• Private security screeners an alternative to TSA at airports?

    Representative John Mica (R-Florida) believes that using private security screeners at airport checkpoints is more efficient and cheaper; last November Mica sent letters to roughly 200 airports urging them to switch from the TSA to private screeners; seventeen airports in the United States currently use private screeners, including San Francisco International, Kansas City International, and Jackson Hole; advocates believe that private security firms offer better customer service and perform better because they are more easily held accountable; others are more skeptical, citing the fact that private screeners must follow the same procedures as TSA screeners and that it is uncertain whether using them actually saves money

  • Woman wins payout after screener exposed her breasts

    U.S. woman was awarded a nominal sum from the government after a TSA pat down exposed her breasts; in May 2008, Lynsie Murley was singled out for an extended search during which agents pulled down her shirt and exposed her breasts; the agents then laughed and joked about the incident

  • TSA brings 100% cargo screening forward to 2011

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has brought forward its 100 per cent cargo screening target to 31 December 2011; the earliest possible implementation date for 100 per cent screening was initially thought to be 2013, given the complex challenges associated with screening international inbound cargo carried on passenger aircraft; now 100 per cent of the cargo that is uplifted on passenger aircraft bound for the United States must be screened by the end of this year

  • Napolitano says Israeli-style security is not suitable for U.S.

    DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is in Israel on a visit; during her private briefing with Israeli officials at Ben-Gurion Airport, they discussed cargo screening and how to stop non-metallic explosives, such as those used in the recent plots, from getting onto a plane; Napolitano was also briefed on other airport security measures used in Israel; Napolitano said, however, that what is effective in Israel, a nation of 7.3 million, would not necessarily work for 310 million Americans; Ben-Gurion is Israel’s only major international airport; the United States has 450 such facilities; about eleven million people pass through Israeli airports each year, while seventy times that many passengers go through American airports each year

  • More airports consider replacing TSA with private contractors

    Airports around the United States — including airports in Los Angeles, the Washington, D.C. metro area, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Orlando, Florida — are considering replacing the TSA with private security contractors; privatizing security will not affect cost or protocol, but could bolster efficiency and customer relations

  • Privacy pants for airport security

    Privacy pants” would allow airport security personnel to do their job while keeping passengers’ privacy and dignity intact

  • Former Guyana politician sentenced in JFK terror plot

    Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana’s parliament, was sentenced to life in prison for participating in a plot to blow up the jet fuel supply tank system at JFK airport; the two other plotters are also of Guyanese origin: one, a former baggage handler at JFK, will be sentenced in late January; the other, Adnam Shukrijumah, has now been promoted to chief of al Qaeda’s global operations

  • Overflights over U.S. are not top-priority security concern

    Terrorists who are trying to exploit cargo planes to launch an attack on the United States may find a security weakness in screening of cargo planes flying over, though not into, the United States; planes that go over the United States but are not supposed to land here are not routinely screened according to U.S. standards; U.S. officials say terrorist networks are trying to exploit cargo planes because it is so much harder to get operatives onto U.S. flights with weapons or explosives; security experts say targeting overflights for protection is a waste of scarce resources; a former TSA intelligence official said that part of the reason behind the lesser concern with overflights is that the “vast majority” of overflights originate in Canada, and the Canadians know how to screen; it is “not some Third World country,” according to the official

  • TSA to pay special attention to insulated beverage containers

    TSA announced terrorists might use insulated beverage containers to conceal explosives, so in the coming days, passengers flying within and to the United States may notice additional security measures related to insulated beverage containers

  • Questions about TSA's approach to security technology

    The massive push to improve airport security in the United States after the attacks of 9/11 led to a gold rush in technology contracts for an industry that mushroomed almost overnight; since it was founded in 2001, the TSA has spent roughly $14 billion in more than 20,900 transactions with dozens of contractors; in addition to beefing up the fleets of X-ray machines and traditional security systems at airports nationwide, about $8 billion also paid for ambitious new technologies; critics question whether TSA was too eager to look for technological solutions to basic security problem, and willing to write checks for unproven products

  • Congress to decide risk-based vs. 100% screening debate on air cargo security

    One of the many aviation security-related issues Congress will have to grapple with is cargo security; TSA argues that risk-based strategies are adequate; Congress, though, is pressing for 100 percent screening of air cargo; the problem with a 100 percent security screening mandate is cost: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates a $250 million cost in the first year and $650 million per year for the following five years to implement the mandate for 100 percent baggage screening on passenger aircraft; the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that the mandate could cost more than $700 million just in the first year and perhaps as high as several billion dollars annually

  • Yemen buys cargo screeners

    Yemen is deploying Z Backscatter Vans from Billerica, Massachusetts-based American Science and Engineering Inc. to screen cargo and vehicles for explosives and contraband

  • White House held up regulation to stop gun flow to Mexico

    Tens of thousands of semi-automatic rifles are smuggled from the United States to Mexico every year, increasing the level of violence of the war among the drug cartels and creating a situation in which the cartels often out-gun the Mexican police and military; on Friday, the ATF published an emergency proposal in the Federal Register; the proposal requires dealers to report to the ATF anytime they make two or more sales over a 5-day period of semiautomatic rifles that have a caliber greater than .22 and a detachable magazine; it would be valid for six months; Justice wanted the proposal to be placed in the Register in the summer, but the White House held it up — some say because of election considerations

  • U.S. anxious over terror attacks during holidays

    Counterterrorism officials are tracking threats to the United States and Europe from al Qaeda and affiliated groups during the holiday season; the FBI and DHS have alerted state and local law enforcers to be wary of suspicious behavior and to change security measures regularly to interfere with any terrorist plans; the warning was sent in a bulletin Wednesday; there is specific intelligence of other attacks being planned against Europe during the holiday season, according to U.S. officials say

  • IATA unveils plan for airport security tunnels

    The International Air Transport Association unveiled a plan to replace lengthy and sometimes intrusive passenger security checks at airports with a new system aimed at finding “bad people, not bad objects”; under the project, an early version of which could be in place within 2-3 years if governments cooperate, travelers would be directed down one of three security tunnels depending on profiles based on biometric data and flight booking data; the IATA plan would eliminate the need for nearly all intrusive screening as well as routine scanning and searches of carry-on luggage; IATA says the system would not be based on racial or ethnic profiling