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Transportation Security Administration

Combining Security & Convenience: A Balancing Act

Friday, September 25, 2009

Media reports and security “experts” routinely ask if TSA really makes air travelers safer or if we are simply trying to make things more inconvenient in the name of security.

Safety and convenience can be a bit like oil and water at times, but TSA is always trying to balance the two. It’s not always easy, and we know passengers aren’t always thrilled to take off their shoes or put their liquids in a baggie. But you don’t take your shoes off because of Richard Reid and the liquid explosive threat isn’t over because the UK plot was foiled. Everything TSA does is rooted in intelligence, and every security measure is done to mitigate a threat.

Sometimes security measures come after a plot is busted, such as the August 10 liquids plot. In August 2006, existing technology could not root out the peroxide-based explosives from all the other liquids that come through the checkpoint. The threat was very real, and continues to be real, as all the news on terrorism this week shows . Three men involved in the UK plot have since been convicted for trying to blow up commercial airliners with liquid bombs. Watch this video to see the capabilities of liquid explosives to do catastrophic damage to a commercial airliner.

So we first enacted a total ban along with the UK and other countries. Then after national labs here and overseas studied the intel, we worked with international partners to come up with the policy of packing 3.4 ounce or smaller containers in the one quart baggie so passengers could take necessary liquids in their carry-on bags.

Other times, we proactively enact measures to mitigate a threat, like when we announced that remote control toys could receive additional screening last year, and again this month, when we deployed test kits to give added scrutiny to certain powders that could be used to make explosives. Both items can be used to create an IED, but instead of banning them, we use existing technology to mitigate the threat with very little impact on most travelers.

There are some other examples of balancing security with convenience to improve your travel experience:

Laptop Friendly Bags: Officers continue to this day to find gun parts and other prohibited items hidden in laptops, as well as tampered laptops. While it’s an extra step to take your laptop out of its bag, that extra step helps officers make sure they get a clear view without other items in your laptop bag getting in the way. So we worked with industry to come up with Laptop Friendly Bags that allow you to keep your laptop in your bag and give officers the clear view of the laptop that they need to keep you safe.

AT X-rays: Advanced Technology X-rays give officers a better and multidimensional view of your bag which in turn leads to fewer bag searches and reruns. AT X-rays can also be upgraded to address evolving threats.

Black Diamond Self Select and Family Lanes: Self Select and Family Lanes are based on feedback from frequent fliers and passengers with children or special needs. This enhancement allows passengers to travel through checkpoints at their own skill level and pace. TSA has also positioned technology to screen medically necessary liquids at the Family/Liquids lanes.

Imaging Technology: Not only has the use of Millimeter Wave and Backscatter made things safer for the flying public by detecting both metallic and non-metallic threat items that could be hidden on a body, it has allowed us to take a more hands-off approach when screening certain passengers. It has been a long time coming for passengers with metal implants who always have to undergo a pat down.

Alternative Screening Procedures: Good security requires giving the same level of screening to all passengers. While we must treat those with disabilities and other special needs with respect, over the years, we have seen many people try to get prohibited items through the checkpoint using wheelchairs, casts – even in prosthetics. If people think there’s a loophole, they will try to use it. That’s why TSA has created many alternate screening procedures for passengers with special needs such as disabilities , children, small infants , soldiers and wounded warriors.

Secure Flight: It’s critical to keep known terrorists off planes. But it’s unfortunate when people whose names are similar to those who are really on a watch list are unable to print a boarding pass at home or at a kiosk. It’s worse when someone in an airport tells a mom or dad that their child is on the No Fly List – because no child is. Secure Flight brought watch list matching back inside the government, so we could ensure a high level of security and reduce the hassle factor. Providing your name as it appears on your government-issued ID as well as your gender and date-of-birth reduces the chance of misidentification by more than 99% to make travel safer and easier.

Paperless Boarding Pass: The paperless boarding pass puts a 2D barcode encrypted boarding pass directly onto a passenger’s PDA or cell phone. It mitigates the threat of fraudulent boarding passes and it’s a customer service improvement for airlines and passengers.

TSA is not only concerned about balancing security and convenience – the equation isn’t complete without talking about privacy. Privacy considerations have been built into Secure Flight, imaging technology and other screening functions.

TSA’s layered approach to aviation security incorporates elements long before the airport all the way to the plane. You will never see or be affected by many of those elements. And while engaged passengers and hardened cockpit doors have gone a long way to preventing another 9-11 style attack, we also have to focus on preventing future attacks. As current media reports show, terrorists continue to look at IEDs, including peroxide-based explosives. Preventing an IED from getting on a plane involves intel-sharing, technology, highly trained officers and random, unpredictable screening procedures.

Kristin Lee

Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

"It’s not always easy, and we know passengers aren’t always thrilled to take off their shoes or put their liquids in a baggie. But you don’t take your shoes off because of Richard Reid and the liquid explosive threat isn’t over because the UK plot was foiled."

Kristin, why did TSA decide to make the shoe carnival mandatory in August 2006? There were no shoe-bombings of US flights when shoe removal was optional before that date. There are no shoe bombings taking place in all of the other countries without a mandatory shoe carnival. So why does TSA insist on the shoe carnival when it's been demonstrated that the use of shoe bombs is profoundly rare -- indeed, that it began and ended with Richard Reid's failed attempt?

Why can TSA not produce any peer-reviewed independent research that supports its 3.4-1-1 policy?

Why does TSA insist on posting incorrect signage in airports about the 3.4-1-1 policy?

Why does TSA refuse to post, on this blog and at the checkpoints where TSA is using its virtual strip-search machines, images of the same size and resolution as seen by the operator of the strip-search machine?

In short: How stupid do you think we are, and why do you keep lying to us?

Submitted by Jannis on

Nice explanation of why your different security rules were started. This information makes it easier to take my shoes off. :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

If TSA cared at all about convenience it would end the pointless shoe carnival (unduplicated anywhere else in the world), admit the liquid policy is a hysterical overreaction, and stop wasting its time on ID checks that have nothing to do with security. It would also probably stop trying to take pictures of children's genitals.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can I ask a question here? Obviously there are many people here who disagree with many TSA policies. What is the official procedure for changing them? Who has authority to make those calls? In other words, who do I send letters to explaining why I don't feel a lick safer than I did on 9/10, yet am 10x more inconvenienced? If I were in charge, we'd be locking the cockpit doors, and running everybody through metal detectors, bags through xray, none of this crazy laptop, shoe, and liquid nonsense. Who do I need to tell this to?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh, puleeze. What bad press has the TSA been getting this week that has forced this attempt at defending it's indefensible procedures?

Congressman Chaffetz?

How do you sleep at night after spewing forth this propoganda?

Submitted by Chabouk on

The liquid policy keeps a single individual from carrying enough liquids to assemble an effective bomb.

Thank goodness terrorists would never think of working in concert, with 7 to 11 of them on a single flight, each carrying liquid precursors! Thank goodness that people skilled enough in chemistry to build powerful bombs from over-the-counter products would never have the math skills to figure out how to carry a sufficient quantity aboard when limited to 3.4 ounces apiece!

Submitted by Jannis on

I must disagree with the unfounded conclusions of some of my fellow bloggers. The shoe removal policy makes sense; people can hide things in their shoes so TSA makes passengers take them off so that TSA can check them out. I believe it has been mentioned before that the “strip search machines” can find non-metallic items therefore stopping bombs from getting on planes; it seems the continued use of such machines is warranted. I have also seen pictures of what these machines’ images look like, do some research and you can find them too. If multiple men can be convicted in a court of law of trying to kill others, using liquid explosives, then what proof do you have that the liquid explosives can not work?

As with most of our security woes I have one thing to say. If you don’t like the way the government decides to protect you and I when we fly and want them to stop protecting you then you are freely choosing to stop complaining when another plane falls from the sky (mine won’t explode in mid-air because I allow the government to protect me :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous: we HAVE been locking REINFORCED cockpit doors since 2002. No one will cooperate with hijackers any longer. The rest is not only pointless and expensive, it pushes U.S. citizens to use our much more lethal highways, or spend their money on foreign ports and carriers who treat them better.

Submitted by RB on

I see that Kristin Lee has absolutely no background in matters of security.

We should believe her, why?

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA, again goes after the low hanging fruit. Got to do something that makes the self loading cargo think that their government is interested in the safety of airtravel.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The black diamond lane at ATL after customs and immigration is never available for expert travelers when I go through there at least monthly. Whenever I approach a TSA employee about this, I get the brush off. What is the point of this lane if an expert flyer cannot use it?

Submitted by JB on

Why does the TSA not know their own policies? I have the NEXUS card and have been using it at airports domestically for almost a year now...DFW, BNA, MGM, BDL, ICT, BOS, MIA, LAX, LAS, IAH, HOU, DAL, DCA, IAD, BUF, STL, SPI, ORD, MDW, PIT, PHL, RDU, ATL, MEM... at these airports no one, including supervisors recognized the card. Why won't you train your people correctly? As a NEXUS card holder, DHS knows more about me than someone with a state issued drivers license. Why won't you train these supposed "document experts" in all of the forms of ID you accept?

As someone who flies weekly and sees this: why do you not make all of your officers go through screening? On a weekly basis, I witness screeners at DFW walking through the metal detectors with backpacks on, obviously reporting to work, and walking through to the "secure" side without going through screening? When I bring this up to TSA supervisors, the response is always something like "well, they have had a background check!"...I don't care what checks they have had! They need to go through screening just like anyone else entering the secure area! Why do you allow airline employees into secure areas without passing through security?!? I notice this all the time at BOS (lower level by the baggage claim in the AA terminal)? Airline employees in MIA were just arrested for smuggling drugs! They went through a background check! Isn't BOS one of the airports that the 9/11 hijackers went through? You would think that they would not allow this!

Your "layers" have more holes than a pound of Swiss cheese. Why don't you start by mandating that all TSO's go through screening? (Yeah, I know they are supposed to, but "supposed to" and what actually happens at the airports is two different things!). Why don't you then make ALL airline employees go through screening and not allow them direct access to the ramp/SIDA area?

Now...Blogger Bob. You are a government employee, correct? Paid by taxpayer money, correct? A public servant, correct? I know that people on here and other places personally attack you, etc. While that must be hard to take, you need to demonstrate a little more professionalism. Most of the time you are fairly professional, but I have seen you on here be extremely sarcastic and down right rude to people. Regardless of what they say, you should always maintain professionalism. Your comment several weeks ago to a person about "doing more by 9am then you do in an entire day" is one example of this. As a government employee, you must learn to accept criticism and not take it personally.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Other times, we proactively enact measures to mitigate a threat, like when we announced that remote control toys could receive additional screening last year, and again this month, when we deployed test kits to give added scrutiny to certain powders that could be used to make explosives. Both items can be used to create an IED, but instead of banning them, we use existing technology to mitigate the threat with very little impact on most travelers.

----

Given the above, and given that technology exists to properly screen liquids, why does the TSA continue with the 3.4-1-1 nonsense? Why not, instead of banning certain liquids, use the same logic to screen them?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Jannis -- The false choice you present in your post (9/25, 8:43 PM) is more than a bit silly. The choice is not between "government security" and "no security". The choice is between the security we have now, and real security -- security which keeps us safe, but at the same time protects our civil liberties and doesn't lead to silly things like virtual strip searches, shoe carnival, and LAG nonsense.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on
But you don’t take your shoes off because of Richard Reid and the liquid explosive threat isn’t over because the UK plot was foiled. Everything TSA does is rooted in intelligence, and every security measure is done to mitigate a threat.

Oh no she didn't. After I demolish the liquid explosive myth in the previous blog entry talking to West, here Kristin goes ahead and repeats it as if nobody knows that it's a work of fiction.

Kristin, we know it's a work of fiction. There is no intelligence involved in the war on water. The UK plot never even got to the point where they had a plan more detailed then "gee that would be a cool idea."

There are two explosives under discussion, and they have to have ALL of these characteristics.

1. The components are safe to transport, individually cannot be detected by explosives detection, are liquid, and can be combined easily and safely into an explosive using only facilities found on the other side of the TSA checkpoint.

2. The combined explosive is safe to transport, liquid, and cannot be detected by explosives detection.

Neither of those two liquid explosives exist outside of Hogwars School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And if a Hogwarts graduate does come through the checkpoint, he'll have ways to evade security that you cannot match.
Submitted by Ayn R Key on
It’s critical to keep known terrorists off planes. But it’s unfortunate when people whose names are similar to those who are really on a watch list are unable to print a boarding pass at home or at a kiosk. It’s worse when someone in an airport tells a mom or dad that their child is on the No Fly List – because no child is

I have to admit this blog entry is gold, because you have mentioned the third greatest procedural complaint, the "extra groping" list (note I did not say "no fly" list). And you cannot find out if your name is really on the list because that's SSI. And you cannot get your name of the list.

And you call that security.

Wow, Kristin, whose side are you on? Are you secretly in support of the critics and put up this softball deliberately so we could hit it out of the park?


Oh, and will you be answering any of these complaints yourself, or will you leave that to Bob, West, and Ron to do all the dirty work?
Submitted by Anonymous on

The post strikes an entirely false dichotomy between "security" and "convenience. In reality, the more important distinction between security and liberty. TSA checkpoints are only slightly inconvenient. I'm fully capable of shuffling along with the rest of the herd, juggling my shoes and trying to get my belt back on-- the inconvenience factor is minimal. But I shudder to think of where such unthinking, unprotesting acts of submission might lead us in the future.

Submitted by Bob on

Good morning! This is just an FYI that I'm traveling to the Midwest for a few days and will return on Tuesday.

I should be able to moderate a little when I find a Wi-Fi hot-spot, but we'll see...

Also, I just wanted to say that I can't believe some of the comments I've had to reject already for this post. My snarkiest comments are like little cute little puppies compared to some of the vile comments I've had to reject.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, Kristen Lee, who has no security background pens a PR piece for the TSA that opens with:

"Media reports and security “experts”..."

My irony meter just exploded

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

JB sez - A whole bunch of other stuff I am not going to address and "Now...Blogger Bob. You are a government employee, correct? Paid by taxpayer money, correct? A public servant, correct? I know that people on here and other places personally attack you, etc. While that must be hard to take, you need to demonstrate a little more professionalism. Most of the time you are fairly professional, but I have seen you on here be extremely sarcastic and down right rude to people. Regardless of what they say, you should always maintain professionalism. Your comment several weeks ago to a person about "doing more by 9am then you do in an entire day" is one example of this. As a government employee, you must learn to accept criticism and not take it personally."

Give me a break, Bob gives an element of snarkiness here from time to time, but most of his posts are direct, have a bit of humor (I know that some of you that post here weren't issued a sense of humor, but we were) and give good information. It sounds as if YOU are the one taking statements personally, I can assure you that they are not personal in nature and mostly humorous in their content.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Ayn sez - "There are two explosives under discussion, and they have to have ALL of these characteristics.

1. The components are safe to transport, individually cannot be detected by explosives detection, are liquid, and can be combined easily and safely into an explosive using only facilities found on the other side of the TSA checkpoint.

2. The combined explosive is safe to transport, liquid, and cannot be detected by explosives detection."

If you call your post in the previous blog destroying, remind me not to put you in charge of any military actions. I will again, outline for you the problem with the above statements.

1. If the current LAG protocols were not in place, the items would not have been tested to begin with. Therefore the "not detectable" part would be moot.

2. Currently the testing procedures for LAG are time consuming, so if you want all LAG to be allowed and we are going to test them, the lines will be much longer, and the wait times will be much longer.

3. If there are new tech items that come out, I will betcha that TSA will review them and if they are feasible, employ them ASAP. They will then look at modifying the LAG protocols.

Until better testing is available, we have the process in place now.

West
TSA Blog team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Fire is one of the most dangerous things in an aeroplane, so what about the fact that it is simple to make a Molotov cocktail with materials you can buy after you pass the security checkpoint?

All one would need is a bottle of vodka - or other strong liquor - and a rag. For anybody to do this they would not need to even have shoes, a laptop or take fluids through a check point. Many terrorist acts could be performed with items available from stores after the security checkpoint.

When it is no longer possible to buy these after I have passed the security checkpoint I will believe the measures are effective, otherwise it is just a farce.

Submitted by Jannis on

The choice we all must make is between the security that is currently in place, or, the swiss cheese security we used to have. No one cared about knives until 19 hijackers killed thousands by taking over planes using knives. No one cared about stuff hidden in shoes until a guy got on a plane with a bomb in his shoe. You talked about “real security.” If you actually presented some ideas to improve security (instead of simply telling the U.S. government that they don’t know what they are doing) then I would be more than happy to demand that my elected leaders enact them.

Submitted by TSO Jacob on

JB said…”Why don't you start by mandating that all TSO's go through screening? (Yeah, I know they are supposed to,)… “

Actually we are not “supposed to” go through screening. We have been given an exemption and must only submit to random checks just like most airline employees. I agree, this should be changed. Everyone who enters the “secure area” should be checked every time.

As far as the woes about the NEXUS card your problem is actually that you are among a rare group of travelers. In all the years I have been doing document checking I only remember seeing this card used once. It took a moment to check it out and the passenger was on his way. It’s simple; if we only occasionally see these kinds of ID they are going to raise questions.

Anon said…” why does the TSA continue with the 3.4-1-1 nonsense? Why not, instead of banning certain liquids, use the same logic to screen them?”

The amount of time this would take would back up the security lines even more then they are now. It just takes to long to screen every single oversized liquid that passengers want to take with them.

Actually Ayn you did not demolish anything. What you did do is continue to bury your head in the sand. West, as well as many others, demonstrated a logical reason why the LGA ban works. If you want to know more about liquid explosives I would suggest you go talk to anyone who works with them, like someone who works for bomb squad or EOD, or a miner or a powder man for the studios. You could also go online and simply do a search for liquid explosives. If you educate yourself you will be able to open your eyes.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"My snarkiest comments are like little cute little puppies compared to some of the vile comments I've had to reject."

Bob, as a supposed public servant you are expected to comport yourself with a level of dignity and respect for the public. You fail to do so; please post the name and contact information of your supervisor so I can file a complaint.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

I can see what you mean about your censorship Bob. You rejected my post about the mww machines. You don't like it when I call them child porn machines?

I mean it when I say that if any of my family are forced through the machine I'm calling the police.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Bob, the reason the responses probably got so nasty is because this post is nothing more than a rehash of all the TSA's most popular refuted lies given as support for absurd security. If you were to come up with new lies (or better yet but less likely stop lying) you wouldn't get such a negative response. There's nothing new in the post itself, but the fact that everything refuted in previous blog entries has popped up AGAIN has aroused the ire of all those who have proven you and your fellow bloggers wrong.

Look, you've been refuted. Repeating what has been refuted as a positive basis for your intrusions doesn't make it more true, and it does nothing for the public image of the TSA.

That's why the comments got so nasty.

Submitted by RB on

Guess your on your way to SLC to fix the signs the Congressman complained about, eh?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Everything TSA does is rooted in intelligence..." and maybe a little spite for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)?

Submitted by TSOWilliamReed on

JB said...
Why does the TSA not know their own policies? I have the NEXUS card and have been using it at airports domestically for almost a year now...DFW, BNA, MGM, BDL, ICT, BOS, MIA, LAX, LAS, IAH, HOU, DAL, DCA, IAD, BUF, STL, SPI, ORD, MDW, PIT, PHL, RDU, ATL, MEM... at these airports no one, including supervisors recognized the card. Why won't you train your people correctly? As a NEXUS card holder, DHS knows more about me than someone with a state issued drivers license. Why won't you train these supposed "document experts" in all of the forms of ID you accept?

As someone who flies weekly and sees this: why do you not make all of your officers go through screening? On a weekly basis, I witness screeners at DFW walking through the metal detectors with backpacks on, obviously reporting to work, and walking through to the "secure" side without going through screening? When I bring this up to TSA supervisors, the response is always something like "well, they have had a background check!"...I don't care what checks they have had! They need to go through screening just like anyone else entering the secure area! Why do you allow airline employees into secure areas without passing through security?!? I notice this all the time at BOS (lower level by the baggage claim in the AA terminal)? Airline employees in MIA were just arrested for smuggling drugs! They went through a background check! Isn't BOS one of the airports that the 9/11 hijackers went through? You would think that they would not allow this!

Your "layers" have more holes than a pound of Swiss cheese. Why don't you start by mandating that all TSO's go through screening? (Yeah, I know they are supposed to, but "supposed to" and what actually happens at the airports is two different things!). Why don't you then make ALL airline employees go through screening and not allow them direct access to the ramp/SIDA area?

Now...Blogger Bob. You are a government employee, correct? Paid by taxpayer money, correct? A public servant, correct? I know that people on here and other places personally attack you, etc. While that must be hard to take, you need to demonstrate a little more professionalism. Most of the time you are fairly professional, but I have seen you on here be extremely sarcastic and down right rude to people. Regardless of what they say, you should always maintain professionalism. Your comment several weeks ago to a person about "doing more by 9am then you do in an entire day" is one example of this. As a government employee, you must learn to accept criticism and not take it personally.
---------------

Relative to RB maybe? Let me try to explain some things for you JB. NEXUS cards....no idea what that is and I can tell you they are not on the list of acceptable IDs. HOWEVER any ID not on the list is acceptable if it meets certain standards. It must have tamper proof security features, an expiration date, your full name, your birth date, and a photo. I work for TSA and I can't even use my DHS badge for airport security because it does not meet the requirements. As for screening officers, we do not screen officers. We use to screen security screeners but we are now designated as federal officers and just like local law enforcment officers we do not have to be screened. As for screening employees, the airline and airport are private business'. They own the building, so if they want to build a door to get their employees in and out of the sterile area faster then they can. HOWEVER that door and that airport has to follow STRICT FAA regulations at all times or that privelage gets taken away very very fast. As for blogger bob I think he has handled this blog site more proffesionaly than any person can hope to. The people that post on these blogs are just mean and nasty and probably enjoy being so.

Hope that helps!

Submitted by Anonymous on

If this is what you call the result of your balancing act, I can say it is way, way off.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob -- are you going to go through proper TSA security at the airport or bypass it like the 2 TSA employees I saw this morning at MIA walk through w/ backpacks and bottled water?

Submitted by Gunner on

Blogger Bob said:
Also, I just wanted to say that I can't believe some of the comments I've had to reject already for this post. My snarkiest comments are like little cute little puppies compared to some of the vile comments I've had to reject.

May I gently suggest that this might be a direct response to this very condescending posting that is, by it very nature, patently offensive and insulting to anyone who does not drink the TSA bathwater.

Submitted by TSORon on

Another Anonymous poster said:
"Given the above, and given that technology exists to properly screen liquids, why does the TSA continue with the 3.4-1-1 nonsense? Why not, instead of banning certain liquids, use the same logic to screen them?"

Because the technology is not deployed, yet. Its quite expensive, has a fairly high operations cost, and is just finishing its operational testing. Give it time, the government does not build the things, a company does. Until then, please put your liquids into a baggie and be patient.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have never left a comment before on this blog, but I have to say that the TSA and its apologists have really lost it now. I can only assume you have no perception of how low you are held in the traveling public's esteem. I had hoped this foolishness would abate with the new administration, but alas, I was wrong and this dog and pony show continues. I only hope that enough regular travelers are so inconvenienced by you that the airlines start to go bankrupt. Then maybe the Congress will put you out of this intrusive business of which you are so proud.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Can I ask a question here? Obviously there are many people here who disagree with many TSA policies. What is the official procedure for changing them? Who has authority to make those calls? In other words, who do I send letters to explaining why I don't feel a lick safer than I did on 9/10, yet am 10x more inconvenienced? If I were in charge, we'd be locking the cockpit doors, and running everybody through metal detectors, bags through xray, none of this crazy laptop, shoe, and liquid nonsense. Who do I need to tell this to?

We do...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Good work! Happy to see Congressman Chaffetz targeted. Let them taste what the public citizens get every day.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob
Please pass to Ms. Lee to do a Blog post on the rights of travelers when passing through the jurisdiction within TSA control.
I think it would be more beneficial to travelers than what was posted.

What is exactly required of travelers? What are OUR rights?
Where can we find all the rules that a person must obey to be able to pass through all of TSA requirements to fly domestically in the USA? I don't think that is asking too much. Every police department in the USA can give us the rules, so I think TSA can at least do the same.

Please explain where the TSA does have jurisdiction within an airport? The entire airport? Only at checkpoints? Within the sterile area? Parking lots of the airports?
Many travelers are intimidated and do not understand just what authority a TSA agent has and does not have. It should be easy for Ms. Lee to point out exactly just how much authority a TSA agent has or does not have, and where they do have that authority.

When a TSA agent yells "Everybody FREEZE!!! Nobody MOVE!!!" at a checkpoint, must EVERYONE within earshot stop?
Do TSA agents have the authority of detaining someone? Do agents have the right to interrogate someone? Must I answer questions posed to me by a TSA agent? Can I lie to them? What type questions can they legally ask of me?

When searched at the gate, and agents begin to look in carry-ons for who knows what, can we ask exactly what it is they are looking for? Can they open wallets and look at our credit cards, pictures, cash? Can we refuse the search as excessive, as our belongings did pass the tests at the original checkpoint? Do agents have a "free pass" to do any and all searches they want in the sterile area which is after the initial checkpoint?

Can agents randomly test our liquids that we have purchased in the sterile area? Must we comply when asked to break the seal on our water bottle that we purchased in the sterile area?

Can agents ask for boarding pass and ID in the sterile area? What if I do not have that on my person? I usually give all that to my wife (I tend to lose things), and may not be with her at all times while waiting to catch a flight.

I am sure Ms. Lee can come up with many more "Rights of the Traveling Public" as she appears to be an experienced and highly qualified public affairs spokesperson with a top notch resume.

Submitted by Anonymous on

RB said...
I see that Kristin Lee has absolutely no background in matters of security.

Kind of like you...

Submitted by Eric on

Bob said: "Good morning! This is just an FYI that I'm traveling to the Midwest for a few days and will return on Tuesday.

I should be able to moderate a little when I find a Wi-Fi hot-spot, but we'll see...

Also, I just wanted to say that I can't believe some of the comments I've had to reject already for this post. My snarkiest comments are like little cute little puppies compared to some of the vile comments I've had to reject.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team"


Perhaps if you actually *ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS POSED*, once in a while, adequately dealing with the legitimate security, civil-rights, and other legal issues raised WRT your agency's absurd "security" procedures, you might be getting far fewer "snarky" (or outright hostile) comments, Bob. This should be no surprise to you and your teammates here on PV, though - since DAY ONE, you guys have been dodging questions posed to you on this alleged public-interaction blog.

Answer the questions, respond to the complaints, and quit falling back on the tired old "SSI/Because we said so/Do you want to fly today?" routine, and you might actually start getting some of the respect you're wanting. Alternatively, grow a thicker skin and accept that a spokes...person for a near-universally-reviled agency such as TSA, which is *COMPLETELY* unaccountable to the public it allegedly serves, which is demonstratedly INCOMPETENT at its designated job, as proven by repeated testing (even ANNOUNCED testing), and which refuses to take action on the NUMEROUS PUBLICIZED abuses of "authoritah!" by frontline and supervisory personnel, is GOING to catch quite a bit of flak in the course of interfacing with the public said agency has been abusing for years now.

Get used to it.

Submitted by NoClu on

Nice Creative Writing piece.

I guess if you keep repeating the same PR message, it might be believed.

Submitted by Phil on

Kristen, can your imaging machines detect and display an inserted tampon? Many people have expressed the idea that if the machines do, then they are too invasive, and if the do not, then the machines are not effective enough. Could you please comment on the tampon paradox?

Also, last year in the comments in response to TSA's "Pay For Performance; Good For Security" post, on July 23, 2008, I wrote:

"1. Do the electronic strip-search machines (both backscatter imaging and "millimeter wave" versions) show operators only still images, or animated/video images?

"2. If the latter, where can we see a sample of what that video looks like?"

Two days later, Lynn at TSA quoted me then responded:

"It's a still image, not video."

However, today, I saw a video of a September 24, 2009, KSL-TV news broadcast about Congressman Jason Chafetz of Utah and his experience with TSA staff at a TSA airport checkpoint. From 1:09 to 1:13 into the piece, we are shown a computer monitor displaying an image that looks similar to those you've offered as examples of the MMW machine output, except that it is not a still image, it is an animated loop. Picking a single image out of this video that operators apparently see is rather disingenuous of you, as it allows the viewer to perceive far less detail than the rotating 3D view does.

One of the following must be the case: 1) Lynn was mistaken when she wrote that the image operators see is still, 2) that which is shown to operators has changed since Lynn wrote this, or 3) the video in the KSL broadcast was not representative of what your operators see. Which is the case?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
In short: How stupid do you think we are, and why do you keep lying to us?


You must not have been in an airport in the last decade so the answer to your first question is... extraodinarily stupid.
Passengers complaining that their 6 inch knives get taken away every tiem they fly. Passengers that don't believe water is a liquid.

...and its not that TSA lies to you... its that there are some people too dumb to see the truth for what it is.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In short: How stupid do you think we are, and why do you keep lying to us?
___________________________________

I think you are as stupid as your post!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Your "layers" have more holes than a pound of Swiss cheese. Why don't you start by mandating that all TSO's go through screening? (Yeah, I know they are supposed to, but "supposed to" and what actually happens at the airports is two different things!). Why don't you then make ALL airline employees go through screening and not allow them direct access to the ramp/SIDA area?

Now...Blogger Bob. You are a government employee, correct? Paid by taxpayer money, correct? A public servant, correct? I know that people on here and other places personally attack you, etc. While that must be hard to take, you need to demonstrate a little more professionalism. Most of the time you are fairly professional, but I have seen you on here be extremely sarcastic and down right rude to people. Regardless of what they say, you should always maintain professionalism. Your comment several weeks ago to a person about "doing more by 9am then you do in an entire day" is one example of this. As a government employee, you must learn to accept criticism and not take it personally.
___________________________________

Wow JB. Thanks for all of your great advice!
"(Yeah, I know they are supposed to, but "supposed to" and what actually happens at the airports is two different things!)." No TSO's are not supposed to go through security. That is a wrong statement.
And thank you for your advice to Bob on how you think that he should respond to the posters on this blog. BLAH!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Also, I just wanted to say that I can't believe some of the comments I've had to reject already for this post." And I can't believe that you want to see naked images of my family! I guess we're both in a state of disbelief, huh?

Submitted by Rymill on

Why do you guys spend all your time attempting to stop people blowing up planes when they could easily blow up a bus?

You people merely enact security theatre rather then making flying more secure.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey Bob, how is that cargo screening coming? You know the one that TSA keeps putting off and keeps telling Congress that it is on track for getting it done?

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