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TSA 10 Years After 9/11

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Thursday, August 18, 2011
American flag

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is quickly approaching and it's been nearly a decade since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in response to the attacks. As somebody who started in the beginning, it is incredible to look back and see how far we've come and how much more secure aviation is today.

The one year anniversary of 9/11 was my first day with TSA at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). I joined TSA for the same reason many of my colleagues did: I was appalled by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and wanted to help in any way I could. We’ve had plenty of questions over the past ten years, but one of the most common questions we hear is, “How has TSA made travel safer?”

Well, here are just a few of the many steps we’ve taken, including those we have taken to address specific 9/11 Commission recommendations over the past ten years:

  • In-Flight Security - Hardened cockpit doors, Federal Flight Deck Officers, the Crew Member Self Defense Training Program and an expanded Federal Air Marshal Service, better protect the flight deck against an act of criminal violence or air piracy.
  • 100% Screening - Through Secure Flight, 100% of passengers flying to, from, and within the U.S. are prescreened against government watchlists. TSA screens 100 percent of checked baggage for dangerous items including explosives, and 100% of all air cargo transported on passenger aircraft that depart U.S. airports is screened. a-e-i-o-u.
  • Professionalized Workforce - The Transportation Security Officers (TSO) working at 450 airports today are hired through a rigorous vetting process and extensive training that did not exist for the contract personnel who worked the security checkpoints on 9/11. TSOs have an average of 3.5 years of experience on the job, compared with the average of 3 months of experience for screeners prior to 9/11. Prior to 9/11, turnover in the industry was over 125 percent - today, TSA’s turnover rate is 6.4 percent.
  • New Technology - Today through Advanced Imaging Technology and Automated Target Recognition, we can detect metallic and nonmetallic threats including weapons and explosives concealed under layers of clothing on passengers without physical contact. And, using Advanced Technology X-ray, Bottled Liquid Scanners and Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) Technology, we can more efficiently and effectively screen luggage and belongings for potential threats.
  • Information Sharing and Detection - Through Secure Flight, Travel Document Checking and collaboration with our international partners, we can identify passengers who pose a risk to security, verify someone is who they say there are, and better protect the entire global aviation system.

Threats to airline safety are constantly evolving and TSA must evolve with them. We deploy an array of unpredictable and visible deterrents, and use a layered security approach to keep the traveling public safe.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

...and someone actually believes this (think pizza box ads for employment)?

"The Transportation Security Officers (TSO) working at 450 airports today are hired through a rigorous vetting process and extensive training..."

Submitted by RB on

TSA destroying the Constitution one day at a time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I....

Nevermind. Been there, done that, and it's all been said before.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It looks like the cheer-leading campaign is in full force with JustSayin and now BloggerBob, and recently Not Bob the Blogger.

Wonder why?

Submitted by Jacob K on

All the TSA really needed to stop the TSA were the first and last items on your list. Hardened cockpit doors will stop hijackings so then all you have to worry about is explosives, and inter-agency data sharing isn't an accomplishment, it's something all the federal agencies should have been doing in the first place.

Air marshals and extra screening are ridiculously inefficient, unnecessary, and a waste of the taxpayer's money. Although air marshals can be helpful, the increased alertness of cabin crews and passengers, along with the aforementioned doors, makes a hijacking nearly impossible. Since hijacking isn't possible screening should consist using dogs and the existing high speed, high accuracy testing machinery that exists for explosive detection.

Submitted by Anonymous on

10 years later, I:

- am in risk of foot injury and falls because I must take off my shoes

- am in risk of dehydration because of the liquid ban

- am in risk of skin disease because I can't carry my liquid skin medications (and no, most of your screeners do not know about the medical exemptions)

- must risk damage to my computer because I repeatedly have to remove it and replace it

- risk cancer and cataracts from backscatter exposure

- risk psychological damage due to being either virtually strip-searched or felt up in my intimate areas

All that, and absolutely no terrorist was caught.

You do not make me safer.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is a hard fact that the TSA can only make us safer by the amount that we were in danger before. How many lives per year will be lost as a result of terrorist actions on an airplane if the TSA were to go away?

Air travel has been the safest form of travel since before the TSA was created, so their improvement to safety seems rather minor.

A side effect of the implementation of whole body imaging and enhanced pat down is that people have moved away from flying. They use the alternative modes of transportation which are statistically more dangerous. This means that the TSA's policies actually increase the number of deaths and injuries. Of course, these deaths and injuries are attributed to bad luck or directly to the people injured. After all, it is your fault that you crashed your car.

The examples you cite to indicate how the TSA has made us safer is all circumstantial, as none of these items have been effective in stopping a terrorist attack. I am sure you will say that there have not been any attempts because yur methods are preventative, but I will contend that there were no attacks because there are not that many people interested in commiting a terrorist act on an airplane.

I applaud you ability to win this war with no enemy.

Not Scared of Terrorists,

Screen Cap on Round Two

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob,

You are too kind to your beloved TSA organization...10 years after 9/11 many American travelers such as myself see a disgraced TSA organization that is not to be trusted with personal privacy or private property. Congrats on the outstanding job!

American Taxpayer

Submitted by Allen on

And not one legitimate threat stopped!

Submitted by Adrian on

100% of people who purchase a ticket are compared against the watch lists. That does not mean 100% of passengers are screened. As has been pointed out here many times (and demonstrated), it's trivial to buy a ticket under one identification (which will pass screening) and then print a boarding pass with your real name (in order to get through the checkpoint). If you really wanted to build a system that checked the identities of the passengers against the watch lists, you wouldn't design it the way it has been designed.

Also, TSA doesn't screen passengers on general aviation flights.

Submitted by JustSayin on

On 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on US soil happened.

After 9/11, the TSA was formed. Since the formation of the TSA, there have been a grand total of 0 terrorist attacks in the US.

This is thanks to TSA's policies and procedures that are both ongoing and changing.

TSA has grown to not only become a reactive organization but also a proactive one, constantly pouring over intelligence - and - changing procedures in accordance to possible threats.

TSA...thank you for making our country safer. Without the TSA and its policies, there may have been another 9/11.

God Bless.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why are you calling it an anniversary like it's something to celebrate? Shouldn't we call it something more somber, like a 10th year memorial? I don't know about you, but "anniversary" sounds too happy to me.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm less interested in the theatrics you've listed and more interested in metrics and results. How many times have Federal Air Marshals been needed in flight and for what reasons? How many people have been arrested and convicted thanks to the watchlists? How many people were incorrectly matched to the watchlist? How many security breeches have occurred despite all of these advances? How many false negatives do these ATRs have?

I don't want to hear of that "sensitive security information" crap either. If your job is to protect me, the flying public, and you can't prove to me you are actually doing it, you should be fired.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Oh, and your travel document checkers don't contribute anything to the security process.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, I hate to break it to you but the S is in TSA doesn't stand for safety, it stands for security. In fact safety doesn't appear anywhere in your mission or vision statements:

http://www.tsa.gov/who_we_are/mission.shtm

I don't need your help to be safe, nor is it your job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How come you have only discussed the aviation sector? Isn't TSA tasked with all sectors of transportation, like mass transit and buses too? What percentage of passengers and cargo are you screening there?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hopefully for the anniversary they will let half of the tsa go. With the government in such financial ruin seems pointless to have a least tripled the tsa man power and bought useless equipment to boot. Someday the government will have to be financially responsible when that happens bye bye tsa HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Debatable.

Hardened Cockpit Doors: Wasn't that mandated by the FAA _before_ the TSA even existed?

100% Screening: Only if the equipment actually works; if the operators aren't asleep, playing video games on duty, flirting with each other; if the TSOs are trained properly in how to use the equipment properly.

Professionalized Workforce: They may be professionalized ("the state of having a profession") but they may or may not be professional. Reno's TSO's are professional. ORD's domestics are professionalized (excluding the two gents there who actually know what they are doing. They're professional.)

New Technology: And like any other new technology, most is not proven to function safely.

Information Sharing and Detection: Identity Theft waiting to happen.

Submitted by Kat on

In your post, you provide a link to http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/bls.shtm. If you have, and have deployed these BLS, why haven't they been mentioned in this blog? And if you have these detectors, why is 3.4-1-1 still in effect?

In April 2002, 9 months after 9/11, I could travel with food which is safe for me to eat. I cannot buy food at any airport because it all has junk in it that can land me in the hospital.

The TSOs were polite and helpful in 2002.

In 2007, the last time I flew, the TSOs were rude, and ignored my request to change their gloves. They slapped my hands when I reached to prevent them from handling my food with dirty gloves. Even the TSA is subject to Health Board regulations.

I cannot fly because the TSA thinks only diabetics need to carry safe fruit juices. The TSA will not answer my questions about specific foods which I used to carry. The TSA has told me not to bother getting a letter from my doctor, as "Anyone could forge one of those, so we don't accept them."

So, yes, "Security" has come a long way in the last ten years. From flying with safe food and encountering polite TSOs to not being able to fly at all because I cannot count on not having my food confiscated by rude TSOs.

We were promised 3.4-1-1 would go away by 2009. It hasn't. So, why are you bragging about your BLS when it isn't available?

Submitted by Avxo on

Blogger Bob wrote that today the TSOs are " hired through a rigorous vetting process and extensive training" and that the workforce is professionalized.

I don't want to rain on your parade, and it's normal and understandable that any large organization will have some bad apples.

But given the stories about screeners in the news over the past year - such as stories about TSOs stealing items and harassing coworkers - and the repeated instances where TSOs have to be retrained for failure to follow procedures and making it up as they go along - think breast milk and photographers, I'd hardly say that you have a professionalized workforce.

You may get there someday, but you're not there today.

I know there's plenty of good, honest TSOs, who day in and day out do their best, so this isn't meant as a dig to them. They are the ones hurt most by their less-than-professional colleagues.

So instead of platitudes about its own workforce, maybe the TSA should focus on finding those good TSOs and promoting them and getting rid of the bad apples. Then the public can be the one to praise the TSA and the TSOs it employs.

Submitted by AK-VStrom on

Congratulations on ten fine years, Bob. Now if you could only find a way to protect me from my own government...

Submitted by Anonymous on

JustSayin said...
After 9/11, the TSA was formed. Since the formation of the TSA, there have been a grand total of 0 terrorist attacks in the US.

Correlation does not imply causation.
What proof do you have that the TSA had anything to do with the lack of terrorist attacks?

How do you explain the Shoe bomber? The Underwear bomber? The Time Square bomber? Those may not have been successful attacks, but they were attempts.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Well, Bob, you censored the first post (in spite of not violating the rules) because it contained a point-by-point refutation.

In the last blog post, you revealed that you consider intelligent people to be a threat.

I see a pattern.

Submitted by Anonymous on

JustSayin said:
"TSA...thank you for making our country safer. Without the TSA and its policies, there may have been another 9/11.

God Bless."

Once again, JustSayin, I have to congratulate you on your strong condemnation of TSA abuses. Pretty soon, you'll be testifying in front of Congress on how the TSA is denying Americans their civil rights.

Good job, JustSayin!!

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

JustSayin writes:
After 9/11, the TSA was formed. Since the formation of the TSA, there have been a grand total of 0 terrorist attacks in the US.

After 9/11, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. Since NCLB became law, there have been a grand total of 0 terrorist attacks in the US.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's the professionalized workforce bullet that got me.

The TSA is the by far the rudest group of people in the universe. Clueless. No common sense. Has no idea how to be polite.

It's near universal. No matter what airport and whatever time of day.

Professionalized workforce, my foot.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Anonymous said...
10 years later, I:

- am in risk of foot injury and falls because I must take off my shoes

- am in risk of dehydration because of the liquid ban

- am in risk of skin disease because I can't carry my liquid skin medications (and no, most of your screeners do not know about the medical exemptions)

- must risk damage to my computer because I repeatedly have to remove it and replace it

- risk cancer and cataracts from backscatter exposure

- risk psychological damage due to being either virtually strip-searched or felt up in my intimate areas

All that, and absolutely no terrorist was caught.

You do not make me safer.

August 18, 2011 3:00 PM




No one's forcing you to fly.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Ayn R. Key said...
Oh, and your travel document checkers don't contribute anything to the security process.

August 18, 2011 11


They don't?!

Directly from the TSA.gov homepage JUST this week:

4 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or 'fraudulent travel documents.'

You're welcome for pointing that out.

:)

Submitted by Anonymous on

This post reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.... If you have to say your a lady, you aren't.

The TSA telling us how good they are is simple arrogant self-aggrandizing.

When you start doing something right and the Public starts to sing your praises then maybe I'll listen.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"it is incredible to look back and see how far we've come"

Indeed. We've come so far in harassing the flying public, that I am now officially more scared of airport security than terrorists.

Congratulations.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You've documented process, not results. That is, you talk about the steps you have taken but not the effect that they have.

What percentage of weapons in carry-on baggage does the "professionalized" workforce find? What was the percentage pre-TSA? How about bombs in carry-on or checked luggage?

How many terrorists have been caught by the TSA?

I feel no safer flying than I did pre-9/11. There are still far too many holes in the system. However, pre-9/11 the security screening was not particularly annoying to me. Now, we have annoying screening and still no real security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hardened cockpit doors is the only item on your list that has resulted in a significant increase in safety and the only one that would have been needed to prevent 9/11.

The only other way you have increased airplane safety is by encouraging people to avoid flying by making it as unpleasant as possible.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ayn said:
"In the last blog post, you revealed that you consider intelligent people to be a threat."

good to see no threat found here

Submitted by Anonymous on

Im curious as to why people see hardened cockpit doors as the only success. So if someone tries to hijack a plane and kills 1 person in the attempt, isnt that a failure? Because in 9/11 planes were used to destroy the twin towers so now Americans think that if no buildings go down that this is good? Its a success that there havent been any attempted hijackings since tsa started NOT that there arent planes failing out of the sky. Any human life that is lost because of an attempted hijacking is a lose. Just because passengers will jump on the person doesnt mean that the tsa should go away. Lets be serious. The last attempt, the underwear bomber was attempting to blow up the plane to use the hull as a way to spread destruction on the ground, not to prove a point and bring down a symbol of the free market and capitalism. The fact that there havent been any people killed on an aircraft due to a terrorist is a win for the tsa, they dont have to stop 'planes from falling out of the sky" to show that they are doing a good job. Stop being over dramatic!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I cant wait for the new liquid screening machines so that everyone can bring their large liquids again! Of course this means that they will all need to be screened and that will make the lines longer and longer and slower and slower. Be careful for what you wish for......

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Ayn R. Key wrote:
Oh, and your travel document checkers don't contribute anything to the security process.

JustSayin replied:
Directly from the TSA.gov homepage JUST this week: 4 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or 'fraudulent travel documents.'

And how many of those passengers were charged with terrorism against air travel? For all we know, they were arrested for unrelated outstanding warrants, like failure to pay child support.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

Submitted by Sandra on

Just Sayin', you might be interested in learning that in 2008 before the highly trained document checkers were foisted upon us, the TSA reported:

"TSA Week At A Glance (February 11-17, 2008)

18 passengers were arrested due to suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents....."

Just sayin'.

(screen shot)

Submitted by Anonymous on

JustSayin said:
"4 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or 'fraudulent travel documents.'"

Thanks, JustSayin. I'll assume that since none of them have been charged - as is virtually always the case - this is yet another example of TSA abuse that you're pointing out to us.

Thank you for pointing out that being arrested, particularly after being referred to LE by the TSA - is IN NO WAY an indication of guilt.

I'm not sure what changed in your outlook but I, for one, am very happy that you've decided to make us aware of the improper behavior of the TSA!!

Thanks again for supporting liberties over the TSA!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

This article is nothing but a "I'm the TSA, please like me" attempt. Measure your accomplishments over the past 10 years in how many terrorists the TSA have intercepted and stopped. Not by listing the security theater that you have built over the last 10 years and put in place with taxpayers money. Facts are there WERE attempted terrorists acts over the last 10 years, and the facts are your security theater of
--In flight security
--100% screening
--Professionalized workforce
--New technology
--Information sharing/detection
did not deter ANY of those acts. Instead, each one of the attempted terrorist acts were unsuccessful because it was stopped by something else--the very tax paying passengers that you harrass and violate every day.

Not a single one, Bob. Give the facts. The TSA accomplished nothing.

Submitted by Mike Toreno on

Bob, the reason there haven't been attacks on air travel is that terrorists have chosen not to make any attacks. The September 11 attacks were carried out to cause the United States to react in a way that would damage the United States, and they succeeded. The TSA couldn't have been any more damaging to the United States than if it were run by al Qaeda. Its employees, from the director to the screening clerks, all care about the organization rather than the safety of the traveling public. Nothing they do is directed toward providing security; it's all directed toward pretending to be doing something. Now all a terrorist group has to do is whisper about some attempt they might make to cause an additional waste of money and burden on the traveling public. There was talk about a plot involving liquids, now all the screening clerks direct their attention toward keeping people from bringing bottles of water.

All the TSA has done has been to cause delay and logjams at checkpoints. Anybody who wants to can avoid the pornoscanners; I know how to do it, terrorists certainly do. The pornoscanners, by slowing down the line, create a concentrated soft target. Anybody who wants to carry out an attack just has to come up with a couple of AK's and spray the line, which (because of the delay caused by the pornoscanners and the incompetence and lackadaisical attitude of the screening clerks running them) contains 10s or hundreds of people. I dropped off a friend at LAX once, they checked her in, and then made her go OUTSIDE to join a line with hundreds of people giving their baggage to the screening clerks. Terrorists could have killed those people without even getting out of their car.

The reason they don't do this is that they don't want to do anything to cause the government to get rid of the pornoscanners and the general attitude that TSA should keep adding to their fake security. They know that attitude does more to harm America than any hijacking or attack could possibly do.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Sandra said...
Just Sayin', you might be interested in learning that in 2008 before the highly trained document checkers were foisted upon us, the TSA reported:

"TSA Week At A Glance (February 11-17, 2008)

18 passengers were arrested due to suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents....."

Just sayin'.

(screen shot)

August 20, 2011 1:01 PM



That's right!!! And that was - still - all under TSA's watch.

Thanks for backing up my claim.

:)

Submitted by Anonymous on

JustSayin said:
"TSA...thank you for making our country safer. Without the TSA and its policies, there may have been another 9/11.

God Bless."

There have been 9 9/11's since the first. The date comes around every year, does it not?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Im curious as to why people see hardened cockpit doors as the only success. So if someone tries to hijack a plane and kills 1 person in the attempt, isnt that a failure?

Why would someone try to hijack a plane when they know it's impossible? If you can't get to the pilot you can't hijack the plane.

Hijacking and blowing up are quite different things - don't mix them up. To hijack a plane you need to get control of where it's going.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Bob, this is sad.

You always had 100% screening, even before the TSA. What you have now is that some passengers are sexually molested.

You don't have a professional workforce. The complaints about the behavior of your agents are increasing both in number and severity.

Your new technology is one of the biggest complaints people have against your agency. One version violates the constitution, the other gives you cancer at the same time. It even gives cancer to your agents.

And every time you've implemented secure flight it failed.

Good grief, Bob. Are you basically giving up on trying to convince people with these posts?

Submitted by Sandra on

Just Sayin' wrote:

"Sandra said...
Just Sayin', you might be interested in learning that in 2008 before the highly trained document checkers were foisted upon us, the TSA reported:

"TSA Week At A Glance (February 11-17, 2008)

18 passengers were arrested due to suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents....."

Directly from the TSA.gov homepage JUST this week:

4 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or 'fraudulent travel documents.'

You're welcome for pointing that out.

:)"

and then she wrote:


"That's right!!! And that was - still - all under TSA's watch.

Thanks for backing up my claim.

:)"

Sadly, you missed the entire point, but what else can be expected of a rabid TSA supporter?

Try again.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Not a single one, Bob. Give the facts. The TSA accomplished nothing."

Unless I'm missing something, the attempted terrorist attacks (shoe bomber/liquid bomer/underwear bomber) all came from overseas where TSA doesn't screen (not counting the Russian women who brought down 2 planes). So on US planes, I'm not aware of any attempted attacks, just the ones that originated from overseas. Does that mean the treat is not within our birders, but from overseas?

Submitted by JustSayin on

Ayn R. Key said...
Bob, this is sad.

You always had 100% screening, even before the TSA. What you have now is that some passengers are sexually molested.


"Ignorance is the enemy of your intelligence." - JustSayin

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Unless I'm missing something, the attempted terrorist attacks (shoe bomber/liquid bomer/underwear bomber) all came from overseas where TSA doesn't screen (not counting the Russian women who brought down 2 planes). So on US planes, I'm not aware of any attempted attacks, just the ones that originated from overseas. Does that mean the treat is not within our birders, but from overseas?

This has been covered many times before in this blog. Any plane coming into the US must be screened to TSA standards. It doesn't make any difference where the flight comes from, they are all screened the same way.

Submitted by DOC Employee on

I thought the TSO's turnover rate was 20-30% per a number of articles on govexec.com? If you are referencing the TSA in general that would be a bit disingenuous.

If the rate has infact dropped from 20-30%, what means were used to impliment that? My agency had high turnover until flex time, working from home, signing bonuses, paid overtime etc were added.

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