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Monday, March 24, 2008

By this time, most of you are getting pretty familiar with what TSA does on a daily basis. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve likely heard us mention layers of security. It’s a term we use a lot but it’s a lot more than just a catch phrase, it really is what we do.

Throughout my time at TSA, many analogies, metaphors and comparisons have been used to describe the layers. Some stick, some fall by the wayside. One way of describing it is like the combination to a lock. One correct number won’t get you access, all have to be correct. Today, I thought I’d take you inside the “layered security approach” for a closer look at what we do.

Each time a passenger boards a flight they’re subject to up to 20 of these layers. I know what you’re thinking…we’ve got the checkpoint, metal detector, screening process, etc but what else?

Before you ever step foot on an airplane, TSA intelligence officials have worked with their counterparts throughout the federal government and its international partners to determine any threats to aviation security. Concurrently, TSA collaborates with CBP and the Joint Terrorism Task Force on threats and security issues. TSA also leans heavily on relationships with local law enforcement. Their work around the airport is vital to successful security.

In addition, passengers are checked against no-fly lists and crews vetted. All of this occurs before the passenger ever reaches the airport.

Once at the airport the other layers of security begin to take shape. Each airport with commercial flights is required to have a TSA-approved security program. This program covers everything from the type of fencing required around the perimeter of the airport to how many police officers are needed to make sure vehicles don’t park too close to the curb. In addition to this plan, VIPR teams consisting of federal air marshals, local law enforcement, canine teams and behavior detection officers may be patrolling the area. This can occur before or beyond the checkpoint, anywhere at an airport.

Passengers entering the security checkpoint are subject to noninvasive screening by TSA’s behavior detection officers . BDOs are trained to detect involuntary physical and physiological reactions exhibited by those looking to avoid being discovered.

The passenger also hands their boarding pass and ID to a TSA travel document checker . This layer of security is relatively new, beginning in June 2007. Checking the validity of documents and the person holding them provides a significant security upgrade. Individuals with phony or suspicious documents are referred to local law enforcement for additional scrutiny.

TSA canine teams also patrol the airports perimeter and interior. These teams, composed of a local law enforcement officer and TSA provided canine, are one of the quickest, most efficient means of detecting possible explosive substances. TSA has trained and certified more than 500 teams in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies. They’re working in 70 airports and 14 mass transit systems. TSA will certify more than 400 additional canine teams over the next two years, including teams led by TSA canine handlers that will focus on air cargo .

As previously mentioned, the checkpoint is one of 20 layers of security. Great work is done by TSOs there at over 450 airports nationwide, That said, not a whole lot of ink will be spilled here about it, we’ve done a lot of that already.

TSA also screens every piece of luggage that you’ve checked. Modern inline systems streamline the process in many airports (As demonstrated by this post ). Stand alone systems are used in other airports.

The planes themselves are screened as well. Transportation Security Inspectors randomly screen planes and are also involved in VIPR teams and employee screening.

That leads us onto our next layer, which is employee screening . Those with access to the airport’s secure areas including gate workers and food service employees are subject to random screening in addition to going through thorough background checks and being checked everyday against terror watch lists.

TSA’s Bomb Appraisal Officers (BAOs) are also working to increase the strength of our security approach. BAOs were trained at one of two specialized schools and have extensive operational experience in the field as members of military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units or accredited law enforcement/public safety bomb squads. They perform advanced alarm resolution at the checkpoint as well as expert training. Their presence in the airport environment helps security while increasing the abilities of those working with them.

Another vital layer of security is the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS). FAMs are TSA’s law enforcement arm. They are specifically trained to work within the aircraft but their role is ever expanding. They participate in VIPR missions and are on duty throughout the airport environment.

Through the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, TSA trains and authorizes pilots and other approved flight crew members to carry a firearm aboard the plane. TSA also offers course to train other members of the flight crew to defend themselves inside an aircraft. The program, known as Crew Member Self Defense , adds an additional layer to the security system.

The hardening of cockpit doors occurred after 9/11 and provides yet another layer preventing possible attack. The vigilance of the flying public in-flight and on the ground is an important piece of aviation security. Passengers’ willingness to work with TSA and local law enforcement is crucial to enhancing security.

Check this out for a clearer, more graphically appealing view of TSA’s layers of security.
 

Jim
TSA EoS Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Andy on

One thing I don't understand - what exactly does ID checking have to do with security? As long as the person's belongings is contraband free, then what's the big deal with their ID's? The old contracted ID checkers used to check ID's quickly and without much fuss; now the TSA ID checkers take double as long and it holds up the lines.

Can anyone over at TSA Hq clarify on this, please?

Submitted by Anonymous on

@andy: what exactly does ID checking have to do with security?
Checking IDs at the checkpoint ensures that the person whose name is on the ticket is actually the person entering the secure area. As the post stated, parts of TSA's security model is (1) keeping people on the no-fly list from entering the secure area at all, and (2) making sure that people on the selectee list get the additional screening required. If names on the tickets were not matched against a verified ID, I (a trusted TSA employee) could easily get a boarding pass and give that pass to a terrorist blackmailing me.

Submitted by Curious on

Regarding the "travel document checker" policy, you realize it's a complete waste right? A friend of mine prints fake boarding passes so he can meet family members at the gate instead of the curb. I would imagine that anyone with more nefarious intents would be able to do the same.

So tell me what the purpose of that layer is?

Submitted by Curious on

Also, if you're going to tout the fact that you allow flight crews to carry firearms (after being trained on how to do so), I wouldn't do it on a day when there's a story about one of these trained crew members accidentally discharging the weapon during a flight.

Yikes.

Submitted by Sandra on

"By this time, most of you are getting pretty familiar with what TSA does on a daily basis."

What we are becoming familiar with is that the TSA refuses to answer any of the very serious and very legitimate questions posed by so many participants on this blog.

Instead, you keep trying to prove your worth to the flying public. This thread is nothing but one more attempt to do so.

Submitted by Sandra on

Anonymous re ID checking:

Please, give us a break. ID checking is not keeping anyone on the no-fly list from getting into the secure area at the airport. Do you really want us to believe that every ID checker (many of whom don't have a clue as to what they are doing), knows the name and face of everyone on the no-fly list?

If you are a screener, please go get another job because no one in their right mind believes what you wrote. If you're a member of the public, please do some research into the "no-fly" list.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said at March 24,2008 6:29PM that TSA checks ID to insure that people on the no-fly list don't enter the secure area....I thought I read on this blog that a person can fly with NO ID at all if he submits to secondary screening. Also, that it's the airlines' responsibility to check names against the no-fly list.So what's the truth today at the airport of your choice...whatever TSO Whoever decides?

Submitted by Anonymous on
Checking IDs at the checkpoint ensures that the person whose name is on the ticket is actually the person entering the secure area. As the post stated, parts of TSA's security model is (1) keeping people on the no-fly list from entering the secure area at all,

Hmm, exactly how is that done by TSA? I mean, the TSA operative examining the license and ticket have no access to any list at all. I guess that the CIA's experiments in ESP finally paid off and TSA is (through ESP) able to verify identity.


and (2) making sure that people on the selectee list get the additional screening required. If names on the tickets were not matched against a verified ID, I (a trusted TSA employee) could easily get a boarding pass and give that pass to a terrorist blackmailing me.

I was screened (on more than one occasion) at the entrance to the concourse, at the gate, and when I got on a connecting flight. Please tell me how that made anyone safer, since I never left the secure concourse except on arrival at my destination.

When dealing with people you've got to use your brains. To often the phrase "I'm just doing my job" rolls off the lips of a TSO, like once you arrive at work you go on autopilot till quitting time. That situation makes for some unpleasantries for travelers (you know the ones you are supposed to protect).
Submitted by Anonymous on

Yes, please do address the pointless process of comparing IDs to boarding passes. How does this help anyone but airline accountants? Consider the following:

1] Get job as waiter
2] Steal credit card number
3] Buy ticket in that name
4] Check in online under false name
5] Modify boarding pass to your own name
6] Use modified boarding pass with valid but 'incriminating' id that looks like you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Is that a pistol in your pocket, Mr. Pilot, or are you happy to see me?

Submitted by Anonymous on

While on the subject of "travel document checking," what exactly constitutes a valid ID? There were many questions about this in the And Now, a Word from our Lawyers ... thread, but no answers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How quickly do posts get published?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What level of security would a FFDO firing his weapon accidently be?

Submitted by Seth on

"passengers are checked against no-fly lists"

At what point does the TSA perform this task? Certainly not ad the ID check, unless the TSOs have committed the hundreds of thousands of inappropriately identified names on the No-Fly list to memory and can recall them while they are checking the name.

Moreover, it is a pretty ridiculous assumption that someone cannot get an ID with a name on it if they want to. It is just a matter of patience and money.

Finally, who cares if someone on the no-fly list is on the airplane. If the TSOs are doing what should be their primary task - searching for things headed air-side that could cause trouble on an airplane - then it wouldn't matter who went airside, as they wouldn't have any weapons available to them anyways. It doesn't matter if the terrorist is blackmailing you if they do not have a weapon on the plane; they cannot cause sufficient trouble to justify the fiasco that ID checking represents.

Maybe focusing the efforts on layers such as screening cargo or screening employees - two areas that are much more likely to be troublesome since they are on airport grounds more regularly - would be a more legitimate use of limited resources. Of course then you wouldn't be able to brag about all the false papers you find each week - a mission the agency was not tasked with, by the way.

Focus on your real mission, not just the parts that look good to the 80% of the public that never or rarely travels.

Submitted by Ronald Smythe on

"TSA also screens every piece of luggage that you’ve checked. Modern inline systems streamline the process in many airports."

The TSA uses this screening to steal high value items from opened luggage.

Happened to me. Hello, AMTRAK.

Submitted by Greg on

What the graphic fails to identify is the passenger who is right smack dab in the middle and suffers all these layers.

Submitted by Phil on

Jim wrote:

"passengers are checked against no-fly lists and crews vetted. All of this occurs before the passenger ever reaches the airport."

If a passenger is barred from travel via such list, this amounts to an administrative punishment without any trial and with no chance for appeal.

Over 900,000 names are now on the United States' so-called "terrorist watch list". Presumably, the people named on that list have done nothing wrong, or they would be arrested, tried, convicted, and punished for their crimes -- right? In the United States, are we not considered innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law?

"The passenger also hands their boarding pass and ID to a TSA travel document checker."

Note that although Jim's wording carefully avoids stating so, the passenger only hands over an I.D. if he so desires (possibly because he wishes to avoid a thorough screening). There is no requirement that passengers on domestic flights identify themselves to government agents; a boarding pass is sufficient. "Showing I.D." simply allows one to slip through security with an abbreviated screening.

If you doubt that this is the case, please see this 2007 letter from Jeffrey R. Sural of the TSA to Senator John Warner confirming that domestic passengers are not required to show any I.D. at airport security checkpoints (PDF; 88KB) or this TSA "Travel Assistant" page which states, "We encourage each adult traveler to keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint." Note: that's "encourage" not "require".

"Checking the validity of documents and the person holding them provides a significant security upgrade. Individuals with phony or suspicious documents are referred to local law enforcement for additional scrutiny."

People with falsified identification cards (any one of the 50+ types that are acceptable) will only be caught if the TSA agent notices. It's safe to assume that even a moderately-well-funded criminal could acquire a good fake or steal someone else's identity and use the other person's I.D. card.

Even assuming that screeners are able to consistently detect falsified I.D. documents, that their doing so provides any increased security is arguable. In fact, it may actually decrease security, because 1) it contributes to a false sense of security, breeding complacency, and 2) potential criminals can probe the system by sending a group of people on innocent trips, observing which ones are subject to additional screening, then send the ones who weren't flagged for additional screening on a terrorist mission (this is described by MIT researchers as "The Carnival Booth Algorithm").

Most of the instances of passengers being caught with falsified I.D. cards and passports that are described on TSA's "Travel Document Checker (TDC)" Web page (under "Travel Document Checking Success Stories") were arrested on charges of immigrations violations, possession of illegal drugs, or credit card theft. None of them is described as having been found to be carrying anything that, had he brought it onto his flight, would have put other passengers or crew at risk.

Paraphrasing The Identity Project: No matter how sophisticated the security embedded into an I.D., a well-funded criminal will be able to falsify it. Honest people, however, go to Pro-Life rallies. Honest people go to Pro-Choice rallies, too. Honest people attend gun shows. Honest people protest the actions of the President of the United States. Honest people fly to political conventions. What if those with the power to put people on a "no fly" list decided that they didn't like the reason for which you wanted to travel? The honest people wouldn't be going anywhere.

For related information, please see "What's Wrong With Showing ID" at The Identity Project.

Submitted by Adam Batkin on

You mention the "no-fly" list, and I think that I (and many other people) have some concerns with this concept.

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that there have been numerous false-positives (people mistakenly put on the list, people whose names and data are similar or identical to other people on the list) and that there is no easy way to get off the list (nor is there a way to find out why you were put on the list, or any recourse for that matter!). In fact, I remember a story back in 2004 where Senator Edward Kennedy was mistakenly flagged, and it took HIM 3 weeks to get off the list. And he's a Senator. What chance do WE, the general public have?

I believe that he no fly list (and any other lists that you match people against) require more transparency and accountability. If someone is on the list, tell them why, how to get off it, and offer additional screening in the mean time (instead of sending them home), until they can be removed.

Submitted by Weaklyflyer on

I would like to back up what Andy said earlier. The ID check brings us *nothing* in terms of security on the plane. Osama bin Laden himself could get on a plane (and be identified as such) and we would not be one single jot more endangered - provided you guys make sure he doesn't have any weapons or explosives on board.

The whole ID thing just smacks of scope creep. As I mentioned in another post - I have had TSOs try to verify my immigration status. It is woefully clear that they don't have any clue what kind of documentation they should be looking for so why bother looking?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Have you covered hijacking attempts by space aliens as well? Some of the items you 'protect' us from are as remote and as improbable as is a hijacking attempt by space aliens. The middle east isn't the US.

Submitted by Phil on

In response to Andy's question, "what exactly does ID checking have to do with security?" someone anonymously wrote:

"If names on the tickets were not matched against a verified ID, I (a trusted TSA employee) could easily get a boarding pass and give that pass to a terrorist blackmailing me."

...and if names were matched in such a manner as a matter of policy, the terrorist need only a) purchase a good fake I.D. with your information and his picture, b) blackmail someone who looks a bit like him and take the victim's I.D. card to the airport along with his boarding pass, or c) simply steal one's identity and get I.D. and boarding pass in his name.

Remember, the men accused of hijacking the planes that were used in the crimes of September 11, 2001, were all in possession of valid, U.S.-government-issued I.D.

Submitted by Dan S on
Checking IDs at the checkpoint ensures that the person whose name is on the ticket is actually the person entering the secure area.

Funny how that wouldn't prevent another September 11th, considering that all of the terrorist hijackers had IDs matching the names on their boarding passes.

And, considering the relative ease of creating authentic-looking false IDs -- despite the provisions of the relatively ineffective REAL ID Act, or obtaining stolen authentic ID materials, and the fact that I can print a boarding pass at home (opening the possibility of modifying the printed name via photoshop or a text editor), it's a laughable "layer" that adds one more unnecessarily compulsory item to juggle at the security checkpoint.

* Shoes
* Belt
* Sweater/Jacket
* Boarding pass
* ID
* Laptop
* Batteries (hyperbole at its best)
* Liquids (which in and of itself is a joke)
Submitted by John on

So we know that the maximum number of checks is 20. The more important question I would think is what is the minimum number that everyone goes through? A max of 20 means little if most people only go through 3 or 4 of them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Okay, so you have discovered that airline security is imperfect. What’s the next step?
Stop blaming the people and especially the screeners for TSA policy and procedure. They are just doing what they have been told to do. It’s not some 20 year olds fault that he is taking your 6 oz tube of tooth paste or checking your I.D. Have some understanding and patience. Let the TSA do what they do. I hate standing in line at the airport behind someone who gives the TSA a hard time. Put your time and energy to something else. Take that built up frustration and volunteer at your favorite charity or something. Everyone has criticism but no real solution. Get to the airport 2 hours before your flight like we are suppose to and you will be fine. Our soldiers are dying over in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American economy is in big trouble, our children’s minds are being corrupted by our out of control media, and you want to complain about your I.D. being check at the airport. We have more important issues as a country, don’t you think?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Okay, so you have discovered that airline security is imperfect. What’s the next step?"

That is a very good question!

After all it is what this blog is about.

I am sure there will be some great answers and suggestions.

Submitted by Sandra on

Anonymous said at 1:48 p.m.:

"Okay, so you have discovered that airline security is imperfect. What’s the next step?
Stop blaming the people and especially the screeners for TSA policy and procedure. They are just doing what they have been told to do. It’s not some 20 year olds fault that he is taking your 6 oz tube of tooth paste or checking your I.D. Have some understanding and patience. Let the TSA do what they do. I hate standing in line at the airport behind someone who gives the TSA a hard time. Put your time and energy to something else. Take that built up frustration and volunteer at your favorite charity or something. Everyone has criticism but no real solution. Get to the airport 2 hours before your flight like we are suppose to and you will be fine. Our soldiers are dying over in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American economy is in big trouble, our children’s minds are being corrupted by our out of control media, and you want to complain about your I.D. being check at the airport. We have more important issues as a country, don’t you think?"

Yes, anonymous, we do have more important issues as a country. And if we were not wasting billions of dollars on procedures such as ID checks that are meaningless and have been proven meaningless by security experts outside of TSA, the liquid and shoe scams, we could be spending that money on those issues that need to solved: hunger, homelessness, lack of proper medical care, education.

What would have happened if 232 years ago, the revolutionaries would have followed your advice?

I look at each and every person who complains, who practices "civil disobedience" by bucking the rules as a revolutionary. We are indeed headed down a slippery slope if we allow these practices, such as REAL ID, to continue.

Why don't you come back to us when it is required that you have ID on our person when you walk you dog?

The only way we are going to bring about change at the TSA is by constantly complaining, bringing to the attention of "sheeple" like yourself the taxpayer money that is being squandered every day and is not making us one iota safer.

As a prime example, not one person from the TSA has bothered to respond to any of the extremely relevant and important questions asked anywhere on this blog. Why? Because they can't substantiate their claims and proclamations.

Thank heaven that in a few more months both Chertoff and Hawley will be out of jobs and, hopefully, more thoughtful heads will prevail at both DHS and TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Your image is WAY to small to read. Hire a graphics person if you're gonna have a blog.

Submitted by George on

Why do four or five different people have to look at boarding passes between the entry to the TSA checkpoint and the exit?

I'm sure there's some valid classified reason based on "robust intelligence," but from the passenger's perspective it just looks like the TSA is so disorganized and inept that they can't rely on whoever checks the boarding pass at the checkpoint entry.

Repeated presentation of boarding passes within the checkpoint seems an unnecessary distraction that interferes with the passengers' ability to protect their belongings from theft (something the TSA apparently does not care about). I don't see how it does anything to help the screening process or keep anyone safer.

I would like to know why the multiple checks are necessary. But I know better than to expect a straightforward answer from the TSA.

Submitted by Winstonsmith on

Sandra, to your snippet:

The only way we are going to bring about change at the TSA is by constantly complaining, bringing to the attention of "sheeple" like yourself the taxpayer money that is being squandered every day and is not making us one iota safer.

Thank you. I could not have said it better myself.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Problem:
TSO's who can't recognize fake id.

Solution: Hire bartenders from college towns.

You know this real travesty going on? I would expect that just about any University Campus will have at least one person capable of making a fake ID card that would be 'approved' by a TSO. One guy on my campus had every US State, Protectorate and Territory, as well as all the Canadian Provinces ready to go, including the correct UV/semi-reflective ink seals for embedding under the laminate. All he needed was a picture and ten minutes per ID. True, they'd fail the database test, but they'd work for 'flash' ID. And realistically, what was the difference between his and the real ones? His lasted longer.

Submitted by Seth on
Problem:
TSO's who can't recognize fake id.

Solution: Hire bartenders from college towns.

Never going to happen...the bartenders make more money :O
Submitted by Dave Nelson on

I was reviewing this again the other day and I re-read Kippie's testimony. It's now clear to me that Kippie included "passengers" as Layer #20 in order to someday be able to blame us for an in-flight security failure.

"Unfortunately, Senator, Layer #20 failed yesterday, which is why the airplane got hijacked. All other 19 layers directly under my control performed perfectly."

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't remember either volunteering for for or being drafted into the TSA.

Brilliant move, Kip.

Submitted by Anonymous on

20 layers of security and not a damn word about the fact that a terrorist is far more likely to be a Middle Eastern male than any other profile.

Oh dear, we wouldn't want to "profile!"

Submitted by Chance on
"I don't know about anyone else, but I don't remember either volunteering for for or being drafted into the TSA.
Brilliant move, Kip."


While you may not have made the claim yourself, several critics on this blog have either implied or said expressly that because passengers are likely to react to an incident, other TSA security measures are unnecessary. Do you believe that passengers would not or should not react in the event that an incident does occur? If not, why not? If you believe that they should or will, why would including them in the security layer chart be a cause of concern to you?

Chance - Eos Blog Team.
Submitted by Chance on
20 layers of security and not a damn word about the fact that a terrorist is far more likely to be a Middle Eastern male than any other profile.

Oh dear, we wouldn't want to "profile!"

That's because not all terrorists are middle eastern, male, or fit other easy criteria to define. Profiling simply isn't an effective means of distinguishing extremists from non-extremists.
Submitted by Dave Nelson on

"While you may not have made the claim yourself, several critics on this blog have either implied or said expressly that because passengers are likely to react to an incident, other TSA security measures are unnecessary. Do you believe that passengers would not or should not react in the event that an incident does occur? If not, why not? If you believe that they should or will, why would including them in the security layer chart be a cause of concern to you?

Chance - Eos Blog Team.

March 26, 2008 10:37 AM"

Chance,

Of course passengers will fight back. Cooperation with hijackers as the SOP (to borrow an oft-used screener term) ceased to exist not on Flight 93. It ceased to exist on AA 77 (?) -- Pentagon airplane -- but there wasn't enough time for the passengers to mount a counterattack.

My objection -- actually an insult -- to being included in the "layers of security" chart is that it is patronizing. It's nothing more than a feeble attempt to get us -- the flying public -- to buy into all this TSA stuff.

This is akin to a bunch of buy-in techniques Roosevelt came up with during WWII in order to ensure the public was a stakeholder in the war effort. The most blatant of these was the call for people to donate wrought iron and other metals to the "war effort." People ripped out their wrought iron fences and donated all sorts of other metal objects which were useless to any manufacturing process.

This is nothing more than Kippie's wrought iron fence, and it's pretty darn insulting.

Assuming for the moment that a 9/11 style even occurs again, rest assured every passenger won't be looking for Kippie's endorsement or permission before fighting back.

Submitted by Anonymous on

for those of you who think they can get through a checkpoint with a fake id.

i suggest you do one of 2 things.
either shut up, or get yourself one of those fake id's with a hidden camera and lets see if you dont get picked out of line.

then post it up on youtube, so you can finally proove the system doesnt work.

untill then your just talk.

Submitted by Sarah Cool on

I'd like to hear more about the behavior detection officers.... I fly 2-6 times per week, and I ALWAYS get nervous and self conscious when I walk by security desks or large groups of TSA agents.... do they recognize ridiculous nervousness as opposed to bad-people nervousness? :)

Submitted by TAB Photographic on

Great... So much for feeling safe when I fly to Washington in June

Submitted by Chance on

Sarah, more information on our Behavior Detection Officers may be found
here.

Submitted by Chance on

Well, WWII was quite a bit before my time, but I've never heard anyone before describe feeling insulted by the various programs intended to include the population in the war effort. Even if I were to accept your comparison as a fair one, I wouldn't be offended, but to each their own. I'm sure there are people who would be offended if passengers weren't on the chart.

Chance EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Chance said:

"Sarah, more information on our Behavior Detection Officers may be found
here."

And when I clicked on the link I was taken to a TSA page that said, "Sorry, the page you requested was not found." Is the info SSI, Chance?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So what do you all have to say about this poor woman on CNN.com who was forced to remove her nipple piercing.

I hope whomever was responsible gets fired. This was unreasonable and uncalled for.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Blogger Chance said... Well, WWII was quite a bit before my time, but I've never heard anyone before describe feeling insulted by the various programs intended to include the population in the war effort."

Yeah, Jesus was before your time too, you probably didn't hear about the folks feelings about him either.

Mr. Nelson is spot on with his comments.


I'd be interested to hear the official TSA reaction to the recent 'nipple ring' incident in Lubbock.

At some point, TSA must begin working WITH the public, not against.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The combination lock analogy is a bad one.

You open your 20-layer combination lock to 2,000,000 people per day. 2,000,000 people per day work the combination. Processing volumes like that trains your workforce to let people through, not lock people out.

The problem the terrorist has isn't picking a 20-number combination lock, it is blending in with what 2,000,000 other people do every day.

Also, several of your layers give do-overs: Carrying a prohibited liquid gets a confiscation and a pass. No ID gets you secondary screening. If the terrorist can set foot on an airplane at least once before they try their their mission, they've got the ID, no-fly, CBP, JTTF, and local law enforcement numbers picked.

It might be nice salesmanship to think of it as a 20-layer combination lock, but the layers don't all overlap, (so you don't every have all 20 layers working together) and any combination you have to give out to 2,000,000 people per day can't be very secure.

If someone was dumb enough to try 9/11 over again, would TSA's 20-layer combination lock prevent it?

And Chance: the objection to including things like the passengers in your 20 layers of TSA security is that TSA isn't responsible for them. Like the fences we had around airports long before TSA, or the hardened cockpit doors that also pre-date TSA, those layers work independently of TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Savings us from dangerous body jewelry. Which layer of security did this involve?
 

Submitted by Anonymous on

Even though I have sent a few spears your way I do have a question that I feel would be of interest to all travelers.

On any given day the risk of an attempted highjacking or other such undesired event must be extremely low, much less than 1% chance I would quess. Probably about the same odds of an aircraft accident from any other possible cause.

From a risk analysis viewpoint how much effort spent on clearing passengers is overkill?

We know there is always a chance of an aircraft crash caused by mechanical failure, pilot error, weather or air traffic control failure yet we do not ground the aircraft and stop flying.

TSA employs some 40,000 plus people to stop a 1 in a million event that may never happen. I would expect a crash from any of the other possible causes to happen before another event such as 9/11 ever takes place. I think your cost to benefit ratio needs some outside scrutiny.

Passengers know there is some slight risk of an aircraft going down yet they continue to fly. TSA has a function but has gone well overboard of the real threat risk.

Would TSA care to comment?

Submitted by Anonymous on
TSA employs some 40,000 plus people to stop a 1 in a million event that may never happen. I would expect a crash from any of the other possible causes to happen before another event such as 9/11 ever takes place. I think your cost to benefit ratio needs some outside scrutiny.

If you're going to do a cost-benefit analysis, you'll have to factor in the unfortunate fact that the TSA's efforts to stop an extremely rare (but potentially devastating) threat actually increase passengers' risk for the much more common threat of theft.

TSA procedures require checked bags to be unlocked, and inspectors too often remove even "approved" locks, facilitating theft by rogue TSA inspectors and by subsequent baggage handlers. Procedures at checkpoints require passengers to separate their belongings into several bins, and then separate themselves from those belongings. Passengers are continually distracted while being screened (and repeatedly asked to show boarding passes), and particularly during the chaotic, pressured exit from the checkpoint as they frantically gather their separated belongings and put on their shoes.

All those distractions make easy targets for thieves. But the TSA is so focused on enforcing (and "interpreting") all those rules about shoes and liquids in an effort to spot the 1-in-a-million threat to aviation (and it's probably more like one in a billion) that they're completely oblivious to the risk to passengers that they're creating.

What the TSA seems to forget is that "Security" (their middle name) actually means ensuring that passengers and their belongings safely arrive at their destinations. Terrorism is a "glamorous" but rare threat to passenger security. Theft is a very unglamorous but regrettably common threat to passenger security. A "security" system that focuses exclusively on the "glamorous" but very rare threat of terrorism while increasing the risk of the "unglamorous" but common threat of theft is no "security" at all. That's possibly the largest of the many flaws in the TSA's approach.

No matter how many impressive layers the bureaucracy can cram onto a busy PowerPoint slide, they're worthless if they actually encourage common threats to passenger security. If the TSA is going to brag their fancy Behavior Detection Officers hauling in drug criminals and bearers of fake identification, they should at least expand their lookouts to thieves who actually do threaten passengers.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Yes, it will be very interesting to see the response to the latest PR fiasco on this blog. I'll bet someone is hard at work right now writing a post that will spin the nipple-piercing incident as proof of the TSA's effectiveness! After all, someone who pierces her nipples has to be suspicious and merits thorough investigation.

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