Michael Yon has a classic example of the spectacular-stupidity-and-inflexibility-of-the-TSA genre.
A note [from retired Marine and 3-star General Mick Trainor recently] appeared on a private message board. This private group includes many current and former generals, and just about anyone you see on television or in books as a national security specialist, ranging from CIA to all the top war correspondents, special operations types galore, and high-level policy makers. There is significant education value in just reading their traffic. ...
“Did you use hand cream this morning?”
“Yes,” I replied, “Why do you ask?”
“Because there is a trace of nitrate on your hands. That is not uncommon with some hand lotions. Nitrate is an element of explosives.”
“OK,”.I thought. “I have soft hands, but not a bomb.” Notwithstanding such logic, I was informed that I would have to have a full body search. With that two agents escorted me to a private room while other agents began to tear apart my luggage.
“Is this really necessary?” I enquired. “I’m an eighty four year old, native born American citizen who spent forty years in the Marines and fought in two wars and retired as a general.”
“Oh, you were a Marine.” said one agent. “My father-in-law is a retired Marine colonel of about your vintage. His name is Webster. Did you know him?”
“I knew a Charlie Webster, who went as ‘Chuck.’ We went through Quantico together as new lieutenants.”
“That’s him.” replied my interrogator ….. as he proceeded with the full body search.
Not quite as bad as the 2002 shakedown of 86-year-old WWII hero and former South Dakota governor Joe Foss, during which TSA personnel failed to recognize and tried to confiscate his Medal of Honor, but very bad. Story here.
Anybody know the name of that “private message board?”
The nincompoops in Norfolk, Va claimed the six shooter design constituted a “replica” and was therefore prohibited. The poor girl missed her flight home to Jacksonville, Fl, and wound up being put on a flight to Orlando. All over a decorative element on a purse.
Newt Gingrich ought to start promising to eliminate the TSA.
In response to a Department of Homeland Security warning to airlines that it believes terrorists want to bypass full body scanners and blow up commercial airliners by planting bombs inside humans, the TSA has indicated it will intensify security procedures across the nation’s airports.
“The Department of Homeland Security has identified a potential threat from terrorists who may be considering surgically implanting explosives or explosive components in humans to conduct terrorist attacks,” an advisory to foreign counterparts notes, according to an unnamed U.S. security official.
The advisory says that the DHS believes terrorists could inject a detonating chemical into themselves to trigger the so called “belly bombs”.
The memo also reportedly states “Our Government has information indicating doctors have offered to help extremists surgically implant explosive devices in humans and animals for terrorist attacks.”
Officials claim that full body scanners currently being used in airports would not penetrate deep enough to detect such devices.
The anonymous official stated that there is no intelligence pointing to a specific plot or that any attack was imminent.
Al-Qaeda is attempting to procure nuclear material and recruit rogue scientists in order to build a radioactive “dirty bomb,” leaked documents published in Wednesday’s Telegraph newspaper revealed.
The cables, released by the WikiLeaks website, showed that security chiefs told a Nato meeting in January 2009 that Al-Qaeda was planning a programme of “dirty radioactive improvised explosive devices (IEDs).”
The makeshift nuclear bombs, which could be used against soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, would contaminate the surrounding area for years to come.
The leaked documents also revealed that Al-Qaeda papers found in 2007 convinced security officials that “greater advances” had been made in bio-terrorism than was previously feared.
US security personnel were warned in 2008 that terrorists had “the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb.”
A leading atomic regulator has privately warned the world stands on the brink of a “nuclear 9/11.”
Security briefings suggest jihadi groups are also close to producing “workable and efficient” biological and chemical weapons that could kill thousands if unleashed in attacks on the West.
Thousands of classified American cables obtained by WikiLeaks and passed to the Daily Telegraph detail the international struggle to stop the spread of weapons-grade nuclear, chemical and biological material around the globe.
At a NATO meeting in 2009, security chiefs briefed member states that al-Qaida was plotting a program of “dirty radioactive IEDs”, makeshift nuclear roadside bombs that could be used against western troops in Afghanistan.
As well as causing a large explosion, a “dirty bomb” attack would contaminate the area for many years.
The briefings also state that al-Qaida documents found in Afghanistan in 2007 revealed that “greater advances” had been made in bioterrorism than was previously realized. An Indian national security adviser told American security personnel in June 2008 that terrorists had made a “manifest attempt to get fissile material” and “have the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb”.
Alerts about the smuggling of nuclear material, sent to Washington from foreign U.S. embassies, document how criminal and terrorist gangs were trafficking large amounts of highly radioactive material across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
And the Telegraph published today the details of a series of nuclear trafficking incidents occurring in recent years.
Radiation alarms installed on the border crossing between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan sounded in November 2007 as a freight train travelling from Kyrgyzstan to Iran passed through Nazarbek rail station. Customs officials halted the train to perform an examination and found that a single carriage ostensibly packed with “scrap metal” was perilously radioactive. So high were the radiation levels that officials were instructed not to pass within five metres of the carriage, making it impossible to come close enough to open it. At the time of the last dispatch to Washington, sent in January 2008, the rail car was still unopened and remained in quarantine.
In November 2007, the US embassy in London received a telephone call from a British deep-sea salvage merchant based in Sheffield, who claimed that his business associates in the Philippines had found six uranium “bricks” at the site of an underwater wreck. The uranium had formerly belonged the US. The merchant provided nine photographs of the bricks, which he said his associates wanted to sell for a profit. It is not clear whether diplomats agreed to the purchase.
Officials in the US embassy in Uganda were approached in February 2008 by a source who claimed that a Congolese acquaintance had asked him to help find a buyer for some highly enriched pure uranium liquid. The source, a Ugandan gold merchant, said a potential sale to a Pakistani buyer in Kenya had fallen through due to the ongoing civil unrest in the east African county. A nuclear smuggling alert sent back to Washington states that the highly radioactive material may be transported across the Congolese border in Uganda in the next few days by train, bus or taxi.
In September 2009, two employees working at the Rossing Uranium Mine in Namibia smuggled almost half a ton of the uranium concentrate powder – known as “yellowcake” – out of the compound in plastic carrier bags. The theft was initiated by Namibian police officers who offered the two employees “exorbitant amounts of money” in a bungled sting designed to determine how easily uranium could be stolen. The two employees removed the yellowcake from a broken drum and scooped it into carrier bags which they placed into a skip and smuggled out of the compound on the back of a haulage truck. The police caught the thieves when they attempted to sell 24 bags containing 170kg (370lb) of the stolen yellowcake. The remaining 250kg was not intercepted and are likely to have been sold on to smugglers.
A car carrying three Armenian men set off a radiation detector on the Georgian-Armenian border in August 2009. The driver was waved through by guards after he claimed to have been injected with radioactive isotopes during surgery. When the alarm sounded again as the car returned from Armenia, the guards decided to carry out a search. They found that the car was contaminated with radiation throughout, but no nuclear material was discovered. Whatever radioactive cargo the car may previously have been carrying had already been delivered.
A Portuguese man walked into the US embassy in Lisbon in July 2008 offering to sell six uranium plates that had been stolen from Chernobyl – the site of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe in the USSR. The plates were in the possession of an ex-Russian general who was allegedly using a Portuguese judge to broker sales, he said. Officials reported that the source was a well-known “small-time hustler,” known as “The Giraffe” who was involved in “many scams”. The case was referred to the Portuguese police.
The Security Service of Ukraine arrested two private entrepreneurs and a prominent local politician in April 2009 as they attempted to sell a container of weapons-grade plutonium for $10 million (£6.3 million) in the western province of Ternopil Oblast. A security official told the embassy that the radioactive material could be “used by terrorists for making a dirty bomb”.
Airport security staff are being urged to examine “children’s articles” after US intelligence concluded that terrorists were plotting to fill them with explosive chemicals.
Terrorists are attempting to manufacture nitrocellulose, a chemical which can become highly explosive if tightly packed. Details of how to prepare the chemical, which cannot be detected by airport X-ray machines, have been found in al-Qaeda training manuals.
News10 (Sacramento) has a pretty outrageous story of official misbehavior on the part of the authorities.
An airline pilot is being disciplined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting video on YouTube pointing out what he believes are serious flaws in airport security.
The 50-year-old pilot, who lives outside Sacramento, asked that neither he nor his airline be identified. He has worked for the airline for more than a decade and was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit.
He is also a helicopter test pilot in the Army Reserve and flew missions for the United Nations in Macedonia.
Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff’s deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.
At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot’s gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.
A follow-up letter from the sheriff’s department said the CCW permit would be reevaluated following the outcome of the federal investigation.
The YouTube videos, posted Nov. 28, show what the pilot calls the irony of flight crews being forced to go through TSA screening while ground crew who service the aircraft are able to access secure areas simply by swiping a card.
“As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It’s only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here.”
Nate Anderson shares a story from a flyers’ forum that occurred in 2009.
I’m in line at Terminal E’s main TSA checkpoint at IAH [Houston’s main airport] and there are two gentlemen about 10-12 spots in front of me in line wearing kilts. No one is actually paying them much extra attention (and I have seen men in kilts before at IAH and other US airports) and we all continue toward the belts/bins… One of the “kilted” men was chosen for a random (as he did not alarm) secondary it seems; they had “placed” him into their magic plexiglass cube of indignity to do the pat down. Here is where it gets funny. I wait by the belt and slowly put my shoes on so I can hear and watch some of the fun.
The TSOgre says immediately, and I quote EXACTLY, “Why you wearin’ a skirt, bro?” The kilted traveler just kind of stood in a stunned silence. The TSOgre proceeds to pat the front and back of the torso down but then stops at the waist and calls a supervisor. Mister pay band F supervisor shows up and the TSA’s finest continue to chat about how to pat down the lower body. The line lackey TSOgre suggested the gentleman raise his kilt (no, I am not kidding…), to which the band F supervisor actually says, “That is not a good idea”. At this point the other kilted man had put his shoes back on and walked away and I had to go as well. When I left the kilted traveler was laughing and in good spirits.
TSA chief John Pistole recently drew the line at cavity searching airline passengers, explaining erroneously to the gaping idiots in the lamestream press that the terrorist would have to be carrying a detectable external detonating mechanism, and our current gropings and electronic strip searchers would find that.
Terrorists could, of course, conceal a radio-transmitting detonator in more or less any object. But, why worry about cavity bombs when al Qaeda is being reported to be making plans for surgically-implanted infernal devices.
Jihadis bent on concocting a “new kind of terrorism” are brainstorming how to surgically implant explosives to make undetectable Frankenbombers.
“What is your opinion about surgeries through which I can implant the bomb …inside the operative’s body?” an apparent mad surgeon recently asked an online forum used by Al Qaeda affiliates.
He called on bombmakers and doctors to cook up the perfect solution to murder “larger numbers of unbelievers and apostates.”
“I am waiting for the interaction of the experienced brothers to connect the two sciences together and produce a new kind of terrorism, Allah willing,” he wrote, according to a translation by terror experts at the SITE Intelligence Group.
The scheming comes amid controversy over body scanners and pat-downs in airports that some Americans complain are too invasive. The ideas for a “surgically booby-trapped martyrdom seeker” were chillingly concise for the doctor of death monitored by SITE.
Stitching a bomb into the abdominal cavity made of plastic or liquid explosives – such as semtex or PETN - was judged the best method.
“It must be planted near the surface of the body, because the human body absorbs shocks,” advised one terrorist.
Ron Ross, at the American Spectator, vents over the insanity of our government’s refusal to use profiling as the basis for airline security.
The Transportation Security Administration’s controversial passenger screening policies demonstrate just how distorted our priorities have become. We have maneuvered ourselves into being more terrified of being accused of racism than we are of death.
Political correctness is the equivalent of a societal lobotomy. Political correctness prevents us from using basic logic and common sense when we make large and small choices. We know what we need to do to make ourselves safer but we’re in denial about what we know.
As John Smith, a columnist for Las Vegas Review-Journal, asked in a recent column, “Patting down my disabled daughter makes us safer?” The answer to that question is no, and everyone knows the answer is no. The obvious absurdity of our policies is the backdrop of why so many travelers are frustrated and angry.
How ridiculous is it to pretend that all passengers have an equal probability of carrying weapons or explosives? Our rejection of profiling is a rejection of behavior that we use so much we lose sight of how essential it is in our lives. The TSA is behaving as if there are no outward signs of a passenger’s likelihood of committing a terrorist act.
Our policy makers are pretending that probability is irrelevant in making choices and designing policies. Taking into account probability is second nature to any normal person. If probability didn’t matter, you might as well go fishing on dry land as on a lake or river.
When we refuse to consider probability we severely reduce the probability of achieving our objectives—in this case preventing the violent deaths of innocent people. Refusal to consider probability in making choices is a symptom of insanity. A strong intuitive sense of probability is an indicator of intelligence.
Political correctness is making us look like fools who don’t even have an instinct for self-preservation.
NBC Los Angeles reports on one young lady’s solution to TSA’s security procedures.
Thousands of passengers were expected Wednesday at LAX, but only one left little to the imagination.
“I’m wearing my bikini,” Corinne Theile said as she unbuttoned her overcoat outside the terminal to reveal a black two-piece. “It’s not that I’m concerned, it’s that I feel like the TSA is making travelers feel uncomfortable, and I feel like we can have security measures that don’t make people feel uncomfortable.
“Every time I go through security I always say, ‘I don’t even know why I got dressed this morning.’ I end up taking off belts, jewelry and everything else off anyway,” Theile said.
“I don’t want to do a body scan, and I’m hoping by wearing a bikini they will see everything they need to see and we can avoid a pat-down, as well,” she said.
After arriving at her destination, Theile told NBCLA over the phone that the TSA agents got a laugh out of her outfit.
“The woman looked at me and said, ‘Girl, you wearing a bikini. Come right through.’ She had a big smile on her face,” Theile said. “I think this might be the way I travel from here on out.
Mark Hyman knows what needs to be done with regard to airline security, abolish the contemptible and offensive TSA and abandon political correctness, start following Israel’s example and profile.
It is long past time to disband the TSA. Replace it with an effective, free market system that actually works.
Critics of the TSA’s naked body scanners and intrusive pat-downs (including its genital probing) miss the biggest problem with this agency. It is the TSA’s premise that the 89-year old great-grandmother in a walker, the soccer team comprised of 11-year old girls, the two-year old toddler on the family vacation, the airline crewmember and the soldier traveling home from Iraq pose the same potential threat to airline safety as the Middle Eastern man traveling alone, without luggage, on a one-way First Class ticket that was purchased with cash. The TSA is fueled by political correctness run amuck. Its sole accomplishments to date have been establishing a sizable airport presence and humiliating passengers.
For a number of years following 9/11 I regularly flew between Baltimore and Atlanta. I was saddened at the all-too-frequent sight of a soldier dressed in his camouflage uniform on the way to or from his two-week R&R with boots off and the contents of his backpack strewn across the floor as a TSA agent nosed through the belongings to see what potential threat faced other air travelers.
No one has been spared the unwarranted indignities and gross violations of privacy perpetrated by the TSA.
In 2002, then-75 year old Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) was forced to strip down to his underwear because his artificial hip set-off alarms on the magnetometer. The issue is not that Dingell should undergo the same invasive inspections as everyone else. Instead, it is that the 99% of American airline passengers who do not raise meaningful red flags should not be subjected to such invasive inspections. (As an aside, I happen to believe members of Congress pose a greater threat to the American way of life when they are voting than when flying.)
Then-U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) was asked to produce a picture I.D. at the Washington National Airport security screening area before a 2002 trip. Reagan National is the airport used by nearly every member of Congress when flying. Burns showed the TSA screener his U.S. Senate identification. The official refused to accept the government-issued I.D. but allowed Burns to proceed to his flight when he produced his Sam’s Club shopping card as proof of identification.
Retired Brigadier General and former South Dakota Governor Joe Foss nearly lost his Medal of Honor when TSA officials threatened to confiscate it from him during a 2002 screening of his carry-on belongings. Believing the medal could be used as a weapon, the TSA screeners fortunately relented when the 86-year old showed them a photograph of President Franklin Roosevelt presenting the medal to him for his WWII heroics.
In 2003, a U.S. Army medic who was wounded in Afghanistan when he was shot in the jaw was grossly mishandled at San Francisco International Airport. His jaw wired shut, the soldier was given a small pair of wire clippers to use in the event he became air sick in order to keep from choking on his vomit. TSA officials confiscated his wire clippers and he was forced to fly from San Francisco to Texas even though flight attendants informed him there was nothing on board the aircraft to open his jaw in an emergency.
In 2004, a chartered airline flight rotating an Army unit back to the U.S. from an Afghanistan deployment was stranded on the tarmac at San Francisco airport for hours during a layover. The troops were not permitted to deplane to purchase food and drink nor to use the bathroom. TSA officials ruled the soldiers posed a threat to airport security because the unit’s weapons were stored in the cargo hold of the aircraft.
This quarantine of troops returning from combat is not isolated. A planeload of servicemen were detained at nearby Oakland airport on their last layover while en route Hawaii in 2007 after departing Kuwait a day earlier. In spite of having all baggage x-rayed and hand-searched before boarding their aircraft in southwest Asia, the troops were ordered by TSA to deplane near an outdoor baggage handling area if they wanted to stretch their legs. TSA prohibited them from entering the terminal as they posed a threat to airport safety. Troops returning from Vietnam may have been spat upon but at least they were permitted to visit the snack bar and men’s room.
Last year a retired assistant police chief who observed she had been chosen for additional screening with uncanny regularity during her frequent travels asked a TSA screener why it appeared so many women had been selected for secondary screening on that particular day. The answer, said the screener, was that cross-gender pat-downs were not permitted and on that TSA shift there was a shortage of male screeners so women were singled-out for further scrutiny.
One commercial airline pilot confided his frustration at continually being subjected to x-ray screenings and pat-downs. He told me that in the first 1500 feet of elevation after take-off and the last 1500 feet before touch-down that no other crewmember in the cockpit could prevent him from using the jetliner as the ultimate weapon if he wanted to fly the aircraft into the ground. “I’m in complete control and no one can stop me.”
Another commercial pilot who is a licensed Federal Flight Deck Officer and is permitted to carry a sidearm onboard his aircraft reports that half of the time after checking in with the TSA he is whisked through security. The rest of the time he is instructed to place his weapon in his carry-on bag and run it through the x-ray machine to determine if he possesses any objects that might pose a threat in flight. It is as if the script writers on Saturday Night Live are making up the rules.
It is not as if the TSA is a highly professional workforce merely following asinine rules. In 2003, TSA baggage screeners at La Guardia airport were given the answers in advance of their certification exam to ensure an appropriate number of screeners were cleared to work. ...
Congressman John Mica (R-FL) reported that under the watchful eye of the TSA, at least 17 known terrorists evaded screeners and traveled on 23 occasions from eight U.S. airports utilizing SPOT methodologies. Among these was the failed Times Square bomber who was apprehended just prior to boarding his flight to Dubai. Meanwhile, TSA screeners continue to poke, grope and fondle longtime airline crewmembers who are merely trying to do their job.
Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that “at least 23” TSA workers have been fired since 2007 for stealing from passengers. There are numerous reports of TSA workers having also been fired for drug use, perpetrating pranks on passengers and other misbehavior. From a numerical standpoint, more TSA employees than terrorists have been caught who pose a threat to Americans.
The rash of reports of TSA officials humiliating passengers and overstepping the bounds of common decency underscore the agency is indeed broken. One surmises it is only a matter of time before it is discovered that naked body scanner operators are swapping graphic images of runway models and other attractive people who are forced to enter the voyeurs’ playground. ...
Obviously U.S. airports require a competent security screening program. Two programs offer a model. Anyone who has crossed from Tijuana into California at the busiest border crossing in the world has witnessed U.S. border agents who observe, profile and question the public in order to narrow the field to those who legitimately require secondary inspection.
The same is true of the system at Tel Aviv Airport. Airline security officials in Israel are not required to be politically correct and give the third degree to a Danish school teacher on holiday for every Palestinian they further scrutinize. Israel’s El Al Airlines has had a rather impressive security record and it does not rely on humiliating elderly widows or terrorizing toddlers.