Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 3, 2012

Defending the TSA?!?

Filed under: Aviation Security,Risk Assessment,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Arnold Bogis on January 3, 2012

I feel somewhat uncomfortable defending the actions of a group that seemingly brings so much discomfort to so many, but a recent Vanity Fair article on airport security not only regurgitates the obvious and well known, but lacks little strategic point of view.  First, the well-known:

Not only has the actual threat from terror been exaggerated, they say, but the great bulk of the post-9/11 measures to contain it are little more than what Schneier mocks as “security theater”: actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job. In fact, the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe.

From an airplane-hijacking point of view, Schneier said, al-Qaeda had used up its luck. Passengers on the first three 9/11 flights didn’t resist their captors, because in the past the typical consequence of a plane seizure had been “a week in Havana.” When the people on the fourth hijacked plane learned by cell phone that the previous flights had been turned into airborne bombs, they attacked their attackers. The hijackers were forced to crash Flight 93 into a field. “No big plane will ever be taken that way again, because the passengers will fight back,” Schneier said.

Buried within the article is, in my opinion anyway, a very nice articulation of the problem of looking at the issue of terrorism risk simply by crunching the numbers:

Has the nation simply wasted a trillion dollars protecting itself against terror? Mostly, but perhaps not entirely. “Most of the time we assess risk through gut feelings,” says Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon who is also the president of Decision Research, a nonprofit R&D organization. “We’re not robots just looking at the numbers.” Confronted with a risk, people ask questions: Is this a risk that I benefit from taking, as when I get in a car? Is it forced on me by someone else, as when I am exposed to radiation? Are the potential consequences catastrophic? Is the impact immediate and observable, or will I not know the consequences until much later, as with cancer? Such questions, Slovic says, “reflect values that are sometimes left out of the experts’ calculations.”

Security theater, from this perspective, is an attempt to convey a message: “We are doing everything possible to protect you.” When 9/11 shattered the public’s confidence in flying, Slovic says, the handful of anti-terror measures that actually work—hardening the cockpit door, positive baggage matching, more-effective intelligence—would not have addressed the public’s dread, because the measures can’t really be seen. Relying on them would have been the equivalent of saying, “Have confidence in Uncle Sam,” when the problem was the very loss of confidence. So a certain amount of theater made sense. Over time, though, the value of the message changes. At first the policeman in the train station reassures you. Later, the uniform sends a message: train travel is dangerous. “The show gets less effective, and sometimes it becomes counterproductive.”

Eventually, Bruce Schneier overreaches and follows his generally reasonable assertions with analysis that only serves to buttress his own arguments while ignoring a bit of reality:

Terrorists will try to hit the United States again, Schneier says. One has to assume this. Terrorists can so easily switch from target to target and weapon to weapon that focusing on preventing any one type of attack is foolish. Even if the T.S.A. were somehow to make airports impregnable, this would simply divert terrorists to other, less heavily defended targets—shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, stadiums, museums. The terrorist’s goal isn’t to attack an airplane specifically; it’s to sow terror generally. “You spend billions of dollars on the airports and force the terrorists to spend an extra $30 on gas to drive to a hotel or casino and attack it,” Schneier says. “Congratulations!”

This simplifies the issue in ways that are counterproductive.  Two points:

1. Air travel remains an attractive target due to the cost benefit ratio: it takes very little explosive to bring down a plane and kill hundreds, while at the same time creating a spectacular event that instantaneously affects a large industry in the short and long term. The shoe or underwear bombers would have caused relatively little damage at a shopping mall or casino, but could have easily killed hundreds in an instance and caused enormous economic damage if successful on their original mission.  The liquid bombing plot seemed to be aiming for thousands of deaths and a truly strategic impact, one not attainable by the same number of operatives killing themselves in other public spaces (before it is brought up, I do know of the line of reasoning that a wave of attacks against American malls would have a huge impact…but I guess that I have greater faith in citizen resilience in that we as a nation would not hide at home following such an event).

There is a lot of security theater at airports, but much of it began in response to a rash of hijackings decades ago.  When there was no security it was simple to bring a gun or bomb aboard a flight, take it hostage, and gain attention for one’s political demands.  Steps were taken to make this more difficult.  Reasonable steps should be taken now when instead of simply attention the goals include death on a grand scale.

2. Terrorists do not simply “switch from target to target and weapon to weapon.” Groups consider their goals, determine their resources, and plan for what is then attainable.  The IRA was a sophisticated group capable of inflicting a great number of civilian casualties, yet they were restrained by their political goals.  Al Qaeda has different goals and therefore utilizes different methods.  The same will be true of other current and future groups.  If killing hundreds is a goal but resources are limited to a few poorly trained agents, targeting an airliner would seem more attractive than attempting an operation similar to the assault on Mumbai. Terror is a goal when traditional military victory is out of reach, however it should not be thought that all groups and individuals would generalize this goal into a least common denominator and aim for the easiest target.  That is partly what got us into trouble the last time…(Pre-9/11: What?  Worry about a group of actors with no state backing?!?  Preposterous…now about those Chinese….).

Mr. Schneier has performed an invaluable service over the years bringing to light deficiencies in our homeland security thinking, and Mr. Mann (the author of the article in question) accomplishes the same by exposing it to a wider audience.  Yet I can’t help but think that by not considering the issues a few steps beyond shouts of “security theater,” the conversation we should have about homeland security as a nation will not take place.

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36 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 3, 2012 @ 2:45 am

What we really learned on 9/11 is that the heavily subsidized USA airlines that have failed ever to make a profit over any of their corporate lifetimes and usually game bankruptcy and subsidies by the asset strippers will not ever take their security role seriously. So I would argue just stop all subsidies, hidden and obvious, to this sector that benefits its fake owners at the cost of the taxpayers. Then prices will rise and security will be minimized and insurance can cover the risk to the traveler. Hey the railroads need more money for passenger rail. The real fight over TSA is how much security should the public subsidize? Wrong question! Should be how much this transport modality should be subsidized. Is there any honest analysis out there of how much dependency there is of the total GDP on air travel. Leave it for transportation of fruits, flowers, vegetables and FEDEX and UPS.

Comment by Fisher1949

January 3, 2012 @ 6:39 am

This agency is little more than a jobs program for the chronically unemployed providing an illusion of airline security. After 60 billion dollars over ten years they can’t cite one success and are incapable of stopping one anyway.

While 60% of the freight in the cargo-hold remains unscreened, half of that from foreign shippers, they confiscate cupcakes, grope children and strip search old ladies.

In 2011 there were 62 TSA screeners arrested for serious crimes, including rape and murder. Of these, 11 were for sex crimes involving children and 4 for smuggling contraband through security. They can’t prevent crime within their own ranks, but we’re supposed to trust them with airport security.

This agency and its workers are a disgrace and should be replaced with a system that actually works.

TSA Crimes & Abuse
bit.ly/TravelUndergroundTSAabuses

Comment by Donald Quixote

January 3, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

It is an interesting article that should spark serious discussion and research. It was already linked to a previous discussion from June 28, 2011. We have quasi-discussed this subject many times before to include: June 28, 2011 – Absolute security as the minimum adequate security; March 29, 2011 – Front door theater and backstage muck: consent of the governed in aviation security; November 22, 2010 – The Pat Down …; and November 16, 2010 – “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” I expect we shall continue to discuss it for many years to come.

I strongly agree that this topic requires serious, significant and frank conversations regarding the role of TSA within homeland security and benefits of their current operations, but when shall this conversation occur and where? Only talking about the need for a conversation shall not dismiss the much too appropriate label of “homeland security theater”. Unfortunately, the conversation shall likely only occur after the next major incident where an aviation insider with a SIDA badge or TSA employee is directly implicated in the attack or event.

I so wish I could disagree with FISHER1949 for the good of homeland security.

Comment by SecurityMaster

January 9, 2012 @ 9:20 am

there may be some validity to each point, however, when in combination, the writer’s points seem self-contradicting. Why is air transport the only important target? maybe a slightly higher desirability since it will always make the new as well as remind us of 2001. But the primary and nearly solitary best target? hardly. Because terrorists as a genre do switch from target class and attack vector to others. After the African attacks, it was the 2011 planes. then it was plans against vehicle tunnels, variations of plane attacks, attacks on nightclubs, then to cargo planes and back to passenger planes. (my citations from memory, so possibly some timeline errors). Why does the author miss this? The two issues are that 1-’Terrorism’ is undefined (or has such a multitude of definitions as to be fairly convoluted). 2-contemporary terrorists arent a unified group with a hierarchal command authority as the IRA and its contemporaries were decades ago – therefore the targets are much more disparate as will be the attack vectors. Therefore TSA becomes irrelevant. Better to inspect cargo (by plane train or boat) than to grope grandmothers and steal childrens’ toys.

Comment by 9/11 Historian

January 9, 2012 @ 10:17 am

I think your point #1 actually makes Mr. Schneier’s point “Terrorists will try to hit the United States again, Schneier says. One has to assume this. Terrorists can so easily switch from target to target and weapon to weapon that focusing on preventing any one type of attack is foolish.”

On 9/11 the target was not the aircraft! The targets on 9/11 were the two World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and unknown. The 9/11 hijackers were using aircraft full of fuel as weapons, their “box cutters” were just means to convince the air crew to turn over control of the weapon to them.

What would cause a reasonable airline captain to respond in this way? Only Official US Government policy on handling of skyjacking could result in the behavior observed on 9/11. Transportation secretary Mineta stated policy as “No US life has ever been lost except by confronting skyjackers, therefore confrontation is to be avoided if possible”. By removing that US Government policy from their armament, terrorists with 9/11 scale plans have been thwarted.

While killing 200-300 people on an airplane would be tragic, it would not be a 9/11 comparable attack. We should reserve the term “terrorist” for those with truly large scale damage, perhaps more than 1000 lives lost. With such a definition, neither the Ft. Hood shooter nor the underpants bomber would qualify, even if his underpants had exploded.

When every group killing becomes “genocide” to make political points, or defend government waste, we loose the ability to accurately describe real historical events like the Holocaust.

Comment by John

January 9, 2012 @ 11:26 am

Note that terrorists can read blogs and the news and will have noticed that any incident involving even a few deaths gets big news and causes Americans to over-react. They will therefore indeed switch targets, as Schneier says, if they can. The virtually complete lack of credible terrorists threats – not to mention attacks – in the US since 9/11 shows how hard this actually is and suggests that police work, not increased security theater is the right approach to minimizing this threat.

(BTW, Schneier doesn’t disagree with your points, but maintains his conclusions: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/01/the_tsa_proves.html )

Comment by Ross

January 9, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

…so… What (exactly) is being suggested? Schneier talks a lot about security theater, and it’s bee pointed out that only a limited few guns were caught by the TSA last year. So the solution is NOT checking? Yes, the “shoe bomber” mentality is idiotic. Even though it didn’t work, it would have been tried again, if it weren’t for the (admittedly annoying) screening that followed.

Wen I was in the 8th grade, a schoolhouse bully hit me in the back of the head and slammed my eye into a microscope. It hurt like hell. So I hit him back.

For the next hour, three other buddies of his repeated the same stunt again because it was so funny – and they knew no one would prevent it.

Terrorists have a similar, unimaginative mentality. Jihad doesn’t require creativity. They do what works. Yes, it requires what he dismissively calls “theater”, but is Schneier willing to hold both the government AND the airlines free of liability – both legal and financial – because he thinks making people take their shoes off is pointless?

Pingback by The TSA Proves its Own Irrelevance: A compilation of its own “Top 10 Good Catches of 2011″ — ‘not a single terrorist on the list. Mostly forgetful, and entirely innocent people’ « InvestmentWatch

January 9, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

[...] related news, here’s a rebuttal of the the Vanity Fair article about the TSA and airline security that featured me. I agree [...]

Pingback by Attack the System » Blog Archive » The TSA Proves its Own Irrelevance

January 10, 2012 @ 2:50 am

[...] related news, here’s a rebuttal of the the Vanity Fair article about the TSA and airline security that featured me. I agree with [...]

Comment by Naughty Pingback

January 10, 2012 @ 9:06 am

Took the Schneier quote perversely out of context. He said “I agree with the two points at the end of the post; I just don’t think it changes any of my analysis.” You can’t leave the quote at “I agree …”

Comment by Kevin Norton

January 10, 2012 @ 11:14 am

Some pundit pointed out years ago that the 9/11 hijacking strategy was effective for only three hours. Passengers did not cooperate on the fourth hijacked plane that day, and have subdued would-be hijackers and bombers ever since.

Given reinforced cockpit doors and passengers’ active defense, the question we should be asking is: what would be the risk to the public if airport passenger screening were changed back to what it was in 1999?

I suspect the answer would threaten only those whose careers rest on a continuing perception of imminent death and destruction.

Comment by Donald Quixote

January 10, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

These comments and responses lead to several other important questions such as:

How much do we spend to fight the last war (attack) and attempt to deter or disrupt a repeat performance?

Are we guarding the front doors of our airports utilizing billions of dollars, but ignoring the side and back doors with the hundreds of thousands of SIDA badged employees with significant access to the entire aviation infrastructure?

Are we not doing what UBL and others wanted by greatly expending our limited financial resources to respond to each rather inexpensive investment by our enemies or opponents?

When will the bank run dry and what will we do then?

Homeland security theater may not be the best or most cost effect answer, but it appears to be the easiest one at this time. It employs many and addresses the previous failures as identified by commissions, politicians, contractors and public opinion.

On the other hand, I never trusted commercial pilots, infants or grandmothers with replacement hips – they just look too shifty to me and deserve what they are getting now.

Comment by Andreas

January 11, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

The terror attack in Norway in July only proves that it’s still very possible to do large amount of damage and get a lot of news coverage without resorting to an airplane. The guy just drove his truck filled with explosives he had manufactured from fertilizers into the center of the capital and more or less blew up the whole block containing amongst others the government building with the prime minister’s office.

Maybe the DHS should start screening new farmers? An attack like the one in Norway is far more likely than another 9/11. As Bruce says airline passengers no longer thinks of airjacking as “a week in Havana”.

Comment by Anne Ominous

January 12, 2012 @ 6:04 am

Unfortunately, Mr. Bogis, in your conclusion you make a common assumption that is just plain WRONG.

Quote: “Terror is a goal when traditional military victory is out of reach…”

Not so. Read the research that was done on the matter by Max Abrahms. This is an assertion that has been made for decades (often by the terrorists themselves, to justify their actions). But it simply isn’t true.

The vast majority of terrorists groups actually share these characteristics:

(1) Terrorism is their PREFERRED method of action. They do not do it when other avenues are exhausted… they never tried those other avenues in the first place.

And that is because:

(2) Terrorists are not actually after political goals. Sure, they SAY they are, but:

(3) Terrorists don’t tell you what they really want.

Abrahm’s research (a meta-analysis of worldwide terrorism over a period of many decades, and these are the things he found:

Terrorists are NOT after political goals. This is clearly proven by the fact that in cases when they said they were after some political goal, and that goal was eventually achieved (ALWAYS due to some other factor; terrorism has NEVER won a political goal), what they invariably do is then just find some other goal over which to commit terrorism. Sometimes that goal will be 100% in the opposite direction from their prior goal… but they will still say that is their new, true, political goal.

Terrorists do not try other, more conventional tactics like negotiation or war, then commit terrorism as their last resort. Terrorism is their first resort. They do not use or even try those other methods.

After all his analysis, What is Abrahms’ ultimate conclusion? That in fact terrorists have a gangland mentality. What actually drives them is not political goals at all (of this we are certain), but instead nothing more than the attention of those they consider to be their peers. Attaining political goals don’t stop them, so negotiating with them is always fruitless.

And in fact that does explain terrorist actions. Nearly all of them, nearly all the time.

Comment by Anne Ominous

January 12, 2012 @ 6:07 am

Pardon the typographical errors. It is late and I am tired.

Pingback by Perhaps #TSA security isn’t all “security theater” | Security Debrief

January 12, 2012 @ 11:31 am

[...] Homeland Security Watch » Defending the TSA?!? A recent Vanity Fair article on airport security not only regurgitates the obvious and well known, but lacks little strategic point of view. Mr. Schneier [the subject of the article] has performed an invaluable service over the years bringing to light deficiencies in our homeland security thinking, and Mr. Mann (the author of the article in question) accomplishes the same by exposing it to a wider audience.  Yet I can’t help but think that by not considering the issues a few steps beyond shouts of “security theater,” the conversation we should have about homeland security as a nation will not take place. [...]

Comment by Arnold Bogis

January 12, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

Ms. Ominous: I’m familiar with Max and his work (for readers interested in his argument to which Ms. Ominous is referring, see his article from International Security “What Terrorists Really Want:”
http://iis-db.stanford.edu/pubs/22237/Abrahms_What_Terrorists_Really_Want.pdf). He is a smart guy with interesting ideas, but I wouldn’t say the matter is settled. For instance another very intelligent terrorism researcher, Erica Chenoweth, along with co-authors produced a detailed rebuttal to Max’s argument:
https://wesfiles.wesleyan.edu/home/echenoweth/web/IS33.4_extended.pdf.

SecurityMaster: I was making a very general statement that terrorists don’t switch targets or weapons on the fly and that they make their choices for a variety of reasons, not that airplanes are the only or most important target. It should also be pointed out that we tend to lump a lot of attacks, plots, and groups under the umbrella term “Al Qaeda,” while in fact there are many cooks in that particular kitchen who communicate and plan to varying degrees on different plots. A recent Homeland Security Policy Institute event with NYPD intelligence analysis director Mitchell Silber makes this point. You can hear audio of his talk and view his slides at:
http://www.gwumc.edu/hspi/events/silberPRF412.cfm

Comment by Charlie O

January 13, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

“The shoe or underwear bombers would have caused relatively little damage at a shopping mall or casino, but could have easily killed hundreds in an instance and caused enormous economic damage if successful on their original mission.”

C’mon, you can’t be that stupid. The underwear and shoe bombers were “underwear” and “shoe bombers” because they were targeting planes. Had then been targeting a shopping mall or casino, they would not have bothered with hiding a bomb in the manner they did. They could have easily carried something much larger and more lethal in the front door inside a back pack. Or the handy dandy bomb vest they seem like. Or just a couple of automatic weapons could wreak havoc inside any mall at Christmas time in short order. Look what they did in India with automatic weapons. Schneier is absolutely correct in pretty much every single one of his assertions. Hell, the best target today in any the case of air travel would be to set off a bomb in that stupid security line waiting to be “screened.”

Comment by Ira Zipkin

January 13, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

Re: terrorists never tried other means first: a peculiar argument, to say the least. They never tried diplomacy or conventional warfare because, almost by definition, they lacked the resources to pursue those avenues. Re: the larger point about Schneier: it would be relatively easy for terrorists to adjust tactics and attack departure halls at airports. Large crowds, light security at the front end. They don’t need to attack airplanes. One might well ask why the TSA infrastructure isn’t situated at the entrance to airports, rather than at the chokepoint to departure gates.

Comment by Alan

January 15, 2012 @ 4:43 am

Terrorism is virtually impossible to stop and I am pretty much with Bruce in his assertions on some of this.
I was in LA right after 9/11 and it was a shambles. US guys with flags on cars saying “we are going to kick ass” – err whose. Big “security” at LAX, the bag screening was a farce, oh yes and then they put people on the wrong plane – absolute shambles
Then we had the TSA which as Bruce says is largely theatre – now some people might be impressed with the psycho babble around people getting a feel good factor, truth is people chose to fly because it is convenient and the majority of flights would be taken, and would have been taken without the TSA existing.
Oh yes and lets not forget who was the IRAs (one of the most successful terrorist organisations) largest sponsor – the gold old US of A.

Comment by Alan

January 15, 2012 @ 4:52 am

sorry hit send too early on the last post.

Bruce also says that Al Qaeda are unlikey to hit the same type of target again, this has been proven, look at the UK attacks and others – they mix their targets up. They know UK airport security was higher than the tube and bus networks so hit those. Next, if it ever happens, US target is more likely to be something completely different. And thats the point with terrorism, as with the IRA you never knew quite what was coming and their bomb threats were largely notified in advance using prescribed codewords so at least there was often some chance, Al Qaeda aren’t going to give anyone that benefit

Comment by Donald Quixote

January 16, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

What will it take to re-evaluate the impact and benefit of this multi-billion dollar investment in TSA? The initial investment in 2002 was apparently justified to reassure the public that it was safe to fly and to support the financial aid to the airlines. What is the reasoning now for this ever-increasing significant investment of limited resources? Shall it require a significant attack or incident in another sector to draw a portion of this questionable funding from TSA to another area? Can we (our nation, leaders and politicians) redirect without being forced or is it just too easy and profitable to remain focused on the last war?

Comment by Stephen

January 18, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

“Air travel remains an attractive target due to the cost benefit ratio: it takes very little explosive to bring down a plane and kill hundreds, while at the same time creating a spectacular event that instantaneously affects a large industry in the short and long term. ”

I feel I’m pointing out the obvious here.

Yeah, the industry would be affected but, as far as we can tell, 9/11 etc. were not anti-airline industry attacks. Al Qaeda’s success is not really judged on what it does to the transport sector.

Comment by John

February 2, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

If TSA wants to “really” secure airports, turn to the procedures used at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel-Aviv Israel. I don’t care if their practices are seemingly unfair or are not “politically correct”. They are SECURE.

Theater is made up of actors pretending to be the part their playing. So TSA themselves have implied that with “Security Theater” they have a bunch of actors pretending to be security specialists (TSA Agents).

Comment by Donald Quixote

April 29, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

Airport security – Checkpoint challenge

A former TSA boss wants to bring down the curtain on “security theatre”

Apr 21st 2012 The Economist

“FLYING isn’t fun any more,” is a popular refrain among travellers. They recall wistfully a golden age when flying was glamorous, not an ordeal of long lines and intrusive pat-downs.

In America these are inflicted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which was set up after the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001. It is now one of the country’s most hated institutions. Many passengers scorn its pettifogging rules. Many complain of ineffectual “security theatre”. In an Economist online debate last month, a crushing 87% of respondents agreed that the changes to airport security since 2001 had “done more harm than good”.

The man given the impossible task of opposing the motion was Kip Hawley, a former TSA boss. Even he readily admitted that airport security needed reforming. And on April 14th, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mr Hawley offered some sensible proposals on how to do it………………….

http://www.economist.com/node/21553048

Comment by Donald Quixote

May 16, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

Longtime security supervisor arrested at NJ airport for using dead man’s ID

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/14/longtime-security-supervisor-arrested-at-nj-airport-for-using-dead-man-id/

Comment by Donald Quixote

May 28, 2012 @ 8:52 am

You cannot make this stuff up even if you tried.

————————————————

Thomas Harkin, Former Catholic Priest Accused Of Sex Abuse, Now Works For TSA

A Catholic priest who was defrocked in 2002 over sex abuse allegations has a new job…with the TSA.

CBS Philadelphia reports that Thomas Harkin, who worked at churches across southern New Jersey before being removed by the Diocese of Camden because he was found to have abused young girls, now has a job as a “Transportation Security Manager, Baggage” with the TSA at Philadelphia International Airport.

The station saw Harkin working as a checkpoint supervisor between terminals D and E at the airport even as a new lawsuit has been filled against him for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl…………..

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/thomas-harkin-tsa_n_1548841.html?ref=email_share

Comment by Donald Quixote

August 2, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

New TSA Deputy Vows Swift Action Against Screeners Committing Crimes, Misconduct

By: Mickey McCarter

08/02/2012 (8:00am)

The deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Wednesday assured a House panel that his agency would take swift action to fire any airport screeners engaged in illegal activities, but again and again he declined to speculate on whether provisions in a collective bargaining agreement would have any effect on that process.

TSA management has been working on completing a collective bargaining agreement with its screeners, who last year chose the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) to represent them. The labor agreement should contain specifications as to how screeners can protest or appeal management actions, which could alter details of how TSA punishes transportation security officers who are accused of stealing or using drugs or who fail to do their jobs.

But John Halinski, the new TSA deputy administrator, would not speculate on anything the collective bargaining agreement might say………………..

http://www.hstoday.us/single-article/new-tsa-deputy-vows-swift-action-against-screeners-committing-crimes-misconduct/443f06d293ace85155e8c415e6c0cb07.html

Comment by Donald Quixote

October 10, 2012 @ 11:34 am

Attached for your action is our final report, TSA Management and Oversight at Honolulu International Airport. We incorporated the formal comments from the Transportation Security Administration in the final report.

The report contains four recommendations aimed at improving airport screening operations. Your office concurred with all recommendations. Based on formation in your response to the draft report, we consider recommendations 2 and 3 resolved and
open. Once your office has fully implemented the recommendations, please submit a formal closeout letter to us within 30 days so that we may close the recommendations.

The memorandum should be accompanied by evidence of completion of agreed-upon corrective actions and of the disposition of any monetary amounts. Recommendations 1 and 4 remain unresolved and open. As prescribed by the Department of Homeland Security Directive 077-1, Follow-Up and Resolutions for the
Office of Inspector General Report Recommendations, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, please provide our office with a written response that includes your (1) agreement or disagreement, (2) corrective action plan, and (3) target completion
date for each recommendation. Also, please include responsible parties and any other supporting documentation necessary to inform us about the current status of the recommendation. Until your response is received and evaluated, the recommendations will be considered open and unresolved.

Consistent with our responsibility under the Inspector General Act, we are providing
copies of our report to appropriate congressional committees with oversight and appropriation responsibility over the Department of Homeland Security. We will post a redacted version of the report on our website.

http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/OIGr_12-128_Sep12.pdf

Comment by Donald Quixote

October 23, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

The numbers are much higher.

The Top 20 Airports for TSA Theft

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/top-20-airports-tsa-theft/story?id=17537887

Comment by Donald Quixote

July 31, 2013 @ 9:14 am

TSA Needs to Better Monitor Misconduct Allegations, Audit Finds

http://www.hstoday.us/single-article/tsa-needs-to-better-monitor-misconduct-allegations-audit-finds/a6232c655b571ec151da7544ef57b731.html

Comment by Donald Quixote

October 7, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/06/us/vegas-flight-child/index.html

Comment by Donald Quixote

November 14, 2013 @ 11:02 am

TSA’s SPOT Program Lacks Scientific Basis, Should be Defunded, GAO Says

By: Anthony Kimery

11/13/2013

In a new audit report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that “available evidence does not support whether [the] behavioral indicators” used in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program “can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.”

“Until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security,” GAO said, TSA “risks funding activities that have not been determined to be effective.

TSA began deploying the SPOT program in fiscal year 2007, and has since spent about $900 million to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security through the observation of behavioral indicators.

A similar behavioral detection program is employed by Israeli security services at Ben Gurion International Airport.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not concur with GAO’s recommendation that TSA limit future funding for the SPOT program until it can provide the evidence GAO said is needed to justify the initiative. DHS disagreed with GAO’s analysis that the behavioral indicators central to the SPOT program are invalid.

GAO said it “continues to believe” that its “findings and recommendation are valid.”

In May 2010, GAO first concluded that TSA had deployed SPOT without validating its scientific basis, and that SPOT lacked performance measures.

http://www.hstoday.us/single-article/tsas-spot-program-lacks-scientific-basis-should-be-defunded-gao-says/aeaeb403a8438466db29ba60310565ff.html

http://chsdemocrats.house.gov/sitedocuments/gaospot1113.pdf

Comment by Donald Quixote

November 14, 2013 @ 11:03 am

TSA’s SPOT Program Lacks Scientific Basis, Should be Defunded, GAO Says

11/13/2013

In a new audit report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that “available evidence does not support whether [the] behavioral indicators” used in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program “can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.”

“Until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security,” GAO said, TSA “risks funding activities that have not been determined to be effective.

TSA began deploying the SPOT program in fiscal year 2007, and has since spent about $900 million to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security through the observation of behavioral indicators.

A similar behavioral detection program is employed by Israeli security services at Ben Gurion International Airport.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not concur with GAO’s recommendation that TSA limit future funding for the SPOT program until it can provide the evidence GAO said is needed to justify the initiative. DHS disagreed with GAO’s analysis that the behavioral indicators central to the SPOT program are invalid.

GAO said it “continues to believe” that its “findings and recommendation are valid.”

In May 2010, GAO first concluded that TSA had deployed SPOT without validating its scientific basis, and that SPOT lacked performance measures.

http://www.hstoday.us/single-article/tsas-spot-program-lacks-scientific-basis-should-be-defunded-gao-says/aeaeb403a8438466db29ba60310565ff.html

http://chsdemocrats.house.gov/sitedocuments/gaospot1113.pdf

Comment by Anne Ominous

April 20, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

Mr. Bogis

Pardon the delayed response. But perhaps because of that, your link to the purported Chenoweth paper is now a dead end.

From the literature I have found so far, it appears to me that Abrams is rebutting Chenoweth, not the other way around.

If you have or can find a link to the original paper you intended above, I would be interested in seeing it. But please this time give the title, so I can find it even if the link is broken.

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