Suggestions from a FAM

Old Jun 14, 07, 2:37 am
  #1  
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Suggestions from a FAM

Ran across this at
patterico.com
and thought it might interest some here.

"I asked another one of the air marshals I quoted the other day for ideas about how to improve air security. Here’s what he said, with my occasional annotations in brackets:

Everything I mention is open-source stuff, nothing SSI [sensitive security information].

1. Screening for vendors and workers that have access to the airplane and tarmac but that aren’t going to actually fly anywhere. A lot of these workers receive little or no screening because they never enter the sterile area of the airport.

2. Better explosives screening at the checkpoint. We have almost none now. The magnetometer can’t screen for explosives, nor can the x-ray machine. We need one-stop shopping. My phone can make and edit movies, play mp3s, check email and make phone calls and probably a thousand other things I don’t know it can do. We can’t devise one machine that’s a combo metal detector and explosives detector?

3. Faster, more efficient processing of lines into airports. This is a tough one. We need to give screeners the time to do their jobs but we also need those lines moving. If I were a suicide bomber that would make a tempting target, all those people packed together and unable to flee.

4. Stop wasting time with nonsense like cigarette lighters. Focus.

5. Shoes. End this time waster. If you have the ability to detect explosives then you don’t need people taking off their shoes and slowing down the process.

6. No LEOs [law enforcement officers] should be forced to pre-board. It defeats the purpose of having them on board. This is an airline rule and can be changed immediately. Unfortunately the FAMS doesn’t want to press this issue too much because the airlines are resisting it and they have a lot of political clout. If a LEO’s identity has been established by the ticket agent and/or the gate agent as well as the TSA and/or local airport LEOs, how much is enough? Redundancy gets to the point of diminishing returns after a point.

7. Find some way around screening for LEOs. If they have to call the local LEOs, who then verify their credentials, and circumvent security through some other egress/entrance, then so be it. Or TSA. Or whatever authorizing agency they wish. But LEOs should not be paraded in front of the very people they will be flying with who now know they have a gun. This is beyond silly.

8. Ease the process to become a FFDO [Federal Flight Deck Officer, or “armed pilot”]. While many of the FFDOs are worrying about such mundane matters — like whether or not they need a badge, or whether they should be allowed to carry their gun to their kid’s soccer match — the basic idea of an armed last line is a good one. They need little training because all their scenarios are lethal force. If you’re breaking down the door, then lethal force is justified. There are a number of hurdles, though, for the FFDO program. Scrap the psych test (if they can fly the plane I’m on, I trust them with a gun — likewise, if they’re too crazy to have a gun, why am I on his/her plane?), have all initial and especially recurrent training at FAM offices (which is more convenient for the pilot and would save money for the government in the long run). The FFDOs are chasing the boondoggle of 24/7 carry and badges and LEO status and carrying their guns on overseas flights. Maybe some of this is important and maybe not, but we need to focus on the mission first, and that is protecting the flight deck. We need more of them and we need to make the adjustments that will accommodate this, be it Mr. McLean’s idea of the shotgun (or pistol) in every flight deck (which would eliminate all the need for badges/creds/etc.) or some streamlining of the current procedures.

9. More intel to the guys and gals out there on the front lines. Most of us get our intel from CNN or Fox News. The grapevine gets some stuff around, but not as much as occurs. The debrief and lessons learned is an integral part of the process. Don’t make the next team to encounter a situation have to reinvent the wheel.

10. If ID is so important, why do contract employees (many English-challenged) check IDs to boarding passes, and keep the TSA out of this loop? If we want TSA to do behavior profiling and the like, why are we taking this step out of their hands? If ID checking is not important, why are we doing it? It makes little sense to me to divide this labor. This is a valuable opportunity to gather intelligence and look for people who just don’t fit, and we’re giving it to different groups who don’t communicate with one another.

11. Better training for the TSA in rapport-building. First, going through security is a pain and a little demeaning. Making it as pleasant as possible can only help. Second, and most importantly, it gives them an opportunity for said behavioral profiling. “Morning sir. You excited about flying today?” “Not really, I’m heading to Newark for a damn day full of ridiculous meetings and then catch a flight back tonight. My company won’t even spring for a room for the night!” “Ouch. I don’t envy you sir! Well, good luck and hope it all works out ok!”

That’s just a B.S. example, but do you think every bad guy has the acting chops to pull something like that off? If the screeners were personable they could learn a lot about who’s flying. Look for the terrorist, not the weapon. Lots of things can be made into weapons. But they all need a bad guy to wield them. Be looking for him.

That’s pretty much it for now. I’m sure someone will mention something else that will make me smack my head but for the moment that’s all I can come up with.

Mostly we need to Keep It Simple Stupid, and try to make everything as streamlined as possible. Don’t do twelve things where three would do. One-stop shopping is more efficient. Stop deliberately outing the people with the guns. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Talk to your people and get them engaged in the process. They have a lot of good ideas because they’re out there actually doing the job. Listen to them on occasion. Focus on the threat, not the sideshow.

Good ideas. What do you think?"

Last edited by Top Tier; Jun 14, 07 at 2:08 pm Reason: fixed link
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Old Jun 14, 07, 6:09 am
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Excellent Post!
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Old Jun 14, 07, 6:58 am
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This is beautiful. It's full of common sense, therefore none of the items in it will be implimented. But thank you for posting it.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 9:01 am
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This guy makes far too much sense. Too bad the TSA is not a security program but a federal jobs program where the point to employee as many people without concern for results.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 9:37 am
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Wow. What could I possibly add to that?

Bruce
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Old Jun 14, 07, 9:41 am
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Or, allow for free competition in providing airport and airline security services.

I wonder what he would have said to that, given that most of his problems there would be gone almost immediately upon the government's ending its nationalization of this industry.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 9:53 am
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That FAM is a Flyertalker! OK...fess up...who is it...come out come out wherever you are

The only source of such great ideas has been right here at our friendly TS/S forum.

A couple things to clarify...when he writes A lot of these workers receive little or no screening because they never enter the sterile area of the airport, that is not exactly correct. By being "inside the fence", they are in the airport sterile area - and many of them have access to walk up a jetbridge and right into the terminal building, such as the cleaners and caterers. They have badge access, but they are not screened when they come to work and can very easily transfer a harmful object to an aircraft or someone inside the terminal - this is one of the key exploits that needs to be closed and the easiest one in the world for an organization to take advantage of. Of course, Admiral Kip still thinks all aviation security threats walk through the passenger checkpoint, so why bother

I don't agree with the extent of the FFDO program that he supports. In my opinion, the FFDO training and limitations must clearly establish that firearms be transported to and from the flight deck in a locked container, and that the FFDO's authority to remove the gun or use it begins and ends at the fight deck door - and any possession (outside the lockbox) or use of the gun outside the flight deck is as a private citizen, subject to the prevailing gun and self-protection laws in place in the State where the usage/possession occurs. The only exception is being able to carry the locked container to/from the airport when on duty as a pilot, even if the State law prohibits possession of a firearm.

Other than those two points, I think this FAM should be given a gold medal.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 10:00 am
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Suggestions from a FAM

Finally, a solution to our current problems! Find these two FAM's and let them take over the admin of TSA and we might all get back to the days of actually enjoying our time in airports.
We're just back from CDG via BNA & PHL. Leaving next week for LGW via BNA & IAH (with a quick jaunt to WHP in between) and dreading every minute of it. That and having to spend $700 for two new camera cases to comply with the BAA insanity of one carryon and anyone who has the brains and logic of these two FAM's needs to be given the security reins as fast as possible.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by Top Tier View Post
...behavioral profiling. “Morning sir. You excited about flying today?” “Not really, I’m heading to Newark for a damn day full of ridiculous meetings and then catch a flight back tonight. My company won’t even spring for a room for the night!” “Ouch. I don’t envy you sir! Well, good luck and hope it all works out ok!”
I pretty much agree with the post except for the above behavioral profiling. When I have to explain free movement in my own country with anything other than "nunya", I am done flying domestic.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 12:00 pm
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outstanding post and as MKEbound and others have said, it makes way too much sense for the tsa to even attempt to figure out how spot on this is .

again, kudos to this fam (and yes, also hoping he/she is a f/t'er) but it's a shame that the politics involved within the tsa and the fam program will probably keep this from seeing the light of day as remember, no-one in mgmnt in either of these two agencies wants to rock the boat-which is exactly what this excellent article does --the boat does need to be rocked. again, kudos to this fam!
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Old Jun 14, 07, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by boiflyer View Post
I pretty much agree with the post except for the above behavioral profiling. When I have to explain free movement in my own country with anything other than "nunya", I am done flying domestic.
Word

If I'm ever profiled, the BDOs () will get nothing out of me except "yes,no and don't know". So what happens then, one wonders ? DY...T

And I bet I could get profiled every time just by acting the part. If I can, so can a bad guy. Can you say "decoy" ?
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Old Jun 14, 07, 1:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Top Tier View Post
Ran across this at
http://patterico.com/
and thought it might interest some here.
Thanks for the posting.

In the name of posterity, here's the permalink (once this rolls off the page):

Another Air Marshal with Suggestions About Improving Air Security
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Old Jun 14, 07, 2:23 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by essxjay View Post
Thanks for the posting.

In the name of posterity, here's the permalink (once this rolls off the page):

Another Air Marshal with Suggestions About Improving Air Security
I hope they don't find out his real name...or another FAM with a shred of common sense will be pink slipped.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Wally Bird View Post
Word

If I'm ever profiled, the BDOs () will get nothing out of me except "yes,no and don't know". So what happens then, one wonders ? DY...T

And I bet I could get profiled every time just by acting the part. If I can, so can a bad guy. Can you say "decoy" ?
They can see where I'm flying by looking at my boarding pass. Beyond that, they can pound sand. I'm a citizen.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 4:14 pm
  #15  
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A good, common-sense post from a common-sense LEO. I particularly liked the suggestions about further steps to protect FAM/LEO identity and the streamlining of the FFDO program.
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