Airport security in a post-COVID-19 world

Old May 19, 20, 7:06 am
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
My understanding is that the OIG is an independent office within the DHS umbrella, not an agency level activity.
You are correct; I should have said the leak came from inside DHS (either TSA or OIG).
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Old May 19, 20, 7:14 am
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
I seem to recall that being a I think the OIG teams function a bit differently (that is just a guess based on the way some of their published info is written), although they have the same ultimate goal.
Inspections' covert testing teams are made up professional security specialists while OIG's covert testing team is/was made up of regular everyday folks (accountants, lia-, um, lawyers, mgmt. analysts, etc.) who were given some training and guidance for the their tests by the specialists from Inspections.
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Old May 19, 20, 9:22 am
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
Inspections' covert testing teams are made up professional security specialists while OIG's covert testing team is/was made up of regular everyday folks (accountants, lia-, um, lawyers, mgmt. analysts, etc.) who were given some training and guidance for the their tests by the specialists from Inspections.

OIG's staff and inspectors mostly all have degrees in some professional discipline whereas TSA's inspection team members could be made up of TSO's who have moved up through the organization but may have little advanced education? I would think either group could conduct good inspections giving the nod to the OIG's team for diving into policies and seeing if required elements are being met. Regardless if memory serves me correctly both OIG and internal inspections showed TSA to do a poor job of screening.
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Old May 19, 20, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
OIG's staff and inspectors mostly all have degrees in some professional discipline whereas TSA's inspection team members could be made up of TSO's who have moved up through the organization but may have little advanced education? I would think either group could conduct good inspections giving the nod to the OIG's team for diving into policies and seeing if required elements are being met. Regardless if memory serves me correctly both OIG and internal inspections showed TSA to do a poor job of screening.
Agreed that both can do the job well - given the correct tools.

Published information (or leaked, whichever way it found the light of day) tends to agree with your final assessment.
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Old May 19, 20, 12:46 pm
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Exclamation Moderator's Note: Topic Drift

Folks,

While some natural deviation from the topic of the thread is fine, please try keep the focus of the discussion on "Airport security in a post-COVID-19 world" and not rehash what has already been debated ad nauseam in this forum.

Thank you,

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Old May 19, 20, 2:05 pm
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Yes, both sets of covert testing showed there was (recent testing shows there continues to be) tremendous room for improvement. What was a bit surprising to many observers was how much worse results of OIG testing were than results under TSA internal testing.

To get this back on track - if, due to COVID, procedures move to less intrusive "hands-on" screening and technology doesn't change, I believe it is likely at internal test results will get worse - not much room for OIG test results to get worse.
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Old May 19, 20, 4:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
Yes, both sets of covert testing showed there was (recent testing shows there continues to be) tremendous room for improvement. What was a bit surprising to many observers was how much worse results of OIG testing were than results under TSA internal testing.

To get this back on track - if, due to COVID, procedures move to less intrusive "hands-on" screening and technology doesn't change, I believe it is likely at internal test results will get worse - not much room for OIG test results to get worse.
I maintain, even more so in the current/post COVID-19 world, that TSA should rely heavily on personal history coupled with criminal history for weeding out the least trustworthy individuals as a screening starting point. Even then, carry-on and checked baggage screening discovers the majority of contraband. The process could begin when a person purchases a ticket and if a questionable history is indicated use all available screening tools for those people. For those less suspect use a more expedited screening process. That still leaves all tools available if they are needed for certain screenings. I would even go as far as suggesting if a person is found with an artfully concealed weapon that their day gets real bad at that point, travel plans interrupted, and a trip to the lockup while held for arraignment. I mean a real functional weapon. TSA could continue confiscating harmless items even though I think that is going overboard. Seriously, no one has ever been threatened by a Sock Monkey pistol, leather embossed purse, a perfume bottle, or a cupcake in a jar to name a few major TSA big catches..

The post COVID-19 world gives TSA an excellent opportunity to finally bring some intelligence to airport passenger screening. I hope TSA avails itself to this once in a lifetime chance to fix the agency.
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Old May 20, 20, 8:20 am
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I am not at all in favor of the main first sentence of the suggestion. It may sound somewhat reasonable but there are significant civil rights problems with the approach. The checkpoints are administrative searches which means the government must apply the search criteria equally to any passengers going through the checkpoint. The government cannot, in general, apply secret, subjective standards/criteria for deciding whom to search and whom to not search (discussion of "selected at random" and "spotnik surveillance" not included here). Participants in trusted traveler programs are treated differently because the participants volunteer for (and actually pay extra!) for additional scrutiny before getting near the checkpoint. The problems with the suggestion are similar to the problems with the no-fly-lists: what are the criteria, how are they applied and who decides when someone is one of the "least trustworthy"? I am not privy to the algorithms for how folks get "SSSS" but I know it's is not rigorous - I have unescorted SIDA privileges at multiple airports and yet I still get the dreaded Ss... so I would not trust the gubmint with such a system - too much ability for the Neanderthals running our "security" to abuse/cause mischief to less favored persons/groups.
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Old May 20, 20, 3:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
I am not at all in favor of the main first sentence of the suggestion. It may sound somewhat reasonable but there are significant civil rights problems with the approach. The checkpoints are administrative searches which means the government must apply the search criteria equally to any passengers going through the checkpoint. The government cannot, in general, apply secret, subjective standards/criteria for deciding whom to search and whom to not search (discussion of "selected at random" and "spotnik surveillance" not included here). Participants in trusted traveler programs are treated differently because the participants volunteer for (and actually pay extra!) for additional scrutiny before getting near the checkpoint. The problems with the suggestion are similar to the problems with the no-fly-lists: what are the criteria, how are they applied and who decides when someone is one of the "least trustworthy"? I am not privy to the algorithms for how folks get "SSSS" but I know it's is not rigorous - I have unescorted SIDA privileges at multiple airports and yet I still get the dreaded Ss... so I would not trust the gubmint with such a system - too much ability for the Neanderthals running our "security" to abuse/cause mischief to less favored persons/groups.

Is SSSS or any form of Managed Inclusion the equal application of TSA's search criteria?

TSA claims to use Risk Based Screening methods currently. Guess that's not true. I suggest nothing that isn't currently available to the government. It takes nothing away from TSA's current toolbox yet adds immensely to the ability to provide passenger screening in a safe, efficient manner.

The hard part, for TSA, would be writing the policy and matrix detailing what steps to take under certain conditions. Guess TSA could hire some 5th graders! This could all be computer generated when a person buys, or shortly after buying a ticket. Screening staff would still have the ability to escalate when needed. I could even see random full Monty screenings. I think this method of screening could be termed "Intelligence Based Screening" something that TSA has successfully avoided to this day.

Isn't that the whole purpose of TSA, to conduct effective, safe screenings, which could help TSA move to a current and post COVID-19 world?
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Old May 21, 20, 8:56 am
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TSA prepared for summer travelers with updated security procedures

Key points...
Keep possession of their boarding passes.Instead of handing their boarding pass to a TSA officer at the travel document podium, travelers should now place their boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader themselves. After scanning, travelers should hold their boarding pass toward the TSA officer to allow the officer to visually inspect it. This change reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a passenger’s boarding pass thus reducing potential for cross-contamination.

Separate food for X-ray screening. Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection. This requirement allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food and reduces potential for cross-contamination. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.

Pack smart. Passengers should take extra care to ensure that they do not have any prohibited items, such as liquids, gels or aerosols in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces, in their carry-on bags (water bottles, shampoo). In response to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers are required to remove the hand sanitizer from the carry-on bag before being submitted for X-ray screening. If a bag is found to contain a prohibited item, passengers may be directed to return to the divestiture table outside of security with their carry-on bags to remove the item and dispose of the item. The passenger may also be directed back outside of security to remove, items that should have originally been divested (such as laptops, liquids, gels, and aerosols, and large electronics) and resubmit their property for X-ray screening. By resolving alarms in this manner, TSA officers will need to touch the contents inside a carry-on bag much less frequently, reducing the potential for cross-contamination.

Practice social distancing. Passengers should allow for social distancing to reduce direct contact between employees and travelers whenever possible without compromising security. Noticeable adjustments leading up to the security checkpoint include, increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors and staggering the use of lanes where feasible. No two airports are alike, so this could look a little different at each airport.

Wear facial protection. TSA officers at checkpoints are now using facial protection. Travelers are encouraged to wear face protection to the checkpoint as well. Please note, however, passengers may need to adjust it during the screening process. Travelers are also encouraged to remove items such as belts, and items from their pockets, like wallets, keys and phones, and put them directly into their carry-on bags instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.
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Old May 21, 20, 12:53 pm
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Finally giving up boarding pass scribbling! Never understood that one. No scribbling on my phone but god they loved to do it on paper. Then again, when was a TSA decision ever driven by common sense?
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Old May 21, 20, 5:16 pm
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Originally Posted by 84fiero View Post
Apparently passenger temperature checks went in the bin as they should have. If the airlines want to check temperatures then just do it.
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Old May 23, 20, 8:19 am
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Just watched a newscast talking about the changes to passenger screening that TSA is implementing. The one change that caught my attention and was suggested in this thread was that during carry-on bag x-ray screening a passenger will unpack their bag if there is an alarm. Of course that idea was poo poo'd here as well. I'm going to guess that there will be some limitations to this policy if it is even accurate. A weapon or possible explosive signature surely won't be allowed back into passenger hands. I have no plans involving an airport right away so hope we have some reports from those who do fly.
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Old May 23, 20, 9:42 am
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Just watched a newscast talking about the changes to passenger screening that TSA is implementing. The one change that caught my attention and was suggested in this thread was that during carry-on bag x-ray screening a passenger will unpack their bag if there is an alarm. Of course that idea was poo poo'd here as well. I'm going to guess that there will be some limitations to this policy if it is even accurate. A weapon or possible explosive signature surely won't be allowed back into passenger hands. I have no plans involving an airport right away so hope we have some reports from those who do fly.
So many of our most cherished principals have been trashed by the fear of terrorism, I have little confidence that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause any substantive walkback of TSA screening policies.

TSA is all about security theater, so highly visible measures like masks and gloves, increased lane spacing, and painted marks on the floor to increase social distancing, will be implemented, but reducing the amount of physical contact with pax or their possessions will be paid no more than lip service. For the moment, we're in a period of uncertainty where people are making all sorts of suggestions, but things will settle quickly once the country is on the path to reopening, and any changes made during the emergency will be reverted on the principal that, "Well, the emergency has passed."

I do expect the agency to pay more attention to protecting their own staff. They will undoubtedly provide masks (expensive ones, probably custom TSA branded), copious amounts of hand sanitizer at the checkpoint and in all workspaces, possibly portable hand washing stations at the checkpoints or in breakrooms. They may provide free testing on a regular basis. I doubt that the union will allow any major changes to sick policies, i.e. subjecting TSOs to temperature screenings or medical evaluations when they show up for their shift, but the testing might become mandatory. I fully expect TSA to bully their way into hoarding tens of thousands of testing resources, despite the urgent need in the still active hot zones.
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Old May 23, 20, 4:20 pm
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Your post is nothing but suppositions about what TSA ďmightĒ do. Itís laughable that you are complaining about the future. Have you got a crystal ball?

So donít hold back, Iím sure you want to complain about me for calling you out.
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