Senate Wants Travelers To Pay More For Mistreatment By TSA Agents

May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday moved forward with legislation to increase airline passenger security fees, beating back a GOP attempt to keep them at current levels.

The 2013 Homeland Security appropriations bill would increase one-way fees for passengers from $2.50 to $5 in order to close a budget shortfall at the Transportation Security Administration.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the $350 million in funding would otherwise come from taxpayers and argued it is better to stick passengers who rely on TSA with the bill.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) sponsored an amendment to strip out the fee increase and offset the loss of revenue with cuts to state and local grants, emergency food and shelter funding, and dropping $89 million in funding for a new highway interchange leading to the Homeland Security’s new headquarters in southeast Washington, D.C. Hutchison noted that the Senate had decided not to increase the fees in the recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.

That amendment was defeated on a 15-15 vote. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined Republicans in supporting the measure to strip out the fee increase.

Hutchinson joined Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) in voting against the DHS bill as a whole. Johnson and Moran have been voting against non-defense 2013 appropriations bills because they support the House GOP position that the spending caps in last August’s debt ceiling deal should be lowered. The other Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee have all voted to support the August debt ceiling deal levels.

The committee on Tuesday also approved the 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill, traditionally the least controversial of all 12 annual spending bills. The vote was 30-0.

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Airport Security? Not Much… Nashville Tennessee Police Say Man Never Gained Access To Secured Areas Of Terminal – But He Jumped Fence And Got On A Plane

May 17, 2012

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Police arrested a man last weekend for getting into a restricted area of Nashville International Airport and getting on board an aircraft.

Ram Porat told police “I own the world,’’ when he was arrested according to arrest reports.

When police arrived just before 2 a.m. Sunday, Porat was on the aircraft and had been speaking with American Airlines maintenance personnel.

“It was something I wanted to do and an obstacle I wanted to overcome,’’ Porat told police according to an arrest report.

Porat told police he scaled the airport fence in order to get to the plane. The fence was marked as a secure area with no trespassing signs. There was damage to the fence. The airplane was at Gate C-19.

Porat is charged with unlawful entry of a secured airport area and aircraft, vandalism and criminal trespass.

Court records also show that Porat was arrested May 9 for driving under the influence and drug charges.

Porat never gained access to secured areas of the terminal building. Nashville International is investigating the security breach, according to a statement by the airport.

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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.”

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TSA Agents Search Wheelchair Bound Former Secretary Of State Henry Kissinger At New York LaGuardia Airport

May 15, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Even a Nobel Peace Prize winner can’t avoid a pat-down.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger got searched by a Transportation Security Administration employee while going through a security checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport in New York Friday, The Washington Post reports.

Kissinger, who was in a wheelchair, was told by a TSA agent that he needed to be searched.

“He stood with his suit jacket off, and he was wearing suspenders,” freelance reporter Matthew Cole told the Post. “They gave him the full pat-down. None of the agents seemed to know who he was.” Cole added that Kissinger was given “the full Monty” search.

Kissinger negotiated the Paris Peace Accords which helped bring an end to the Vietnam War.

Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was detained at a Nashville airport after refusing to be searched by TSA officials.

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TSA Labels 18 Month Old Girl A Terrorist, Removes Her And Parents From JetBlue Flight

May 10, 2012

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – Eighteen-month-old Riyanna has been called a lot of things: cute, adorable and now … a suspected terrorist.

She was called that on Tuesday night at the Ft Lauderdale Airport. She and her parents had just boarded a JetBlue flight when an airline employee approached them and asked them to get off the plane, saying representatives from the Transportation Security Agency wanted to speak to them.

“And I said, ‘For what?'” Riyanna’s mother told only WPBF 25 News on Wednesday. “And he said, ‘Well, it’s not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no fly.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?'”

Riyanna’s father was flabbergasted.

“It’s absurd,” he said. “It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?”

ALSO: Man buys candy bar, then steals cash from register

Riyanna’s parents, who asked not to be identified, said they think they know the answer to that question. They believe they were profiled because they are both of Middle Eastern descent. Riyanna’s mother wears a hijab, a traditional head scarf. That’s why they have asked to remain anonymous. They said they’re concerned about repurcussions. That said, they are both Americans, born and raised in New Jersey, just like their daughter.

Riyanna’s parents said once they were taken off the plane, they were met by TSA agents and made to stand in the terminal for about 30 minutes.

“We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab,” Riyanna’s father said.

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Dumbass TSA Agents Destroyed Teen Girl’s Insulin Pump At Salt Lake City Utah Airport

May 8, 2012

SALT L AKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A Colorado teen is upset with screeners at Salt Lake City International Airport. The type one diabetic says TSA agents were abrupt, rude and were responsible for breaking her $10,000 insulin pump. A pump she has to have to survive.

Savannah Barry is mad and on a mission. She wants travelers to be warned before they walk through TSA security. “They need to get with the program and have some education across the board for TSA.” After participating in a DECA conference in Salt Lake City with several classmates last week, Savannah, who is a type one diabetic and wears an insulin pump 24 hours a day, says she ran into TSA agents who were not prepared to deal with her medical situation. “I went up to the lady and I said, I am a type one diabetic. I wear an insulin pump. I showed her the pump. I said, what do you want me to do? I usually do a pat down – what would you recommend?”

Savannah then showed agents a doctor’s note explaining that the sensitive insulin pump should not go through the body scanner. She says she was told to go through it anyway. “When someone in a position of authority tells you it is – you think that its right. So, I said, Are you sure I can go through with the pump? It’s not going to hurt the pump? And she said no, no you’re fine.”

The 16-year-old walked into the scanner with some serious reservations “My life is pretty much in their hands when I go through a body scan with my insulin pump on.” She was right to be worried. She says the pump stopped working correctly. “Coming off an insulin pump is rough. You never know what is going to happen when you are not on the insulin pump.”

She says TSA agents then made the situation worse when they didn’t know what to do about her juice and insulin. “She said, because we don’t have the machines to scan the juice to make sure this is not an explosive we do have to do a full body pat down and search your through your bags.” Of course, that’s what she wanted in the first place, but it was too late.

Savannah believes TSA screeners need more training. And she says, until that happens – people with medical conditions need to be warned. “It’s unacceptable. And I don’t want other people to feel the way I felt.”

We asked TSA about the incident. We received an email that says “TSA is reviewing the passenger’s screening experience and will respond directly to the family. TSA works regularly with a broad coalition of disability and medical condition advocacy groups to help understand their needs and adapt screening procedures accordingly.”
TSA also has a tollfree hotline for passengers with medical conditions. They can call it before hand to find out about policies and procedures. 1-855-787-2227.

Savannah (see picture) already has a new insulin pump. A company that heard her story quickly got it to her when she got back to Colorado.

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“Airport Style” Security (Long Lines, X-Rays, And Patdowns, K-9’s In Train Cars) Coming To Chicago Area Train Stations During NATO Summit

May 4, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Some stations on the Metra Electric Line and South Shore Line could be shut down during the upcoming NATO summit, and passengers at other stations could face airport-style security screenings, due to the Secret Service security plan that could be released as soon as Friday afternoon.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has exclusive details on those security measures, which the Secret Service is expected to officially unveil on Friday, or at the very latest, on Monday. Federal officials have promised the announcement will include a “comprehensive list of street closures and parking restrictions surrounding the NATO summit.”

The Secret Service has been battling with Metra and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District over the security measures that will be needed on the Electric and South Shore lines, which both run directly under McCormick Place.

Metra and NICTD won round one of that battle, as trains on those two lines will continue to operate during the summit, although there will be significant delays at times, with trains possibly being stopped for security screening before passing McCormick Place.

The commuter rail agencies are still in talks with the Secret Service over major security measures for passengers, including airport-style screening of all riders during the summit. That would mean commuters on those lines would face patdowns, X-ray screenings, and long security lines at their stations before boarding trains.

The Secret Service initially wanted all trains to stop short of McCormick Place, with shuttle buses taking passengers around the summit site.

Then they talked about canine units conducting searches on trains, which would be halted before reaching McCormick Place.

Now, the Secret Service is planning for airport-style security screening at a limited number of stations on those two train lines. Many other stations on the Electric and South Shore lines – serving the South Side, southern suburbs and northwest Indiana – would be shut down during the summit.

Neither Metra nor the Secret Service will talk about the security measures yet. But sources said, with just over two weeks until the summit, nothing has been decided.

Earlier this week, Chicago police handled hundreds of May Day demonstrators marching from the West Side into the Loop, successfully containing the crowd with no arrests or injuries.

Many called it a trial run or dress rehearsal for NATO – for both police and protesters.

What most people didn’t see were all the CTA buses quietly re-routed around the demonstrations and marches, which will also be part of a CTA strategy to be announced after the Secret Service restrictions released.

The CTA plan will encourage commuters to use its rail lines, all of which will operate with full service. Many of its buses will not.

There will be what the CTA calls “hard closures” of bus routes affected by the security perimeter; and “soft rolling closures,” or temporary delays on other bus lines – like there were during Tuesday’s protest march – to wait for passing motorcades, parades, or demonstrations.

The CTA said bus managers and volunteers will be on the street at bus stops to help riders cope with the three-day detours.

What we’re hearing is that the CTA, RTA, and most other local agencies have been told to wait for the Secret Service announcement, before revealing their own plans.

That hints at an avalanche of information coming out about summit plans right after the feds break their silence and post all the security restrictions on various websites.

The tentative plan had that happening at around 6 p.m. Friday, but that could change.

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