TSA Wants Your Drink

TSA screening liquidsA new low being examined by the TSA. It’s now policy that drinks are no longer permitted to pass through security. Passengers then purchase drinks within the sterile area, yet the TSA believes they need to sample your liquid. “The TSA wouldn’t say what they’re testing for or why they are doing it, but travelers say they have a right to know” the story reads.

It’s another case of our Fourth Amendment Rights being violated by the TSA. Their position, “TSA employees have many layers of security throughout airports. Passengers may be randomly selected for additional screening measures at the checkpoint or in the gate at any time.” It’s bad enough now seeing the TSA harass and assault passengers inside the sterile area. What else will the traveling public be submitting to in the future to make sure air travel is safe?

Some interesting words from Kip Hawley, former Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration and author of Permanent Emergency over on FDL Book Salon:

Bruce S: Kip, your book has the first coherent explanation of the liquid ban I have ever read. For the benefit of those who have not read the book, can you explain 1) which liquid explosive you were concerned about, 2) why you were unwilling to allow a 12-oz. bottle of liquid through airport security but were willing to allow four 3-oz. bottles plus an empty 12-oz. bottle, and 3) what was the security reason for the baggie?

Kip: 1) highly concentrated liquid hydrogen peroxide with a sugar fuel and some other things. An extremely powerful explosive.

2) Our labs found that the mixture was extremely finicky and that mixing it was not simple. Our professional chemists in labs had difficulty making the bomb and found mixing to be problematic. AQ valued bomb-makers and were not sending them out on suicide missions. The times they asked operatives to do minimal bomb-making (Richard Reid & Abdulmutallab), they botched it. It was risk management in the end. A possibility but remote in my opinion.

3) the baggie allowed the liquids to be gathered so officers would’nt have to hunt for them and the vapor lock captured hydrogen peroxide vapor for easy testing.

This discussion board user at TravelUnderground.org sums it up nicely, “They have a procedure that is first and foremost ridiculous on its face, based on an implausible theory, carried out by idiots who don’t even know what they’re doing, managed by morons who either don’t understand the directive or don’t know what’s going on under their own noses, to mitigate a threat that isn’t even feasible.

I fly once a year and have been since leaving the airlines. I still have no desire to use ANY airline and go through the dog and pony show at the security checkpoints. Thankfully I have never been asked to submit to a molestation and hopefully that trend will continue in August when I must fly to Las Vegas.

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Over the Top?

Another day, another video, from another TSA checkpoint. I don’t believe these people will ever understand their place, as it relates to airport/airline security. But your experience will be helpful when you apply to Walmart or the mall, so just remember that. Base on those few comments or past TSA related posts, I am not a big supporter of the TSA or their “iron fist” tactics at security checkpoints. This is one reason why I chose NOT to fly. The other reason, I really have no place to go, but if I did I would consider driving first.

While I do believe this woman is overreacting, with a bit of flair for the dramatic the ensuing video of her son being confronted, first by the TSA, followed by a ‘Ground Security Coordinator’ (GSC) from Southwest Airlines. “A Ground Security Coordinator is an employee of an airline who is designated to interface with aircrew, law enforcement officers, and others in matters of security.” This supervisor (I assume) tells the person filming, “it’s illegal” followed by “do you want to fly anywhere?” He is very confrontation and threatening in his approach. Hmmm, that was something I wasn’t taught when I went through my GSC training for United. Then again, I would not get involved in this situation, since it’s solely between the passenger and the TSA.

From the TSA Blog, which is really nothing more than a mouthpiece is this piece of information,

We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations…local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might

Yet when the Phoenix Police Department arrive they do nothing to the individual filming and while not completely clear, they took the woman in question back out of the sterile area. Now there was some discussion this had happened multiple times by the family in question. Not surprise the local authorities don’t do much to back the complaint of the woman. Although, near the end of the video you can hear the peace officer say “I don’t think they will let you fly.”

There are other ways to go ab out making your Fourth Amendment Right statement. I have highlighted a few in past Aviation “in”Security pieces. I would stand up for my rights and refuse to be molested by the TSA. Chances are I would turn around and walk away (if they allowed me). It’s a broken process that doesn’t further aviation security. I have called it “window dressing” in the past and will stand by that statement. This “make work program” has not deterred terrorists from striking the U.S. or taking down our nation’s airlines.

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Foiled Again!

There is a high likelihood that [the bomb] would have been detected had he boarded a flight in the United States.” Does Big Sis really have THAT much confidence in the “thousands standing around” at airport security checkpoints across the United States? Pretty bold statement, but I don’t believe she was in much a position to say otherwise. But a top law-enforcement official insisted, “They would not have gotten him” (source). We have no further information as to who this official was, based on the details of this case, as we know it, I agree this underwear bomb would have successfully made it through.

With the dog and pony show infringing on our rights at our nation’s airports, it won’t take much more for screening procedures to be revised again when it comes to how travelers are screened prior to entering a “sterile” area at the airport. I have yet to read a story in which TSA actually deterred or prevent an act of terrorism at an airport, but this latest attempt could have Big Sis rethinking procedures.

For metallic items, like guns and knives the old x-ray machines and now backscatter machines are acceptable. We have seen a few You Tube videos including a detailed example from Jonathan Corbett who runs TSA Out Of Our Pants. Unfortunately individuals like Richard Reid, the show bomber in 2001 and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber in 2009 both failed at their attempts, but this time a a CIA informant was the individual chosen for the suicide mission. Unfortunately, “current technology is not good enough to find nonmetallic explosive devices like the newest underwear bomb.” Thankfully the bomb is now in the hands of the U.S. authorities as we wait for further details to emerge.

Here is another example of how government agencies foiled a terrorist plot and NOT the TSA. Contrary to what Big Sis thinks and states on the record TSA screeners would not have have suspected this underwear bomb. “This bomb was put into the equivalent of briefs, so it was much tighter and form-fitting and harder to see” (source). How would an intrusive pat-down, using the back of your hands detect something sewn into a pair of briefs? The AIT machines would have been worthless in detecting this. “The only surefire way to detect nonmetallic explosive devices is using bomb-sniffing dogs, but that’s impractical at crowded airports.”

So score another victory for our alphabet agency, the CIA. As for the TSA, it’s time to review current procedures. Terrorists groups, like Al Qaeda are continuing to revise and improve their bomb making techniques and looking at delivery systems. This time, the U.S. dodged a bullet. What about next time? How long before travelers are submitting to further invasive touching or probing in order to make sure we are not a delivery device.

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Security Concerns

I read many of the comments before jumping in an reading the entire story from the UK Sun regarding the lack of security surrounding London’s Olympic Park. The story, which is quickly turning into a scandal has images and video footage of a construction working transporting a fake bomb through security checkpoints and inside Olympic Park. This security seems no better than what I experienced when I worked at the airlines.

I have written about security concerns at airports the past, how easy it was to bypass security checkpoints in LAX and SFO, when it was “mandatory” (yet not enforced) as an airline employee to go through a security checkpoint, adhering to the SAME rules and regulations as an air traveler. Now the Olympics are 82 days away and with the amount of money spent (£1billion) for security and precautions in place we see this major breach, including an 11-mile long electrified fence that cost £80million.

Fingers will most likely be pointed at the individuals in place providing security at checkpoints. Much like TSA agents, these people aren’t trained well enough to provide real security, especially to an event such as the Olympics, which will be a high profile event.

An already-vetted worker could bring in materials for a deadly suicide bomb mission. The loophole exposed by us shows just how easily that could happen” (source). This same loophole existed at the airlines, even being gone for nearly 6 years I don’t believe it has been improved. Here is just one story I wrote in 2006 while it centers more around the vulnerability of air freight facilities and accepting material from “known shippers” I did elude to the fact I could enter the AOA (ramp) dressed in everyday clothes with a badge and not past through a security checkpoint.

The UK story says, “terror cells may use “clean skins” — people with no criminal or extremist links” when it comes to people operating knowingly or unknowingly when it comes to an operation. Never in 2 years at SFO and 9 years at LAX was I ever questioned while walking on the ramp. Who’s to say I didn’t have a device, much like the construction worker touring Olympic Park, just to prove a point that it can be done and concerns exist.

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4 Years Later…

87 pages of complaints to the TSA! If that’s not bad enough, it has taken 4 years for these complaints to made public. In 2008 Michael Grabell filed an FOIA request for a list of complaints from travelers. Unfortunately the Government wasn’t in any hurry to get him a response (I am sure they will cite “security concerns”). An FOIA is a process that usually takes a month or so took a bit longer, 4 years longer, but the results are not all that surprising. This is the basis of TSA Reveals Passenger Complaints, an article on ProPublica.org.

The list compiled from the FOIA request is now 4 years old, but the complaints are the nothing new from air travelers. Many of the complaints deal with concern over a name on the no fly watch list, questions regarding valid identification, items removed or allegedly stolen and travelers subjected to abusive treatment by TSA employees. As I said, nothing we haven’t heard or read about in the mainstream media, some brought to the forefront thanks in part to video.

Is the TSA really that backlogged on complaints they could not respond quicker to this inquiry? It wouldn’t come as any surprise if they are as more and more travelers file some sort of complaint because of their travel experience, many of which happen at the security checkpoints. “Lorie Dankers provided a statement pointing out that the agency has received an average of more than 800 requests annually over the past four years. Then the TSA apologized” (source). Sorry doesn’t cut it. Answers do.

Regardless of what happens, the TSA has gained too much power to man security checkpoint since it’s inception. As I wrote a few days ago, this department needs to be disbanded and private companies should be put back in place. Regardless of what group is “providing security” and I use that term very loosely, it really won’t matter. Neither the government or private security provide any real deterrent when it comes to terrorist. In my opinion they are solely window dressing. The intrusive pat-downs are unnecessary and are a violation of our Fourth Amendment.

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