• TSA will provide a tracking number for those calling to report suspicious activity

    Air travelers who call the TSA Contact Center (TCC) to report suspicious activity will now receive a tracking number as confirmation of their phone call or e-mail; the tracking number, which enables both TSA and the individual to follow-up on their security concerns if necessary,

  • Cancer survivor fights TSA after pat down ruptures urine bag

    After receiving a particularly rough pat down at an airport security checkpoint by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener, a Michigan man with a lingering medical condition is still upset about what he perceives as a lack of progress in properly screening individuals with special health needs; TSA officials met with the man after an aggressive pat down caused his urostomy bag to rupture, spilling its contents all over his shirt and pants; three months after the meeting, the man has seen no follow through on any of the issues that were discussed and he is beginning to feel a bit disheartened

  • Airline crews to get separate TSA screening process

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced that it will begin a pilot program that tests a new separate screening process for airline pilots and flight attendants; to expedite airport security lines, airline pilots and flight attendants would not have to go through the same lines as passengers; the specifics of the system are currently in development, but TSA officials say that they are exploring the use of biometric retina scans or fingerprint matches to verify an individual’s identity against airline employee databases; many pilots objected to TSA’s increased search procedures believing that they were a nuisance and entirely unnecessary as they already have full control over the plane

  • GAO: TSA's behavior screening program has no scientific proof that it works

    Last week a Government Accountability Office (GAO) official testified before Congress stating that the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) behavioral analysis program contained critical flaws; the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program was designed to identify potential attackers by analyzing an individual’s behavior; individuals involved in six terrorist plots have slipped by behavior detection officers (BDOs) unnoticed at least twenty-three times at airports where SPOT was implemented; currently there is no scientific evidence that proves potential terrorists can be identified by behavior alone; GAO recommends freezing the SPOT program’s budget at current levels to save an estimated $20 million each year until scientific evidence for the program is established

  • Airports personnel don't report suspicions, mistrust technology

    An in-depth study of the behavior of security personnel at European air terminals, finds that only 23.6 percent of airport employees and 58 percent of security workers said that they alerted others when they saw something suspicious — and that 54.3 percent of the workers and 40 percent of security personal never raised the alarm or called a security code; only 53.1 percent of airport employees and 63 percent of security workers said they put complete trust in security technologies

  • Tighter security rules keep suspects from flying

    Following the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt, security rules were tightened on U.S.-bound flights; these rules now prevent not only known terrorists from boarding such flights, but also those who received weapons training, recruited others, fought against American troops, or help finance terrorist organizations; since the end of 2009, more than 350 people were prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights

  • Milwaukee studying Israel's homeland security practices

    This week, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark along with about a dozen other police chiefs and county sheriffs are visiting Israel to study the country’s homeland security tactics; American law enforcement officials will learn more about Israeli practices in airport security, intelligence analysis and sharing, mass casualty management, and bomb disposal practices; the trip began on 10 April and will conclude on 16 April

  • Full-body scanners not a health risk

    A new study concludes that there is “no significant threat” from backscatter X-ray scanners; even though they use ionizing radiation, which is known to cause cancer, the doses are so low — less than 1 percent of the additional radiation a person gets from flying in an airplane in the first place, and about the same received through 3 to 9 minutes of daily life on the ground — that only a handful of cancer cases are likely to result directly from scanner use

  • TSA testing a scanner that does not show a person's body

    TSA is testing a new Automatic Target Recognition machine that does not show a person’s body but, rather, a genderless avatar — sort of a cartoon of a generic human figure; the machine scans the traveler without anyone seeing an image; if the traveler gets a green light, he or she proceeds; if the machine sees something, it will light up the area on this genderless figure and it will be that area that is examined; the pat down will be limited to the area the machine flagged

  • TSA fired an agent for being a witch

    TSA fires a security screener at New York’s Albany International Airport for being a witch; the screener, who practices Wicca, was accused by a fellow worker of casting a spell on her (the fellow worker’s) car’s heater so it would not work; when the screener refused to participate in mediation to dispel myths about Wicca, she was terminated

  • TSA looking for shoe scanning devices

    DHS is seeking companies to which it will award a contract for shoe scanners; according to the Office of Federal Business Opportunities, the Shoe Scanning Device (SSD) system currently sought by the TSA and DHS “will be capable of detecting threat objects concealed in footwear without requiring passengers to remove their footwear as they pass through a security checkpoint. These threat objects include a wide variety of military, commercial, and homemade explosives or explosives devices”

  • The color of truth is always gray

    Those who object to thorough security checks at airports have every right to hold on to their belief that TSA employs methods are too intrusive, but the majority of travelers prefer greater safety even if achieving it may compromise some people’s notions of privacy. We should recall the era when smoking was permitted on planes: you could choose to sit in either the “smoking” or “non-smoking” seats; trouble was, a plane is a closed tube, so within minutes of take-off, everybody on board was engulfed in cigarette smoke, whether or not he or she was a smoker. By the late 1980s the airlines, with government encouragement, banned smoking on planes. The reason: smokers have rights, but they have no right to turn non-smokers into second-hand smokers and thus heighten non-smokers’ risk of dying of lung cancer. There is a lesson here for the debate over privacy and security at airports: we should assume that some people feel strongly that their privacy and dignity are being compromised by full-body scanning. We should respect their views. But they have no right to ask the rest of us to take greater risks with our lives because of their strongly held views with regard to privacy.

  • TSA retests body scanners amidst radiation exposure concerns

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced that it was retesting all of its full-body scanners over concerns that they were emitting high levels of radiation; maintenance records have shown that some scanners emitted radiation levels ten times higher than expected; TSA says that these increased levels were simply the result of a math mistake and that the machines do not pose a health risk; one type of body scanner in use relies on backscatter X-rays which produce very low levels of ionizing radiation; experts worry about the long-term effects of repeated exposure at low levels

  • Battle over private airport security screeners rages on

    Republican lawmakers launched a fresh set of attacks against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the continuing dispute over the private security screener program; Representative John Mica accused the TSA of inflating cost estimates of the private security screener program in an attempt to end it; the charges come after a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was released that found private security screeners would cost just 3 percent more; in 2007 TSA published a study that found using private screeners would cost 17 percent more

  • Trusted Traveler program may come back

    A report, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association and released Wednesday, calls on airlines to allow passengers to check one bag free of charge and urges the creation of a voluntary “trusted traveler” program that partially resembles a mandatory one previously proposed by President George W. Bush — and canceled by Congress; Napolitano touts the “airport checkpoint of tomorrow”