TSA Responds to Parade Magazine's Article on Airport Security

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Letters To The Editor

Parade Magazine's September 7th "Intelligence Report" oversimplifies the reality of U.S. airport security today and it falls into the trap of evaluating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) only based on what is seen at the checkpoint. The American public is somewhat complacent today about the risk of terror compared to seven years ago immediately after 9/11. Their comfort level is afforded, thanks in part, to many tireless people who are focused on the ongoing threat. Among these public servants are TSA's workforce, men and women who report to their posts each day motivated by the motto, "not on my watch."

TSA has a strong strategic and tactical focus on intelligence and law enforcement, just as the 9/11 Commission recommended. TSA also employs a multi-layered approach to security that includes engaging the scientific community. For example, the current liquid restrictions are based on science from Sandia National Laboratories and information sharing with partners including other government agencies, foreign counterparts and law enforcement. TSA is a risk-based, intelligence-driven organization with a highly capable federal law enforcement component, i.e. the Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service, whose duties include serving on every joint terrorism task force in the United States.

While our young agency, born in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, has had its share of hard-learned lessons, look no farther than the recently concluded U.K. liquid bomb plot trial in London to see that the terrorist threat to aviation is real and our continued vigilance is unquestionably warranted. An open and constructive dialogue involving transportation security is always welcome and beneficial. Perhaps the next time you are going through airport security, taking a moment to convey respect and thanks to the Transportation Security Officers, the folks in the new blue uniforms, would offer well deserved recognition. After all, your safety is their priority.

Ellen Howe
Assistant Administrator
Office of Strategic Communications & Public Affairs
Transportation Security Administration