Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TSA In The Tabloids

Every morning I take a glance to see what's bubbling up to the surface in the blogosphere. I saw where we had made the tabloids in two different stories. In both examples, I noticed I could use these stories to clarify a couple of things with travelers. Nothing major, but good to know. Read on…

Story #1: Kris Humphries Wedding Ring DISASTER Averted  - In this story, the TMZ reporter talks about how Kim Kardashian’s husband had to take off his wedding ring prior to walking through the walk through metal detector and dropped it on the ground. This near disaster could have been averted. Passengers do not have to remove jewelry. Our officers can advise you as to what might be making you alarm the detector, but it’s up to you whether or not you remove your rings, watches, necklaces, etc.

Story #2: So what does the scan show? Jessica Simpson goes through airport security after keeping mum on pregnancy rumours - In this story, the Daily Mail reporter is assuming we can see through an individual and know whether they’re pregnant or not with our Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). While some might assume this, it’s just not the case. We have two types of imaging technology. Millimeter Wave and Backscatter. Neither are strong enough to see through the body.  Millimeter wave: This past summer, we rolled out new software on all of our millimeter wave units so that all we see on these units is a generic outline of a person. And that’s only if the machine detects an anomaly. Backscatter technology: We currently see this type of image when using backscatter technology. My apologies to tabloid readers everywhere, but TSA can’t answer this one for you. You’ll have to ask Jessica.

For more travel information, be sure to visit our “For Travelers” section at TSA.gov. I regret to inform you that you won’t find any tabloid news on our web page.

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.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you comment on recent tabloid articles but not recent news articles about such things as TSA employees and child porn, or TSA employees caught with guns.

I would suggest the TSA has lost focus of what is important

Anonymous said...

Bob, you forgot to mention that your strip-search scanners have never once detected anything dangerous, and instead produce nothing but false positives by detecting private medical devices that endanger no one. Why can't you tell the whole truth, Bob?

Nadav said...

Apparently it's not clear enough whether we need to remove jewelry or not. Even if we don't remove them, we still have to show them or let the officer feel them.

I once had someone feel all buttons in my pants, one by one...

The second story just shows people will believe anything. As long as these beliefs are harmless, just let them be.

Nadav

Anonymous said...

"Story #1 . . . This near disaster could have been averted. Passengers do not have to remove jewelry. Our officers can advise you as to what might be making you alarm the detector, but it’s up to you whether or not you remove your rings, watches, necklaces, etc."

Yeah, you can choose whether to take off the jewelry or whether to fly today. Some choice.

M.Anderson said...

Good to know. I thought we had to remove all jewelry. I really appreciate this blog entry. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

If the TSA deserves a mention in any publication, it would be a tabloid. Tabloids are usually known for attention grabbing headlines void of relevance and sincere credibility. Sadly, many Americans like myself have a simliar opinion of the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Of course, if you're pregnant, you probably want to avoid going through the AIT systems (why risk a miscalibrated machine's radiation), and also spend as little time as necessary standing next to the X-Ray machine - even when operating normally, minor amounts of radiation escape the enclosures - not a big deal to adults, but for developing embryos, again, why risk it?

RB said...

TSA has certainly been in the tabloids but Bob missed the real stories of more TSA corruption.

Anonymous said...

Why did you change fonts for the blog posts.

The previous font was much easier to read.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I never removed my wedding ring which was quite bulky all the times I walked through the metal detector. And come to think of it, my watch never came off either.

But why don't you comment on the agent arrested with child porn, the agents arrested for drug charges, the agents arrested for carrying a loaded gun to work? Don't give us the pablum that the tabloids print, how about some honest answers? And not the old rag about how the actions of some don't represent the actions of the other 50,000 employees. I think even Nico gets tired of spouting that crap.

Anonymous said...

If you backscatter units can't see through skin, how come you can see bones in some of the sample images? (look at the lower legs)

How come at JFK recently Lori Dorn's post-cancer-surgery tissue expanders, which are implanted under the skin, triggered an "anomaly" and an invasive/abusive physical search?

Anonymous said...

Yea right, you don't have to remove jewelry. However, if you set off the scanner expect to be treated like a criminal by the screeners and hated by everyone behind you for holding up the line.

Of course, if you put your jewelry in your carry-on you may find it missing when you get your stuff back.

Some choice.

Anonymous said...

Bob: "Passengers do not have to remove jewelry."

TSA.gov: "Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry or other accessories that contain metal when traveling through the security checkpoints:

Heavy jewelry (including pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyards or bolo ties)"

These two things directly contradict each other, and both cannot be true.

TSA, lying to the flying since 2001.

Anonymous said...

The backscatter image you show is lame. A better example is available here - from epic.org:
http://epic.org/privacy/body_scanners/Body_Scan_Pic.jpg

Chris Boyce said...

I agree with Anonymous of Oct 12 at 1:06 pm. You have lowered even your low standards. You haven't deflected a thing. We, The People, will stay in your face until we take our country back by whatever means necessary.

IraqVet said...

Good job on this posting Blogger Bob...It actually made me feel like throwing up in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

A pregnant (or possibly pregnant) woman should never be doused with ionizing radiation.

MRFLIGHT said...

BOB

What about TSO Valdes, who got caught bringing a firearm through the checkpoint and did not possess a permit to carry??? I hope that he looses his job for illegally carrying a firearm to work without a permit.

Curtis said...

From your own site:
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/pat_downs.shtm

"What triggers a pat-down?
Pat-downs are used to resolve alarms at the checkpoint, including those triggered by metal detectors and AIT units. . . Because pat-downs are specifically used to resolve alarms and prevent dangerous items from going on a plane, the vast majority of passengers will not receive a pat-down at the checkpoint."

Further, your site states:

"What can I do to prevent an alarm at the security checkpoint?
The majority of pat-downs occur when a passenger alarms either the metal detector or the AIT unit. To reduce this circumstance, the most important thing you can do is take everything out of your pockets before you go through screening. Also, when traveling, avoid wearing clothes with a high metal content, and put heavy jewelry on after you go through security."

So, according to your site, to avoid getting your genitals rubbed, you should put on jewelry after screening. This is exactly the kind of doublespeak that is making everybody so angry.
"We never told him to take off his wedding ring, he did that completely on his own, following the advise we posted on our website to avoid an 'enhanced' pat down!"
"We never told her she had to take off her diaper, we just told she couldn't fly until we saw what was inside it!"
"We never told that boy to take off his shirt, we just told his dad that we needed to see what was under it!"
Please learn to take responsibility for your "suggestions" that are really conditions for getting on an airplane.
So which is it, Bob, should we take off jewelry, or not?

Anonymous said...

I love the random, completely ridiculous attacks this blog generates.

First, Bob is NOT saying you can't fly if you don't remove the jewelry. If you can remove the alarming object, you avoid the pat down. If not, you get the pat down and still fly.

Second, the scanners are a deterrent, as are the x-rays, explosive detection devices, etc. Knowing they are there keeps people from trying to sneak these objects through. If you put an armed cop in every convenience store 24/7, and that stopped all robberies, would you complain the cop wasn't doing anything?

Saying the TSA is not deterring attemps with their equipment and methods is just silly.

Saul said...

"Second, the scanners are a deterrent ..."

You can only prove they are a deterrent if you have concrete evidence that someone decided not to bomb a plane because of the scanners.

If the scanners are so necessary, where were all the bombings before they started to be rolled out in 2009 or so?

Guess what, everyone: the threat of airplane bombings is nothing new. Have a look at this article --

http://www.examiner.com/crime-justice-in-national/airplane-bombings-have-always-been-with-us

As horrible as 9/11/01 was, it was NOT a failure of airport checkpoints.

The security measures in place the morning of 9/11/01 -- walk-through metal detector and baggage x-rays -- combined with the now-hardened cockpit doors have worked quite well.

Think about that the next time you go through a checkpoint and take off your shoes; trash your water bottle or toothpaste tube; show your ID and boarding pass; assume the prisoner position in a body scanner; take off your belt.

Then think about the corporations getting rich off of the body scanners and all the other technology the TSA has purchased or is considering buying.

TSM said...

Bob,
I gotta agree with the typeface comment. While larger, it is in fact not more legible. Please reveret to a more standard typeface as this one is headache inducing.

TSORon said...

An Anonymous poster misstated…
[[Bob, you forgot to mention that your strip-search scanners have never once detected anything dangerous, and instead produce nothing but false positives by detecting private medical devices that endanger no one. Why can't you tell the whole truth, Bob?]]

Actually anon, they detect dangerous items all the time, but the stories rarely make the news or the tabloids. And its not Bob’s job to tattle on those we catch.

Another Anonymous poster said…
[[If you backscatter units can't see through skin, how come you can see bones in some of the sample images? (look at the lower legs)

How come at JFK recently Lori Dorn's post-cancer-surgery tissue expanders, which are implanted under the skin, triggered an "anomaly" and an invasive/abusive physical search?]]

Sorry Anon, but that’s a reflection, not bone. Think the term “backscatter” through, it may help you understand. As for the L. Dorn case, she is the one making the claim that we could see her implants, and ran her through additional screening because of them. Sorry, but that’s just not the case. We could see an anomaly, which is what prompted the secondary screening. Backscatter does not penetrate the skin.

Another Anonymous poster misstated..
[[These two things directly contradict each other, and both cannot be true.

TSA, lying to the flying since 2001.]]

Sorry Anon, it says “Avoid”, it does not say that you are “not allowed to”. BIG difference between the two, wouldn’t you think?

Another Anonymous poster said…
[[A pregnant (or possibly pregnant) woman should never be doused with ionizing radiation.]]

I’m not an OBGYN, so I cant really agree with your statement, but then again she always has the option of opting out of the scan. Seems to me like the responsibility is on her to make that choice and not the responsibility of TSA.

MRFLIGHT said…
[[What about TSO Valdes, who got caught bringing a firearm through the checkpoint and did not possess a permit to carry??? I hope that he looses his job for illegally carrying a firearm to work without a permit.]]

He went to jail. I’m not sure about the laws in Florida, but carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited place may be a felony. As a felon I don’t believe he can work for the TSA. I hope that helps.

Another Anonymous poster said…
[[I love the random, completely ridiculous attacks this blog generates.]]

Entertainment at its best. Sort of like an old Jerry Lewis movie aren’t they?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
If you can remove the alarming object, you avoid the pat down. If not, you get the pat down and still fly.

So, you admit you need to remove the 'alarming object' in order not to be felt up.

Second, the scanners are a deterrent, as are the x-rays, explosive detection devices, etc. Knowing they are there keeps people from trying to sneak these objects through.

Firstly, it obviously is NOT a deterrent, or people wouldn't be showing up at airports with guns and other weapons in their bags. If it were a deterrent, no one would dare show up with a gun- they'd make darn sure to double- and triple- check their bags for weapons before getting to the TSA checkpoint.

Secondly, the latest reports we've seen show that the TSA MISSES up to 70% of the weapons during tests. Thus, for every 3 guns they find, they miss up to 7. Odds like that are certainly not a deterrent.

Saying the TSA is not deterring attemps with their equipment and methods is just silly.

Saying that they ARE deterring "attempts" (at what, exactly?) is not backed up by logic, science, or the available evidence.

Dan said...

I'm just glad that Kris was able to avoid Kim's wrath. Thank goodness!

Azeem Ahmed @ Travel Tamed said...

Sometimes it frustrates the way airport authorities handle the passengers. In fact they use advanced machines to screen us where you don't find anything really dangerous. But, its nice to know that it isn't really needed to remove the jewellery items. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

Anonymous said...

Why was I told to take off my eyeglasses? When I failed to do so, I saw grimace on the TSA officer's face. And then one lady officer stood by the gate, the other lady officer moved my stuff from the Xray machine, told me not to touch them, and then I was taken to the corner for pat down from head to toe. When I asked why, I was told that the picture did not come out good. What caused the "not good picture" was my girdle. Yes, I was wearing my favorite girdle. I was a chance passenger who almost did not make it to my flight. Now I know I can't wear my girdle anymore when flying.

Anonymous said...

[[the scanners are a deterrent, as are the x-rays, explosive detection devices, etc. Knowing they are there keeps people from trying to sneak these objects through]]

Oh. Come. On.

Do you listen to yourself?

In an article that identifies how many of "these objects" that were caught in just one week after the attempt to "sneak" them through you're going to say that it keeps people from doing it?

That doesn't pass even the sniff test.

[[If you put an armed cop in every convenience store 24/7, and that stopped all robberies, would you complain the cop wasn't doing anything?]]

Security is not indifferentiable from police-statism. You are describing a police-state. And I can guarantee you that police-states have just as much crime as nations which are [supposedly] governed by the consent of The People.

The point of security is to address the RISK of an 'event'. And in order to do that you need to identify not only what 'events' are likely, but what the likelihood of the events occuring actually is.

Not all 7-11s are in neighborhoods where there is a non-negligible risk of robbery, and sticking a cop in that store "24/7" is a waste of resources. If you don't understand that, then you are part of the problem and [second] talk like someone who's worked for the government for too long.

What is the risk of 'event' on airplanes? Almost literally, one-in-ten-billion. Which specific 'events' are likely? Not the ones that TSA is currently on the hunt for.

They are a waste of resources in their current procedural formulation.


rwilymz
http://dblyelloline.blogspot.com/

Susan said...

I don't understand why its such a huge issue about taking off jewelry. Most of my jewelry doesn't cause the alarms to go off so I don't ever get a pat down. A pat down isn't that big of a deal anyways. Id rather be safe flying than cause a huge ruckus about nothing.

My husband takes his belt off because of the belt buckle, which causes for a pat down and he just doesn't like to be felt up.. Its just no big deal.

Caroline Sound said...

It is interesting how tabloids take stories and run with them what significance has it that he took of his ring!So what I'm sure the same thing has happened to many people where they have dropped things they have taken off but does it make the news! I don't know what all the fuss is about it is no hardship to take off a belt or jewellry, or perhaps think before you dress to travel and don't wear things that are going to be an inconvenience to you to take off!!!!

Anonymous said...

"I don't know what all the fuss is about it is no hardship to take off a belt or jewellry, or perhaps think before you dress to travel and don't wear things that are going to be an inconvenience to you to take off!!!!"

Yes, how dare people wear something as dangerous as a BELT when they leave the house!

Anonymous said...

Caroline Sound said...
"... and don't wear things that are going to be an inconvenience to you to take off!!!!"

Like shoes?

RB said...

Since the rampant criminality of TSA employees continues unabated when will TSA make some kind of announcement saying that action is being taken to weed out all TSA criminals and that more supervision of the various screening areas will be stepped up?

alarm said...

Similar security measures are brought into the UK too, I understand if someone has been scanned, the manufacturer takes 100% responsibility for passenger's safety ;).BTW - what a disaster - Kim husband's ring was almost(!) lost !

Anonymous said...

You should probably monitor what your different teams are doing. Flying out of Detroit last week, the TSA (1) made everyone take off all jewelry, (2) made everyone take off their belts, and (3) made everyone empty their pockets completely, including, and I quote, "even non-metallic objects."

I think the TSA is just making it up on the fly at this point.

Maxine said...

I never had an experienced that an officer asked me to take off my watch and other jewelry before passing the scanner. Maybe it depend which country and how strict are they?

Anonymous said...

Sup with this?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2053074/Jill-Flipovic-US-airport-TSA-staff-leave-lewd-note-sex-toy-bag.html

AR said...

I always removed my ring when I was passing through TSA zone to catch a flight. While it adds a little inconvenient, it is understandable that they want what is the best for security... I'd like to think that TSA do it for everyone's best interest. It's just that we have to deal with one of those few inappropriately pushy TSA officers that make bad impressions on rest of the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Although I have no ill feeling about TSA agents and the job they are required to do, I can honestly say that as much as I hate driving, I hate the way going though airports make me feel even more. Before the hyper-paranode sensation the government has imposed on us, I used to fly everywhere, and now I can't stand it. I hate the feeling of being treated like a criminal when I have to go trough TSA security (body scans, pat-downs and all but completely undressing). We have truly given up or freedom in the name of being free.

UKguy said...

I never had an experienced that an officer asked me to take off my watch and other jewelry before passing the scanner. Maybe it depend which country and how strict are they?