"Like Lord of the Flies": working at the TSA really sucks

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 wants you to give their dogs a good home

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:

-- You must have a fenced in yard at the time of applying.

Read the rest

TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX

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

TSA racially profiles Muslim woman, makes her show her bloody sanitary towel

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

TSA: the fact that our secret surveillance program hasn't caught anyone means it's working

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

TSA might end security screenings at 150 U.S. airports. Experts say it's dangerous.

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

TSA "Quiet Skies" surveillance program targets innocent U.S. citizens

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:

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.

Read the rest

Quiet Skies: Air Marshals are following thousands of random Americans through airports and on planes, for no articulatable purpose

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

The TSA has a secret enemies list of people who've complained about screeners

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

Baggage handler gives zero f*cks

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

Behold! The astonishing mental gymnastics of TSA apologists explaining why rich people don't need to be screened

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

TSA remains bafflingly incompetent

The folks who make every visit to the airport intolerable are doing it without providing any results. ABC once again finds that the TSA nearly unable to stop folks from illegally carrying a handgun on to an aeroplane. The TSA does, however, make life miserable for breast-feeding mothers, and diabetics who need to travel with fluids or die, and pretty much everyone else.

Via ABC:

In recent undercover tests of multiple airport security checkpoints by the Department of Homeland Security, inspectors said screeners, their equipment or their procedures failed more than half of the time, according to a source familiar with the classified report.

When ABC News asked the source familiar with the report if the failure rate was 80 percent, the response was, “You are in the ballpark.”

In a public hearing following a private, classified briefing to the House Committee on Homeland Security, members of Congress called the failures by the Transportation Security Administration "disturbing."

Read the rest

TSA says it doesn't know why United thought comics were banned from checked Comic-Con luggage

People flying home from San Diego Comic-Con yesterday got a rude surprise when they spotted signs at the United check-in warning them not to put comics in their checked bags -- and most assumed it was the TSA's doing, a reasonable assumption given that the agency has been repeatedly trialling programs to search passengers' literature for exploding words for some months. Read the rest

Saudi Airlines confirms that American laptop ban on U.S.-bound flights from Saudi has ended

The U.S. government's ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in the cabins of flights from Saudi Arabia to the United States has been lifted, Saudi Arabian Airlines confirmed today. Read the rest

After travel industry outcry, TSA will end Trump-era ban on laptops for flights to U.S. from Middle East

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration today said it was lifting a ban on carry-on electronics such as laptops for passengers on Saudi Arabian Airlines flights headed to the U.S..

This is the last carrier under the restrictions to have been permitted to now ignore those new restrictions. Somehow this is apparently all making America Great Again and So Safe. Read the rest

LAX: a new online tragicomedy is "a mash-up of Locke and Girls"

Paul Bennun writes, "The incomparable Sarah Warren, (creator of feminist slapstick spy caper MLE) has launched a brand new tragicomedy web series called LAX on YouTube, keeping with the TLAs. Read the rest

TSA to require some electronics out of bags at 10 U.S. airports starting Memorial Day weekend

The TSA will be testing out expanded screening for carry-on electronics larger than a phone and certain food items at selected airports around the country. The new rules come just two days after a major terrorist attack in Manchester, UK, and stepped-up security in response.

The TSA says they're “testing security screening procedures for carry-on bags at 10 U.S. airports” only, and “There are no changes to nationwide procedures.” Read the rest

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