Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just Business as Usual… Reality TV Star Tweets About Security

I noticed that the Jersey Shore’s JWOWW was making the news in a TSA related story. I looked into her story to see what the kerfuffle was all about.

It turns out she commented via social media about her screening experience at Fargo, North Dakota’s Hector Field (FAR) International Airport.

While she may have truly believed she was singled out, this was actually part of our random (and I do mean random) protocol. After looking into it more we learned she was one of several passengers who were randomly selected for gate screening prior to boarding the aircraft. 

This is a pre-set procedure for gate screening prior to boarding an aircraft. This particular one consisted of a swabbing of the hands to search for traces of explosives.

I’ve talked about gate screening and swabbing of the hands before here on the blog. Take a look at these posts for more information. 
TSA strives to screen all passengers with dignity and respect while performing its security mission. TSA employs an intelligence-driven, risk-based security approach to screen the nearly 1.8 million passengers traveling daily – which could include the occasional reality TV star.

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.

50 comments:

derek said...

How would you explain then the fact that the TSA agents allegedly pointed her out to each other BEFORE the screening process, and then those same agents insisted on the random inspection.

That seems a bit less-than-random, no?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you are giving personal attention to this one complaint posted on Twitter.

Could you let me know why both complaints I sent via your official feedback form were ignored and I never heard anything? What happens when I click submit? Do they go into a black hole never to see the light of day again?

RB said...

Is the random selection process at the whim of a given TSA employee or are people picked by some random number generator?

Since TSA has zero credibility I take this post from TSA as just another attempt trying to cover up more TSA malfeasance.

Norma S said...

When they picked me for random check I ask why me? When she said it was a random check I said okay if this would keep us safe on the trip. She said "thank you". I had no problem with this. I think she appreciated the fact I was not a cranky passenger.

Nadav said...

People who are not frequent flyers are not used to your techniques, and will complain. If they're famous, it's going to make more noise.

You need to find a way to get the process done with the least friction with people.

Nadav

Saul said...

Bob, could you please address the following very serious question about gate screening?

In my mind, and in the minds of many other travelers, further screening at the gate is a folly, and only indicates potential weaknesses at the initial checkpoint screening.

Why should passengers be searched again at the gate? This includes explosives swabbing, and even reports of passengers' drinks being tested.

Every passenger has already been screened at a checkpoint, either at that same airport or at another domestic airport, whose checkpoints are staffed by the same TSA.

There are only three possible ways in which a gate search could return a true positive result --

* The original checkpoint screening was not sufficient.
* The items being sold inside the sterile area -- food, newspapers, souvenirs -- have not been properly screened.
* An airport employee who has access to the sterile area has not been properly screened.

Passengers should not be further hassled because of the first item. And if a passenger has managed to obtain contraband because of the second or third, then the passenger cannot be held liable if the gate search comes back positive.

In all three cases, a positive outcome would necessarily lead to the entire terminal being evacuated and everyone rescreened.

If the checkpoint screening is thorough, and if concessions and airport employees are properly screened, then what function, beyond yet another TSA make-work scheme, do gate searches serve?

Please do not reply with the same "another layer of security" drivel. Adding layer upon layer does not automatically add to any more measure of safety. In the earlier post about gate searches, you describe how they are necessary because no one is perfect, and something could have slipped through the checkpoint. Let's say that there is a 1% chance that contraband slipped through. Now let's say that 2% of passengers (of all flights leaving at all gates) are further screened at the gate. That means the gate searches have a 0.02% chance of finding the contraband. Is that a reasonable tradeoff for the labor cost of the TSOs performing the search? We'll never know, because it seems the TSA never does any such cost-benefit analyses. It's just "layer upon layer" that add to inconvenience and hassles and really add no extra benefit at all.

And please don't respond that the answer is SSI.

A further question: can a TSO stop a passenger anywhere in the sterile area -- not just when about to board -- and demand a further screening on the spot?

Thank you.

[Screenshot of preview captured.]

Dan said...

Since gate screening means that you missed something at the checkpoint (otherwise there would be no need for it), wouldn't it be safer to just do a terminal dump and rescreen everybody?

Anonymous said...

If the TSA's selection method is actually random, then there is no reason not to make public the method used.

Anonymous said...

You know, as far as your comment that these are indeed "random", I flew four times in three days and happened to be wearing a NRA shirt.
Guess who was "randomly" selected four out of four flights.
That is NOT random.

Anonymous said...

1) Way to go Bob- post a few more posts, without allowing any comments, and all the embarrassing stories will be off the front page!!

2) Gate screening is utterly useless- everyone who's gate screened has already passed through the TSA checkpoint, and thus has already been screened! Gate screening just gives the impression "Oops, we might have missed something- let's check 'em again!", and that doesn't instill confidence.

Anonymous said...

What? No mention of the fact that the European Union has BANNED Backscatter X-ray scanners?

http://consumerist.com/2011/11/some-full-body-airport-scanners-banned-in-europe.html

Jim Huggins said...

Of course, there's no way for an ordinary passenger to tell whether or not being selected for additional screening is "random" or "deliberate", since passengers aren't allowed to know the selection process works. And so ... stories like this will continue to arise.

Anonymous said...

Why is your checkpoint screening so incompetent that you feel the need to screen people AGAIN at the gate?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

1) Way to go Bob- post a few more posts, without allowing any comments, and all the embarrassing stories will be off the front page!!


Literally an hour after this was submitted, a whooooole bunch of posts were approved.

Hmm.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog occasionally, and it seems as though the people who loathe the TSA and hate safety in any form spend a large amount of their lives making foolish anti-government comments on this site.I choose to spend most of my free time outdoors, with my family or doing other things I enjoy. I don't know how you can deal with these poeple on a daily basis. I know I sure wouldn't want any of them sitting next to me on an airplane! I appreciate the intent of your blog, unfortunatley most of those who use it aren't mature enough to intelligently and respectfully use it.

RB said...

Saul in his post listed three possible reasons for gate screenings.

There is a forth reason.

TSA is incompetent!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the post at 6:28pm.

If the TSA wants us to believe the selection process is random, it should publish what it does to ensure it is random.

Bad people would gain no additional information, if the method is actually random.

For the TSA to simply say "trust us" is not sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Who in the world is JWOWW?

Are they related to ASAP, PDQ, OT, COB, IAW, NMI, NLT, TBD?

Chris Boyce said...

So, I suppose this never happened, right?

" 'I wasn’t randomly selected cuz I saw the tsa there pointing at me while I was getting a coffee 15 min prior'"

And, I suppose THIS never happened? http://tinyurl.com/Grandmother-With-MS-Frisked-in


"TSA strives to screen all passengers with dignity and respect while performing its security mission."

Sorry, nothing your agency or any of its employees does is dignified or respectful.

Jack said...

@Anonymous...

Your complaints are ignored because you do not have enough followers.

Curtis said...

So, does a computer program with a randomizer function give you something like- "screen this specific flight and these 12 specific passengers?"
Or, is it the more likely scenario that TSA supervisors are instructed to randomly select flights and passengers to screen, so they technically can choose to screen anyone that they want under the guise of it being "random"?

Anonymous said...

From what I've read, it sounds like the TSA workers were pointing her out before the additional screening. It didn't sound too random.

I have some questions about gate area screenings. Have these gate screenings ever caught anything? I always see the weekly counts of the guns caught by the x-ray machine and the drugs caught by the AIT machines, but don't recall seeing anything on these gate screenings.

I've heard reports of liquid testing at the gate area, where the TSA will wave or dip a test srtip into a passenger's beverage. This seems unsanitary and unnecessary since these liquids would have to be purchased after security. Can I refuse this test? Will the TSA worker be able to provide a MSDS on the test strips?

Anonymous said...

«This is a pre-set procedure for gate screening prior to boarding an aircraft. This particular one consisted of a swabbing of the hands to search for traces of explosives.»

And where would the passenger have obtained such explosives? The passenger has already cleared the checkpoint, so that means that the passenger obtained explosive material either from an airport employee or from one of the concessions or souvenirs or magazines sold inside the sterile area.

So, given the latter, if the swab test came back positive, would the entire airport be evacuated? After all, it would indicate there is contraband inside the sterile area.

I'm sorry, Bob, but gate searches do nothing to dispel the notion that the TSA is a giant make-work organization, whose goal is not to provide security, but to employ as many TSOs as possible and usurp as much of the federal budget as possible.

[Screenshot saved.]

RB said...

Just business as usual, at least for TSA.

http://republicans.transportation.house.gov/Media/file/112th/Aviation/2011-11-16-TSA_Reform_Report.pdf

Anonymous said...

Just had an interesting version of this experience. I was flying on Southwest, where seats are not assigned to passengers. Thus, pulling someone out of the line while a bunch of folks board the plane makes that $10 they spent on a low boarding number worthless.

When someone mentioned this to the TSA officer, the response was "Don't worry, we won't let the plane leave without you.". This is wrong on about three levels. First, it's far from clear that the TSA has the authority to hold a plane at the gate, that sounds like FAA jurisdiction. Second, if there were really no difference, people wouldn't pay Southwest $10, and yet they do. Third, if the TSA folks know that you're going to pass the inspection, why are they even doing it??

I was waiting at the gate for the next flight that used the gate. As a result, I got to chat up the TSA folks after the flight boarded. I happened to ask one of them, "Do you know that Southwest doesn't assign seats? I think that's what made the guy in the blue shirt mad." The TSA officer's response was "Really, I thought everybody assigned seats when you checked in."

I stated I was sure, and suggested they listen to the Southwest Agent patter over the PA if they doubted me. I know it's a drone, and if I worked at the airport I'd ignore it too. I asked if they got any airline-specific operational procedure training. The answer was no.

While I accept that trying to be random has its values, frankly it has much more value that most things the TSA does all the time, it's not like the airlines keep these sort of operational details a secret. They blather them over and over and over again so that the passengers will know them. The folks giving instructions to the TSOs at the gate need to be studying them. It's not like it's a surprise that you're in the Southwest terminal.

Anonymous said...

So the searches are totally random but then you work off of "an intelligence-driven, risk-based security approach"

Are you guys really that stupid? Or do you think we are?

Contracting Tips said...

I think Saul raised some excellent points in criticism of the random screening process. No one likes to be singled out, inconvenienced or delayed. The fact that this was a celebrity just drew more scrutiny from the media and the public to what many travelers experience daily. I would rather hear that additional screening were prompted by particular risk factors being observed; just picking passengers at random seems ineffective and a poor use of resources.

James said...

Bob said, ”TSA employs an intelligence-driven, risk-based security approach to screen [everyone]”. I don’t mean to sound antagonistic here, but as your statement implies the application of a scientific, experimental methodology, what “intelligence” and which metrics are you quantifying here in order to assess “risk”?

In the interests of fairness to Bob’s statement, when I say “experimental”, I don’t mean to imply that what TSA is doing is an experiment, as in a test. Experimental, in this context, refers to a scientific methodology that ensures objectivity and the ability to apply a statistical conclusion derived from a sample to the entire population. In order for something to be an experiment, it must meet several criteria, including randomization (the random assignment of subjects to a control group vs. the experimental group), and the measures must be quantifiable (something you can count, identify, or otherwise measure). Bob’s statement presumes that the TSA’s screening protocols are scientifically sound identifiers of risk, and I am now asking him to substantiate that claim.

Whichever side you come out of this inquiry on, you’re going to have a problem defending this practice. If, on one hand, the assignment of passengers to screening is not random, then the TSA’s assertion of “random” screening is a lie; on the other hand, if the screening is not random, then you have to establish the internal validity of your risk assessment to the population. Without an intense and boring discussion on statistics, this means you have to establish values for Cronbach’s Alpha, a Confidence Interval, and assign P-values to the metrics you screen for. You then need to be able to test the findings of a sample against actual rates of incidence within the entire population, in order to determine the likelihood of type I and type II errors in your conclusions.

The preceding will not have a lot of meaning to most readers. My purpose in posting it was to demonstrate that I have at least a fundamental understanding of statistics. In essence, what I am saying with that statement, is that when you test something, say a screening process to identify passengers who represent a threat, the only way to definitively know that passenger is (was) a threat is if the particular attribute or behavior you are testing for actually results in the consequence you are trying to avoid. The presumption that it will exist is a hypothesis, e.g., I think that you are a terrorist and that swabbing your hands for explosive residue will identify you as such, thus preventing you from crashing an airplane. Conversely, there is a null hypotheses that says that there is no correlation between what I’m looking at (liquids and gels, for instance) and your eventual intent to crash a plane using them.

The disciplines that govern science place demands on scientists to produce results that are “statistically significant”, meaning that if I conclude that there is a 4% chance that your water bottle contains an explosive compound that you intend to use to crash a plane, by examining the water bottles of 10,000 passengers, then the burden of proof is STILL on me to demonstrate that the conclusion I reached is reflective of what I would find if I were able to inspect everyone’s water bottle, and not just due to a random chance in sampling. There are very complex and highly reliable statistical methods for determining when something is statistically significant. After all, bean counters have been counting beans since the beginning of time. The biggest fallacy, in my opinion, of all these screenings is that they are done under the pretext that measurable threats exist, yet most “common folk” are not familiar enough with even the most basic of statistical models to be able to question the validity of those claims critically; we rely on the “smart people” to do that for us. When those smart people abuse our trust, misstating the facts and misrepresenting their objectives however, then they deem themselves no longer worthy of our trust.

James said...

To my fellow bloggers, I want to say a quick word about my long posts. I know I’m very wordy, and often times what I say either goes way above, or appears to be targeted way above, the level of understanding of most people. I hope the participants here read these little “books” of mine, and FWIW, I’m thankful that they are not being censored.

I’m a smart man; probably smarter than most people. I’m one of those people who has always been accused of “thinking I know everything.” I know a lot of obnoxious smart people. Some are smarter than me, some are not. One of the things that really irritates me about a lot of my fellow intellectuals is this tendency to want to “take care of” the rest of the world. It’s the basic notion that all of the rest of you should just listen to us and you’d be better off. Believe it or not, it starts off as a well-meaning intent. What decent person doesn’t want to make the world better for everyone? But this road of self-assurance quickly becomes a slippery slope that leads to a false sense of self-importance, and divine prerogative to make decisions for the rest of the world in the interests of the greater good. Human weakness and personal arrogance lead to corruption, and original motives, once benign, give way to an insatiable thirst for power.

I know that I can never give most people the level of understanding of things that I have, and many things I say may not be easy to comprehend. What I want more than anything to be taken away from these discussions is to instill in you the need to question. Question everything. Question me, and question your own understanding of things; question other people’s “facts”. Even (especially) when you don’t understand the arguments, still question them. If your opponent is truly that smart, he can bring them down to your level. If I can make black holes and quantum mechanics understandable concepts to average people, then surely the TSA can substantiate their methodologies without hiding behind the claim that “it’s complicated”.

Nothing is worth believing in if it will not stand up to honest scrutiny. I see our society falling apart because people line up behind supposed “smart people”, who have managed to sell the masses on the notion that we know better for you than you do. Trust me. I’m a smart man, and I am telling you that no one is better equipped to protect you than you are. Don’t disempower yourself to another, not me, not anyone. By the time you learn the inherent value of the liberties that you have surrendered, it may be too late to reclaim them.

Anonymous said...

"TSA strives to screen all passengers with dignity and respect while performing its security mission."

Hey - it's great that you are striving, but when you actually achieve screening people with dignity and respect, please let us know. Until then, my votes go to congressmen and senators who are interested in dismantling your organization.

James said...

Anonymous said, “I read this blog occasionally, and it seems as though the people who loathe the TSA and hate safety in any form spend a large amount of their lives making foolish anti-government comments… …I know I sure wouldn't want any of them sitting next to me on an airplane!”

Really? Well, I think that you will find a lot of critics of the TSA here, but to say that most “loathe” them might be a bit dramatic, and certainly to suggest that any of us “hate safety” is idiotic and reflective of a lack of that maturity and intelligence of which you speak.

No reasonable person here loathes the TSA. Even the agents, whose behavior we often times object to, is the result of training that is the product of an agency born out of failed policies and fallacious ideologies about what is necessary and appropriate to protect the public safety. What moron is going to suggest flying his wife and children on a plane that it is not safe, be it mechanically or otherwise? If you disagree with arguments here on substance, fine, so be it. It is in that spirit which all of us post, not with the intent to be disrespectful.

I read an analogy a while back that likens the distinction between an American soldier and his foe to that between a sheepdog and a wolf. Both the sheepdog and the wolf have the tools and the instincts of a predator. But, where the wolf will use his tools and instincts to harm the sheep, the sheepdog uses his to protect them. The sheep cannot and do not live in the world of the wolf; The sheepdog can, but choses not to. The sheepdog doesn’t try to get the sheep to understand him or the wolf; the sheep accept him and respect him as their protector.

I think this analogy has a lot of applications, and it’s not a perfect one, I’ll grant you. You need to understand the importance of constructive, civil criticism. There are a lot of valid concerns raised here by people. They may not always be presented in the most friendly of terms, but that’s often times because people aren’t in the most generous frame of mind when they feel their rights and liberties are being infringed upon. It may not bother you to have your body x-rayed; and that’s your prerogative, but it may bother someone else. Whether that action is necessary or not is a topic for debate (which is what we raise here), but who appointed you to decide that arguments of these people are somehow invalid and not worthy of discussion?

I don’t know your gender or persuasions, but for the sake of argument, say you were a woman who just had her body x-rayed and can see her breasts and outlines of her genitals on the monitor. You’re probably not going to be of the frame of mind to politely smile, saying “excuse me, but would you mind turning that off?” You’re probably going to be mortified at seeing your picture up there and react very negatively to it. The reason for taking that X-ray might (or might not) be substantiated, but your reaction to it either way is perfectly valid and in this country, you have the right to speak your mind about it.

You should be grateful to these “sheepdogs” for protecting your rights out here. You may not see their protection as necessary right now, but if you run them out of the pasture, then one day the wolf will surely come calling on you, and there will be no one left to protect you.

RB said...

Bob, can you explain just why TSA sees a need for gate searches?

Is it because TSA fails to screen everyone entering the secure area, namely airport workers including TSA employees?

Is it because the main TSA Checkpoints are actually TSA failure points.

Surely TSA can substantiate a reasonable explanation for inflicting additional harm on the public.

James said...

Bob said, ”TSA employs an intelligence-driven, risk-based security approach to screen [everyone]”. I don’t mean to sound antagonistic here, but as your statement implies the application of a scientific, experimental methodology, what “intelligence” and which metrics are you quantifying here in order to assess “risk”?

In the interests of fairness to Bob’s statement, when I say “experimental”, I don’t mean to imply that what TSA is doing is an experiment, as in a test. Experimental, in this context, refers to a scientific methodology that ensures objectivity and the ability to apply a statistical conclusion derived from a sample to the entire population. In order for something to be an experiment, it must meet several criteria, including randomization (the random assignment of subjects to a control group vs. the experimental group), and the measures must be quantifiable (something you can count, identify, or otherwise measure). Bob’s statement presumes that the TSA’s screening protocols are scientifically sound identifiers of risk, and I am now asking him to substantiate that claim.

Whichever side you come out of this inquiry on, you’re going to have a problem defending this practice. If, on one hand, the assignment of passengers to screening is not random, then the TSA’s assertion of “random” screening is a lie; on the other hand, if the screening is not random, then you have to establish the internal validity of your risk assessment to the population. Without an intense and boring discussion on statistics, this means you have to establish values for Cronbach’s Alpha, a Confidence Interval, and assign P-values to the metrics you screen for. You then need to be able to test the findings of a sample against actual rates of incidence within the entire population, in order to determine the likelihood of type I and type II errors in your conclusions.

The preceding will not have a lot of meaning to most readers. My purpose in posting it was to demonstrate that I have at least a fundamental understanding of statistics. In essence, what I am saying with that statement, is that when you test something, say a screening process to identify passengers who represent a threat, the only way to definitively know that passenger is (was) a threat is if the particular attribute or behavior you are testing for actually results in the consequence you are trying to avoid. The presumption that it will exist is a hypothesis, e.g., I think that you are a terrorist and that swabbing your hands for explosive residue will identify you as such, thus preventing you from crashing an airplane. Conversely, there is a null hypotheses that says that there is no correlation between what I’m looking at (liquids and gels, for instance) and your eventual intent to crash a plane using them.

The disciplines that govern science place demands on scientists to produce results that are “statistically significant”, meaning that if I conclude that there is a 4% chance that your water bottle contains an explosive compound that you intend to use to crash a plane, by examining the water bottles of 10,000 passengers, then the burden of proof is STILL on me to demonstrate that the conclusion I reached is reflective of what I would find if I were able to inspect everyone’s water bottle, and not just due to a random chance in sampling. There are very complex and highly reliable statistical methods for determining when something is statistically significant. After all, bean counters have been counting beans since the beginning of time. The biggest fallacy, in my opinion, of all these screenings is that they are done under the pretext that measurable threats exist, yet most “common folk” are not familiar enough with even the most basic of statistical models to be able to question the validity of those claims critically; we rely on the “smart people” to do that for us. When those smart people abuse our trust, misstating the facts and misrepresenting their objectives however, then they deem themselves no longer worthy of our trust.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I read this blog occasionally, and it seems as though the people who loathe the TSA and hate safety in any form spend a large amount of their lives making foolish anti-government comments on this site."

If that's your impression of the posts on this site then you aren't reading very carefully.

No one loathes safety, we just don't believe that the TSA is providing it.

The TSA's job is to keep airplanes safe, not to keep people safe. That's nice if you own the airplanes, not so much if you are a passenger.

The TSA does nothing to stop terrorism, they just want to keep the terrorists away from the airplanes. They don't care what happens everywhere else.

If a terrorists decides to blow up a school bus instead of an airplane then the TSA has done their job.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

Saul said, ” Bob, could you please address the following very serious question about gate screening?”

These are some of the most concise and constructive criticisms I’ve seen out here. I, too would really like to see a substantive answer to these. I’m very critical of the TSA, as anyone who’s read my posts out here knows, but I continue to operate on the assumption that ultimately, as American citizens, we all want the same thing. A lot of people raise valid points out here, and I have to say that it leaves the TSA with a pretty weak hand when substantive answers are not given. The American public is not (entirely) stupid; we know when we’re being handed platitudes and prepared statements. Please address the arguments substantively. This is a tremendous opportunity for the TSA to garner cooperation and goodwill from the American public.

James said...

I just read an ABC story titled, "TSA Confiscates More Than 1,000 Guns From Airplane Passengers in 2011". The specific topic of confiscating guns was obvious; the ensuing discussion involved the general practice of confiscating various items. Criticisms of the TSA included objections to the ability to “search and seize”, and jurisdictional issues raised when TSA finds drugs which, personally I’m glad to see on one hand, but also acknowledge that drug search and seizure is not part of the TSA’s mission to keep the skies safe. Lest I be accused of talking out of both sides of my mouth, be aware that I’m no fan of all this “security”, intended, I think, to make people “feel safe” more than it is to increase real safety. With that said, I offer the public the following thought:

This isn’t going to be popular (most of what I say isn’t), but I hope somebody here gets it. We (meaning I included) all complain about the TSA seizing our water bottles, demanding we remove our shoes, submit to body scans, etc. The only reason the TSA does these things is because they CAN; because they are empowered to do so by a government whom we have empowered to rule over us.

We complain about the TSA as if though they actually had any motivation to care about how their policies make you feel. They do not. They perform their mission to the exclusion of all other things, your rights and the liberties and freedoms guaranteed to you by the Constitution included. The only way that any of this will ever change (not just TSA, but we’ll stick with them for now in the interest of brevity), is when people REFUSE to comply. Meaning, for example, you simply REFUSE to surrender your water bottle, submit to an x-ray, or remove your shoes, without first being given due process and having the presumption of your guilt established in accordance with the 5th Amendment.

Fortunately, the TSA will provide you with your opportunity for due process. Once you demonstrate your civil disobedience, you will be refused boarding, forfeiting the cost of your ticket. The others in your party, whether disobedient or not, may be subjected to the same. You may be put on a watch list, detained, or even arrested. You will ruin your family’s vacation and alienate yourself from friends and colleagues. The ensuing consequences (i.e. a criminal record) may impact your employability, thus jeopardizing the economic security of the ones you are responsible for (e.g., take food off of your children’s plates.)

If enough people were civilly disobedient, then they (the TSA, the politicians who oversee them, etc.) would be overwhelmed and would have no choice but to confront the issue head-on and address it differently, yielding to the will of the people who so kindly empowered them in the first place. However, since nobody (myself included) seems to be willing to take on the role of the sacrificial lamb, then we all might as well shut up, put up, surrender our pride (and our shoes and water bottles) and bow to “the man”. We are obviously not worthy of the freedom that our predecessors fought, sacrificed, and died to attain and protect. This is why Robert Jackson’s quote:

” Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart” – Justice Robert Jackson, Chief US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials

is so true. You are seeing it in action today. Does anyone else see the irony in Mr. Jackson’s words today, as we discuss them in the context of the agency created to protect us from “terrorism”? Congratulations. You are now a part of history.

RB said...

"Just Business as usual...."

Apparently TSA is not only a national disgrace but has now gone international.


TSA Accosts Indian Dignitary

Anonymous said...

Quoted: ....If enough people were civilly disobedient, then they (the TSA, the politicians who oversee them, etc.) would be overwhelmed and would have no choice but to confront the issue head-on and address it differently, yielding to the will of the people who so kindly empowered them in the first place. However, since nobody (myself included) seems to be willing to take on the role of the sacrificial lamb, then we all might as well shut up, put up, surrender our pride (and our shoes and water bottles) and bow to “the man”.......
------------------
Finally! Someone gets it! Complaining will not help! TSA will not change since they don't have to.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Finally! Someone gets it! Complaining will not help! TSA will not change since they don't have to."

The less radical option is to avoid flying. If the airlines were to see a real impact to their bottom line they would be motivated to do something.

I know they are losing money because of the TSA security, but I don't really know how much.

Anonymous said...

And of course, the TSA is still not screening all of the cargo in the plane's hold. Nor are they screening the people who work at the airport.

The TSA is nothing more than a component of the Police State that is being built to destroy the last vestiges of our Bill of Rights.

bailey said...

I've been screened at the gates before just as JWOW was and it really isn't a big deal. I don't mind the extra precaution and safety. I get frustrated with TSA agents sometimes like a lot of people, who are frequent flyers, however I completely understand that they have to do it in order to keep the public safe. It is just something that we have to deal with if we are going to fly and be safe doing so.

Anonymous said...

bailey said...
I've been screened at the gates before just as JWOW was and it really isn't a big deal. I don't mind the extra precaution and safety.

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Except gate screenings are a tacit admission that the checkpoints might have weaknesses. Think about it: why would gate screenings be necessary if the checkpoint screening was effective? Still feel safe, knowing that the TSA admits that the checkpoints might have holes yet only chooses to gate-screen a tiny percentage of flights?

Anonymous said...

bailey said...
"It is just something that we have to deal with if we are going to fly and be safe doing so."

Randomly screening a small number of passengers at the gate isn't making you any safer. Most passengers never get screened and someone who was actually dangerous has a very good chance of getting on the plane.

How is this safer exactly? It's just more security theater.

Anonymous said...

"Randomly screening a small number of passengers at the gate isn't making you any safer. Most passengers never get screened and someone who was actually dangerous has a very good chance of getting on the plane."

It's even worse than that, imo. Given that the items that the 9/11 hijackers used would simply be confiscated and not result in the arrest of the person trying to bring those items through security ("Oh, even a blade that small isn't allowed? I didn't know that."), then it will take a very small number of attempts for a person/people to get similar items through security.

Would a person/people bringing those items through security result in a 9/11-type event? It would not but that's due to 1. crews being informed about the nature of the threat, and, 2. barriers that would not allow access to the flight deck.

In neither case does having a TSO go through your dirty underwear improve security.

Bob - You seem to be on a censorship binge again. Note there is nothing in this post that violates the rules. Censor it and I will pursue the matter.

Anonymous said...

I am smart. Smarter than most people. I know I am smarter than most people because I am smart. I know it smarts to meet someone so smart, but I don't mind. I am so smart I can circumvent any antagonistic self-fulfilling criticisms by projecting random particles of smartness.

MarkVII said...

The problem I have with gate screening is not the concept itself, but the demeanor of the screeners doing it. Here's an example from Flint, MI from before I stopped flying.

After navigating the checkpoint I settled in at the gate. As boarding was about to begin, two sour-faced TSA screeners plunked down a sign about gate screening and started nabbing passengers. All of the passengers selected were elderly, which I found a bit interesting, especially since I had noticed this same pattern before.

The screeners started wanding a gentlemen. He had no opportunity to empty his pockets, take off his belt, etc. Not unsurprisingly, the wand beeped the car keys in one pocket, and the TSA personnel became angry. As the wand beeped on the change in one pocket and the wallet in another, the TSA personnel become angrier. I was seated a good 20 feet away, and could hear the angry voices through all the crowd noise.

When the wand beeped on his belt buckle, they got angrier still. An elderly lady (presumably his wife) walked over to see what was going on, and the TSA personnel became even angrier. One of them noticed that I was was watching this proceeding, and gave me the stink eye. At that point I looked away.

If you're going to wand people and get angry if the wand detects something, then the passenger should have the opportunity to dump their pockets, take off their belt, etc. That means the TSA personnel should at least have had some containers to hold a person's pocket contents, if not a small folding table as well.

Anyway, why get so angry? Does the TSA's SOP say something to the effect of "When conducting a gate screening, if the wand beeps, become angry -- If it beeps again, become angrier with each beep -- Scowl at anyone who notices how angry you've become"?

As I've noted before, if the TSA would just dial down its anger level, the whole security process could work so much more smoothly. I don't have experiences like these going through security at the county courthouse, and some of their rules are even more arcane than the TSA's.

Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes

jaffa said...

Great.

Kim Class said...

I have flown many times i have never had a TSA agent do anything out of line. The ones that I have dealt with have been very professional. I fly out of Paducah, Ky quite a bite and they are all professional. I was upset because the last flight I took they went through my bag and broke one side of my zipper on my suitcase. That is really my only complaint I have and that isn't much. I know that a lot of people are upset about the full body scans that they do in the larger cities but in Paducah, Ky they don't have those machines so the only time I have to worry about it is when I travel. I am a car dealer in paducah so I do a lot of traveling for the Paducah air port.

Tom Gale said...

I do not think that the TSA agents where in the wrong by any means, they were following protocol and doing their job!

I believe that there was no wrong doing in this random screening. The fact that a celebrity has been subject to a random screen is by no means a impossible coincidence, so why there is a fuss is beyond me.

The bottom line is procedures like this keep help to upkeep this countries national security, and potential save life's and prevent tragedies occurring.

People should remember this.

B.