Tag Archives | Air Travel

Homeland Security Study Proves You Can Find Weapons If You Believe in Them

Cyriaque Lamar writes on io9.com:

Looking for something you’re sure you won’t find? Even if the item you seek is close by, a doubtful attitude reduces your chances of finding it, claims a new study funded by the US Department of Homeland Security.BagScanResearchers simulated the conditions of an airport security checkpoint and instructed subjects to search for weapons. LiveScience reports that the monotony of the searches and increasing rarity of the weapons decreased subjects’ attention spans:

They asked subjects in the lab to look at X-ray scans of checked baggage, as if they were airport screeners. In one trial, 50 percent of the scans showed a gun or knife in the bag. In this test, subjects did fairly well, only missing the weapons about 7 percent of the time.

In another trial, the guns and knives appeared much more infrequently — in only 2 percent of bags. This time, subjects missed the weapon 30 percent of the time.

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Pirate Party Protests ‘Naked’ Scanners in Their Underpants

Pirate PartyVia The Local:
Despite the frigid temperatures outside, the protesters assembled nearly naked groups at airports in Berlin, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf on Sunday afternoon. The participants stripped down to their underpants, marching behinds signs that read: “No need to scan us — we’re already naked.” A statement on the party's website said they opposed the new security scanners because they threaten the “private sphere and the personal rights of passengers.” Germany's data protection commissioner, Peter Schaar, warned officials last week not to rush the implementation of the full-body scanners at airport security stations following a failed terrorist attack in the US last month. Critics are concerned that the devices, which allow security personnel to see through clothing, have not been improved enough to protect passengers' personal rights.
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TSA Threatens Blogger Who Posted New Screening Directive

TSABloggerKim Zetter writes on WIRED’s Threat Level:

Image: TSA Special Agent John Enright (left) speaks to Steven Frischling (right) after returning his laptop, outside of Frischling’s home in Niantic, Conn., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009.

Two bloggers received home visits from Transportation Security Administration agents Tuesday after they published a new TSA directive that revises screening procedures and puts new restrictions on passengers in the wake of a recent bombing attempt by the so-called underwear bomber.

Special agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection interrogated two U.S. bloggers, one of them an established travel columnist, and served them each with a civil subpoena demanding information on the anonymous source that provided the TSA document.

The document, which the two bloggers published within minutes of each other Dec. 27, was sent by TSA to airlines and airports around the world and described temporary new requirements for screening passengers through Dec. 30, including conducting “pat-downs” of legs and torsos.

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Why Are We So Bad at Detecting the Guilty and So Good at Collective Punishment of the Innocent?

GreatDayToFlyChristopher Hitchens writes on Slate:

It’s getting to the point where the twin news stories more or less write themselves. No sooner is the fanatical and homicidal Muslim arrested than it turns out that he (it won’t be long until it is also she) has been known to the authorities for a long time. But somehow the watch list, the tipoff, the many worried reports from colleagues and relatives, the placing of the name on a “central repository of information” don’t prevent the suspect from boarding a plane, changing planes, or bringing whatever he cares to bring onto a plane. This is now a tradition that stretches back to several of the murderers who boarded civilian aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001, having called attention to themselves by either a) being on watch lists already or b) weird behavior at heartland American flight schools. They didn’t even bother to change their names.

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Calling Shenanigans on the Christmas Terror Plot Narrative

From Nick P. at Black Sun Gazette: Perhaps I'm just used to looking for such things, but the narrative being crafted regarding Christmas' plot to blow up an airplane is highly suspect. My first feelings of uneasiness came after it was reported that the Nigerian man who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day was tied to Yemen. Pretty fucking convenient considering that both rhetoric and action against Yemen have been ratcheted up in the last couple of weeks. As the story continues to unfold, there are increasing reasons to question the official story.
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New TSA Security Regulations in Light of Christmas-Time Double-Header Scare

AirTerrorJeffrey Goldberg writes on the Atlantic:

Sometimes the stupidity is too much to bear. From the new guidelines for international air travel:

U.S.-bound passengers aboard international flights must undergo a “thorough pat-down” at boarding gates, focused on the upper legs and torso.

Thanks for letting us know, TSA, that the search should be focused on the upper legs and torso. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, pat-downs that ignore the crotch and the ass are useless. We recently saw in Saudi Arabia the detonation of a rectal bomb, so it really doesn’t take much creativity to imagine that terrorists will be taping explosives to their scrotums. Of course, TSA is not going to be feeling-up people’s scrotums anytime soon, so the question remains: Why does our government continue to make believe that it can stop terrorists from boarding civilian planes when anyone with half-a-brain and a spare two minutes can think up a dozen ways to bypass the symbolic security measures at our airports?

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