Saturday, February 26, 2011

TSA Testing DNA? No way!


***Update 3/4/2011*** Even though we posted on this Saturday shortly after the rumors started to spread, many have still been incorrectly reporting that TSA was going to collect DNA samples from passengers this summer. Media Matters took this story on, and as of this morning, FOX news issued an on-air apology for misreporting the story. ***

 TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA.


An article was posted to "The Daily" today with the misleading headline "Genetic Patdown." Even more misleading, the first sentence leads off with the mention of airport scanners. So obviously, even though the rest of the article says nothing about airports or TSA, some readers naturally assumed this was a new technology that would be heading to the airports and the tweets went wild. It didn't help that "tsa-scanner" was included in the URL.


The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is doing preliminary testing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who already uses DNA testing in some cases to establish familial relationships in refugee processing.


DHS S&T expects to receive a prototype DNA analyzer device this summer to conduct a preliminary evaluation of whether this kind of technology could be considered for future use. At this time, there are no DHS customers, nor is there a timeline for deployment, for this kind of technology - this is a simply a preliminary test of how the technology performs.


Again, TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA.


Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


67 comments:

Benjamin Bookbinder said...

"TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA."

Nobody claimed they currently were. Where did you get that idea from?

Jim Huggins said...

Bob,

I absolutely believe you.

Of course, there were also absolutely no plans to use AIT as primary screening tools when they were first deployed at checkpoints. Now, of course ... the truth is much different.

So ... why should we believe DHS this time?

Alex Sterling said...

"Again, TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA."

I'm unclear why there needed to be a post stating an absence of something?

You're also not doing Israeli-style profiling...will there be a post denying that, too?

What about the fact that you're not ever confirming the person boarding the plane is the same person whose ID was viewed by the TDC...when can we expect the post about that?

Or that your TSOs, LTSOs, and STSOs, aren't following the rules clearly stated on your website, and harrassing passengers with medical liquids...will there be a post denying that you're training them properly?

Anonymous said...

So, you're not testing or planning to use DNA testers, but the government department you are a part of IS testing and planning to use DNA testers.

And, of course, they would never (once their testing is complete) think of telling you to implement the DNA testing program that you are not testing and have no plans to use, Right?

Anonymous said...

I am flabbergasted that even a fraction of a cent of my taxes are being spent so that you can debunk any story that even tangentially touches on the TSA's warped mission while completely ignoring highly relevant scientific studies that reveal the absurdity of your methods.

You should be ashamed of yourself "Blogger Bob.'

Concerned Observer said...

Thank you for addressing this quickly and briefly. I hope to see more blog entries like this in the future, ie entries that address real concerns on the traveling public... and those who would be traveling if the checkpoint was not essentially a Constitution-free zone.

Anonymous said...

Of course using DNA tests to identify individuals seems ridiculous for airport travel to any normal, reasonable person.

So does developing a machine that virtually removes passengers clothing so you can see underneath.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Bob, we believe you this time. You couldn't possibly be lying about this one. Right?

Anonymous said...

Over the last several months, the American people who have been paying attention to what the TSA has been doing has come to a completely logical and undeniable conclusion. The TSA has repeatedly shown itself willing to lie, deny, obfuscate, mislead and then censor the public.

There is no reason to believe that the TSA is being truthful with us now.

Bubba said...

Why does VIPR include behavior detection officers? There is no scientific support for the effectiveness of behavior detection at airports, as reported in Nature, the leading scientific journal worldwide.

Anonymous said...

Bob, is this anything like when we were promised that the liquid restrictions would be lifted in 2009?

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2008-10-27-tsa-liquids_N.htm

Or like when we were told that the Porno Scanner would be used as "a voluntary alternative to a pat-down during secondary screening".

http://www.tsa.gov/press/releases/2007/press_release_10112007.shtm

Anonymous said...

Considering how much mission creep the TSA has done in the last few years, I wouldn't be surprised if DNA testing wasn't just around the corner.

So much for Bob's assurance that it just isn't going to happen. NOT..!!

Anonymous said...

After all of the times that the TSA has lied to us and intentionally mislead the public, we are supposed to believe you now..... Why?

Anonymous said...

"The body scanners will only be used for secondary screening, not primary"....

"Our screeners will always treat you with respect"

"VIPR teams only screen people that want to board trains"

"We would never ask females to bare their breasts or remove nipple rings with pliers"

"Our screeners can be trusted to never steal from passengers"

"We would never humiliate passengers with medical conditions"

"We're from the government, we're here to help you"

"We would NEVER do DNA testing"

Which statement lacks candor?

RB said...

Habitual liars lie!

Anonymous said...

Defund the TSA and hire some real security.

SSSS for some reason said...

Rather than write a long response that will go largely unnoticed by the TSA, I'll instead just give a reference of one possible (probable?) future along these lines:

The 1997 movie Gattica

If you haven't seen it, the very basic premise is some number of years in the future you are genetically checked and cataloged while still in the womb. Then your entire life is controlled by your DNA and 'they' know everything about you and can control everything and everywhere you can go.

Anonymous said...

Does the TSA Blog Team use the blog actually to engage with people, or is it just a sort of alternative PR mechanism for not-quite-press-release stuff? If the latter, why should I pay any more attention to this blog?

Anonymous said...

Anon. 1:59PM: I suspect that it is the latter.

Danger Boy said...

On this, we agree. I can see what this would be used for, and why, and imagine that it just wouldn't be useful for the TSA.
That being said, I still think, and will continue to shout far and wide and write, email, and call my congresspeople, that your organization is a dangerous infringement upon our constitutional rights.
Your organization has exploded beyond its original mandate, has intruded into American life, and has become the very terrorist we hoped to counter. Bravissimo for Irony.

Ayn R. Key said...

I was going to write what Jim Huggins wrote, but found he wrote it first. Instead I'll simply say

ZING!

Tim Gamble said...

Questions:

1- Why is the TSA blog team monitoring Twitter and individually responding to each person mentioning the DNA Scanner article?

2- Why is the TSA blog team using a unique short link to this blog post for each individual they contact, which enables you to monitor who clicks through and who doesn't?

3- Does the TSA Blog Team get paid by the Federal government (or more accurately, by the Taxpayers) to monitor Twitter and individually respond to each tweet the TSA doesn't like?

I hope a member of the TSA Blog Team will read my full article objecting to this situation and to leave your comments. The article is at http://www.timgamble.com/2011/02/federal-government-objects-to-one-of-my.html

Daryl said...

"TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA."

This time last year, I had no plans to go to Las Vegas. But I just returned from a trip there (I drove--10 hours, and worth it not to submit to TSA) and I'm going back next month.

So much for "plans."

Anonymous said...

Gee Boys and Girls, Your tinfiol hats are pulled down to tight, it's cutting off the circulation to the brain and obstructing your hearing. It's ok, pull the foil lined window shades aside and look out. Yep, you made it through another night at the mercy of big brother.


Wow, it's so trendy to be "Anti-Government" these days, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

there is an inherent contradiction in your post. You are doing preliminary testing of a DNA program, but you have no plans to use it. Ok, so when you find out it works for what ever purpose you have for it, doesn't that assume you will then "have plans" to use it?

Come on.

Anonymous said...

To the childish anon @
March 1, 2011 8:42 AM
who addresses none of the facts and ignores our real concerns about TSA dishonesty:

We are not 'boys and girls'.

We don't care about 'trendy'.

We do not wear 'tin foil hats'.

We are mature individuals who have had facts misrepresented to us by TSA bloggers and other TSA minions time and time again.

Your ad-hominy attacks on those raising questions are cheap and childish.

Blogger Bob said...

Tim Gamble said... Questions:

1- Why is the TSA blog team monitoring Twitter and individually responding to each person mentioning the DNA Scanner article?

2- Why is the TSA blog team using a unique short link to this blog post for each individual they contact, which enables you to monitor who clicks through and who doesn't?

3- Does the TSA Blog Team get paid by the Federal government (or more accurately, by the Taxpayers) to monitor Twitter and individually respond to each tweet the TSA doesn't like?

I hope a member of the TSA Blog Team will read my full article objecting to this situation and to leave your comments. The article is at http://www.timgamble.com/2011/02/federal-government-objects-to-one-of-my.html
February 28, 2011 6:24 PM

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

Hi Tim. Happy to answer your questions...

Monitoring tweets for this subject is as simple as typing “TSA & DNA” as keywords into my twitter search. Why am I monitoring these? Obviously, from a public affairs perspective, it’s part of my job to monitor the web and see what the hot topics are so we can address them. If something is going viral (which this story was) I reach out to some (not all) people who are tweeting and retweeting inaccurate information about the subject and offer them a link to our side of the story on our blog. As far as the links, I was actually unaware a new URL was being generated. I was simply cutting and pasting. It looks like this is a built in feature provided by the Ow.Ly shortener. You can look it up or e-mail them for an explanation if you like. As far as not liking your tweet, I never said that. You’re free to have whatever opinion you like. I was simply just offering our side of the story. It’s up to you to decide if you want to follow the link, or agree with I have to say.

I hope this helped.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Blogger Bob said...

Benjamin Bookbinder said..."TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA."Nobody claimed they currently were. Where did you get that idea from?
February 26, 2011 10:10 PM
-----------------------------------------
I started noticing Tweets on Saturday pointing to an article that people obviously misread, and next thing you know, everyone thinks TSA is going to start testing DNA. Do a simple search and you’ll see the volume of tweets and posts on this.
-----------------------------------------
Jim Huggins said... Bob, I absolutely believe you. Of course, there were also absolutely no plans to use AIT as primary screening tools when they were first deployed at checkpoints. Now, of course ... the truth is much different. So ... why should we believe DHS this time? February 26, 2011 10:10 PM
-----------------------------------------
Jim, what would we gain by testing DNA at the checkpoints?
-----------------------------------------
Anonymous said... So, you're not testing or planning to use DNA testers, but the government department you are a part of IS testing and planning to use DNA testers. February 26, 2011 11:50 PM
-----------------------------------------
Correct. DHS has several components. We are just one of them. DHS’s S&T Directorate is working to develop technology for one of those components. As I stated in my post, TSA is not that component.
-----------------------------------------
Does the TSA Blog Team use the blog actually to engage with people, or is it just a sort of alternative PR mechanism for not-quite-press-release stuff? If the latter, why should I pay any more attention to this blog? February 28, 2011 1:59 PM
-----------------------------------------
Why pay attention to the blog? The blog is a good place to come to get the occasional travel tip, read a myth buster such as this one, or learn about a new technology or procedure. It’s also a good place to watch West and I get beat about the neck and shoulders on a regular basis.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Jim, what would we gain by testing DNA at the checkpoints?

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

Why is DHS testing the technology?

What does DHS hope to gain?

Anonymous said...

read a myth buster such as this one,
-----------------------------------

Or read a myth

It should be noted that disembarking passengers did not need to enter the station to claim luggage or get to their car.

RB said...

Why am I monitoring these? Obviously, from a public affairs perspective, it’s part of my job to monitor the web and see what the hot topics are so we can address them. I hope this helped.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

March 1, 2011 4:06 PM

..............
Representative Cissna

Jamaica Air Story

Thieves in New York and New Jersey.

These were all "hot topics" so why no comments from the TSA Blog Team?

Jim Huggins said...

Bob asks me: Jim, what would we gain by testing DNA at the checkpoints?

Well, I certainly don't want to give TSA any ideas. But TSA continually says "identity matters" in its justifications regarding checking IDs, even though those checks are trivially easy to circumvent. It's a whole lot more difficult to fake a DNA sample.

Certainly I think the idea of doing DNA testing at the checkpoint is ridiculous. But, then again, some (not all) of TSA's current policies are just as ridiculous ...

Michael said...

A national database of DNA samples exists called CODIS. There are maybe 5 million names in there, maybe more, I'm not quite sure. As this database increases in size, TSA may claim that it is necessary to check passenger's DNA against the CODIS database. They wouldn't have the resources to do this to every passenger, but they could do it "randomly".

What TSA would get out of this I have no clue, but then I have no idea why they would be searching passengers getting OFF of a train.

Anonymous said...

Jim, what would we gain by testing DNA at the checkpoints?
----------------------------------------
This may be the single most hilarious thing I've read here. Please tell us what you might gain by checking IDs, by touching people's hair and faces, by "patting down" bare arms and legs, by aggressively confronting passengers who have the audacity to film your officers, by investing millions into a program (SPOT) that has absolutely no scientific basis, by flooding train stations with VIPR teams, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said...
Jim Huggins said... Bob, I absolutely believe you. Of course, there were also absolutely no plans to use AIT as primary screening tools when they were first deployed at checkpoints. Now, of course ... the truth is much different. So ... why should we believe DHS this time? February 26, 2011 10:10 PM
-----------------------------------------
Jim, what would we gain by testing DNA at the checkpoints?


Bob, what do you gain by using WBI, I mean, "AIT" at the checkpoints?

(Before you answer, keep in mind that tester a few weeks ago who got guns past the scanners 5 times out of 5, so 'security' obviously isn't the answer.)

Anonymous said...

Bob,

You said, "it’s part of my job to monitor the web and see what the hot topics are so we can address them."

You don't need to monitor the web. People will and have been bringing their CONCERNS (I take offense to the term "hot topics") to TSA for quite sometime.

Just pay attention, please.

bob said...

I personally wouldn't believe TSA if they said today was Thursday. In my opinion, the TSA is nothing but a large collection of Government sponsored criminals who have no respect for anyone other than themselves. When I start to see TSOs treating the flying public with respect I will start to put some faith and belief in what they say.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Amtrak is none too pleased with the TSA

Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor said he first thought a blog posting about the incident was a joke. When he discovered that the TSA’s VIPR team did at least some of what the blog said, he was livid. He ordered the VIPR teams off Amtrak property, at least until a firm agreement can be drawn up to prevent the TSA from taking actions that the chief said were illegal and clearly contrary to Amtrak policy.

...

O’Connor said the TSA VIPR teams have no right to do more than what Amtrak police do occasionally, which has produced few if any protests and which O’Connor said is clearly within the law and the Constitution. More than a thousand times, Amtrak teams (sometimes including VIPR) have performed security screenings at Amtrak stations. These screenings are only occasional and random, and inspect the bags of only about one in ten passengers. There is no wanding of passengers and no sterile area. O’Connor said the TSA violated every one of these rules.

RB said...

regarding:


***Update 3/4/2011*** Even though we posted on this Saturday shortly after the rumors started to spread, many have still been incorrectly reporting that TSA was going to collect DNA samples from passengers this summer.
.................

Sorry Bob, I for one do not believe you or DHS/TSA.

None of you have any credibility!

Anonymous said...

, FOX news issued an on-air apology for misreporting the story.

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

When are you going to issue an apology for mis-reporting the Savannah incident?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"The TSA would have to hire a huge (and I mean huge) number of people and certify them on DNA testing and then keep DNA scanners stocked and operating in hundreds of locations."

TSA has already hired a huge number of employees. I, for one, don't believe that the TSA currently has plans to conduct DNA testing but I believe the reason to be cost. If the cost comes down, stand by for DNA testing.

Anonymous said...

TSA gets thrown out by Amtrak police for illegal searches!

Way to go TSA! Heck of a theater production you have there.

Anonymous said...

To Anon March 1 2:34 pm:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-hominy.htm

Chris Zavista said...

If the TSA really does this some day, we should thank them. They work hard to keep us safe.

People here have the wrong attitude about government. I'm happy to do whatever the TSA wants.

Ranger11 said...

Bob,

What is the topic of this post? Is this the Whatever is on your mind post? I thought off topic was somewhere else. There are over a dozen posts on a topic covered in another post. Is this a free for all now?

Anonymous said...

Chris Zavista said...
If the TSA really does this some day, we should thank them. They work hard to keep us safe.

People here have the wrong attitude about government. I'm happy to do whatever the TSA wants.

March 8, 2011 7:41 PM
-----

Not wanting to give the TSA any ideas, but would you not have any problem with the TSA outside you house waiting to screen you and your car as you come in/out of your house?

Anonymous said...

DNA testing is not going to happen..come on people. TSA is here to protect. I think people should respect the TSA more.

Chris Zavista said...

In the words of Robert DeNiro from "Deerhunter" ... "This is this, this is not something else."

The TSA isn't outside my house.

Anonymous said...

I also thought "no way" when I was told the TSA was going to use machines to virtually remove clothing and see us naked.

SSSS for some reason said...

Anonymous said...
... TSA is here to protect. I think people should respect the TSA more.

-----------

Regarding the Respect, you have to give some to get some.

Anonymous said...

I think we all remember being told that the nudiescopes were only going to be secondary screenings, not primary. That wasn't true.

We also remember being told that the TSA didn't care about cameras at the checkpoints. That wasn't true either (Mocek, the March 2nd debacle at ATL, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAWvd1Mzusg , etc.)

Why should we believe you this time, Bob?

Anonymous said...

Chris Zavista said:
"In the words of Robert DeNiro from "Deerhunter" ... "This is this, this is not something else."

The TSA isn't outside my house."

That sounds suspiciously defensive, Chris. Are you sure you don't have something to hide? I think it's probably best you allow any law enforcement (even a pretend LE organization like the TSA) to search you, your car, home, etc, whenever they wish.

See where this goes, Chris?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"TSA is here to protect. I think people should respect the TSA more."

Feel free to respect the TSA. I will continue to oppose its unconstitutional ways.

Anonymous said...

Darn: rather than going on the 'Maury Show', I was hoping to get a free DNA test at the local airport to use in a paternity suit.... :)

RB said...

I think TSA may already be testing DNA. Problem is it will be years before the results of the TSA DNA testing are evident when people who travel are fighting for their lives from cancers caused by TSA's Whole Body Strip Search and Death Ray Machines.

Seems TSA's Whole Body Strip Serach and Death Ray Scanners are emitting many times more powerful Xrays that TSA has admitted. In fact it seems that the Whole Body Strip Search Machines and Death Ray scanners are emitting up to TEN (10) times more powerful and deadly xrays than we have been told.

more here:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-03-11-tsa-scans_N.htm#


screen print captured to document TSA's illegal censorship of a public political speech on a taxpayer paid forum

03/12/11: Deleted Comments 8790

Anonymous said...

"Offtopic" link is not working - can't open it!

Anonymous said...

anon said:
"Not wanting to give the TSA any ideas, but would you not have any problem with the TSA outside you house waiting to screen you and your car as you come in/out of your house?"

unlike passengers getting in line to go through a screening area with signs posted as to what to expect when going thru this area and then stating that they dont want to do it. sounds like when you get in line you are volunteering to go through whatever screening takes place in order to get on a plane.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"unlike passengers getting in line to go through a screening area with signs posted as to what to expect when going thru this area and then stating that they dont want to do it. sounds like when you get in line you are volunteering to go through whatever screening takes place in order to get on a plane."

I think I'll go downtown tonight, hold a gun to peoples' heads and ask them to volunteer their wallets. Seriously, why do you think putting up signs allows the TSA to violate citizen's rights?

And bear in mind that your post does not, in any way, describe what the TSA put people in Savannah through.

Disgusting behavior from an incompetently run organization. Perhaps it's time to have the TSA nullified by state legislatures.

Anonymous said...

And I should now feel better because the TSA has denied it? You have got to be kidding. You know as well as we all do that rumors have some basis in fact.

Anonymous said...

The government needs to keep travelers in a state of fear in order to manipulate them, whether it is fear of terrorism or just fear of any random TSA employee's arbitrary abuse of power. It is a well known strategy used to break down prisoners. Make the world an unpredictable place, throw in the threat of sexual humiliation, drag a few poor souls into public as examples, and people will cower. When people cower rather than stand up, you have them. It is not enough to obey Big Brother, we must love him, too.

howlsnest said...

Folks you need to stop blogging and form a cohesive group to petition for this unconstitutional searching of peoples for no reason to stop. in my opinion mym

Anonymous said...

TSA post radiation reports - The reports confirm that each piece of technology included in the review operated well-within applicable the national safety standards. Of course the gov. would not lie to the people. Just ask the soldiers who had to witneees the A-bomb test - they were told "don't worry it is safe"!

Anonymous said...

Can the TSA promise to never ever collect DNA from passengers in the future?

Anthony said...

This is clearly a delicate subject, and quite controversial at that.

As I see, there is no "perfect instance" of something for a lack of better words.

Advancements to society, along with methods to enforce and increase security, or the well-being of society as a whole... I am all for it.

How money is spent, where it comes from, etc. I can see that point. Advancements, safety, etc. That is our number one goal... I am all for it.

Maya | Frases Para Enamorar said...

It's pretty sad to waste precious thoughts on such a debate of what should be a given. ANY type of evolving process that is going to protect and benefit people of the US, then I am all about it.

Safety first... having fits about certain privacy, tools, etc.. it's just ridiculous. ALL of our rights are still in tact and nothing is really violated in the least. If you don't like things here, just open your eyes to the world around you and be thankful we are where we are.

Anonymous said...

As a reader of another site that led me here, and doing some research about the TSA and cavity searches - that Pistole keeps saying (for years, & last month even!) that they will NOT be doing...I happened upon a fresh golden nugget with my google fu. Ever vigilant in her strategic thinking of the various ways terrorist might -come and get us, boogity boo! - she announced the 'very real possibility, but non-imminent threat' of "body bombs". Video here: http://tv.ibtimes.com/us-security-chief-janet-napolitano-warns-of-body-bombs-threat/5393.html

So Blogger Bob, please reassure me with your blogger babble that after y'alls butt whoopin in Congress, this isn't some fear ploy to get back in control and to get more money? The ACLU wrote a short article opposing this crap in 2009. http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/aclu-opposes-body-cavity-searches-all-airline
The threat of body bombs has been around for quite some time. This isn't a "new" threat. This is a PLOY. A racket. I love getting my education and it's sad that you get paid by the sheeple who "think" this is their safety. Maybe THIS will be TOO MUCH.
Please Blogger Bob. Promise us with your post (which I'm sure, even if CISPA passes MAY NOT be used against the TSA, LOL)that even under no imminent threat, there will be no routine body cavity searches of travelers...(only if they are chosen to receive an "enhanced" pat down, right? Or if they end up going to jail, even for something they weren't guilty of? Right? Since now, that was something the Supreme Court and Obama passed. TOO MUCH POWER is in the hands of these "screeners". My pre-teen kids have better judgement and manners and their father is a masterful liar. They've learned a few things.

Let's see what you can promise us in the wake of these "body bombs" that are NOT NEWS!

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