TSA Fails To Report, Track, And Fix Airport Security Breaches

May 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - The Transportation Security Administration is failing to adequately report, track and fix airport security breaches, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.

As a result, the TSA “does not have a complete understanding” of breaches at the nation’s airports, says a report from the inspector general.

Congress will hold a hearing on the inspector general’s report Wednesday.

The report, published earlier this month, was requested by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg after a series of breaches at Newark Airport, including a knife bypassing TSA screening, passengers walking around security checkpoints and a dead dog transported without being screened for explosives.

TSA responded to those incidents with “corrective action,” according to the inspector general, but not all the problems received the same treatment.

The TSA took action to fix only 42% of the security breaches documented at Newark Airport, according to the report.

Most of the incidents examined occurred in 2010, and the report says since then efforts to fix security breach vulnerabilities have improved.

Five other large U.S. terminals were visited by inspectors for comparison but the airports’ names were withheld from the public report.

Of the six airports visited, records were found detailing efforts to fix the causes of only 53% of the breaches.

Newark was the lowest-scoring. The highest-rated airport reported corrective action in 88% of the breaches.

The inspector general also noted that while the agency did have “many programs and initiatives that report and track identified security breaches” they were “not all inclusive or centrally managed.”

This lack of comprehensive, centralized data was cited as preventing the use of information to “monitor trends or make general improvements to security.”

Problems with how incidents were categorized in reporting also were outlined in the report.

TSA workers at one airport reported “an improper bag handoff incident” in a database as a “sterile area access event” while another airport reported four similar incidents as “security breaches.”

Management at the agency concurred with the inspector general’s report.

“TSA acknowledges that it can further develop and expand its oversight programs for gathering and tracking airport security breaches,” wrote administrator John Pistole.

“TSA currently collects thousands of records of incidents and security breaches occurring at airports and other transportation facilities,” TSA spokesman David Castelveter told CNN in an e-mail. “TSA is coordinating appropriate revisions to relevant Operations Directives to develop a single definition of ‘Security Breach,’ addressing (the inspector general’s) recommendation.”

Appeared Here

New Jersey Office Of Homeland Security Riding 9/11 Hysteria – Warns State Workers And Residents About Anyone With Goosebumps, Staring, Or Yawning Suspiciously

March 16, 2012

NEW JERSEY – Infowars has obtained a document from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness that lists banal bodily activities such as yawning, staring and goose pumps as “suspicious activity” indicative of terrorism.
DHS Terror Document Lists Yawning, Goose Bumps As Suspicious Behavior yawn 2

The document (PDF), entitled Terrorism Awareness and Prevention, is presented as a guide for both “residents and workers of New Jersey,” along with employees of federal, state and local agencies, on how to “assist in combating terrorism” by identifying “unusual or suspicious activities and behaviors.”

The guide encourages participants to “look for signs of nervousness in the people you come in contact with.” “Signs will become particularly evident in a person’s eyes, face, next and body movements.”

The document then lists examples of suspicious behavior indicative of terrorism, which include, “Exaggerated yawning when engaged in conversation,” “glances,” “cold penetrating stare,” “rigid posture,” and “goose bumps”.

Of course, any of these behaviors could be explained by a million other circumstances and the likelihood that they are indications of terrorist activity is virtually zero.

However, as we have seen from recent literature put out by the DHS or related law enforcement bodies, the standard for being characterized as a potential terrorist is getting broader and broader all the time.

Last month we reported on the FBI’s Communities Against Terrorism (CAT) program, which encourages store managers and staff of numerous different businesses to report examples of suspicious activity to the authorities.

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

In a flyer handed out to Internet Cafes, workers are encouraged to report people who use cash to pay for their coffee as potential terrorists.

Expressing an interesting in protecting online privacy when surfing the web in public is also characterized as a suspicious activity.

In a flyer issued to Military Surplus stores, the purchase of storable food supplies in bulk, an increasingly popular trend amongst “preppers,” is also defined as a potential indication of terrorism.

Even more chilling, the feds have also begun to characterize perfectly legitimate political and economic beliefs as those held by terrorists, effectively denouncing them as thought crimes.

As Reuters reported in February, authorities are now treating those who “believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard” as extremists who are a potential violent threat to law enforcement.

Characterizing behavior which millions of Americans engage in every day as a potential indication of terrorism only serves to breed paranoia and distrust. If anything, it actually helps terrorists to blend in and not be identified, by increasing the chances exponentially of innocent Americans being mistaken for terrorists.

Appeared Here

Disabled 85 Year Old Grandmother Strip Searched By TSA Agents At New York JFK Airport

December 3, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – An 85-year-old Long Island grandmother says she plans to sue the TSA after a humiliating strip search on Tuesday by agents at JFK Airport.

Lenore Zimmerman, who lives in Long Beach, says she was on her way to a 1 p.m. flight to Fort Lauderdale when security whisked her to a private room and took off her clothes.

“I walk with a walker — I really look like a terrorist,” she said sarcastically. “I’m tiny. I weigh 110 pounds, 107 without clothes, and I was strip-searched.”

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a review of closed circuit TV footage from the airport shows “proper procedures were followed.”

But Zimmerman, whose hunched back puts her at 4-foot-11, said her ordeal began after her son, Bruce, drove her to the JetBlue terminal for the Florida flight. She lives in warm Coconut Creek during the winter.

She checked her bags, waited for a wheelchair and parted ways with her doting son — her only immediate relative.

When Zimmerman reached a security checkpoint, she asked if she could forgo the advanced image technology screening equipment, fearing it might interfere with her defibrillator.

She said she normally gets patted down. But this time, she says that two female agents escorted her to a private room and began to remove her clothes.

“I was outraged,” said Zimmerman, a retired receptionist.

As she tried to lift a lightweight walker off her lap, she says, the metal bars banged against her leg and blood trickled from a gash.

“My sock was soaked with blood,” she said. “I was bleeding like a pig.”

She says the TSA agents showed no sympathy, instead pulling down her pants and asking her to raise her arms.

“Why are you doing this?” she said she asked the agents, who did not respond.

The TSA claims the footage does not show any sign of the injury.

“Our screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy,” Farbstein said.

Zimmerman says a medic arrived to treat her injury. The process took so long that she missed her 1 p.m. flight and had to catch a later one.

Her son said he was shocked when his mom called around 9 p.m. that night and described what happened.

“She was put through a hell of a day,” he said.

Zimmerman, who takes blood thinners, later had a tetanus shot for fear of infection from the walker wound.

Bruce Zimmerman, 53, said he can’t understand why the agents targeted his mom.

“She looks like a sweet, little old lady,” he said. “She’s not a disruptive person or uncooperative.”

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: San Jose California Police And Post Office Overreact When Jogger Mails Package Of Calendars

December 1, 2011

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – Word to the wise: Maybe it’s not the smartest thing to jog in what looks like a gas mask and body armor, and then jam a package in a post office box.

It could touch off what happened Tuesday at the busy San Jose post office on Lundy Avenue: a full-scale police response, complete with the bomb squad and a robot.

But San Jose police said the suspicious-looking jogger seen fidgeting with a package at a drop-off box was only working out in hard-core, albeit odd-looking, exercise gear.

“The guy said he was wearing a cardio mask,” said Sgt. Jason Dwyer. “It was his cardio day, and he was trying to lose weight.”

That’s not what a post office customer thought when the man in the weird mask and vest was stuffing a package in a blue mail box about 12:30 p.m. The customer called police, and in a flash, the post office was on lockdown until 4:30 p.m., with 150 employees and customers tucked away in the back. The San Jose police bomb squad, the Fire Department’s hazardous materials unit and the postal inspector descended on a normally quiet strip of North San Jose. A robot detonated the package, which turned out, police said, to be a bunch of calendars.

“My friends kept messaging me, Is this you? Is this you?” recounted Long Hoang, who lives near the post office and is a student at Cal State East Bay in Hayward.

It was.

About 12 weeks ago, Hoang became an avid follower of the CrossFit exercise regimen, which he said, exuberantly, combines “this really creative combination of weight lifting, gymnastics and rowing.” He wears the mask to simulate high-altitude training. Hoang, who is 5 feet 4 inches, said he’s lost at least 20 pounds, and is now 142 pounds.

Many neighbors in the area frequently spot him running in his gear, doing squats and lunges at corners while he waits for the light to turn green.

As Hoang tells the story, he mistakenly received a package of calendars at his home, and thought he’d mail them back to the proper recipient while on an exercise run. The package didn’t fit the first time in the mail box, he said, so he had to fold it up and try a second time.

When Hoang later realized his actions had caused such a commotion, captured by this newspaper and many other media organizations, he called police Tuesday evening to say the suspicious man was him: a nursing student trying to get into shape.

Police said Hoang’s story checked out.

Hoang said he can’t really see what all the fuss was about.

“It was like straight out of a movie,” he said. “Some of my friends are telling me, ‘Hello? 9/11? Anthrax? Blah. Blah. Blah.’ And I’m just thinking about my finals and staying in my own little zone.”

Still, Hoang says he won’t be jogging to the post office any time soon.

Appeared Here

Dumbass Pilot Got Locked In Plane’s Bathroom And Sent Passenger With “Thick Accent” To Flight Deck For Help – Prompting An Emergency Landing, Terror Scare, And Police Response

November 19, 2011

NEW YORK – A pilot stuck in the lavatory may sound like the opening line of a joke, but it triggered a terror scare on a flight from Asheville, North Carolina, to New York on Wednesday evening.

Delta 6132 — operated by Chautauqua Airlines — was about 30 minutes from LaGuardia Airport when the pilot went to use the bathroom.

Unbeknownst to the crew, he became trapped in the lavatory because of a broken door latch.

(The sole flight attendant on the plane couldn’t help him because she had entered the flight deck when he left, per security protocols that require two people to be in the cockpit at all times.)

“After trying unsuccessfully for several minutes to open the door, a nearby passenger heard the noise of the efforts and tried to help,” said Peter Kowalchuk, a spokesman for the airline.

“When the passenger was not able to open the door from the outside, the captain told him how to notify the flight deck of his situation.”

The passenger dutifully complied, but apparently had a heavy accent, which combined with the suddenly-missing pilot spooked the first officer.

The tense conversation between the crew and air traffic control was posted on LiveATC.net, a website that shares live air traffic communications.

“The captain has disappeared in the back, and uh, I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit,” the co-pilot says in the recording.

“The captain disappeared in the back, went to use the restroom. By all indications, what I’m being told is he’s stuck in the lav and someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit and I’m not about to let him in.”

Air traffic control responds by saying: “You guys ought to declare an emergency and just get on the ground.”

But later, the pilot suddenly reappears at the controls.

“This is the captain. I’m back in the cockpit. Lavatory door malfunction,” he says.

The controller on the ground is cautious: “I just want to make sure: Was there any disturbance in the airplane?”

“Negative,” the pilot responds. “The captain — myself — was in the lavatory and the door latch broke and had to fight my way out of it with my body to get the door open.”

The first officer did the right thing in securing the flight deck when he was not able to personally confirm the status of the captain, Kowalchuk said.

“No one was ever in danger and everyone, including the good Samaritan who tried to help the (captain) as well as the crew, are to be commended for their actions,” he added.

The plane, with 14 passengers and three crew members on board, made an emergency landing at LaGuardia with the pilot at the controls.

The FBI was on hand just to make sure everything was all right.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: “Exploding Package” Turned Out To Be Lightbulb – “Suspicious Package” In Locker Contained Cookies – As Crazed Overreaction Shuts Down Ranson West Virginia Post Office For 6 Hours

November 4, 2011

RANSON, WEST VIRGINIA – A reported exploding package and spray of white powder that sent emergency units rushing to a small-town post office turned out to be just the pop of a malfunctioning fluorescent light bulb, authorities said Friday.

The white powder that workers at the U.S. Post Office in Ranson saw was most likely smoke from the damaged bulb, said Ronald Fletcher, a firefighter with Citizens Fire Co. and the designated incident spokesman.

X-rays also revealed that a suspicious package in a storage locker contained only cookies, he said.

The scare Friday morning triggered an evacuation of the building and the temporary quarantine of 15 people inside a school bus. Hazardous materials and bomb experts, State Police units, fire crews and more responded to the scene at a strip mall.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department sent a robot into the building to test the air. It found no chemical agents or evidence of an explosion.

Despite the six-hour disruption, postal authorities said the mail would still be delivered Friday.

Postmaster Steve Parrill said about 20 people work in the Ranson branch.

Appeared Here

Crazed Scotland Police Ban “Terrorist” Dad From Mall After He Took Pictures Of His 4 Year Old Daughter Eating Ice Cream

October 11, 2011

SCOTLAND – A father taking pictures of his daughter at a shopping center near Glasgow, Scotland, says he was banned from the mall and threatened with having his camera phone confiscated in the interest of preventing terrorism when he refused to delete the photos.

Chris White, 45, says police were called last week after he took photos of his 4-year-old daughter, Hazel, eating ice cream at Braehead shopping center, and a security guard approached him and asked him to delete the pictures and then banned him from the mall, the Daily Record reports.

The security guard allegedly told White that taking photos in the shopping center is “illegal” and that security could confiscate White’s camera phone under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

“I explained I had taken two photos of my daughter eating ice cream and that she was the only person in the photo, so I didn’t see any problem,” White said.

“I also said that I wasn’t that willing to delete the photos and there seemed little point as I had actually uploaded them to Facebook.”

Police arrived on the scene shortly afterward.

White says one of the police officers was “quite intimidating,” but allowed him to keep his camera phone in exchange for offering his full details, including name, place of birth, age, employment status and address.

“Had I not had my daughter with me, and the fact that we are trying to bring our daughter up to respect and trust police officers, I may have exercised my right not to provide those details,” White said.

A spokesman for Braehead Shopping Center says security acted in good faith.

“Retail staff at an ice cream stall in Braehead became suspicious after they saw a male shopper taking photographs of a child sitting at their counter. The staff thought the man had also been taking photographs of them and they alerted one of the center’s security staff.”

The spokesman said the retail assistants were unaware that the man and child were related.

“Like most shopping centers, we have a photography policy in the mall to protect the privacy of the staff and shoppers,” a spokesman for Braehead said in a statement.

“However, it is not our intention to — and we do not — stop innocent family members from taking pictures.”

A spokesman for Braehead says the shopping center is changing its policy to allow family and friends to take photos in the mall, effective immediately.

“We wish to apologize to Mr. White for the distress we may have caused to him and his family and we will be in direct contact with him to apologize properly.”

White has set up a Facebook page in response to the incident calling for people to boycott Braehead shopping center.

Appeared Here

Even Those Cleared Of Crimes Remain On Terror Watch List, Including US Citizens

September 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.

Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans, according to the statistics released in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.

Timothy J. Healy, the director of the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, which vets requests to add or remove names from the list, said the documents showed that the government was balancing civil liberties with a careful, multilayered process for vetting who goes on it — and for making sure that names that no longer need to be on it came off.

“There has been a lot of criticism about the watch list,” claiming that it is “haphazard,” he said. “But what this illustrates is that there is a very detailed process that the F.B.I. follows in terms of nominations of watch-listed people.”

Still, some of the procedures drew fire from civil liberties advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which made the original request and provided the documents to The New York Times.

The 91 pages of newly disclosed files include a December 2010 guidance memorandum to F.B.I. field offices showing that even a not-guilty verdict may not always be enough to get someone off the list, if agents maintain they still have “reasonable suspicion” that the person might have ties to terrorism.

“If an individual is acquitted or charges are dismissed for a crime related to terrorism, the individual must still meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to remain on, or be subsequently nominated to, the terrorist watch list,” the once-classified memorandum says.

Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.”

But Stewart Baker, a former Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, argued that even if the intelligence about someone’s possible terrorism ties fell short of the courtroom standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it could still be appropriate to keep the person on the watch list as having attracted suspicion.

Mr. Baker noted that being subjected to extra questioning — or even kept off flights — was different than going to prison.

The guidance memo to F.B.I. field offices says someone may be deemed a “known or suspected terrorist” if officials have “particularized derogatory information” to support their suspicions.

That standard may be met by an allegation that the suspect has terrorism ties if the claim is corroborated by at least one other source, it said, but “mere guesses or ‘hunches’ are not enough.”

Normally, it says, if agents close the investigation without charges, they should remove the subject’s name — as they should also normally do in the case of an acquittal. But for exceptions, the F.B.I. maintains a special file for people whose names it is keeping in the database because it has decided they pose a national security risk even they are not the subject any active investigation.

The F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center shares the data with other federal agencies for screening aircraft passengers, people who are crossing the border and people who apply for visas. The data is also used by local police officers to check names during traffic stops.

The December memorandum lays out procedures for police officers to follow when they encounter people who are listed. For example, officers are never to tell the suspects that they might be on the watch list, and they must immediately call the federal government for instructions.

In addition, it says, police officers and border agents are to treat suspects differently based on which “handling codes” are in the system.

Some people, with outstanding warrants, are to be arrested; others are to be questioned while officers check with the Department of Homeland Security to see whether it has or will issue a “detainer” request; and others should be allowed to proceed without delay.

The documents show that the F.B.I. is developing a system to automatically notify regional “fusion centers,” where law enforcement agencies share information, if officers nearby have encountered someone on the list. The bureau also requires F.B.I. supervisors to sign off before an advisory would warn the police that a subject is “armed and dangerous” or has “violent tendencies.”

The F.B.I. procedures encourage agents to renominate suspects for the watch list even if they were already put on it by another agency — meaning multiple agencies would have to be involved in any attempt to later remove that person.

The procedures offer no way for people who are on the watch list to be notified of that fact or given an opportunity to see and challenge the specific allegations against them.

Chris Calabrese, a counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the watch list system a “Star Chamber” — “a secret determination, that you have no input into, that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life and you have no way to challenge it.”

But Mr. Healy said the government could not reveal who was on the list, or why, because that would risk revealing intelligence sources. He also defended the idea of the watch list, saying the government would be blamed if, after a terrorist attack, it turned out the perpetrator had attracted the suspicions of one agency but it had not warned other agencies to scrutinize the person.

Mr. Healy also suggested that fears of the watch list were exaggerated, in part because there are many other reasons that people are subjected to extra screening at airports. He said more than 200,000 people have complained to the Department of Homeland Security about their belief that they were wrongly on the list, but fewer than 1 percent of them were actually on it.

Appeared Here

New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly Claims His Department Could “Take Down A Plane”

September 26, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The chief of the New York Police Department says city police could take down a plane if necessary.

Commissioner Ray Kelly tells CBS’ “60 Minutes” that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he decided the city couldn’t rely on the federal government alone. He set about creating the NYPD’s own counter-terrorism unit. He says the department is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane.

Kelly didn’t divulge details but said “obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.”

Other measures include sending NYPD officers abroad, using radiation detectors and creating a network of surveillance cameras in Manhattan.

The interview airs Sunday evening. It comes two weeks after the tenth anniversary of 9/11, when hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria – New York City Police Want Nightclubs To Look For “Bulging Veins”

September 20, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The NYPD’s updated guide to bolstering the safety of city nightclubs offers tips on how to spot patrons who are bombed – as well as those carrying bombs.

The 27-page booklet, titled “Best Practices for Nightlife Establishments,” advises owners to be cautious about nervous customers who are sweating profusely and with “bulging veins in the neck.”

“Counter-terrorism security plans should include training for all staff in the detection of possible suicide bombers,” the guide, released Monday, says.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly insisted the guide, produced in conjunction with the New York Nightlife Association, is not meant to “alarm, but to help owners and operators craft effective strategies for terrorism prevention and preparedness.”

On how to spot would-be terrorists, the guide recommends being alert to people with “visible wires and tape” protruding from their clothing and “individuals who are obviously disguised.”

Nightclub workers should also be aware of people casing establishments by photographing or videotaping.

“Be on the lookout for people with suspicious bags and identical bags being carried by several individuals,” the guide suggests.

The booklet also has plenty of tips on how to spot plastered patrons, advising they’re usually the ones with slurred speech and bloodshot eyes who appear “sick, confused, abusive, profane, antagonistic or incoherent.”

Appeared Here

FBI Chased Down 300 Innocent People To Talk About Terror Dispite Having Zero Evidence Of Actual Threat

September 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The FBI has interviewed more than 300 people while investigating threat information that terrorist operatives might attack New York City or Washington around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

But all those people were cleared and there is no evidence al Qaeda operatives entered the United States to attempt to strike with a vehicle bomb or some other form of violence.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the intelligence received last week “was not useless chatter” and that officials would continue “pulling all the threads on that threat and chasing it down.”

Carney said U.S. officials are relieved the September 11 anniversary “went off without an incident,” but he added, “We don’t suddenly stop our vigilance the day after.”

The New York Police Department ramped up security in response to the threat information. Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said the force would continue such tactics as vehicle check points and additional subway bag-screening at least through the Monday-night rush hour. Browne said after that “a decision will be made whether or not to keep security at the current elevated levels.”

Local authorities in Washington, D.C., also increased security but not as visibly as the effort in New York. A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department told CNN Monday afternoon that all stepped-up security remained in effect.

According to the federal law enforcement official, investigators and analysts had an initial list of about a thousand people to look at in connection with the threat information, but were able to winnow that down to 300 people to interview as possible operatives, people who might provide help to any plotters, or people who just might have some knowledge of a terror scheme. But none of those leads panned out.

The official stressed, “We’ll stay at this a while, on alert for any suspicious activity” connected to the threat intelligence.

A different U.S. official said analysts need more time “to try to find information that confirms or debunks” the threat. This official said all of the public attention and the additional security measures could have prompted terrorists to change their timing or give up on this particular attempt.

Both officials, who were not authorized to discuss the investigation on the record, said it may be difficult to determine whether there was an actual plot.

CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Pam Benson contributed to this report.

Appeared Here

New York City Police And Homeland Security Target Trucks, Investigate 342 “Suspicious Packages” In One Weekend

September 12, 2011

NEW YORK – While the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/01 attack on America passed without an attack here at home, security in New York City remains ramped up.

That means vehicle checkpoints set up after what authorities described as a specific, credible but unconfirmed threat will remain in place.

“We were in a taxi and we got pulled over,” said Marv Williams, a tourist from Los Angeles. “They checked the trunk. Who cares? I think it’s good.”

Truck driver Eddie Belfiore was among those pulled over, but he told WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane the delay was alright.

“Whatever it takes, you know what I mean? You can’t let these people, you know, take advantage of this city, of this country,” Belfiore said. “If this is what we gotta do, this is what we gotta do. I don’t mind.”

People will continue to see bomb-sniffing dogs, heavily armed officers and be subject to bag checks.

“We will be holding our tours, holding our personnel, for an additional four hours” through today, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said over the weekend. “Effectively increasing by a third the size of our patrol, transit and counterterrorism, highway and traffic bureau.”

All this comes as authorities continue to look into the possibility three individuals may have been tasked to create mayhem using car bombs or by targeting area bridges and tunnels.

At least two of the three purported operatives may be U.S. citizens, officials said. So far, there’s been no evidence those operatives have managed to get other operatives into the United States, officials said over the weekend.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Brown said reports of suspicious packages over the weekend were about three times higher than normal.

“Last year, we had about 92 of those reports and so far, we’ve had 342,” he said.

The jitters on the ground also extended into the skies. Two flights were escorted by F-16 fighter jets, including American Airlines Flight 34 from Los Angeles to John F. Kennedy International Airport. On that flight, three disruptive passengers continually moved in and out of lavatories, locking themselves inside at one point. They eventually returned to their seats. Once on the ground, they were questioned by federal authorities and ultimately cleared. A federal air marshal was on board the flight, and the cockpit was never in danger.

“We had all these officials come on board,” said passenger Kathy Rankin. “After a few minutes, they told us we could get off the plane.”

The second scare concluded in Michigan. That’s where a SWAT team boarded a Frontier Airlines Jet on the tarmac. Suspicious activity was reported on the flight, which originated in Denver. Three passengers were handcuffed and taken off the plane, but they were later released and no charges were filed.

Police are still looking for a white Econoline van with Oklahoma plates was stolen from a self-storage facility in Jersey City. Phone lines and alarms were cut at the site of the Econoline van theft.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: Mall Of America Security Guards Gone Wild – FBI Assists In Returning Lost Cell Phones To Owners – War On Cameras

September 12, 2011

US – On May 1, 2008, at 4:59 p.m., Brad Kleinerman entered the spooky world of homeland security.

As he shopped for a children’s watch inside the sprawling Mall of America, two security guards approached and began questioning him. Although he was not accused of wrongdoing, the guards wrote a confidential report about Kleinerman that was sent to police.

The reason: Guards thought the Avon, Conn., man might pose a threat because he looked at them in a suspicious way.

The episode is one of many cases in which seemingly innocent people have been ensnared by the mall’s counterterrorism initiative, an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio has found.

In many cases, information about people stopped at the mall has found its way into the hands of law enforcement without their knowledge. The information in reports obtained by reporters includes birth dates, employer names, Social Security numbers, and names of family members and friends. Some reports contain shoppers’ travel plans and surveillance images.

Nearly two-thirds of the people mentioned in more than 100 reports were minorities.

Mall of America officials say its security unit conducts up to 1,200 “security interviews” each year for a variety of reasons. Officials say the program focuses only on behavior.

“The government is not going to protect us free of charge, so we have to do that ourselves,” said Maureen Bausch, the mall’s executive vice president of business development. “We’re lucky enough to be in the city of Bloomington where they actually have a police substation here [in the mall]. … They’re great. But we are responsible for this building.”

Najam Qureshi, who once owned a mall kiosk that sold items from his native Pakistan, recalls when his father left a cellphone on a table in the food court. An FBI agent came to their home, asking if they knew anyone who might want to hurt the United States.

An Iranian man, now 62, began passing out during questioning. An Army veteran sobbed in his car after being questioned for nearly two hours. Much of the questioning has been done in public while shoppers mill around.

The Center for Investigative Reporting and NPR obtained 125 suspicious activity reports totaling more than 1,000 pages referring to the mall and dating back to 2005. Bloomington police and a state intelligence center released the reports under the state public records law. It’s unclear how many other reports may have been shared with law enforcement.

The documents give a glimpse inside one of the legacies of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago. In 2008, the mall’s security director, Douglas Reynolds, told Congress that the mall was the “number-one source of actionable intelligence” provided to the state’s fusion center, an intelligence hub created after 9/11 to pull together reports from an array of law enforcement sources.

Heightened awareness

The push to encourage Americans to report suspicious activity began in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when government officials and citizens found out that hints about the attackers had been missed by intelligence analysts.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security launched programs urging citizens and the private sector to report suspicious activity. Among those formally enlisted were parking attendants, Jewish groups, stadium operators, landlords, security guards, fans of professional golf and auto racing and retailers such as the Mall of America. Visitors “may be subject to a security interview,” the mall’s website says.

Commander Jim Ryan of the Bloomington police said shoppers are not under arrest when stopped for questioning by private guards. He said even he would walk away if the questioning seemed excessive.

“I don’t think that I would subject myself to that, personally,” he said. Ryan, however, defends security procedures at the mall.

In nearly two-thirds of the cases reviewed, subjects are described as African-American, people of Asian and Arabic descent, and other minorities,.

Mall spokesman Dan Jasper said the private security guards do not conduct interviews based on racial or ethnic characteristics because “we may miss someone who truly does have harmful intent.” He said subjects are chosen “solely on suspicious behavior” and research indicates that “profiling based on ethnic or racial characteristics is ineffective and a waste of valuable time and resources.”

Ryan said the reports are crucial to the nation’s safety and could be held by his agency for two decades or longer. He acknowledged that the mall’s methods, and its reports to law enforcement, may “infringe on some freedoms, unfortunately.”

“We’re charged with trying to keep people safe. We’re trying to do it the best way we can,” he said. “You may be questioned at the Mall of America about suspicious activity. It’s something that may happen. It’s part of today’s society.”

Anyone can be questioned

Dale Watson, a former top counterterrorism official with the FBI, said the mall’s reports suggest that anyone could be targeted for intrusive questioning and surveillance.

“If that had been one of my brothers that was stopped in a mall, I’d be furious about it — if I thought the police department had a file on him, an information file about his activities in the mall without any reasonable suspicion to investigate,” said Watson, who helped investigate the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Shoppers, who for the most part had no idea that a visit to the mall led to their personal information being shared with law enforcement, reacted with anger and dismay when shown their reports.

“For all the 30 years that I have lived in the United States, I’ve never been a suspect,” said Emil Khalil. The California man was confronted at the mall in June 2009 for taking pictures, and he said an FBI agent later questioned him at the airport. “And I’ve never done anything wrong.”

In 2005, the Mall of America hired Mike Rozin to lead a new special security unit. Its officers look for unexplained nervousness, people photographing such things as air-conditioning ducts or signs that a shopper might have something to hide, according to records.

Last January, guards spotted a suspicious man who tried to run, but was arrested. The man had a loaded handgun, Rozin said. “Potentially that day, my … officer prevented a disaster, a case of indiscriminate shooting,” he said.

Rozin acknowledged that the vast majority of people who come into contact with his unit “have done nothing wrong, have no malicious intent.” He said interviews average five minutes.

Shaken by encounter

Francis Van Asten’s experience with mall security lasted much longer. On Nov. 9, 2008, the Bloomington resident videotaped a short road trip from his home to the mall. Van Asten, now 66, planned to send it to his fiancée’s family in Vietnam so they could see life in the United States.

As he headed down an escalator, camera in hand, mall guards saw him. “Right away, I noticed he had a video camera and was recording the rotunda area,” a security guard wrote in a suspicious activity report.

Van Asten, a former U.S. Army missile system repairman, was questioned for about two hours, records show. He was asked about traveling to Vietnam and how he came to know people there. Van Asten was even asked through which mall door he entered.

Suspecting he was conducting surveillance, guards asked what was on the camera. “The footage of all the vehicles and structures of the east ramp really worried me,” the security guard wrote.

Authorities were concerned about footage of a plane landing at nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Van Asten said it was not clear to him at the time why he was stopped. He was told nothing prohibited him from taking photographs or footage of the mall. But the guards alerted Bloomington police, who notified the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Van Asten was given a pat-down search, and the FBI demanded that his camera’s memory card be confiscated “for further analysis.”

Exhausted and rattled, Van Asten had trouble finding his car after the ordeal. “I sat down in my car and I cried, and I was shaking like a leaf,” Van Asten said.

Man files discrimination suit

Bobbie Allen, now 47, headed to the Mall of America on June 25, 2007, for lunch with a woman. As he waited for her, Allen sat alone writing in a notebook, which caught the attention of guards, who wrote in Allen’s suspicious activity report: “Before the male would write in his notebook, it appeared as though he would look at his watch. Periodically, the male would briefly look up from his notebook, look around, and then continue writing.”

Guards asked for his name and for whom he was waiting. Allen, a musician who lives in downtown Minneapolis, became frustrated, saying the questioning was intrusive. Allen, who is black, felt singled out for his race, according to the report. The guard responded that he was “randomly selected” for an interview.

The guards called Bloomington police after deciding that Allen was uncooperative and his note-taking “suspicious.” He was cleared, but a suspicious activity report was compiled, complete with surveillance photo, age, height, address and more. Much of that information ended up in a Bloomington police report.

Allen complained to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and sued. Department investigators found probable cause to support Allen’s claim of racial discrimination. Allen declined an interview, citing a settlement with the mall.

Not everyone reacted negatively to being written up. After information naming him was sent to the FBI, Sameer Khalil of Orange County, Calif., said he believed police and private security have important jobs to do.

“I think [the mall's program] makes America safer,” he said.

Lost cellphone brings FBI

Businessman Najam Qureshi once had a small kiosk at the mall so his aging father, a former aeronautical engineer named Saleem, could keep busy. One day in early 2007, Saleem Qureshi left his cellphone in a mall food court. When he returned for it, security personnel had established a “perimeter” around the phone and a nearby stroller and two coolers that did not belong to him.

The “suspicious” objects eventually were cleared by security, documents show. But mall guards pursued Saleem Qureshi with questions. “At one point, he moved to his kiosk and proceeded to take items off of two shelves just to switch them around,” security guard Ashly Foster wrote in a report. “… He seemed to get agitated at points when I would ask more detailed questions.”

On a trip to the Twin Cities in May 2008, Kleinerman, a human resources director for the Cigna health services firm, stopped at the mall to return shoes and buy a SpongeBob SquarePants watch for one of his kids.

Two security officers reported that Kleinerman was “closely observing” them deal with an unrelated call. They considered his behavior “very odd,” and followed him to “watch for behavioral indicators,” Officer Sean McArdle wrote in a suspicious activity report.

Later, they attempted an interview, but Kleinerman refused, the report said. Kleinerman was told he had two options: Answer questions, or police would be called. Kleinerman said in an interview he repeatedly asked why he was stopped, but got no answer until a supervisor arrived and said shoppers sometimes “exhibit cues” the mall looks for.

“I explained to them why I was there,” Kleinerman said. “That really should have ended it, even if there was something odd about what I was doing. Yet for 45 minutes, they kept trying to get my name and information and seemed to get more upset with me the more I wouldn’t comply.”

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: Boston And Massachussets State Police Target Penske Trucks After Men Seen Using One To Transport Cargo

September 12, 2011

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Boston and State Police are on alert this morning, as commemorations of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 are underway around the state, after receiving a report of three men loading large buckets of unknown material into the back of a Penske truck Saturday night in Roxbury.

State Police spokesman David Procopio said authorities received a call at about 10:15 p.m. from someone who witnessed the men loading what appeared to be 55-gallon plastic containers into the truck along the 600 block of Columbus Avenue.

“If we do see Penske trucks, I think at this point we probably will be stopping them just as a precaution,” Procopio said.

He said troopers will stop all yellow, 18-foot Penske trucks and speak with the occupants to determine what they are doing with the vehicles.

A Penske spokesman said in an email that no company trucks have been reported stolen or missing today in the Boston area.

“Penske advises all its rental truck customers to use great care when parking and driving this weekend due to the increased public sensitivities and security issues around the 9/11 anniversary,” said spokesman Randolph P. Ryerson.

Police radio broadcasts indicated that at least one Penske truck making a delivery to a downtown building was stopped this morning without incident, though Procopio could not confirm that report.

Boston Police Officer Eddy Chrispin, a department spokesman, said he also had no information on specific stops, but confirmed that Boston officers have been directed to take the same measures as State Police.

The New York Times has reported that investigators are looking for a Budget rental van with Oklahoma plates that was stolen in Jersey City, N.J., on Aug. 21 by thieves who disabled the vehicle’s phone and alarm systems and tampered with security cameras.

Authorities were also seeking two dark-colored vans recently stolen from a company with a contract to do road work near Ground Zero, the Times reported.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: So-Called “Homeland Security” Officials And Police Go Way Overboard With Fighter Jets And Bomb Squads After Couple Makes Out In Airliner Bathroom

September 12, 2011

DENVER, COLORADO - Two people “making out” in a restroom on a Frontier flight from Denver to Detroit caused authorities to scramble fighter jets, bomb squads and alert FBI and police on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ABC News reported.

On Sunday afternoon, the Transportation Security Administration was notified of “passengers allegedly behaving suspiciously onboard Frontier Airlines Flight 623,” Denver FBI spokesman Dave Joly said in a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled F-16 at 3:30 p.m. EDT to shadow the flight until it landed safely at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Joly said.

Law enforcement met the flight, which was brought to a remote area of the airport, Joly said. The plane was swept, nothing hazardous was found and the aircraft was cleared at 5:15 p.m.

The “suspicious behavior” turned out to be two people “making out” in the bathroom mid-flight, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Three passengers were taken into custody for questioning, Frontier Airlines spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said in a statement, but no arrests were made.

In another incident Sunday, a pair of fighter jets were scrambled to escort an American Airlines jet into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after the pilot became spooked by passengers’ frequent trips to and from the restroom, ABC News reported.

The precaution turned out to be unnecessary as federal air marshals aboard American Flight 34 from Los Angeles to JFK were able to resolve the situation when the passengers complied with their instructions, police officials told ABC. The pilot then radioed that the situation was under control and the plane landed safely. Three male passengers were questioned upon arrival, but no charges were filed against them, authorities said.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: Massachusets State Police And TSA Thugs Pull Folk Musician Off Flight, Question His Reading Book About 1940’s Polish Aircraft

August 25, 2011

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Folk musician Vance Gilbert on Tuesday posted a lengthy open letter on his website about a recent experience on a flight from Boston to Washington, DC he claims left him “frightened” and “humilated.”

A well-known member of the local folk scene, Gilbert maintains that after boarding a United Airlines flight on Aug. 14, he was pulled off the plane and questioned about his fanny pack (which he’d tucked into his backpack under the seat in front of him) and about a book he was reading on historic planes.

“I am a musician by trade and an amateur aviation historian, studying mostly European transport aircraft between WW1 and WW2, and some after. I was on my way to two different music festivals,” Gilbert explains in his blog post at vancegilbert.com. “When I travel I delve into reading about this era of aviation. I had taken out and was reading a book of Polish Aircraft circa 1946 and I was also looking at views of an Italian aircraft from 1921.”

According to Gilbert, who is African-American, as the plane prepared for take off, “2 Mass State Policemen, 1 or 2 TSA Agents, and the bursar for the flight come down the [aisle] and motion me to get off of the plane.”

Once on the breezeway, Gilbert claims the police officers asked if he’d had “a problem” with his bag and whether he was looking at a “book of airplanes.” Gilbert said he showed them what he was reading (he says they deemed it “Snoopy Red Baron stuff” and said they were sorry for the inconvenience) and was eventually allowed back on the plane.

Gilbert writes that he “silently wept” the whole flight to Washington, DC, and that he was left ”broken hearted and speechless.”

When contacted about Gilbert’s letter, United spokesman Charles Hobart emailed the Globe this statement: “The service Mr. Gilbert described does not reflect the experience we aim to deliver our customers. We are reaching out to Mr. Gilbert and to Shuttle America, the United Express carrier that operated the flight, to better understand what occurred and to ensure Mr. Gilbert knows we value his business.”

In an interview this evening, Gilbert said he has been contacted by United and is arranging a time to discuss the incident.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: Jacksonville Florida City Hall Evacuated Due To Box Of Light Bulbs They’d Special Ordered – Mayor: “Given the times we live in, safety and security is the No. 1 thing we want to do.”

August 24, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – After shutting down the area around City Hall for more than three hours Tuesday morning, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office determined a suspicious package sent to the city contained harmless light bulbs.

Workers in the City Hall mailroom called the authorities after a scan of the 8-inch-by-6-inch box showed it contained wires.

After the package was placed in a containment unit and taken away, a more accurate scan revealed the bulbs.

Still, the response was proportional to the potential threat, Mayor Alvin Brown said.

“You’ve got to be careful,” Brown said. “Given the times we live in, safety and security is the No. 1 thing we want to do.”

Later, the mayor noted the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I don’t think you can be overly cautious,” he said. “I don’t think you can put a price on life.”

‘A fire drill’
City Hall employees called police around 8:40 a.m. to report the package, and by 9:30, City Hall had been evacuated.

“I at first thought it was a fire drill,” said Tony Hill, who works as the mayor’s liaison to the federal government.

About 300 employees headed to the fire department’s emergency communications center on Julia Street, where they stayed until the all clear was given around 1 p.m.

The mayor was not in the building when the package was reported to the authorities, and many other city workers were just arriving.

Sheriff’s Office Director John Hartley said the package had been delivered by FedEx. It was addressed to the City Council, said mayoral spokesman Abel Harding. City workers said the bulbs were likely for use in council chambers, and that they would have been a special order, not something routinely delivered.

Authorities took the situation seriously from the beginning, and Sheriff John Rutherford said the package was treated as a bomb until the more in-depth scan took place.

At the emergency operations center, where many city employees decamped, other workers were monitoring Hurricane Irene, although fears about a hit had moderated by Tuesday morning.

Having the additional employees there didn’t disrupt that job, said Marty Senterfitt, the city’s emergency preparedness chief.

“There was no interruption of service, no confusion,” he said.

Appeared Here

9/11 Hysteria: Tennessee Bomb Squad, Highway Patrol, And FBI Find “Suspicious” Package In Mailbox Was Defective Cell Phone Being Returned To Phone Company

May 9, 2011

WHITE COUNTY, TENNESSEE – A suspicious package, discovered May 5 in a mailbox behind U.S. Bank, on Mose Drive, was found to be a box, containing a defective cell phone and charger, which was intended to be returned to the phone company.

According to White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, he was informed of the suspicious package, at approximately 3:15 p.m.

Explosive experts with Tennessee Bomb and Arson, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Federal Bureau of Investigation were called to the scene to examine the package.

Officers with Sparta Police Department and White County Sheriff Department also responded to the scene to assist.

“We can’t afford to fool around when it comes to this kind of situation,” said Shoupe. “We can’t take the chance of anyone getting hurt.”

The package was examined, removed from the mailbox and disposed of.

Appeared Here

Bill Would Require Parental Consent And Supervision For TSA Searches Of Children

April 19, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to a YouTube video of a 6-year-old girl receiving a pat-down from a Transportation Security Administration officer, Congressman Jason Chaffetz is drafting legislation that will require parental supervision during the pat-down of a child.

“They claim there is a modified pat-down for 12-year-olds and younger, but when you see those videos, you realize that just isn’t true,” Chaffetz said.

The proposed legislation would require that a parent must give their consent before a child receives a pat-down, and that the child must remain with the parent while the pat-down is performed.

Chaffetz would like to put an end to those practices and continued his claim that there are better ways to protect Americans in the skies than full-body scans and pat-downs, a process he calls “security theater.” Chaffetz says TSA could protect the country just as well with the use of bomb sniffing dogs and behavioral screenings.

“That is what they do in the White House, the House of Representatives, and in the theater of war,” Chaffetz said about using the dogs. “They aren’t bringing in whole-body scanning machines, they are bringing in dogs.”

Chaffetz admits that his plan to implement the usage of the dogs over the scanning machines will have an uphill battle.

“The dogs don’t have something the scanning machines do have — a lobbyist,” Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz is the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and has sent a letter to the TSA requesting an investigation of the incident, and asked for a report no later than close of business on Friday.

“I am personally outraged and disgusted by yet another example of mistreatment of an innocent American at the hands of TSA,” wrote Chaffetz in the letter addressed to TSA chief John Pistole. “This conduct is in clear violation of TSA’s explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13.”

TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the administration could not comment on proposed or pending legislation. TSA has commented on the incident with the 6-year-old girl in the video, though. It said it has determined that the officer followed proper current screening procedures. TSA also has said its officers will continue to work with parents to ensure a respectful screening process for the entire family is performed at security checkpoints, including not separating minor children from their parents during the screening process.

The congressman’s family had its own run-in with the TSA not long ago when his 15-year-old daughter was whisked away from the family at the airport security checkpoint to have a private pat-down without a parent present.

Appeared Here

TSA Created Travel Hassles Currently Cost US Economy $85 Billion And 900,000 Jobs Per Year

March 18, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S Travel Association and a panel of travel and security experts today unveiled a groundbreaking plan to improve security at America’s airports and reduce the burden on travelers. Among the most notable recommendations are the creation of a trusted traveler program and a requirement that travelers be allowed to check at least one bag at no additional cost to the ticket price as a means to reduce the amount of luggage going through the security checkpoint.

The need for reform was made especially clear by recent research revealing that travelers are avoiding two to three trips per year due to unnecessary hassles associated with the security screening process. These avoided trips come at a cost of $85 billion and 900,000 jobs to the American economy.

The recommendations, the culmination of a year-long analysis to remake aviation security screening, were issued in a report titled “A Better Way: Building a World Class System for Aviation Security,” and call on Congress to own responsibility for improving the current system through effective policy decisions. U.S. Travel and its panel of experts set out to achieve three primary goals:

Improve the TSA checkpoint by increasing efficiency, decreasing passenger wait times and screening passengers based on risk;
Generate greater governmental efficiency and cooperation in executing its security responsibilities; and
Restructure America’s national approach to aviation security by developing and using risk management methods and tools.

“While our government and passengers deserve credit for preventing another terrorist attack like what happened nearly 10 years ago on 9/11, each day in the United States roughly two million air travelers are advised to arrive upwards of two hours before a flight in order to be processed through a one-size-fits-all security screening system,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

“The country that put a man on the moon, invented the Internet and creates daily innovations in manufacturing can and must do better in screening passengers and improving our air travel experience. Air travel is the gateway to commerce and an improved experience is directly tied to job creation and a stronger economy.”

The blue ribbon panel created by U.S. Travel was chaired by former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Congressman Jim Turner and Sam Gilliland, president and chief executive officer of Sabre Holdings. The panel consisted of former top officials from DHS and TSA; representatives from the airline, airport, logistics and security technology sectors; and leaders who represent the destinations and other businesses reliant on a functional air travel system.

In helping U.S. Travel introduce the report, former Secretary Ridge said: “A strong aviation security screening system must feature several characteristics, including efficient methods of deterring and interdicting terrorists and criminals; tailored security based upon risk assessment; frequent, clear communication with the traveling public; and cost-effective use of resources.”

Dow acknowledged the complexity of addressing the current challenges, noting solutions will require cooperation, and possibly sacrifices by airlines, airports, the broader travel industry, the traveling public, federal agencies and the Congress, which he said must take responsibility for leading change.

“Dramatic policy shifts undermine the ability of our nation to create a secure and efficient aviation system, and demonstrate a lack of a long-term vision for aviation security,” Dow said. “TSA and its officers often bear unjustified public criticism for simply carrying out the ever-changing policies set by Congress and an unwillingness to date to embrace risk management. If this pattern is to change, Congress must set the tone and take on the responsibility of improving the current system.”

Rooted in the diverse professional and political viewpoints of the panelists, the group did not always find consensus in how to address the difficult challenges. Among the panel’s recommendations in the report:

Implement a risk-based trusted traveler program. Congress should authorize TSA to implement a new, voluntary, government-run trusted traveler program that utilizes a risk-based approach to checkpoint screening, with the goal of refocusing resources on the highest risk passengers;
Improve preparation of travelers. Industry stakeholders should work with TSA to improve their education and communication on security rules and regulations, targeting locations and sources that travelers are likely to review as they book or prepare for a trip;
Encourage fewer carry-on bags. The Department of Transportation (DOT) should issue regulations requiring airlines to allow passengers one checked bag as part of their base airfare and standardize existing rules covering the quantity and size of items that can be carried onto an airplane;
Reduce duplicative TSA screening for international arrivals. DHS should enable certain low-risk passengers who are traveling to another domestic airport to forego checked baggage and passenger screening upon landing in the U.S.;
Expand trusted traveler programs to qualified international passengers. DHS should expand access to international trusted traveler programs for international passengers entering the U.S., as well as lead efforts to establish a multinational network of streamlined entry procedures for low-risk travelers;
Give TSA authority over the entire checkpoint area. Congress should immediately act to clear up confusion over “ownership” of commercial aviation security and authorize TSA to control the entire security checkpoint starting at the beginning of the security lines and ending after a traveler exits the screening area;
Develop a comprehensive technology procurement strategy. TSA, in collaboration with technology vendors and the travel community, should develop a comprehensive strategy for implementing necessary checkpoint technology capabilities. Congress should provide multi-year funding plans for TSA to execute this strategy;
Implement well-defined risk management processes. The Administration should convene an external panel of experts with appropriate security clearances to review TSA aviation security programs, assess the risk each is designed to mitigate and develop metrics for measuring progress to lessen that risk.

Dow urged Congress and the Administration to seriously considering implementing the panel’s recommendations as quickly as possible, pointing out the current aviation security system is discouraging Americans from flying and contributing to a decline in productivity among those who choose to fly.

According to a 2010 survey conducted by Consensus Research, American travelers would take an additional two to three flights per year if the hassles in security screening system were eliminated. These additional flights would add nearly $85 billion in consumer spending and 900,000 jobs to the American economy.

According to the same research, a large majority of Americans consider today’s security screening system to be “inconsistent,” “stressful” and “embarrassing.”

Dow concluded: “When combining the staggering economic consequences of the current system with the widely held views of the traveling public – and with the American way of life hanging in the balance – the picture becomes clear. We must find a better way and build a new traveler-focused system for aviation security.”

To download the complete report, visit http://www.ustravel.org/betterway.

Appeared Here


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers