LaGuardia is closed and PHL and Newark are facing major delays because there aren't enough TSA workers willing to work without pay to keep them open. I'm supposed to be flying from Burbank to Oakland today for the Grand Reopening of the Public Domain at the Internet Archive and I'm getting really nervous. Read the rest
Say you work at the government agency with the lowest morale of any Fed job and then Cheeto Hitler decides to treat you like a casino contractor and not pay you, for thirty days, and recommends that you do chores for your landlord to stop from getting evicted -- what do you do? Get musical: playing Sicko Mode or No Sleep Til Brookly or Misery Business or perhaps the theme from Halloween? (via Reddit) Read the rest
A man carrying a firearm in his carry-on luggage got past the TSA screeners at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and flew with it to Narita International Airport on January 3. This occurred during the government shutdown, after "hundreds of TSA agents from at least four major airports had called in sick," according to CNN.
The man, flying on Delta Airlines, had apparently forgotten that the gun was in his bag. Once he remembered he was carrying it, he informed Delta, who then reported it to TSA. It's not clear when the passenger disclosed this information to Delta.
"TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the morning of January 3," the release states.
The security breach came two weeks into the government shutdown, during which TSA agents have been required to work but have not received paychecks. CNN first reported on January 4 -- a day after the breach -- that hundreds of TSA agents from at least four major airports had called in sick.
TSA, however, denies that the shutdown had anything to do with their security lapse, claims that they were completely staffed that day, and states that they will "hold those responsible appropriately accountable."
In four days, federal employees will suffer their first missed paycheck since Trump's border wall shutdown; it's hard to say who will be worst hit: the employees who are furloughed will never see that money (but who may have been able to pick up some other work while they were off the job to cover their bills); or the "essential" federal employees who've had to show up for work every day without pay, but who will, someday, get a paycheck to cover their forced labor. Read the rest
A new report summarizing three years of investigationsfrom the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the TSA calls out the agency for its "toxic leadership culture, misconduct, mismanagement, whistleblower retaliation and obstruction," citing these as the reason for the agency's 20% annual attrition rates. Read the rest
The Transportation Safety Agency makes use of dogs to track down contraband, bombs and other stuff that we're better off never seeing onboard an airplane. It takes a pooch with a particular temperament to be trained for this sort of work. Not all dogs are well-suited for the job. Unfortunately, while you can make broad guesses, based on breed, on which dogs may be a good fit for identification or tracking work, there's no way to tell if an individual doggo will be any good at it until you put them to the task. In instances where dogs are found to be less than desirable for the sort of work the TSA has in mind for them, they're pushed to the side -- almost like any other animal you'd find at a local shelter. The only difference is that the TSA's castoffs aren't nearly as visible, making finding them a good home a difficult task.
If you're thinking about adopting a pooch from a shelter, maybe take a look at the TSA Canine Training Center Adoption Program. Where the agency usually makes our lives a lot more difficult than they need to be, looking to them to find your family's new best buddy could make the process of discovering the perfect pooch dead easy.
In order for potential dog owners to qualify for a pooch from the TSA Canine Training Center Adoption Program, they'll have to be able to fulfill a few reasonable criteria:
From the TSA:
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-- You must have a fenced in yard at the time of applying.
A new facial recognition technology screening system will soon be used on some travelers who pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Read the rest
Harvard grad student Zainab Merchant is detained and invasively searched every time she flies; she's tried extensively to end this harassment, applying for Global Entry and Precheck, writing to her members of Congress, and trying to run through the DHS's Redress procedure. Read the rest
Late last month, the Boston Globe published a blockbuster scoop revealing the existence of "Quiet Skies," a secret TSA program that sent Air Marshals out to shadow travelers who were not on any watchlist and had committed to crime, on flimsy pretenses like "This person once visited Turkey." Read the rest
Documents obtained by CNN outline a plan to eliminate TSA security screenings at more than 150 small and medium sized airports that mostly service planes with 60 seats or fewer. Read the rest
Assigned to covertly observe and, if necessary, violently protect air travelers on flights which include passengers on a TSA terrorist watch list or on routes that are considered to have a higher probability of coming under attack in a terrorist action, federal air marshals have been a fixture on many flights since the September 11th attacks of 2001. That we seldom hear about the work that air marshals do is a very good thing. It means that we’re safe as we travel and that they’re very good at keeping a low profile as part of doing their job. It’s a gig that anyone should be proud to do. However, the pride that comes with quietly and professionally protecting folks may be in for a bit of tarnish thanks to a disturbing new program launched by the TSA called Quiet Skies.
As part of Quiet Skies, air marshals are being asked to step off of the flights that they’ve been assigned to protect to undertake a new detail: gathering intelligence on civilians who aren’t on a terrorist watchlist – regular folks like you and me. Unlike ICE, which giddily has accepted a larger number of troubling new powers and responsibilities from the federal government, the air marshals are voicing their concern with the new marching orders being given to them.
From The Boston Globe:
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Since this initiative launched in March, dozens of air marshals have raised concerns about the Quiet Skies program with senior officials and colleagues, sought legal counsel, and expressed misgivings about the surveillance program, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Globe.
Federal Air Marshals are furious that they have been tasked to follow thousands of Americans who are not on any watch-list and not suspected of any crime; they shadow these people (who are selected for surveillance on the basis of flimsy criteria like once having visited Turkey) and send minute-by-minute updates to the TSA, noting whether their targets are sleeping, using more than one phone, waiting until the last minute to board their planes, observing boarding areas from a distance, and other innocuous behaviors. Read the rest
We all know that the TSA maintains a secret watchlist of suspected terrorists who are somehow suspicious enough that they can be denied the right to fly or be subjected to humiliating screenings (but not suspicious enough to charge with any crime), but it turns out that that TSA has another watchlist of problem fliers -- people who've complained about TSA screeners, as well as people who are accused of having "assaulted" screeners (the definition of "assault" includes women who've removed screeners' hands from their breasts). Read the rest
This baggage handler looks like she's been at her job for a long time, effortlessly tossing luggage down the slide as if they were bags of marshmallows. Hopefully, marshmallows are what's in that luggage because anything else is likely to break. Read the rest
The project of making planes secure from terrorist attacks is an inescapable nonsense: nonsense because there's no way to screen millions of people to prevent a few dedicated ones from bringing down a plane (no, really); inescapable because no lawmaker or policymaker will ever have the courage to remove a measure that has previously been described as "essential for fighting terrorism" even if it was only ever security theater intended to assuage low-information voters. Read the rest