Lawmakers call TSA screeners ineffective, rude

Discussion in 'Travel Security' started by USAF_Pride, Mar 26, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. USAF_Pride
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    USAF_Pride Gold Member

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  2. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    Becoming more and more obvious that the TSA is not in good favor with Congress.

    Glad to see they are growing some stones and that they are quoting the kinds of stories many frequent fliers have experienced and.or witnessed.
     
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  3. mrredskin
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    mrredskin Gold Member

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    elected officials having to deal with issues like we do (like rand paul) is a good thing.
     
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  4. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    So what I foresee happening is that the whole thing gets outsourced to private companies, considerably lowering the costs and remaining as ineffective and unresponsive as ever, but being cheaper, no one will care anymore.
     
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  5. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    It's not solely about being cheaper.
     
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  6. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    It's like anything with high visibility customer service...some are decent, others are so-so, and some are terrible. I think it's the terrible and ridiculous experiences that stand out to most of us.

    :)
     
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  7. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Wasn't airline security done by private companies before 9/11?
     
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  8. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    Yes, and that goes to the heart of the matter on things.

    The private screeners on September 11, 2001 did nothing wrong. They did everything by the book, and in fact gave a secondary screening to one of the bad guys at Dulles (there's a video out there of it, but I'm too lazy to Google it).

    And boxcutters were legal on that day.

    So, on September 12, 2011, everyone got a chance to voice their feelings on airport security, going after the stereotypes of airport security screeners, and the knee-jerk reaction that ensued gave birth to Tom Daschle's famous "your don't professionalize until you federalize" quote and then the TSA.
     
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  9. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    It is indeed that, but when a level of expectation is set so high by the TSA that, in short, says "follow our guidelines or you will be killed by terrorists," when they fail (and it happens regularly), they expect that "remedial training" will cure all.

    It's all about this risk avoidance they employ with passengers and "we did an oopsie" when it comes to the management of when the TSA fails us.
     
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  10. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    What also warms my heart is that despite the TSA going out of its way, at any chance it can, to call their front-line staff "officers," Congress calls them "employees" and/or "screeners."

    Thumbs up.
     
  11. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    So what? That's the only parameter that is easy to measure.
     
  12. mlarso85
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    mlarso85 Silver Member

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    It wouldn't be a TSA trashing thread without Captain Oveur chiming in with his rhetoric! Although we have been over this before, I will reiterate what I've said before...

    Although the private screeners on 9/11 did nothing wrong, when Congress examined whether or not to federalize aviation security, they examined a lot factors but I will only address a few here.

    1)The airline's procedures for securing airports, airplanes, and the traveling public were clearly flawed.

    2) The 9/11 attacks were a failure on the government's part. As a result, many in Congress felt that the federal government must assume full responsibility for airport and airplane security to ensure that our citizens are protected to the fullest degree possible so that another 9/11 doesn't happen.

    3) The government saw problems with having a private company whose goal is to make a profit handling airport security.

    TSA is here to stay, I guarantee it. The agency is still in its infancy and has some growing pains along the way. If you look at other federal agencies (including the FBI, CIA, and DEA), many of them went through decades of problems before they were able to become what they are today.

    Look at what TSA is doing with their risk-based security. They are getting rid of the one-size-fits all approach and concentrating further on intelligence based screening. Also, they require that screeners now have a secret security clearance to enter the workforce. I personally like what Pistole is doing with the agency, and I think many other people would too if they gave them a chance.
     
  13. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    The GAO has something called "Red Teams." Those are people who go through the checkpoints disguised as passengers. They regularly get prohibited items by TSA screeners at a rate of 60-90%.

    While spending $6 or $7 billion is one thing, to fail so often is pathetic.
     
  14. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    If you have a problem with my commentary, you're always free to PM Me and let me know.


    The private screeners were paid by the airlines, but the SOP was dictated by the Government.


    Agreed on the first part. It's how they are "protecting" us is where we differ. Personally, I don't think having done zero changes to x-ray technology at the checkpoint (especially in light of the 60-90% failure rate), yet the TSA feels it's important to have done four uniform changes to its screeners. Makes the TSA line "your safety is our priority" not believable.


    And they should be. Just not in its current form.


    I don't dispute there should be a government body overlooking airport security, their role should be done differently.


    I agree that the risk-management is a better way to go, and do more intelligence-based screening.

    But let's not kid ourselves.....the TSA likes John Q. Public to think they are literally turning the bad guys away at the checkpoints. Nothing could be father from the truth.

    The hard and more tangible work is being done by the agencies you mention in an earlier paragraph. If the TSA truly stopped a bad guy, you can be damn sure they would put that fact up in giant neon lights in Times Square.

    The fact of the matter is that their vision is misguided from the start. They are more concerned about trying to purchase respect. They are WAY too concerned about their image more than what their core competency is supposed to be.
     
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  15. USAF_Pride
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    They got the "more authoritative manner", just failed on the dignified. TSA speak = if they think we are cops, we will get more respect. Respect is always earned, not just given blindly.

     
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  16. Blue Skye
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    Blue Skye Silver Member

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    i do not know what the solution to the TSA "problem" is. i just wish they actually trained these people in public relations type behavious, instead of the obvious I AM TSA, BOW DOWN YOU MISCREANTS. ;)

    i had the "pleasure" of encountering a "less than" professional group of TSA at FLL on Sunday. i ALWAYS opt out of the xray scanner but that seemed to just tick them off. i must have seemed a bit "agitated" b/c i could not see my stuff on the far end of where i was kept waiting, and i was telling them i would like my things to be watched closer. (small laptop, camera, iphone etc). they kept insisting the cameras watching that end of the xray machine system would prevent anyone from taking my stuff. :rolleyes: um, yeah b/c that helped that woman who got her Rolex stolen. :p it all worked out but this whole process is beyond annoying when you do travel so often and see the inconsistencies.
     
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  17. mlarso85
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    mlarso85 Silver Member

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    Capt, I sincerely apologize. I didn't exactly proofread my post before I posted it and I didn't mean it to come across the way it did. I meant it in a light-hearted way and I didn't realize how it sounded until I read it in your post. So, again I apologize.

    Maybe we can put a stop to this squabbling. It is obvious that I am in part a supporter of TSA. The main reason for this is because I have spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours studying aviation and homeland security in pursuit of my graduate degree. I have also examined how other nations handle their aviation security and have come to the educated conclusion that America is best served by having TSA in place at our airports. I realize that there are going to be people that have a divergent view of our aviation security, much like you and many of our MP friends, which I completely respect. However, I cannot tolerate people who "hate" something "just because" or because they are misinformed. Much like how people spew hate against Bush 43 or Obama but can't really state a reason for doing so, just because other people do it. Let me be clear, I am not saying that you are such a person but many of your statements have been the mainstream reasons why people don't like TSA.

    I guess I'm wondering why you have such a strong dislike for TSA. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post it here.

    Very Respectively,
    M
     
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  18. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Given the amount of time it takes to effectively train human intelligence collectors and for them to gain a decent amount of experience, I think the risk based approach will have limited near-term effectiveness. Is the TSA going to up the ante for its applicants or keep looking for those with just a HS diploma? Granted, with the end of the mission in Iraq and the draw down in Afghanistan, there might be some folks looking for a job.

    Also, obtaining a SECRET security clearance is not all that difficult so long as the individual is honest with the investigators.
     
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  19. nova

    nova Silver Member

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    The 800lb gorilla in the room that very few people will admit to, even though the 9/11 comission even pointed it out in their report, is that at its most basic level 9/11 was not an attack that exploited a flaw in airport security, it was an attack that exploited a flaw in the SOP for dealing with airline hijackings and the psychology of the public at large.

    Prior to 9/11 the vast majority of people involved in hijackings survived the encounter. As such the FAA approved "Common Strategy" emphasised compliance with hijackers and non-agitation. So when guys with box cutters pop up and hijack airliners, everybody does what they've been trained and conditioned to do, control of the plane is lost and the final act of the attacks is executed.

    It was a tactic guaranteed to work one time and one time only. For all intents and purposes it didn't even work through the duration of the attack because the passengers on the 4th plane fought back when they realized what was going on. For anybody that doesn't believe the tactic is useless, raise your hand if you would sit idly by in a hijacking now. People won't be led like sheep to slaughter again.

    Bombings are still an issue, but how much do all the "enhanced security screenings" protect us over the standard metal detector? The answer is not much if any. Certainly not enough to warrant compromising our dignity on a continual basis.
     
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  20. USAF_Pride
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    If you don't believe the truth above, please find an article that tells of any recent incident on a plane that the pax didn't take matters into their own hands!! To believe Janet's "The System Worked" after underwear dude is very far fetched as they (TSA and others) who believe the government can protect me better than myself are dillusional. What we don't ever hear is how bad somebody gets beaten when the pax step in.

    Also agree on both sides. Just look at TSA managing to find just 25% of the guns 1 guy just tried to get through security. There are videos that show you being able to get metal objects through a body scanner, so how secure is it really? That is why the majority of us see through the theatrics.

    But how many hours have you spent going through security at an airport? Studying thousands of hours on how to rebuild a jet engine does not a jet engine mechanic make you.

    And thus the reason this board is much better than TOBB!!
     
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  21. mlarso85
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    I wont say what I do for a living, but I can assure you that I have been through hundreds (no exaggeration) of airport checkpoints. So yes, I would say that I can speak comfortably about aviation security.
     
  22. ronin308

    ronin308 Active Member

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    mlarso, the huge flaw in your educated analysis is that airports with private screeners such as SFO consistently have higher detection numbers and have less complaints per x passengers passing through their checkpoints. And SFO isn't a small regional airport, it's in or near the top 10 in the US and top 30 of the world in terms of passenger traffic.

    In my experience, like most government agencies there is no real punishment/reward system in place for either meeting metrics or failing to. When dealing with a contractor you can place real metrics in the contract with financial incentives/punishments to ensure compliance.

    That doesn't mean there's no TSA involvement, on the contrary, the TSA is still involved in the contractor airports, the backscatter machines and all other TSA policies and procedures are followed there as well. Just like other airports, there's an FSD, AFSD etc and they are involved just as they would if TSA were doing the screening.

    By moving to private screening you get the TSA out of the people management business. Currently a large part of the budget is eaten up by HR, training and staff costs that would not be needed if the screening labor was done on a contract basis and it's been my experience the contractors can be incentivized to do as good as or better job then current federal employees. The added bonus is that the savings can be used in other areas that are currently underfunded since the TSA has to employ such a large staff just to manage and deal with HR issues of the screeners.
     
  23. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    Thanks for the clarification and the reply.

    I have no problem posting my feeling about it here, this is clearly a much more civil place to discuss things, which I am very pleased about.

    First, let me say that I am not against any form of airport security. I do think it's essential, but what we have right now does us little good. Let me see if I can be somewhat brief in why I feel this way.

    As I mentioned in my first reply, the private screeners did nothing wrong on 9/11, they did exactly what they were directed to do. It was the FAA's responsibility at that time to dictate how security SOP was to be executed. They failed. They failed the screeners, they failed the traveling public, they failed the entire world, especially in light of the "bin Laden determined to strike" memos and intelligence that many countries told us about.

    The TSA was created at the absolute wrong time, fueled mostly on emotions. Emotions from the 9/11 attacks and a ripe time for the public to attack those stereotypes repeated so often in conversation and on late night television. Non-English speaking people being ineffective, blah blah blah. The latter was the icing on the cake. There's this misguided notion that if the government does it, it's clearly top-notch.

    Yet, as late as 2007, The GAO provided a report saying that the TSA does no better than what the private screeners did (I'm too tired to provide the link). Half a decade later, the TSA can't do what it was supposed to do better?

    Other people earlier in the thread have mentioned about the "Red Team" failures (for those not familiar, the "Red Team" are people from the GAO assigned to go through airport screening undercover and try to get prohibited and/or dangerous items past security). There have been SO many reports about failures a few years ago. San Francisco having a 60% failure rate, Denver 90%. Others such as Chicago, LAX, JFK having rates somewhere in between.

    To me, that is unacceptable. It only takes ONE person to do a lot of damage. Would an airline and/or the FAA allow a pilot to continue to fly if he/she made a fatal mistake? The TSA's eagerness to sweep their mistakes under the rug in the manner and frequency that they do is absolutely appalling. They want the traveling public to believe they are on the front lines of terrorism, even calling themselves the last lines of defense (which is patently false too, but I digress there). Yet, when one of their own makes a mistake at the hands of the Red Team, or if the TSA gets publicly embarrassed by patting down an infant's naked bottom, they get "remedial training."

    The logic doesn't match up. If a TSA screener misses something in the "life and death" manner HQ purports it to be, there shouldn't be any question on what to do to that individual. There's clearly a double-standard in what the TSA does and what it says.

    Again, trying to find the logic here....what does it say when the TSA has such a horrible record of finding prohibited items at checkpoints, yet they have never changed any of the technology at the checkpoints? Sure, they have bought new monitors, probably even done a firmware update or two, but they're using the same machines the private screeners did. Yet, the TSA has found it more important to make four uniform changes rather than update the x-ray technology.

    It's bad enough as it is right now that the reason we have to remove our computers, take out our liquids and remove our shoes is because of shortfalls in TSA technology.

    That's it in a nutshell. Believe me, there's more, but I will leave it at this.

    Thanks again for your reply and your civility.
     
  24. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Really? Lawmakers said this? Pot, meet kettle!
     
  25. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    One other thing I would point about to the TSA's credibility, something that just came out:

    The story about a guy who tried to smuggle a knife inside a jar of mayonnaise.

    If you (the TSA) are desperate enough to let the press know about a knife in a tub of mayonnaise, enough for the TSA spokesperson to comment about it, that pretty much says you'll say anything to justify your existence.

    It's these kinds of "incidents" that raise (and lower) the bar for the TSA. If you're going to brag about a jar of mayonnaise, what would the response be if they foiled an actual sinister plot?
     

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