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.

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.

A Chat-Down

Yes, you have heard of the illegal “pat-down” that violates your Fourth Amendment right that the TSA practices on a daily basis at the nation’s airport. Now, the latest in improve security (allegedly) is the Israeli-style “chat-down.” This is just too good to make up. The TSA has begun a new “behavioral screening program that is modeled after Israel’s airport security screening methods.”

The TSA has now rolled out “Behavior Detection Officers” on a 60 day trial period to confront travelers, “ask a few personal questions and look for signs that they may be hiding something. Suspicious passengers will be sent to a secondary screening or referred to a law enforcement officer.”

Leave it to DHS (or the U.S. Government) to come up with a fancy term for this nearly $1 billion national program called SPOT or Screening Passengers by Observation Technique. Rep Bernie Thompson (D-MS) questions the use of these techniques saying there, “is no scientific validation, limited or comprehensive, of the efficacy of the Assessor model of screening to detect persons who pose a security rick to aviation.

I don’t believe the use of this unproven technique will be nearly as successful as that used in Israel. Unfortunately the TSA and John Pistole are the driving force behind this new and unproven method, which does nothing for you, as an air traveler but cause you further delay in getting through security. Personally, I don’t care if the TSA likes my answers to there irrelevant questions. I would much rather have fun giving them questionable answers, but that would only lead me to the “grope me please” line at the security checkpoint.

The trial period of 60 days is rather short, I will be curious to see data (if the TSA makes it available) to the number of travelers that were confronted and questioned versus the number that were sent for additional screening. Answer me this, how many of these confrontations actually led to detaining a suspect terrorist who was going to blow up an airplane? I’ll answer that now. None.


TSA Failure at MSP

Funny how the TSA turns a miscommunication (read their error) into a positive at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport on last Thursday (read story). Why a positive, because the agent of the “make-work” program actual did their job and detected a fake bomb in a suitcase being used as part of a “routine drill.” Unfortunately, the TSA failed to tell the local police. “Airport spokesman Pat Hogan said the good news is that the bomb was detected and the security precautions at the airport worked.”

I recall pre 9-11 when I all management employees (supervisor level) had to go through “training” for 6 weeks. As part of that training, we had a woman at United Airlines, who involved in airline security. She provided us training on using the x-ray machines and explosive trace-detection portal machines. Not sure this training as as “intense” as the rent-a-cops who staffed security checkpoints, but learning how to interpret what the image was on the x-ray machine was interesting.

This training was required as part of the job description for supervisor, to be trained as a Ground Security Coordinator (GSC). Part of those duties were also to “oversee” security checkpoints, one place I did not want to be. I still recall my only duty was to tell a family their Mylar, Mickey Mouse balloon could not come through the checkpoint. Talk about ridiculous! Allegedly I was keeping the airline safe and the concourse sterile.

Needless to say after this “formal” training I was nowhere near prepared, as an airline supervisor to be overseeing any security checkpoint. The GSC was nothing more than an acronym attached to the position due to the sensitivity nature of the job. I made many security type decisions, sometimes unilaterally and other times consulting other individuals or departments.

Unfortunately the dog and pony show known as the TSA has not made air travel any safer. Sure they can point to their track record since 9-11, as there have been no hijacking or terrorist attacks. Yet it’s not the TSA who has been deterring these thwarts attempts on aviation security. So continue to the with smoke and mirrors, make sure your grope, fondle and molest air travelers in the name of security.

Sheeple Still Don’t Get It

The TSA or “Thousands Standing Around” do not make air travel more safer. Maybe you have heard that before. Better yet, maybe you have heard since 9-11 there has not been another event of this type in the US. Guess that means the formation of the DHS and TSA have improved airport security. For many sheeple, this is the case. They are fed by the mainstream media and believe these “enhanced techniques” are for THEIR own good and will help prevent another 9-11.

We continue to see stories of passengers and pilots coming forth to expose lapses or their stories. Two recent stories, one from Texas where a woman was arrested after not giving up her Constitutional rights to be “raped” by the TSA for security purposes. Comments from others, “I understand her side of it, and their side as well, but it is for our protection so I have no problems with it” and “It’s unfortunate that that happened and she didn’t get to fly home, but it makes me feel a little safer.” Wow! The other story out of California told of a pilot who recorded the “farce” that is airlines security and is now being hassled by local police and the government.

It’s interesting, some of the comments he makes, that I made years ago, right here on T6F. “I wanted to give you an idea of what type of security the ground crews go through, their screening is sliding a card and going through a door. Not screened at all,” the story says. That’s right folks! In my 11 years at LAX and SFO I never used the security checkpoints. In fact I made it a point to skirt those checkpoints until it was MANDATORY for all airline employees to use.

My guess is, if I would have recorded my “Adventures in Security” at LAX and SFO, I probably would have been fired, at the least reprimanded to some degree. Why? Because I was exposing something the DHS, TSA and U.S. Government doesn’t think is a problem. There were countless times I walked on the ramp without my badge in plain site, above my waist and never questioned.

Nor was I ever questioned (but once) when I used my airport/company ID badge when accessing a secured door. At LAX instead of changing the policy they changed the rules as it related to a secured door. No longer could it be used to access the ramp, but it could be used to enter the terminal (behind ticketing). As for the one incident, I was escorting my sister, at the time fellow employee of United Airlines, who was in full uniform with two ID badges. I was stopped by a gung-ho supervisor who told me I could not do this. After arguing with him, we decided to use a different door to access the ramp. Needless to say, I was reprimanded for this incident.

Unfortunately this “grassroots” effort is not organized. Pilots and air travelers alike end up being persecuted, reprimanded and made an example of by the DHS. The more words and images of aviation (in)security get out, maybe the government will be a bit more worried about the work program they have going, known as the TSA.