other tenants seeking unescorted access privileges within the controlled areas of airports must provide the airport sponsor with two forms of government-issued photo identification, be authorized to work in the United States of America, and undergo a fingerprint-based FBI criminal history records check to ensure that they have not committed any of an explicit list of crimes designated by Congress during the prior 10 years.

Some airports, with TSA approval, have implemented more rigorous background check standards, verifying information for the past 20 years. Further, at the time of initial employment and throughout the period where access privileges are authorized, these individuals are continually checked against the federal terrorist watch lists developed by TSA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and intelligence agencies. In addition to the criminal history records verification and terrorist watch list checks, the TSA conducts a security threat assessment (STA) to verify the individual’s identity, employment eligibility and citizenship status.

I believe you and Will are using two different definitions of background checks. Just a third party perspective.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

TSOWilliamReed said...
“I gave you a run down on the process' that TSA and airline employees go through.”

Just to elaborate on what TSO William said earlier. TSA and its partners do not rely on just a background check.

In additional to background checks and terror list vetting, Access control systems are also an important component in ensuring airport security. These systems have been in place for many years at airports and range from key or cipher locks to sophisticated, fully automated systems utilizing biometric data. The components provide security beginning at the public area through the security identification display area (SIDA). All certificated airports designate these zones in their Airport Security Plans (ASPs) and implement measures to restrict access to those with an operational need to enter the area. Airports must also immediately report to TSA any change in an individual’s badge status to ensure that individual’s access to the secured areas of airports will be revoked.

Most access control systems are also supplemented by closed circuit television to allow monitoring of the critical areas from a centralized control room, audible alarms to annunciate breaches, and patrols by public safety and law enforcement personnel. Vehicles and equipment seeking access to these areas are inspected by local law enforcement or specially trained public safety personnel. Some new generation access control systems allow for tracking of authorized vehicles within the secure areas.

Airport, airline and tenant employees undergo initial and recurrent security training, specifically tailored to the airport. The training emphasized the individual’s responsibilities and duties while working in the secured area of the airport, including the importance of challenge procedures and quickly contacting airport authorities of unusual activities or possible threats.

Additionally, the TSA Aviation Direct Access Screening Program (ADASP), recently changed to Playbook, subjects employees and their property to random screening as they enter the secured area. It is well established that random security checks provide an effective deterrent to both criminal and terrorist activities. Anywhere on the airport at any time, employees know they may encounter TSA screening. TSA believes that random checks under Playbook make airport security unpredictable, thus making it difficult for terrorists to ascertain operational patterns that can be exploited.

TSO William brought up the point about items of interest being located in the sterile area. These can include guns, club like items, power tools, disabling chemicals, and much much more. Focus on boarding gate area screening (gate screening) has increased in order to keep these items from making it onto your flight while achieving other security related goals as well.

TSA and its partners use a risk based layered approach to employee screening. Employee screening does not replicate the stationary process currently in place for passengers and their baggage, as the work environment for airport workers has different security issues that must be addressed with measures targeted to meet those potential vulnerabilities.

Read about employee screening here. Layers of Security: Employee Screening

Tim
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

TSO Tom said...
RB said...
Another Anon says: I asked you this a while ago RB. Maybe now you've formulated an answer.

Who is going to SCREEN TSO's?

TSO's are in charge of keeping WEI's off planes. We dont need to be screened. We do the screening. Enough with your senseless babble.

February 25, 2010 10:05 PM
...................

Well you make me feel real safe now Anon TSA employee.

What with all of the known TSA perverts, drug dealers, thieves, guys taking guns to work, quiting their post, and the rest of the TSA employees with issues you guys certainly don't need to be screened.

No sir, TSA employees would never need screening!

Give me a fricken break.

February 26, 2010 4:01 PM
***********************************
RB, TSOs are subject to random screening just like all other airport employees. Obviously, I can not tell you the method of random screening, but we do get screened on a random basis.

February 27, 2010 2:43 PM

......................
TSA employees, airport workers and passengers should have to submit to the exact same screening standards.

Doing otherwise makes a mockery out the whole process.

RB said...

HappyToHelp said...
Chris Boyce said…
“There is absoutely no way that every screener and airport worker receives a yearly background check.”

Persons employed by the airport, airlines or other tenants seeking unescorted access privileges within the controlled areas of airports must provide the airport sponsor with two forms of government-issued photo identification, be authorized to work in the United States of America, and undergo a fingerprint-based FBI criminal history records check to ensure that they have not committed any of an explicit list of crimes designated by Congress during the prior 10 years.

Some airports, with TSA approval, have implemented more rigorous background check standards, verifying information for the past 20 years. Further, at the time of initial employment and throughout the period where access privileges are authorized, these individuals are continually checked against the federal terrorist watch lists developed by TSA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and intelligence agencies. In addition to the criminal history records verification and terrorist watch list checks, the TSA conducts a security threat assessment (STA) to verify the individual’s identity, employment eligibility and citizenship status.

I believe you and Will are using two different definitions of background checks. Just a third party perspective.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

March 2, 2010 1:36 AM
................
And when one of these people has a felony conviction on their record TSA strong arms the airport authority to issue a SIDA badge anyway.

Yeah, I'm feeling safe!

TSOWilliamReed said...

RB said...
Reports of TSA employees using the same ETD swab on multiple people are being made at various airports.

So what is going on?

February 28, 2010 9:51 PM
---------------

1. Lazy officers that are not changing swabs which is wrong and nasty.

2. People that say such things are paying close enough attention to notice the officers switching out the swabs.

Anonymous said...

HTH said:

“AIT machines do have USB, hard disc and Ethernet capabilities, but these are for limited data transfer only - an officer's user ID, log-in and log-out time, and statistical data. Images cannot be transmitted or stored. Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked.”

Can't be hacked? Given a long enough time period anything could be hacked.

Anonymous said...

You were attacked for exploiting the suffering in Haiti.

And you are silent on the tragedy in Chile.

Terra said...

RB, the TSA and airport employees would most likely have a background check done, also I assume they would have some type of security clearance.

Anonymous said...

A number of years ago we were leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor for New York. Our daughter had a flute in it's case. She had brought it while visiting relatives to practice for an upcoming orchestral performance. Upon reaching security we were told to put our carry on things including the flute on a table. They proceeded to rub swabs on everything and then held the swabs on top of some kind of probe. They established that the flute came up with a positive reading. Two guys in suits took up positions nearby and we were asked if we had been gardening. Well, I knew where this was heading but I answered no, we hadn't. They had my daughter open the flute case. She took it out and they swabbed it. Positive. They seemed confused. I think what was happening was that for some reason the compound used to clean and polish silver finished instruments gave them a "hit". I thought they were going to ask her to play a few notes. Ha, ha. But they didn't. They finally let us through but I came away thinking that whatever this system was it's not ready for prime time.

Anonymous said...

Tim, since you seem to be someone who can answer questions, could you please take a minute and actually explain what happens if someone's hands alarm this new test?

Can you also explain how many alarms this test has resulted in, and how many of those people were terrorists versus people who had used glycerin-based products, cleaned a firearm, etc.?

And then can you explain why TSA is testing people who have not yet entered the screening area?

Anonymous said...

RB said...
TSO Tom said...
RB said...
Another Anon says: I asked you this a while ago RB. Maybe now you've formulated an answer.

Who is going to SCREEN TSO's?

TSO's are in charge of keeping WEI's off planes. We dont need to be screened. We do the screening. Enough with your senseless babble.

February 25, 2010 10:05 PM
...................

Well you make me feel real safe now Anon TSA employee.

What with all of the known TSA perverts, drug dealers, thieves, guys taking guns to work, quiting their post, and the rest of the TSA employees with issues you guys certainly don't need to be screened.

No sir, TSA employees would never need screening!

Give me a fricken break.

February 26, 2010 4:01 PM
***********************************
RB, TSOs are subject to random screening just like all other airport employees. Obviously, I can not tell you the method of random screening, but we do get screened on a random basis.

February 27, 2010 2:43 PM

......................
TSA employees, airport workers and passengers should have to submit to the exact same screening standards.

Doing otherwise makes a mockery out the whole process.

March 2, 2010 11:04 AM
***********************************
RB it is physically impossible to screen all airport employees, including TSA employees the same way that passengers get screened. The lines would be a mile long, and you'd have something else to complain about.

NOAA_DSO said...

Bob or any of the blog team.

you care to explain why your not following the explosive and narcotic detector manufactures documentation for proper use of the machine is for all operators to be wearing cotton gloves????


Then also what about the reports of TSA employees performing these swabs before the TDC which is in a public area and outside of your control. This falls into the territory of unreasonable search and seizure (4th amendment violation). What legal backing do you have for this yet further invasion of privacy?



Then also you care to explain why EYW staff is in violation of OSHA rules for labeling of chemicals. the two clear bottles with no labels and your staff there not having a clue as to what in them? That begs the question if they dont have a clue then how do they know its safe? Why should i trust them as well considering the number of TSA screw ups in the news lately and probably many more that didnt.

The same goes for those magic fish tank strips.

Thanks for contaminating marked and sealed scientific samples. So who do i send the bill for the damaged samples to for reimbursement????

Anonymous said...

Background checks only deal with past actions. Until each and every person entering the sterile area is screened completely, the entire screening apparatus is a bad joke.

Anonymous said...

Lets face the facts here.There is no such thing as 100% security.
Some one will always find a way to get around it.
The extra procedures are just precautions to deter the least experienced terrorists.The professional terrorists with years of training and knowledge , intent on doing something will do it, regardless of how much security, technology, and police we have.

TSO from PHL said...

For those of you on this blog who are against WBI machines, you are apparently the MINORITY.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-01-11-security-poll_N.htm

Anonymous said...

Wanna be more serious about actually keeping bad guys off airplanes... instead of relying on physical screening like etd- which is useless on anyone who carries around hand sanitizer- how about spending more time actually looking at who is getting on planes. the only people who are selectees are mothers traveling with exempt baby food liquids and those dumb enough to show a passport from one of the countries on the list to the ticket checker... any terrorist with half a brain knows all they have to do is show a state drivers license instead and they get a free pass on secondary screening...because screeners are so worried about "profiling" that they wont bother asking where the person is really from. Its impossible to keep every single threat item off airplanes. But its very realistic to make sure every person on the secondary screening list undergoes thourough screening or doesnt board the plane at all.

Either the "tdc" officers should be thouroughly trained to determine the citizenship of passengers so that they cannot shirk secondary screening if they are from a target country... or the ticket checking duty and list-matching duties should be handed over to customs instead if TSA isnt willing or able to do it on its own.

Not to mention, theres nothing keeping someone from using a fake ID to buy their ticket, dodging a hit on any watchlist... and then using the real ID with a fake boarding pass to get through security, and then finally using the real bording pass under a different name to board at the gate.

The best system would be to not only check names against the watchlists when people buy their tickets, but passports/ID's should be swiped through a computer at the security checkpoint. not only would it immediately recognize fradulent documents, but it would also give the name a second run against watchlists to make sure the person presenting the ticket is the same person who bought the ticket.

Computers and a barcode reader are probably expensive, but not nearly as expensive as 800 new etD machines and most likely would provide much better security and make it much easier to pick out those who should be picked out. THe stupid lights and magnifying glasses TSA is using now are funny looking and only work on a few licenses.

Concerned Citizen said...

Wanna know what I've noticed about all you "whinning complainers".....you all don't have a clue about what is really going on in this world. You complain about this and that and have no idea that these terrorists are serious. And your ignorance and stupidity plays right into their hands. If you were smart you would do some real research to see how and what these monsters use to infiltrate the system. If you care so much about proving Intel wrong, do some research and then come back and blog what your finding were. Until then the only thing I have to offer you ALL is some cheese to go with that wine. Flying is a privilege not an entitlement.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from TSO from PHL: "For those of you on this blog who are against WBI machines, you are apparently the MINORITY.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-01-11-security-poll_N.htm"


Of course they are, considering the fear TSA, DHS and Chertoff have promoted, plus the fact that TSA still hasn't been honest about the WBI, how it works, and what it will actually show. Of course, it's also because it's been way overoptimistic about the "threats" that these will detect to.

When you run a campaign of misinformation and your main target doesn't stop to do the research and think about what's being told, the result is that they'll be in favor of it.

Ask how many of those people fly more than once or twice a year. People who don't use the system often are less likely to care and more likely to be afraid. Perfect audience for TSA's propaganda.

Robert

Robert Johnson said...

Concerned citizen, I suggest you take a look at what's going on in the world. Really.

We are well aware of what's happening in the world. We're also thinking critically about them.

What is the point of terrorism? To terrorize people. Blowing up a plane, truck, building, etc is a tactic, not the goal. Keeping people fearful. Getting people to give up their freedoms for the perception of security. Getting people to conform to their ideas.

Do you think Osama and company WANT us to be free? The line we always heard is "they hate us because they hate our freedoms." So why are we as a people so willing to give them up.

I want to be safe. I also want to be free. The two are not mutually exclusive, but TSA seems to think it is. Every year it's just a little bit more they ask of us. And every time we "cheerfully" accept an erosion of our rights, the terrorists win.

The terrorists don't have to blow up a plane to win. American implodes on itself and the people cede more freedom to the government to be safe. Osama just has to send a couple dumb people in to fail and he accomplishes his goals. Osama is laughing his tail off at us in his cave because we make it so easy for him.

Many things can be done to secure our airports without being invasive and requiring us to give up freedoms. Airport security wasn't what failed on 9/11 - it was the policy of complying with hijacker demands that did. That policy ended when the brave folks of UA93 chose not to give in and paid the ultimate price.

TSA, DHS, and Chertoff in his fear mongering have done more to terrorize this nation by keeping them fearful than Osama ever could.

Don't want the terrorists to win? Don't be afraid. Don't overreact when they make move.

Yes, I realize this involves asking people not to be wimps, but are we a strong America, or a weak America? Considering our reactions over the last several years, I can only conclude that we are the latter.

That should concern you, Concerned Citizen.

The day people stop complaining it the day people either stop caring or are no longer able to due to the government interference. Neither is good for America.

Robert

RB said...

***********************************
RB it is physically impossible to screen all airport employees, including TSA employees the same way that passengers get screened. The lines would be a mile long, and you'd have something else to complain about.

March 2, 2010 7:37 PM
...........
No it is not physically impossible to screen all airport employees.

You just have to want to do it first.

TSA is screening around 2 million people a day now. Adding a few thousand airport workers to the mix would not be a large job.

RB said...

TSO from PHL said...
For those of you on this blog who are against WBI machines, you are apparently the MINORITY.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-01-11-security-poll_N.htm

March 3, 2010 11:00 AM
..............
The Pope is against WBI Strip Search Machines.

He represents a pretty large group of people.

The tide is coming in and TSA is buried in the sand at the low water mark.

To_Protect_and_Serve said...

TSO from PHL

considering your airports incidents as of late, It might be best if you kept a low profile. Then considering some of the comments to the article I would say the polls results arent accurate to say the least.


I wonder how many people were polled in that are once in a while flyers and how many of them were frequent flyers. Im betting there werent many.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
"Can't be hacked? Given a long enough time period anything could be hacked."

Yes. Any piece of software can be hacked, but you need to take the passage into context. It reads “Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked.” The reference seems to be made that it cannot be hacked remotely. You would need access to the machine. The passage is correct.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
"Not to mention, theres nothing keeping someone from using a fake ID to buy their ticket, dodging a hit on any watchlist... and then using the real ID with a fake boarding pass to get through security, and then finally using the real bording pass under a different name to board at the gate."

TSA is working on it. Bob blogged about this back in September of 08.
Bar-Coded Boarding Passes – Secure, Mobile, and On The Way

You can look at other paperless boarding pass blogs in the TSA Blog Post Archives.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
“Tim, since you seem to be someone who can answer questions, could you please take a minute and actually explain what happens if someone's hands alarm this new test?"

I can’t give the exact procedures as to what a Transportation Security Officer will do if your hands alarm. That information is Sensitive Security Information (SSI) and cannot be made public. I would love to tell you that if A happens then C will happen or if A + B happens then D will happen. Instead, I can offer a vague explanation.

TSA takes a risk based layered approach to security. If a passenger hands alarm an ETD machine, then TSA will use more resources on that passenger. Risk level of that passenger has increased. Primary screening and secondary screening (closer look) will be conducted to insure no Weapons, Explosives, and Incendiaries (WEI) are present.

“Can you also explain how many alarms this test has resulted in, and how many of those people were terrorists versus people who had used glycerin-based products, cleaned a firearm, etc.?”

TSA does not collect data on passengers who use glycerin-based products, cleaned a firearm, est. Alarm rates are not public information, but has been stated to be low in the past. It is impossible to answer your questions.

“And then can you explain why TSA is testing people who have not yet entered the screening area?”

Your question is not clear.
Why TSA test hands for explosives?

To find explosives. TSA is tasked by Congress to keep explosives out of the sterile area.

Why does TSA conduct ETD testing before the checkpoint?

TSA is trying to minimize any kind of impact on the checkpoint by utilizing different areas around said security checkpoint.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Randy said...

@Concerned Citizen:

Re: you all don't have a clue about what is really going on in this world.

Then please tell us. You don't have to keep it a secret, since all the bad guys already know what they themselves are doing.


Re: Flying is a privilege not an entitlement.

While I don't necessarily disagree with this statement, it does say something about your attitude.

Peace,
Randy

RB said...

"What Happens If My Hands Alarm During an Explosives Trace Detection Test (And other questions answered)"

Bob the title of this blog post clearly indicates that at least one answer would be forthcoming and perhaps more.

You didn't answer your own question so for starters how about finishing the post and adding in the answer to the original question.

Then while your working on it how about some answers to the hundreds of questions that have been asked and never answered since this blog started.

Here is a recent question that is waiting an answer;

If ETD testing is being done before the xray just where does TSA derive the authority to screen anyone for anything before submitting to screening?

Does this mean TSA could setup the ETD tester in the parking lot and test there or at the ticket counters and test there?

avxo said...

TSO from PHL said: "For those of you on this blog who are against WBI machines, you are apparently the MINORITY."

Because, as we all know, security matters need to be decided by a vote, and a simple majority at the polls serves as the arbiter of what's safe and what's not.

Seriously, these are the kinds of statements that make people laugh at you, mock your "expertise" and question your ability to provide security at a small-town bar.

I personally have no issue with ETD scanning -- except that if, as you say, it will only add a few seconds to the whole checkpoint "experience" then it only makes sense to do it all the time.

I, also, only have minor concerns when it comes to WBI scanning. My biggest beef has been the inaccurate information that DHS/TSA have been spreading around about it.

First, the machines didn't have a USB port and couldn't save anything. Then they did have a USB port, but it was physically inaccessible. Oops, sorry it was physically accessible after all, just disabled. Or was it? Turns out it's available and accessible, but the software won't let you save pictures. Well, unless you run in debug mode.

And then, we have WBI scan thrown around as the panacea to cure all our security woes.

Perhaps TSA would have more credibility with -- and the support of -- the public if they actually didn't fudge statements more than a slimy politician, engage in wordplay to make A really mean B which means not A, and implement "security by secret handshake."

avxo said...

HappyToHelp said: "TSA is trying to minimize any kind of impact on the checkpoint by utilizing different areas around said security checkpoint."

Please define "around" for us. What radius do you think that "around [the] checkpoint" cover?

10 feet?
100 feet?
1000 feet?

Does "around" mean that TSA can station people and conduct security checks at the entrance to the airport building?

Does "around" mean that TSA can station people and conduct security checks at the parking lot?

Does "around" mean that TSA can station people and conduct security checks at the mall that happens to be adjacent to the airport?

And is this your own personal opinion or does it represent the official viewpoint of DHS/TSA?

Jim Huggins said...

TSO from PHL writes:

For those of you on this blog who are against WBI machines, you are apparently the MINORITY.

Civil rights have always been about protecting the rights of a minority of the population, not the majority.

Security decisions should be made on the basis of whether not they actually improve security, not on whether or not they're popular.

Anonymous said...

“AIT machines do have USB, hard disc and Ethernet capabilities, but these are for limited data transfer only - an officer's user ID, log-in and log-out time, and statistical data. Images cannot be transmitted or stored. Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked.”

What do you mean that these machines are not networked?

Do you have a REALLY long cable that goes from the scanner to a computer?

Or is the machine connected to some router, and so is the viewing computer?

Are those computers connected to another system? Perhaps one to authenticate the user credentials, revoke access to those no longer with the TSA?

Those machines are networked and as long as they are in any kind of network, they are susceptible to hacking.

I will never believe that there is a single wire going from the scanner to the viewing computer and that the computer is a stand-alone machine not connected to ANYTHING else.

I think you are lying.

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" RB said...
TSO from PHL said...
For those of you on this blog who are against WBI machines, you are apparently the MINORITY.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-01-11-security-poll_N.htm

March 3, 2010 11:00 AM
..............
The Pope is against WBI Strip Search Machines.

He represents a pretty large group of people.

The tide is coming in and TSA is buried in the sand at the low water mark.

March 3, 2010 5:04 PM"
--------------------------
The pope is also against pre-marital sex. I guess that means that all his constituents are as well? Group just got smaller.

TSM, been here said...

from March 2, 2010 7:59 PM
Quoted:
"NOAA_DSO said...
Bob or any of the blog team.

you care to explain why your not following the explosive and narcotic detector manufactures documentation for proper use of the machine is for all operators to be wearing cotton gloves????"
-------------------------------
That instruction was for when maintenance was being performed, not for during daily use.



"Then also what about the reports of TSA employees performing these swabs before the TDC which is in a public area and outside of your control. This falls into the territory of unreasonable search and seizure (4th amendment violation). What legal backing do you have for this yet further invasion of privacy?"
------------------------
Until now this hasn't been challenged. Challenge the procedure in court and let us know the outcome.




"Then also you care to explain why EYW staff is in violation of OSHA rules for labeling of chemicals. the two clear bottles with no labels and your staff there not having a clue as to what in them? That begs the question if they dont have a clue then how do they know its safe?

The same goes for those magic fish tank strips."
-------------------------------
MSDS are available (actually required) to be at the checkpoint in a binder. All TSOs should have access to them. We had the same questions when the chemicals first came out and TSA was forced to provide the MSDS sheets.



"Thanks for contaminating marked and sealed scientific samples. So who do i send the bill for the damaged samples to for reimbursement????"
----------------------------
Huh??

RB said...

Terra said...
RB, the TSA and airport employees would most likely have a background check done, also I assume they would have some type of security clearance.

March 2, 2010 2:13 PM
............
Terra, I have tried responding to your comment at least two times now but it seems Blogger Bob feels a need to censor free speech even when it complies with this blogs posting standards.

Why would you think TSA would try to block a citizens right to free speech, especially on a blog that is funded by taxpayers? I think it is a violation of Constitutional protections!

Anyhow, I suggest you do some checking on past TSA employee issues. In this case Google or any other search engine will provide hundreds of hits. To get you started there was a case of a sex pervert in Florida, a known felon in Virgina, drug users in California plus several documented cases of thieves working for TSA. These are not rumors, these cases are fact.

And all of these TSA employees had background checks and likely some kind of security clearance.

RB said...

Randy said...
@Concerned Citizen:

Re: you all don't have a clue about what is really going on in this world.

Then please tell us. You don't have to keep it a secret, since all the bad guys already know what they themselves are doing.


Re: Flying is a privilege not an entitlement.

While I don't necessarily disagree with this statement, it does say something about your attitude.

Peace,
Randy

March 4, 2010 8:34 AM
...............
The founders of the United States considered "free travel" to be such a basic right that no mention was required in the Constitutional documents.

Flying on an airlines equipment is certainly a privilage that is met by agreeing to conditions and payment but with the airline not the government.

Governments attempts to restrict a persons travel is decidely in violation of our individual rights unless charges have been brought in court of law.

Security of the airlines property lies solely with the airlines, not the government and TSA is a clear danger to the peoples of the United States.

NOAA_DSO said...

TSM, been here

go reread your documentation and talk to your GE rep cotton gloves arent for maintenance operations only, its all the time. Its because we use similar GE equipment in the lab, and fresh clean cotton gloves are mandatory.


umm actually if you bothered to read the management memo that came out from the Bierfeldt vs Napolitano case in the STL FSD Declaration. If you would have read your own management SOP you would have known that your boundaries are defined, and the area in front of the TDC you don['t control and you cant screen people.

http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/TSA..._2_and_3_0.pdf

Attachment Two, item 9

Ill save you the search time for it post it here

(9) An individual submits to screening to verify his or her identity when he or she produces identification media to TSA or an alternative verification process is required. This normally occurs at the Travel Document Checker podium in front of the checkpoint. Once TSA has verified the individual's identity and has determined that the identification is not fraudulent, the individual is free to proceed to the checkpoint or exit the queue. At the checkpoint, an individual submits to screening of his or her person when he or she enters the first walk-through screening technology or requests special screening. An individual submits to screening of his or her accessible property when he or she places it on the conveyor belt leading to the x-ray machine. Individuals who have completed the process of screening of their persons or accessible property are fee to leave the checkpoint and the sterile area.

Pay attention it wasnt the MSDS sheets (which are required by law) but rather the bottles with unknown chemicals were unlabelled which is a violation of OSHA rules.


As for the samples they were sand samples from between 100 and 300 feet below the water and in a remote location. they were sealed with NOAA tape, and the samples were individualized in each sealed, so the govt clerk had to break 4 separate seals to get to them, and did care that they were scientific samples for NOAA research. it was EYW that got noisy but yet security at MAZ, SJU, and MIA didnt have a problem with it.

I will tell you that you all need to stop using chemicals that are known carcinogens (toluene being one of them) for what ever your testing for with those strips because that is what came up on our testing equipment.

You dont want to know what those samples would cost to get again now as its probably more then you make in a couple of years working for TSA.

Al Ames said...

Tim said: "TSA takes a risk based layered approach to security. If a passenger hands alarm an ETD machine, then TSA will use more resources on that passenger. Risk level of that passenger has increased. Primary screening and secondary screening (closer look) will be conducted to insure no Weapons, Explosives, and Incendiaries (WEI) are present."

Tim, TSA has shown no evidence of doing any sort of risk analysis to justify what it does. If anything, TSA's security measures are reactive and knee jerk action. Otherwise, we wouldn't see such overreactions and then scaling back after a few weeks. Of course, complete removal of a measure will never happen because that will require that TSA admit its wrong - and it's never done that in the nearly 8 years it's been around.

We know TSA has been playing around with WBI for awhile. I'm pretty much convinced it was just waiting for an incident like the underwear bomber to implement this thing full scale. Prior to it, it was a tough sale. Afterwards, Congress is ready to give you guys a carte blanche.

Layered security is good, but the layers have to be worth something. As it stands now, it seems like layer 20, the passengers, have been effective at handling incidents. More layers aren't better if the layers aren't good to begin with.

The more I see of TSA security, the more I see it's not about security but about control. TSA's now even coming out into the public area (the line prior to the checkpoint) and harassing people with swabs. If you don't comply, you don't fly. However, considering what was testified to in the Bierfeldt case by TSA, I don't see anywhere in their legal filings where it says screening begins outside the checkpoint. We see consent to screen bags when bags are placed on the x-ray conveyor, consent to search the person when they walk thru the WTMD, and consent to check ID at the TDC.

The screws keep tightening down.

Al

LTSO with Answers said...

Terra, I have tried responding to your comment at least two times now but it seems Blogger Bob feels a need to censor free speech even when it complies with this blogs posting standards.

Why would you think TSA would try to block a citizens right to free speech, especially on a blog that is funded by taxpayers? I think it is a violation of Constitutional protections!


RB I am being censored as well. Ha-ha! You just have to keep typing in another way to get your point across.

LTSO with Answers said...

Then also what about the reports of TSA employees performing these swabs before the TDC which is in a public area and outside of your control. This falls into the territory of unreasonable search and seizure (4th amendment violation). What legal backing do you have for this yet further invasion of privacy?

NOAA_DSO I want to try to answer this question the best I can. If you are walking towards the TDC and you are waiting in the line then you have the intention of going through security to get to the sterile area. Before you say it, yes I understand you could be waiting with someone to keep them company but that are people out there that will use that to an advantage.

The legal basis to me is a fine line for sure. There is usually notice given before an area that will be screened outside of the checkpoints. If you see this notice cosider it the start of the checkpoint. Why would you enter an area that tells you that you will be screened if you don't want to be screened? Think of it as pushing out the security perimeter when a notice is given. Do not go into an area that states you may be subject to screening beyond that point if you do not wish to start your screening at that point. It doesn't fall into unreasonable search and seizure because you are voluntarily entering an area in which you may be searched.

Isaac Newton said...

TSOWilliam Reed answered the title question this way:

You will recieve additional screening just as always. Extra Pat down and a search of your property. probably will take about 5 minutes with a normal suitcase being your carry on.

Patrick (BOS TSO) said something similar:

Here's what happens.

1. You recieve a pat-down to make sure there's nothing on you.

2. We go through bag and search to make sure there's nothing bad in there.
...

So does TSO Jacob:
What happens if your hands alarm the ETD machine? The same thing that always happens. TSA will give you a pat down to ensure you are not strapped with a suicide vest (or any version of one) and check your bags to make sure you don’t have an IED.

Bob, according to your people, what happens if I alarm the ETD is that I get a pat down and you go through my bag.

Why couldn't you just say that in the main post? What's with the secret-decoder-ring, can't-tell-you drama?

This is why we call it security theatre, you guys are just acting the part.

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Then also what about the reports of TSA employees performing these swabs before the TDC which is in a public area and outside of your control. This falls into the territory of unreasonable search and seizure (4th amendment violation). What legal backing do you have for this yet further invasion of privacy?

NOAA_DSO I want to try to answer this question the best I can. If you are walking towards the TDC and you are waiting in the line then you have the intention of going through security to get to the sterile area. Before you say it, yes I understand you could be waiting with someone to keep them company but that are people out there that will use that to an advantage.

The legal basis to me is a fine line for sure. There is usually notice given before an area that will be screened outside of the checkpoints. If you see this notice cosider it the start of the checkpoint. Why would you enter an area that tells you that you will be screened if you don't want to be screened? Think of it as pushing out the security perimeter when a notice is given. Do not go into an area that states you may be subject to screening beyond that point if you do not wish to start your screening at that point. It doesn't fall into unreasonable search and seizure because you are voluntarily entering an area in which you may be searched.

March 4, 2010 10:26 PM
......................

You might want to review TSA Management Directive 100.4. Start with the item at (9).

It clearly states when screening starts.

ETD testing outside the screening area also seems to be an action not in conformance with the agreement between DHS/ACLU that DHS agreed to in order to have the Beirfeldt case dropped.

GSOLTSO said...

NOAA_DSO sez - "Bob or any of the blog team.

you care to explain why your not following the explosive and narcotic detector manufactures documentation for proper use of the machine is for all operators to be wearing cotton gloves????


Then also what about the reports of TSA employees performing these swabs before the TDC which is in a public area and outside of your control. This falls into the territory of unreasonable search and seizure (4th amendment violation). What legal backing do you have for this yet further invasion of privacy?



Then also you care to explain why EYW staff is in violation of OSHA rules for labeling of chemicals. the two clear bottles with no labels and your staff there not having a clue as to what in them? That begs the question if they dont have a clue then how do they know its safe? Why should i trust them as well considering the number of TSA screw ups in the news lately and probably many more that didnt.

The same goes for those magic fish tank strips.

Thanks for contaminating marked and sealed scientific samples. So who do i send the bill for the damaged samples to for reimbursement????"

I will take a stab at this one.

I do not have a manual to refer to, so my answer is based entirely on what I have observed and costs that I can look up. Cotton gloves would become contaminated much more often (due to the nature of the material it is made of), and it would cost a lot more to supply. Without going into gov contracts and the difference between those and personal costs a box of nitrile gloves (which many checkpoints use) can be found for $4.99 (or a bit more or less) on the internet (with a box count of 100 gloves). Then based on a basic cotton safety glove it comes in a box of 12 for $6.99 (now I am certain that better prices can be worked out for both based on volume and other normal haggling procedures). That translates to a difference of 4.9 cents per nitrile glove, and 29.125 cents per cotton glove . A huge savings based on a basic comparison.

I have not really heard of any incidents happening outside of the checkpoint area, can you include a link to these reports so I can determine the veracity and forward any info found?

I have no idea sa the labeling violations. Please use Got Feedback to report these violations to the specific airport you oberve the violations at. The only way we can fix that problem is to have it reported at the source. Seriously, please use GF to report this to the airports you see it at.

The strips are used to test for explosives.

I would ask you to use Got Feeback to address the samples issue. Perhaps there would be some sort of communication that can occur between you and the airport you travel through. This is honestly all I can tell you about the samples situation, please file the info with GF so we can work to address situations to prevent problems in the future.

TSM, been here said...

Quoted:
" NOAA_DSO said...
TSM, been here

go reread your documentation and talk to your GE rep cotton gloves arent for maintenance operations only, its all the time. Its because we use similar GE equipment in the lab, and fresh clean cotton gloves are mandatory."
---------------------
Umm, just spoke to my rep. For the ETD machines we use, cotton gloves are NOT required for normal ops. I think my repair tech knows more about his machines then you do.

As far as the ETD screening outside the CP goes, no ne is requiring you to be screened. Signs are posted so if you do not want to be screened you are free to leave.

As far as your contaminated samples... Why did you allow them to be opened?

Ranger11 said...

RB,

FYI,
At this time, a security clearance has not been issued to front line officers of TSA. Currently, TSA is underway with the process of conducting and granting security clearances to TSM, STSO and LTSO level TSA employees.

Regulatory and FSD Staff are currently the only individuals that have a clearance level of Secret or higher.

What they have is a very heavy background investigation on the level of a BIC2.

Again, they are currently starting to get them clearances at this very moment.

kimm said...

West said:"There simply are too many complaints, not enough HUMINT and personnel in analysis positions to follow up on all of these complaints"

Wonderful. So let's just make every single passenger guilty until
proven innocent because again, money is being wasted on useless equipment instead of useful manpower and human knowledge.

We need the HUMAN BRAIN and COMMON SENSE to catch and identify potential problems, NOT more technology.

Just another terrorist victory!

LTSO with Answers said...

You might want to review TSA Management Directive 100.4. Start with the item at (9).

It clearly states when screening starts.

ETD testing outside the screening area also seems to be an action not in conformance with the agreement between DHS/ACLU that DHS agreed to in order to have the Beirfeldt case dropped.


RB I see that directive as screening starting at the actual security checkpoint. Authority to TSA is to keep the dangerous items off of airplanes and anywhere before the boarding gate this can be done. If there is a sign stating there is screening then you are voluntarily entering an area to be screened. That is a consent in my mind and will fall without 4th amendment searches.

Simon said...

i have seen lots of reuse of the swabs over the past 2 weeks at the Birmingham, AL airport. Also what chemicals are on the swabs?

LTSO with Answers said...

i have seen lots of reuse of the swabs over the past 2 weeks at the Birmingham, AL airport. Also what chemicals are on the swabs?



Simon

There are no chemicals on the swabs we use. Also if you see swabs being re-used for this particular precedure then report it to a supervisor so that the officers can be briefed and reminded. This happening may just be human error. People forget things.

NOAA_DSO said...

Bob

where is my post from Friday 3/5 with the response about labeling rules for chemicals under OSHA and irresponsible actions of screeners at EYW.

got something to hide, or do you not like being called on the carpet in public?

Blogger Bob said...

NOAA - Please follow the comment policy and your posts will be published.

As far as Got Feedback e-mail that you never got a response to... I have an archive of all e-mails sent through Got Feedback. I checked all of the e-mails from EYW and none of them came close to matching your account. Please e-mail me at tsablog@tsa.dhs.gov and let me know if you need any help using got feedback. I'd like for us to get to the bottom of what happened and see what kinds of solutions we might be able to come up with.

Also e-mail me and I'll let you know why your comment was rejected.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
You might want to review TSA Management Directive 100.4. Start with the item at (9).

It clearly states when screening starts.

ETD testing outside the screening area also seems to be an action not in conformance with the agreement between DHS/ACLU that DHS agreed to in order to have the Beirfeldt case dropped.


RB I see that directive as screening starting at the actual security checkpoint. Authority to TSA is to keep the dangerous items off of airplanes and anywhere before the boarding gate this can be done. If there is a sign stating there is screening then you are voluntarily entering an area to be screened. That is a consent in my mind and will fall without 4th amendment searches.

March 5, 2010 6:06 PM
..............
Your agency agreed to certain conditions in order to make the Beirfeldt case go away. The MD 100.4 was part of that agreement.

Are you suggesting that DHS/TSA isn't going to keep their side of the agreement with ACLU?

Would seem to re-open the case for prosecution wouldn't it?

NOAA_DSO said...

Bob

Oh I know why it wasnt approved its because you don't like people calling it like they see it. In reference to the "comment policy" is a new definition of irony since you allow TSA employees make "vulgar or abusive language; personal attacks of any kind; or offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups" remarks about passengers but were not allowed the same both here and other forums (TSORon being the lead example here and on flyertalk). Sorry the actions taken are straight out of Merriam-Websters as a adjective descriptor.

So Ill ask it again. Why doesnt TSA follow (hence violated OSHA rules) proper labeling procedures for non original manufactures containers for chemicals per OSHA rules in reference to the chemicals in the unlabeled bottle(s) for some sort of testing (with base 10 strips) at EYW checkpoint on afternoon/evening of 12/21 ? Im not referencing the MSDS sheets either.


Why am I not surprised you never got the complaint, and explains the headlines of TSA getting so few complaints. Then Ill check the status of a complaint a another diver filed for a incident after a conference. incident date 11/7/09 MCO expert traveler lane after the person got a retaliatory bag search after the x-ray screener wasn't paying attention to the belt when a laptop got flipped off and was called on it, and said to pay attention to there job.? that written complaint ever make it to you or logged at MCO?

sorry not going to email you either because I know that would just bring more retaliation for speaking against TSA.

Anonymous said...

From: Raymond Osborne
\
TSA doesn't search for narcotics? yes you guys do and there are discussion forums where TSA supervisors kudo security agents for finding them on the people and handing them over to the airport cops. The only thing the TSA can claim is that they do not become involved in the prosecution of it. I am not for, nor really against anyone's personal use of whatever they do but a gram of cocaine or a small package of weed will not bring down a plane nor would 98pct of the people who imbibe so don't say it's for the safety of the others... you guys really think you're something completey opposite of what (collectively) you are.

Anonymous said...

RB said...
Your agency agreed to certain conditions in order to make the Beirfeldt case go away. The MD 100.4 was part of that agreement.

Are you suggesting that DHS/TSA isn't going to keep their side of the agreement with ACLU?

Would seem to re-open the case for prosecution wouldn't it?
----------------------------------

According to MD 100.4, the TSA can perform at least six administrative or special needs searches. The ETD of hands outside of the checkpoint is not apart of Checkpoint screening. It falls under another form of screening that is apart of the list of examples for administrative or special needs searches under MD 100.4.

I think that answers your question.

avxo said...

LTSO with answers said: "There is usually notice given before an area that will be screened outside of the checkpoints. If you see this notice cosider it the start of the checkpoint."

Do you honestly mean to suggest that if TSA posts a sign on the airport parking lot entrance, it can extend its authority to screen cars coming and going?

LTSO with Answers said...

Do you honestly mean to suggest that if TSA posts a sign on the airport parking lot entrance, it can extend its authority to screen cars coming and going?

According to MD 100.4, the TSA can perform at least six administrative or special needs searches. The ETD of hands outside of the checkpoint is not apart of Checkpoint screening. It falls under another form of screening that is apart of the list of examples for administrative or special needs searches under MD 100.4.

I think that answers your question.


What Anon said. Signs are to give you notice that you are entering an area where you may be subject to screening. I have screened vehicles before.

LTSO with Answers said...

Your agency agreed to certain conditions in order to make the Beirfeldt case go away. The MD 100.4 was part of that agreement.

Are you suggesting that DHS/TSA isn't going to keep their side of the agreement with ACLU?

Would seem to re-open the case for prosecution wouldn't it?


The MD 100.4 does not give guidance for referring large amounts of currency for law enforcement to handle. That is under other guidance. I don't see what you are getting at here. The case goes way beyond just TSA MD no. 100.4

LTSO with Anwers said...

From: Raymond Osborne
\
TSA doesn't search for narcotics? yes you guys do and there are discussion forums where TSA supervisors kudo security agents for finding them on the people and handing them over to the airport cops. The only thing the TSA can claim is that they do not become involved in the prosecution of it. I am not for, nor really against anyone's personal use of whatever they do but a gram of cocaine or a small package of weed will not bring down a plane nor would 98pct of the people who imbibe so don't say it's for the safety of the others... you guys really think you're something completey opposite of what (collectively) you are.


For the many more times. TSA does not search for drugs. We have no authority to do so. We sometimes come across drugs while we are searching to clear a person or property. These incidental finds are referred to law enforcement for further resolve. Yes, officers are sometimes praised for these finds but only because the find could of been something else. Smuggling of drugs are the same tactics that could be used to smuggle dangerous items through security.

LTSO with Answers said...

So Ill ask it again. Why doesnt TSA follow (hence violated OSHA rules) proper labeling procedures for non original manufactures containers for chemicals per OSHA rules in reference to the chemicals in the unlabeled bottle(s) for some sort of testing (with base 10 strips) at EYW checkpoint on afternoon/evening of 12/21 ? Im not referencing the MSDS sheets either.


Well I ask you how could we be getting away with being out of compliance. That would mean OSHA is not doing their job, right? If we were out of compliance then we would be corrected. I have no idea what labeling of bottles you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" avxo said...
LTSO with answers said: "There is usually notice given before an area that will be screened outside of the checkpoints. If you see this notice cosider it the start of the checkpoint."

Do you honestly mean to suggest that if TSA posts a sign on the airport parking lot entrance, it can extend its authority to screen cars coming and going?

March 9, 2010 10:40 PM"
-----------------------
Yes.
Remember the airports are owned or run by an entity other than TSA. That entity (county, state, whatever) has given permission for TSA to do the ETD screening outside of the CP. If you do not want to be screened, do not come to the airport. If you have a problem with this contact whoever runs, owns, operates the airport.

RB said...

LTSO with Anwers said...
From: Raymond Osborne
\
TSA doesn't search for narcotics? yes you guys do and there are discussion forums where TSA supervisors kudo security agents for finding them on the people and handing them over to the airport cops. The only thing the TSA can claim is that they do not become involved in the prosecution of it. I am not for, nor really against anyone's personal use of whatever they do but a gram of cocaine or a small package of weed will not bring down a plane nor would 98pct of the people who imbibe so don't say it's for the safety of the others... you guys really think you're something completey opposite of what (collectively) you are.

For the many more times. TSA does not search for drugs. We have no authority to do so. We sometimes come across drugs while we are searching to clear a person or property. These incidental finds are referred to law enforcement for further resolve. Yes, officers are sometimes praised for these finds but only because the find could of been something else. Smuggling of drugs are the same tactics that could be used to smuggle dangerous items through security.

March 10, 2010 2:28 PM
................
What training are TSA employees given on drug identification?

If none then what basis are you using to determine that some item might be a drug?

Could it not just be a harmless item that you cannot identify?

Seems TSA is looking for drugs if you refer unknown items to LEO's.

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Your agency agreed to certain conditions in order to make the Beirfeldt case go away. The MD 100.4 was part of that agreement.

Are you suggesting that DHS/TSA isn't going to keep their side of the agreement with ACLU?

Would seem to re-open the case for prosecution wouldn't it?

The MD 100.4 does not give guidance for referring large amounts of currency for law enforcement to handle. That is under other guidance. I don't see what you are getting at here. The case goes way beyond just TSA MD no. 100.4

March 10, 2010 2:23 PM
...........
TSA included MD 100.4 in the case and as part of the settlement.

Ask TSA HQ why they did that.

But it does define exactly where screening begins and it is not in the waiting line before the TDC.

Anonymous said...

RB said....
But it does define exactly where screening begins and it is not in the waiting line before the TDC.
-----------------------------------

Your question has been already answered once. The ETD test of hands outside of the checkpoint is not apart of checkpoint screening.

On the issue of drugs:
The TSA does not give drug identification training to its TSOs. Common sense, personal education, experience, a passenger's behavior, or a combination might lead a TSO to inform their supervisor that an item is a drug. If the supervisor agrees with the TSO, the supervisor has to report it to a LEO. The LEO ultimately makes the decision if the item is really a drug or not.

If the TSA was really looking for drugs, the ETD machines would be also set to look for drugs. However, the TSA make sure that part of the machine is disabled.

LTSO with Answers said...

What training are TSA employees given on drug identification?

If none then what basis are you using to determine that some item might be a drug?

Could it not just be a harmless item that you cannot identify?

Seems TSA is looking for drugs if you refer unknown items to LEO's.


RB some officers have prior experience with drugs from previous careers. Some officers know what they are looking at if there is paraphernalia in close proximity to what looks to be drugs. TSA does not train officers to identify drugs. Law enforcement is notified and makes the determination. Yes, it is possible that what we may think are drugs could be another substance. It all boils down to past experience. To always assume something is not what it is would not be using common sense.

Anonymous said...

Guys and gals.....don't bother answering the whiners and naysayers; they are just trying to get you to take the bait with their silly posts. The point is this: all those on this blog who chronically whine and complain about TSA procedures would be the VERY FIRST to SCREAM if another terror incident occured. "Why didn't you do more??" I can hear it already. Folks, you will NEVER please people like this; their entire agenda is to continually belittle all others. Period. To the naysayers I ask this: Fine. Let us hear how you would envision airline security. Give me some well thought-out and specific answers. I want to see how you are going to envision providing a layered security approach. While you are contemplating your security program keep this in mind: would you want your daughter/son/mother/father on that plane with your security? Think hard whiners. Real hard.

Randy said...

@Anonymous 10:49

You post was perfect until you wrote:

===============
While you are contemplating your security program keep this in mind: would you want your daughter/son/mother/father on that plane with your security?
===============

Yes, airline security is hard, but as most people here would agree, we shouldn't have to give up *every* right just to fly. I believe that the DHS/TSA's knee jerk reactions are not making us safer. Since all screening has flaws and weaknesses, perhaps we should simply be strip searched just to be ultra-sure. In other words how could anyone possibly let their mothers or daughters ride on an airplane that is not 100% safe?

And I'm guessing that you let your wife and children ride in cars. How do you know a drunk driver won't kill them?

Yes, these are absurd questions. Security is a balancing act. And sometimes we can be made safer *without* losing any privacy or freedoms. That's exactly what reinforcing the cockpit doors did...more security...same freedoms.

That is the of decision and change that I want the DHS/TSA to make.

Peace,
Randy

avxo said...

Anonymous wrote: "Remember the airports are owned or run by an entity other than TSA. That entity (county, state, whatever) has given permission for TSA to do the ETD screening outside of the CP. If you do not want to be screened, do not come to the airport. If you have a problem with this contact whoever runs, owns, operates the airport."

That's actually not entirely accurate. The airport can't hire "Proctological Security" to conduct cavity searches of those coming into the premises. Even if it is a private entity, a large part of the premises in question are still accessible to the public at large, and that has significant implications.

At any rate, at those "screenings" outside the checkpoint, that are authorized by the airport and delegated to TSA, you cannot be required to complete the screening unlike the screening at the actual checkpoint, because no private entity can force you to submit a screening, nor can they prevent you from leaving.

GSOLTSO said...

kimm sez - "Wonderful. So let's just make every single passenger guilty until
proven innocent because again, money is being wasted on useless equipment instead of useful manpower and human knowledge.

We need the HUMAN BRAIN and COMMON SENSE to catch and identify potential problems, NOT more technology.

Just another terrorist victory!"

Passengers are not considered guilty of anything unless they do something against the regulations or local laws. We are to screen every person that comes through the same. There are variations on the differing types of screening offered based on the needs of the specific passenger, but they are still screened per the SOP.

The human brain and common sense applied with good technology are better than the human brain and common sense alone. If we have more effective, reliable technology to couple with the human thought process and use common sense with that coupling, it can only improve the screening process overall. AIT allows the agency to catch non metallic items that a WTMD would miss.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Yes.
Remember the airports are owned or run by an entity other than TSA. That entity (county, state, whatever) has given permission for TSA to do the ETD screening outside of the CP. If you do not want to be screened, do not come to the airport. If you have a problem with this contact whoever runs, owns, operates the airport.

You are arrogant and you think you are law enforcement. Just because you have a badge you have no place to tell people not to go in an airport because they don't agree with you. You are the reason people think less of you than the IRS. Get over yourself-your not that important in the grand scheem of things. Remember your are not only in security but you are also in customer service. If enought people don't fly because you don't thimk they should you wont have a job-which might be a good thing.

avxo said...

GSOLTSO wrote: "Passengers are not considered guilty of anything unless they do something against the regulations or local laws."

Even if they something against "regulations" (which may or may not be a crime per se) or local laws, they still enjoy the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of law.

I'm sure you misspoke, but you may want to read up on Coffin v. U.S. just in case.

Anonymous said...

So, I've set an "explosives" alarm off two out of two times on a recent trip and thus found this blog post. Both times I was taken aside and given a full body pat down -- including my private areas, swabbed again, and cleared but now I'm afraid to fly again. TSA gave me no indication why I set the alarms off or what I can do about it. I definitely don't want to set the alarm off again, or worse be detained, interrogated and/or falsely accused of wrong doing. I in no way work with any explosive materials so I don't know what's happening. What can I do? Afraid to fly again. :(

Anonymous said...

I travelled last week and both my makeup mirror and my hands came up positive when the swab was done. I do not handle any sort of firearms or weapons, nor do I use any sort of illicit drug or prescription drugs.

I was pulled out of line and patted down. While the experience was frightening the TSA agents were very respectful and professional. Once the search was completed I was permitted to board my plane.

However I am concerned about false positives. I used to fly very often during the pre 9/11 era and the handle of my briefcase was swabbed on many occasions. It always came up positive. I replaced it but it continued to come up positive. During the time security didn't perform any sort of search they just let me continue. They were certainly correct in assessing that I was no threat but I did think it was weird because it happened a lot. Why test if you are going to disregard the results?

At any rate, I would like to know what causes the false positives. One agent said that it was probably cosmetics. I cannot be the only woman who flies and wears makeup. If the test comes back positive for cosmetics then is it really useful?

Anonymous said...

Just yesterday I set off such an alarm. They scanned my hands, and then gave me a private pat down. I found this blog because I wanted to know what it the world they were looking for! I worked the weekend wearing gloves from my father-in-law's fix it shop, cutting firewood, etc. I also drove a rented car. That's all I can figure might have caused the alarm.

Still, the TSA agents did not act alarmed, which helped me not to get alarmed. They were professional and polite, even friendly. I have no complaint.