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Monday, March 26, 2007

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Anonymous Airport Employee

It is not TSA's job to act as Airport Security, nor is it their right.
They continue to expand their mission on almost a daily basis (we are the Feds, we are here to help) attempting to take over as much as they can in as short as possible a time frame.
They do this with almost a “license to kill, 007” type of attitude. As if claiming that this is all for our own good, and we can’t possibly protect ourselves, will make up for the violations of personal privacy their suggestions and actions lead to.
Airport employees with access to the SIDA are not just regular Joes off the street. If you can not trust an Airport Director or an Airport Ramp Supervisor to the extent where you must partially strip them before allowing them to proceed to the ramp and do their jobs, than you surely can not trust a US Customs agent who is paid a fraction of the amount with the same security background check. Yet for some reason DHS exempts itself from the "trusted employee" threat.
TSA can carry this chasing shadows game of theirs to almost any extreme and point at any number of bad people out there in the world to justify it, but this country is built on principles of personal freedom and once the Government starts taking away our freedoms in order to protect us from ourselves, then we are lost.
How long will it be before TSA justifies arming their newly renamed Security Officers “I have to admit this sounds better than Baggage Screener which is what they are”? They are now taking on many new duties all in the name of protecting us from ourselves. Wouldn’t they be much safer if they were armed?
Why shouldn’t they be armed if it is really that dangerous out there?
I’m guessing they will be someday.
Then how will your Airport look? Will you feel safer?
I won’t.

Dave

TSA would be much better if people actually did their job! I was at LAX in the AA terminal on Memorial Day weekend and TSA hand inspected every bag-while you watched! This was the step between check-in and security (both went smoothly). But the hand checking bags while we watched-absurd! To top it all off for all the domestic flights going out of LAX on AA they had only two sets of 3 people "working" at a time. And usually two of those people were on "break" right beside the third person that would check the luggage between conversations. I was in the short line and it still took me over 45 minutes to get through. Remeber, that was just for our luggage.
TSA has an important task but they need to get some decent employees and practical practices in place if they want to be respected.

cure

Kip,

The main problem with TSA (and DHS in general) is that they are inflicting major, major harms on the reputation of the United States. Airline security procedures in other countries (say, Japan, France or Singapore) also have a perfect record in the last five years, but without making travel to their country so problematic that multinationals begin shifting operations out of their country. The US is notoriously bureaucratic and overly suspicious at the 1) original visa office, 2) at the airport, and 3) at the border. The primary goal of DHS and TSA ought to be "friendliness in the open, justified suspicion in the background." If the countries I mentioned above can do it, surely we can too.

3 ounce bags of liquid and ever-increasing visa fees ARE sound-bite protection.

Anonymous Traveler

I agree with the previous comments above. IMO, the security performed by the airports are "sound bite" security. The x-ray of shoes and the no liquids/gels policies may provide some security in the short run, but not in the long run. Currently, I believe that a terrorist could easily find a hole in our current techniques can take advantage of those holes to attack.

I agree with Kip that risk-based security is needed, but our current policies do NOT provide that. I do not know the best example of risk-based security, but I could say that India, Singapore, and Malaysia all provide good security w/o "providing inconvenience" to the passengers. In India, every baggage is screened in the X-ray, and every passenger is screened for contrabands before boarding. So far, I have not heard any terrorist acts in those countries for the past couple years.

Again, our current procedures may provide short term security, but definitely not in the long run. Worse, it may be inconveniencing passengers that they would no longer visit those airports again (call them whiners, but you will see the effects).

I will say that I do not mind TSA's current procedures (shoes offs at WTMD and no liquids/gels), but I do encounter a rude screener (or any other airport employee), you will be sure I would not visit that airport again (if I am not forced to).

Just my two cents.

Brian

Editor's note - this post was edited. While we always welcome comments and criticism, we will not condone name calling. BJW

"“Sound bite” security satisfies a particular security concern and is intended to be comforting to the public. "

You continue to maintain your policy of shoes going through the x-ray on the extremely odd chance that they contain explosives. The FACT of the matter is that the x-ray is not a credible means of checking for explosives. The x-ray will only show the most crudely built shoe bomb and then, only if your screeners aren't joking with each other or leering at the passengers to notice such a bomb. The FACT remains that the only acceptable means of checking for explosives is the Explosives Trace Portal, but your technology R&D team haven't been able to get them working properly in airport enviroments.

The FACT is that there are no such liquids that would not be detected by Explosives Trace Detection or Explosives Trace Portal. Instead, you make passengers play your stupid baggie games by once again using the x-ray, which does NOT detect explosives, to screen liquids for mythical substances that can be dumped together to form a bomb.

Anonymous Airport Employee

The TSA was put in place as a Federal Regulatory Agency not as an Airport Security Agency. Much like FAA did in the past TSA is just supposed to be inspecting Airport Security to ensure that it meets the federal requirements, other then that they are supposed to be baggage screeners.
TSA wants MORE!
What they are forgetting though, is that by federalizing Airport Security they are turning Airports into a legitimate target, not just for international terrorists, but for every wacko out there with a grudge against the Feds.
THANKS TSA!

Frustrated  Traveler

Sadly, I have not seen the TSA address in any way the correction of one of the biggest problems travelers face-- having their checked baggage subject to search without the owner being present!

Being forced by the TSA to leave my personal property vulnerable to search and/or theft by either TSA personnel or anyone else (baggage handlers, etc.) is something which I don't believe occurs in ANY other civilized nation.

And using "TSA-approved" locks is NOT the answer- you don't think there are many, many unauthorized copies of 'special' TSA keys floating around? Plus, there have been many occurrences of those locks also being cut off by TSA anyway.

The standard (and unacceptable) response from TSA with regards to theft from baggage is that it could have been done by any number of people, not necessarily the TSA, and very conveniently ignores the fact that it is the TSA rule which creates the vulnerability in the first place.

Finally, if baggage is vulnerable to theft, it is also vulnerable to having items introduced INTO it. Has the TSA ever addressed that issue? Let alone items that might be a threat to the aircraft, what about illicit/illegal items?

I would hate to have to travel to Singapore or other countries with harsh smuggling penalties knowing something could be placed into my baggage and I could end up in prison or worse, thanks to TSA regulations. (and hasn't there been a situation with an Australian traveler in Indonesia, I believe, where something similar to this may have been the case?)

The excuse that TSA doesn't have the resources to conduct searches in the passenger's presence is unacceptable. Somehow, every other nation finds a way to do so, why can't TSA? TSA should rectify this situation, not whine that since it doesn't know how, it's okay to violate personal privacy and property rights.

Fed Up Flyer

The only thing secure about TSA are the jobs created for former fast food employees. The idiotic rules vary from location to location, dependant upon the screener.

Just what does taking your shoes off and sending them through the x-ray do? Why do x-ray screeners pull an ungodly number of bags for "bag check!"? How about the pat-downs of elderly ladies who set off the WTMD? Just how many have turned out to be terrorists?

We've been at "Code Yellow" with intermittent "Code Orange" for over six years now. Isn't it time we started turning down the rhetoric and turning up the intelligence?

This entire airport screening thing needs to be revisited. There are far too many people being delayed and inconvenienced in the name of "security" while anyone can get access to an aircraft by becoming an airport employee.

On another note, the "no-fly" list should be going down, not up. Why haven't these names been more closely vetted, with innocent citizens removed?

If the response from Kippy to the above is some garbage about protecting American citizens, I would like to point out we can never prevent every conceivable threat and will soon bankrupt the nation trying.

sy levine

Since Bush has been president thousands of innocent people died needlessly in 911. Yet, neither the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) nor the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have lost their job. Hijacking and Terrorist attacks have traditionally accounted for about 10% of fatal accidents world-wide. This known threat existed and was well tabulated/tracked prior to 911 in world fatal accident statistics and still President Bush’s appointed a political head of the FAA that had little security or aviation experience. Neither the DOT nor FAA took the required steps necessary to keep the public and the nation safe even though the threats were known and it was their job to assure the security and safety of our sky. They operated out of fear of losing the aviation industries support for maintaining their positions and thereby allowed the nation and the traveling public to suffer needlessly. The deaths that occurred on 911 won’t even show up on the FAA’s fatal accident statistics. This is done intentionally to minimize aviation related fatalities and to give the public a false sense of security. Thus 911, like Katrina, was the result of President Bush’s Republican political appointees that had little knowledge of their appointed critical tasks.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
At first look it isn't obvious that the golfer Payne Stewart, and the Helios (2005 - 100+fatality) decompression crashes and 911 are related but from a aviation safety and security system view they are:

When a plane substantially deviates from its approved flight plan it is presently possible to have a remote pilot located in a secure simulator fly the plane to a safe landing at a sparsely populated airfield. Over 70% of all fatal air crashes occurrences are readily preventable if handled correctly.

Unfortunately, the data needed to accomplish this is locked up in the flight recorder and is utilized predominately in an autopsy mode. If the data is so important that it is necessary to discover the cause of a fatal crash it is much more important to prevent a fatal crash. Yet because of the aviation industry's partnership with the FAA and NTSB none of the flight data coming out of the recorders is available in real-time to proactively prevent fatal crashes. The inability to use the flight data in real time has jeopardized the safety and security of the traveling public and the nation. The astronauts were guided back from the moon because the data was telemetered to the ground in real-time. Once it got to the ground it was analyzed, and then via a concerted effort by experts, using simulations the proper and safe way to handle life threatening situation was accomplished. Yet this proven technique isn't utilized by the industrial/government partnership to keep our nation and air-passengers safe and secure.

One year prior to 911, I was the guest speaker at the International Aviation Safety Association meeting in NY where I spoke on how terrorists and decompression fatal crashes are preventable via remote control of a deviating aircraft using ciphered technology developed for our ballistic missiles. This technology can prevent most aviation crashes (approximately 70%) even those from mechanical problems and errors of commission and omission. At present a pilot has displayed only a fraction of the information necessary to make the right decision to prevent a crash. The pilot in many instances is seeing a problem for the first time. The aircraft data and air traffic control data isn't shared extensively so experts on handling the aircraft's problem aren’t consulted nor can the problem be simulated to aid in crash prevention. This data vacuum is responsible for most fatal crashes. For example, the Swiss Air and Alaskan Air fatal crashes could have been prevented if handled correctly.

In addition it is not only terrorists that sabotage aircraft. Commercial and Military pilots have also done it. When a pilot deviates substantially from the approved flight plan the aircraft should be safely remote piloted to a landing at a sparsely populated airport. Several years ago a rogue military pilot substantially deviated from his approved Continental United States (CONUS) flight plan and flew an A-10 aircraft loaded with bombs clandestinely across multiple states. It took two weeks to find the plane which had crashed into a Colorado mountain. The plane was eventually found but the bombs are still missing. Exhaustive searches were made but no one has a clew as to what happened to the bombs. Must we wait for a bigger disaster than 911 before any action takes place?

Everyone knowledgeable about the holes in our aviation system, brought about by the industrial government partnership, knew that a 911 could occur and the government allowed it to occur. Even though we knew about Payne Stewart nothing was done and so we got Helios' 100 + deaths. Presently we are just as vulnerable to a 911 disaster, decompression disaster, ... etc. as we were in 2001. The public needs to know the system is fixable for the good of our nation. Even though 3000 people died needlessly on 911 the system doesn't fix the data vacuum mode of operation. It works around the system with attempted band-aid patches that are costly and ineffective simply to protect the industry from liability suits. The necessary data is only available in the tombstone/autopsy mode. With all of the deaths that were preventable not a single FAA or NTSB person was even laid-off. Thus, the industry won out and the public and nation suffered. It is quite possible that we went into an unnecessary and horrible war just because we protected the special interest of the aviation industry. The cost of those disasters alone would have been a small fraction of the cost necessary to fix the system and we would now have a safer and securer nation. Instead, things are the same and we are vulnerable.

If you should need more info on this please don't hesitate to contact me (you can see some of my work by going to Google and doing a search on "aviation security, safety and sy levine" or go to my web site www.safelander.com. My work was also featured on the BBC show called "The Black Box". There is simply no reason, technical, cost or data privacy wise" for not using the Black Box Data in real-time, in addition to its autopsy mode, to make our nation safer and securer. The fear of liability, via law suits, should not stand in the way of the airline passenger safety, the safety of people on the ground, or our national security. It is imperative that the traveling public write to the President, their Congressional Representatives, the DOT, FAA and NTSB and demand that the Black Box data be available and utilized in real-time for the security of our nation and to substantially reduce fatal crashes.

Sincerely,
Sy Levine
sylevine1@sbcglobal.net

Peter

He talks about "risk based security" but ignores the fact that even a high-risk terrorist activity, like blowing up a plane, is still a very, very, very low probability event. Throwing money and resources at something that is exceedingly unlikely to happen is a waste of both.
I'm far more likely to die in a plane from mechanical failure or pilot error so why not spend all the security money on maintenance and training? That would save more lives that any of this "security" BS.

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My husband worked for the airport from 2000-2005. He got lay off in May 2005 because company closed warehouses in Miami. Now in 2007 he is applyied in the airport again and the company he is applying in said they can't extend him the job offer because the TSA came up with some new rules for employees on OCT 1st. Due to a Disorderly Conduct withold ajudication he had in 2001. My question to anybody out there is how can one fight this new ruling or appeal. I don't understand how they extended to him the customs license for 5 years and know they say no and that until 2011 he is banned from the airport. I think its ridicolous.

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