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

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 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?

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.

Anonymous TSO wrote:
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.

First, the TSA locks do not secure the luggage very well. They are easily cracked.
Second, the TSA does cut off the lock if it isn't a TSA lock, and often cuts off the lock if it is a TSA lock.
Third, having made sure we cannot secure our luggage, they then pass these unscreened items on to non TSA personnel.

Yes, it is fair to blame the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If TSA locks are being cut off cause the officers are too lazy to get the TSA keys for them out of a cabinet then that needs to be brought up so the action can be corrected. Oh this makes the "secret shopper" idea more plausible. They can travel with TSA locks on their baggage. There is no reason for this TSA. Your officers are failures if they do not know how to recognize and use TSA approved locks and keys.

Submitted by Tomas on
Yet another Anonymous wrote...
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.

(1) Even my breakfast cereal box is more difficult to open than a "TSA Approved" toy luggage lock.

(2) Putting a high quality lock on one's luggage is simply an invitation to the TSA underwear checkers to destroy the lock or the luggage to get inside.

(3) In too many cases TSA even cuts off TSA approved locks, then leaves the destroyed lock inside the now unprotected luggage with one of their little "TSA was here" love notes.

(4) Even with TSA pre-approval (such as when firearms are in checked luggage), a quality lock placed on luggage AFTER TSA INSPECTION to prevent casual theft is sometimes cut off by yet another TSA dolt somewhere down the line.

(4) With TSA using their current poorly though out methods, there is NO way to adequately protect one's belongings from TSA, and because of that no way to protect one's belongings from others down the line.

With so may valuables not allowed in carry-ons, one is forced to place valuables in checked luggage with no way to protect them.

Tom (1 of 5-6)
Submitted by Carrot Top TSO on

To Ponter:

Even your response to my response is funny! Of course I realize how ridiculous my superiors can sound when atop their soapboxes...

As unpopular as this will be there was a general public outcry for radical changes in airport screening after 9/11 (no I'm not flying the flag for justification)and the TSA was created almost overnight (by government standards) to placate that outcry. That being said, there is much room for improvement. Mama always said be careful what you ask for...

To Trollkiller:

Glad my spin on Ponter's post increased your enjoyment. Please keep blogging.

To Tom (1 of 5-6):

I can't think of any excuse for cutting a TSA approved lock and then placing it in the bag with the "love note". I have, however seen locks of all quality (and straps and luggage tags) get caught in the conveyor belts and ripped right off.

For a time we (TSA) were securing the closures of bags that we had checked (whether they were initially locked or not) with plastic zip ties. Realizing that anything sharp enough to remove the zip ties wasn't allowed through the screening checkpoint - it was inside the bag we'd just secured this practice was discontinued.

They haven't come up with anything else yet.

To All - I never, never, post on this blog from a computer at work!

Submitted by RB on

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.

January 8, 2009 12:34 PM

TSA Approved locks are not much more than a hollow shell.

Pretty much like the hollow shell of all TSA Security Theater.

You know as well as I do that what TSA does is to make people "feel" safe, not to provide security!

Submitted by Anonymous on

People its a zipper on your bag. A ZIPPER! No kind of lock is preventing access to your bag. It is but a mere zipper. So your locked zipper tabs are on one side of that bag and you use a tool to pop the zipper open on the other side. Oh my the bag is open and you can close it by moving both zippers back around to the side you popped the zipper open. Try it out it can make you feel like a lockpicker. The point I am making is your bag is not secure unless TSA did something like the strapping idea I have seen.(Costs to much)

-James

Submitted by Anonymous on

"People its a zipper on your bag. A ZIPPER! No kind of lock is preventing access to your bag"

..and since TSA policies leave our bags vulnerable to both theft and the insertion of bombs a zipper is all we need.

If we are ever allowed to secure our bags again, many of us will move to more secure lugage.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on
People its a zipper on your bag. A ZIPPER! No kind of lock is preventing access to your bag.

Except, of course, for my old hard-sided Samsonite suitcase, with honest-to-goodness latches and a built-in lock. Which, of course, I can never use again, because I have to leave it unlocked to comply with TSA regulations.
Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from James: "he point I am making is your bag is not secure unless TSA did something like the strapping idea I have seen.(Costs to much)"

Actually, with the way TK proposed it, it wouldn't be that expensive and certainly would be cheaper than a lot of the things TSA currently wastes money on. Like cop uniforms that cause rashes.

But farbeit from TSA to spend money on something that would increase security rather than waste money or put on a good show. I'm beginning to think that unless it's invasive and/or rights infringing, TSA isn't willing to spend money on it.

Robert
Submitted by Anonymous on

Quote:
"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.

January 8, 2009 11:10 AM"

----------------------------

Wow! I've seen this question asked before and still no answer! Guess we all know who has friends in the organization!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Would you really want to have blogger Bob's job? He is gets thrashed and has to answer questions over and over again.

And as to my post about the zipper bags. The majority of bags have zippers. Some luggage is more secure, hard-sided, pelican cases. I am speaking of more common luggage.

-James

Submitted by Ponter on

Carrot Top TSO, you're absolutely right. The TSA was indeed thrown together in the aftermath of the horribly embarrassing failure of 9/11. The main intent was to convince the terrified public that the government was Doing Something in reaction, and therefore they should feel it was safe to fly. It seems to have been successful at that short-term aim.

Unfortunately, the well-intended officials who came up with the TSA decided that "nothing succeeds like excess." If the hastily conceived security theater was so successful at restoring public confidence, clearly more of the same would be even better! They were sure that if they made airport screening enough of a hassle, everyone will then be completely convinced that it must be effective. So it won't matter that every test or audit consistently shows that it isn't. They make us take off our shoes and confiscate our gel packs and unlabeled one-ounce shampoo bottles, so we can see for ourselves that they obviously must be extraordinarily effective at protecting us from terrorists carrying box cutters!

So they built a palace to house the top executives, erected a Wall of Secrecy, and bought a big box of stamps to mark every rule and operating procedure "SSI." They gave their screeners the fancy title of "Transportation Security Officer," bought them all itchy formaldehyde-laced uniforms with badges, empowered them to capriciously "interpret" vaguely-defined arbitrary rules, and effectively encouraged them to abuse their authority by issuing glowing press releases standing resolutely behind TSOs whenever an incident (such as that woman with the piercings) gets enough publicity to be embarrassing.

When too many passengers started complaining about the arbitrary inconsistency and the obvious holes in the system, Kip called in Propaganda Minister Karl Rove. Rove advised him to re-brand all that arbitrary inconsistency as a powerful "Security Strategy" of unpredictability that would keep the terrorists off-balance. Rove also advised Kip that fear is the only defense against liberal enemies who, in their hatred of America, question or criticize the TSA, calling it "security theater" or "ineffective."

Rove's script called for Kip himself to deflect all questions by repeatedly reminding everyone to think of 9/11 as often as possible, and repeatedly insisting that the TSA is highly effective at protecting the Homeland from enemies who are trying to kill Americans. For lesser threats like people who write uncomplimentary comments on this blog, the appropriate strategy is to just repeat the party line once and then ignore the commenters in the hope that they'll just go away. And it's also essential to put out periodic glowing press releases about spectacular successes in finding drug paraphernalia, cash, and fake military jackets. How then could anyone deny that the TSA is vigilant about protecting aviation, even if what they found is no threat to aviation. The important thing is that they found something suspicious, which incontrovertibly proves that the TSA is highly effective!

Reading about the TSA and recalling my own "experiences" at checkpoints used to bring me to tears of frustration. This blog is no exception. But then I recalled Stephen Sondheim's advice to "laugh at the kings, or they'll make you cry." So perhaps sarcasm might be more effective than serious questions or criticism. I don't know if my attempt was effective, but it's interesting that some people thought I was serious. And in a sense I was, since my post was merely a compendium of official statements Kip and others have made, presumably following Rove's advice to spin away the criticism.

Carrot Top TSO, I am heartened that there are people like you within the TSA who recognize and admit their agency's shortcomings, and who have a sense of humor. Both of those are necessary within the TSA if that agency is ever going to provide effective security rather than merely intrusive and annoying security theater.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Quote:
" Anonymous said...
Would you really want to have blogger Bob's job? He is gets thrashed and has to answer questions over and over again."

Didn't say I wanted the job. Just stated that I would like to know why it wasn't offered to everyone in the job force.....

Submitted by Bob on
Anonymous said... Didn't say I wanted the job. Just stated that I would like to know why it wasn't offered to everyone in the job force.....

The job opening (Program Analyst for Public Affairs)was made public on USA Jobs. I applied for it. I submitted my resume, 8 lovely KSAs and I interviewed. I got the job.

Bob

EoS Blog Team
Submitted by Anonymous on

Quote:
" Bob said...
Anonymous said... Didn't say I wanted the job. Just stated that I would like to know why it wasn't offered to everyone in the job force.....

The job opening (Program Analyst for Public Affairs)was made public on USA Jobs. I applied for it. I submitted my resume, 8 lovely KSAs and I interviewed. I got the job.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

January 9, 2009 4:08 PM"

Wow! Finally an answer. Thank you Bob. Unfortunately, I posed this very question the day the blog was launced and several times since and this is the first time an answer was posted. With a time frame like that to answer a simple question, it's no wonder there is so much animosity on this site.

I can only imagine how long it will take to answer some of the "real" questions!mast

Submitted by Tomas on
Yet another anonymous wrote...
"People its a zipper on your bag. A ZIPPER! No kind of lock is preventing access to your bag. It is but a mere zipper. So your locked zipper tabs are on one side of that bag and you use a tool to pop the zipper open on the other side. Oh my the bag is open and you can close it by moving both zippers back around to the side you popped the zipper open. Try it out it can make you feel like a lockpicker. The point I am making is your bag is not secure unless TSA did something like the strapping idea I have seen.(Costs to much)"

My response?

"Anonymous its a high-security equipment case. HIGH SECURITY! A hermetic seal and good lock are preventing access to my stuff."

Not everyone's luggage is a cloth bag with a zipper, mine is an air tight shipping case that is locked solid.

TSA has still chopped the TSA lock off the case, then left the case totally unsecured. :o(

DO NOT tell me it's my fault...
Submitted by Anonymous on

James repeated:

"And as to my post about the zipper bags. The majority of bags have zippers. Some luggage is more secure, hard-sided, pelican cases. I am speaking of more common luggage."

And again we reply;

Since we can not secure our bags, zippers are fine. When... IF we are ever allowed to secure our bags properly we will move to more secure bags.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ponter

Cite the source of this Kip/Rove collaboration. I am not buying it.

RT

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
I am pretty sure that terrorists know your procedures. Not much is secret.

January 2, 2009 9:50 AM

So why dont most Americans know it by now? too busy with your People magazines wondering if brad and jen are getting baack together...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
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.

January 7, 2009 1:47 PM

Ya Phil, why dont you tell the president that you need his office for a slumber party. I mean you're his boss and all... I think the fumes from all your dirty dishes stacking on your desk is starting to rot your brain.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think what Phil means is that the TSA works for the people. You, the TSA, are here to serve the public. In a sense you work for the public but we, the public, are not your employer.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In response to Phils statement.

"I want to know what -- besides simply being in compliance with laws as we do anywhere -- we need to do in order to avoid having our freedom of motion restricted by TSA at their checkpoints."


Drive

Submitted by Phil on

Someone quoted my question, "I want to know what -- besides simply being in compliance with laws as we do anywhere -- we need to do in order to avoid having our freedom of motion restricted by TSA at their checkpoints," then anonymously responded:

"Drive."

Touché.

I'll rephrase my question:

I want to know what -- besides simply being in compliance with laws as we do anywhere -- we need to do at a TSA checkpoint in order to avoid having our freedom of motion restricted by TSA there.

--
Phil
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