Friday, June 1, 2012

TSA Week in Review - Stunningly Smart Disguise


Stun Guns
Insert Your Own Stun Gun Pun [Here] - 7 stun guns were found this week in carry-on bags. Among them were a couple of standouts both discovered at Detroit (DTW). One was disguised to look like a smart phone while the other doubles as a punching weapon.

Cane Saw? – I’ve heard of a cane sword, but a cane saw? This was found at New York Kennedy (JFK).

Knife to a Gunfight? – A knife that looks like a gun was discovered at Des Moines (DSM). Now I’m guessing that if you were going to bring a knife to a gunfight, this would be the one to bring.

Knives, inert grenades, knuckle purse, cane saw and cane sword.
Grenade + Commercial Airliner =  - An inert grenade was discovered at Tampa (TPA). I was a kid once. I owned a few inert grenades and even strapped them to my web gear and ran around the woods with my friends. I get it. They’re fun. However, they can’t go on a plane. Even if they’re inert. Read here and here  for more information on why inert items cause problems at checkpoints. We don’t know they’re inert until we check them out and checking them out can often inconvenience your fellow passengers.

Pouch With Narcotics Concealed in Underwear
Pouch With Narcotics Concealed in Underwear
Body Scanner Discoveries This Week – There were nine incidents this week where body scanner alarms resulted in drugs being found on passengers using imaging technology. Items were found everywhere from pockets to the breast, to the groin area at EWR, SAT, ORD, TPA, PHX, SFO and GEG. In addition to these discoveries, there was also a passenger at Tampa (TPA) who had a white drawstring pouch concealed in his underwear containing several types of Narcotics. (See Picture) Another passenger at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) had marijuana taped to his ankle. We’re not looking for drugs, but finding these nonmetallic items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works. 
People Say the Darndest Things - Here are examples of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

After asking a passenger at Detroit (DTW) for his boarding pass and ID, the passenger stated “Yes, and I have two bombs and three guns” while laughing. After being asked not to say that, the passenger stated “I do not have two bombs, only one bomb.” 

A passenger at Lubbock (LBB) told the airline employee that they were going to blow up American Airlines. When asked what he meant by that, he replied, “You’re about to find out.”

After being told her baggage had missed her flight, a passenger at Las Vegas (LAS) said, “There is a bomb in my bag.”
Knockout of a Purse – A purse was discovered at RDU that also doubles as brass knuckles. I don’t usually share brass knuckles in the Week in Review, but this was a cool find.

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, and batons. Oh, and knives. A lot of knives.

2 loaded firearms.
7 loaded firearms.
5 loaded firearms and an antique firearm.
Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.
31 firearms discovered. 22 were loaded.
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

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

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

>> We’re not looking for drugs, but finding
>> these nonmetallic items in areas where explosives
>> could also be hidden is a testament that
>> the technology works.

Actually, Bob, it is not. It only shows that someone who has not studied the physics behind AIT and has made little effort to conceal his contraband will likely be caught. The government's own GAO has questioned whether AIT would have uncovered Abdulmutallab's underwear explosives.

Your own boss will not even confirm that AIT would have uncovered the plot from last month.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-21/underwear-bombers-show-limits-of-tsa-s-groping.html

«The best chance? “This is not 100 percent guaranteed,” he said. “If it comes down to a terrorist who has a well- concealed device, and we have no intelligence about him, and he comes to an advanced-imaging technology machine, it is still our best technology. But it’s really an open question about whether the machine, or the AIT operator, would detect the device.”»

In addition, even if AIT does uncover 100 passengers hiding drugs, we do not know how many passengers may have made it through AIT without their contraband being detected. Suppose that number were 500. Are you still ready to make the claim that AIT works if it only detected contraband 20% of the time?

The TSA will not release the results of recent undercover tests, which is why commenters continually repeat the 70% failure rate from several years ago. You continually refute that number but do not release any more updated figures.

I eagerly await a reply to these concerns. Have a nice weekend.

Anonymous said...

I cannot understand how people "forget" they have a gun in their carry on. If you need to take a gun with you put it in the hardcase and check it with the airline...simple.

Anonymous said...

So everything "bad" or an actual potential security threat was found with conventional, pre-9/11 means (baggage x-ray and metal detectors).

What exactly have been your successes with the body scanners? Oh yes, just drugs, which you claim you're not looking for, but always make a point of crowing about. (which, though illegal, are not a security threat).

Anonymous said...

So about 100 guns flew this week considering you only found 30% of them.

RB said...

Game Over - After alarming our Explosive Detection System in checked baggage, officers at Mercedita (PSE) took a closer look at a game console and discovered two kilos of cocaine concealed inside.
..........................
While I in no way support trafficking in cocaine I fail to understand exactly why a TSA Explosive Detection System would alarm on cocaine, clearly not an explosive.

Looks like searches being conducted for things TSA can't legally search for.

Anonymous said...

Of course you fail to understand. You don't know how the machine works or what triggers alarms on it.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said:
"We’re not looking for drugs, but finding these nonmetallic items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works."

Repeating a false statement many times doesn't make it true.

To prove the technology works you need to report:
- number of people screened
- number of items found
- number of items missed
- number of false positives

You can't even prove that fancy expensive scanners find more stuff than just searching people at random.

Anonymous said...

I went through the body scanner this week. The agent asked me if there was something in my right front pocket and proceeded to pat me down (with my consent). There was nothing in my pocket, not a tissue, not some keys, not even a bit of lint.

So, what percentage of false positives do these things give out?

This technology doesn't work. It wastes time on false positives and shows no ability to actually catch terrorists. Put it back in the warehouse with your other junk.

Anonymous said...

How many false positives, you ask? A lot. I work at an airport. I probably pass through TSA 25 times a day with passengers. I would say 1 out of 3 gives false positives. One time I had an old lady with me that had alarms to search in about 6 or 7 parts of her body. Guess what, they were all negative....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"How many false positives, you ask? A lot."

What's important about this is that a high false-positive rate could be responsible for many of the finds they claim as "successes". If you randomly search enough people you will find stuff.

Just because the machine alarmed and then the screener found something doesn't prove the scanner actually worked.

tramky said...

There is nothing simply about sending firearms through checked baggage--it could be stolen by TSA agents or baggage handlers or who-knows-who down in the bowels of an airport.

And you could be arrested by authorities in the state where you are laid over waiting for a flight. If you fly from Billings, Montana to Chicago, you could be arrestedby local police around Chicago for having a weapon in your bag. TSA will call local law enforcement to arrest passengers en route and making a flight connection at that airport in that state.

Believe this--entering an airport puts you at serious risk of arrest and imprisonment at any point after you check a bag and pass through a TSA security checkpoing.

And I still want the pocketknife that was stolen from me by TSA at a checkpoint 3 years ago.

Jared said...

I think it's funny you removed the "Game Over" thing after it was made clear that you lied and said the bomb detection system found a drug that is not explosive.

RB said...

Game Over - (Removed by request)
................
Requested by whom?

Someone in TSA getting a little concerned with the illegal warrant less searches TSA Screeners are conducting?

Thought you TSA people took an Oath to Defend the United States Constitution.

If you did apparently it didn't mean much to you people.

Wintermute said...

"- number of false positives"

Well, all the drug finds are false-positives. After all, the TSA isn't looking for drugs. And I'd guess that they represent a tiny fraction of overall false positives.

Anonymous said...

Have the AIT machines caught anything dangerous (explosives, etc.) that would not have been found by the metal detectors? It seems like they are great at finding drugs, toothpaste, hair clips, and paper. They also seem good at alarming when there is nothing there.

What happened to the part about the cocaine found in the game console. Why would somebody request that be removed. It is puzzling why an explosive detection machine would alarm on drugs. You say you aren't looking for drugs, right?

RB said...

Bob seems your working hard today to cover up the illegal activities of TSA. First you removed this part of your post:

"Game Over - After alarming our Explosive Detection System in checked baggage, officers at Mercedita (PSE) took a closer look at a game console and discovered two kilos of cocaine concealed inside."

and changed it to read:

"Game Over - (Removed by request)"

and now have removed even that.

You and the rest of TSA should realize that once a statement has been made it is near impossible to make it go away.

Your admission of illegal TSA Searches will be carefully preserved.

Anonymous said...

Bob, I'm sorry you have to read through so many negative comments. While I'm not a fan of the TSA searches and I don't enjoy taking off my shoes to go through security..I am a fan of this blog.

I think you do a good job tackling a tough unpopular topic. I have a new appreciation for TSA because of your blog. Posting articles and photos of finds as well as helpful tips on how to best pack and prepare has given me a positive impression of TSA.

As much I don't like the long lines and know TSA costs tax payers money, I really do think we would have more problems if we didn't have TSA.

I think you do a good job with the blog.

Anonymous said...

Why does this site continue to contain cutsy jokes about security while at the same time condemning passengers for doing the same??

Either TSA takes security seriously or it does not. Israeli airport security, with agent standards far superior to TSA, has a website. Never does it contain photos of "seized" items while joking about them.

Anonymous said...

RB said...
"Bob seems your working hard today to cover up the illegal activities of TSA."

It's also possible they just don't want to admit how poorly their detectors actually work. If they alarm to cocaine, who know how many other non-dangerous items also set them off. Or how many dangerous items don't.

RB said...

"Body Scanner Discoveries This Week – There were nine incidents this week where body scanner alarms resulted in drugs being found on passengers using imaging technology."

.................
So just how much are the citizens of the United States paying so TSA can engage in illegal searches for drugs?

Anonymous said...

Any search of a bag that alarms is justified per "reasonable suspicion" - also, no warrant required since you consented to any security measures when you checked your bag. Do you really have nothing better to do than bash people who are trying to keep you safe?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Any search of a bag that alarms is justified per "reasonable suspicion" - also, no warrant required since you consented to any security measures when you checked your bag. Do you really have nothing better to do than bash people who are trying to keep you safe?

June 4, 2012 4:02 PM
...............
If you mean TSA when you say "bash people" then there no evidence they are keeping anyone safe.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 4:02 on June 4th:
Do you really have nothing better to do than bash people who are trying to keep you safe?

Anon,

Please note that I do not need to be searched for my own safety. Nor does the overwhelming majority of the population. If and when that day comes for me, there are plenty of institutions that I can be checked into where I will not be a menace to myself (or others). If TSA really wants to try and make the claim that I need to be searched for my own safety, then they can go and request a competency hearing and try and have me placed into such a facility.

As neither day has come yet, I'll reiterate that I don't need to be searched for my own safety. Do you?

Anonymous said...

cane saw? nope.

that's the head of a typical outdoor sporting tool called an "ice axe", typically used for self-arrest on mountains, glaciers, etc.

just HAPPENS to have a saw inside.

regardless, an ice axe is a prohibited carry on item typically. can be checked iirc though.

if someone is using THAT as a cane, they should select something else :D

Jared said...

I wonder if the mods here know that we all understand that every "TSA-positive" comment on this blog is posted by TSA staff. It's pretty pitiful guys. Come on.

Anonymous said...

There's no way to know whether the TSA have actually done testing to quantify the performance of the strip-search scanners. Based on GAO reports indicating that the TSA habitually deploys measures and technology without verification of effectiveness, it's entirely plausible that they haven't done any. But if they have, the results are surely classified for obvious reasons. So we're left to accept the TSA's claims of effectiveness on pure faith.

We can, however, infer a few things about the performance of the scanners from the self-congratulatory tidbits Bob deigns to let us know about in these posts:

The scanners do appear to be effective at detecting a wide variety of items and materials. Some of them are are drugs. Some of them are things that violate the restrictions of the War on Liquids, though not even Bob would presume to claim they pose any threat. But it seems likely that the vast majority of what the scanners discover is not significant enough to even merit mention in Bob's weekly brag.

Based on the scanners' effectiveness at detecting a wide variety of items, it would appear that the false positive rate is very high. After all, every one of the "catches" Bob attributes to the scanners has been a false positive! The TSA, of course, tries to minimize this failing by defining a false positive as a "success" when it involves drugs or other materials defined as contraband.

Contrary to what Bob continually asserts, the false positives (i.e., drugs and concealed toothpaste) he brags in these posts about do not prove anything about the ability of scanners to detect explosives. If anything, they show that the scanners are unable to distinguish between innocuous substances and explosives. They just alarm at everything.

A high false positive rate means a lot of unnecessary pat-downs to resolve those alarms. That creates unnecessary stress and discomfort for passengers, along with increased resentment of the TSA and its intrusive security theatre, with no actual security benefit. It's also very likely to undermine whatever protection the scanners might provide should someone ever ever walk through one of them with explosives. The scanner can only cry "wolf" so many times before the TSO becomes numb to it.

In the absence of any available objective data about the effectiveness of the scanners, we can only speculate about it from the shreds of evidence the TSA allows us to know. And that evidence can only suggest that the scanners are nothing but a boondoggle that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars and inflicts needless hassle and humiliation (and possible radiation hazards) on millions of passengers. Each weekly recitation of false positives (not including the guns, knives, and ammo that the security in place before the TSA could have found) only bolsters that conclusion.

If Bob or someone from the TSA can offer objective evidence that refutes that conclusion, I'd be willing to reconsider. "That's classified" or "Trust us" doesn't qualify.

RB said...

Bob, seems you forgot to mention
Southwest Florida International Airport in your weekly review. Seems several TSA employees have been fired and a large number of others disciplined. Yet TSA claims that passenger safety was never jeopardized.

If passenger safety wasn't compromised then what good are the procedures these people weren't doing? Busy work?

Dozens of TSA workers fired, suspended for screening violations


http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/04/12051630-dozens-of-tsa-workers-fired-suspended-for-screening-violations

Anonymous said...

Wait at St Louis A gates is totally unacceptable today!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Do you really have nothing better to do than bash people who are trying to keep you safe?"

I don't care how hard they are trying because they aren't successful.

The TSA does nothing to make us any safer. They only cause harm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the TSA, we can fly in the comfort and convenience of a rights-free zone, secure in the knowledge that our security-minded friends (at least, the ones who aren't sleeping or ignoring their jobs) are concerned only with our safety. Nevermind that the only airline terrorist acts we've seen in years were stopped by intelligence or dumb luck, not scanners or security theater, and nevermind that you're 30 times more likely to die from being struck by lightning. All hail the omnipresent bureaucracy, from its ineffectual overlords to its roving frontline, now harassing us at rail stations and truck stops, which is named after a poisonous snake.

Anonymous said...

This latest weekly distraction is a reminder that I'm still waiting for Bob's response to the screeners who took bribes to ignore suitcases full of cocaine get through screening. The TSA apparently allowed the operation to continue until one of the drug smugglers became an informant and the FBI finally put a stop to it. That means the TSA either failed to supervise the screeners, or they ignored the smuggling because it was behind the curtain of secrecy. Either way, it indicates a serious systemic failure. And it's also a Katrina-scale public relations disaster that severely undermines any remaining confidence in the TSA's ability to perform its mission.

The TSA has apparently chosen to address this public relations disaster by ignoring it, in the hope that we'll forget about it. Well, Bob, I haven't forgotten about it. Ignoring problems doesn't make them go away. It makes them happen again. If that is indeed your approach, it's another systemic failure to add to the TSA's continually growing list.

Anonymous said...

Care to explain yet another circumvention of the Bill of Rights.

http://www.pixiq.com/article/tsa-continues-to-forbid-recording-of-checkpoint

Whats wrong curtis dont want TSAs failures and harassment of the public shown to the whole world?

<snap shot taken just incase of censorship to be sent to OIG)

Anonymous said...

Would anybody care to clarify the policy on photography or videotaping at the checkpoint? The sign shown in this article makes it look like photography is prohibited.

http://www.pixiq.com/article/tsa-continues-to-forbid-recording-of-checkpoint

The TSA's website says that photography is permitted. However,
"The “Private Screening Advisory” states the following:


For security reasons, some screening procedures conducted in this area cannot be videotaped or photographed. Please cease any recording or photography if directed by a TSA officer.

You have the option to have somebody accompany you during private screening."

The sign makes it sound like it's only for private screenings. However, the "Please cease any recording or photography if directed by a TSA officer" statement sounds purposely vague. It seems like this will be abused and permitted photography will be discouraged.

Anonymous said...

So who made the decision to send the "Game Over" portion of this post down the memory hole? What's the reason behind the removal? Who requested it?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
So who made the decision to send the "Game Over" portion of this post down the memory hole? What's the reason behind the removal? Who requested it?

June 6, 2012 10:34 AM
.................
You expect honesty from the people running this blog?

Fat Chance!

Victor said...

I think the general public can do less with your sarcastic humor about all the "great" catches TSA finds and how about more quantifiable numbers of daily success/fail rates of the metal detectors vs body scanners.

So far boasting how great your finds are doesn't alleviate the concerns that are uncovered daily about incompetent/corrupted TSA agents, passenger abuse, and wasted tax payer dollars.

RB said...

Bob, the recent reports of SJU airline employees bringing in massive amounts of drugs and then placing those drugs on airplanes, some with the baggage others with ticketed passengers begs the question of why airport employees don't get screened.

What if these people were bringing in things other than drugs?

What good does it do to just screen passengers but not the people who have the greatest access to the airplanes?

What kind of security only locks the front door but leaves the back door wide open.

Seems the clear answer to that last question is TSA Security!

Victor said...

A point that is apparent is that the Blogger Bob Burns team fail at the purpose of this blog which is to "facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process"

An innovation I see is promoting passengers to come up with ways to bypass security that haven't been pictured by the amazing photography work. Another is improving your uncalled for sarcasm which is hypocritical of the section nicely titled "People Say the Darndest Things".

How do you expect the public to think this blog is professionally handled when all that is being done is to boast useless catches and come up with witless humor. If that is the purpose of this blog then you should change just change the about statement as such and make this a personal blog for yourselves.

This will really make it clear to see what tax payers are paying the TSA to hire as part of their public relations management.

Anonymous said...

We’re not looking for drugs, but finding these nonmetallic items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works.

...what? This is a huge failure in critical thinking, Bob.

You know how many prohibited items you found, but you (obviously) have no idea how many prohibited items in total actually passed through your checkpoint, so you actually have no notion of the actual efficacy of the device.

It really only takes one slip to cause a major catastrophe. Do you think you found ALL of the non-metallic items that were hidden in a fashion which would also work for explosives?

I'm betting you didn't.

TSORon said...

OK folks let’s see if we can start with some facts.
Fact#1. AIT systems detect anomalies. They don’t detect drugs, they don’t detect guns, they don’t detect knives. They detect anomalies. It’s the TSO that conducts the search that determines what the anomaly might be. Sometimes it might be drugs, sometimes a money belt, sometimes it’s a folded bit of cloth that meets the systems minimum requirement to be considered an anomaly. The AIT systems are just about 100% accurate in detecting anomalies, and therefore there are very few “false positives”.
Fact#2. If passengers followed instructions a bit more closely there would be fewer pat-downs. Admittedly, some TSO’s are not very good at giving clear instructions, but quite honestly we deal with the most diverse cross-section of society that anyone could ever imagine. That alone makes standardizing advisements or instructions very difficult. So if you don’t understand what it is you are being asked to do, get a clarification. Ask for a supervisor if necessary, but make sure you get instructions that you can both understand and follow.
Fact#3. Explosive Detection Systems detect chemicals, not bombs. Bombs are made of chemicals, some very very common, others not common at all. When an ETD system alarms for a chemical we are looking for we have very specific and detailed instructions on what we have to do. ETD systems “can” be programmed for detecting drugs, but TSA’s are not. The United States Coast Guard and other boarder protection agencies have systems that are, but not the TSA. There are significant differences between what AIT, ETD, and x-ray systems can and do detect. None of ours detect drugs. So let’s stop claiming that they do.
Fact#4. If you have questions about traveling interstate with a firearm, I suggest you read “18 USC § 926A - Interstate transportation of firearms”. Some of the statements made here are completely inaccurate. Another resource for those wishing to travel from one state to another with a firearm is www.handgunlaw.us/. Lots of good information there.
Fact#5. There are places for “cutsy” comments, and there are places when refraining from them is just good sense. Most people can tell the difference, some cant. You get to decide which of those describes you, but not anyone else.
Fact#6. While you may know for a fact that you do not present a danger to your fellow passengers and commercial aviation, you cannot prove that to me, my fellow TSO’s, or even your fellow passengers. Should they and we just take your word for it? Or should we just ignore the need for screening of passengers boarding commercial aircraft simply because you believe you are not a threat. Sorry folks, we don’t read minds and we don’t know you. Chances are that neither can your fellow passengers. Screening has been a requirement since 1972 and must keep pace with the threat. AIT and the other advanced technologies we use are an effort to try and keep up with that threat. Sometimes they don’t work out as well as we want (Puffer machines as an example), and some present us with challenges that we have to experience before we can overcome (AIT Screening).
Fact#7. Absolutely no one is required to undergo screening at TSA checkpoints. Not one single person (except prisoners under law enforcement escort), and it’s been that way since 1972. There are other options. Feel free to use them.

chancer said...

"...Anonymous said...
If you need to take a gun with you put it in the hardcase and check it with the airline...simple...."

Sure...sure...and WHO will replace it when the case shows up EMPTY because of the known sticky finger employees at the airports.

I would not put ANYTHING of value in checked luggage if I wanted it when I landed.

Anonymous said...

..."RB said...
Bob, seems you forgot to mention
Southwest Florida International Airport in your weekly review. Seems several TSA employees have been fired and a large number of others disciplined. Yet TSA claims that passenger safety was never jeopardized...."

I fly through Ft Myers quite a bit, and it WAS nice to have COMMON SENSE used instead of terrorist tactics!

Too bad they now have one of those damned scanners as well. What's wrong? Seems like TSA has a real problem with members of their own treating people like human beings and a bit respectfully. Those employees just have to go, even though there has NEVER been any danger to the passingers, as TSA themselves said.

Just goes to show, the tactics are not for safey. It is for control, humiliation and just plain power!!!!

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
"The AIT systems are just about 100% accurate in detecting anomalies, and therefore there are very few “false positives”."

Seriously? You define anomaly as "whatever the AIT detects" then claim they are 100% accurate? Not setting the bar too high there are you?

What we actually care about is haw many anomalies actually turn out to be dangerous objects and how many dangerous objects are not detected.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
"Fact#7. Absolutely no one is required to undergo screening at TSA checkpoints. Not one single person (except prisoners under law enforcement escort), and it’s been that way since 1972. There are other options. Feel free to use them."

Doesn't make nay difference if there are other options. If I stand on the sidewalk with a hammer and hit people as they go by it isn't legal just because they could have crossed the street to avoid me. Not a valid argument.

Ron said...

I think it's funny that people still try their luck on bringing all these items, replicas, drugs...loaded guns when they know that the TSA has ramped up a lot in recent years. Don't really understand it.

Anonymous said...

Ron said...
"I think it's funny that people still try their luck on bringing all these items, replicas, drugs...loaded guns when they know that the TSA has ramped up a lot in recent years. Don't really understand it."

Stupid people are pretty much the TSA's main target. The smart ones don't get caught.

JoJo said...

TSORon said...

Fact#1. AIT systems detect anomalies. They don’t detect drugs, they don’t detect guns, they don’t detect knives. They detect anomalies. It’s the TSO that conducts the search that determines what the anomaly might be. Sometimes it might be drugs, sometimes a money belt, sometimes it’s a folded bit of cloth that meets the systems minimum requirement to be considered an anomaly. The AIT systems are just about 100% accurate in detecting anomalies, and therefore there are very few “false positives”.

---

So are you saying when these machines ping on folded cloth that's a little too thick, they're doing exactly what they were supposed to do? They are supposed to ping on folded cloth? And that was worth the billions of dollars spent on them? These things need to join the puffer machines in a warehouse, and a class action suit should follow not long after for the Constitutional issues they brought with them.

Anonymous said...

Where else in the world are the AIT machines installed? I fly 5-7 times a year outside the USA and not seen one as of yet. Are these machines not needed to screen those coming into the USA for THEIR possible threat? Why only for the flights originating in the USA are we using these AIT machines? Thanks for your time, tbe blog does help me understand what items not to hand carry when shopping abroad, just to mail home for theft prevention if checked in.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Why only for the flights originating in the USA are we using these AIT machines?"

Because the machines are very expensive and don't actually work very well. Most places have decided that they aren't worth wasting money on.

Wintermute said...

TSORon stated some "facts" which I will now dispute...

Fact#1. AIT systems are sold to the public as detecting Dangerous Items, not "anomolies" and, as such, anything not a Dangerous Item is a false positive as far as the public is concerned.

Fact#2. "Admittedly, some TSO’s are not very good at giving clear instructions..." Thanks. Saved me the trouble...


Fact#3. Explosive Detection Systems detect chemicals, not bombs. Therefore, they are not Explosive Detection Systems, but Chemical Detection Systems. However, as with fact 1, they are sold as Explosive Detection Systems and anything not an Explosive is a false positive.

Fact#4. Not disputed, as you simply gave resources for researching how to properly travel with a firearm and did not attempt to reveal a "fact" that is not, in fact, a fact.

Fact#5. “Cutsy” comments are protected speech, regardless of how "common sense" it is to refrain from them. If I make a "cutsy" comment about a bomb in my luggage while at an airport, Blogger Bob will make a "cutsy" comment about it in his weekly (non)"Find of the week" post. Not the public's fault that many TSO's have no sense of humor and call any bomb comment as a threat.

Fact#6. You are operating under the premise of "guilty until proven innocent." Our justice system works the other way around.

Fact#7. Please reconcile with Fact#6, as stated. Unless you're saying "if you don't like it, don't fly." If that's the case, use those words so that thise "fact" can be disputed properly as well.

Now, here's some facts for you: The failure rate of the TSA is near 70%. This number has never been disputed, only its timeliness. Now, with a more recent report that the failure rate hasn't changed much, we can assume that it's still near that 70% rate. Is that a logical conclusion? If not, please reconcile the two facts. Also, (rhetorical question here because I'm sure the answer is SSI, even though it's relevant) what is the testing methodology of these reports? How do they deal with an AIT alarm on a non-dangerous item? Is it a false positive according to the report, or does that ~70% number only include false-negatives?

Wintermute said...

"This blog is sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process."

This cannot happen when the TSA's blog team does this in their spare time and no one approves comments for days on end. The TSA should either dedicate some time daily for comment review and approval or quit blogging completely, as it has failed its mission thus far.

TSORon said...

Wintermute also said...


[[Fact#7. Please reconcile with Fact#6, as stated. Unless you're saying "if you don't like it, don't fly." If that's the case, use those words so that thise "fact" can be disputed properly as well.]]

Not really. To properly dispute them you need at least some facts on your side, which you seem to be missing. I have provided you with additional facts, I hope that its helpful.

[[Now, here's some facts for you: The failure rate of the TSA is near 70%.]]

Well, that was a fact for sure, in 2005, based on data from 2002 and 2003. Relevant a decade ago, not today.

[[This number has never been disputed, only its timeliness. Now, with a more recent report that the failure rate hasn't changed much, we can assume that it's still near that 70% rate.]]

Actually it’s been disputed many many times. Quite a few times in this very forum. Some folks just choose to stick to data that supports their own personal view of the world no matter how old it is, how out of date it is, or how many facts have come along since to update the information. You can ask the people at the “Flat Earth Society” about it if you like, I believe they are experts.

[[Is that a logical conclusion? If not, please reconcile the two facts. Also, (rhetorical question here because I'm sure the answer is SSI, even though it's relevant) what is the testing methodology of these reports?]]

I don’t have all the answers, and obviously neither do you. You reconcile them, I don’t have the time or wish to do so. Let us know what you find out.

[[How do they deal with an AIT alarm on a non-dangerous item? Is it a false positive according to the report, or does that ~70% number only include false-negatives?]]

Obviously you are still using data that is a decade old. Do you do that as a professional? Please tell me that you’re not a medical doctor! Do you use last decades sale figures, manufacturing methods, computer systems, or hiring practices? Ghads I hope not, unless you are a professional beer brewer.

An AIT alarm on a non-dangerous item? As long as it’s not a prohibited item or something illegal, they get to continue on to their flight with minimal disruption. That’s how. Prohibited items are not allowed past the checkpoint, and illegal items are dealt with by law enforcement officers. The concepts are pretty easy to grasp, as long as one does not over-simplify or over-think them. It’s the irrationalization of those concepts that causes so many issues for the readers here.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
"Some folks just choose to stick to data that supports their own personal view of the world no matter how old it is, how out of date it is, or how many facts have come along since to update the information."

What facts have come along since then? Please share soem current measurements of the TSA performance. We've all asked *many* times and gotten nothing. Or maybe you are just making stuff up.

Wintermute said...

TSORon said...

"Not really. To properly dispute them you need at least some facts on your side, which you seem to be missing. I have provided you with additional facts, I hope that its helpful."

My facts were just as factual as yours. Perhaps moreso.

"Well, that was a fact for sure, in 2005, based on data from 2002 and 2003. Relevant a decade ago, not today."

Ahh... But you're ignoring the 2011 report that says the failure rate has remained fairly steady over time. If the 2011 report has said the TSA has gotten better over time, then your argument would be valid. It does not, you your argument is not.

"Actually it’s been disputed many many times. Quite a few times in this very forum."

No. Only the timeliness. No one has ever said "the failure rate has never been 70%."

"Some folks just choose to stick to data that supports their own personal view of the world no matter how old it is, how out of date it is, or how many facts have come along since to update the information."

Well... A 2011 report says the data is more-or-less accurate. Do you dispute the 2011 report?

" You can ask the people at the “Flat Earth Society” about it if you like, I believe they are experts."

So you stoop to insults. Very professional.


"I don’t have all the answers, and obviously neither do you. You reconcile them, I don’t have the time or wish to do so. Let us know what you find out."

You're spouting "facts" which conflict with each other. I'm asking for clarification.

"Obviously you are still using data that is a decade old. Do you do that as a professional? Please tell me that you’re not a medical doctor! Do you use last decades sale figures, manufacturing methods, computer systems, or hiring practices? Ghads I hope not, unless you are a professional beer brewer."

More insults. Nice to see how professional you are here in the comments.

"An AIT alarm on a non-dangerous item? As long as it’s not a prohibited item or something illegal, they get to continue on to their flight with minimal disruption. That’s how. Prohibited items are not allowed past the checkpoint, and illegal items are dealt with by law enforcement officers."

Did you intentionally misrepresent the question in order to make me look less intelligent? I was asking, in the "red-team" testing that is done, is a "false-positive" counted in the failure rate, or not? Not how the TSA resolves it.


"The concepts are pretty easy to grasp, as long as one does not over-simplify or over-think them. It’s the irrationalization of those concepts that causes so many issues for the readers here."

And yet more insults. My questions were legitimate. My arguments were logical. Rather that answer the questions, you have misrepresented them. Instead of disputing the 70% failure rate, you yet again refuted their timeliness but claimed you were refuting their accuracy. However, you conveniently failed to acknowledge the second half of my source of the data, which is the 2011 report that says the TSA's performance has changed very little over time.

Wintermute said...

Also, I believe I forgot to mention in my reply to TSORon's comment, but yes, a screenshot was taken.

Also, does he speak officially for the blog team, or is he just another citizen making comments? If it is the latter, I would suggest removing the "TSO" part of his handle, as his reply was not only full of misrepresentations, but was full of insults as well. Was I, along with readers of this blog, just officially insulted by the TSA, or just unofficially insulted by one of it's employees?

Screenshot taken, and complaint forwarded on to my congress-critters.

Wintermute said...

Why was my reply to TSORon not approved? It was legitimate and on-topic. It did, however, call him out for misrepresenting my own statements and for stooping to insults when he could not refute my arguments. Is this what the TSA means by "facilitate an ongoing dialogue?"

(screenshot taken)

Wintermute said...

Since my previous reply was censored...


TSORon said...

"Not really. To properly dispute them you need at least some facts on your side, which you seem to be missing. I have provided you with additional facts, I hope that its helpful."

Not really what? Not really disputed? Or not really in response to the question "are you saying if you don't like it, don't fly?" Also, you failed to provide any facts yourself, either in the original comment or in your reply to me. So no, not helpful at all.

"Well, that was a fact for sure, in 2005, based on data from 2002 and 2003. Relevant a decade ago, not today."

And you yet again fail to acknowledge the Nov 2011 report which says, in a nutshell, that the failure rate has changed little over time. Logically, this means that if they were once 70% (which you just acknowledged), then they are near 70% now.

"Actually it’s been disputed many many times. Quite a few times in this very forum."

No. Only their timeliness has been disputed. You acknowledge the number in your previous statement of "Well, that was a fact for sure, in 2005, based on data from 2002 and 2003. Relevant a decade ago, not today."

"Some folks just choose to stick to data that supports their own personal view of the world no matter how old it is, how out of date it is, or how many facts have come along since to update the information. You can ask the people at the “Flat Earth Society” about it if you like, I believe they are experts."

So now you stoop to insults.

"I don’t have all the answers, and obviously neither do you. You reconcile them, I don’t have the time or wish to do so. Let us know what you find out."

I asked you to reconcile two statements made by you via "Fact#6" and "Fact#7" of your original statement. They were contradictory statements, so I was simply asking for clarification of how both could be "facts" at the same time.

"Obviously you are still using data that is a decade old. Do you do that as a professional? Please tell me that you’re not a medical doctor! Do you use last decades sale figures, manufacturing methods, computer systems, or hiring practices? Ghads I hope not, unless you are a professional beer brewer."

So many things wrong with this statement. First, as stated, the data is not a decade old. It is that data combined with the Nov 2011 report. Second, you're stooping to insults again. Third, if the data is confirmed to still be valid, how is its age even relevant?

"An AIT alarm on a non-dangerous item? As long as it’s not a prohibited item or something illegal, they get to continue on to their flight with minimal disruption. That’s how. Prohibited items are not allowed past the checkpoint, and illegal items are dealt with by law enforcement officers."

That was not the question I asked. My question was, in the studies which show your failure rate, does the failure rate include false positives or only false negatives?

"The concepts are pretty easy to grasp, as long as one does not over-simplify or over-think them. It’s the irrationalization of those concepts that causes so many issues for the readers here."

Yet more insults, not only directed at me, but now also directed the readership of this blog.

Yes, I may get snarky at times. But at no point to I attempt to insult the person I am debating. If you have facts that can refute any of what I said, or can clarify any of your previous "facts," then by all means. Otherwise, your reply to me did nothing to further the dialogue and was nothing more than thinly veiled insults. Because you use "TSO" in your handle, what you says reflects on the TSA, whether you officially speak for them or not.

Michele Bayno said...

My plan to make summer travel easier is to avoid flying and drive.I hope that eventually the airlines will figure out they they are loosing customers. Thanks to show us some better option for Summer.

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