USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

Ring in the New Year, Not the Walk Through Metal Detector

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
happy new year

As 2008 closes, so does the first year of the blog. We’ve published 121 posts (not counting this one) and have had over half a million visits to our blog along with over 16,000 comments. (The hits just keep on coming)


It’s been great to read comments from all of our different personalities on the blog over the last year. While some of our readers agree with us and some agree to disagree, it’s these types of personalities all melted and mixed in a fondue pot that help make blogs a little more interesting to dip into. We’ve had the opportunity to open some eyes as to why we do the things we do. We’ve also had our eyes opened a few times.

The TSA EoS Blog Team would like to thank everybody who’s helped out with the blog this year. There are so many folks behind the scenes that you just don’t see. You’ve got the IT folks, legal, our officers and other TSA folks in various positions in the field, several HQ departments that help us with research from time to time, and of course, all of our readers and commenters.

Have fun ringing in the New Year, but if you’re traveling through an airport, please remember to divest all metal objects, or you’ll be ringing in the walkthrough metal detector. Oh, and yes… champagne is a liquid.
The Blog Team would like to wish everyone a safe and happy New Year and we’ll see you in 2009!
Thanks,
Bob

EoS Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Kellymae81 on

Phil said:but when anything else catches your eye and turns out not to be a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, go back to doing your job. Please.

I understand that we are "security" and to you that means "solely" security, but we ARE trained and told to report items "when found" not "looked for" such as drugs, child porn or anything else that may raise suspicion. So that IS our job whether you like it or not. Yes, our primary job is security, but we DO have other things that coincide with that. I want to know who you think YOU are to tell us what you think our job should be. I don't come to McDonalds and tell you how to flip your burgers!!!!

If you see a pipe, assume it is free of residue of illegal substances and intended for use with legal substances.

Again, this goes with the "if found" it must be reported. Sorry.

If you see some porn, assume that it contains people of legal age.

Again, if it is child porn, it must be reported. If it is regular porn, I don't give a crap and neither does anyone else.

If you see a pet, assume that it is licensed and has had its rabies shots.If you see an digital music player, assume that the person holding it had permission to copy the data it contains onto it. If you see some papers, assume that they are not secret plans for world domination.

Where in the world did you come up with these? I never have heard this before. Did any of them happen to you or do you like to be a drama queen?

If you see some cash, assume that it belongs to the person holding it.

Again, only huge amounts equaling over $10,000 "when found" is reported and looked into and if not traveling over borders or is declared by customs, you are free to go.

If you see someone with brown skin, assume that he has a right to be where he is. None of that is any of your business.

You need to QUIT assuming that we are racist b/c we are NOT and I will not keep defending myself on this point. You people take things WAY out of context about TSA and I have never encountered one person I work with to have this "papers please" mentality that you all "claim" we have. I'm not saying that those bad apples don't exist, but we are not all like that. We are people just like you trying to do our job despite all the disgruntled passengers we encounter (several 1000's each day I might add)<---you'd get frustrated from time to time too. Doesn't make us bad people.

Get it out of your head that we are nazi soldiers under Hitlers command b/c that is so way off base.

SDF TSO

Submitted by Anonymous on

Brilliant.. Just brilliant. Why doesn't the TSA just change their slogan to 'TSA - We do security right'. For justification of this change, the 'Friday Funny' picture speaks for itself.

How many 'gonna get a super special secondary screening for that' items can you spot?

-Boots on instead of going through the machine.
-Belt on.
-Hat.
-No verfiable identification.
-Wearing a bulky coat through the checkpoint without removing it.

Absolutely priceless. My boundless faith in the TSA has been restored.

Submitted by Kellymae81 on

Jim Huggins said: but the people who wonder if the truly constructive criticisms here on the blog actually are being used to make improvements at TSA.

I will tell you a couple things that I have seen that have been improved.

1. Got feedback program. Allows you to contact whatever airport you had an incident. I've heard not quite effective yet, but its fairly new so it's not gonna be perfect. But step in right direction.

2. Putting date, time and airport stamped notice of inspection cards in checked luggage. This was suggested by bloggers and is now in action. I think they are still working on stamping TSO's identity on there somehow, but again, its a step in right direction.

I apologize, I had more to write but got busy here (in the checked bag room) so I will share more later on what I think are all steps in the right direction. We do try to use suggestions, but not all are worth looking into and the others do take time, they dont happen overnite.

SDF TSO

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow, I was reading through this, my New Years resolution, and felt the need to reply.
Phil, you bring up a lot of valid arguments. As with any agency, government or otherwise, you have many people doing the same job in many different ways. That is the unfortunate part of having humans doing the job instead of robots. In many cases it is the best thing about it as well. You will always have 'over achievers', you will always have airports that are 'behind the curve'. We all wish it weren't so because we have had to deal with the aftermath.
Some of the rules are not our responsibility to enforce, however if in the course of doing our job we find items that may be prohibited by FAA, DEA, FBI, State or local ordinances we are required to notify our supervisor who in turn notifies the local law enforcement agency.
As for what items you can and can't carry, well sometimes there are no hard and fast rules, in an effort to allow you to take your jumbo bottle of medical cream there are some exceptions. Unfortunately every time you have an exception guess what, you have room for interpretation which leads to differences in opinions, which leads to inconsistancies, which leads to frustrations. It was much easier when you were not allowed to carry liquids....period, but was it fair?

The other entry that caught my eye.

Baggage screeners put the location, date, time, and their badge number on the "love note" they leave after searching the bag.

TSA's response -- that would make the screener the prime suspect if anything came up missing.

My comment -- if I'm flying with my luggage either unlocked or with those farcical TSA approved locks, and someone introduces a prohibited item after the bag has left my control, who is the prime suspect there? I'll give you one guess....

Funny that I am accountable for the content of my luggage, even though it is out of my control and in an insecure environment for most of the journey. However, the TSA is not accountable for the security of my belongings. Talk about having it both ways! The suggestion to strap the bags after security checks was immediately dismissed as too costly.

At our airport we do put the date/time and initials of the screener on the notice of inspection. We are also fortunate enough to have camera coverage of the screening area. When we get a phone call from a passenger about a missing item we ask if there was a notice of inspection and get the time and date and review the camera footage. In many instances this has allowed us to 'clear' the TSO of any involvement. As we have an 'in-line' baggage handling system sometimes we have received calls for items missing from the bag and are able to trace the bag and show that TSA never touched it.
What people fail to realize is that the bags leave our custody and are passed on to airline baggage handlers.

Submitted by MarkVII on

Hello Pointer --

Starting with personal attack and couching the rest of your post in a mixture of condescension and straw man argument, it's hard to know where to begin in trying to engage constructively (or whether it’s worth expending my mental energies to do so.) I'm also left wondering how closely you read the section of my post that you're responding to, even the excerpt you quoted.

Though I may be "ignorant and ungrateful" in your eyes, here goes...

RE " -- it's important to remember that there's always a good reason for everything the TSA does. Keep in mind that the TSO is always responding to the latest robust intelligence, which may justify temporary or permanent local additions to what is prohibited at that time."

The "trust me" response requires a level of credibility that the TSA has yet to earn. This is, after all, the organization that has given small children the third degree because their name appears on one of its "lists", opened a sterile feeding tube, confiscated baby formula, etc. The TSA also banned eyeglass repair kits and nail clippers for some time, and I’m hard put to think of a security risk posed by these items. Further, this blog is peppered with examples of checkpoint personnel who don’t know the TSA’s own rules, particularly with respect to what’s a valid id and procedures for medical items. Makes is really hard to believe that “everything is done for a reason”.

RE local actions as part of “unpredictability” -- the key point is whether security is increased by the local actions or do they create unnecessary hassle without improving security. First and foremost, I’m not convinced that the local rules I mentioned are a manifestation of Kip Hawley’s “unpredictability”.

The subject of "unpredictability" vs. "security through obscurity" has been discussed extensively on this blog over time, and I'm not a fan of "security through obscurity." I can see how variation in procedure can make sense, such as varying the detection threshold of the WTMD, to make it harder for the bad guys to figure out what could be successfully smuggled through it. Similarly, I could understand my personal electronics being subject to more scrutiny at some times vs. others. However, too many of the local variations have no logical connection to security, so I’m not inclined to consider the part of “unpredictability”.

Think about this one of my examples -- how does requiring 3-1-1 bottles to be labeled increase security? As I've pointed out before on this blog, I can buy labeled bottles at the store, wash them out, and refill them with anything that doesn't destroy the bottle. The presence or absence of a label is irrelevant, because it’s the contents that count. How does this labeling "requirement" increase security, and what "robust intelligence" could it relate to? Similarly, how does prohibiting a 3-1-1 bag with a metal zipper increase security, especially considering people board planes every day with metal zippers in their clothing? These sorts of logical inconsistencies undermine claims that the rules are based on robust intelligence.

RE “But you can fully control how you react to unexpected changes! You can become upset, complain, and otherwise waste the time and increase the stress levels of yourself, the TSOs, and all the passengers in line behind you.”

This strawman argument presupposes that I’ve reacted in a certain manner to checkpoint experiences. In fact, I’ve stood there silently with my hands at my side while being yelled at by checkpoint personnel, and having orders bellowed in my ear. Who’s becoming upset and increasing stress levels here? As I’ve said many times before on this blog, the checkpoint personnel need to set the example of civility.

RE “graciously and gratefully comply with the TSO's request” – it’s a lot easier to comply “graciously” when the “request” itself is made “graciously”, but that’s not what I’ve experienced.

As far as complying “gratefully”, presumably, I’m supposed to be “grateful” for the action taken based on “robust intelligence”, but as you can tell, I don’t put a lot of stock in the “robust intelligence”. The credibility gap is simply too wide.

Further, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Where’s the screener “graciousness” in making their “requests”? I’ve experienced more yelling and barked orders than ordinary civility, let alone “graciousness”.

Speaking of “gratitude”, I’d wish screeners showed a bit of gratitude for my attempts to follow the rules, as well as going beyond them to make their job easier. I put things like my razor and hair brush in ziploc bags, so that anyone searching the bag won’t get cut or poked. I put my small electronics (MP3 player and cell phone) in a Ziploc, too, to make screening easier. Never gets mentioned when I go through security and they decide to do a bag check on my electronics.

“Ignorant and ungrateful”? Call me a skeptic who still believes in the principle of a government of laws and not of men...

Submitted by Mr Gel-pack on

Bob re Annie @ "Sometimes there is a fine line between spam and a genuine post. I made the call to post it. Sure, she hyperlinks to her business, but to me, the post seemed genuine and not typical of a normal spam sandwich."

I believe Annie's story. Since TSA took our gelpack and spoiled 13 oz of my wife's breastmilk, my wife won't risk flying with breastmilk, juices, or formula, even if this TSA article seems to say it is OK.

Passengers cannot rely on TSA screeners and supervisors to know their own procedures. And the TSO's "I can prohibit anything I want" excuse makes all these reasonable sounding TSA procedures posted on tsa.gov moot.

You TSA bloggers and website-maintainers are the PR wing of our ill-conceived and ill-managed TSA Security Theatre.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Mark VII said...

Baggage screeners put the location, date, time, and their badge number on the "love note" they leave after searching the bag.

So the bags are not in TSA control after they are done with them and you want to blame the TSA for missing items. Is that fair? You just want someone to blame.

Use secret shoppers to proactively evaluate the interpersonal skills of TSA personnel.

This is a great idea! And the secret shoppers need to be in a posistion of power to correct the officers that make mistake or don't know the job. Got Feedback just puts the fault back on the passengers to get something done. It is not the passengers responsibility to correct TSA issues.

Put as much emphasis on interpersonal skills as on detecting prohibited items in both training and in ongoing evaluation of checkpoint performance.

STOP THE YELLING. Oops, excuse me, stop the yelling. Also, stop barking orders and give instructions in a normal manner.

I'm sure the secret shopper idea would in return correct this when officers do not score as high for their end of the year bonuses. It is a two for one!

Create operational definitions of "liquids, gels, or aerosols", include examples of commonly misunderstood items, and put this in the public area of the TSA website.

My definition is something that needs a container to hold its shape or something that is not solid. It works and TSA has never given me grief about my items.

What is being done about "local embellishments" to the rules, which increase hassle for the traveler, for no apparent security benefit? Examples from this blog include the requirement that one's 3-1-1 bottles be "labeled", "have a factory label", or "have to be translucent". Another example is that the 3-1-1 bag itself cannot have an actual zipper.

This is where you have those officers that just want to be hard on the public and enforce rules to the extreme. They should use a little more common sense.

Hold checkpoint personnel accountable for their knowledge and correct application of the rules

Wow the secret shopper idea with authority would work three fold!! Good cost effectiveness in this idea. So officers would be held accountable finally because the secret shopper would get this stuff first hand and the supervisor can still be in his office picking his nose instead of being on the checkpoint supervising his officers!

So what to take from my post? The secret shopper idea is a good idea just make it someone that has some authority to correct officers. Things will get done. A good cost effective way to police TSA. And make it a TSA shopper that knows their stuff... I just participated in bettering TSA but good ideas probably don't get looked at on this blog.

-James
Submitted by Anonymous on
Using women, babies, young children, the elderly and the handicapped terrorists have successfully killed and maimed over and over again.

Trollkiller said...

You may want to double check this glass of Koolaid. The use of the elderly, handicap, children and women is still so rare that when it happens it is a "shock" story.

The fact is that they have been used and this information should not be ignored or it could be detrimental to security. We don't want to creat holes, we want to fill them in!

-James
Submitted by Anonymous on

I just want to say that while there may be some truth to what Ponter posted... a lot of it just sounds like BS. Sorry I feel this way but most inconsistencies at airports is because officers don't know procedures or are afraid of enforcing something on a passenger that might blow up in their face. Unpredictablity is testing baby formula at one airport because its a new procedure and then NOT testing it at another airport. Where did the procedure go? I even saw a sign that said exemptions or something with liquids will be tested. Unpredictable? How about laziness?! How about if I was in a position of power I would fire the officer that passed that right then and there for risking the public's saftey.

Submitted by Slinky on

Looks Like Ponter has been watching too much V for Vendetta or maybe doing a little rereading of the old classics 1984 and clockwork orange.

I can assure you that what looks like incomprehensible inconsistency is actually incomprehensible inconsistency.

99% of the time they do not even understand the instructions that the out of touch elite in their organization are writing so they attempt to work with them as best as they can to make it work.
That doesn't mean it should be accepted by the poor traveler though and it doesn't mean it actually accomplishes anything.

A little less rhetoric and a little more substance may be the cure for what ails TSA.
If you are going to attempt to use 911 as an example for every right you will infringe upon then you had better use it in the context of today's realities.
Real World Today
You are not going to take over an aircraft with a set of boxcutters or even a shotgun for that matter.
The flying public does not believe you will let them live now so they will not be taken hostage in that way again.
Until the Federal Government takes responsibility for the people they are allowing to enter the country nothing you do is going to make America any safer.
Keep the guy off the plane and he blows up the line of people you have formed in the airport.
Keep the crowd out of the airport until after screening and he kills the crowd you have formed outside the airport.
Get rid of the overpaid under-utilized TSOs and put them on the borders where they belong.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Phil said...
Happy New Year, TSA staff.

When you are conducting warrantless searches of us, please, when you see something in our belongings that catches your attention, unless that item is a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, it's none of your business. If you see a pipe, assume it is free of residue of illegal substances and intended for use with legal substances. If you see some porn, assume that it contains people of legal age. If you see a pet, assume that it is licensed and has had its rabies shots. If you see some cash, assume that it belongs to the person holding it. If you see an digital music player, assume that the person holding it had permission to copy the data it contains onto it. If you see some papers, assume that they are not secret plans for world domination. If you see someone with brown skin, assume that he has a right to be where he is. None of that is any of your business.

Your bag checkers' job is to find dangerous things. When you're not doing that, leave us alone. If you see someone being mugged at the terminal, sure, offer assistance, but when anything else catches your eye and turns out not to be a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, go back to doing your job. Please.

Has TSA yet 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 only at the checkpoint)? (On November 12, 2008, Paul at TSA wrote, "Still working on the comprehensive list of regulations both definite and situational.")

--
Phil
___________________________________

Oh Phil your comments make me cringe! You must not realize how rediculous your repetitive statements sound.
I do not know how many times I have to let you people know that there is no such thing as a warrantless search at the airport. When a person submits their belongings for xray they have handed their items over knowing that their items are subject to search. There for making the decision to give TSA the option to go through their things. No warrant needed. Drop the rediculous warrant garbage, you and everyone else that brings it up all the time.
All of the things that you named are our business. Why do you think that you have such a mind to run the TSA. You are so demanding about what is and isn't their bussiness. And that is not your business.
Oh and again and again....... A list of rules and regulations. Oh my word. Give up. There is no structured list. There never will be. You can ask for one over and over and over. Really I hope you never get a list. Because you and everyone else who has asked has already gotten an answer. That answer is no. No there is not a list and No TSA will not give you a list. It is just not something that you need to have. Like I have said a hundred times before.... Go to TSA's webpage. It will give you an overview of things, other than that use your common sense. You think you are so smart. So you should be able to follow the simple rules listed on the web.

Submitted by Just Curious on

HSVTSO Dean said:
[i]
Referring to this, right? And the others like it used by just about any branch of the government these days?

...About six weeks ago or so, actually, give or take a couple. I know, I suck; I forgot to mention it. All the people flying out of HSV from Redstone Arsenal rejoice, though.

They're perfectly acceptable as sole and primary form of ID now. As with almost anything new that changes policy with the TSA, though, expect a drag period for full compliance ;) I'm told there are still airports out there who think cigarette lighters (like the throwaway Bic version) are prohibited.[/i]

Thanks for the info. I think it would have been a good story for the PR folks at TSA to have made such an announcement publicly to show that they "get it".

Not everyone has HSPD-12 badges yet here in the DC area, but federal ID is a pretty common item to have.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why is it necessary to question children at checkpoints?

There are two recent accounts on FT of children being questioned by screeners, one a three-year old.

What is the point? Are you now looking for kidnappers in addition to cash that you have determined is now contraband?

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

Curious About Policy: think of SSI as meaning "Say So Injunction." If you ask why and they claim SSI, they're pretty much saying "because we say so." Unlike a judge's injunction though, they're not necessarily temporary or appealable.

SSI is supposed to be about "sensitive security information" or as many of call it "super secret information." It's information that's supposedly so sensitive it can't be shared, but doesn't even merit a confidential classification under federal classification guidelines. It's pretty much on par with "for official use only."

TSA often uses SSI as an excuse for things it doesn't want to discuss and it's often an overabused moniker. Some information actually should be SSI and not disclosed, but TSA often goes way beyond that.

Earl

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Think about this one of my examples -- how does requiring 3-1-1 bottles to be labeled increase security?"

It does not, just as 3.4-1-1 itself does absolutely nothing to increase security. Shame on TSA and its apologists for lying and suggesting otherwise.

Submitted by Sandra on

KellyMae wrote:

"I apologize, I had more to write but got busy here (in the checked bag room)..."

Why are you posting to the blog when you are supposed to be working?

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

KellyMae81 writes:

We do try to use suggestions, but not all are worth looking into and the others do take time, they dont happen overnite.

To all TSA folks here (particularly the blog team) ... for the other suggestions that are worth looking at, a simple acknowledgement of that would be incredibly appropriate. Otherwise, it just looks like TSA is ignoring the good suggestions.

I'm not saying that you have to reveal SSI, or commit to timetables, or anything like that. Just say something like "the suggestion to do X seems worthwhile, and we're going to look at that."

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Why are you posting to the blog when you are supposed to be working?"

Perhaps a laptop just magically appeared amongst the checked baggage.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

People are still discussing the concealed "crack" pipe.

When I was newly in the Air Force, a group of airmen played a joke on base security. Fortunately we were never caught.

What we did was smoke cigarettes through a soda can. We punctured a hole in the side of an empty soda can, sprinkled tobacco over the hole, and smoked the tobacco through that hole and the drinking hole.

That is exactly the same method used by crack addicts to smoke crack.

We left the soda cans all over base, and base security was going nuts trying to find the crack smokers. The brought out the drug dogs who didn't show even the slightest interest in the soda cans.

Eventually a chemical analysis ended our little joke.

The whole point is, just as our crack pipes weren't crack pipes, if you find what looks like a cack pipe in someone's carry on or in someone's luggage, you can indeed legally assume it is free of drug residue and that it has never been used for illegal drugs. Yes, kelly, it can be legal to own a bong.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

I know I responded to this quote already, but now I have a completely different answer.

Ponter wrote:

It's important to remember that there's always a good reason for everything the TSA does.

You mean like in August 2006, when TSA agents, along with JetBlue officials, forced a man to remove his T-shirt that said "We Will Not Be Silent" in English and Arabic, before they would let him board a plane?

Well, TSA and JetBlue just admitted that they didn't have a good reason to do that ... to the tune of $240,000.

Not every TSA employee acts with good reasons. I'm more than willing to concede that the vast majority of TSA employees are acting in good faith. But without openness and accountability, every organization invites abuses of power within its ranks.

And it shouldn't take 28 months to correct an obvious wrong. (At least, when AirTran screwed up on January 1st, it only took them one day to apologize.)

It shouldn't be unpatriotic to try and make one's government better.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Anonymous TSO wrote:
So the bags are not in TSA control after they are done with them and you want to blame the TSA for missing items. Is that fair?

Since the TSA will not let us put locks on our bags to protect them during the times they are not in TSA custody ... yes.

Submitted by Kdt on

This relates to my earlier post concerning the Muslim family refused access to an AirTran flight. It appears that TSA over-reaction is a problem that is more than incidental. See the press release concerning the reported $240,000 settlement between JetBlue and TSA, on the one hand, and Raed Jarrar, on the other, after Mr. Jarrar was prevented from boarding a flight out of JFK in August 2006 until he agreed to cover his shirt, which read "We Will Not Be Silent" in English and Arabic. See http://tinyurl.com/a2l4jo

The point is that the TSA and the airlines need to remember that there are Constitutional limits to their powers. While security is important, so are these 'little' personal liberties like freedom of expression. Certainly it is difficult to direct the actions of thousands of TSA employees. The recurrence of this type of behavior after a span of two years, however, suggests that more can be done to enlighten TSA personnel as to what those limits are.

Submitted by Phil on

Kellymae81, who claims work for TSA at SDF, wrote:

"I want to know who you think YOU are to tell us what you think our job should be."

I not only think but am certain that I am a U.S. citizen and taxpayer. I am your employer.

"I don't come to McDonalds and tell you how to flip your burgers."

You probably would if you were not only paying my bill but sickened by my actions.

I have repeatedly requested that when you are doing the searches for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries that your job requires, you assume that people are innocent of all the unrelated-to-air-travel-safety crimes I listed.

It seems you do not understand that checking a pipe you dig out of someone's belongings for residue of controlled substances -- which is the only way you could be sure that the pipe was used for illegal purposes -- is no more acceptable than you interrogating people about the whether pets they wish to take on an airplane have receive vaccinations as required by law or about whether they received any permission required by law to copy data onto their digital music players. Bob at TSA has already informed us that you check into pipes when you find them. If you think that investigation is sensible, then it follows that you would find the other two actions to be sensible as well. Do you? None of these things is related to airplane security, and none is any of your business.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Phil on

Someone anonymously wrote:

"if in the course of doing our job we find items that may be prohibited by FAA, DEA, FBI, State or local ordinances we are required to notify our supervisor who in turn notifies the local law enforcement agency"

What do you mean? Everything may be prohibited by one of those agencies, and you don't have to report everything.

Note that recent comments from Bob at TSA suggest that you are also required to notify law enforcement when in the course of searching someone you find something that is not prohibited at all -- certain amounts of money.

"As for what items you can and can't carry, well sometimes there are no hard and fast rules"

Yes, particularly when it comes to the rules we must follow in order to avoid having our rights restricted by our government at an airport checkpoint. As we've repeatedly discussed on this blog, your policies specifically allow your staff to make up rules on-the-fly.


--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Phil on

MarkVII wrote:

"I can see how variation in procedure can make sense, such as varying the detection threshold of the WTMD, to make it harder for the bad guys to figure out what could be successfully smuggled through it."

I agree with most of what you wrote in your comment, but not with this part. Arbitrarily changing the bar for what is considered dangerous and what is not may make it more difficult for "bad guys" to figure out what can be carried through an airport checkpoint (not that there's any benefit to that), but it also means sometimes prohibiting things that are not dangerous and other times allowing things that are dangerous.

Why all the focus on confusing the bad guys instead of simply keeping dangerous things off of airplanes? If bad guys figure out what we consider dangerous and don't bring those things on an airplane, that's good, isn't it?

"Similarly, I could understand my personal electronics being subject to more scrutiny at some times vs. others."

Similarly, this only means that sometimes people will be hassled by their government without good reason to believe that they have done wrong and sometimes dangerous things will be allowed through without scrutiny. (Assuming, of course, that the danger posed by some device does not vary from day to day.)

Why not just tell us what is dangerous to bring on a plane and make sure that if we try to bring it anyway, someone stops us from doing so?

TSA: Why don't you just tell us specifically what it is that you want us to do so that we can do it instead of wasting our time playing your gotcha games? What is to be gained by your setting us up to fail instead of helping us succeed at not bringing dangerous items onto airplanes? Show us the rules and leave us alone when we follow them.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Phil on

Someone anonymously wrote:

"I do not know how many times I have to let you people know that there is no such thing as a warrantless search at the airport."

You are incorrect. Any search without warrant is a warrantless search. Almost all of the searches conducted by our government at our airports are performed without warrant.

"When a person submits their belongings for xray they have handed their items over knowing that their items are subject to search."

An overwhelming majority of the time, that is correct. And an overwhelming majority of the time, we do it because we have no choice in the matter. In many cases, including those which involve our consititutionally-protected right to petition our government for redress of grievances, it is simply not feasible to travel by any mode other than commercial air. That it is possible to walk, ride a horse, drive, ride a bus, or ride a train cross-country is no more relevant than the fact that it is possible to purchase a private airplane or ride a rocket. When we want to travel across the country to Washington, D.C., (or simply visit Hawaii) and maintain a job or care for a family, commercial air is essentially the only way to go, and when we do so, we are forced to submit to a search of ourselves and of our belongings. Discussions on this blog have made it clear that we are in those cases forced not only to submit to a search for dangerous items, but to a search for anything that TSA decides that it wants to refer to law enforcement.

TSA endangers the freedom of all Americans. They subject us to secret laws. They force us to ask for and receive permission from our government before traveling within our own country via what is in many cases the only practical means of doing so, and then force us to submit to a search of our belongings for anything that they find "suspicious". They restrict who may travel and to what degree we may travel without harassment based on blacklists. TSA uses the threat of violence to keep us fearful and to further their agenda.


--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by CJ on

Baggage screeners put the location, date, time, and their badge number on the "love note" they leave after searching the bag.
---
So the bags are not in TSA control after they are done with them and you want to blame the TSA for missing items. Is that fair? You just want someone to blame.

=======================

Yes, it is fair. The TSA prohibits passengers from securing their bags, leaving them susceptible to theft.

Submitted by RB on

Oh and again and again....... A list of rules and regulations. Oh my word. Give up. There is no structured list. There never will be. You can ask for one over and over and over. Really I hope you never get a list. Because you and everyone else who has asked has already gotten an answer. That answer is no. No there is not a list and No TSA will not give you a list. It is just not something that you need to have.

...........................
No one has asked for a list of TSA regualtions.

All anyone has asked for is a list of rules peculiar to transitting a TSA checkpoint that a person must comply with. Nothing more!

How are we expected to be able to comply with TSA policies if we are not privy to these rules?

So it's has been asked for and will continue to be asked for until such time as TSA publishes said list.

Neither I, nor anyone else, simply cannot do what is expected of us unless TSA tells us what they want.

That would be a list of rules needed to transit a TSA Checpoint.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said:
"Oh Phil your comments make me cringe! You must not realize how rediculous your repetitive statements sound.
I do not know how many times I have to let you people know that there is no such thing as a warrantless search at the airport. When a person submits their belongings for xray they have handed their items over knowing that their items are subject to search. There for making the decision to give TSA the option to go through their things. No warrant needed. Drop the rediculous warrant garbage, you and everyone else that brings it up all the time.
All of the things that you named are our business. Why do you think that you have such a mind to run the TSA. You are so demanding about what is and isn't their bussiness. And that is not your business.
Oh and again and again....... A list of rules and regulations. Oh my word. Give up. There is no structured list. There never will be. You can ask for one over and over and over. Really I hope you never get a list. Because you and everyone else who has asked has already gotten an answer. That answer is no. No there is not a list and No TSA will not give you a list. It is just not something that you need to have. Like I have said a hundred times before.... Go to TSA's webpage. It will give you an overview of things, other than that use your common sense. You think you are so smart. So you should be able to follow the simple rules listed on the web."

Why should your petty opinion mean anything?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Quote: " Anonymous said...
Why is it necessary to question children at checkpoints?

There are two recent accounts on FT of children being questioned by screeners, one a three-year old.

What is the point? Are you now looking for kidnappers in addition to cash that you have determined is now contraband?

January 5, 2009 2:21 PM"

Actually, as a gov't agency, we do get notice of Amber Alerts. TSOs have actually aided in the recovery of several kidnapped children. I guess you think this is "none of our business" also?

Following your rhetoric, should we have let those kidnappers and children go on their way since they didn't have any of those prohibited items which is all that you would like us to be concerned with?

Submitted by Anonymous on

To Phil re Anonymous' "...Oh my word. Give up. There is no structured list. There never will be. You can ask for one over and over and over. Really I hope you never get a list. Because you and everyone else who has asked has already gotten an answer. That answer is no. No there is not a list and No TSA will not give you a list. It is just not something that you need to have. Like I have said a hundred times before.... Go to TSA's webpage. It will give you an overview of things, You think you are so smart. So you should be able to follow the simple rules listed on the web."

###########

Phil: Do not give up. Repeatedly pointing out that TSA doesn't have a coherent policy, and is proud of that fact, is an important public service.

Anonymous: Following the "simple rules listed on the web" doesn't work because they are not the rules that the TSOs apply.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sandra said...
KellyMae wrote:

"I apologize, I had more to write but got busy here (in the checked bag room)..."

Why are you posting to the blog when you are supposed to be working?
___________________________________

None of your business

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why is it necessary to question children at checkpoints?

There are two recent accounts on FT of children being questioned by screeners, one a three-year old.

What is the point? Are you now looking for kidnappers in addition to cash that you have determined is now contraband?

January 5, 2009 2:21 PM
___________________________________

Well, smart question. Not really..... A parent can hide something on a child just as they can hide something on themselves. These people who are willing to sacrafice their own lives probably don't care much about their children either.
And another thing. Of course no one thinks that there is going to be something on an elderly person or a child and that is all the more reason for someone who wants to get something through to put it on the least suspected.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Why are you posting to the blog when you are supposed to be working?"

Perhaps a laptop just magically appeared amongst the checked baggage.
___________________________________

Blog Team-

Why would you even allow nonsense like this to be posted on this blog!?

There are times where I post very good points. And they never make it on this blog. But then you let garbage like this comment through.

Submitted by Kellymae81 on

Sandra said:
Why are you posting to the blog when you are supposed to be working?

For your information, not that it really is any of your business, we have computers in each bag room to use for training, checking our work emails and any other TSA related issues when there is no bag to be checked. There are gaps when there is no flight being checked in meaning no bags coming down the belt. So I choose to utilize that time to keep up with the blog so I can try and answer questions you guys ask and that is exactly what I was doing in that particular comment of mine. I could be using your tax dollars to read the newspaper or do a puzzle like others, but I chose to blog and do what I can for you guys. Man, I must be scum!!!!!

Quit being a busy body and worrying about things that don't concern you, and maybe you can start to see things for what they are, which was me answering a question to the best of my ability even though you guys think we ignore you. We'll never please you I guess b/c you took a completely nice post and turned it into a completely irrelevant argument b/c you have nothing better to do. I'm almost tired of trying to help.

SDF TSO

Submitted by Sandra on

I see things perfectly for what they are, KellyMae - the TSA is a huge waste of resources that is doing little if anything to protect us.

Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Anonymous: "None of your business.

Actually, it's called fraud, waste and abuse and is illegal under federal law. As good citizens like TSO's, we're required to report illegal activity for LEO evaluation.

Therefore it IS our business. Just like it's "your" business why someone is carrying a pipe.

Robert
Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Anonymous: "Well, smart question. Not really..... A parent can hide something on a child just as they can hide something on themselves. These people who are willing to sacrafice their own lives probably don't care much about their children either.
And another thing. Of course no one thinks that there is going to be something on an elderly person or a child and that is all the more reason for someone who wants to get something through to put it on the least suspected."

Yeah, a 3 year old is going to admit they have a bomb.

Screen the kid for prohibited items. If they're clean let them go.

If you guys are so confident in your abilities and layers, interrogation shouldn't be required of a 3 year old.

Robert
Submitted by Anonymous on

I not only think but am certain that I am a U.S. citizen and taxpayer. I am your employer.
___________________________________

You are wrong Phil. Great your a tax payer, you are not my employer. That statement is sick, for all of you people that think that you should be in charge of the TSA because you are a tax payer. You sure are in charge, sitting behind your computer being a big bad blogger. You sure show us how much control you have, posting on this rediculous web page.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yeah, a 3 year old is going to admit they have a bomb.

Screen the kid for prohibited items. If they're clean let them go.

If you guys are so confident in your abilities and layers, interrogation shouldn't be required of a 3 year old.

Robert

January 6, 2009 8:20 PM
___________________________________

We don't interrogate 3 year olds. What are you talking about?!

Submitted by Anonymous on

What, no one could come up with a snarky argument to the post about the Amber Alert? Hmm, guess we may have a valid point after all. Could it be that the TSA actually has a point in questioning children....? Wow, silence.....

Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Anonymous: "We don't interrogate 3 year olds. What are you talking about?!"

I'm talking about this:

Nobody frightens children like the TSA

Being discussed on FT as well, with TSO's as well here.

Quote from Anonymous: "What, no one could come up with a snarky argument to the post about the Amber Alert? Hmm, guess we may have a valid point after all. Could it be that the TSA actually has a point in questioning children....? Wow, silence....."

Spamming a bit? Exact same post in another thread. Saw it was addressed there too.

Robert
Robert
Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Anonymous TSO wrote:
You are wrong Phil. Great your a tax payer, you are not my employer. That statement is sick, for all of you people that think that you should be in charge of the TSA because you are a tax payer.

What is sick is a TSO who does not see the taxpayer as the employer of the TSO.

If we aren't your employer, who is?

Submitted by Anonymous on

To Anonyymous "
We don't interrogate 3 year olds. What are you talking about?!"

There was a long post back in February 2008 on "The Truth Behind the Title: Behavior Detection Officer" about a guy travelling with his 8 year old daughter who, after the TSO scared the kid into silence, was advised to by a TSO to carry a "letter from her mother the next time we travel alone."

TSA interrogated kids then, and still continues to do so. With your 45,000 uniformed officers processing 2,000,000 passengers per day, there's plenty of opportunity for "bad apples" to do lots of power-tripping.

Submitted by Phil on

Someone anonymously wrote:

"A list of rules and regulations [that TSA requires people to follow in order to avoid having their freedom of movement restricted by TSA]. Oh my word. Give up. There is no structured list. There never will be. You can ask for one over and over and over. Really I hope you never get a list. Because you and everyone else who has asked has already gotten an answer. That answer is no. No there is not a list and No TSA will not give you a list."

Actually, on November 12, 2008, in the "Family/Special Needs Lanes Coming to All Airports in Time for Thanksgiving Travel" post, Paul at TSA wrote that he was working on just such a list. It seems that you are mistaken.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Vincent on

We don't need improvements to the TSA we need to abolish it. This is a destructive government agency which is helping to sink us even further into the bottomless pit of debt that we are already too deep to get out of. This agency puts on the charade of security but the only real security to prevent another 911 was locked cockpit doors and alert passengers. No plane will ever be hijacked again because passengers will not allow it! It makes more sense to be afraid of lightning, or sharks, or aliens even than a terrorist statically. This is a fraud and a sham and each TSA employee should hang their head in shame for harassing even one person and interfering in the running of a business on the free market. This is disgusting, when will Americans here in the USSA figure out what is going on and call it what it is? I don't want this crap on my airline, how come I can't pay to fly on one that doesn't have this? That would be an American solution, all the skirts could fly "safe" airlines if they like and then we could look at the statistics and see that this charade makes us no more safe than an airline could by it's own actions. That is fact. The government has never been good at anything but war and welfare, and it's not good at those either.

Submitted by TSA TSO on

Quote:
" Anonymous said...
"Why are you posting to the blog when you are supposed to be working?"

Perhaps a laptop just magically appeared amongst the checked baggage.
___________________________________

Blog Team-

Why would you even allow nonsense like this to be posted on this blog!?

There are times where I post very good points. And they never make it on this blog. But then you let garbage like this comment through.

January 6, 2009 1:17 PM"

Because the bloggers have to write something when they are busy not answering questions.

As a TSA employee, I'm also appalled that this was allowed to get through. But then again, read some of Bob's snarky posts and you'll see that this entire site is just a waste of time and should be closed down as useless.


By the way, there has still been no answer to my question as to how the bloggers even got these positions and why they weren't advertised on the job site.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous TSO wrote:
So the bags are not in TSA control after they are done with them and you want to blame the TSA for missing items. Is that fair?

Ayn R. Key said...
Since the TSA will not let us put locks on our bags to protect them during the times they are not in TSA custody ... yes.

So why don't you use a TSA lock then? Problem solved. No reason to gripe about an unlocked bag. Also you 'can' lock your bag but you run the risk of the lock being cut off by TSA I guess.
Submitted by Anonymous on

I can't believe people look at that kid story in the way of TSA scaring kids and making them cry. It is all out of context. People are interpretating the story in a negative way because it involves TSA. My take on the story...

The officer just wanted to seem friendly to the child and ask his name. The child being young and shy did not want to tell the officer his name. The officer was just trying to interact with the kid. No big deal. Not an interrogation. Just a run in like you would receive in a grocery store except a person is wearing a uniform. What is so bad about that? In this work I see kids cry all the time. They get upset just because they have to take their jackets or shoes off. This is common stuff a child does. No big deal. Don't blow things out of proportion like this story. Be a little smarter and use your brain people!

Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Anonymous: "So why don't you use a TSA lock then? Problem solved. No reason to gripe about an unlocked bag. Also you 'can' lock your bag but you run the risk of the lock being cut off by TSA I guess."

Bingo. I've had TSA locks cut off even after I've told TSA that they are TSA locks. After that happens a few times, it's almost not worth the hassles of filing claims that will almost always be denied and buying new locks.

Quote from another Anonymous: "I can't believe people look at that kid story in the way of TSA scaring kids and making them cry. It is all out of context. People are interpretating the story in a negative way because it involves TSA. My take on the story...

The officer just wanted to seem friendly to the child and ask his name. The child being young and shy did not want to tell the officer his name. The officer was just trying to interact with the kid. No big deal. Not an interrogation. Just a run in like you would receive in a grocery store except a person is wearing a uniform. What is so bad about that? In this work I see kids cry all the time. They get upset just because they have to take their jackets or shoes off. This is common stuff a child does. No big deal. Don't blow things out of proportion like this story. Be a little smarter and use your brain people!"

I think we are using are brains. That's why we don't buy a lot of what TSA is saying and what they're doing to try to "protect" us.

After you've run into numerous bad apples and even seeing some on this blog, seeing the story in a negative light is very plausible.

So let's take your advice. We use our brains and don't drink the TSA koolaid and we'll see what's actually there. Those of us doing that already see what's there and it's not pretty.

Robert

Pages