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TSA Officers Focus on Security, not Good Looks

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
AIT ATR Monitor

The internet is abuzz with posts, tweets and news articles regarding allegations that TSA officers required a passenger to go through a body scanner multiple times because she was attractive.

First, I want to reassure all passengers that TSA does not profile passengers.

Second, I’m pleased to inform all concerned parties that every single one of our millimeter wave units in the field, including those at Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW airport), have been equipped for quite some time with privacy software that no longer displays a specific image of the person being screened.

The monitor is mounted on the scanner itself, and here’s what both the passenger and officer see:

That’s it. In fact, if there are no alarms, a green screen with “OK” is all that’s displayed. There is no longer a need for an officer to review images in a remote location because there are no longer any privacy concerns with the image.

Even when we did review the images in a remote room, they looked more like fuzzy photo negatives than the images that some make them out to be. Furthermore, it’s not TSA’s policy to scan passengers multiple times.

We have no record of the passenger filing a complaint when this allegedly occurred more than six months ago. Had it been reported to TSA at that time, we could have reviewed CCTV and interviewed the officers. We were instead notified about these allegations by the media more than six months after the alleged incident.

In situations such as these, passengers should use Talk to TSA to contact a customer support manager at the airport they traveled through. Passengers can also call our contact center. We want to hear from you, good or bad. We take your feedback seriously and will use the details you provide to look into your concerns.

Our backscatter units (another type of body scanner) will eventually use the same software and still required the need of an officer in a remote private location to view the images. That officer never sees the passenger, just their image. In case you’re wondering, DFW only has millimeter wave units.

When it all comes down to it, our officers are focusing on keeping passengers safe, not their good looks.

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. 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

OO! OO! Lemme be the first!

"Bob, you're lying. The media always tells the truth. The poor passenger THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!"

Thank!

Submitted by NateTheGreat on

Really great work TSA! It's great that technology keeps moving forward like this! :-D

Submitted by Anonymous on
every single one of our millimeter wave units in the field

What about the backscatter x-ray machines?

In case you’re wondering, DFW only has millimeter wave units.

What about 6 months ago? (See below)

We have no record of the passenger filing a complaint when this allegedly occurred more than six months ago. Had it been reported to TSA at that time, we could have reviewed CCTV and interviewed the officers.

1) Did all your MM wave machines have you're wonderful Generic Figure software "more than six months ago"??

2) "Hi, TSA employee? I'd like to make a complaint about you...." That'd work real well.
Submitted by Anonymous on
The internet is abuzz with posts, tweets and news articles regarding allegations that TSA officers required a passenger to go through a body scanner multiple times because she was attractive.

First, I want to reassure all passengers that TSA does not profile passengers.

There are lots and lots of accusations of this type out there.

I guess you want us to believe every single person is lying (to what end??), while the TSA (which could be in a lot of trouble if the allegations are true) is telling the complete and unvarnished truth.
Submitted by RB on

So is it TSA's claim that this incident did not happen?

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Notice, of course, that TSA never denies that this event actually happened.

"TSA does not profile passengers" ... but that doesn't mean the TSOs on duty at the time didn't profile, even if it wasn't agency policy to do so.

Scanners "have been equipped for quite some time with privacy software" ... but no statement as to whether or not that software was in place at the time of the alleged incident.

"It's not TSA's policy to scan passengers multiple times" ... but, again, no statement that the individual TSOs acted in accordance with that policy.

"We have no record of the passenger filing a complaint" ... so, now it's the victim's fault that, after being ogled, she didn't call the agency employing the oglers to ask about it?

Yawn.

(Hey, at least you've moved to using ReCaptcha.)

Submitted by Curtis on

Question- can a TSO freely leave the passenger screening area, and enter the remote private area? If that is allowed, then the officer would see both the passenger and the naked image. Is it at all possible that this has ever happened?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Still nothing about the insulin pump. You won't sweep that one under the rug; I will keep reminding you until you actually address the situation. People with disabilities and medical conditions should be assisted, not harassed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is quite clear you do not focus on security, since if you did, you would not use those machines, which promote too many false positives and (dangerously) allow false negatives.

Your focus is the illusion of security.

Submitted by Anonymous on
First, I want to reassure all passengers that TSA does not profile passengers.

First, the TSA can't even reassure us that TSO's don't steal from passengers.

In situations such as these, passengers should use Talk to TSA to contact a customer support manager at the airport they traveled through. Passengers can also call our contact center. We want to hear from you, good or bad. We take your feedback seriously and will use the details you provide to look into your concerns.

I filed a complaint using Talk t the TSA and the contact information on the TSA website in January regarding an incident over Christmas at MIA.

I never got a response.

The TSA DOES NOT TAKE FEEDBACK SERIOUSLY!
Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said:
"First, I want to reassure all passengers that TSA does not profile passengers."

Yes you do - it's called your Pre Check program.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This post is nothing but a bunch of non-information. You neither confirm nor deny that the incident occurred. What exactly was the point?

Submitted by Anonymous on

From day one we had a 'No Re-Scan" ppolicy in place!

Submitted by Anonymous on

In 2011, the TSA promised that privacy software would be installed on ALL scanning devices by 2012. Your post now says the privacy software will "eventually" be installed. Yet another mis-representation by the TSA. Your organization is just not credible.

If Americans want to witness extreme government instrusion, visit your local airport.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
From day one we had a 'No Re-Scan" ppolicy in place!

February 16, 2012 9:15 AM

...........
TSA also says they have a no thieves policy but that hasn't slowed down those TSA employees who pilfer bags.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And in other news a TSA trainer in Philadelphia was arrested by Federal authorities for taking a bribe so a TSO could pass a test.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Everyone (especially people in charge of Homeland Security) should read the article: After John Tyner: A Five-Step Plan to a Sane Airport Security System. Google if and you will find a link. It will explain why what TSA is doing doesn't work.

Personally, I'm afraid to fly. Not because I'm afraid of flying (something I used to love) but because of the way we're treated by TSA. I had to fly recently, and as an abuse survivor I was reduced to tears by TSA. If what they're doing was something that actually worked, perhaps I wouldn't be as upset? But it doesn't. Read the article. Please!

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
From day one we had a 'No Re-Scan" ppolicy in place!

February 16, 2012 9:15 AM

.....................
TSA probably has a policy against this too.

"TSA training instructor charged with bribery"

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well, Bob, I can only conclude that everyone in this article and everyone of the 500 complaintants are lying: http://tinyurl.com/84zx9lg.

And, this person is lying: http://tinyurl.com/7lorejc

And, this person is lying: http://tinyurl.com/76mc2cv

You really jumped all over this one. You've carefully crafted the spin to draw complete attention to the screens and how they can't possibly be arousing.

Perhaps you should read these articles and blog postings and then address the real issue: Attractive women just standing with their arms raised are in a very vulnerable and submissive position.

Perhaps you should discuss this with your boss:

[Screen capture made. Verified that no content violates your terms & conditions.]

Submitted by DBLewis01 on

I travel several times a year and every time I travel I get scanned. I am NOT a cute girl, but a 6-2 285 lb balding man. I've been scanned in BOS/LAX/DEN/DFW/DTW and other cities. Although some agents may have personal agenda's I believe it is no where near the norm. Personally, I think they do a great job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

We were instead notified about these allegations by the media more than six months after the alleged incident.
-----------------------------------

Did the TSA reach out to these victims? What was the scope of the TSA investigation?

If TSA really does take complaints seriously, it shouldn't matter how or when the TSA receives the complaint.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob:

I seriously question your choice of the word "fuzzy" photo when you can clearly make out the female's breasts and the mans genitals in the link you have provided to show us what the TSA agents see. Given the TSAs poor track record of policing its employees from stealing money and iPads and strip-searching old ladies when it is against the rules, it is not hard to believe that TSA agents are also profiling women and likely men to get a second (and in this case third) look at the naked image. As previously mentioned, when are you going to get rid of the naked images on the backscatter X-ray machines as promised would be done by end of 2011? "Eventually" is not an answer!

Submitted by AK-VStrom on

Let's see, I can choose to believe the stories told by a handful of random strangers or by Blogger Bob. That's a tough one...(NOT!).

Submitted by Anonymous on

"TSA Officers Focus on Security"

I would be interested in anyone reconciling that assertion with the times that the TSA has stopped passengers from bringing a Medal of Honor and (separately) a cupcake onto a plane, or the time the TSA left an obscene note in a passenger's luggage.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"We have no record of the passenger filing a complaint when this allegedly occurred more than six months ago. Had it been reported to TSA at that time, we could have reviewed CCTV and interviewed the officers."

And what would you expect your screeners to say? "Oh, you caught us! We selected because she is hot!"

By the way, I have filed two different complaints and I never heard back from anyone so I find it hard to believe that you would all just jump from your desks and spring into action at the receipt of such complaints.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA people have a tough job. So who's to blame them if they want a little fun? Anyone that has a gripe should realize that they'd be exposed a lot more in prison searches.

So everybody lighten up.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"We have no record of the passenger filing a complaint when this allegedly occurred more than six months ago. Had it been reported to TSA at that time, we could have reviewed CCTV and interviewed the officers. "

Do you have any record of my complaint? Was the CCTV reviewed? Were the screeners (might as well get used to calling them something other than "officers") interviewed?

I have a copy of the complain. Why did I never hear ANYTHING in response?

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

How many favorable court decisions have the critics of TSA collected?

Where, in whatever number of court hearings, are the assault convictions?

Where are all the law enforcement arrests of TSOs on complaints of "groping" and "sexual assault"?

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
The TSA people have a tough job. So who's to blame them if they want a little fun? Anyone that has a gripe should realize that they'd be exposed a lot more in prison searches.

So everybody lighten up.

February 16, 2012 9:51 PM

..........................
Didn't know we should consider going to the airport the same as getting locked up in a prison. But that does seem to be TSA's point of view doesn't it?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,

Several posters have complained that they filed complaints and go no response.

Will you or the TSA take these complaints seriously?

You have seen something, now the question is will you say something?

Nothing too big on the line, just your personal integrity and the integrity of the TSA.

Submitted by RB on

Bob you talk about having no record of a complaint.

I filed a complaint against a TSA Screener at DFW. I tried everything I could to find out what the resolution was and to this day I have nothing showing that TSA even investigated.

Somehow I think complaints to TSA are treated just like every thing else the public submits, deny and shred.

Perhaps if TSA had a visible process of complaints, investigation, and resolution of those complaints the public would have a bit of trust in how TSA conducts these investigations.

Today, no one believes TSA is doing any kind of investigation other than efforts to discredit the public.

Submitted by RB on

Just curious TSA, is $200 the going rate for instructors to take test for TSA trainees?

Submitted by Old Engineer on

I think Blogger Bob is not living in the real world. Many times I have seen nice looking women pulled aside for additional screening. Not a coincidence!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Where are all the law enforcement arrests of TSOs on complaints of "groping" and "sexual assault"?"

When slavery was legal in this country, there were no arrests for owning slaves. When Jim Crow laws were in effect, there were no arrests for enforcing poll taxes.

Are you saying that Jim Crow and slavery were ok?

Like these examples, the TSA activities will be seen as a grevious breach of Constitutional liberties.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Anonymous writes: The TSA people have a tough job. So who's to blame them if they want a little fun? Anyone that has a gripe should realize that they'd be exposed a lot more in prison searches.

And there we have it: the new slogan for TSA.

TSA Screening: It's Better Than Prison.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Let's see, I can choose to believe the stories told by a handful of random strangers or by Blogger Bob. That's a tough one...(NOT!)."

I concur. Bob has a reason to "evade" the truth; the protection of the TSA.

Random strangers would profit little, if at all, by reporting the TSA abuses.

(screenshot)

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I travel several times a year and every time I travel I get scanned. I am NOT a cute girl, but a 6-2 285 lb balding man. I've been scanned in BOS/LAX/DEN/DFW/DTW and other cities. Although some agents may have personal agenda's I believe it is no where near the norm."

A silly point. I don't think anyone is suggesting that the screening machines were put into place purposely to sexually harass female passengers, just that this screener did so.

The question is how many times have been screened three times?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I believe the woman's claim. Why should she have filed a complaint. She just would have been told that "the TSA does not profile passengers." If she had complained she may have been even subjected to worse searches in the future ad DHS is tracking people who are "hostile" to its agency. Regarding a different agency, but similar situation, I was walking behind NYPD officers doing a stop and search in an NYC train station and I heard one cop say to the other "She's cute, let's stop her." Then they called her over and searched an attractive woman's absolutely harmless looking bag. Only women should see the scans or conduct searches of other women. We know it's not TSA's policy to check out hot women, but it may be the policy of some male employees.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well, so he says that TSA does not
profile people. Jus how does he know what eery TSA employee is doing at all times. It may not be a policy to profile, but it is happening !!

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

The late Gov. Joe Foss almost had his Medal of Honor taken away by screeners but not by TSA. I don't often defend TSA but this happened in January 2002. TSA didn't take over screening until February. It was a highly publicized incident as Gov. Foss was a quite famous man many times over.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Go back to private screeners and allow TSA to focus on real security. All modes of transportation are potential targets, yet most of the funds, attention and resources are spent on Aviation. Why? Yes it’s an attractive target for the terrorist, but it is also a great hot topic for the Politician. Who can always reach back and rattle their saber to milk out a few more votes from their constituents. I will give you 100% Screening! That sounds great! But, nothing is 100%. “He who defends everything, defends nothing” – FTG.

By trying to please everyone, what the people have been presented with is “security theater”. These devices (Back Scatter/ M Wave) are capable of showing clear images which can find the threat, but the American people complain and they get a sheet (filter) put over the image, Yay! People win and Security Loses. Are we safer? No, you see the chair under the sheet, but can no longer tell if there is anything on the cushion or if that is the actual back, arm or leg of the chair. Best of all the people still don’t believe the TSA sheet person/stick figure image is true. Catch 22!

TSA if you’re not going to do real security, go back to private screeners. Let the people and airlines pay for it; No government bailouts. Spend your budget on Intelligence driven security, cover all modes of transportation, like your name implies and let your Special Agents focus on detaining the potential threats and not the general public. Positives ,the public will hate you less and you can fine the private companies/airlines when they fail to perform.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Where, in whatever number of court hearings, are the assault convictions?"

Is this a trick question? Convictions don't result from hearings, they result from trials. What did you mean by this?

Submitted by IraqVet on

In BIG Government News an unelected Czar announced that there were more jobs, more food, more babies, and more of everything since last year despite everything to the contrary.
Scientologist also announced that they have discovered a rift in the space and time continuum and now believe that D.C. and its agents are but a figment of their own press releases.

Submitted by Scott on

We're supposed to believe they Focus on Security? Hey Blogger Bob, ever heard of Minnetta Walker at the Buffalo Niagara airport? This fine TSA agent was CONVICTED of sneaking a drug dealer through security WITHOUT being checked. How secure was that? This "fine" young man could have been carrying weapons on the plane, but yet he was snuck through without being screened. Law abiding citizens have to go through the humiliating pat downs, and have their children groped, but this drug dealer gets a free pass? This is EXACTLY why the TSA is a waste of time, and taxpayers money. Get out of our airports, and get your hands off of us!

Submitted by Anonymous on

" Anonymous said...
"Let's see, I can choose to believe the stories told by a handful of random strangers or by Blogger Bob. That's a tough one...(NOT!)."

I concur. Bob has a reason to "evade" the truth; the protection of the TSA.

Random strangers would profit little, if at all, by reporting the TSA abuses.

(screenshot)

February 17, 2012 11:59 AM"
-----------------
Just like random people don't gain anything by posting on this blog site but they continue to repeat the same tired cliches that don't change anything over and over anyway.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, I can't use your complaint form because it does not bear a valid OMB control number. It expired 1/31/2012. Pursuant to this statement, you are in violation of the law. "An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB control number. The control number assigned to this collection is OMB 1652-0030, which expires 1/31/2012."

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Just like random people don't gain anything by posting on this blog site but they continue to repeat the same tired cliches that don't change anything over and over anyway."

But things are changing and this blog is part of it. When Sen Schumer - a friend of government labor if there is one - starts talking about TSA abuses and the need for reform, we are winning.

If it makes you feel better to think that nothing is going to change, feel free but stand by for big changes. Either the TSA will be reformed or replaced. Either way, we *will* have professional security. We've been lucky long enough. No more security theater.

Submitted by JoJo on

Baa. Go bleat somewhere else, anonymous sheep.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There's no reason to believe that TSA did not behave exactly as this poor woman has described. I can vouch that reporting inappropriate behavior by TSA agents does absolutely no good. If you do get a response, it is a meaningless form letter that provides no resolution.
Given the multitude of TSA agents that have been arrested for stealing from passengers, why should anyone believe they are not also behaving inappropriately in every other possible way as well?

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