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Tuesday, November 04, 2008
hello my name is

It is with great pleasure that I begin my first official blog post at the TSA. I arrived at HQ last week with aspirations common to most recent college graduates. Pumped full of “unique” ideas that could potentially change the entire world, I decided to start with the TSA. My plan was simple and straight forward. I just needed someone in a position of authority to lend me their ear.

While my “unique” ideas are certain to be called into question from time to time, as a recent college graduate, my writing will attempt to synthesize an outsider’s perspective with insider knowledge. Having monitored the ongoing debate between TSA authorities and the public, I’ve discovered that both sides are (believe it or not) in agreement more often than they realize.

Since I don’t have the frontline experience like my colleague Bob, I’ll be spending the next few weeks meeting people here at TSA, spending time at local airports, and monitoring the blogosphere to see what other folks are talking about to come up with blog topics to cover.

Since I’ve come on board, I’ve spent some time at Baltimore Washington International Airport’s Southwest Airlines’ Terminal B learning about Checkpoint Evolution [link ]. Like many travelers, the first thing I noticed was a wall of holograms and a faint blue glow from the lights lining the perimeter. As I wound my way through the line, I was greeted every so often by portraits of security officers (sometimes out of uniform) with brief bios below their pictures. Clearly, the intent behind these signs is to remind us that Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are people just like the rest of us, and dedicated to their security mission. It was interesting to see that some are veterans or former law enforcement officers.

So here’s the overarching theory: when the checkpoint environment is calm and the majority of passengers lined up at a security checkpoint are relaxed (or as relaxed as anyone can reasonably be when trying to catch a flight), a suspicious person will oftentimes stand out in stark contrast from the rest of the crowd. Also, encouraging clear communication between security officers and passengers helps passengers understand the “why” behind the rules, and facilitates the flow of traffic through the security checkpoint.




Sure, lights and signs are nice, but they are not in and of themselves the main focus of Checkpoint Evolution. Aside from targeted technological improvements—such as Whole Body Imaging, advanced technology X-ray machines, and inter-officer communication via ear-piece—the greatest benefits to security and passengers’ experience come from one thing in particular: enhanced training. TSA officers I met at BWI have completed a 16-hour training course (although training is ongoing) that focuses on explosives detection, intelligence analysis, and techniques for improved passenger engagement, with the ultimate goal being threat detection. This training will be given to every frontline employee, and has already started in some airports.

I asked the BWI officers what they thought of Checkpoint Evolution and the response was very positive. “It has made our job a lot easier,” said one of the officers. “Striking up a casual conversation with passengers allows us to get a better feel for the situation—not to mention that it makes our day more pleasant.”

Next, I hope to attend some of the training sessions to see what they’re like and get more feedback. I’ll report on that later.

Now for the all important question: What do passengers think? I haven’t had the chance to chat with any Checkpoint Evolution veterans just yet, but if you’ve been through BWI’s Southwest Airlines’ Terminal B, let us know what you think by posting comments.

Tags: 

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am really tired of warm and fuzzy "checkpoint evolution" stories in BWI.

Submitted by Phil on

Paul, there is only one official blog at TSA. This is your first blog post -- not your first blog -- at TSA.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Disclaimer: I've not been through a Checkpoint Evolution checkpoint, so I won't attempt to answer your question directly.

But since you're trying to "bridge the gap" between blogosphere and TSA ... there's at least one element of TSA's rhetoric on this topic which could be clearer.

You wrote:

So here’s the overarching theory: when the checkpoint environment is calm and the majority of passengers lined up at a security checkpoint are relaxed (or as relaxed as anyone can reasonably be when trying to catch a flight), a suspicious person will oftentimes stand out in stark contrast from the rest of the crowd.

One point which is often made in response is the following: airline travel is stressful for many people, independent of the security experience. I am assuming that the type of stress symptoms associated with fear of flying, or from the general disorientation of being in an unfamiliar place, are quite different from the stress symptoms associated with malicious intent. Is that, in fact, the case?

Otherwise, the message from TSA could be oversimplified as "Only terrorists are stressed out by checkpoints." Passengers would like to know that those observing us and looking for suspicious behavior can tell the difference between someone trying to cause problems and someone who's just had a lot of problems themselves that day.

Submitted by Paul on

Phil, nice catch.

Submitted by Paul on

Hi Jim,
Short answer: Yes, there is a difference between stress symptoms associated with malicious intent and stress symptoms stemming from other sources.

If you want a little more background on the subject, check out this link: http://webblog.abc7news.com/2008/05/tsa-behavior-de.html

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nice intro Paul.
What is your role at TSA?
Do you have any type of Security experience?
Thanks.

Submitted by Tomas on

Welcome to the Zoo, Paul!

Looking at the blog exchanges so far with an "outsider's viewpoint," I'm sure you recognize that a lot of the seeming animosity between the "The Public" and "The TSA" on this blog is due to the public's questions and suggestions being essentially ignored.

There are valid questions presented here that have gone not only unanswered, but unacknowledged for months. Some of the folks here have taken it upon themselves to repeat those same questions at every opportunity in the hope that at some point the folks on the TSA side of the line will step up and offer a valid response.

With the TSA's repeated insistence that this blog should be a "dialogue" between the public and the folks who work for them, one would expect a lot more responsiveness from the TSA...

Quite seriously you might be able to make researching and responding to questions from the public into a retirement job - there certainly are enough unanswered questions.

Perhaps once you have a grounding in TSA functions and background you can become the person who goes back to the beginning, researching and responding to legitimate questions and suggestions from the public. I can think of no better way to thoroughly learn and understand the PR job. :o)

Good luck,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

P.S. In fact, going back to the beginning would even explain my signature. :^D

Submitted by Paul on

Anonymous,
My primary role here at the TSA is to help Blogger Bob with the TSA blog. I'll be writing 1-2 posts per week.

Nope, not really any security experience since I'm straight out of college, but I'm learning fast. In a way, you could consider that a good thing since I can get an objective look at everything.

Submitted by Paul on

Hi Tomas,
Point taken about those who continually post the same question over and over due to a lack of response on our end. But that's part of the reason why I'm here.

When it was just Bob, it got a bit overwhelming, so hopefully I'll be able to give him some relief.

I'd love to go back to the beginning and take a look at some of those questions after I get grounded here. In fact, I might try to tackle some unanswered questions in a future blog post.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I'd love to go back to the beginning and take a look at some of those questions after I get grounded here."

Oh, I wouldn't worry.

They will come up again.

My congratulations (or condolences) on your new position.

BTW, what was your major?

Submitted by Phil on

Paul, where has TSA published a list of all the rules and regulations that TSA will subject someone to if that person wishes to cross a U.S. Government checkpoint at an airport en route to the gate from which his domestic flight will depart, not including laws that the person is required to abide by outside of the airport checkpoint (i.e., just those rules and regulations that apply specifically at the checkpoint). Please provide a URL or name of the government publication.

Note that I'm not asking for tips for travelers, suggestions on how to pack our bags, hints, clues, guidelines, or press releases. I'm not asking to see TSA's super-secret procedures (those that thousands of lowest-level-of-TSA airport security guards who turn over at a rate of somewhere around 25% per year, are allowed to see), not the entire TSA "guidelines for travelers" page, the entire TSA Web site (filled, as noted here and acknowledged by EoS staff with inconsistencies and inaccuracies), the entire U.S. Government Web, or the whole Internet -- just a list of the rules TSA imposes on travelers at a U.S. Government airport checkpoint.

Could you track that down for your readers? We've been asking for it here on your blog for well over six months, and it's simply inexcusable that we even need to ask. Until TSA provides this information, we're all just guessing at whether we're in compliance with the rules, so basically, TSA's luggage inspectors can stop any of us for any reason, or no reason at all. That's not the America that many of us thought we lived in.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Welcome Paul... I'm just glad that bob's new announcement was not election related.

Have not been through BWI. I believe my local airport(SMF) has some of the evolution stuff from the website. I've noticed just today that they have a family lane and the TSA personnel seem to be much nicer then past experiences.

In short... I like what I have seen.

PS I know some of these people are ruff around the edge's but there is a lot of good idea's floating around the blog... just don't take anything to personel around here(like bob).
Submitted by Anonymous on

Paul said...
Anonymous,
My primary role here at the TSA is to help Blogger Bob with the TSA blog. I'll be writing 1-2 posts per week.

Nope, not really any security experience since I'm straight out of college, but I'm learning fast. In a way, you could consider that a good thing since I can get an objective look at everything.

November 4, 2008 1:58 PM


I asked the questions you responded to. Thanks!

I'm not being snarky but without any background in Security how can you possbily address issues that are brought up here not having any degree of first hand knowledge?

You didn't state what your degree is in but I suspect it is related to the media/communications.

Many of the concerns stated here deal with the illusion of security, how people and their possessions are treated while in the hands of TSA/airlines and how anyone can expect travelers to comply with the TSA's secret rules.

I do hope for more answers from TSA which have been badly missing so far

Submitted by Anonymous on
I asked the BWI officers what they thought of Checkpoint Evolution and the response was very positive. “It has made our job a lot easier,” said one of the officers. “Striking up a casual conversation with passengers allows us to get a better feel for the situation—not to mention that it makes our day more pleasant.”


I have no desire to have any conversation, casual or otherwise, with an agent of an organization that thinks it has the right to deny me freedom of movement or subject me to harassment without due process or even consideration of probable cause.

TSA is trying to create an environment that will eventually lead to each passenger being "interviewed" about their reasons for travel and then either granted or denied permission based on the validity of that reason and TSA's internal, secret travel dossier of their past travel habits, personal associations, who they tend to sit with on flights, etc.

Creating such dossiers is the only logical reason why TSA would be trying to collect flight itinerary information with Secure Flight; if it were really just about matching names to watch list, they would stick to collecting names and not require the airlines to re-transmit information and re-request travel permission each time a flight or schedule changes.

The combination of Secure Flight, TDCs with mandatory ID requirements, and BDOs will give TSA the infrastructure needed to implement random and arbitrary determinations of travel-worthiness.

To the TSOs: it is none of your business why I am traveling, where I am traveling, or whom I am travleing with or to. If you want me to see you as human beings, stop acting like power-tripping Stasi thugs with your papers-please checks, war-on-water, war-on-shoes, virtual strip machines, and secret blacklist with neither due process nor effective means of redress. Until then, you will just be Stasi thugs.

And don't tell me that you individually can't do anything about it. Fellow TSOs could have pressured the screener who made the woman strip off her bra to expose her nipple ring. Fellow TSOs could have pressured the screeners who confiscated/stole a custom battery pack even after acknowledging it wasn't a threat. Fellow TSOs could have stopped the numerous reported cases of disabled people being made to drop their pants, stand on injured limbs, etc. You all bear responsibility for these incidents. And history will judge you for them.
Submitted by Paul on

This comment has been removed by the author.

Submitted by John Mc on

Hey Paul,

You said "when the checkpoint environment is calm and the majority of passengers lined up at a security checkpoint are relaxed".

I think this extends to all facets of a checkpoint. Do signs read as helpful or read as ordered? Does the checkpoint have room or do it's job, or is it cramped into whatever space is available. Are the TSA people like walmart greeters or like cops who have pulled you over for speeding.

While pure aesthetics can help people relax, the whole picture needs to also be looked at. (Bad TSA experiences left for another day :-)

Best of luck in the new venture

- J

Submitted by Paul on

Hi Phil,
In response to your post at 2:19pm:

Maybe it'll help if I break it down like this.

There are rules and regulations that exist which every passenger will definitely go through when traveling through a security checkpoint. Let’s call this the “Definite List.”

There also exists a set of “rules”/guidelines that are purely situational.

The one aspect of security that exists outside these two categories is the random screening process. This is neither definite, nor based on the particular situation. It's...well...random.

Now, first question, does a “Definite List” exist? Not in one place, so I guess that would be a no. But all the definite rules are out there on the TSA website. I'll try and compile them together in one place/page at some point when I have some free time.

Does a situational list exist? To some extent--meaning TSOs and BDOs are trained to deal with certain situations, but this "list" is by no means an exhaustive. That's just because any number of hypothetical situations could arise, so publishing a list saying "This is what we'll react to" wouldn't really make sense.

Hope that answers your question. If I take too long putting together that Definite List, shoot me another comment, and I'll give you an update.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Now, first question, does a “Definite List” exist? Not in one place, so I guess that would be a no. But all the definite rules are out there on the TSA website. I'll try and compile them together in one place/page at some point when I have some free time.
..........................
Would these webpages include the ones that still state 3 oz as the limit instead of 3.4oz?

Would these webpages be the ones referenced by TSO NY who said that if a medicine did not have a perscription it did not go?

Would these webpages be the ones that prepared the lady who had leg injuries being forced to stand and break her ankles?

Can of Worms now opened! Enjoy!!

Submitted by Paul on

Anonymous at 2:31pm

I have a degree in Government with a focus on Economics.

Fully agree that first-hand knowledge is important, which is why I'll be shadowing TSA officers in the coming weeks. Granted, it's not the same as actually doing their job, but at least I can get a little more experience that way.

Also, I have Blogger Bob right here to answer all of my questions, so he's a great resource. Not to mention the fact that I can read most documents within the TSA organization if I don't readily know the answer to a question.

Submitted by Tomas on

Already after you, aren't we, Paul? :o)

Paul wrote in repsonse to Phil...
Now, first question, does a Definite List exist? Not in one place, so I guess that would be a no. But all the definite rules are out there on the TSA website. I'll try and compile them together in one place/page at some point when I have some free time.

While you are doing that, you might want to verify that the information on the TSA website is actually correct, also.

For example, the liquid container acceptable size was changed from 3.0 ounces to 3.4 ounces (100ml) in 2006, but the old information is still on the site in multiple places and needs to be corrected.

There are other errors and omissions on the site in re rules we must follow, and combined those make us very distrustful of the information being provided to us officially...

Good luck!
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Submitted by Paul on

In response to Anonymous at 2:33pm

I knew I would get a response about the whole "casual conversation" part.

Here's the thing. If you don't want to talk to a TSA officer, tell them you don't feel like talking, or that you're busy. They are trained well enough to know that that alone isn't necessarily a red flag. There are plenty of other indicators.

On another note, a TSA officer's thought process oftentimes isn't: "I need to engage this passenger to see if he/she's a terrorist." It's more like, "I wonder how that guy/girl is doing." [Something weird happens] "Maybe I should keep talking to this guy/girl."

If nothing weird happens, it's just a pleasant conversation, not an interview.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Paul, you may just have accepted the hardest job on the planet. Good luck.

Here is my unanswered question: Why is the TSA investing in full body image technology, that cannot pick up explosives hidden in body cavities, and has to be kept optional due to its invasive character? Why not invest heavily in traces scanners?

Submitted by Anonymous on


On another note, a TSA officer's thought process oftentimes isn't: "I need to engage this passenger to see if he/she's a terrorist." It's more like, "I wonder how that guy/girl is doing." [Something weird happens] "Maybe I should keep talking to this guy/girl."

If nothing weird happens, it's just a pleasant conversation, not an interview.


And if something weird happens, or the TSO perceives or assumes something weird happened, it is evidence that will be used against the passenger to issue a civil fine for a trumped-up "non-physical interference with screening" charge, which can only be contested in a far-off kangaroo Coast-Guard Court.

Interesting that you don't deny that TSA is building up to creating travel dossiers and using interviews to determine travel-worthiness.

--2:33 p.m. Anonymous (maybe I'll keep that name :) )
Submitted by Anonymous on

Paul, can you point us to an independent (non-TSA), peer-reviewed study that justifies any of TSA's liquid policies?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"If you don't want to talk to a TSA officer, tell them you don't feel like talking, or that you're busy. They are trained well enough to know that that alone isn't necessarily a red flag."

That's not true. TSOs are poorly trained and generally unprofessional. I will not speak to a TSO, period, because TSOs get up each morning, put on a phony badge, and do al Qaeda's work for them by terrorizing innocent American citizens.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Paul, here's another many times asked, yet unanswered question - How exactly did you get this position? I work for TSA yet did not see this position adverstised on the official job site.
Why are we not afforded the same chance at this position as you?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous on 4 November said:
Paul, you may just have accepted the hardest job on the planet. Good luck.

I don't know if the job Paul has accepted is the hardest or second hardest job on the planet, but I second the 'Good Luck' sentiment.
He's definitely walking into a firestorm.

Still have not heard back on when the TSA will comply with the 9/11 Commission Report requirements on cargo screening.

Submitted by Phil on

Paul, in order to assist you with finding questions about TSA to answer, I created tsafaq.net. It's a wiki, so anyone can edit it. Initially, we'll just start slapping questions on the front page. Later, I or others can go back and reorganize.

Jim Huggins, Ayn R. Key, Tomas, Trollkiller, Sandra, Dean, Robert Johnson, Bob Eucher, and anyone else who is interested in participating: have at it.

Submitted by Tso Rachel on

I am so excited to see another blogger on the scene!

Submitted by Anonymous on

So,please be the first TSA blogger to explain the ban on tiny inch-and-a-half pocket knives when 4' sharp pointed scissors and metal knitting needles are allowed. And please don't just say knives are banned and "a knife is a kife is a knife."

Submitted by Mr Gel-pack on

Paul @ "The one aspect of security that exists outside these two categories is the random screening process. This is neither definite, nor based on the particular situation. It's...well...random."

How about the other random parts that result from inept training, poor documentation for both your employees and the public, and bad management? Is that a bug or a feature? For example, the wrongly confiscated gel-pack that was supposed to keep 13 oz of my wife's breast milk from spoiling.

As an economics major, can you speak to the costs of TSA and how they compare to the benefits? Would, as some people think, society be better off if the the 2,800,000 person hours per day that we spend on TSA was spent on knocking a few percent off of the 40,000 annual traffic fatalities rather than partially screening for a 1 in a billion dumb terrorist?

Submitted by Miller on

Heres some questions:

As a traveler how do I secure my luggage against TSO thieves? TSA approved locks are junk.

When an item goes missing the airlines points at TSA while TSA points at the airlines. Where is shared responsibility for lost/damaged items?

Those aircraft damaged by an employee of DHS/TSA who paid for the repairs?

Abusive TSOs. What is TSA doing about removing them from contact with the flying public?

Elderly/handicapped abuse by TSOs. Why is it still happening? Why hasn't this been corrected?

Submitted by George on

Welcome aboard, Paul.

That said, I feel very sorry for you. Perhaps your bosses thought you could offer a valuable "outsider" perspective to benefit whatever they consider the actual purpose of this blog. But bringing in a recent college graduate (who can't possibly be expected to know anything) to represent the TSA merely re-confirms the impression many of us have that your bosses are completely disconnected from the public. It's just another one of their many failures, though a minor one because it has nothing to do with "security." Regardless, just remember that you're not to blame for any of it.

A major problem with this blog is that, as others have noted, important, relevant, and substantive questions get asked repeatedly because they're never answered. Yes, we get a rehash of the Official Party Line from Kip whenever something in the media is embarrassing enough to merit diversion from his much more important (and much more secret) normal duties. In between we get Official Propaganda about how effective the TSA is, and how they're improving the "screening experience" with virtual strip search machines and mood lighting (and now "casual conversation"). But amidst all the Official distraction, we can't avoid noticing that none of our questions ever get answered (or if they do, the non-answer is some variant of "it's classified SSI that would aid the enemy").

So how do your bosses choose to address that persistent deficiency? They bring in a new college graduate, who has as little authority to provide definitive answers to our questions as the janitor who cleans the Homeland Security headquarters building. Intentionally or otherwise, the message is "We're not going to answer. We're going to find new ways to bamboozle you."

I do have to give your bosses credit for (apparently) recognizing that the TSA has a severe public relations and credibility problem. It's inherent to the way the TSA operates, in large part because it's part of a (thankfully soon-to-depart) administration that has nothing but contempt for civil liberties, the rule of law, and most likely anyone who isn't a "loyal Bushie." Americans are free people, despite eight years of the administration doing everything they can to change that. And we resent intrusions into our lives by government officials. Especially when it involves arbitrary and seemingly nonsensical rules and restrictions, administered in the capricious, heavy-handed, inept, and often contemptuous fashion we too often experience at checkpoints.

Immediately after 9/11, fear was sufficient to overcome our resistance to government intrusion and to make us ignore (or at least not talk about) the absurdities we endured at airports while the TSA was being set up. But now that the fear has been appropriately replaced with the "new normal," we feel we can open our eyes and question what is plainly (and disturbingly) apparent. But when the TSA (and their Homeland Security bosses) respond to every question or criticism with with "it's all necessary based on secret intelligence, so you'll have to trust us," that will only increase the skepticism and resentment. Spin, condescension, and outright lies (such as Bob's claims that the virtual strip searches are so innocuous that children could view them) only make things worse. But that's just what we've gotten from the TSA on this blog. If this blog was actually meant to improve the TSA's standing and credibility with the public, by any measure it has been a failure.

So that's what you're dealing with here, Paul. But it's important to remember we question, criticize, and express our frustration with the TSA because we genuinely care about our country. And because we share the same goal as the TSA supposedly does, to keep our flights safe from the terrorist threat. We want to cooperate with the TSA in that goal. And we'd be more than willing to whatever your bosses decide is necessary to further that goal. But only if we have reason to believe that it's genuinely necessary and effective, and not merely intrusive hassle for the sake of "security theater" that promotes the growth of a costly bureaucracy. "It's secret, so trust us" definitely won't do that, especially if your bosses don't understand that condescension and arrogance only makes your mission more difficulty.

I don't know what you can do to help fix that problem. Perhaps you'll be able to make things better under a new administration that has more respect for civil liberties, the rule of law, and the general public than the current administration does. You've got your work (whatever that is) cut out for you, convincing an increasingly skeptical traveling public that the TSA is an effective organization that earns our trust.

Submitted by Gunner on

Oh great, the system is totally broken, TSA is out of control, and now we get lectured at by a NCG (new college graduate) who extolls the virtues of checkpoint kumbayah, but probably doesn't know which end of the airplane points down the runway.

This blog is broken beyond repair.

Submitted by Trollkiller on

Paul welcome to the club. You need a handle so we can differentiate you from regular folks. Blogger Bob puts;
Bob
EoS Blog Team
at the bottom of his posts, I suggest you do something similar.

I will work on your handle but for now I will just call you Not Bob.

Not Bob said...

Since I don’t have the frontline experience like my colleague Bob, I’ll be spending the next few weeks meeting people here at TSA, spending time at local airports, and monitoring the blogosphere to see what other folks are talking about to come up with blog topics to cover.

When you see Francine Kerner tell her Trollkiller said "hi" and he is still waiting on a proper response from his DHS OIG complaint that was forwarded to her office on Tuesday, September 9, 2008. The control number is HL08-0526. Tell her if it does not arrive soon I will be forced to file a FOIA request and pursue the issue further.

When you see Kip, tell him Trollkiller said "hey". Ask him if he can fix the forced ID verification as he is leaving. He will know what you are talking about. (Don't worry he is not as scary as he is made out to be)

If you want to make a good impression on Blogger Bob you need to buy him an ugly tie. He loves those.

My suggestion is this weekend, grab some refreshments and start reading the archives. It will take a while so start early and retire late. It will be a tough read but it will make you understand the group of stalwarts that inhabit this corner of cyberspace. Besides it will keep you off or Reddit and Fark.

I will try to let you get your feet wet before tossing you an anvil but I can’t promise.

Submitted by Paul on

Anonymous on November 4, 2008 3:52 PM

Just wanted to clarify a couple of things. TSA Officers are not conducting interviews and they are not creating travel dossiers.

Keep in mind, just because I don't specifically address the issues raised in your previous comment (i.e. interviews and travel dossiers), isn't evidence that these issues exist.

Thanks for the comment.

Submitted by MarkVII on

Hello, Paul, and welcome to the blog.

As you've uncountably noticed, there's a sense of frustration here about unanswered questions, lack of response to suggestions, and recurring problems.

I think it would be a worthwhile exercise to go back through the blog archives and catalog the various problems reported and also suggestions offered. It would also we worthwhile to note how many times each item appeared one the blog and if/how the item was dealt with in the blog.

Time consuming? Undoubtedly! But to win the hearts and minds of the flying public is going to require dealing with a significant majority of the issues at hand, and not just a selected few.

For example, I'm still waiting for some indication that the checkpoint personnel are being held accountable for how they treat the passengers.

Once again, welcome. I am glad to see a full time blogger, as the part time scheme being used before led to some long gaps in comments being approved.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Paul, how much exposure have you had at the nations airports as a traveler? Once a week, once a month, rarely?

Since your new to the world of TSA I'm wondering how many times you traversed a TSA checkpoint and how your experience went.

Just trying to get a handle on what you do know and what you do not know. Seems the "do not know" has the larger base at this point.

Submitted by Paul on

Anonymous on November 4, 2008 4:03 PM

I did a quick search online and didn't come up with anything. I'm assuming that any half-decent independent review of the effectiveness of the TSA's liquid policies would have to go in-depth into the technological aspects of the machinery we use, so that's probably why we (meaning me and you) won't be able to find anything in the public sphere.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I have a degree in Government"

Cool!



...which Government?

Submitted by Txrus on

Paul,

I will add my welcome to the others previously posted & sincerely hope you stick around longer than Bob's previous blogger help. However, based on many of your responses so far, I am guessing that you not only don't have any security experience (don't worry, neither do many of your colleagues, sadly), but it seems like you don't have much first hand experience w/the TSA as a traveler nor have you spent much time reading even this blog, never mind other sites such as FlyerTalk. If you are serious about providing help to Bob, & the traveling public who foots the bill for TSA's security theater, of which you are now a part, I would strongly recommend you spend some quality time on both this blog & Flyertalk, in the Travel Safety & Security Forum specifically, before you start passing out platitudes-not only will you not make any friends by doing so, you will very quickly earn yourself a reputation of nothing more than a TSA PR puppet; we've had more than enough of that, thank you. Your comment re: a 'suspicious person' standing out from the 'innocent' travelers is so inane I don't even know where to start on that, but fortunately, others have, multiple times & multiple ways, some even in this very thread.

W/re: to the TSA website, if you go trolling thru that, keep an eye peeled for statements claiming it is 'illegal' to carry more than $10K in cash & make them go away, preferably for good. Or, please provide the statute in US law that prohibits this & I don't mean the fact that a person transporting an excess of $10K into/out of the US must declare it to US Customs (for the record, the TSA is not Customs, in case Bob hadn't gotten to that part of your orientation yet). Making a declaration to a US gov't agency is NOT the same as it being 'illegal' to carry something.

Your blog is filled with many, many more such examples of & quite frankly, there are much better uses of your time than starting yet another discussion on Kip's new decorating scheme (especially since there is already a lengthy thread on it & Bob frowns on off topic posts).

In short, you will find most of the people who post here, especially those who post on a regular basis, have much more experience w/your employer than you do & know it better than you will even after shadowing a few screeners @ BWI. Pay attention to what you are told & you will learn.

BTW-I had the misfortune of having to transit TSA's Ski Slopes @ BNA x2 in October alone. There are something like 6 lines feeding into 2 ID checkers, most of them Blue & Green. After that there is only 1 Black lane, the rest blue & green. All of this, however, is completely nullified by the screener standing there telling each passenger to 'Pick the shortest line & you're good to go' (not that human nature wouldn't have already dictated that anyway). Based on my experience, the only good thing to come out of Kip's evolution is the 'recomposition' area (also known as a bench or seat) after the WTMD, but in my opinion, that's not an evolution, it's just common sense that if the TSA is going to continue the shoe carnival, there needs to be somewhere for the traveling public to re-shoe themselves (especially for those w/mobility issues like Tom, 1 of 5 or 6). However, one thing those of us who travel frequently know is that common sense is not something the TSA has any expertise in.

Submitted by Dave on

"Striking up a conversation with a passenger"

Don't try that with me. I refuse to talk to your agency. I might once you start having some respect for your customers and respecting OUR rights.

Say hi to Kip on his way out the door in January.

Submitted by Anonymous on

When is Kip's going away party?

Wanted to be sure to send a note of thanks!

Submitted by Trollkiller on

Dear Paul Not Bob,

It has been a while since one of my posts got sent to the shredder. Hmm let me review.
Followed on topic rules? Check.
No personal attacks? Check.
No racial, ethnic, or vulgar language? Check.
No spam? Check.

The only thing I can see is I told you to pass a message to Francine about my DHS OIG complaint. That complaint is common knowledge on this blog.

While I will agree that Francine is a Federal Civil Service employee, the rule banning mentioning them by name was set up, and you can check with Blogger Bob, to prevent unsubstantiated accusations against TSOs and other Federal employees.

It is a good rule because we don't need character assassinations against people that are not here to defend themselves.

Please go review my first post in light of the proper interpenetration of the rules. If you are unable to retrieve it let me know and I will repost it.

Thanks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Now, I might just be old-fashioned, but ever since I found out about BDOs, I have not been able to understand why the TSA thinks that a woman traveller, in a strange place (the airport), carrying valuables (a laptop, credit cards, or a significant amount of money), and trying to get to a gate before her plane leaves, would do anything except give the cold shoulder to a stranger (male or female) who tried to make small talk with her. Personally, I'd find a LEO and report that someone was harassing me, and I suspect many other women would too.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I did a quick search online and didn't come up with anything. I'm assuming that any half-decent independent review of the effectiveness of the TSA's liquid policies would have to go in-depth into the technological aspects of the machinery we use, so that's probably why we (meaning me and you) won't be able to find anything in the public sphere."

Where is the independent, peer-reviewed research that supports the notion that liquids in volume greater than 3.4 ounces could feasibly destroy an aircraft?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"TSA Officers are not conducting interviews and they are not creating travel dossiers."

Are you trying to tell us that TSOs who interrogate citizens who don't have ID aren't conducting interviews? And that TSA is not retaining records of who these people are, including when and where they travel?

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Anonymous said...
"If you don't want to talk to a TSA officer, tell them you don't feel like talking, or that you're busy. They are trained well enough to know that that alone isn't necessarily a red flag."

That's not true. TSOs are poorly trained and generally unprofessional. I will not speak to a TSO, period, because TSOs get up each morning, put on a phony badge, and do al Qaeda's work for them by terrorizing innocent American citizens.

November 4, 2008 4:26 PM
***********************************
Anon;
I'm sorry you feel that way. I do have to disagree with you though, I get up each morning with one goal in mind.....make sure no prohibited or potentially destructive items get onto any planes while I'm on duty! That's my job, that's my goal....if you feel terrorized by what I do, then I do apologize. But it would be a bigger loss to have a plane go down, then to have you inconvenienced for 5 or 10 minutes. Would anyone like to call my supervisor and lodge a complaint regarding my unprofessional behavior? ;-)

Submitted by Anonymous on

@ Anon November 4, 2008 2:33 PM "secret blacklist with neither due process nor effective means of redress.

TSA has just started Traveler Redress Inquiry Program(TRIP).

Info found here!

This is for:People who have been repeatedly identified for additional screening can file an inquiry to have erroneous information corrected in DHS systems.

TRIP website

Before, during, and after you can send us your comments and your feedback is welcome. TSA Contact Center

thank you

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