Tag Archives | TSA

How To Israel-ify America’s Airport Security

c1a61f52fdee1e3e142f9c0130e7_grandeSecurity screening at North American airports is inconvenient and invasive, yet at times seems as if it’s all for show. How could it be done better? In Israel, they examine behavior rather than shoes or crotches. The Toronto Star enlightens us:

While North America’s airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience. Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002. How do they manage that?

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

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TSA to Punish Passengers who Opt-Out of Virtual Strip Search with Non-Virtual Groping

TSAJeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has published a piece on his experience opting-out of the back-scatter body scanners at Baltimore-Washington International:

At BWI, I told the officer who directed me to the back-scatter that I preferred a pat-down. I did this in order to see how effective the manual search would be. When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them — the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down — said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?”

I answered, “If you’re a terrorist, you’re going to hide your weapons in your anus or your vagina.” He blushed when I said “vagina.”

“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area” — this is the word he used, “crotchal” — and you’re not going to like it.”

“What am I not going to like?” I asked.

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Body Scanner Vans: Are They In Your Neighborhood?

Via Allen Greenberg‘s blog at Forbes:

As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

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Feds Admit Storing Checkpoint Body Scan Images

TSA's X-ray backscatter scanning with "Privacy Filter" (Credit: TSA.gov)

TSA's X-ray backscatter scanning with "privacy filter"

Declan McCullagh reports on cnet News’ Privacy Inc:

For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they’re viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”

Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.

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For Airport Security, Size Matters

Photo: Miami-Dade Police

Photo: Miami-Dade Police

Via the Smoking Gun:

A Transportation Security Administration screener is facing an assault rap after he allegedly beat a co-worker who joked about the size of the man’s genitalia after he walked through a security scanner. The May 4 confrontation involved Rolando Negrin, 44, and other TSA employees who had previously taken part in a training session at Miami International Airport, according to the below Miami-Dade Police Department reports.

Negrin, pictured in the mug shot at right, and his co-workers had been training with new “whole body image” machines — the controversial kind that provide very revealing images of a traveler — when Negrin walked through the scanner. “The X-ray revealed that [Negrin] has a small penis and co-workers made fun of him on a daily basis,” reported cops. Following his arrest, Negrin told police that he “could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind.”

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TSA Detains Student for Arabic Study Cards; Asked By Agent ‘Do You Know Who Did 9/11?’

Arabic Study CardsRAW Story is reporting today the ACLU is filing a lawsuit on behalf of the student. Here’s the original report from Dave Davies in the Philadelphia Daily News:

EIGHT YEARS after 9/11, we’re used to changes in our routines. We show ID to get into office buildings, and take off our shoes at airports. But should a college student flying back to school be handcuffed and held for five hours because he has Arabic flash cards in his backpack?

That’s the way Nick George, a senior at Pomona College, in California, sees what happened to him at the Philadelphia airport two Saturdays ago. George, of Wyncote, Montgomery County, was about to catch a Southwest flight back to school when stereo speakers in his backpack caught the eye of screeners at the metal detector.

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Screener At LAX Accused Of Possessing Child Porn Was Also Catholic School Teacher

TSA agent (not Alfaro!)Thanks to Martin for sending us this story from CBS:

They are in charge of checking you and your luggage at the airport; making sure the skies are safe and sometimes coming close to you or your kids in the process.

But now a TSA screener at LAX has been arrested for possessing kiddie porn — pictures of girls as young as six.

Billy Alfaro was caught with more than 1,500 video files seized on his home computer, according to documents obtained by CBS 2 News. Alfaro lived with his parents in South L.A.

On Alfaro’s computer, a task force comprised of secret service agents allegedly found video files, such as one named “toddler girl.” According to a federal complaint, the video showed a young girl under the age of seven performing a sex act.

It goes on to say Alfaro admitted downloading child porn, confessed to looking at pictures of children under the age of six, but claimed he was saving those images to provide to law enforcement.

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U.S. Airport Security Plan Calls For 500 Body Scanners In 2011

total_recall_skeleton“No wonder you’re having nightmares. You’re always watching the news.” – Lori in Total Recall

By Thomas Frank at USA Today:

Body scanners that look under airline passengers’ clothing for hidden weapons could be in nearly half the nation’s airport checkpoints by late 2011, according to an Obama administration plan announced Monday.

The $215 million proposal to acquire 500 scanners next year, combined with the 450 to be bought this year, marks the largest addition of airport-security equipment since immediately after the 9/11 attacks. There are only 40 body scanners in a total of 19 airports now.

“It’s a move in the right direction,” aviation-security consultant Douglas Laird said. “We need to scan all passengers.”

The push for more scanners accelerated after the failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb an airliner near Detroit. Suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded Flight 253 in Amsterdam after walking through a metal detector with powder explosives hidden in his underwear, authorities say.

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