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On all five flights this weekend the "randomly" screened pax was the 1st one in line

On all five flights this weekend the "randomly" screened pax was the 1st one in line

Old Mar 14, 02, 9:16 pm
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Actually JeffS, the PanAm bombing had nothing to do with an accomplice or a woman of any type. What happened and was confirmed by the court and intelligence means, is that Lybian agents placed a very sophisticated bomb that used both a timer and a special trigger to detonate the bomb in the air. The agents checked the bag in Malta and then never boarded. That is one of the reasons why bag matching occurs. It is interesting that the Lybians did not have suicidal agents and still don't.

Also there is alot of things that I would like the Nat. Guard troops to have if we really believe that there is a threat of direct action attack at an airport. MP5's are not one of them. Most concourses are wide open and would allow/necessitate a longer reaching weapon. They should have chest armor at a minimum and better coms and tactical placement for this type of duty.

robvberg is offline  
Old Mar 14, 02, 9:28 pm
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While it depends on the airline/airport, there are three different types of screening going on. Only one of the three is "random screening".

One is the profiling by the CAPS software the airlines are all using. It will indicate on the screen or boarding pass that the person needs additional screening based on some factor that fit the profile, or they may print out a list to use at the gate. They were not randomly selected, they were profiled.

Second is the continuious screening. That is where somebody has to be screened all the time the plane is boarding, until everybody is onboard. By definition, the first person in line then has to be screened. If he's not then they are not continuiously screening people. It's not random, it's the first person in line, when they are done with them, they take the next person coming by, unless one of the profiled people gets put in queue. Why anybody would be first in line when this has been going on for so many months is beyond comprehension.

The last is random, where the same profiling software picks some set number of people at random for additional screening. If they told you how it was being done, then it wouldn't be random.

So while the first person is almost guaranteed to be selected, it's not a random selection, they were chosen because they were first in line. When they are done, the next person will be selected, that too isn't random, it was because they were next in line. It'd not random the guy who paid cash and is on the watch list was picked for screening, they were profiled.
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Old Mar 14, 02, 10:35 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by JeffS:
Remember Pan Am - Lockerbie? The "terrorist" was an unwitting woman accomplice. Yes, it was checked baggage but the lesson still applies.</font>
I think you're confusing a couple of incidents. The unwitting woman accomplice was "caught" on an El Al flight from, I believe, Ireland to Israel. And what's even more disgusting about using her is that she was pregnant with the terrorist's kid!

I believe the Pan Am flight went down due to a bomb in a radio that was put in the checked baggage.
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Old Mar 15, 02, 7:16 am
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mdtony & robvberg: Thanks for the corrections; I did have the two incidents confused.
This web site has a good analysis of the Lockerbie bombing:


cordelli: Even if they pick the first person in line every time aren't the subsequent picks random?
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Old Mar 15, 02, 8:17 am
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So why be a sacrificial lamb up for slaughter by being first to try to board? Sigh.
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Old Mar 15, 02, 9:40 am
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Flew BWI-LAX-FAT last night.

BWI-LAX they grabbed the first two for screening, and then each time a screener finished with someone, they grabbed the next person to pass through the line.

I was darn tired by the time I caught the 10:16pm RJ up to FAT. I meandered over to the line and wound up first. They tagged me over for special screening. I said, "ah, the curse of being first in line, right?" and the screener said "yep."

I replied, "then it isn't very random, is it?" She shrugged and said, "we just have to keep busy screening someone."

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Old Mar 15, 02, 12:57 pm
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I've always liked the way Mexican airports have that button you push to randomly decide if you get extra screening or not during immigration. Seems like the most fair and random way to do it.

Why not do something like that in US airports? Right before boarding the plane, hit a button. If it lights up red, get in line for extra screening, if its green, get on the plane.

Make it adjustable, so that during times of heightened security, one out of 5 people get tagged, while during lesser times maybe one out of 20.
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Old Mar 15, 02, 3:29 pm
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---First Class is where the "Thugs" are gonna sit, I know it. That's why the "Sky Marshalls" insist on getting a seat "up front". It has nothing to do with the bumpy ride & narrow seats in the back. On the other hand, the "Security Professionals" at screening are "Highly Trained-Front Line Defenders" of our freedom, while always being "on the look-out" for "bad guys". Keeping us safe is their "one & only" goal. I know it because last Wednesday morning @ LAX I was attacked by what appeared to be a "South L.A.Crip's Gang" flashing signs and verbally abusing everyone that "ran the gauntlet" @ the primary screening area (terminal 7). I'm not sure if they were "Crip's" though, because they wore "Pink Carnations"! It really makes me feel safer now that the government has taken over, and put all of these uneducated, illiterate, morons in a position of UNSUPERVISED authority. Unable to find enough "QUALIFIED" highschool graduates, the solution appears to be that "busing" is back.

[This message has been edited by TUFBEAR (edited 03-15-2002).]
Old Mar 16, 02, 9:31 am
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Last week I was on a flight SEA-DEN where I noticed some hapless guy standing up there waiting to get on first. I was thinking, "what an idiot" as he was pulled aside to get what I call "the treatment". As he got onto the plane 5 minutes later, he told me that the gate security screening person told him that "FAA regulations require that we screen the first and fifth passenger"! There are just so many things wrong with that statement, I don't know where to begin. I guess this is the new, better trained government employees we've heard all about.
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Old Mar 16, 02, 4:27 pm
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Yep, first in line have pretty good odds of getting searched. So does one way tickets.

Earlier this week, me and three of my colleagues had one way tickets and we presented at the same time with our "S" marked boarding pass. It really got the screener worried at the gate. She ran for help and did us like a factory... Checked everyones' metal, then everyones' bags, then shoes etc. It was really funny.

Another predictable trigger.
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Old Mar 17, 02, 4:54 pm
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3/13/02 LAX-LAS---I was 1st on the plane-no secondary screening-------3/14/02 LAS-LAX---I again was 1st on the plane-no secondary screening------3/15/02 LAX-LAS---my wife & I we're 1st two in line to board-YEP-secondary screening- Asked the gate agent why, the first two in line (both 1k's), were "profiled" & informed that this has been the new FAA rule, for weeks--"1st two 'MUST' be screened again @ the gate, no exceptions"-------3/17/02 LAS-LAX-my wife & I again-1st two on the plane-nope, no secondary screening. "Nin-com-poops", all of them. No wonder people are afraid to fly.

[This message has been edited by TUFBEAR (edited 03-17-2002).]
Old Mar 17, 02, 4:59 pm
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Yes, they do always seem to check the first 2-3 in line. All you need to do let a few people get in line in front of you, even if you are a 1K and could board first, to avoid the problem. Terrorists, of course, will never notice this!
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Old Mar 18, 02, 12:12 am
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The key word mentioned by a poster is "continuous screening."

The screeners are told they need to continuously screen, so they take the first of second person in line, screen that person, and whent they are done, go on to the next.

Of course, that means that 1Ks, FC, etc that are first in line or towards the front of the line, have the best chance of being screened (happened to me in Chicago).
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Old Mar 18, 02, 3:30 am
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Tuffbear, While I am not a airline security employee, I take exception to you and others comments about the security employees. I am ex military. The people doing this type of job might be less educated and beneath your elevated status, but in general they do not do this job to get even with 'their betters'. They are trapped by the same stupid rules that we are. None of which they have created. When some of them try to use logic the system bites back. Atleast some incidents that people have decried as examples of stupidity are the result. Would you knowingly disregard a stupid rule if you know that it could result in you being fired and the airport being shut down for that decision. I would guess not, even if it means looking like a fool for pulling some lady in a wheelchair shoes off.

The whole system is up in the air with the change over. Many of the complaints right after 9-11 and even more recently, have been about the lack of consistency. So guess what, people are now reaping the results. Just as lawyers say that we need to put warnings on everything, the government writes rules with no exceptions. That means if the rule says nothing with an edge or point is allowed onto a plane the security personel have to find those nail clippers. It also means that when one FAA agent says that an airline is not doing enough random checks because he sees a screener standing around during a boarding, the rest of the airline makes sure that does not happen again.

The whole point about area security is that it should be robust and complete enough that a potential attacker is unsure of his ability to succeed in his operation. It is not possible to defend against everything. It does not mean that every failure is a true failure. It really does not matter if a random person happens to get a knife onto a plane. Because that individual likely either did not know that he was breaching security or expected to be caught and was surprised to succeed. That is the category reporters usually fall into. They can do a test, if caught they claim that they are doing an expose and the security passed. If they succeed they do the opposite story. A terrorist cell has many consequences from failure. First they lose an operative and most likely have a part of their organization compromised as well as methods/technology.

That is why the government runs security tests to find out how likely it is to actually breach security at a specific time and place. Many of the reports of constant 'failure' actually will mean that terrorists will perceive the airlines as a possible target. It probably is part of the reason that Reid alone or through some affilated sponsor tried to pull of the bombing of the AA flight.

What has been lost in the shuffle is that the 'security idiots' you describe did not have a failure on 9-11. The items that we know were used were allowed by FAA policy. It also shows us that the terrorists were afraid of being compromised. They did not take the risk of using weapons that were not allowed, they even tried to insure that a large number of middle eastern descent did not check in at the same airport and time. (sending one group to Maine to check in and then connect through Boston). That is the result of the terrorists being very wary of those 'stupid screeners'

I guess I would like posters to think about this before they go off on the next screener. I would also like to see some of the posters who think that they could do so much better try it. I have pulled sentry duty, I have worked a security check point, I have checked people entering a high capacity bar, and other similar duties. It is not easy to stay focused on a threat that at any one time is basically zero. I equate this job as being similar to assembly line work. It takes a very specific type of individual to do this job with any effectiveness. It also is a job that requires a balancing of effectiveness and speed. If we really want it to be fast then either you can take nothing on board or we learn that some items are going to slip through. Those failures can easily be corrected by a policy that dictates that pilots will not give up control of the aircraft.

I also have had the habit of thinking about keystone cops when I see some security officials, but I also know that they are just a small part of the security spectrum and have a specific function to perform. When judged against their actual responsibility, they usually do fine.

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Old Mar 18, 02, 3:38 am
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Robert - thank you, your post adds a lot for my better understanding.
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