Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 16, 2010

“If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”

Filed under: Aviation Security — by Christopher Bellavita on November 16, 2010

It’s not exactly, “Give me liberty or give me death.” But somehow, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested” may be a fitting candidate for a 21st century analog to Patrick Henry’s cry.

John Tyner – the man who uttered these words — has become the most recent recruit to the growing “Why is TSA doing these things to us?” army of apparently regular people.

If you have not read about his Saturday morning encounter with TSA at the San Diego International Airport, or watched the now viral youtube video of the episode, you can learn about it here: http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html

Every time there is one of these episodes – and they’ve increased since the implementation of the new “enhanced patdown procedures” [note to marketing: lose the “enhanced” modifier.  The reminder of “enhanced interrogation” is too creepy.]

Restart – Every time there is one of these episodes, it is always interesting to read the comments section of the web article or blog post.  Almost without exception the comments fall into one of two categories:

1.    Dear sir/madam: You are a jerk.  No one is above the law.  Rules are rules.  I want to fly in safety.  The  procedures are for our safety. If you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t fly.

2.    Dear sir/madam: You are a hero.  The rules are stupid.  They violate the 4th amendment.  They have nothing to do with security. What a waste of money.  TSA has not caught one terrorist.  This is how the Nazis got people to behave.  If people don’t want to put liberty ahead of a false security, they shouldn’t fly.

Osama and his buddies must be in whatever passes for hysterics in his gang over our inability to get out of the trap he set: everyone has to prove they are not a terrorist before they can fly.

Months ago, Dee Walker wrote in this blog about her archetypal difficulties with TSA.  In one of her posts, she noted that the “patdowns” she experienced were cursory at best, and clearly ineffective.

I wondered what she thought about the new enhanced procedures.

Here’s what she wrote.  (She wrote this before the Tyner incident)

———————-

Passengers: targets or threats?

The very same week that the  TSA announces a change in its check point pat-down protocols, a terrorist in Yemen with a known proclivity for making bombs reminds us, yet again, that passengers are more likely targets than threats.

To re-cap, last month, TSA promised an impending “change” in the process screeners use to engage passengers who request a pat-down in lieu of passing through the great privacy compromiser, AKA  full-body imaging devices.  At the time of the announcement, TSA spokesperson declined further comment, a strategic lapse, no doubt, intended to generate buzz and chatter.  The next day, we learned that pat-downs would become more invasive to travelers who request them.

I have previously noted that the pat-downs engaged by TSA screeners are neither thorough, nor are they effective.  Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent experiences at BWI  and Providence airports indicate this is still the case, but he also all but confirms that the TSA seeks to embarrass and intimidate passengers into compliance with the body-scanner process.

Since I have complained repeatedly about the nature and lack of accountability inherent in random selections for additional screening, you would think that I would be happy with a process like full body-imaging, that consistently impacts all travelers.  I am anything but happy.  In fact, I am outraged and it would appear I have much good company.

The touch that humiliates

The new search protocol, according to Goldberg, requires screeners “utilize a sliding motion” to more thoroughly check the crotch area of travelers; not, apparently, for the purpose of finding weapons, but with the main intent of getting travelers  “into the machines.”  In other words, it increase the likelihood of individualized, public humiliation in order to gain mass compliance.

If this news does not disturb you, I am not surprised. If this news disturbs you, then you have only yourself to blame.

We brave Americans are nothing but little sheep when it comes to air travel, me included.  We continue to think that if we cooperate, if we put our heads down while we raise our arms as directed, we will be safe.  Al Qaeda keeps trying to tell us how wrong we are, but we are not listening to them, again.  We are too busy listening to TSA screeners yell at us to remove our shoes and laptops.  Our liquids and gels are seized as we pass en route to our overcrowded seats, positioned both invisibly and mere feet above tons of unscreened and unsafe cargo.

In the most recent event, cargo that was suspected of containing a bomb, had been searched and cleared.  Agents had to be told specifically to look for computer printers before finding what ended up being a bomb that was strong enough to bring down the cargo plane in which it was being transported.   But TSA wants to more thoroughly search our crotches?

I continue to wonder when, as travelers, we will rise in protest of procedures that continue to compromise not just our privacy, but our safety as well.  We  routinely and very passively submit to a seriously flawed screening process, that has one purpose: Efficiency.

On time departures vs. air travel safety

Think about it for just a moment and reflect upon your own experiences.  On the whole, we get really mad when our planes are late, but we are not silent about this unforgivable sin. Far from it.  We complain to our friends and on travel websites about missed meetings.  When we miss connecting flights we demand to be compensated, per federal law.  We loudly demand free hotel rooms when blizzards hit as predicted days in advance.   We want Congress to pass a bill of rights for air passengers that reduce our collective risk of sitting on a tarmac.  Meanwhile, important legislation regarding screening rates for cargo has been largely ignored, and this failure has been met with the most reliable characteristic of US travelers when it comes to safety: silence.

As consumers and travelers, we are solely to blame for the current, porous state of air travel safety.  We have allowed TSA to engage a screening process that focuses its sights on us, and we have quietly acquiesced, all in the hopes that we arrive at our destinations on-time and under-budget.  We, the travelers, have failed to insist upon a more holistic screening process that does not separate passengers from the rest of the plane, its contents, its location, its destination and passenger roster.    In essence, passenger screening is the low-hanging fruit of air travel safety.

Had the al Qaeda bomb attacks launched a few weeks ago been successful, would we now have the courage to ask about the effectiveness of traveler screening?  I suspect not.  In fact, I fear the opposite would be likely.  Passenger screening would be lauded as successful, which, it would be argued, forced al Qaeda to attack asymmetrically using the cargo.

We would then (and very likely will yet), engage in some knee-jerk response designed to heighten perceptions of safety while not unduly compromising the efficiency of moving cargo, because that costs money, and those costs will be passed onto us, the passengers.  More safe cargo means more expensive tickets.  We tend to be pretty vocal about how much we don’t want that.

Revamp the entire air travel system

Sadly, no amount of silence will make us safe.  Remember, the printer cartridge plots were not foiled by screening or by searching.  They were foiled by intelligence.  The computer bombs were interdicted by hard work on the ground in Yemen and quick work facilitated by meaningful communication among agents of cooperating nations.  Can we not reasonably expect some of these characteristics to transfer to more effective passenger screening methodologies?

Passenger screening as currently practiced is a complete waste of time if there are bombs in the cargo hold.  Screening and searching cargo cannot currently be accomplished in a meaningful and cost-effective manner.  A more holistic approach to air travel safety is needed to isolate threats, whether those threats be borne by passengers or cargo.  The more time and resources we waste kidding ourselves that what we are doing is working is more time and money  wasted.   Al Qaeda has demonstrated consistent focus on its goals, and it is only a matter of time before some bloody success is again realized.  That success might be on board a plane that is in the sky today.

Are US travelers, as a group, as capable as al Qaeda?  What if, on one given day, every single traveler passing through US airports refused to enter the body-scanner as a means of protest to the current state of our system?  Would our leaders then understand that we are serious about demanding a revamped air travel safety system?

Are we serious or are we kidding ourselves, still?

How to break the chain of intimidation

Over the course of the past two years, I have been selected for secondary screening roughly forty percent of the time I fly.   I am always polite, but, for many reasons,  I never cooperate with secondary screening requests.   Almost predictably, given my experience, I got “randomly” selected for additional screening, yet again, a few days ago.  This time, I was passing through Tampa International Airport.

After informing the screener that I would not enter the body scanner, she pointedly informed me that TSA had recently implemented new pat-down standards that would include a search of the “crotch area”.  I had to wait five minutes to be searched, and then immediately engaged a second screener regarding these “new” techniques.  I asked this screener how much training each member of TSA received on execution of the new pat-down techniques.  She asked me why I wanted to know and said she was just trying to do a pat-down (as in, please don’t ask me anything, I am just trying to do my job here).  I told her that I was a police officer (I did not indicate I was retired) and was very interested in the level and intensity of training on the new pat-down standards.

She looked a little unsure of herself and told me she had received “a day” of training.  I asked her if TSA would verify for me that each trainer received a full day of training on the new techniques.  She then stated that the amount of training varied by airport and by class size.  I then asked her how many people had been in her class and she told me that if I had questions, I could ask the supervisors after she completed her search.  I looked her dead in the eyes and asked why she would not answer a very simple question, and once I promised it would be my last question, she told me that five people had been in her class.

Generally, the pat-down did not feel any different from the last half dozen pat-downs I have experienced, and it was equally ineffective as a pat-down.  I suspect that the goal was not to interdict weapons or contraband, but to elevate the level of embarrassment felt by those of us who refuse to enter the body scanner. Yet again, that had no effect upon me.  What felt markedly different this trip was how very forcefully informed I was by the first screener, and how utterly intimidated the second screener appeared by my inquiries, coupled with her apparent willingness to offer less than accurate information.

I keep getting back to wondering how we let this happen.  TSA is an agency out of control, and likely the greatest single sources of stress for travelers today. Further, screener hostility toward inquiries like mine further exacerbates my frustration and my concern for our freedom.  I have read the signs that tell me to engage the screeners, but when I do, I am met with suspicion, if not by overt hostility.  We, the people, have instilled great discretion in TSA, and yet there seems to be absolutely no desire by us to achieve accountability for the type of decisions that are made.  Why am I so routinely selected for additional “random” screening?  Why is one screener permitted to completely ignore my inquiries, when other screeners provide answers?  Why are screeners allowed to provide incorrect information?  Why have my inquiries generated an interview from behavioral detection experts, directed there to ascertain what my “problem is”?

Democracy requires information in order to work, and one of the best ways to get information is to ask questions.  Should screeners be allowed to provide inaccurate information?  Should screeners be permitted to refuse to provide me information on processes that are not classified as secret?  Should the mere act of me asking for information be punishable by additional screening?  My experience indicates, sadly yes, across the board.

I do not seek out the attention that TSA showers upon me, but when they are so kind to make me the star of their show, I think I deserve answers to reasonable questions, just as I deserve to be told why a particular question is not reasonable.  The mere act of inquiring should not generate retaliatory actions, like those I experienced in Memphis.

Traveler todo list

I have created a list of to-do’s for travelers who, like me, are fed up with the inconsistency and lack of accountability demonstrated by TSA.  I have attempted to ensure that the guidance I provide is consistent with the guidance that TSA provides.  My suggestions offer you the opportunity to gain some level of accountability:

Engage Your Screener: If you are selected for additional screening, or a level of screening that is clearly different from the majority of travelers around you, immediately ask why you were selected.  TSA Screeners will try to rush or herd you into the body scanner if you are not careful. You must immediately state that you will not enter the scanner.  You will be told about the new and more thorough pat down techniques that are being used and will again be offered the “choice” of going through the body scanner or the pat down,  Again, affirmatively state that you will not enter the body scanner.  Then prepare for all eyes to be upon you as the screener states loudly into their radio “We have a refusal”.  Do not be worried and do not allow yourself to be cajoled.  This is just another link in the chain of intimidation.

After you are told yours was a ‘random’ selection, try to note who is “randomly” selected immediately after you. If it is a person of the same race or gender as you are, ask the screener whether those characteristics were relevant to your selection.  Also note the name of the person who is providing information to you.  I strongly encourage you to be polite, and to address the person by their name, as in “Okay,  Ms. Jones, I am waiting right here until you tell me where to go.”  Or, Yes, Mr. Smith, I will remove everything from my pockets”.  Being rude just makes a bad situation worse, and frankly it is not the screeners fault that they are asked to do stupid things. Being rude will also reduce the likelihood that your questions will be answered.  Sometimes, just asking the questions can generate additional attention, and may get you an interview with a behavioral detection officer (BDO).

As you are shuttled to the side or down the middle, you may be asked whether you want to be screened in private.  I was not given that option in Tampa, which is fine because I strongly urge you to decline private screening. The more eyes on what is happening to you, the better for you.  I believe most screeners are highly uncomfortable with the new pat-down procedures and likely resent people like me, who refuse to enter the scanner.  They are far less likely to try to retaliate against you with other people watching.

Do not be afraid to ask to speak to a supervisor.  If reasonable questions are not answered, you should seek answers from the people in the booth.  Take down names, especially when employees of TSA refuse to answer your questions.  Try to also remember to ask why your questions are not being answered.  Be prepared for a general lack of cooperation and remember that TSA wants to get you into and out of the security experience quickly.   The quality of your interaction is far less important.

Finally, follow up.  Make friends, family and acquaintances aware of your experiences and contact TSA.  In his book, Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000 Pete Blackshaw reminds us that in today’s world, the customer is king and queen.

It is time for each of us to remind TSA of that very same thing.

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21 Comments »

Comment by hwk

November 16, 2010 @ 8:12 am

reading a web article or blog post about airport security there is always a moment when i think: why is the “first contact” officer not explaining WHY he / she is doing what he / she ist doing?
It would be much easier if people communicate in the first place and not:

person: I won’t do it.

officer: but you have to.

person: No!

officer: you do!

person: Why?

officer: coz of the policy.

….

and then the supervisor 30 minutes later says:
No problem, you don’t have to shave your cat to come back home to the US.

It’s so useless and stupid, but that’s what ‘they’ want. people should think: I better do what they want to get out fast.
the first contact officer is supposed to be the scapegoat.

Comment by John Comiskey

November 16, 2010 @ 8:16 am

TSA in its best form a necessary evil -in its worst form an intolerable one.

Thomas Paine said the same thing about government. I think Mr. Paine would appreciate the analogue.

I travel a lot –both internationally and domestically. I am a recently retired police officer and military reservist. I currently teach homeland security and am curious about security and people. When I travel, I watch security officials and have made a number of observations.

Air travelers range from the travel-wise businessmen like George Clooney’s character in the movie Up in the Air to families and school groups off to vacation destinations. They all want the same thing –to get where they want to go under budget, on-time, and safely.

Airport security varies. Airport security, at the entry-level, appears to be monotonous, stressful, boring, and probably not too self-rewarding. Airport security officials to include TSA appear to be going through the motions.

If nothing more, Airport security officials need a moral boost. Their job is important and we the air travels should recognize them and thank them.

TSA is, by necessity, an efficiency-driven organization –that stated purpose mostly facilitates the goals of air travelers.

TSA’s website claims “Your Safety is our priority.” http://www.tsa.gov/
To that point, TSA claims that during the week of 11/08/10-11/14/10:
6 artfully concealed prohibited items were found at checkpoints
11 firearms were found at check points
6 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents

TSA is hiring Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). See:

http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=91905476&JobTitle=Transportation+Security+Officer+(TSO)&q=TSA&brd=3876&vw=b&FedEmp=N&FedPub=Y&x=72&y=23&pg=1&re=0&AVSDM=2010-11-04+11%3a28%3a00

The key requirements of a TSO are:
• Must be a US Citizen or US National; be 18 years old at time of application
• Be proficient in English; have customer service skills
• Dependable & operate with integrity; repeatedly lift/carry up to 70 pounds
• Maintain focus & awareness within a stressful environment
• Meet job-related medical standards and pass background investigation
• See Qualifications and Evaluations for additional requirements

I thought that the focus & mental ability requirement warranted a cut and paste:

FOCUS & MENTAL ABILITY: TSOs must be able to maintain focus
and awareness and work within a stressful environment. The position
requires employees to make effective decisions in both crisis and
routine situations. Necessary skills include visual observation and
x-ray interpretation. The work environment includes noise from
alarms, machinery, and people, distractions, time pressure,
disruptive and angry passengers, and the requirement to identify and
locate potentially life threatening devices and devices intended on
creating massive destruction.

The starting pay of a TSO ranges from 31 to 47 K per annum.

TSA is charged with screening air passengers.

Reasons:

Terrorists have hijacked planes and flown them into buildings
Terrorists have secreted IEDs into their shoes
Terrorists have secreted IEDs in their rectums
Terrorists have secreted IEDs to their persons
Terrorists have fashioned water bottles and their contents into IEDs
Terrorist are IMHO exploring new means to bring IEDs unto airplanes

Also see TSA’s why? http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/why.shtm

Each passenger poses a threat to air security.

What to do?

TSA and all airport security should be polite and informative.

Touching a person to detect a weapon is necessary. TSOs should be trained to condcut frisks and searches professionaly and with sensitivity.

Appropriate signage should clearly tell the traveler what is being done and why it is being done. A supervisor should be available to vet and ameliorate exceptional matters at each checkpoint.

Air passengers should be polite and informed. Read your air tickets and the contract you signed (maybe electronically) of both your rights and responsibilities.

BTW most travelers approve of full-body scanners. See USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-01-11-security-poll_N.htm

Anyone with a comprehensive strategy or just some good ideas to improve air security should contact TSA –their web home page has a suggestion-submittal hyperlink.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 16, 2010 @ 8:31 am

A secret plot to promote other travel modes? High speed rail. Imagine if just 10% of the Airline subsidies had gone to rail combined with 10% of highway construction! It might be quite a different country.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

November 16, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

Jeffrey Goldberg has suggested an, uh, interesting twist for what is being labeled National Opt-Out Day (November 24): kilts.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/tsa-opt-out-day-now-with-a-superfantastic-new-twist/66545/

Comment by Christopher Bellavita

November 16, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

In case you don’t have time to get to the Goldberg post Arnold suggested, here’s part of it:

“But come November 24th, here’s an idea you might try to make the day extra-special. It’s a one-word idea: Kilts. Think about it — if you’re a male, and you want to bollix-up the nonsensical airport security-industrial complex, one way to do so would be to wear a kilt. If nothing else, this will cause TSA employees to throw up their hands in disgust. If you want to go the extra extra mile, I suggest commando-style kilt-wearing. While it is probably illegal to fly without pants, I can’t imagine that it’s illegal to fly without underpants.”

TSA’s blogger bob has also chimed in (at http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/11/opting-out-of-advanced-imaging.html):

“AIT is optional for everybody. However, if you decide to opt-out of AIT screening, you must undergo alternative screening, which will include a pat-down. As I’ve said before, there is nothing punitive about it- it just makes good security sense. Obviously a passenger can’t completely opt out of all screening if they opt out of AIT. That would not make good security sense. AIT is deployed to help us find non-metallic threats, so if you’re selected for AIT and choose to opt-out, we still need to check you for non-metallic threats. That’s why a pat-down is required. If you refuse both, you can’t fly. It is important that all screening procedures are completed. This ensures that terrorists do not have an opportunity to probe TSA’s procedures by electing not to fly just as TSA’s screening procedures are on the verge of detecting that the passenger is a terrorist. Also, it’s important to remember that TSA screens nearly 2 million passengers daily and that very few passengers are required to receive a pat-down.”

and

“…finally, the $10,000.00 question of the day… Will you receive a $10,000.00 fine if you opt out of screening all together and leave the checkpoint? While TSA has the legal authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000.00 for cases such as this, each case is determined on the individual circumstances of the situation.”

But Jeffrey Goldberg (who is now on a mission) has yet another idea (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/an-even-better-though-more-fatalistic-tsa-idea-than-kilts/66586/)

“…in the unlikely event the federal government doesn’t listen to the voice of the people and end this naked-picture-taking/ball-groping ridiculousness, we, the American people, might as well gain some benefit from the invasion of our privacy, so here’s my suggestion: Perhaps the federal government can take all males over 40 who pass through airport checkpoints and give them that digital prostate exam we dread so much at the same time they’re checking us for explosives taped to our scrotums. It would be a very efficient use of time, and this way the government can do what we suspect they already want to do, which is to go all the way and inspect bodily cavities for explosives, while claiming that the assbomb-checking actually has a health benefit. If it is true that the federal government is taking a larger role in health care, why not conduct this prostate exam at a time when we’re already being humiliated? Also, mammograms! Let’s get it all done at the same time. In fact, the TSA should invite the IRS to set up inspection stations at security checkpoints, so random Americans can be selected for audits, which can be conducted while we’re standing with our hands up like mugging victims in the back-scatter machines. Also, we can invite Mayor Bloomberg to visit select checkpoints so that he can conduct searches of our carry-on bags for salty snacks.”

Comment by Seymour Butts

November 16, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

Chris:

Yes, TSA has another public relations problem. You saw it coming last August when al-Asiri the bomb builder sent his brother on a suicide mission with an artfully concealed body bomb aimed at the Saudi counter-terrorism prince. The lackluster (“flacid”, rather than “enhanced”?) pat down performed by the security forces missed his underwear bomb. No pat down or AIT screening was performed on the Nigerian on NW253 on Christmas (sorry, politically correct) Dec 25 flight. Ms. Walker is right in many respects – pat downs are not as effective as they need to be. I don’t believe that those doing the pat downs really want to do it – so they try to convince those that opt out to get back in the line. Mrs. Butts, a frequent flier and TSA critic, dislikes it because it is slow but she submits – and would probably never opt out to face a pat down. So we fall back on technology – until the next novel attack mode that causes new procedures and new technology. The AIT is a good measure that seems effective against last years threat and gives us a brief respite of 2-5 years as our adversaries come up with the next threat.

What puzzles me is that Ms. Walker wrote:
“Since I have complained repeatedly about the nature and lack of accountability inherent in random selections for additional screening, you would think that I would be happy with a process like full body-imaging, that consistently impacts all travelers. I am anything but happy. In fact, I am outraged and it would appear I have much good company.”

But she gives no reason. I’m not sure why. It seems to me a cost of flying. It is more effective and less intrusive. The CBS poll this morning stated that 85% of Americans favor it. (Yes, I know – 37% believe Obama was not born in the US, 9/11 was an inside job, etc.) I can understand that a former law enforcement officer would take offense to a pat down from an non-law enforcement officer just trying to put in their 8 hours at the checkpoint that day. It is not a great process – the better system is walking into the AIT.

And if we don’t have AIT/pat downs then what happens if a body bomb takes out a commercial aircraft? What does the TSA Administrator tell the victim’s family and the American people? Most travelers like Mrs. Butts and Ms. Walker just want to move through the airport unhassled. TSA needs to make them part of the solution not part of the problem. Sec Napolitano’s embrace of “See something, say something” is a right start, but we need a little bit more than a slogan. Ms. Walker as a former LEO and frequent flier needs to be hassled less and engaged constructively more than TSA is currently doing. The stillborn “trusted traveler” program had issues, but unrealized promise.

The Wed. before Thanksgiving should be interesting.

Comment by Seymour Butts

November 17, 2010 @ 12:06 am

OK – I posted and then found this older story.

Terrorists ‘could use exploding breast implants to blow up jet’
Breast-implants packed with explosives could be used by terrorists to blow up an airliner, experts have reportedly warned.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/7510350/Terrorists-could-use-exploding-breast-implants-to-blow-up-jet.html

Fighting Threats that don’t exist, with systems that don’t work.
or
TSA putting the T&A in Security.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 17, 2010 @ 4:02 am

Or reserved flights for those who wish no screening at all?

Comment by Touch and Feel: The TSA American Way

November 17, 2010 @ 8:08 am

I called into WBT Charlotte radio the other night while driving as the program host was hearing from folks up and down the eastern seaboard who were voicing much frustration with new TSA policy implementation where a TSA employee is allowed to pat down and feel up those waiting to board.

TSA has never done its job comprehensively as far too much baggage and cargo goes unnoticed and there is no necessity in such feel of another’s crevices for the use of trained dogs seemed to be the preferred and effective method of security, not pat downs and feel ups with the issue of TSA employee background checks being of considerable concern as voiced by other radio listeners….

I called in to ask Madame Secretary to take a flight and have CNN and Fox News on hand affording us a view of her being subjected to same, the same TSA feel up abuse and subject to other, of course minus showing us on television some of the details of the photo ops scanning of her body for we are disgusted by government officials always too good to be subjected to the same as we see “Smug-smiled” Pelosi on private flight and other government official having to forego any such “touch and feel up” necessities – for the most part, flying privately –

Interestingly, cable television ran a program recently on security issues taken when let’s say Sec Clinton takes her global jaunts and this time into Pakistan meeting with press and people. Before her arrival and with those from State escorting her, obviously much security check for bombs and security teams looking in every corner, top to bottom, all work done for the most part by specially trained dogs – With Amrica’s love for pets, a police dog doing its job, acknowledged as an officer of the law sworn in and with badge on collar, Americans would probably be more open to a sniff or two than a feel up!

Who does the heavy work in this security documentation, again, specially trained dogs – this TSA crevice pat down/feel up charade must cease now –

The “fundamentalists” should have their own newspaper and a cartoon depicting just how far affect these small, yet dangerous group of Islamic fundamentalists have succeeded in interrupting the western way and imposing themselves into American way of Life without a bomb blast! We must also encourage – profiling – here in America and find those among us as well who are so anti-American, with all such profiling in strict procedural manner with no deviations by any officer or security official. No excess abuse, just get in, cut ou the cancer and move on for there has never been a country like America nor a charitable people, in general, tolerant of much….

A woman called from North Carolina called into the radio station host and explained that “her feel up” felt as though she had been raped – she was upset. My question to TSA and State, if Hillary Clinton can go on television in Pakistan to field very difficult questions of US policy by mostly women who distrust America, a large audience and Hillary feels safe and none of these women were subjected to “feel ups/downs” – well, the dogs did the job and while body scan seems to be ok with 81% of Americans and others tarvelling through our airspace, then let’s not subject ourselves to such charade and get the dogs in there to get the job done and by the way, technological innovation has always been our strength so let’s get MIT and Stanford and others to develop a device which can detect any such device carrying battery or other and stop this bad government program for there is already far too much distrust in Barry’s Goldman Sachs administration!

It is also time to curtail the Congressional misuse and allocation of tax dollars and conduct line by line fraud audits starting with local school superintendants and their budgets – the moving up the ranks….

As a frequent international and domestic business carrier engaged in Africa and the Middle East as well as Asia in addressing prerequisite waste water and water purification demands, I have often travelled on El Al and never objecting to Israeli inquiries before baording and never subjected to such crevice pat downs, however screening and many questions and specially trained employees to spot the often less than obvious – to the TSA, do yoru job and seek the advice of others who are quite capable in detecting those with evil intent in the name of Allah as no way in the Koran is killing of innocents or anyone else the judgement of another man, only our Creator has the right to judge another –

By the way, I think profiling is ok as well, we are at War and American soldiers, young men and women are dying in the city streets fighting insurgents who hide behind the same women and children they often abuse, cowards! The German led EU’s fast deployment Army growing in numbers will soon teach those advocating terrorist exploits some real lessons….

With Greece and Portugal, Italy and others facing economic uncertainty, real challenges, little tolerance for Islamic fundamentalists will go without harsh retaliation as revenue receits are down and illegals/law breakers are supported here in America, even Governor Deval Patrict in Massachusetts ants to giev college aid to illegals, – the EU has far differing attitude which will soon erupt on the streets along with more protests of governments mishandling economic an dolitical issues….

Remember whether flying with or meeting Koran holding good Muslims, they, too do not support or condone attacks and killing, all so contrary to the teachings of the Koran, yet even Muslims are often distrustful of same for they see cold blooded murder far too often and know that God is witness to all such dastardly deeds!

God Bless America!

(Chris)topher Tingus
Harwich, MA 02645 USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by John

November 17, 2010 @ 9:07 am

This morning I read comments that one of the TSA talking heads is going to investigate the recalcitrant passenger, no doubt because he challenged his authority.

The Israelis have managed to get a handle on the security issue without all of this unreasonableness. It might be a lot simpler to contract airline security to them and trash TSA in its entirety. (I’m only half joking at this point)

It’s time for Americans to stand up for their rights. Stop flying until the DC Dimwits realize that they work for us, not the reverse.

Comment by Jason

November 17, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

“And if we don’t have AIT/pat downs then what happens if a body bomb takes out a commercial aircraft? ”

What happens when a body bomb slips through all the AIT/pat downs and takes out a commercial aircraft?

The system is inherently flawed and remains a prime example of security theater. Until TSA stops treating everyone as suspect and works more closely with law enforcement and the intel community to narrow down the field to the truly suspect, the system will remain flawed.

Comment by John

November 17, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

The bottom line is, that as far as on-board bombing attempts of late, it seems that the passengers are doing a better job of stopping these mutts than the TSA and Federal Air Marshals.

Comment by Chris Bray

November 17, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

A California prosecutor has promised to bring charges against TSA officers who exceed their authority, touching people inappropriately or selecting passengers for naked x-ray screening based on physical attractiveness. I wrote the following letter to my own local DA, suggesting that he do do the same, and I welcome anyone who wants to copy it for their own use to do so:

District Attorney Steve Cooley
District Attorney’s Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

Mr. Cooley:

Hundreds of airport security officers who work for the Transportation
Security Administration have been arrested for security checkpoint
thefts. Others have been arrested off the job for sex crimes and
violent assaults. Among the former is Sean Shanahan, a Transportation
Security Officer at Boston Logan Airport who was arrested this year
for the alleged rape of a child.

Yet the TSA has now given substantially expanded power to its airport
security officers, who will see naked images of passengers through the
use of X-ray screening devices. These same officers will also have the
power to conduct enhanced pat-downs that require them to make contact
with the genitals of travelers passing through their checkpoints.

Several reports from passengers suggest that TSA officers are
selecting passengers for backscatter and millimeter wave screening
based on physical attractiveness. A father reported this week in an
online forum that he heard a TSA officer who had selected his 18 year-
old daughter for backscatter X-ray screening say over his headset —
speaking to the officer who would view the daughter’s naked image in
the remote viewing location — “Heads up, I got a cutie for you.”
These are peeping toms in government uniforms.

The District Attorney-elect in San Mateo County has publicly announced
that he will prosecute TSA employees who exceed their authority,
touching air travel passengers inappropriately or singling them out
for personal X-ray screening based on physical attractiveness and a
prurient desire to see their naked bodies. Will you make the same
announcement?

Comment by John Comiskey

November 18, 2010 @ 6:45 am

Mr. Chris Bray,

I accept that TSA has a few bad apples and when identified they should be disciplined and in the case of criminality prosecuted. The same criterion is applicable to every civil servant. Let’s not vilify the vast ….vast majority of able and professional TSA officials.

I will travel via air at the end of the month –I plan on heartfully thanking every TSA official I encounter.

I understand that the issue of body scans and physical pat downs challenges our constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizures. I also accept the constitutional premise that there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I accept the reasonableness of both the body scans and physical patdowns.

Roman Polanski’s 2010 film “The Ghost Writer” raises the question:

If you have two planes that are getting ready to depart and the people on one of those planes has been thoroughly screened and the other the people have not been screened.

You can go on either plane [they are going to the same place], which plane do you want to go on?

See: http://publicintelligence.net/tsa-head-uses-movie-logic-to-justify-intrusive-screening-measures/

On this the near- eve of Thanksgiving air traffic, I thank each and

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 18, 2010 @ 11:07 am

Well not quite sure of my ground here but OPM recently revised its basic “suitability” regulation for federal employment. Last I heard TSA employees were federal employees subject to those standards. Would be interesting to know of turnover rates, discharges for “unsuitablility”, on duty bad performance discharges, off duty conduct discharges, etc. for all of TSA including screeners. I do seem to remember their staffing up TSA in a hurry.
Strangely, OPM would not join with me when I once defended FEMA in firing an employee that falsified their application form for federal employment. That really made me wonder. And “suitability” is a basic standard very different than personnel security issues also in Title 5 of the CFR. I found many in the HR field in FEMA had no clue as to the different systems. At one time almost all FEMA employees had clearances. That ended under James Lee Witt based on recommendations of a blue ribbon panel report issued on George H.W. Bush Adminstration and the agency finally started to click together. Another story!

Comment by Chris Bray

November 18, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

Go to usajobs.com and look at the hiring standards for TSA’s entry-level TSOs: GED *or* a year of security experience. This is a GED-optional job. “A few bad apples,” no. Have you flown recently?

I have so many favorite TSA experiences, but the leader may be the one where a TSO told my wife that the icepack for her prescribed medication was a “bio-hazard” and couldn’t be allowed on an airplane. Thirty seconds of severe hostility made her abandon that claim.

Google “Sean Shanahan TSA” for another great laugh.

These people are scraped off the very bottom of the barrel. I can’t understand why anyone who has gone through a TSA checkpoint doesn’t know that.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

November 18, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

For a somewhat amusing cartoon defense of TSA workers, see:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7714745/

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