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False Report: TSA Airport Car Searches

Friday, July 19, 2013
Cars

It has been reported that TSA Officers at airports are now searching cars. The news started to spread after a story ran this week stating that a woman found a notice informing her that her car had been searched by TSA.

The short version: While we deploy numerous layers of security, TSA officers are not inspecting cars or mandating that they be searched.

In this case, it turns out the car was searched by an employee of a car parking service.

Each airport authority, along with its state and local law enforcement partners, is responsible for securing airport property, including the outer perimeter. At this particular airport, car searches are part of their “airport security plan”.

An airport security plan addresses a myriad of security requirements that each airport must adhere to in order to protect the traveling public, which includes the physical security of the airport property. While the airport security plan is approved by the TSA, it is up to each airport authority and its state and local law enforcement partners to follow the plan that has been implemented.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,

We all know the TSA wasn't searching cars. According to the following article, they were searched by order of the TSA.

http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S3101080.shtml?cat=566

Here is a part of that article:

"Iacuzza's car was inspected by valet attendants on orders from the TSA. But why only valet parked cars? That's what News10NBC wanted to ask the TSA director about. We reached him by phone.

Berkeley Brean asked, “Are the cars in the short term lots and long term lots getting searched as well?”

John McCaffery, TSA, said, “No, those vehicles that are in the garage, short term long term parking, even if they carry pretty large amounts of explosives, they would not cause damage to the front of the airport. But for those who use the valet, the car could be there for a half hour or an hour so there is a vulnerability.”

News10NBC went to the valet parking and one of the attendants showed us the notice they put in the cars.

We asked, “You're required, they tell you, you have to search the car?” Valet Parking Attendant Frank Dettorre said, “I have to do it.”"

Why is the TSA giving orders to search cars? If it is so important for safety, why isn't the TSA doing it themselves, rather than relying on valets who can't possibly have the same training the TSA screeners have?

This entire story stinks and I will be contacting my congressman and senators to let them know my disgust.

screenshot

Submitted by Anonymous on

The contractor wasn't acting as your agent then?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Myth busters? Really?

Are you saying that this article is wrong?

http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S3101080.shtml?cat=566

«John McCaffery, TSA, said, “No, those vehicles that are in the garage, short term long term parking, even if they carry pretty large amounts of explosives, they would not cause damage to the front of the airport. But for those who use the valet, the car could be there for a half hour or an hour so there is a vulnerability.”»

It seems pretty clear that the valets were conducting the searches at the behest of the airport TSA director.

So, Mr. Burns, where does the TSA's authority to perform or order searches? How many yards from the terminal?

And what kind of training did these valet workers receive to look for bombs? Surely if the TSA has to approve any airport plan, it behooves the TSA to ensure that the employees conducting searches have been adequately trained. Right?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let me get this straight: The airport has a security plan approved by the TSA which includes potential search of vehicles by the parking authority. A plan for this particular airport that includes potential car searches, tells me that "someone" has indicated to the airport authority that car searches should be included in the plan. Since the TSA approved the plan, they, the TSA, are happy with the airport searching cars. If the TSA did not indicate to the airport that they should search cars, the airport would not do it. The airport authority has limited funds and would not be doing anything not required or suggested by the TSA. See the logic?

Submitted by Anonymous on
While the airport security plan is approved by the TSA,

Why would the TSA approve of these searches?
Submitted by Anonymous on

Because the TSA has lost credibility with millions of Americans, the TSA now feels the need to respond to even the slightest rumor...that's just sad and pathetic.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'd post a comment but you didn't put up the first one so why waste my time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The report says: "We all agree that security at the airport is very important. When News10NBC interviewed the local director of the TSA Wednesday, he said this was a proactive approach."

So the local director of the TSA is lying?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, you're calling your fellow TSA employee, John McCaffery, a liar?

What about the notice the lady interviewed got?

What about, "TSA says this is part of its overall security plan and that it's a proactive move."?

Beyond the headlines, it is very clear that valets were instructed (under orders from TSA) to search the cars. No one thinks screeners are directly inspecting cars, but it's a lie to say it isn't mandated by TSA.

Why would the valet company require their valets to search the cars, put a notice in the car, and post a sign at the entrance kiosk, all clearly stating they are under orders of the TSA, if the company wasn't under such orders?

Why would a valet company put themselves at such liability for being blamed for stolen or damaged items through these TSA ordered searches if they weren't required to do so? (Answer: They wouldn't.)

It is good you are finally addressing one of the hundreds of serious complaints about the TSA, but to just give us the "short version" and call everyone, including your co-worker, a liar is terrible.

When is the long version coming out? When Pistole is hauled before Congress again?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So, this story was not false entirely as your blog title entales. There is truth to it. How does this keep shady TSA workers from nabbing car owners personal info? That is one step to far if the cars go through a checkpoint (like border patrol/military bases) there would not be any need of wasting time/effort searching cars in the parking lot. Think people, think! While that TSA worker is search cars others are coming in and out of the parking lot. Seems a waste of time & money when other methods are available that are more cost efficient without invading privacy or opening people up to identity theft or a home invasion because a TSA worker has gone one step to far.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey everyone, you know why Bob gave us the "short version." So this post will be buried under one or two super duper long "police blotter" posts, showing all of the things people allegedly bring to the airport. Funny how these items would've been found with WTMDs and weren't threats to aviation safety.

Are we taking bets on how many days til this post goes to page 2?

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Bob, can you be any more disingenuous?

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Submitted by RB on

We know one thing, this Report by TSA is certainly False. Either that or Bob is calling the FSD of that airport a liar.

Which is it Bob?

Submitted by Anonymous on

If the airport did not inspect the cars as part of its security plan, then as a regulated entity TSA could fine the airport up to $25K for each car they failed to inspect. If TSA does not believe these inspections are necessary then request the airport operating authority remove them from their airport security plan.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Because the TSA has lost credibility with millions of Americans, the TSA now feels the need to respond to even the slightest rumor...that's just sad and pathetic."

TSA processes over 100 million passengers per year and factual complaints are very rare.

Keep up the great work TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

According to this link, John McCaffrey is the current Federal Security Directer of the Rochester and Elmira airports.
http://secondopinion-tv.org/panelist/john-mccaffrey

So, Bob, how can you possibly deny any TSA involvement in this outrageous violation of the 4th Amendment when the FSD at ROC is the one saying that it's a TSA program?

Is the FSD of two New York airports lying to the media? Is the FSD of two airports so uninformed about what's going on at his own airports that he's mistaken about TSA involvement in this search program? Or are you just spouting unsupportable denials without bothering to check on the specifics with the TSA people at ROC first?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yeah, the TSA wasn't searching the cars. TSA was just having other people do it for them. Somehow this makes it OK.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I've gone through airport security enough to know that the majority of travelers just want to get on the plane and take off. They don't care about the screening of their person or possessions. They don't care if the car is searched.

Here, in this blog, every complainer gets a chance to air their grievance equally. TSA itself provided a soapbox. What more could the complainer want? What a country!

Times have changed and "rights" granted by the government 200 years ago are interpreted accordingly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My valet key won't allow access to the glove box, center console or the trunk.
How are they going to search my car?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said:
"Times have changed and 'rights' granted by the government 200 years ago are interpreted accordingly."

The Declaration of Independence says:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The Constitution of the United States says:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

How more wrong could Anonymous be, by saying that these rights should be reinterpreted?

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is great. TSA perceives a threat.... and gets untrained car valets to investigate. Yup, that's confidence inspiring.

I hope TSA is also searching (or getting valets to search) all the delivery trucks and commercial vehicles that are at the airports for more than a few minutes. But then, that still doesn't address the real issues: if vehicles can carry bombs then why is TSA only concentrating on the ones that are parked for short periods? Have they not heard of suicide bombers? It silly.

There's so many gaping holes in the idea that King Kong could waddle through them. Bob, you also appear to be either misinformed or simply lying. Which is it?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Because the TSA has lost credibility with millions of Americans, the TSA now feels the need to respond to even the slightest rumor...that's just sad and pathetic."

TSA processes over 100 million passengers per year and factual complaints are very rare.
***********
Try making a factual complaint against a TSO and having the TSA investigate. The only way to get an answer is to involve the local media. Otherwise the TSA ignores you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Other than a few conspiracy theorists, nobody cares if TSA is searching cars?

Submitted by Adrian on

Bob, why haven't you posted a retraction yet for completely mischaracterizing the news story?

You wrote: "It’s has been reported that TSA Officers at airports are now searching cars. The news started to spread after a story ran this week stating that a woman found a notice informing her that her car had been searched by TSA."

This is false. I'd almost go so far as to call it a lie.

The news storyclearly explained that the woman's car was searched by airport valets. They even got a comment from a TSA spokesperson. Nowhere is there a claim that the TSA is searching cars.

The only lie here from the TSA. You owe us a retraction, Bob.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Because the TSA has lost credibility with millions of Americans, the TSA now feels the need to respond to even the slightest rumor...that's just sad and pathetic."

TSA processes over 100 million passengers per year and factual complaints are very rare.

*****************

Here's some facts to consider...

1. ABC News reported in October 2012 that multiple TSA employees have been fired for theft in at least 20 of the TOP US airports

2. The TSA discontinued use of "virtual strip machines" (backscatter) as of June 1, 2013 due to a mandate by Congress and because the vendor could not effectively implement privacy requirements. This discontinued technology virtually stripped searched millions of law-abiding Americans of all ages (No one really understands if there were health implications, at least yet)

3. Passengers who "opt out" of advanced imaging technology are still subject to intrusive searches that include feeling the inside of a passenger's thigh upwards to the groin area as well as feeling around the entire breast area (for female passengers); this interaction would be considered unacceptable for most law-abiding Americans outside the confines of an airport checkpoint.

I personally believe that "credible" individuals or groups can not reasonably justify their association with the aforementioned behaviors and practices.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...

Other than a few conspiracy theorists, nobody cares if TSA is searching cars?

Since the TSA has not publicized this blog, you can't judge either side by the number of comments. However, 4000+ negative comments on the Regulations.gov rulemaking proposal shows that you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to be angry with TSA's abuse and illegal extension of powers it was given by our government when it was first established.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In the following article, they have pictures of the notice that the woman whose car was searched and the notice on the valet booth window:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/18/did-you-know-tsa-allows-searc...

If you can't get to the article, here is the text of the notice that the lady found in her car:

"Your vehicle has been inspected under TSA regulations"

Here is the text of the notice on the valet booth window:

"Notice to Valet Customers. TSA requires an inspection of your vehicle when parked in front of the terminal."

While the TSA isn't searching the vehicles, it looks like they are ordering the valets to do so. I can't see a private company performing such searches. It opens them up to liability if something gets stolen. I can't imagine valets would want to risk their lives searching for bombs. This just sounds like a convenient way to circumvent the Constitution and perform unlawful searches.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to see the memoranda and other documentation that show TSA leadership's thought process in proposing and moving forward with this valet search proposal. I would particularly like to see the cost-benefit analysis (which should include the costs of training valets to look for bombs as well as the expected reduction in risk) and the Privacy Impact Analysis.

Submitted by RB on

What training has TSA provided car parking valets in order to safely conduct searches for weapons, explosives, or other such devices that would be of a concern to TSA?

Why did TSA post the "False Report: TSA Airport Car Searches" article since it is mostly not true.

Doesn't TSA have some requirement that mandates employee honesty when speaking to the public?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,
I support the searches so long as they are reasonable.
BDS

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Bob,
I support the searches so long as they are reasonable.
BDS

July 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM

............................................
Warrantless searches are never reasonable.

TSA has no mandate to search outside of the airport.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Don't we all want the same thing? Safety & Security. Why so much grousing about security. Travelers are potential terrorists. No one can deny that. The government security forces are the enemies of terrorists. Terrorists try to blend in with the peaceful citizens. Security apparatus must be able to reliably differentiate terrorists from citizens. They can't do this without tools of search and distraint.

So the traveler has to be considered the enemy of safety and security until reasonable proof shows otherwise. We should all get together on this.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Don't we all want the same thing? Safety & Security. Why so much grousing about security. Travelers are potential terrorists. No one can deny that. The government security forces are the enemies of terrorists. Terrorists try to blend in with the peaceful citizens. Security apparatus must be able to reliably differentiate terrorists from citizens. They can't do this without tools of search and distraint.

So the traveler has to be considered the enemy of safety and security until reasonable proof shows otherwise. We should all get together on this.

July 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM
..................

If TSA must be able to tell normal travelers from terrorist and there are 1.6 million travelers each day and not one terrorist identified by TSA is over 10 years then I submit that the terrorist threat is extremely low.

It's time to return screening to a more normal posture. End the LGA restrictions, stop making people disrobe at the checkpoint, use Pre Check screening as the base level screening for everyone only elevating when cause is shown.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Don't we all want the same thing? Safety & Security. Why so much grousing about security. Travelers are potential terrorists. No one can deny that. The government security forces are the enemies of terrorists. Terrorists try to blend in with the peaceful citizens. Security apparatus must be able to reliably differentiate terrorists from citizens. They can't do this without tools of search and distraint.

So the traveler has to be considered the enemy of safety and security until reasonable proof shows otherwise. We should all get together on this.

July 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM
-----------------------------

This is completely the opposite of one of the founding principles of the USA. If you were accused of a crime, would you want to have to prove your innocence rather than being innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

The same principle should apply to air travel. All travelers should be treated as just travelers unless there is suspicion to think otherwise. I'm ok if they want to subject the occasional traveler to extra screening at random. To treat all travelers as guilty until proven innocent is wrong. Virtually 100% of travelers are innocent and should be treated that way. The TSA Pre screening program should be the default screening for all travelers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Why so much grousing about security. "

Because's TSA's approach to security is grotesquely invasive, based on hysteria and overreaction, and doesn't actually make anyone safer.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"...the traveler has to be considered the enemy of safety and security..."

Spot on. I worked in a prison and the inmates were always under suspicion. And correctly so. This suspicion saved many lives. It works at the airports, too.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"guilty until proven innocent is wrong..." Why?

Travel is not a court proceeding. You can have all the rights you want in court. People surrender to authority all the time. Tell the police officer you didn't want to stop when you were pulled over at a traffic stop because you did nothing wrong. It might get you tasered and jailed. Or worse.

People on this blog seem to think they have "rights" that don't exist and this "jailhouse law" serves only the enemies of our government. People that play into the hands of the enemies are collaborators. We should all stand together to defeat terrorists.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,

Are we going to get any official comment on why the information left in the vehicles states

""inspected under TSA regulations"

Is the above correct? If it is incorrect are the sheets being changed?

Or is the TSA just going to ignore the public?

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Anon asks - "The contractor wasn't acting as your agent then?"

The answer is included in the original post Anon -

"The short version: While we deploy numerous layers of security, TSA officers are not inspecting cars or mandating that they be searched."

I hope that helped to clarify some.

Another Anon asks - "How does this keep shady TSA workers from nabbing car owners personal info?"

Again, the answer was included in the original post -

"The short version: While we deploy numerous layers of security, TSA officers are not inspecting cars or mandating that they be searched."

It is hard for a TSO to gain anything from someones car when they are not actually doing the searches, nor ordering the searches.

Adrian sez - "You wrote: "It’s has been reported that TSA Officers at airports are now searching cars. The news started to spread after a story ran this week stating that a woman found a notice informing her that her car had been searched by TSA."

This is false. I'd almost go so far as to call it a lie."

There have been several links, blog posts and commentaries posted indicating that TSA was actually doing the searches, some have indicated that TSA is ordering it. Some even lead with headlines/blog titles along the lines of "TSA now searching cars". All of those are misleading, this post was to provide some clarity, and to inform the public that TSA is in fact, not doing the searches, nor did they order them.

Again, I hope these answers can help clarify things a bit for our readers.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Keep going, Bob! We've almost forgotten about the inappropriate harassment of a 15-year-old girl by one of your agents!

Submitted by Anonymous on

You give permission to a valet to enter your car. If the valet looks around for contraband at the behest of TSA or any other government agency while performing this task then there can be no cry of "foul".

Submitted by Anonymous on
"...I worked in a prison and the inmates were always under suspicion. And correctly so. This suspicion saved many lives. It works at the airports, too."

Are you equating prison with TSA security checkpoints? I grant you that there are similarities (e.g., intrusive patdowns and body inspections), but the risk profile of inmates is not at all the same risk profile as the average flyer. Rates of recidivism* indicate that someone with a criminal record is far more likely than the average traveler to commit a new crime. That is, there is an objective, statistical basis for scrutinizing criminals to a higher degree than you would the average traveler. The chances that a flyer is a terrorist is so minute (1 in 20 million!) that equating known criminals to flyers is absurd.

*Recidivism statistics are available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Example:

"Of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 states in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years."
Submitted by Anonymous on

"People on this blog seem to think they have 'rights' that don't exist."

I have a copy of the Bill of Rights. Are you not a U.S. citizen, too?

Submitted by Anonymous on

West, please respond to this image --

http://i.imgur.com/P7AX8Aq.png

I assume that the FSD at Rochester has thoroughly reprimanded the valet operators for falsely claiming that the TSA was ordering these searches?

And what incentive would the valet operator have to lie about this?

Thank you.

Submitted by Garrett Collins on

Well if I was in charge of a garage and saw a couple of Skylines like your picture suggests, I would poke around them too!

Submitted by Anonymous on
"Again, I hope these answers can help clarify things a bit for our readers."

-------------------------------
Why do the leaflets left in the car say

"inspected under TSA regulations"?
Submitted by Anonymous on

West,

I've read multiple articles about this and one of the comments posted above lists the text of the notice in the car and the valet booth:

"
"Your vehicle has been inspected under TSA regulations"

Here is the text of the notice on the valet booth window:

"Notice to Valet Customers. TSA requires an inspection of your vehicle when parked in front of the terminal." "

Those statements make it seem like the TSA is ordering the searches. If that is not the case, will the TSA ask the valet company remove or reword these notices?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Where is my post of almost (4) hours ago? 3 or 4 posts have been accepted since then!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well??? Huh??? We're waiting!

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