Category Archive 'Airline Security'
07 Jan 2013

TSA in Action Story

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Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor USMC (ret.)

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?”

07 Mar 2012

TSA’s Nude Body Scanners Debunked

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Hat tip to Amy Alkon.

03 Dec 2011

17-Year-Old Girl Misses Flight When TSA Flags Pistol Design on her Purse

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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.

News4Jax.com

26 Oct 2011

A Note From Your Luggage Inspector

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A TSA inspector was moved by something he saw in a young lady’s luggage to leave her a note of encouragement.

Alarmed at potential bad publicity from the victim of this intrusion’s tweet, TSA removed the employee responsible from screening operations and issued an apology. TSA Blog

So, the moral is evidently that it’s ok if low-grade rent-a-cops paw through your underwear and unmentionables, as long as they refrain from sharing their glee at what they get to see with you.

06 Jul 2011

Latest Airline Terror Plan: Surgically-Implanted Explosives

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Infowars:

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.

02 Feb 2011

Telegraph Finds Wikileaks Details on Al Qaeda Plans for Dirty Bombs, Nuclear Smuggling, and Childrens’ Articles Filled With Explosives

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The Telegraph has found some alarming information in Wikileaks’ collection of stolen cables.

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.”

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The Vancouver Sun mentions a few more details.

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.

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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”.

During the summer of 2009, Russian customs officers reported three incidents in which cobalt-60, a highly radioactive substance, was detected in passenger trains travelling from Kazakhstan to Russia. A large number of passengers were exposed to the radiation. The authorities seized 500g of the substance.

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Also, in the Telegraph:

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.

28 Jan 2011

Gatwick Security Identifies 3″ Toy Weapon as “Firearm”

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Security forces at Gatwick Airport recently detected an assault rifle concealed in hand luggage and prevented it being smuggled aboard a departing aircraft.

Daily Mail:

The crouching, camouflaged figure is most certainly armed. But few would say he was dangerous.

Security officials disagreed however when he passed through a scanner at Gatwick Airport.

His three-inch, plastic toy gun was branded a ‘firearm’ and banned from a transatlantic flight.
model soldier

The plastic Royal Signaller was bought by tourist Julie Lloyd as a present to take home to her husband Ken, a recently retired policeman in Toronto, Canada.

Mrs Lloyd, 59, who regularly visits Britain to see her mother, said: ‘I took it to the airport still in its wrapping, but they discovered the little gun when it was scanned.

‘It is only about three inches long and there are no moving parts. There isn’t even a trigger.

‘But they wouldn’t let me take it with me. I had it in my hand luggage. I just didn’t think it would cause a problem. They said rules were rules. There was no flexibility or common sense.’

24 Dec 2010

TSA Punishing Pilot for Video Criticising Security

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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.”

More from Fox News.

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Neither of these news organizations bothered to supply a link to the original video. YouTube searches are not turning it up so far. I’ll keep looking and post it when I find it.

10 Dec 2010

TSA Confounded by the Kilted

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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.

06 Dec 2010

TSA Searches Continue, But Terrorists Have Other Options

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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.

New York Daily News:

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.

Al Qaeda has already used a remotely detonated cavity bomb in an assassination attempt on the Saudi head of counter-terrorism.

02 Dec 2010

PC, Not Profiling

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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.

01 Dec 2010

“Help You Make It To Your Flight”

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Buck Howdy’s song tribute to the TSA.

Via Theo.

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