Friday, October 8, 2010

Strengthening International Aviation Security

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Seal
Today, the international community took a significant step forward on aviation security – the adoption of an international declaration to enhance global aviation security.  TSA does not conduct screening overseas; however, the U.S. works with over 190 countries as part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to collaboratively enhance and strengthen aviation security standards worldwide.  I was pleased to join DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood last week at the ICAO’s Triennial Assembly in Montreal, Canada where we joined representative countries around the world to build an unprecedented consensus on strengthening international aviation security measures.

The attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253 on Dec. 25, 2009, in which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried and failed to detonate concealed explosives, drove home the importance of aviation security to people around the world. Flight 253 originated overseas and by working with the ICAO, we are strengthening international aviation security and better protecting U.S.-bound flights.

Secretary Napolitano has taken part in major, ICAO-coordinated international summits with partners in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere. These meetings all resulted in joint declarations on aviation security, setting the stage for the ICAO Assembly.

The adoption today of the Declaration on Aviation Security is an important step. In the coming weeks, DHS and TSA will continue to build on this momentum through joining our international partners to collaborate on identifying new and emerging threats, further enhancing ICAO standards and recommended practices, increasing information collection and sharing, improving and deploying more detection technology to defeat terrorists and prevent them from boarding commercial aircraft.

John S. Pistole
TSA Administrator

44 comments:

Gunner said...

Water drinkers everywhere are trembling in fear.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing we're partnering with other countries' security forces. They've actually caught some would-be terrorists, after all, unlike the TSA. Perhaps it would be best if they took over our airport security, as well.

Jim Huggins said...

"DHS and TSA will continue ... to collaborate on ... improving and deploying more detection technology to defeat terrorists and prevent them from boarding commercial aircraft."

Is there any chance that DHS and TSA will work on deploying less detection technology ... and perhaps look for less technical solutions to the problem of securing commercial air travel?

Anonymous said...

Does this mean the US will soon follow the lead of every other country in the world and end the absurd shoe carnival that makes TSA a laughingstock?

Anonymous said...

Yet another Pistole propaganda post full of bragging bluster and buzzwords, but nonetheless spectacularly uninformative.

Does it mean that the TSA has finally succeeded in bullying other countries to embrace the TSA's hallmark secrecy, contempt for privacy and the rule of law, systemic ineptitude, maddening inconsistency, genital groping, and "DYWTFT"?

If that's the case, I suppose Mr. Pistole has reason to be proud of his power to metastasize his agency's security theater circus to the rest of the world. Air travel is no safer, but the TSA has succeeded in its mission to expand its authority beyond the Homeland.

Bravo Bravissimo!

Anonymous said...

When boarding an airplane to the US from my country I can keep my shoes on and, guess what? No airplanes have fallen from the sky.

I'd like to keep it that way. Keep away from my airport

Anonymous said...

Wow you people just don't quit. Criticize, criticize criticize, that's all you know how to do. Here we are trying to share information with you, let you know where we stand, and you criticize. "They've actually caught some would be terrorists", uh yeah, who would they be? Amsterdam? Oh wait, they're the ones who let the underwear bomber on the plane to begin with right? Spain? Train explosions. England? Bus explosions. Germany? Airport attack. Who has caught would be terrorists? Come on people. You people really need to take a step back and look at the big picture, I know I know....we haven't stopped any terrorists, nor has anyone attempted to attack commercial aircraft in the States since Sept 11, 2001, right? Well let's see, is that because it won't happen here, or is it because our measure have improved since 9/11 and it's more difficult to execute an attack that originates in the US against aviation?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you'll never manage to convince the rest of the world that toothpaste and shoes are deadly. Leave other airports alone. They don't need or want you annoyances, and we appreciate being able to travel to places where sanity still remains.

Anonymous said...

Reading the minutes of the ICAO meeting I see that a recommendation of 100% screening of non-flyers should be conducted.

When will TSA implement 100% screening of non-flyers in US airports?

Anonymous said...

"I was pleased to join DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood last week at the ICAO’s Triennial Assembly in Montreal, Canada..."

Just curious, when all of you fly to various locations, do you go through the exact same TSA lanes and procedures as the rest of us?

Anonymous said...

Yet your people, at the busiest O&D airport in the world (LAX), still harass people, cause them to miss flights and undertake retaliatory additional "screening" in violation of the LAS exception to the 4th Amendment because they show a NEXUS card.

If you can't fix little things like that, you will never fix the big things (not that they need fixing, the cockpit door hardening is the only real step that has been taken since 9/11).

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

I know I know....we haven't stopped any terrorists, nor has anyone attempted to attack commercial aircraft in the States since Sept 11, 2001, right? Well let's see, is that because it won't happen here, or is it because our measure have improved since 9/11 and it's more difficult to execute an attack that originates in the US against aviation?

Or maybe it's because no one has tried to execute such an attack since then --- for which none of us can take credit. Or maybe it's because the changes on-board commercial flights (which have nothing to do with checkpoint screening) have made a 9/11-style hijacking infeasible.

In short: we don't why we haven't seen another 9/11 ... and neither side of this "debate" can claim the credit for it.

George said...

@Anonymous, October 11, 2010 10:31 PM: Just curious, when all of you fly to various locations, do you go through the exact same TSA lanes and procedures as the rest of us?

A very interesting question, but I'm sure it's one of many questions about the TSA for which we will never receive a straightforward answer. Indeed, I've often wondered whether the bosses at Headquarters who make the decisions about shoes, liquids, and strip searches have ever set foot in an airport. So much about "airport security" is so visibly wrong that I have to conclude that the people who designed the system have never deigned to subject themselves to it.

Since the TSA will not answer this question, I will make an educated guess. It calls to mind a very revelatory experience I had in college, when the Vice President in charge or facilities addressed a "town hall" meeting meant to mollify students angry about the severe parking shortage created by a massive expansion construction project.

When a student politely asked him about opening up some of the special parking lots reserved for Vice Presidents and high-level administrators, the guy became indignant. "You have to realize that administrators have Important Meetings to attend and Important Decisions to make. So they don't have time to waste hunting for parking!" Surely inadvertently, he taught me an important lesson about how bureaucrats regard the public, a lesson that seems especially relevant to the arrogant and unaccountable TSA.

My guess, then, is that Mr Pistole travels by government executive jet and never sets foot in public airports. Not only does he have Important Meetings to attend and Important Decisions to make, National Security would be severely threatened if he had to waste any of his valuable time waiting shoeless for one of his employees to grope his genitals. And I'm sure he'd argue that his lack of personal experience with TSA checkpoints makes him uniquely qualified to serve as Dictator of Airport Security for not only the United States but the entire world.

Ayn R. Key said...

Translation - it has been pointed out too many times that other countries don't have all our nonsensical rules, so we're doing our best to make them have our nonsensical rules.

Anonymous said...

By the way, is anyone seeing a trend in the types of attacks being perptrated? Buses, trains and airports....oh wow....TRANSPORTATION....nah that would NEVER happen in the US, right?

Earl Pitts said...

Sounds like TSA is looking to dictate world aviation security policy.

After all, no one else can be competent if TSA isn't.

Earl

Anonymous said...

God Bless the Federal Employees who keep us safe and protected. I gladly forfet my liberty for my safety. Bless you Mr. Pistole.

Anonymous said...

I think there should be an airline called "At Your Own Risk Airlines".
AYOR Air would have no security, so there is no delaying those passengers that arrive 5 mins before a flight is to have left the ground not board. You get on the plane, and there are no hassles, no groping, just a smooth walk on to the plane. Of course you will sign a waiver stating that if you die as a result of that plane flight in anyway its all on you.. Thank you for flying AYOR Air!

Anonymous said...

RE: Shoes: Has anyone been privy to how many bad things can be hidden in shoes? Talk to a Corrections Officer they can tell you.
RE: Liquids: I am sorry how does anyone know that your water, toothpaste or other liquid is just that? Oh because you said so.. No need to check it then I guess.

RE: TSA Doing no good? Have you seen the kind of things that people try to bring on a plane? Why does someone need to bring a Samurai Sword in the cabin of a plane?

RE: Foreign Airports: Ever been asked to get rid of something you cant take on a plane in another country? How do you say "But this is very expensive face cream I am not throwing this away, and you cant make me!" to a guy that doesnt speak your language and is carrying an AK-47.

We dont go as nuts in the country as other countries do. Why because you are all in a hurry, if it delays me, then it needs to go. Get to the airport earlier and stop whining about things that are there to protect you and blaming your failure to get to the airport on time on other people.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I think there should be an airline called "At Your Own Risk Airlines".
AYOR Air would have no security, so there is no delaying those passengers that arrive 5 mins before a flight is to have left the ground not board. You get on the plane, and there are no hassles, no groping, just a smooth walk on to the plane. Of course you will sign a waiver stating that if you die as a result of that plane flight in anyway its all on you.. Thank you for flying AYOR Air!

October 16, 2010 12:02 PM

***********************************
LOL Anon, I love this idea! Of course rates could be lower too, and no need for checked baggage, bring your bomb right into the cabin if you want to. Boxcutters? no problem....expensive liquid explosive? Sure bring it on! Hell, bring your Siberian Tiger with you too. I love this idea! I nominate myself and anon as the CEO and the CFO, who needs TSA?

Anonymous said...

"God Bless the Federal Employees who keep us safe and protected. I gladly forfet my liberty for my safety. Bless you Mr. Pistole."
You forgot to add:
And continue to keep your little mitts off of GA, which is just as safe without the abusive treatment and wasted effort.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

We dont go as nuts in the country as other countries do. Why because you are all in a hurry, if it delays me, then it needs to go. Get to the airport earlier and stop whining about things that are there to protect you and blaming your failure to get to the airport on time on other people.
---------------------------------

American passengers are required to jump thru the most hoops out of any other country. Name one country that is as bad as you guys, solely due to their own rules and not because the TSA is forcing them adhere to the madness they dictate.

The only way you "security experts" will get any cred it to catch a terrorist at a check point. The fact that you haven't tells me that terrorism is sooooooooo rare of an occurrence (once every 10 yrs or so) and not because the TSA has scared them off. We will most likely get hit again within the year, and no I personally won't cry that TSA didn't do enough. I am a realist and know you guys don't have a "snowballs chance in hell" to stop or deter a terrorist. The CIA can't, so what makes you think you can?

Stop whining that "ppl don't respect us" and get thicker skin or a different job.

Anonymous said...

If my memory andconcentration serve me right - i think it was London that spotted the original terrorist smuggling explosives in the baby bottles. I think its a great thing that the TSA and other international agencies are talking.

A person said...

@ George....."Just curious, when all of you fly to various locations, do you go through the exact same TSA lanes and procedures as the rest of us?"

The answer is "yes". I work for TSA. Myself and my family are subjected to the same screening as the rest of the public.

Terorists are becoming more and more sophisticated and we must stay ahead of them or possibly another 3000 people could be killed. For all of the "Nay Sayers" who call us the terrorists, would you get on a plane that did not have security procedures in place? If so, you are alot more brave than me.

We seize weapons daily, very dangerous ones. I would not want to be on a plane with some of the dangerous things we find in people's carry-on bags and ones that are not reported to the public.

I know it is hard to believe, and maybe some officer's are not polite, but they are the first gateway of assurance to a safe airplane. I know if I let a IED (Improvised Explosive Device) on a plane that exploded, I could not live with myself. My goal is not to make a pax miserable, it is my passion to make them feel safe. Why is that so wrong?

Sandra said...

A Person might want to read this:

http://cbs4.com/iteam/TSA.failure.weapons.2.1964315.html

George said...

@A [TSA] person: Terorists are becoming more and more sophisticated and we must stay ahead of them or possibly another 3000 people could be killed.

Absolutely true. But how do the TSA's reactive hassles to past terrorist tactics, inconsistently and capriciously implemented at checkpoints, do anything to "stay ahead of" terrorists? And if you answer "BDOs," the GAO audit persuasively concluded that both the "science" and the TSA implementation are a useless waste of millions of dollars.

For all of the "Nay Sayers" who call us the terrorists, would you get on a plane that did not have security procedures in place?

Absolutely true again. There is definitely a need for "security procedures." But I think the TSA's continuing accretion of dubious reactive hassles goes well beyond that need. Strip searches and genital groping of people guilty only of wanting to fly exceed that need by light years.

I would not want to be on a plane with some of the dangerous things we find in people's carry-on bags and ones that are not reported to the public.

Oh. The TSA's favorite line: "There's ample proof that the TSA is highly effective. But it's all classified, so you'll just have to trust us." I'm sorry, but that no longer works. The TSA has earned its reputation for untrustworthiness through its own track record. So whenever someone from the TSA alludes to something secret as reason to believe them, my Bandini-O-Meter goes into the red zone.

The TSA does not hesitate to reveal "secrets" when it suits their need. And they need compelling proof of effectiveness. So I'm sure that if the TSA ever did catch a serious threat to aviation, the crowing would be deafening. The absence of such crowing can only suggest that the "dangerous things... not reported to the public" are as dangerous as all those contraband liquids TSOs throw into trash cans.

Your well-intentioned comment does not help the TSA's credibility problem.

George said...

@A [TSA] person: I know it is hard to believe, and maybe some officer's are not polite, but they are the first gateway of assurance to a safe airplane.

No they aren't. The "first gateway" is the various intelligence and police agencies that are the only way to stop terrorists before they get anywhere near an airport. By the time terrorists get to the airport, it's a catastrophic failure and people are doomed. There's no reason to believe that mass screening based on reacting to past failures will provide any "assurance," especially when the screeners are so wildly inconsistent in their training, competence, intelligence, and "interpretation" of vague secret rules.

(For that matter, why does the TSA continue to tolerate officers who are "not polite"? Your bosses surely are aware of the harm those bullies do to their agency's reputation, yet they seem to be uninterested in doing anything about it. Whatever actual security airport screening can provide can only be more effective when the public respects and trusts the TSA, yet your bosses continue to allow some of their employees to undermine that effectiveness. That's something I absolutely cannot understand.)

My goal is not to make a pax miserable, it is my passion to make them feel safe. Why is that so wrong?

Thank you for (unintentionally) admitting what many of us figured out long ago: The TSA is nothing more than security theatre meant to bamboozle the public into feeling safe, even if it doesn't provide any useful security.

There's actually nothing wrong with that, since many Americans have a fear of terrorism well out of proportion to the actual risk it poses. (The risk of death from driving to the airport is several orders of magnitude greater than the risk of dying in a terrorist attack. And the increased risk of property theft created by TSA screening procedures is far greater threat to passengers than terrorism.) The reassurance screening provides is indeed very useful. Up to a point.

But when the hassle and intrusiveness of that screening reaches the point that it actually does "make a pax miserable," it's no longer reassuring. When it involves "intimate" scanning or contact, the "feeling" goes beyond what a (supposedly) free society should tolerate.

George said...

@Anonymous, October 21, 2010 12:36 AM: i think it was London that spotted the original terrorist smuggling explosives in the baby bottles. I think its a great thing that the TSA and other international agencies are talking.

Whoever posted this apparent spam is wrong.

The London plot had nothing to do with the TSA (and did not involve baby bottles). Old-fashioned police work stopped the plotters well before they got anywhere near an airport. The TSA or its British equivalent would have been ineffective at stopping the plot, had it reached that point.

The only role the TSA had in this case was reacting after the fact with the "3-1-1" rules that cause so much frustration. Arguably, even though the plotters failed, they enjoy continuing success every time someone has to pay $25 to check a bag because they can't carry on an oversized liquid container, every time a passenger packs a Freedom Baggie, and particularly every time a TSO throws a contraband container into a barrel full of "dangerous liquids."

Anonymous said...

"My goal is not to make a pax miserable, it is my passion to make them feel safe. Why is that so wrong?"

Because the things you do make no one safer. Shoes are not bombs, and no one anywhere in the world has tried to smuggle explosives onto a plane since 2001. Liquids are not bombs, and TSA has never shown a single piece of evidence that liquids could bring down a plane. No one is made safer by being sexually assaulted or strip-searched for the "crime" of buying an airline ticket.

Anonymous said...

The 1:00 pm post should read, "no one anywhere in the world has tried to smuggle explosives onto a plane using shoes as a delivery method since 2001".

MarkVII said...

Hello A Person --

Maybe your goal isn't to make the pax miserable, but it seems an awful lot of your co-workers want to.

Go back to the thread on solid deodorants and read George's and my "last straw" stories, and then please explain how all the yelling, rudenes and threats improves aviation security.

So much of what the TSA enforces simply makes no sense. This blog is laden with examples of screeners enforcing "rules" that aren't on the TSA web site, such as George's experience that 3-1-1 bottles have to have a factory label. It is also laden with TSA personnel not knowing the agencies own rules, such as Mr. Gel Pack's story, the amputee mom, and the child who was required to remove his leg braces.

I don't know how long you've followed this blog, but I have from the beginning. If you haven't read through the early "gripes and grins", "inconsistencies" and "liquids gels and aerosols" threads, I suggest having a look. There's been a lot of chatter on this blog about screeners implementing some outlandish interpretations of the rules, coupled with some incredible power trips. (Can you say "DYWTFT"?)

Does it really help aviation security to (1) prohibit a GI Joe sized firearm replica, (2) tell a passenger that it's OK to have "nursery water" to mix baby formula, but not Aquafina, (3) require a prescription for baby formula, (4) require photo id to receive a comment card, ad infinitum.

It's ridiculous how rule changes (such as leaving notebook PC's in a "checkpoint friendly" bag) immediately spawn blog posts about screeners yelling at passengers for doing exactly what the rules say is OK. As passengers, we're supposed to keep up with not only all the various rules but also the all the local interpretations and embellishments. Yet, it's OK for a screener not to know some new rule, and start yelling.

For all the talk about screener training and retraining, what I haven't seen in meaningful accountability. Personally, I perceive the TSA as an incredibly arrogant organization that avoids accountability for knowing its own rules and treating the citizens with civility and common courtesy.

I've been in the military, and know a thing or two about security. I've had to implement, enforce (and obey) nuclear weapons related security procedures.

What I've experienced at the checkpoint too often combines the worst characteristics of an ego-tripping government bureaucrat with those of a badge-happy police officer.

And that's why I stopped flying...

Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes

Anonymous said...

A person said..

For all of the "Nay Sayers" who call us the terrorists, would you get on a plane that did not have security procedures in place? If so, you are alot more brave than me.

>>>I would honestly pay double to get on a plane without dealing with any of you people....

Which is why in Feb I plan to take a train to Canada so I can take a flight to Europe with less of a hassle. You guys are terrible.

msjettexas said...

"Does this mean the US will soon follow the lead of every other country in the world and end the absurd shoe carnival that makes TSA a laughingstock?"........

Would you be willing to get in a room, full of the people who sat on the same flight as the shoe bomber Richard Reed, and say that to their face?

@George...........I never intimated anything "Secret" in regards to TSA. I simply stated that the hundreds of dangerous incidents that occur at various airports each month are not reported. What I'm mean is the media does not report it.

Every incident at every airport is public knowledge and in police reports of that airports city police department. Everything secret degenerates; nothing is safe that does not bear discussion.

The fact that you come on here and opine on how horrible the Transportation Security Administration is your privilege, however, I see it differently than you. Since I am a TSA Officer, your criticism of us means that we are doing our job. I'd much rather you gripe about what we are doing than what we are not doing.

If we had the life casualties that the TSA has prevented, then you would be on here saying how we are not doing our job to keep our American's safe.

The shoe ban was a result of the "Shoe Bomber", the new pat down (which one referred to as a sexual assault) is the result of the "Underwear Bomber". Yes, TSA is reactive because there are always terrorists like these two men who think up new ways to kill innocent people. Who would have thought to put sheet explosives in your skivvies?

Thus...everything must justify its existence before the judgment seat of reason or, give up existence. The precepts of the law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one, and to give every man his due.

As an officer, we have to be certified in every aspect of our job. We are tested and re-tested on a daily basis and sometimes up to half dozen times a day. If we don't measure up to the high standards that TSA has set for us, then we are sent off to the unemployment line. TSA would rather get rid of an inept officer, than risk the lives of Americans.

Everything that is said on this blog is taken seriously. Words are weapons in the media, and it is dangerous in speculation, as in politics, to borrow them from our enemies. Men can embody truth but he cannot know it. The truth is, politics plays a major part on how breaches of security are reported or under-reported. It is hard to know it, because we do not know what these terrorists will try next.

I'm sorry for the bad experiences blogged on here and generated by our officer's. I cannot change them all. All I can do is try to represent the TSA in the most professional and courteous way that I can and I want to change the face of TSA. I can only be as kind and as respectful as possible to all of the people that go through my airport. It bothers me greatly when a passenger has a bad experience.

Hence, it comes about that all armed terrorists have been victorious, and all unarmed terrorists deadly ambitions have been destroyed. No man who lives in fear, or sorrow, or turmoil, is free.

Isn't "Freedom" worth the small inconvenience of travel?

Doublexxltexan said...

Understand that you will NEVER see a scoreboard at the back of a U.S checkpoing that says TSA 245 al Qaida 0 so to compare what European security forces have caught to what we have deterred is apples and oranges

Anonymous said...

"Would you be willing to get in a room, full of the people who sat on the same flight as the shoe bomber Richard Reed, and say that to their face?"

Sure. I'd also note that no one, anywhere in the world, has tried to use shoes to sneak explosives onto an aircraft -- even in countries that don't have TSA's shoe carnival. And that the number of countries without a TSA-style shoe carnival is "all of them but the US." TSA's policy is an hysterical overreaction to one incident, almost a decade ago, in which no one was actually killed.

Anonymous said...

"Would you be willing to get in a room, full of the people who sat on the same flight as the shoe bomber Richard Reed, and say that to their face?"

Yes. Both the "shoe bomber" and his colleague the "Underwear Bomber" were foiled by the vigilance of those people (along with the bombers' own ineptitude). This is one of the only two genuine security enhancements to aviation since 9/11, the other being hardened cockpit doors. Unlike TSA security theatre that merely hassles the innocent, these two security enhancements have surely saved lives. These measures have not only prevented would-be suicide bombers from detonating, but have probably deterred 9/11-style plots to use aircraft as weapons.

The people on those flights surely would recognize that the TSA had nothing to do with preventing tragedy in these incidents. And indeed, the TSA's approach of always reacting after the fact to specific past tactics would have been completely useless. The TSA's claims to any sort of credit are equivalent to proudly touting another costly, fancy new lock on the front door of the barn every time a horse escapes the back door. And reacting to these "escapes" with costly, untested measures that erode liberty, privacy, and even basic human dignity (i.e., the strip search and the genital grope) is equivalent to addressing the failure of the "intelligence community" to prevent the bomber from getting to the airport by punishing everyone who flies.

For that matter, I don't think the people on those planes or the 9/11 victims either appreciate or would appreciate the TSA conscripting them to justify their much-reviled arrogant agency.

George said...

Everything that is said on this blog is taken seriously.

By whom? It seems more believable that the TSA makes a point of ignoring what commenters say on this blog, except when someone from the TSA feels the need to defend their agency.

It bothers me greatly when a passenger has a bad experience.

Many TSOs who comment here say that. They should be in a far better position to take action than any of us. And they have good reason to do so, since the "bad apples" tarnish the dedicated, conscientious officers and make every TSO's job more difficult. But I don't see any sign of those "bothered" TSOs taking their concerns to their bosses. Either that, or the bosses don't care any more about what you low-level people have to say than what we have to say. Either way, it's not very encouraging.

Hence, it comes about that all armed terrorists have been victorious, and all unarmed terrorists deadly ambitions have been destroyed. No man who lives in fear, or sorrow, or turmoil, is free.

This is an interesting and provocative statement. Citing your own examples, the "shoe bomber" and the "underwear bomber" were both armed terrorists. Were they victorious? Perhaps, if you consider as a "victory" the crucial role they played in making passengers first stand shoeless on the filthy airport floor, and then get radiated in a strip search machine. It's a victory for the TSA over those who oppose their continued expansion of costly intrusive hassles, but I don't think that's really what either of them intended.

And is a traveler who lives in fear of the TSA confiscating their property or groping their genitals free? How about someone who lives in sorrow for what has become of our once proud freedom and rule of law at the hands of the TSA?

Earl Pitts said...

@msjettexas "Since I am a TSA Officer, your criticism of us means that we are doing our job. I'd much rather you gripe about what we are doing than what we are not doing."

No, you're not. You're doing something, but it isn't providing security. You are harassing passengers and violating their rights. Your job is to provide security. You are not doing that. And because you're not doing that, we are griping that you are not. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

Effective security doesn't have to equal a hassle. However, TSA seems to think that more hassle is more security, and as anyone in the security business can tell you, is patently false.

Earl

Msjettexas said...

George,

I really do wish that I could make all TSO's respectful and courteous to passengers, I can only speak for myself.

I can tell you that our Federal Security Director (FSD)has read your comments and these comments have been subject of discussion in our briefings.

I also hope that passengers understand that we have to deal with nastiness as well, just like what "Anonymous said" at October 25, 2010 5:50 PM. What kind of person would be selfish enough to be able to respond the way he does in this post. Imagine dealing with a passenger with an attitude and a point to prove like him on a daily basis. At first I thought he really had a bad experience but now, I believe he made it a bad experience. Some people just like to complain and are never satisfied. Although I've had such passengers, I just walk away.

I don't get off on power trips. I treat people the way I would like to be treated. That is all I can do but this guy is inconsolable, all over shoes and a bottle of water.

Thank you George for your opinions. I'm just a Dual Function TSO, but I care enough about people to come on here on my own time to see what you and others have to say. I don't get paid for it, nor do my supervisors know that I'm blogging on here. If they did, I would use my real name.

@ Earl Pitts....excuse me sir, but I do my job and you do not know me. Were you on WBAP? As I said before, I treat people as respectfully as I would want to be treated. I have not been an officer for very long but when I flew before I was even considering it, I don't recall being treated bad by the TSO's at the airport I flew out of. They left me with such a good feeling that it made me want to be one. I love my job and I love meeting and talking to as many passengers as I can. I just want them to be comfortable and make it as good an experience as I had when I was a passenger going through that airport.

I appreciate the respectful comments made on my comments and I hope to learn what the public feels, so that I can do what I can not be what some perceive in us as TSO's, but I do enjoy the people I meet on a daily basis.

Be safe in all you do and when you do run across that "nice TSO", I hope it is me.

George said...

There was an interesting article in today's New York Times about the growing criticism of the TSA in Europe. It started with the chairman of British Airways remarking that Britain should not "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done" with aviation security procedures. In particular, he called for an end to the shoe carnival and the laptop carnival, and criticized the United States for burdening European airports and airlines with "redundant" checks.

His comments seem to have inspired a mini-rebellion. The head of Virgin Atlantic said his airline had "pleaded 'for many years' for new security procedures that would be 'effective but quicker and less intrusive on our passengers.'" The head of the Board of Airline Representatives noted that "Every time there is a new security scare, an extra layer is added on to procedures... Let's look at technology and see what we can do so that passengers don’t have to take off their shoes."

It also appears that Britain doesn't share the TSA's enthusiasm for Nude-O-Scopes: "A plan by the British government this year to introduce body scanners at airports was met with strong opposition in Parliament. The new coalition government is now reviewing the need for scanners and whether they violate the privacy of passengers."

The article noted the TSA's official response to the rebellion: "Officials 'constantly review and evolve our security measures based on the latest intelligence.' It also said it 'works closely with our international partners to ensure the best possible security.'" Empty platitudes that sound very familiar!

It looks like Generalissimo Pistole hasn't built quite the "momentum" he'd like us to believe. Might he perhaps consider an approach to "collaboration" other than Pistole-whipping our "international partners" into submission?

George said...

Msjettexas, let me start by agreeing that respect is a two-way street. Even if we had a "perfect TSA" that consistently applied rationally comprehensible rules of proven effectiveness, didn't define "security" as a the continual accretion of reactive hassles, and held TSOs accountable to published standards of conduct, there would still be people who resent any inconvenience. Dealing with them is part of the TSO's job.

But we don't have anything like a "perfect TSA." Rather, we have an agency that has earned the disdain of many people, for reasons that have been discussed here at great length (and apparently to no effect). Many screening experiences are needlessly unpleasant for both passengers and TSOs because passengers have come to expect an unpleasant experience, and approach even the "nice TSOs" with that attitude.

These passengers often have good reason to expect an unpleasant experience. All it takes is one or two "bad apples" to create a negative opinion that is very difficult to undo (which is just what happened to me). And even if a passenger has never encountered an actual bully, the opaque arbitrariness of the TSA's rules, and the frustrating inconsistency with which even "good" TSOs apply, them may be enough to turn someone against the TSA.

If you want us to respect you and have confidence that you're providing actual security rather than mere reactive hassles, your bosses need to take steps to earn that respect and confidence. But I see no evidence that they have any interest in doing that. The fact that "bad apples" continue to poison checkpoints indicates they have no intention of holding TSOs accountable for professional and courteous conduct. I can only conclude that they honestly believe that security is synonymous with intrusive hassle, and that security somehow benefits when the public hates and even fears the TSA. They seem to regard the public as enemies who need to be kept dazed and confused.

Finally, despite the clear sincerity of your comments, they seem to reflect a view prevalent in official blog comments and press releases, that "it's always the passenger's fault." If that reflects the TSA's institutional belief, it may explain much. After all, it's easier to train TSOs to solve all problems by bellowing "Do you want to fly today?" than to train them to implement rational rules consistently.

Earl Pitts said...

Msjettexas,

You may be a very nice person and I don't have have a reason to doubt that. First off, don't take it personally as "you" was being used collectively.

And it's quite possible to harass someone in a friendly way. You may be polite and courteous (and believe me, I'll appreciate that as I often don't see that with TSA, especially at BWI) but when you force someone to make a choice of being virtually strip searched or being groped, take someone's "explosive" water that's too dangerous for a plane yet safe enough for the trash can next to you, or take a really long look at someone's ID, you are harassing passengers, even if that's not your intent. You are enforcing policies that harass people simply for having the audacity to buy a plane ticket, which makes you an agent of the harassment, even if you're pleasant and have a smile on your face.

I've met several screeners I'd have a drink or dinner with ... that doesn't mean that I don't despise what they do even if they are otherwise nice people.

Don't take it personally. I try not to when I'm treated badly as TSA tends to treat everyone else equally as bad.

Earl

Anonymous said...

Msjettexas said...

Be safe in all you do and when you do run across that "nice TSO", I hope it is me.


Your kindness offends me. I demand to be treated more rudely if I ever run into you. Please take some notes from the barkers at JFK.

MarkVII said...

Hello Msjettexas --

Add my voice to George's and Earl Pitts in saying that the TSA is not doing what it needs to do in order to establish credibility and earn respect.

In my line of work, I deal with issues of organizational behavior and process change. We have a saying that if you want to know about an organization's culture, listen to the stories people tell. Consider the following stories, which are a mix of personal experience, stories told by friends, and stories from this blog.

I walk up to the checkpoint and some screener is yelling and barking orders instead of simply giving instructions in a civil manner.

A ten year old Boy Scout gets the third degree at the checkpoint because he has the same name as someone on a "list", yet the TSA insists there are no children on the list.

The TSA says the boy's parents should apply for a redress number. The TSA apparently cannot realize "This is a child -- There are no children on the list -- Therefore, there is no need to give this child the third degree". The TSA shifts the pain and consequences of its inability to apply reason and common sense onto the passenger and his parents.

The TSA says you can't take your eyeglasses repair kit through the checkpoint, but the airside sundries shop is selling them.

When the body scanner detects a woman's prosthetic breast, and instead of treating the matter with discretion, one of the checkpoint workers yells out for all to hear "she's got something at her left breast".

The TSA's behavior regarding ordinary civility, common courtesy, accountability and common sense suggests the TSA seem these as mutually exclusive with effective security. I don't buy that at all.

There was talk about "calming the checkpoint" in the Checkpoint Evolution thread a while back. I asked about accountability for screener behavior, and the response was a deafening silence. Since then, screener accountability continues to be an issue. I don't see the stories changing.

I do not doubt your sincerity in being polite in dealing with the public. Unfortunately, there's enough bad eggs in the TSA basket that they give the whole lot a bad name. Until the TSA starts placing value on accountability, and being as aggressive in dealing with these bad eggs as it is in dealing with passengers with nail files, Clear Case contact lens solution, etc., I don't see the public's perception changing.

Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes