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Transportation Government Security

Former TSA Administrator Speaks 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the sees-the-writing-on-the-wall dept.
phantomfive writes "Former TSA head Kip Hawley talks about how the agency is broken and how it can be fixed: 'The crux of the problem, as I learned in my years at the helm, is our wrongheaded approach to risk. In attempting to eliminate all risk from flying, we have made air travel an unending nightmare for U.S. passengers and visitors from overseas, while at the same time creating a security system that is brittle where it needs to be supple. ... the TSA's mission is to prevent a catastrophic attack on the transportation system, not to ensure that every single passenger can avoid harm while traveling. Much of the friction in the system today results from rules that are direct responses to how we were attacked on 9/11. But it's simply no longer the case that killing a few people on board a plane could lead to a hijacking. ...The public wants the airport experience to be predictable, hassle-free and airtight and for it to keep us 100% safe. But 100% safety is unattainable. Embracing a bit of risk could reduce the hassle of today's airport experience while making us safer at the same time."
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Former TSA Administrator Speaks

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:18AM (#39685311)
    Let the experience of other countries (where terrorist attacks are unfortunately common) be a lesson here: big crowds are targets. The TSA's security checkpoints at airports, especially busy airports, create big crowds, and those crowds are not behind any sort of security. A terrorist who wanted to kill a big crowd of Americans could walk in to a major airport just before a holiday and kill hundreds of people without ever dealing with security.

    The fact that it has not happened yet is an indication that airport security measures are not what is keeping terrorist at bay.
    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:23AM (#39685333)

      Even terrorists don't want to deal with airports during major holidays.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:07PM (#39685601)

      It has been tried here in Blighty albeit with mildly comic results ie. a burning terrorist being offered help from a police officer and fighting with him while onlookers screamed to "let him burn!" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Glasgow_International_Airport_attack

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:10PM (#39685625)
      Obvously the TSA-mentality "cure" for that problem would be to create a separate "pre-screening" screening, to make sure people aren't carrying bombs or bio-weapons into the primary screening waiting area. Problem solved. Safety achieved.
      • by Aerorae (1941752)
        Wrong. Kip Hawley was right when he said that this would merely shift terrorists' training focus to people on those pre-screened lists. It's a farce, yet another, that aims to merely make the ignorant masses "feel" safe. When the masses "feel" safe they praise on high their elected officials who "saved" them and "protected" them in their time of need, and REELECT them
      • by dj245 (732906) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @01:52AM (#39691157) Homepage
        You joke but they do this in the Philippines, you know, where there actual Muslim extremists trying to kidnap and/or kill people. The Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] lists dozens of attacks in the last 20 years. They must be doing something right though, as only one of those incidents involves an airplane or an airport.

        There is a guy with a metal detector at the airport door, and he gives you an extremely brief patdown. The patdown is similar to "movie-style" patdowns where they just go down your torso on the left and right of your body. It takes about 10 seconds to clear someone. After you are inside, you have to go through the real security which involves cheap metal detectors, profiling, and possibly bomb-sniffing dogs. There is plenty of corruption in the Philippines, but even so, they are probably spending 1/100th of what the US spends on a per person basis.
    • by durdur (252098) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:19PM (#39685683)

      Also, we can learn from other countries that being attacked by terrorists does not mean you have to institute a police state, or go off and start a couple of unnecessary wars. We've spend many times the actual cost of the 9/11 attacks trying to protect ourselves from anything like it happening again. But as TFA implies, nobody's asking if the cost exceeds the benefit. And now we have a monstrous national security apparatus and a military-industrial complex more entrenched and extensive than ever before.

      The U.K. had terrorist attacks for years, including the fairly horrendous one in London in 2005. But they haven't gone crazy about it, or at least not as crazy as the U.S. has.

      • by mikael (484) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:37PM (#39687017)

        Why do you think there are CCTV cameras on every corner in the UK? That was the first response. Then they made the financial area of Londin a car free zone. Something that the Green parties had dreamed of doing but were ignored. Then we have the logging of every telephone call, SMS message, Email and visit to a website. Finally, we have the X-raying of everything including shoes.

        • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @04:10PM (#39687763)
          And we have airline check in queues so long it is probably quicker to swim to France than fly there.

          When the IRA (HInt: American sponsored) were bombing the UK on a regular basis, we just took it, saying "the risk of dying from eating Scotch eggs beats the risk of an IRA bomb any day!" or, for the oldies "Compared to the Blitz, this is nothing!"

          Then the Americans got hit, and it was "OK, lets circle the poodles and waggle our tails".

          No one in the UK believes that airline check in procedures are about safety. We all know they are about our politicians pandering to America for reasons we don't understand, but which probably involve bribery and corruption.

          • by mikael (484)

            Whenever something happens, the usual catch phrase is "We will do a review and look where we can tighten up security". Their fear is looking like idiots if they didn't improve security the first time and the same event happened again.

  • by feedayeen (1322473) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:19AM (#39685315)

    Gee, this is new, how many times have we seen officials make statements about this regarding any of the current 'War on ______' policies? Hey, how about you fix the damn thing before you had 'Former' amended onto your title.

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:25AM (#39685345)

      When these people are in their former positions their job is to ensure that budget money keeps coming in, not to actually solve the problems the organizations were created to solve.

    • by quasius (1075773) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:26AM (#39685353)
      Have you considered that trying to change things and becoming a "Former X" might be related?
    • by iPaul (559200) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:32AM (#39685399) Homepage

      It's not the individual so much as the process. If it were the fault of the individual, then we'd see some cases where the policies got fixed and other cases where the policies don't get fixed. Unfortunately, we see a lot more 'stay the course' simply because we don't have the kind of political environment that accepts new thinking or even modest amounts of 'risk' taking. That's the shame of the whole situation. We want people to bring forward solutions but it can't be solution 'X' because that's unpopular with voters, or solution 'Y' because the other party will crucify us, or solution 'K' because the company that makes the scanners has plants in key congressional districts, etc. So we're going to continue with the current, sub-optimal, likely counter-productive strategy. Make a change to the screening process and a terrorist attack happens, the first thing they'll rake you over the coals for is the change in the screening procedure and how that allowed the attack to happen. In part its the fault of the agency, in part it's the fault of congress, in part its the fault of a hyperactive media that focuses on trivialities and jumps to conclusions. Like you, the whole situation make me sick.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:29PM (#39685745) Journal
      In the article, he claims he tried:

      I arrived in 2005 with naive notions of wrangling the organization into shape, only to discover the power of the TSA's bureaucratic momentum and political pressures. By the time of my arrival, the agency was focused almost entirely on finding prohibited items. Constant positive reinforcement on finding items like lighters had turned our checkpoint operations into an Easter-egg hunt. When we ran a test, putting dummy bomb components near lighters in bags at checkpoints, officers caught the lighters, not the bomb parts....I wanted to reduce the amount of time that officers spent searching for low-risk objects, but politics intervened at every turn. Lighters were untouchable, having been banned by an act of Congress.

      We did succeed in getting some items (small scissors, ice skates) off the list of prohibited items.

      • by Xacid (560407)

        Did he miss the part about him being the fucking BOSS? Jesus. Have some balls.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @01:51PM (#39686603) Journal
          He's not the boss. He has a boss too, the president and congress. Like he said,

          politics intervened at every turn. Lighters were untouchable, having been banned by an act of Congress.

        • Did you read the part where he said lighters were banned by an act of Congress? Even the CEO answers to the shareholders.
          • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:30PM (#39686959) Homepage

            Here's the bottom line:

            Congress and The Bureaucracy.

            Happens every time in the US. See, for example, problems with Medicare, the FAA, NASA, FDA, the Forest Service and likely every other agency in the Beltway.

            You have politicians with financial oversight, limited intelligence, very limited concentration and the powerful need to get reelected. You have bureaucracies who have really are examples of the undead. You can't kill them, no matter how hard you try. They grow and reproduce no matter how much you try to control it. The only way to grapple with the problem is to cut off their food supply. Since they are symbiotically attached to Congress, whose job it is to control the food supply - that option isn't available unless you're Ron Paul (and batshit insane about pretty much everything else).

            The big mistake was creating the DHS in the first place. That was a clusterfuck of the very first order. Once you've created monsters like that there is no turning back. Godzilla is going to trample the countryside.

            Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

            • Yup. That was pretty much what I was saying above -- you can blame Hawley for not turning things around during his tenure at TSA, but I really don't think there was much he could do to reroute the agency. It was an abomination from the word go, and it was going to take a lot more leverage than he had to make a difference.
        • He's not the boss. Congress is the boss, and Congress is more interested in what sounds good (or bad) in a election commercial than in what does or doesn't work.

    • Gee, this is new, how many times have we seen officials make statements about this regarding any of the current 'War on ______' policies?

      So we're gonna wise up and stop giving these Peter-Principled bureaucrats power, right?

      Ah, nevermind, I wonder who's on Dancing with the Idols tonight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:24AM (#39685337)

    Please get rid of it.

    Not only is it expensive, it is total theater.

    It's useless and doesn't help anybody or anything but TSA agents and the companies selling cancerous porno x-ray machines.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:43AM (#39685459)
      I agree. Even in 2001, more people die per mile in car crashes than in air related accidents (Including all those in the towers with 0 miles) but because it is so unpleasant, more people drive instead of flying. If you do the math, you see that TSA is killing people.
      • If they did not live in their imaginations? They would not be Americans.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:53PM (#39685977) Journal
        In September 2001, more people in the USA died as a result of road accidents than as a result of terrorist action. Imagine what would have happened if all of the money spent on the TSA had been spent on road safety instead...
        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:39PM (#39687035) Homepage

          In September 2001, more people in the USA died as a result of road accidents than as a result of terrorist action. Imagine what would have happened if all of the money spent on the TSA had been spent on road safety instead...

          Before you get in the vehicle, you would have to present government approved ID. Once in the seat, the driver would have to blow into a breathalyzer, give a urine sample for drug analysis and have their EKG examined by a board certified cardiologist before one could start the car. If that was successful, everyone would have to put on their helmets, fireproof jump suit, boot and gloves and then strap into a four point harness.

          The car wouldn't start until you went through a computer controlled checklist. All personal electronics would be stored in a locked safe that stays sealed while the car is in motion. Should you be lucky enough to get this far, the vehicle would travel no faster than 35 miles per hour (and none of this kilometers crap) and go no more than 10 miles before you would have to ask permission to go further (which can take more than 24 hours in some cases).

          Careful watch you ask for, you just might get it....

          • watch, what ...

            I'm never posting on that stupid iPad again.

            • by drkstr1 (2072368)

              Oh god, tell me about it. The opt-out auto correct drives me bat shit insane! I can't even begin to count how many times it replaced a word for me because I didn't notice or failed to hit the tiny little x button up in the text field before hitting the space bar. Complete madness!

              [end rant]

        • by i.r.id10t (595143)

          Ah, the number I like to mention is the elderly who die because they can't afford their daily meds, or fuel for their heater, or regular meals, etc.

    • Please get rid of it.

      Not only is it expensive, it is total theater.

      It's useless and doesn't help anybody or anything but TSA agents and the companies selling cancerous porno x-ray machines.

      Actually, *total* theatre is what I experienced in a Greyhound terminal a few years ago. They "beefed up" security following a totally insane and horrific decapitation on a bus.
      Everyone lined up around some pillars, geriatric screeners unzipping backpacks to peer inside, not even opening luggage or duffel bags.
      And the wanding... oh lord the wanding, which I swear, looked like a Radio Shack coin finder without any batteries, and didn't detect so much as my belt buckle.

      The theatre only existed in major termin

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:25AM (#39685347)

    The thing is the TSA should NOT be the ones preventing a "catastrophic attack on the transportation system". That should be the CIA, even the military!!

    The TSA should, at best, be simply a light wall to keep things reasonable as far as who goes on a plane. That is it. Thus if you think about it, the TSA really has NO proper role. Not at the level they are at anyway - security would be better managed by airport managed security.

    But you say, what about the centralized no-fly list? Well what about it? Who cares who flies? That list has done WAY more harm to innocent people than it has ever helped. Even if we let someone who truly is a terrorist on, it doesn't matter. Either they fly somewhere, or the try to hijack the plane and get mauled by passengers, or possibly they get something by regional security and blow up a plane. Oh well; we lived under that system just fine for decades.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:45AM (#39685467)

      The way I understand it, TSA is basically an immunity shield for airports, so if something goes wrong, TSA is liable, and not the airport and their security.

    • by iPaul (559200) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:45AM (#39685469) Homepage

      So, the TSA was formed, in part, because after 9/11 we found out that many of the airports relied on contractors that were borderline. Little to no training. Enormous turnover. Effectively no ability to arrest or detain people. Subject to pressure from the airlines, etc. So someone had, what was probably a good idea, hire people as full time, highly trained screeners that could server or coordinate with law enforcement. Sure, it might cost a little more in the short run, but less than if people viewed airlines as unsafe and refused to fly. Much like the movie "The Fly" that idea morphed into the mess that we have now. With congressmen saying that "agent" should not be used to refer to a TSA worker because that demeans other law enforcement agents. But let's say, for sake of argument, that the Obama administration tries to do something about it. "He's soft on terror" or "He's making us less safe," or "He's helping the terrorists". Likewise, if Romney wins and his administration tries to do something: "He's in the pocket of the airlines," or "He's making us less safe because it's costing the airlines money." Those are both ridiculous claims, but they will be made.

      • because after 9/11 we found out that many of the airports relied on contractors that were borderline. Little to no training. Enormous turnover. Effectively no ability to arrest or detain people. Subject to pressure from the airlines, etc. So someone had, what was probably a good idea, hire people as full time, highly trained screeners that could server or coordinate with law enforcement

        It was never a good idea. It was a reaction.

        If they had thought through it at all, they would have just left things as the

    • by fermion (181285)
      Homeland Security in general, and the TSA in particular, is a jobs program. Given that some have a fundamentalist belief in the value of work, instead of paying them a few hundred dollars a month in support, and the food and rent asstance, we are paying 2-4X that amount to have then stand around the airport and harass people. Admittedly it might be more expensive to do the job right, pay well trained profilers to observe passengers, but then it would be doing some good. This would be light wall.

      There

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        The TSA as a jobs program is awesome in principle except that we should be paying them to do something useful instead of what they're doing. You know, like patrolling the thousands of miles of fence around airports, driving up and down the tens of thousands of miles of railroad tracks to watch for people planting bombs, installing crossing guards at railroad intersections, staffing suicide prevention hotlines to reduce the number of rail jumpers, screening applicants for visas, driving the border fences to

        • Sounds like you're advocating a police state there, buddy. Maybe it's better that they just check our undies.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:31AM (#39685381)

    Weapons have never been necessary to take control of an airliner. They just make it a little easier.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:39AM (#39685437)

      successfully hijacking an airplane today is very unlikely. Now that is has be established that being hijacked means death in a crash there is not much that can prevent a plane full of passengers scared for their life from killing the hijackers no matter how many weapons they might manage to get on board

      • by Xacid (560407)

        My favorite changes due to 9/11? Cockpit doors and explosive detection. That's it. That's all we needed to "beat" terrorism on that front. Curiously - explosive detection isn't even a priority it seems - but, as the article alludes to, things like lighters are. Go figured.

        • Have you never been in a plane where a young man stands up and says to the pilot: "Take this plane to Cuba or I will singe your beard!"
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:32AM (#39685389)
    I really do not see any chance of the suggestions in this article happening. All it would take is one suicidal terrorist whose goal is simply to bring down a plane and kill all its passengers to scuttle it. I do not think the American public will view this is "acceptable", especially if it turns out that what brought down the plane in my mythical scenario was something that the current screening methods would likely have caught.

    I really do not know what to think of the article's suggestions on liquids. I've read where various chemistry experts essentially say that terrorists cannot construct liquid bombs that will work at all without having to basically use chemistry equipment, ice baths, lengthy mixing sessions that no one could possibly ignore, etc. Yet here the former TSA head insists that there is a very real risk here. Who is right? Does the former TSA head know something that chemistry experts have somehow missed? Or is the former TSA head working on crap information? I sure don't know but that's one question I'd like resolved.

    My experience has been that the people who bitch the most about screening are those who travel the least. I'm not saying that there aren't regular travelers who don't complain. Not at all. But in my circle of acquaintances, the people I know who just completely and utterly cannot talk about this subject without getting completely bent out of shape about it simply do not travel by plane. One of them hasn't been on a plane in more than 5 years. He's likely to travel by plane less than 5 more times in his lifetime. The other guy I know actually gets the most worked up about this. He hasn't been on a plane since before 9/11 and he is extremely unlikely to ever travel by plane again in his life, yet this whole subject of TSA screenings is some kind of hot button issue to him.
    • by elewton (1743958) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:06PM (#39685581)

      This vegetarian kept talking about how bad abattoirs are and the ethics and dangers of intensive meat production, and I was like, "Dude, you don't even eat meat!"

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      I've read where various chemistry experts essentially say that terrorists cannot construct liquid bombs that will work at all without having to basically use chemistry equipment, ice baths, lengthy mixing sessions that no one could possibly ignore, etc. Yet here the former TSA head insists that there is a very real risk here. Who is right? Does the former TSA head know something that chemistry experts have somehow missed?

      The TSA are gambling on no-one within the US having done enough high-school chemistry to make it through an episode of Breaking Bad.

      Any 13-year-old high school chemistry pupil ought to be able to tell you exactly why mixing nail polish remover and hair bleach isn't the same as mixing pure acetone and (reasonably) pure hydrogen peroxide.

    • I really do not know what to think of the article's suggestions on liquids. I've read where various chemistry experts essentially say that terrorists cannot construct liquid bombs that will work at all without having to basically use chemistry equipment, ice baths, lengthy mixing sessions that no one could possibly ignore, etc. Yet here the former TSA head insists that there is a very real risk here. Who is right? Does the former TSA head know something that chemistry experts have somehow missed? Or is the former TSA head working on crap information? I sure don't know but that's one question I'd like resolved.

      I'll trust a chemist over a manager any day of the week, when the question is "is it or is it not possible to create a liquid explosive on an airliner." YMMV.

      My experience has been that the people who bitch the most about screening are those who travel the least. I'm not saying that there aren't regular travelers who don't complain. Not at all. But in my circle of acquaintances, the people I know who just completely and utterly cannot talk about this subject without getting completely bent out of shape about it simply do not travel by plane....yet this whole subject of TSA screenings is some kind of hot button issue to him.

      Granted, you said "I'm not saying that there aren't regular travelers who don't complain..." but nevertheless, you are still making it sound like the people complaining are those who have no vested interest. I, on the other hand, flew pretty regularly but stopped traveling shortly after TSA tightened security too much in 11/2010

      • the question is "is it or is it not possible to create a liquid explosive on an airliner." YMMV.

        Even if it is hypothetically possible to make a bomb out of shaving cream, coca-cola and snow-globes the question is not whether it can be done, but rather, whether or not the BILLIONS spent screening for contact lens solution and baby formula could be better spent elsewhere - The cost spent screening for liquids needs to be considered against the infinitesimally small risk of a liquids bomb.

        ....and if society

    • My experience has been that the people who bitch the most about screening are those who travel the least. I'm not saying that there aren't regular travelers who don't complain. Not at all. But in my circle of acquaintances, the people I know who just completely and utterly cannot talk about this subject without getting completely bent out of shape about it simply do not travel by plane. One of them hasn't been on a plane in more than 5 years. He's likely to travel by plane less than 5 more times in his lifetime. The other guy I know actually gets the most worked up about this. He hasn't been on a plane since before 9/11 and he is extremely unlikely to ever travel by plane again in his life, yet this whole subject of TSA screenings is some kind of hot button issue to him.

      I'll tell you my biggest problem, the long (and apparently needless) wait. I'd rather be stripsearched if it means getting through security faster (not that it'll be faster). I'm not that good looking, I don't care who sees me naked.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:43AM (#39685457) Homepage
    is to accept the fact that terrorism is extremely effective even if it fails. it builds police states and makes everyday things like travel difficult at the expense of the target nation. it forces them to divert energy and resources into possibilities and not actualities.

    a better solution is to stop this "war on terror" crap and pay closer attention to what it is exactly we do that leaves a group of people so determined with nothing left to lose that they will kill thousands of your innocent civillians.
    should you consider Osama Bin Laden the cause of the terrorist attacks against america, here are his demands: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/24/theobserver [guardian.co.uk]
    now, while some of them are outlandish so are some promises from a politician seeking to gain or maintain an elected office. and so to have our demands on the middle eastern region been for the past 30 years. regime change, cia government overthrow, perpetually cheap oil, proxy wars, military bases at the expense of the indigenous citizens, propping up dictatorial regimes and the list goes on. But Bin Laden asked for some rather reasonable things as well that we could have done.
    1. stop treating israel like some sort of king among theives. if their only justification for their city is rooted in religious text, thats fine for them. They should not have the right to force that opinion on other nations however and by virtue of their creation should at least attempt to get along with them instead of bombing the hell out of them semi-annually. the bombs, helicopters, and american artillery are what hes complaining about. our complicit enforcement of the palestinian 'warsaw ghetto' could probably be eliminated and save the tax payers a few billion dollars a year.

    another quote, "You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world." Well, yeah. The carter doctrine sort of mandates we do that. our free market policy at the hands of the plutocracy has become more reliant on war as a revenue source and as a big stick lately, and we could probably reign that in.

    he complains about our sanctions against iraq, how we support countries like egypt and syria despite the fact they routinely murder their own people. the most contentious place in the middle east for alot of muslims is jerusalem, and we stuck a goddamn embassy there.
    im not saying the guys a doctoral scholar here; the rest of his argument is based largely on the same religious crap our evangelicals push. Im just saying we could have done maybe 25 things in the middle east differently after the 9/11 attacks that would have negated the strip searches, pat downs, border searches, and other security theater that are killing the "land of the free."
    • I somewhat agree with you; but I don't buy the crap answer that 'the west' is AT ALL responsible for the horrible lives most arabs have to lead. they are kept back, kept ignorant and kept aggrivated by their religious leaders and also by their country leaders.

      their religion is the failing point. it is not compatible with the modern age and this is 100% of the problem.

      blaming 'the west' for poor treatment is a bullshit phone excuse.

      but of course, religion is a sacred cow (lol) and so you can't just come ou

    • While I agree that US diplomacy has been problematic, I don't agree that the proper response to a terrorist killing a few thousand people is to meet his demands just to placate him. If that was how justice worked, then we need to start buying yachts for the murderers we've locked up in prison.

  • Before proposed change: The TSA is a broken agency, as every day thousands of Americans endure our broken security system...why isn't anyone in Washington working for the American people instead of the TSA bearuacracy ? After proposed change, first time someone gets a hangnail because of lax security Today, the TSA found itself under serious criticism from all sides, as it became clear that the lack of oversight by the agency has led to a hangnail on a passenger. Politicians in Washington are prom
    • Says Pundit Gasbag "it is clear that the TSA dropped the ball on this, and as a result, thousands of American lives are at risk every day"

      Therein lies the inherent problem: we don't teach, nor do we practice, critical thinking. Consequently, when Pundit Gasbag says such blatantly ridiculous tripe, we don't have the ability to dissect his statement and reject it because it is so obviously false; instead, we take it at face value.

  • Better qoutes (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:59AM (#39685545) Journal
    Here are what I thought were better quotes from the article:

    it's simply no longer the case that killing a few people on board a plane could lead to a hijacking. Never again will a terrorist be able to breach the cockpit simply with a box cutter or a knife. The cockpit doors have been reinforced, and passengers, flight crews and air marshals would intervene.

    I wanted to reduce the amount of time that officers spent searching for low-risk objects, but politics intervened at every turn. Lighters were untouchable, having been banned by an act of Congress. And despite the radically reduced risk that knives and box cutters presented in the post-9/11 world, allowing them back on board was considered too emotionally charged for the American public. We did succeed in getting some items (small scissors, ice skates) off the list of prohibited items.

    He has a list of five things he suggests to improve the TSA:
    1. No more banned items
    2. Allow all liquids
    3. Give TSA officers more flexibility and rewards for initiative, and hold them accountable
    4. Eliminate baggage fees
    5. Randomize security

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Allow all liquids

      Awesome. Now I can carry a napalm canister and a loaded assault rifle when I fly instead of having to ship it by ground freight. That will make travel much more convenient. And a canister of VX, too, just in case I need it when I get where I'm going. And that full can of gasoline for my lawnmower.

      I sincerely hope he didn't mean all liquids. There are some things that simply should not be allowed on aircraft, yet if legal, you just know that somebody would be stupid enough to carry them

      • I believe you can already carry assault rifles through the air, you just need to check them in. I'm not sure about ammo, though.

        I sincerely hope he didn't mean all liquids.

        You know, it would be nice if there were a place you could go to check what he actually meant. We could call this hypothetical site something convenient, like, "The article." Yeah, the article. And if there were such a thing, it might HAVE A QUOTE LIKE THIS:

        Aside from obvious weapons capable of fast, multiple killings—such as guns, toxins and explosive devices—it is time to end the TSA's use of well-trained security officers as kindergarten teachers to millions of passengers a day. The list of banned items has created an "Easter-egg hunt" mentality at the TSA. Worse, banning certain items gives terrorists a complete list of what not to use in their next attack. Lighters are banned? The next attack will use an electric trigger.

        • by dkf (304284)

          I'm not sure about ammo, though.

          I believe ammunition has been banned by airlines for a long time as being too damn dangerous. Even a small likelihood of it going off and making holes in the thin wall of the aircraft hold is judged to be too much.

          So buy some once you arrive or have your supplies shipped separately.

          • by i.r.id10t (595143)

            Nope, there are weight limits, and it must be in appropriate packaging (original box, etc) and must be declared. I think the ammo and any firearm must be in separate luggage, and I know they both have to be locked and NOT with a TSA lock - you get to use a *real* lock on your stuff!

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        loaded assault rifle

        You can bring your assault rifle with you. All that they really require is that you put the loaded magazine in a separate container.

        I've brought pistols with me plenty of times. Check it at the ticket counter, pick it up at baggage claim. Technically, I'm armed, except for the short duration inside of airports and aircraft.

        Shipping a weapon is more difficult. The receiver must have a FFL. The exception to this is that you can ship to yourself, even if it's c/o someone else. For

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          You can bring your assault rifle with you.

          Not in carry-on, which is what we're talking about....

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:03PM (#39685567)
    As far as I remember, a proposal to install lockable, steel-reinforced cockpit doors in airliners was floating around well before September 11th ever happened. Because airlines didn't want to pay for these doors (they would have to be custom manufactured), and didn't want the extra weight of these doors added to their planes (profits, profits, profits), there was literally nothing preventing the 9/11 hijackers from taking over 4 different airliners on that day. Instead of making air-travel hell for everybody, why not make airliners themselves more secure, by simple measures like installing lockable, reinforced cockpit doors?
    • If you'd read the article, you would have seen this quote:

      it's simply no longer the case that killing a few people on board a plane could lead to a hijacking. Never again will a terrorist be able to breach the cockpit simply with a box cutter or a knife. The cockpit doors have been reinforced, and passengers, flight crews and air marshals would intervene.

  • by ziggy_az (40281) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:06PM (#39685579) Homepage

    I said it back in '01 and I'll repeat it now. By giving up our freedom in the name of security, we have allowed the terrorists to prevail. Pursue them. Hunt them down. Deal with those who have harbored them as enemies of the US. But we should never have relinquished a single liberty for the sake of security.

    Benjamin Franklin said it best:
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    Franklin's Contributions to the Conference on February 17 (III) Fri, Feb 17, 1775

  • It's weird. When they're in charge they never have this opinion or at least never act on it. people from the outside say this and they say we're naive or ill informed. Then when they get out of office they start agreeing with the very people they had previously said were naive.

    Wtf?

    I can't wait till Eric Holder steps down... he'll suddenly spill the beans on fast and furious and etc (I know, different department but same difference)... anyway...

    Food for thought the next time one of these bozos tells everyone

    • When you see what is actually going on and are unable to do anything you QUIT or you fight back and are asked to resign.

      Plus on the outside the perspective is different. Remember when you are an insider you have all these special tools and experts surrounding you; you get information the public will not know about in your lifetime. You make decisions based on stuff nobody else has or knows about-- it is easy to think that everybody outside your tiny elite group is "naive".

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:13PM (#39685637) Journal

    I say the deserve another billion/yr because, afterall, look at all the terrorism they've stopped just this week! [tsa.gov]

    Finding a legally registered, unloaded, gun belonging to a law abiding (if forgetful) citizen does not count as stopping terrorism. Not to mention that all of these objects are things that would easily be caught by standard X-rays. The TSA has NEVER stopped a terrorist. Not one. In the years since 9-11 any terrorist activity was either stopped well before they got to the airport, or they actually got on the plane and the attempt failed. But I guess the TSA needs to brag about something to justify their existence, so they point out all the absent minded people they've detained for forgetting about something dangerous in their bag.

    Terrorism is stopped by law enforcement work outside of the airport. If a terrorist plot made it that far without being discovered, you've already failed and you need to move farther up the chain to figure out what went wrong and how it could have been foiled sooner. In terms of value for our dollars, the TSA is a huge waste.

  • by XB-70 (812342) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:23PM (#39685705)
    This year, the TSA is requesting 8.2 Billion dollars. In the past five (5) years, the TSA has made some 1,035 arrests. Approximately 30% of those were related to clear immigration violations and had nothing to do with security. If we use today's annual budget number, multiply it by five and divide it into the remainder of the arrests, we get a figure of approximately $53,000,000. This is extremely rough math. Give or take $5,000,000 either way, we are looking at a price of around $50,000,000 per arrest. I don't know about you, but I thank that's extremely expensive. Swirl in the unbelievable cost in TIME for each passensger to screened and you have a serious net drain on the economy. The question becomes not can we have 100% security but, as Mr. Hawley states, what will be the ACCEPTABLE level of security that will be a reasonable balance between risk and cost?
  • It needs to be put to sleep, its a horrid waste of money causing nothing but headache and problems for each and every person traveling in the USA and our gains has been about the same net effect as elephant repellant

  • Just today we hear of another TSA screener busted, [nbcdfw.com] this time for stealing iPads. How hard would it be to find one who would happily pass anything at all through his checkpoint if the price was right?
  • Add Hawley to the list of people for whom wisdom (or the audacity to voice it) came too late in their careers to make any difference.

    • Do you realize that these positions are not the all powerful sorcerer that it sometimes appears? You are expected to toe the company line. You have even more powerful bosses. You've got a corner office and a big budget but you are small fry compared to guys with walnut panel offices and the entire US budget under their thumbs.

      What Hawley has done is limit his further employment with these folks. He might do just as well being part of the loyal opposition, but he isn't going to employed by anybody that t

      • by adoarns (718596)

        Yeah, sure, okay.

        It was brave. It took guts. I wish he had just a little more bravery and a little more guts and as much oomph as it took when he held his only-a-little-powerful position. Because now he holds a no-powerful position, vis-a-vis the question at hand. People seeing the light only after they've led horrible organizations do not interest me all that much. Unless it's a prelude to leading a bigger, badder organization to undo the damage.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @01:07PM (#39686109) Homepage Journal

    The crux of the problem, as I learned in my years at the helm, is our wrongheaded approach

    Considering the TSA is not even a decade old and is fraught with issues from top to bottom -- we'd do well to pay attention to these indicators and end the TSA. It is a failure that has served no useful purpose other than act as Security Theatre and subject law abiding Americans to indignities. Once a Company or Organization develops a mindset or culture, it is near impossible to change that. It's too late to change the TSA, and it's most likely that the TSA does not want to change.

  • I've only read half of the article as of last night (before it showed up on /.), but I'm in agreement with what I've read so far. For some time, I've been telling people that, with the simple addition of lockable cockpit doors, we've reduced the maximum number of people a terrorist can kill with an airplane from 3,000 per plane to about 100 or so. I think it's myopic to spend billions chasing after that last 100. We accept 100 casualties all the time (that many die in car accidents every day. That many die
  • Greetings.

    Frequent flyer here. Moscow and San Francisco are my homes, and I travel for business around 3 out of every 4 weeks (I've been to Novosibirsk, New York City, Kiev, and Paris for at least 3 days each in the last 3 weeks). I deal with airport security screenings several times a week. The only difference I see in the security screenings from the US is that removing your shoes isn't a requirement in most of the rest of the world. I've even ran into the body scanners a few times outside the US. I

  • Everyone agrees that existing transportation security has a great deal of imperfection. So I'm certainly willing to listen to ideas for improvement. His ideas, one at a time:

    1. No more banned items: not sure about this one. Terrorists don't value any life-even their own. What makes him think only taking a whole airliner out is at stake. I'm betting they'd be willing to give their lives for just a few passengers being knifed to death and the resultant chaos and fear- it is terrorism after all.

    2. Allow al

  • by Alomex (148003) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @08:20PM (#39689705) Homepage

    I think this tidbit was the most important part. It's the first official confirmation that a lot of what happens in the inspection lanes is pure theatre as many had claimed before:

    And despite the radically reduced risk that knives and box cutters presented in the post-9/11 world, allowing them back on board was considered too emotionally charged for the American public.

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths

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