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.

TSA Scaners Not Reliable!

I have a new hero on the Internet. I read the original story a few days back, but held off commenting about the recent “viral video” from blogger, Jonathan Corbett. Just a few days ago he released a video, (original story and video) along with commentary of himself passing through a TSA nude body scanner without a metallic object being discovered.

I took a random metallic object, in this case a heavy metal carrying case that would easily alarm any of the “old” metal detectors, and walked through a backscatter x-ray at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. On video, of course. While I’m not about to win any videography awards for my hidden camera footage, you can watch as I walk through the security line with the metal object in my new side pocket. My camera gets placed on the conveyer belt and goes through its own x-ray, and when it comes out, I’m through, and the object never left my pocket.

This loophole seems to have been downplayed by the TSA’s “official spokesperson,” Blogger Bob said “it is one layer of our 20 layers of security.” Mr. Corbett eludes to this in today’s blog post, “The TSA’s official response (from Blogger Bob — blog.tsa.gov) was that “some guy” posted a video that was “a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures.” The response then went on to say that they “can’t discuss” it and that the nude body scanners are just “one layer” of security so not to worry.”

While probably not the most important level of security within their 20 layers, it does seem to the be layer that is most controversial. A quick Google search will bring up story after story of confrontations at security checkpoints. This all in the name of security, which DHS claims has improved since it was federalized after the government attacks on 9-11.

Last check, the U.S. Government has spent $1 billion in the name of making air travel safer, yet very evasive. Nothing but controversy has surrounded these machines since they have started to show up at more airports across the nation. A more telling comment came from Rafi Sela, “who ran security for Ben Gurion airport in Israel, which is known for being one of the most secure airports in the world, was quoted saying he could “overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to take down a Boeing 747,” and Ben Gurion therefore refused to buy scanners. The US ignored this warning, and Mr. Sela never publicly explained his statement.”

For the latest on this developing story check out Jonathan’s blog, TSA Out of Our Pants!

 

Big Sis: Molestation is Protocol

This comes as no surprise that the DHS, more specifically, Big Sis is backpedaling after the story broken over a week ago after a video was made viral showing a 6-year old girl being patted down molested by the TSA (See my previous story). Today The Daily Caller reports the pat-down was “done professionally according to the protocols.”

By the TSA coming forth in defense of their protocols and procedures of the pat-down of the 6-year old was “done professionally” is admitting they did something wrong. I fail to see how this woman can sleep at night when she heads such a mismanaged department in the DHS.

The TSA will continue with their pat-down procedures, but are working to “streamline the airport screening process.” Top on the list to expedite an air traveler through security, “is expanding trust and traveler programs, programs where people will get biometric cards. They’ve already supplied information. We know they are safe to travel. We can move them through the system. That’s going to be expanded this year. That allows us to remove a number of people I think from the screening process.

So now we give even MORE personal information to the DHS just to process us through the security checkpoint. I tend to believe the majority of fliers are NOT business fliers who are taking to the airports on a weekly basis. A majority are people who use the airlines for “pleasure” (although there is rarely any pleasure left in flying).

I would expect this “trust and traveler program” to reduce the security lines, as mentioned by Big Sis. That is not the problem though. The fact still remains the procedures implemented by the TSA are unacceptable! Especially when a 6-year old is being molested (professionally by the TSA). I disagree with how the protocols are and procedures are implemented. That is what needs to change.

Of course this broad goes on to defend her position and that of the TSA, “So we process almost 2 million passengers a day in U.S. airports. The scope and scale of what we do in aviation is far beyond what any other country does.” And the fact remains the US is no safer today than we were before 9-11. I would much rather go with European style airport security than this dog and pony show that Big Sis oversees.

To date, since 9-11 I cannot recall a checkpoint that foiled a terrorist attack because of a pat-down or otherwise. Nothing the mainstream media has brought to attention because it has not happened. Numerous attempts have been foiled because of intelligence gathering that were deemed “credible” long before these plans get to the airport.

 

Backlash Continues

The new TSA screening procedures and guidelines are unacceptable! It borders on molestation. From the Washington Times article yesterday titled, “Big Sister’s police state“, Under 18 U.S. Code Section 2244, ” ‘sexual contact’ means the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade.

Air travelers are revolting, as witnessed by John Tyner in San Diego last week. Flight crews are revolting as witnessed by Michael Roberts, pilot who went home instead of submitting to the TSA. Today the revolt moves in a new direction as an airport is deciding to “opt out” (which seems to be the new catchphrase). Sanford Airport in Central Florida, as reported by WDBO wants out. “All of our due diligence shows it’s the way to go,” said Larry Dale, the director of the Sanford Airport Authority. “You’re going to get better service at a better price and more accountability and better customer service.”

So where does an airport deciding to opt out look for security? They turn to the private sector and for new security screeners, who end up being FAA approved and follow TSA guidelines. Full looks like this is the start of coming full circle, because prior to 9-11 (Pre-TSA) private companies provided security to airports. I can’t say it was much better with this non-Federal, wannabes manning a checkpoint.

“Big Sis” and the TSA continue to overstep their boundaries. As Congressman John Mica, who’s expected to lead the powerful Transportation Committee next year, says the TSA is crying out for reform. Follow the trail of money and see who’s getting paid (Mike Chertoff comes to mind as head of Rapiscan) and who is getting screwed (you, the traveling public and flight crews). Regardless of what happens it won’t be a quick fix. Sadly, things will most likely get worse before they get better.

As for me, I have no trips planned that require air travel. Hell, at this point I will make the 10 hour roadie to SoCal (San Diego) to visit my parents instead of fly, even if there were great deals on tickets.

Bombs Away

Since leaving the airline industry I really don’t stay up to date on the happenings. Oh sure, I know the Airbus A-380 took it’s maiden revenue voyage from LHR-SYD and the Boeing 787 is not really as safe as it should be, so says a whistle blower from Boeing. I do know one thing airline security in the USA sucks!

Just how bad is it? Well, as a former airline employee I avoided security at ALL times. Why? They were a pain in the ass to deal with, especially as an employee. There even opened an ‘Employee Only’ security checkpoint because of the exhausting security lines. They called these checkpoints “mandatory” but never enforced it. How do I know? Because I never went through security on a daily basis. Is that a bomb in my backpack?

From the multi-colored fish wrap [that’s the USA Today for all you Euros] comes this gem of a story, Most fake bombs missed by screeners. As a former employee at LAX I see security there failed 75% of the time when it came to undercover agents carrying fake bombs that were never spotted. 75%! I guess on the bright side, one in four planes will depart without blowing up.

Here is a mensa statement from the author of the article, “The failure rates at Los Angeles and Chicago stunned security experts.” How much money did the DHS put into the aviation industry for security? Billions? LOL. The response, “That’s a huge cause for concern,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the Homeland Security Department’s former inspector general. Screeners’ inability to find bombs could encourage terrorists to try to bring them on airplanes, Ervin said, and points to the need for more screener training and more powerful checkpoint scanning machines.

So as long as there are continued holes in airline security, which there will be, you, the friendly terrorists will have the odds with you, at least at LAX and ORD.

Friends ask me if I miss the airlines. In all honesty, I don’t and this is part of the reason why. The political bullshit and red tape that is security and that billion dollar black hole that claims our airline security has improved. LOL, okay. Sure. Just sit back and wait for the next airline to explode, it’s bound to happen.

This event will spawn yet another round of tighten security constraints where they will bad 3 ounces of all your fluids and require you to walk butt nekked through the metal detector and carry on bags won’t be allowed on. Glad I love to drive when I do on vacation.