Friday, March 18, 2011

Who Are You? TSA Exploring Identity Based Screening and Known Travelers

A common statement we hear at checkpoints is "I'm not a terrorist!  Why do I have to go through screening?" While it's extremely likely that's the case, the current system provides us little basis to make that judgment in advance of you arriving at the airport - unless you're on a terrorist watch list.  But... What if we combined our layers of security (i.e. Behavior Detection Officers and watchlists) with more of an identity-based system as opposed to a one size fits all approach where everybody more or less receives the same kind of screening?

For some time now, there has been much talk about implementing a Trusted Traveler program and switching to more of an identity-based approach. Good news... Administrator Pistole is on board with a known traveler approach. He spoke earlier this month at the American Bar Association and talked about his vision for this concept. You can read his remarks here.

The Washington Post also had a story about a new report from the U.S. Travel Association that's calling for changes to airport security that are similar - though not identical - to the idea that Administrator Pistole has previously talked about. We think this type of national conversation is incredibly valuable and hope others continue to weigh in with their ideas to guide the future of checkpoint screening.

One point to keep in mind as we think about these issues is that it's important that we not create a system that would allow a person seeking to do harm to spend several years creating a "clean" background to gain access to a club that guarantees a "right" to expedited screening.

What we hope to do is figure out how to gain more knowledge about the people who are traveling to potentially provide a more streamlined screening experience at the checkpoint.

One possibility would be to have willing passengers provide more information about themselves. A recent example of using identity-based screening would be the decision Administrator Pistole made to change way we screen pilots. It just makes sense that the person who has been cleared to control the plane should not need to undergo the same level of screening. 

Physical screening will likely never go away completely, but the idea of adding identity-based security makes good sense and it's an idea we're actively exploring. So, we'd like to hear your suggestions and ideas. So sound off! (Not that that's ever been a problem here before). 

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

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113 comments:

Concerned Observer said...

Most of the TSAs screening is obsolete and redundant. This program, too, would have little use except to bestow the privilege of screening that is closer to constitutional upon a select number of passengers.

With hardened, locked cockpit doors and crew that is told not to comply with hijackers, we are much safer than before. The TSA's screening processes are unnecessarily invasive and excessively redundant in light of these changes my airlines.

Anonymous said...

How about you stop treating people who stand up for their rights like terrorists, and fire agents with god complexes?

Bubba said...

"What if we combined our layers of security (i.e. Behavior Detection Officers and watchlists) with more of an identity-based system as opposed to a one size fits all approach where everybody more or less receives the same kind of screening?"

Wow! You plan to combine the junk science SPOT program (which the World´s most respected scientific journal Nature has already outed as unscientific) with the ridiculously long and inappropriate watchlists, full of names of infants and even Nobel peace prize winners, to create this identity-based system?

Seems to me this will be just as well implemented as all your other nonsense.

Chris Boyce said...

Administrator Pistole: I will NEVER submit to an interrogation by ANY government employee EVER about ANY details about my travel activities, my personal history, or my personal lifestyle as a prerequisite to the government allowing me the privilege of traveling from Point A to Point B on public conveyance.

Got it?

Chris Boyce said...

My first post nonwithstanding, I'd like you to address the following issues:

"One point to keep in mind as we think about these issues is that it's important that we not create a system that would allow a person seeking to do harm to spend several years creating a "clean" background to gain access to a club that guarantees a "right" to expedited screening."

If you spoke with anyone in the intelligence community, you would quickly understand that professional foreign intelligence services can create a clean identity in a matter of minutes. Less capable organizations or groups or individuals simply need to bribe screening clerks, as was clearly demonstrated in Buffalo recently.

"What we hope to do is figure out how to gain more knowledge about the people who are traveling to potentially provide a more streamlined screening experience at the checkpoint."

I recall you tried to do this illegally during the test phase of Secure Flight when you collected personal information from thousands of travelers without their knowledge or consent. You extorted a couple of airlines into doing this for you. You'll have to work harder this time to avoid getting caught violating the Privacy Act.

"One possibility would be to have willing passengers provide more information about themselves. A recent example of using identity-based screening would be the decision Administrator Pistole made to change way we screen pilots. It just makes sense that the person who has been cleared to control the plane should not need to undergo the same level of screening."

Right. You had to be publicly embarrassed into doing this.

Sandra said...

"One point to keep in mind as we think about these issues is that it's important that we not create a system that would allow a person seeking to do harm to spend several years creating a "clean" background to gain access to a club that guarantees a "right" to expedited screening."

What a sad, sad commentary on DHS's way of thinking - and what a total waste of money.

Sadly, there are probably many very selfish individuals who would probably go along with DHS/TSA and turn over all their personal info just to get on a plane.

Hopefully, most people will refuse and continue to fight the TSA and its on-going abuse of the Constitution.

Screen shot made.

Randy said...

What additional information would be required to get expedited screening?

And how is expedited screening different from the regular screening?

The pilots are a special case, since they are flying the plane. If they decide to crash the plane there's not a lot anyone can do.

Everyone else (stewardesses, maintenance, food service, etc) is not special and should require the same screening as the flying public.

Anonymous said...

Beyond the complete invasion of privacy this idea represents, who someone is doesn't matter. Terrorists could just spend their time developing "clean" profiles over the years.

The key is to get a CONSISTENT screening mechanism and use good police work before terrorists ever get to the airport.

The TSA's way of looking at the problem is so broken and flawed that I wonder if the only way to fix it is to start over again.

If your system worked it wouldn't matter who flies and who doesn't. They wouldn't be able to do any harm.

Anonymous said...

TSA needs to decide first what it is looking for. If you are looking for weapons and explosives, then do the following.

1 – Everyone goes through metal detectors. Because AIT cannot “detect” anything and is based on human intervention, using them as front line detectors increases the chance that metal (guns) will get through.

2- Trace detection for everyone. Use a swab on a stick. No more touchy feely.

3 – Dogs.

4 – Puffers DID work, but only in a lab environment. You should consider setting up a “clean” area where puffers can operate.

5 - Assign all passengers a risk level. A family of four headed to Disney or a 92 year old in a wheelchair is not a threat. How do you know that? Ask them questions about where they are from, where they are going, where they are staying. The same level of questioning that anyone gets while traveling outside the US.

These are the only things that can detect weapons and explosives with any amount of accuracy. Stop wasting time looking for nail clippers and drugs. A joint will never take down a aircraft.

TSA passenger hotline. Problem with security? The TSA should have a hotline staffed 24x7 that a passenger can call while inside the screening area to get clarification on any issue.

I am also leery of the “trusted traveler” program. It sounds like it will become nothing more than a rich mans pass. All accounts have said there will be a fee involved. So if you got the cash you can bypass. If you eliminate the frequent fliers and business travelers, you essentially reduce the amount of complaints. This will allow the current failed level of screening to continue, just on a smaller scale.

Please don't pretend that this is Sec. Pistole's idea. This is being driven by pressure from the travel industry. Current trends indicate that Americans are staying home and it is hitting them in their wallets.

Amy Button said...

An easy way to start would be to put everyone who's passed the new, more stringent, screening to obtain a badge to work at a secure government facility into the pool. I'm a contractor at Johnson Space Center, and that background check was way more intensive than anything the TSA could hope to do with random people at a checkpoint. Between civil servants, active-duty military, and applicable contractors, that's tens of thousands of people right there.

Amy Button said...

Oh, and anyone with clearances for secret/top secret/etc. should also be a given in that pool, though it's probably a large overlap with the larger pool of folks cleared for secure government facility badges. The badge-cleared thing would be very easy to implement with the new SmartCard badges too - just bring them with you to the checkpoint, put them in the reader, and validate accordingly.

Jim Huggins said...

So ... as I read this ... you want to create a screening process based on identity (i.e. past history). At the same time, you want to disallow the possibility of "sleepers", where someone creates a clean past history in order to gain trusted access. It seems like these are directly contradictory. How can you do both?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

I read Pistole's speech expecting there to be some actual information about the new screening regime, bút all he said was :

"My vision is to accelerate TSA’s evolution into a truly risk-based, intelligence-driven organization in every way.

Last fall, I directed the agency to explore ways to further develop this strategy.

Our team is making good progress.

We want to focus our limited resources on higher-risk passengers, while speeding and enhancing the passenger experience at the airport.

I believe what we’re working on will provide better security by more effectively deploying our resources, while also improving passengers’ travel experiences by potentially streamlining the screening experience for many people. "

Which basically says nothing.

A two tier system is a recipe for disaster. You said you don't want to create a situation where a terrorist spends years creating a 'clean' persona in order to avoid the more indepth screening, but that is exactly what is going to happen..... how could it be otherwise? You're creating a nice fat juicy loophole that *will* be exploited.

Also, what does this mean :

"We want to focus our limited resources on higher-risk passengers"

Higher risk based on what? Country of origin? Skin colour? Religion?

Also, if you implement this system it automatically means that anyone going through 'normal' security is considered a higher risk than other passengers and will create suspicion and paranoia amongst the travelling public.

All in all a very bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Bob, the BDO program is utter nonsense based on utter nonsense, and in no way provides any security at all. Why do you keep claiming otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Kind of like the background checks you perform before you hire someone and then they start stealing stuff left and right as reported on the news?

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110224-715918.html

or

http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20110316_Isle_TSA_worker_arrested_in_theft_of_cash_from_travelers.html

etc, etc

Anonymous said...

Curtis, what makes you think your crack staff of screening clerks are bright enough to implement "identity based screening" when they don't even seem capable of learning which types of ID are acceptable at their own checkpoints?

Twice this month alone I have had my NEXUS pass refused at the checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for a trusted traveler program. I was (and am again) a Clear cardholder. I would love to see the Clear program take off and become a national standard.

Anonymous said...

I hope the TSA takes better care of passenger data than they did with the hard drive containing TSA employee data that went missing a couple of years ago.

I doubt it.

Adrian said...

The big fallacy here is that knowing enough about a person's background can be a good indication of bad intent.

Consider the TSA employee who worked as a behavior detection officer for five years. He passed whatever background tests TSA requires. He got training in behavior detection. Presumably he spent time in the presence of other behavior detection officers. Yet nobody had a clue that he was (allegedly) violent and suicidal.

http://www.ajc.com/news/clayton/hartsfield-tsa-worker-allegedly-751953.html

To be clear, I'm not saying the TSA could have prevented these violent actions. But this case does illustrate that some of the ideas the TSA builds its policies around are fundamentally wrong.

Background checks do not (and cannot) tell you if someone is trustworthy. I doubt that they can even give a statistically significant confidence level.

"Behavior detection" is unscientific hokum. Sure, it makes for a fun TV show, but in real life, it's nothing more than security theater.

Privacy is security. Giving up even more of it will make us less safe, not more.

Mike E. said...

The only people the TSA can catch are the ones who bring in prohibited items by accident.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a comment about the mentally incapacitated man who made it aboard the Delta flight in JFK?

Anonymous said...

You're still trying to push the discredited BDO program?

When are you going to address that?

Anonymous said...

I will ignore the "always...physical inspection" thing.

TWO people apply: Who do you approve?

THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE:

SUBJECT A: US Citizen, Christian, white, ex-military, served our country, honorably discharged. No criminal record.

SUBJECT B: Iranian Citizen, Muslim, brown, import/export business. No criminal record, has right-to-carry license for personal firearm.

You know the answer because of my attitude. But here is who they are.

SUBJECT A: Timothy McVeigh. Terrorist who destroyed a building in Oklahoma City.

SUBJECT B: Hard-working businessman whose handgun went through TSA screening accidentally in his carry-on (2 weeks ago or so). After landing, he notified authorities of the accidental breach.

Good luck with trust.

Anonymous said...

One point to keep in mind as we think about these issues is that it's important that we not create a system that would allow a person seeking to do harm to spend several years creating a "clean" background to gain access to a club that guarantees a "right" to expedited screening.

-------

So it's okay for TSOs to receive minimal or no screening, since they've had background checks. But that's not good enough for passengers?

Also, what's with the scare quotes around "right"? I realize that DHS doesn't like the Constitution very much, but the 4th Amendment does still exist.

Jim said...
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Anonymous said...

Exactly what kind of system cannot be 'gamed' by a terrorist spending "several years creating a "clean" background".

Answer: None.

Therefore, this is nothing more than an attempt to squeeze info from passengers.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I still do not trust the TSA ... never will and because of that I will never fly so long as the TSA is in the airports!

The whole thing reeks of secret police!

Anonymous said...

As a frequent traveler and taxpayer, I am disgusted every time I pass through an airport checkpoint to see how law-abiding Americans are treated. The TSA has destroyed its trusted relationship with a majority of Americans - myself included. When you re-think your security practices, you should begin by dramatically overhauling the brand of an agency that is a stain on the principals of a great country it is trying to protect.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand why people take screenshots before they post, you didn't post my post with a very valid concern and problem with this new plan of yours. I will start doing so from now on.

I guess it's time to place a formal complain this weekend to the OIG.

PS: I don't expect you to approve this either, but if you do, it'll be just to prove me wrong.

SciMjr2 said...

Attention Bob:
I want to understand and help the T.S.A. because I think that the current use of nude body scanners and “enhanced” pat downs are trampling on our rights and demeaning and degrading every person who flies and there has got to be something better. We should be presumed innocent until something suggests otherwise.
I have two questions that I was wondering if you or the T.S.A. in general could answer for me.
The “Trusted Traveler” program SOUNDS good but … how much MORE personal information does the TSA want me to provide and what would be acceptable? I mean, what would prove that I am not a terrorist?
Second, if I did provide all this additional personal information what would that allow me to bypass? If I did provide some additional information would I be able to avoid the invasive Pat-Downs and being scanned by the A.I.T.s? Would I be able to just walk through the original metal detectors and go? And if not … what’s the point?
I own several guns, I have a valid U.S. Passport, and I have a CDL license that allows me to drive a school bus so I have had more background checks done at both the state and federal levels than the T.S.A. agents who are scrutinizing me.

kimm said...

Once again, how about dogs and profiling? Why is the heavy use of dogs and profiling being ignored? Who are you afraid of insulting? Certainly not the 95% of passingers who simply want to get from point A to B and treated like a criminal. You don't have a problem offending us! Who then?

I'm sick and tired of the government trying to create ways to find out more and more about innocent people, while known problems are "watched" or ignored. It wasn't good enough to have a "pat down"...oh no! We had to go to the next step of the porn machine, which HAS NOT been proven safe...I don't care what TSA says.

So now, let's add insult to injury. Really? Voluntarially give you more info about myself? Yeah..Right.. You don't need it if you used what you already have at your disposal properly.

Anonymous said...

Every time I think TSA has reached a new level of absurdity, they dig deep down and set a new record for nonsense.

As the first commentator correctly noted, hardened, locked cockpit doors and a change to airline policies that allow crew to resist a hijacking have produced more real safety in the years since 9/11 than anything TSA has done.

Your agency has no credibility whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger Bob:

"It just makes sense that the person who has been cleared to control the plane should not need to undergo the same level of screening. "

Please refrain from this line of reasoning. You represent an agency that thinks that touching my wife's face and hair has something to do with securing aviation. You represent an agency that continues to use and endorse a program (SPOT) that is known to be based on pseudoscience without offering even a sliver of an argument to justify it. You represent an agency that cannot fill out a simple form or grasp the reason that safety tests are performed in the first place. You don't get to lecture me about common sense.

Anonymous said...

The blog said:
"One point to keep in mind as we think about these issues is that it's important that we not create a system that would allow a person seeking to do harm to spend several years creating a "clean" background to gain access to a club that guarantees a "right" to expedited screening."

Good luck with that because it's impossible.

Terrorists don't have to create a clean background, they can recruit someone who truly has a clean background. Do you people ever read the news? Every terrorist has to have a first time.

What I find shocking is your low opinion of the American public. You seem to think we are all morons who will just believe any nonsense you tell us.

Anonymous said...

Why does the TSA want us to believe that any of their employees are capable of this sort of identity-based screening when we've already been shown that the employees of the TSA can't even read a clock? Or was there some other explanation for the Savannah incident, Bob?

Anonymous said...

It could be worse you know. In germany they dismantle entire planes, rescreen and question all the passengers, and bring out a different plane to reload everyone on just because some guys were joking about plane hijacking. In other countries you don't get your bag x-rayed or your walk through metal detectors, your bag gets completely dumped out and searched and you get a pat down every time. In many countries there are armed military at the checkpoints. Think about that and realize the worse TSA does is make you take your shoes off, place your toiletries in checked baggage, and you have to take a scan of your body that is completely anonymous, has about as much radiation as your cell phone, and takes about 30 seconds. Dang america has it rough....

Oh and this idea for "who are you" screening is terrible. I like the thought behind it trying to make screening easier for citizens but a system like that would just be too easy to abuse. What they should do is just upgrade TSA to enforcing the Law, as they say TSAs job is to keep the passengers on the plane safe. Well a Police officers job is keeping the general public safe but for some reason the definition of safe for them is enforcing the Law not just protecting people from weapons. So if enforcing the law keeps people safe then in order for TSA to fully keep people on the plane "safe" then they should enforce the law not just prevent weapons from being on board. Look at it this way as well, if they were enforcing the law that means they couldn't make up their own policies to enforce, they could only enforce the law.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but no. You're opening the door to high amounts of potential abuse. And just because someone has a squeaky clean record doesn't mean they will avoid future criminal activity. It also means they may be very good at hiding it, and you do NOT want those people slipping through security. Those are the loopholes terrorists can exploit. I abhor the new system for hands on searching and the fact I'm being irradiated, but I'd rather be safe. A better program is the behavioral pattern observers planted in airports. It's very effective in Europe.
Also, allowing this program will cause more problems for people who are worthy to fly. You will get people who see this as a moneymaking opportunity or just can't handle it. Stop the problems inside the airport. It's a lot easier than mind reading.

Anonymous said...

Screening of preferred status passengers won't do much for the elderly and handicapped that is often targeted. It would improve the lot of the wealthy, famous and politically connected.

Expediting preferred passengers will leave more time to scrutinize the elderly and handicapped. They serve to keep the crowds in line through their intimidation. An example, if you will.

Anonymous said...

I am vehemently against the "radiation or molestation" idiocy you people are doing.

However I do support passive multivariate risk-based scoring of passengers.

The big problem here is the problem of government/political abuse. Inevitably the TSA will abuse this authority as well as politicians in office will use it for political purposes.

It is such a shame the U.S. government has become such a low-integrity entity, it is nothing like I've seen before.

Anonymous said...

The constitution is not a white list wherein only those specifically cleared by the government are afforded their rights. Hence, scans and invasive pat downs should only be conducted with probable cause (as defined by law enforcement), and certainly never as a primary screening method.

Beyond that, if the TSA were to implement an opt-in trusted traveler program that allows a cleared individual to stroll through security with his coat and shoes on while sipping a Diet Coke, I suppose that would be fine. As far as I'm concerned, reinforced cockpit doors and the passenger awareness are the only things keeping us safe anyway. The rest is theater, and as long as individuals rights are preserved either way (i.e. people would not be submitting to the trusted-traveler background check under what could be reasonably considered duress), people can decide for themselves what they want to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm in favor of a trusted traveler program.....

AS LONG AS YOU START FROM SCRATCH!!!!

There are too many little kids, TSA dissenters (who are not freaking terrorists, for Christ's sake!), and completely harmless people on current terrorist watch lists. I'd bet my life savings at least 50% of people on the watch lists right now do not deserve to be there.

Anonymous said...

mike e said:
"The only people the TSA can catch are the ones who bring in prohibited items by accident."

Thats right cause everytime a person is found to have a prohibited item they "forgot it was in my bag".

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea, after all identity based tracking by the FBI, TSA, and Border Patrol has worked so well already.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ap_on_re_us/us_terror_under_suspicion

Anonymous said...

There's no way I'm providing personal information to TSA staff with the sure knowledge that there will be no safeguards in place to protect it. The seemingly endless parade of TSA staffers being convicted for theft of money and possessions from passengers will flower into full blown identity theft immediately.

The only way this process should open up would be strict limits on what information TSA can collect and which of their personnel is allowed to access it. Given the utterly lax oversight of routine TSA abuses, from lying about FDA certification of the AITs to the fact that they were promoted to the public as 'secondary screening,' I doubt this will happen.

Anonymous said...

In response to Bubba.....kind of says it all.....The Worlds most respected scientific journal says it is junk science????? Not so fast Bubba--That journal artical which you are betting the farm on was written by persons with "an opinion". None of them actively research lies in a high stakes environment. Some of them have a ax to grind and none of them have had access to the non-public reports. Yes, there are many non-public reports. You can choose to poke at anything you have no access to but there is more than 60 years of deception detection success in aviation security. There are many countries which swear to it and many on this blog in the past have pushed us to move closer to it.




Anonymous Bubba said...

"What if we combined our layers of security (i.e. Behavior Detection Officers and watchlists) with more of an identity-based system as opposed to a one size fits all approach where everybody more or less receives the same kind of screening?"

Wow! You plan to combine the junk science SPOT program (which the World´s most respected scientific journal Nature has already outed as unscientific) with the ridiculously long and inappropriate watchlists, full of names of infants and even Nobel peace prize winners, to create this identity-based system?

Seems to me this will be just as well implemented as all your other nonsense

Anonymous said...

Federal employees who have been background-checked (most of us, nowadays) should automatically qualify for this program, and the Federal government should pay the costs of enrollment for those of us who are required to travel regularly for work.

Carole Book said...

I would rather know I was safe and that everyone had gone through the same safety checks than worry about my human rights, so long as I have nothing to hide what is the problem with answering a few questions about my travel plans and being scanned for dangerous objects!

BlognDog said...

This is about the most horrible idea ever to come out of the TSA, and given how good you guys are at such things, that's saying something.

It is transparently obvious what you are attempting to do -- create a two-class system of passengers, one of which is the group of people who insist on exercising their right to privacy and vigorously reject the notion of being required to surrender those rights in order to avoid being abused.

The other group, those who get fed up with being irradiated and/or fondled by the TSA, gives up their privacy and hands over reams of personal information to the TSA.

In a few years, by continuously ramping up the level of disclosure required to avoid harasssment when travelling you have one group of people who have handed over their work and academic histories, their bank accounts, their phone records, their surfing history, etc. etc., and another that only is able to fly after a strip search/cavity search that requires up to 3 hours.

Never, ever, ever, over my dead body will any of us allow you to get away with this transparent, evil scheme.

Anonymous said...

The whole security idea needs to be rethought. TSA uses too much junk science (liquid bombs, BDO). And yet, refuses to "believe" radiation scanner data.

What do you want to accomplish? No possible terrorist threat? Perfect security is impossible. Rather than reacting to the last crazy and failed threat, how about figuring out what the threats are and then creating a process that minimizes those threats without creating radiation hazards (which you deny) and greater hassle of travelers.

Actually, I'd be happy with properly trained staff whose credo was customer service and being nice; not power tripping or theft. I had a supervisor in MEM tell me that the only liquids that were allowed under the medical exception were prescription liquids. This is in direct contradiction to the TSA website. When I questioned him; he refused to admit his error. The TSO who actually screened me knew the rules, fortunately.

A consistent approach to security would also be helpful. Sure, you want to have some randomness, but certainly not randomness in what is and is not permitted and how customers are treated.

IMHO, the whole operation should be disbanded and restarted with all new personnel.

wllharrington said...

So we are back to 'profiling'. Sorry, that's not PC is it. There is nothing wrong with profiling. We do it everyday of our lives. How are we going to prove that the 'trusted traveler' is the real thing.

Dunstan said...

I'm sure the writers for Rocky and Bullwinkle would have skewered TSA.

Anonymous said...

Terrorists are able to recruit and use operatives who have no derogatory records in terrorism databases – so-called “clear-skin” operatives. Clear-skin operatives may be either willing recruits or naïve dupes. The clear-skin threat largely cancels the effectiveness of identity programs and watch lists as anti-terrorism measures. Moreover, the creation of large identity databases poses its own set of security risks.

JRon said...

While I think a Trusted Traveler idea is a great one. Answer this for me. How much would a terrorist have to pay a trusted traveler to do something that would bring down a plane? One Million? Two Million? How about Ten Million? Twenty Million? How about Twenty? Are you going to eliminate people with financial problems from the Trusted Traveler list?

And what about the Trusted Traveler who's family is being held all duct taped and teriffied by a terrorist. Trusted Travelers have wives and three year old daughters too. Are you going to eliminate people with young beautiful families from the Trusted Traveler list?

What you are going to need for the Trusted Traveler is some way to determine whether the Trusted Traveler is under any stress or being coerced in any way.
Remember if 9999 Trusted Travelers go right through the line with a smile on their faces and the last one knows his family will die unless he cooperates, that will be a huge and unacceptable price to pay.

Just doing background checks on the Trusted Traveler wannabes won't be nearly enough.

Don't misunderstand me. I want a Trusted Traveler program too. But these terrorists are smart. They have money. They are driven by religious fanaticism and they are not afraid to die. They are willing to lose 100 times to win once. The terrorists are bringing the most powerful country in the world to its knees.

Whatever change we make needs to be a positive change and not yet another poorly thought out mistake that lets the terrorists drop another plane out of the sky and subjects the rest of us to cavity checks just to get on an airplane.

We need to be smart too. Not arrogant and dismissive. Smart.

Anonymous said...

The TSA has done more damage to the American way of life than any other terrorist organization.

Josh Strike said...

Clearly, the current one-size-fits-all system is incredibly inefficient. It's as if Google had to deliver search results in random order, instead of ranked. And the invasions of privacy and dignity it leads to leave TSA open to a lot of criticism.

On the other hand, what invasions might be involved with an identity program? Assuming this is an opt-in program, its existence should not automatically raise the level of suspicion on people who choose not to become members. And as with watchlists, bad information can really screw up a system...garbage in, garbage out.

Suppose I'm John Q. Smith and I'm denied access to this program. Will TSA be transparent and give me the reasons? Why do I have a feeling that the decision about who gets in and who doesn't is going to be made obscurely in the name of protecting your methods? But won't having a closed-door process for deciding who gets on the list, inevitably lead to charges of nepotism and preferential treatment? Consider the blowback:

Let's say that 30% of your decision-making process is based on how often a person flies business class. Well, the proportion of white people who fly business is higher than black people. You aren't thinking about that when you build your algorithm. Or let's say a statistical analysis shows that people who pre-order halal food are more likely to blow up airplanes. Mathematically speaking, that's probably the case...and assuming this system's going to increase efficiency, it's going to have to be based on real math, right?

Well, eventually someone leaks a list of who's part of the program (consider that leak to be inevitable) and then whoops! Looks like you've been racially profiling. Not that it was your intent to do so. But consider the totality of your experience so far; every time you guys implement a closed system for anything it comes back and bites you in the ass within six months.

So: Who does John Q. appeal to if he's not let into the program? Are the reasons made clear? Can requirements be drafted for entry which explain to the public the exact reasons for acceptance or denial of entry, without giving terrorists a roadmap of how to infiltrate the system? If they can't, you're just giving yourself another headache...the system will either implode with accusations of preferential treatment, or explode when the wrong person passes muster, and then you'll be forced to disclose everything to Congress about how you let that guy in while John Q. was denied.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good idea from the TSA. But I do feel there will be some issues with the screening process. I think one of the key pieces of information the TSA would need to obtain is religious affiliation. This will be a huge obstacle to overcome as people are not very willing to share this information and there will be no way to verify if they are telling the truth or not. Let's face the facts, most terrorist come from the Middle East and are Muslim. I'm not racist but this is a true statement. There are plenty of Muslims in the world that have no problem with the US, examples are India and Indonesia, both countries have huge Muslim populations but we dont' see terrorists coming out of those countries. The Middle East Muslims don't agree with the "western" way of life so they seek to disrupt it. I don't see this "profiling" working very well. It's a good thought but to follow through on it will probably make people more upset than they already are.

Anonymous said...

We have always protected our citizens from profiling, but it seems profiling is exactly what needs to be done. I would happily go to a TSA office, be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted if it would ease my travel from there on out. You have a thankless job, but keep on plugging.

Sandra said...

Carole Book (whose link leads to basically an advertising page), wrote:

"I would rather know I was safe and that everyone had gone through the same safety checks than worry about my human rights, so long as I have nothing to hide what is the problem with answering a few questions about my travel plans and being scanned for dangerous objects!"

You think providing your tax returns, your credit information and other personal data is equivalent to "answering a few questions about my travel plans"? You are sadly mistaken.

Anonymous said...

I do believe in a knowledge based system. For example: I am a 50+ y/o retired US Army vet, current Commercial Pilot, frequent flyer, work for the DoD and have a current Secret clearance...yet I manage to get a Back Scatter or pat down nearly every time I travel. If my name and picture were in a database as a cleared traveler it would save me and the TSA time and therefore money and allow the TSA agents more time to fixate on the real threat!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I find this an extremely odd.

If the fear is terrorists, and the idea is these invasive screenings will prevent them from getting weapons onto planes, I don't see how allowing an entire 'class' of people through without the screening will help reach that goal.

(I don't see how these screenings add substantively to safety in the first place, & their risks have never been determined, but that's another discussion.)

So, is the thought that "terrorists" would not plan ahead? Say, start flying frequently, to gain access to this lower-level screening process?

Um, I'm not a terrorist, but that's what I'd do.

Does the TSA recall how long they planned 9/11? They could have racked up quite a few frequent flyer miles during that time.

And what about the average, unstable frequent flyer who is entirely self-centered with their anger? They might not have a terrorist plot in mind, but they could still have a weapon.

If these screenings are supposed to be so vital to our national security, then the TSA had better:

1) Come up with a better criteria for making it optional than "convenience for the frequent flyer."
Seriously? That's the threshold??


2) Make everyone who wants to opt-out go through a background check.

You know, like pilots, the other group allowed to forgo the screenings.


3) And. . . if the TSA thinks there's merit to the argument that the screenings may be *dangerous*, then they better stop using them at all.

(Which they should, but that's the other discussion.)


If you're going to start letting people opt-out because *they fly a lot*, that's ridiculous government policy.

Anonymous said...

There is an enormous need to streamline and simplify the TSA screening system. We are wasting incredible amounts of money and time, antagonizing innocent travelers, and finding no terrorists. I am no security guru, but there has got to be a better way than creating an enormous, intrusive bureacracy that violates the privacy and person of millions yearly. BTW, I now avoid airline travel as much as possible, as I find the experience degrading, dehumanizing, dispiriting, and wasteful.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that you are looking toward taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to security. However, the devil's in the details, and how such a program as you described is run will make all the difference to whether it's both effective and accepted by the traveling public. For example, a rigid set of rules will eventually be discovered and rendered useless, and insane criteria such as used by the "trusted traveler" program you had will hurt acceptance (I was rejected because - get this - 40 years ago as a teenager I was arrested for a park curfew violation).

I am all for secure flying, but it shouldn't be an ordeal for me on either business flights or my family on vacation trips.

Absolute security, absolute safety, is not possible. A determined attacker can always find a way through one or more layers. Think you have a secure system? Try paying college students $1000 if they can get supplied test items through security and see how that works out.

You need intelligence layers (humint), security starting at the airport boundaries, at the doors (don't let a bomb go off in the ticket area or on the security line), gross detection before boarding (like you have, but streamlined), and the various onboard layers which I will not discuss openly. A holistic approach, if you will.

(And yes, I am a pilot, although I travel frequently not as one)

Anonymous said...

It's about time that TSA move away from the very ineffective and incredibly inefficient method of screening in current use. I am very supportive of using an "intelligence based" approach that stratifies the sample following well established statistical sampling procedures. The cost is less, it is less intrusive for innocents, it does not presume guilt - therefore search everything and everyone, and it is an approach that is much more likely to catch the bad people we all want to keep out of aircraft or off of other modes of public transportation. Kudos for taking the leap and at least thinking there might be a 'better way'.

SSSS for some reason said...

Carole Book said...
I would rather know I was safe ...than worry about my human rights, so long as I have nothing to hide...

~~~~~

And since you have nothing to hide I am sure you wouldn't mind walking through the airport completely naked, with a transparent purse and luggage.

Having nothing to hide is completely different than being safe while traveling.

Larry Steller said...

I traveled on business for 35 years racking up over 10 million airline miles so I have seen it all, so to speak.

I have no objection to the need for security screening; however, I believe that anyone who travels for business should get a break.

Airlines can recognize frequent flyers so why can't TSA use airline database data to determine "safe" travelers?

I am now retired but once was a member of several airline frequent flyer programs, as most business travelers are, so this data should also contribute to my acceptance as a non-risk air traveler.

On a personal level I believe that anyone who has endured over 30 years of constant air travel should be rewarded. Even in retirement I also carry DHS identification as a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist showing that I have been veted as thoroughly as any TSA employee and that should count.

Please continue to explore this avenue of thinking since I don't enjoy flying any longer due to the current aggrevation imposed by TSA.

Res[ectfully submitted,

Larry Steller

Anonymous said...

A Marine Corps veteran, Abe Mashal, is claiming the no fly list was used to blackmail him.

Will TSA or its parent DHS use this new system to blackmail people?

Anonymous said...

It would be great to start a program similar to ICE's "Trusted Traveler" program. This would expedite inspection and boarding.

Michael D.S. said...

I am in full support of using intelligence based security measures to ensure the public's safety.

This particular system has been met with an abundance of success in countries like Israel. However, it is critical to understand how their success has been achieved, if the TSA is expecting similar results.

To the TSA: please help to restore our public's confidence in flying safety. This will require highly educated, specially trained personnel, not the average employees currently being used for screening purposes.

Although I fully support this method of screening, I have not been impressed with any of the particular methods currently in use. I have strong feelings that nearly everything being done is primarily for
public perception, with little actual security value.

I feel that my current position(s) as a managing professional of a U.S. based air carrier, an ATP rated pilot and an aviation security consultant provide me the qualifications to make these statements.

Josh Strike said...

Eh, I'm just wondering why my comment wasn't posted. I'm gonna post it again, redacting the word "***" because I'm hoping you and your readers will find it helpful:

Clearly, the current one-size-fits-all system is incredibly inefficient. It's as if Google had to deliver search results in random order, instead of ranked. And the invasions of privacy and dignity it leads to leave TSA open to a lot of criticism.

On the other hand, what invasions might be involved with an identity program? Assuming this is an opt-in program, its existence should not automatically raise the level of suspicion on people who choose not to become members. And as with watchlists, bad information can really screw up a system...garbage in, garbage out.

Suppose I'm John Q. Smith and I'm denied access to this program. Will TSA be transparent and give me the reasons? Why do I have a feeling that the decision about who gets in and who doesn't is going to be made obscurely in the name of protecting your methods? But won't having a closed-door process for deciding who gets on the list, inevitably lead to charges of nepotism and preferential treatment? Consider the blowback:

Let's say that 30% of your decision-making process is based on how often a person flies business class. Well, the proportion of white people who fly business is higher than black people. You aren't thinking about that when you build your algorithm. Or let's say a statistical analysis shows that people who pre-order halal food are more likely to blow up airplanes. Mathematically speaking, that's probably the case...and assuming this system's going to increase efficiency, it's going to have to be based on real math, right?

Well, eventually someone leaks a list of who's part of the program (consider that leak to be inevitable) and then whoops! Looks like you've been racially profiling. Not that it was your intent to do so. But consider the totality of your experience so far; every time you guys implement a closed system for anything it comes back and bites you in the *** within six months.

So: Who does John Q. appeal to if he's not let into the program? Are the reasons made clear? Can requirements be drafted for entry which explain to the public the exact reasons for acceptance or denial of entry, without giving terrorists a roadmap of how to infiltrate the system? If they can't, you're just giving yourself another headache...the system will either implode with accusations of preferential treatment, or explode when the wrong person passes muster, and then you'll be forced to disclose everything to Congress about how you let that guy in while John Q. was denied.

Al Ames said...

Because, Carole, we don't have anything to hide either but that doesn't mean that the government has a carte blanche to interrogate us either. There are plenty of ways to screen for prohibited items without interrogation.

Wanting to be left alone and not having to answer questions about where I'm going, who I am, what I'll be doing, who I'll associate with, etc are just us as people wanting the government to respect our constitutional rights. They're not germane to whether I have items needed to blow up a plane. Our government's implication that we're hiding something if we don't want to tell them every little thing about ourselves is ridiculous.

There are plenty of ways to screen for items that aren't invasive and aren't a hassle. TSA chooses not to use most of them. It's much more difficult to find a real threat when you deem EVERYTHING and EVERYONE a threat rather than looking for what sticks out and dealing with it when accordingly when found.

If you don't worry about your human rights, you're setting yourself up to be abused by the people charged to "protect" you. You won't have your rights, and you certainly won't be safe either.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

Al

Anonymous said...

I firmly believe that scans and invasive pat downs should only be conducted with probable cause and never as a primary screening method. The current position that EVERY traveler is an equal threat violates Constitutional rights and is offensive.

Using reasonable data points to assess the level of screening considered necessary for a passenger makes complete and absolute sense. Using less invasive screening methods for low-risk passengers makes absolute and complete sense. Having TSA in charge of gathering and analyzing the data, and assessing risk level – that makes NO sense. TSA employees do not have the sufficient education or knowledge to do that work or to be trusted with personal information.

Navy Chief said...

OK, how about this for a start: Link into the DoD clearance databases and allow those with adjudicated clearances (TS or higher to start, since getting a Secret is almost automatic) to screen as pilots do? They've already been trusted with highly-sensitive national secrets, I suspect they could be trusted to bring a small packet knife on board without rising the aircraft or its passengers.

Full disclosure, here: I have such a clearance, so this suggestion is a bit self-serving.

Anonymous said...

As a frequent traveler with a clearance, I totally support an identity based system. If I am stupid enough to set off the screening device, please check me further, otherwise let me go in peace.

Anonymous said...

It's about time; should have been done 8 years ago. I'm a U.S. Air Force officer and a retired airline pilot and am treated as a probable terrorist every time I fly. What a waste of time and money. Once one is verified as low risk, all you should have to do is go through the metal detector to be sure you don't have a gun.

Anonymous said...

Study the methods used at the Tel Aviv airport in Israel. They have been dealing with terrorist threats very successfully for a long time.

They profile based on behavior, not ethnicity, training their people to identify those people most likely to be engaged in crime or terror based on what they do when approaching security.

Add that to the intel sources available and we can make airport security both more efficient and more effective.

Anonymous said...

I fully support a move to more intelligence-based security. Having recently studied aviation security in a masters program, I came to the same conclusion that is now being proposed. Uniform physical screening can go only so far, and we have seen numerous examples of instances where the screening in place has been circumvented, both intentionally and unintentionally. I would hope that eventually this more intelligence-based approach would expand upon the Registered Traveler program, where more background checking could take place before the traveler even reaches the screening checkpoint. This would also work toward addressing issues of security on the non-secure side of the airport.

Anonymous said...

First of all the DHS needs new leadership. "Big sis" needs to be replaced with someone competent, with a background in management and security, not politics. My vegetable strainer caught more illegals than her admin did when she was Gov. in Arizona. We need a higher caliber of staff. The started out pretty good, but now they are taking Walmart and Denny's applicants (fine companies and fine people, but not whom I want screening). CBP agents would be better. Guns, dogs and common sense could be used. Remember how cooperative everyone was when there were some National Guard personnel around with M16's? Profile and look for terrorists, dont create this theater of fairness and don't worry about offending someone who matches a profile. Use travel history and incorporate CBP data as part of the screening process for background evaluation.

Anonymous said...

The US Department of Homeland Security, US Border Control and Customs already have the basis of a trusted traveler program.

NEXUS is a joint program with CATA and a similar arrangement is place with Mexico.

Participants under iris scan, full finger printing, a background check and an interview.


If we are good enough with this credential to have unlimited and automated border crossing, it should be plenty good enough to get on an airplane without the current level of intrusion.

Can't we be efficient and use the information and processes already in use elsewhere in our security operations?

Anonymous said...

From the viewpoint of someone who deals with security daily, the TSA does things in a highly interesting manner.

At the lowest level of intellectual absurdity, security is a five step process.
1. Identification.
2. Verification.
3. Authentication.
4. Authorization.
4. Access Permission.

An ID is just an ID. It has no value beyond that. My driver's license could be forged. My passport could be forged. If I had a NEXUS card, it could be forged. All identification should be considered suspect.

Verifying that an ID is valid is not security. It merely states that the format of the identification offered is valid and correct.

Authentication of an ID is not security. It is merely the determination that the form of identication that has been verified as correctly belonging to the person offering those credentials as identification.

Authorization is not security. It simply states what a class of individuals are permitted to access.

Access Permission is not security. When access is limited to those whose identification has been verified, authenticated and AUTHORIZED, then it becomes part of security.

What I see every time at the TSA checkpoint is:

1. Identification may or may not be recognized.
2. No verification identication is valid.
3. No authentication of credentials.
4. Blanket authorization based on an incomplete identification inspection.
5. Poorly managed access control based on faulty processes.

So, yes. The TSA's actual security process can be compared to a lan administrator putting an unpatched 'straight from the box' Windows 2003 Server directly on the internet with no virus scanner, no malware detection, no firewall, no router, an empty administrator password, and running a webserver with homepage that lists all account names and passwords in ROT13 and giving password hints at login each failed login attempt.

Security is something you have, something you are, and something you know.
1. Smartcard with photographic ID and a reader with automated biometric imaging comparing what it sees to a database and the image stored both on and in the card.
2. A scanned and temperature checked fingerprint compared to both on and off-card storage.
3. A secondary storage (off-card) timestamped hashing PIN that is compared to a central database server.

All three are required to properly authenticate an identification. You can not, will not, and never will, be able to verify someone's intent at the moment they are authorized by access control.

Anonymous said...

For those with clearances asking for identity based clearance, have you not thought about OPSEC concerns?

My agency has specifically told us NOT to participate in things like Nexus, Global Entry, etc for OPSEC reasons.

I have a better idea - quit treating everyone like a criminal and only get more invasive if there's an alarm. You know - sensible security. Things like identity based screening, etc, are no guarantee that a person can be trusted.

TSA already claims that they don't need to screen their workers because they have background checks. However, when one of those Bad Apples® causes yet another Isolated Incident®, it claims that background checks can't predict criminal behavior. So which is it? If the bottom line is that TSA can't trust its own people, what makes you think that they will "trust" any of you?

Likely what will happen is what happens now with CLEAR. You give them a ton of information about you, you get to skip the line, and maybe get to keep your shoes and coat on while you get strip searched.

It's a really sad commentary on American society these days when we're willing to beg the government for treatment we are due by virtue of being an American citizen. TSA has really conditioned society to accept intrusion and abuse, and that's a very sad.

If you get this and accept this, then you have no right to complain about "Papers please" later.

Anonymous said...

Yes, AIT screening potentially compromises privacy. Yes, pat-down searches are uncomfortable to the passengers. And yes, BDOs' chance of detecting an actual terrorist is probably not much more than opportunistic.

But, what are the alternatives? Metal detectors? Probably only good enough to pick up keys in pockets. Explosive Trace Detectors? Passengers would probably have to arrive at the airport 4 to 5 hours before departure time if TSA screens all using that. Hardened cockpit door? Richard Reid and Abdulmutallab did not intend to and had no need to breach that door. Trusted Passengers? I am sure the army major who massacred 12 people at Fort Hood, Texas would have been background-checked and more trusted than anyone of us here had.

Face it. Yes, privacy is compromised. But what are the alternatives?

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and anyone with clearances for secret/top secret/etc. should also be a given in that pool, though it's probably a large overlap with the larger pool of folks cleared for secure government facility badges."

:OK, how about this for a start: Link into the DoD clearance databases and allow those with adjudicated clearances (TS or higher to start, since getting a Secret is almost automatic) to screen as pilots do? They've already been trusted with highly-sensitive national secrets, I suspect they could be trusted to bring a small packet knife on board without rising the aircraft or its passengers.

Full disclosure, here: I have such a clearance, so this suggestion is a bit self-serving."

"As a frequent traveler with a clearance, I totally support an identity based system."

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

I heartily agree! Only us poor slobs who only fly once or twice a year and have jobs that don't require security clearances should be humiliated at checkpoints!

Don't you people see what's happening in this country? We're creating a two-class system where a substantial minority of citizens with connections to the state security/surveillance apparatus are given privileges that are denied to the rest of us. And you know what? Statistically speaking, the odds that a person with a security clearance will attempt an attack is roughly equal to the odds that any given passenger will do so-- infinitesimal.

Anonymous said...

Identity based system is not a magic bullet. However, if incorporated into multi layer security system, including behavior detection, canine units and other explosive detection technology as well as a better trained and more professionalized TSO staff, it would be a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess this is an improvement over the nonsensical system currently in place. How about these suggestions; Give a free pass through security to people who hold a current pilot's license (airman's certificate), a military retirement id, a state issued concealed weapon permit or some combination of those? Meanwhile, you could go for increased vigilance with people who dress in a way to hide from facial recognition software or to make it easy to conceal anything.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
Don't you people see what's happening in this country? We're creating a two-class system where a substantial minority of citizens with connections to the state security/surveillance apparatus are given privileges that are denied to the rest of us

Brings to mind the Inner Party and Outer Party from 'Nineteen Eighty Four'. Even the name 'Department of Homeland Security' sounds vaguely Orwellian. Our country does seem to be constantly at war somewhere on the planet- just not with "Eurasia" or "Eastasia", per se.

Hmm...

"The smallest sign of rebellion, even something so small as a facial expression, can result in immediate arrest and imprisonment." - wikipedia article on '1984'

Sound like BDO's to anyone?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: Yes, AIT screening potentially compromises privacy. Yes, pat-down searches are uncomfortable to the passengers. And yes, BDOs' chance of detecting an actual terrorist is probably not much more than opportunistic.

But, what are the alternatives? Metal detectors? Probably only good enough to pick up keys in pockets.


The walk-through metal detectors would have alarmed every time for the handgun that the Red Team walked through the "body scanners" five times at DFW.

8675309 said...

"To the TSA: please help to restore our public's confidence in flying safety. This will require highly educated, specially trained personnel, not the average employees currently being used for screening purposes."

Good luck finding that employee for the $11.64/hour base pay a TSA screener makes while enduring 8 hours a day of berrating from the traveling public they are trying to protect.

8675309 said...

"Administrator Pistole: I will NEVER submit to an interrogation by ANY government employee EVER about ANY details about my travel activities, my personal history, or my personal lifestyle as a prerequisite to the government allowing me the privilege of traveling from Point A to Point B on public conveyance."

Well hopefully you have your own private conveyance(s) available at your disposal, because the rest of us don't want terrorists to have access to our public conveyances.

Anonymous said...

8675309 said:
"Good luck finding that employee for the $11.64/hour base pay a TSA screener makes while enduring 8 hours a day of berrating from the traveling public they are trying to protect."

Of course, Ghadaffi thinks he is trying to protect the Libyan public as well. The difference is that we (once) had a Constitition that limited the intrusions of the government. Too bad Mr Pistole and his ilk no longer feel obligated to obey their oaths.

Anonymous said...

8675309 said:
"Well hopefully you have your own private conveyance(s) available at your disposal, because the rest of us don't want terrorists to have access to our public conveyances."

Of course, terrorists are likely to answer the questions honestly, correct? The TSA's ability to limit the public's access based on questions being asked by TSOs who aren't even HS grads will last, in my estimation, about a week. Once a few influential government and business leaders are kept from being where they need to be, the program will end.

You can't duplicate Israeli security on the cheap using undereducated people recruited from pizza boxes.

Anonymous said...

8675309, you're making the assumption that anything the TSA is proposing (or currently does) actually has any relation to the ability of terrorists to operate.

There's been a lot of evidence over the years that there is no such relation.

Earl Pitts said...

@8675309: I don't want terrorists on planes either. However, it's foolish at best to think that what TSA is doing is keeping terrorists off of planes.

If the GAO finds a 70% failure rate at in red team tests, and Congressman Mica has said that AIT anomaly detection has an abysmal failure rate, what's being done isn't working. If we're not experiencing terrorist attacks, it's because we're lucky and they're not trying, NOT because of what TSA is doing.

It's a false choice argument and a logical fallacy to say that if you disagree with what TSA does, you don't want security on planes. The fact of the matter is that we want security - REAL security. And it doesn't have to be as invasive as what TSA is doing to be effective. Not only that, TSA largely ignores what's happening on the ramps, etc. They're focusing all the attention on harassing passengers where it looks like they're doing something rather than actually doing things below decks that will secure the plane.

How about this ... you can continue to fly with a security blanket while the rest of us demand real security for what we're paying.

Earl

kimm said...

8675309, I'm NOT prepared to roll over give up my privacy and freedoms because of the terrorists. This is what they want, and TSA and the gov't is handing them their wishes on a silver platter.

The terrorists are laughing at us now.

If you're that afraid of your safety, you had better think twice when you cross the road or get into your car. You have a better chance of something happening there.

I (and many others) refuse to live that way.

Remember, this is part of the same homeland security that says there is no problem at our southern boarders and security there is better than ever......'nuf said!

Gary said...

"The walk-through metal detectors would have alarmed every time for the handgun that the Red Team walked through the "body scanners" five times at DFW."

When was the last time you have seen a real hijacker carries a handgun on his body going through the walk-through metal detector? Only red teamers do that, unfortunately.

A perpetrator worth his salt would have done some tests to determine the minimum quantity of metal that will trigger an alarm on an airport's metal detectors, and where are the areas that the screeners tend to overlook when trying to resolve an alarm. You need to look no further than 9/11 for clues.

SSSS for some reason said...

So if I hand over all the information you are asking for and get my Access Badge to the Safe-People flying club so I still have to put up with random searches at the gate the way this woman did?

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/flier_tsa_grope_nightmare_5EsDbrQPc99DADfZNBjI4J

And when are you going to train your employees to avoid the "do you want to fly today?" question? It is rude, unprofessional, and just all around offensive to us as the flying public.

Anonymous said...

What you guys do should be criminal. Feeding off of peoples fears to build an industry. Quit violating the privacy of good american people.

MarkVII said...

I can think of several ways the TSA can help address the perception of "treating passengers like criminals" without changing the screening procedures or spending a dime on technology or trusted passenger programs.

First, STOP THE YELLING (ahem). Stop the yelling. Speak to people in a civil tone, and they'll usually respond in kind. Most folks don't take kindly to being yelled at.

Give instructions instead of barking orders. I don't care if you want my shoes on my feet, in a bin, on the belt, in my bag, or balanced atop my head -- just tell me what you want in a civil manner.

Get rid of DYWTFT. Whoever thought up that phrase should spend eternity having it yelled at them. Why be so confrontational, especially when DYWTFT is used over minor issues? (Consider George's "last straw" stories over the "requirement" for 3-1-1 bottles to have "labels".)

Don't expect the passengers to know your jargon and procedures, especially since the procedures are supposed to be "unpredictable".

When you ambush someone for a gate search, don't get angry when your wand detects the stuff in their pockets. I think most of the problem passengers have with gate searches is the way the screeners act. If I don't have the opportunity to dump my pockets or a place to put my effects, don't yell at me when your wand detects my car keys at the gate.

I've long held that 20% of the negative aspects of screening are inherent in the process itself, and the remaining 80% is due to screener behavior. The majority of the unpleasantness could be avoided with a little common courtesy and ordinary civility.

Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes

P.S. Please don't tell me to ask for a supervisor or use Got Feedback when there's a problem -- I'm not your QA department. The TSA should police itself.

Chris Boyce said...

8675309, on Mar 26, 2011, at 3:44pm, after drinking a gallon or two of Kool Aid, said...

"Well hopefully you have your own private conveyance(s) available at your disposal, because the rest of us don't want terrorists to have access to our public conveyances."

...and I don't want to fly on a public conveyance sitting next to somebody like you who is afraid of your own shadow. Where do you draw the line -- interrogations to ride the Subway? Interrogations at checkpointa along the highways? Interrogations upon leaving your house? Two out of three of those are already being done in the name of transportation security. The third is but one SSI TSA SOP away.

I'm confident you would be welcomed with open arms in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of North Korea.

Anonymous said...

Funny.. I always thought the refrain was "I'm not a terrorist, so why are you treating me like one?"

Anonymous said...

sLpEeNaA states:

I believe that it is important that the safety standards stay at par or reach beyond those that currently exist today. For no reason should they decrease to previous levels.

Yes, it is sometimes frustrating to go through all the security screenings and wait in lines, but instead of complaining about how long it's taking, a person should have a good attitude and thank the security personnel for attempting to keep you safe while you travel.

I believe that it may be a good idea to implement something along the lines of a trusted traveler program for frequent flyers, employers, but I do not believe that there should be any less clearance for them then there are for the remaining travelers. Perhaps a combination of identity-based systems and separate screening lines for frequent travelers/airport personnel versus those of infrequent flyers.

The job of security personnel at airports is not to make a traveler miserable, but is to in fact protect the safety of travelers. I would rather see a person miss a flight, instead of another terrorist attack occur where hundreds to thousands people die. Even if one life is lost, it should still be considered a national tragedy. I don’t believe that people should forgo the screenings just because they travel a lot, or work at the airport; just like the blog states “we [should] not create a system that would allow a person seeking to do harm to spend several years creating a "clean" background to gain access to a club that guarantees a "right" to expedited screening.”

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"The job of security personnel at airports is not to make a traveler miserable, but is to in fact protect the safety of travelers. I would rather see a person miss a flight, instead of another terrorist attack occur where hundreds to thousands people die."

I would rather see security be implemented by a competent and well trained organization.

"Even if one life is lost, it should still be considered a national tragedy."

The TSA doesn't agree. Read the article about radiation safety. It appears that a few dozen cancer deaths is considered perfectly acceptable to the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Gary said:

"A perpetrator worth his salt would have done some tests to determine the minimum quantity of metal that will trigger an alarm on an airport's metal detectors, and where are the areas that the screeners tend to overlook when trying to resolve an alarm. You need to look no further than 9/11 for clues."

Actually, you need to look further. The weapons carried on board by the 9/11 hijackers were perfectly acceptable to take through security checkpoints. The real 9/11 culprit was the FAA's policy of "coordinated response." Flight crews (cabin and cockpit) were told to go along with hijackers, not to antagonize them, etc, because the hijackers "only wanted to make a statement."

Funny how the FAA security organization - the predecessor to the TSA - escaped virtually all scrutiny ot its responsibility, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

So there would two lines? A long line to get my junk un unconstitutionally felt and a short line where I can expedite my junk molestation?

Anonymous said...

Until the government begins to scrutinize all (citizens, non-citizens, diplomats, corporate staff [domestic AND foreign], EVERYONE, banking staff, any and all companies [large or small],etc.) we will continue to have this problem.
There is no quick fix in a behavioural scrutinizing entity. If that were the case we would not have had the past presidents of the U.S.A. because many of them had 'behavioural' problems, i.e.: alcoholism, mental disease, racist (bullying) tendencies, philanderering, drug use, and the like.
The only solution is a traveler's license/passport. This license/passport would be issued to every single citizen and to non-citizens alike; including all children of all ages (birth to adulthood). The required documentation to obtain this license would be the same as when getting a U.S.A. Passport or state driver's license. And if that does not collect the information as set forth below, then the documentation requirement would be such that this information would be obtained accurately, securely and informationally correct.
The license would have all of your information encrypted upon it, for airport/train [like Amtrak] personnel use only. It would be like a state issued license, in that it would require basic information: social security number, date of birth, colour of eyes, approximate weight, gender, current mailing address AND residential address, occupation (at the time of issuance of the license), marital status, number of children (with their names)(if applicable). The license would carry your picture, much like a state issued ID or driver's license, and bear name, date of birth and current address, height, weight, gender and eye colour AND issuance and expiration date. Each traverler license would be issued by the state, but price mandated by the federal government. The license would be able to be scanned with a upc code. This code would contain all of the necessary information about you. The cost of the license/passport would be modest and affordable with no exceptions or exemptions to the fee. NO EXEMPTIONS OR EXCEPTIONS OR IMMUNITY, even the President would/must have one! Everyone must pay. This is the only fair way to have this license/passport implemented. In that way, the government would not bear the entire cost of this, and it would identify all of us for travel. This information would have to be secure and accurate. It would not be to discriminate or segregate or make any of us feel like more of our constitutional rights are being infringed upon. It would be renewable everytime your address (mailing and residential), or marital status changed; or every three years, if all other information remained status quo. Most, if not all of us, would not really mind this, if it is done properly, efficiently and fairly. Unlike the Patriot Act which is largely unconstitutional, against the Bill of Rights, and not meant to include EVERYONE; kind of like the consumer credit agencies.
And used for only the purpose of eliminating ridiculous research and cost such as this idea, and for use in making travel via airplanes, and trains safer!
I am available to start this program asap, since it is my brain child. I believe in maintaining what little civil liberties are left to us all. And this is the only viable solution.
Since the FAA has not taken responsibility for its lax procedures and policies, and airlines and airports refuse to pay their workers a fair wage to insure the security of us all, and workers are now being segregated based upon nationality (this is a whole different issue and discussion), THIS IS THE ONLY SOLUTION.

Jason said...

Yeah I feel like this is a bad idea, our privacy is already violated on a daily basis, and I feel like this just makes the TSA's job more systematic.

Anonymous said...

Candyland? Well that is a rather inappropriate comment. But for all the people who think this was OK - Would it be OK to strip the child in order to be really thorough? So at what point does this sort of thing become "a bit too far?" Is everything justified in the name of safety? How much safety? When is the cure worse than the disease? Instead of pushing papers and being efficient maybe somebody at TSA should be using a little common sense in regards to their place in our society.

Anonymous said...

What if a person joined the trusted traveler program but later became a terrorist? Your identity based screening is not going to help anything. Stop trying to act like you can save the world if you just stomp down the rights of the people.

David Middlebrooke said...

Trusted traveler is a great idea. Bring it on. I have a disability and wear a leg brace, and I have great difficulty removing shoes and putting them back on.

Joseph Smith said...

The TSA checkpoint system is clearly unconstitutional as it's a dragnet search. Apparently, the courts don't seem to mind (we'll see what happens with the Jesse Ventura lawsuit), but it doesn't change the basic facts, which is that it's antithetical to the constitution that people who love and care about this country and it's citizens agree to uphold. I'm sure many TSA officers feel that same loyalty, but lack the knowledge of what happens when government runs rampant. I hope our little experiment over here lives on well into my children's lives -- it still has to potential to be truly exceptional once again.

Citizens are supposed to be trusted to have loyalty until they prove otherwise.

พรีออเดอร์ said...

I think this is a bad idea.What is TSA needs to decide first?