Editor’s Note – Recently, I had the great displeasure to fly across the country for a family event. The displeasure certainly was not with the event, rather, it was an abysmal airline experience.
It should never take over 24 hours from the time one leaves their home to arrive at their destination in 2015.
Of course, many have had similar experiences due to weather issues, mechanical issues, or a host of other reasons, but in this age of packed flights, tighter quarters, fees charged for everything, rude fellow travelers, and surly employees, the last thing we need is to know we are not at all safe.
During the same week when I crossed the country, the massive failure that is the TSA in detecting nefarious devices was revealed, and even more mind-boggling are the holes in our security communications at DHS between its own agencies.
Senator Ben Sasse R-Nebraska wrote about the first problem uncovered:
Last week, a classified inspector general investigation was leaked, delivering the shocking news that the Transportation Security Administration failed to stop weapons and explosives from passing airport checkpoints 96% of the time.
As a member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and — more important — as a dad who frequently flies with my kids and wife, I am appalled by this inexcusable national security lapse. But outrage is not enough.
Before they board another flight, the American people deserve the truth. Without giving our enemies specific technological or strategic information that would expose new vulnerabilities, President Obama has an obligation to declassify the inspector general’s investigation and to publicly release everything else the administration knows about TSA’s failures.
Here is what the public already knows: TSA failed to stop undercover individuals from smuggling weapons and explosives past checkpoints 67 times out of 70 attempts. Our families are only as safe as our weakest TSA checkpoint. After 9/11, it became inescapably clear that, although we have to be right every time, terrorists need to succeed only once. What happens when we are wrong 96% of the time?
Here is what keeps me up at night: The publicly available facts are disturbing, but the classified details are even worse. Millions of families will soon fly to summer vacations, but if moms knew what members of Congress have learned behind closed doors, they would march on Washington demanding an urgent, top-to-bottom reevaluation of airport security. (USA Today)
Then we learn today that the TSA was kept out of the loop regarding 73 airline employees with ties to terrorism that should have been on their no-fly list. The DHS does not trust the TSA, why should we?
Feeling safe and comfy in that tiny seat? Don’t complain, you may get kicked off as well and end up on that list.
TSA Fails to Identify 73 Employees With Links to Terrorism
A new Government Accountability Office report found that the Transportation Security Administration failed to identify 73 aviation employees with active clearance badges with links to terrorism.
The people, who were employed by major airlines, airport vendors and other employers, were not identified because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current inter-agency policies, the report said.
The agency’s “multi-layered process to vet aviation workers for potential links to terrorism was generally effective. In addition to initially vetting every application for new credentials, TSA recurrently vetted aviation workers with access to secured areas of commercial airports every time the Consolidated Terrorist Watchlist was updated,” the report found.
“However, our testing showed that TSA did not identify 73 individuals with terrorism-related category codes because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current interagency watchlisting policy.”
Further, the thousands of records used to vet employees contained such incomplete or inaccurate data as lacking a full first name or missing social security numbers. TSA ran into particular problems in the vetting process when potential aviation employees has not committed crimes and were legal resident or citizens.
“Without complete and accurate information, TSA risks credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for workers with potential to harm the nation’s air transportation system,” the report found.
The GAO recommended that TSA “request additional watchlist data, require that airports improve verification of applicants’ right to work, revoke credentials when the right to work expires, and improve the quality of vetting data.”
Editor’s Note – Every state, county, and the vast majority of municipalities in the USA already have police forces, so why do we need federal TSA inspectors/agents patrolling our transportation hubs and routes? At a minimum, this is another example of the extended reach of the Executive Branch of the federal government.
We already have the FBI, so why do we have so many federal agencies now amongst our communities? Yet, our borders are sieves, the TSA gropes 4-year old kids and old ladies at our airports, and we have border check points well with-in our borders in the southern states along the Mexican border to try and find the ones that got by on the border.
It looks far more like the tyranny of government than it does homeland security.
Why Is It Necessary For The Federal Government To Turn The United States Into A Prison Camp?
There has been no society in the history of the world that has ever been 100% safe. No matter how much money the federal government spends on “homeland security”, the truth is that bad things will still happen. Our world is a very dangerous place and it is becoming increasingly unstable. The federal government could turn the entire country into one giant prison camp, but that would still not keep us safe. It is inevitable that bad stuff will happen in life. But we have a choice. We can choose to live in fear or we can choose to live as free men and women. Our forefathers intended to establish a nation where liberty and freedom would be maximized.
But today we are told that we have to give up our liberties and our freedoms and our privacy for increased security. But is such a trade really worth it? Just think of the various totalitarian societies that we have seen down throughout history. Have any of them ever really thrived? Have their people been happy? Unfortunately, the U.S. federal government has decided that the entire country needs to be put on lock down. Nearly everything that we do today is watched and tracked, and personal privacy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Many of the things that George Orwell wrote about in 1984 are becoming a reality, and that is a very frightening thing. The United States is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sadly, we are rapidly becoming the exact opposite of that.
I don’t know about you, but I never signed up to live in North Korea. When I was growing up I was taught that repressive regimes such as North Korea are “the bad guys” and that America is where “the good guys” live.
So why do we want to be just like North Korea?
When they put in the naked body scanners at U.S. airports and started having TSA agents conduct “enhanced pat-downs” of travelers, I decided that I was not going to fly anymore unless absolutely necessary.
Then I heard about how “random bag checks” were being conducted at Metro train stations in the Washington D.C. area, and I was glad that I was no longer taking the train into D.C. anymore.
But now the TSA is showing up everywhere. Down in Houston, undercover TSA agents and police officers will now “ride buses, perform random bag checks, and conduct K-9 sweeps, as well as place uniformed and plainclothes officers at Transit Centers and rail platforms to detect, prevent and address latent criminal activity or behavior.”
So now I have another thing to add to my list of things that I can’t do anymore.
No more riding buses for me.
But the truth is that you can’t escape this expanding security grid no matter how hard you try.
Look, every society needs some level of security. There are always bad guys out there that want to harm innocent people.
But in the United States we must demand that those in charge of our security do their jobs in a way that does not compromise our dignity, our liberties or our freedoms.
Does having TSA thugs touch the private parts of old women and young children before they get on their flights keep us any safer?
Of course not.
But it does move our country in a very dangerous direction.
The reality is that this “Big Brother control grid” that is being constructed all around us is expanding in a thousand different ways.
For example, a new bill before the U.S. Congress would require black box data recorders to be installed in all new vehicles starting in 2015. These black box data recorders will be able to constantly transmit data about everything that your car is doing to the government and to the insurance companies. The following is from a recent article by Eric Peters….
And naturally, they – the government, insurance companies – will be able to track your every move, noting (and recording) where you’ve been and when. This will create a surveillance net beyond anything that ever existed previously. Some will not sweat this: After all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why worry? Except for the fact that, courtesy of almost everything we do being either “illegal” or at least “suspicious” we all have a great deal to hide. The naivety of the Don’t Worry, it’s No Big Deal crowd is breathtaking. Did the average Soviet citizen also “not have anything to hide,” and hence why worry?
But the last possibility is probably the creepiest possibility: EDRs tied into your car’s GPS will give them – the government and its corporate **** ******* (edited for language) – literal physical control over (hack) “your” vehicle. This is not conspiracy theorizing. It is technological fact. Current GM vehicles equipped with the same technology about to be mandated for every vehicle can be disabled remotely. Just turned off. All the OnStar operator has to do is send the appropriate command over the GPS to your car’s computer, which controls the engine. It is one of the features touted by OnStar – of course, as a “safety” feature.
In the future, it will be used to limit your driving – for the sake of “energy conservation” or perhaps, “the environment.” It will be the perfect, er, vehicle, for implementing U.N. Agenda 21 – the plan to herd all of us formerly free-range tax cattle into urban feedlots. So much easier to control us this way. No more bailing out to the country or living off the grid – unless you get there (and to your work) by walking.
Even when you are sitting at home you are still being watched and monitored in countless ways.
For example, every single call you make on your cell phone is intercepted and monitored by the government.
Your Internet activity is tracked and monitored by a whole host of government agencies as well. If you doubt this, just read this article.
CISPA creates an exception to all privacy laws to permit companies to share our information with each other and with the government in the name of cybersecurity…. CISPA’s ‘information sharing’ regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like internet use history or the content of emails, to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command. Once in government hands, this information can be used for any non-regulatory purpose so long as one significant purpose is for cybersecurity or to protect national security.
Frightening stuff, eh?
I want you to imagine a scenario for a moment. Imagine that the government assigned two “watchers” to you that followed you everywhere you went and stared directly into your face the entire time.
Would you feel comfortable?
You don’t have anything to hide, do you?
Well, of course the truth is that none of us would like having our privacy constantly invaded. It is not pleasant to constantly feel like you are being watched.
That is why all of these new “security measures” are so alarming. A system is being set up where all of us are being constantly watched and monitored 24 hours a day.
And most Americans have no idea how fast the transition to full martial law could potentially be.
Barack Obama recently updated an old executive order that has been around for decades that would enable him to take charge of all food, all energy, all health resources and all transportation resources in the United States with the stroke of a pen. This new update would allow him to do it even in “non-emergency” situations.
This means all of our water resources, construction services and materials (steel, concrete, etc.), our civil transportation system, food and health resources, our energy supplies including oil and natural gas – even farm equipment – can be taken over by the President and his cabinet secretaries. The Government can also draft U.S. citizens into the military and force U.S. citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of “national defense.” There is not even any Congressional oversight, only briefings are required.
Later on in her letter, Representative Granger even used the phrases “martial law” and “government takeover” to describe the power that Barack Obama potentially has under this executive order…
It is still unclear why this order was signed now, and what the consequences are for our nation – especially during times of peace. This type of Martial Law imposes a government takeover on U.S. citizens that is typically reserved for national emergencies, not in a time of relative peace.
Do you trust Barack Obama with that kind of power?
Unfortunately, considering the really bad decisions that all of our government officials regularly make, it is really hard to trust any of them to do the right thing at this point.
The American people need to let their voices be heard on these issues. If not, the federal government will continue to strip away our privacy, our liberties and our freedoms until everything is gone.
Do you want your children to grow up in a country that has been turned into a giant prison camp and that more closely resembles North Korea than it does the nation that our forefathers originally founded?
If not, please do what you can to speak out against these abuses.
The truth is that the federal government does not really even care about our national security anyway.
If they did, they would secure our borders. Just today I read that the National Guard is withdrawing 900 troops from the U.S.-Mexico border. Our border security is already a total joke and now it is going to be even worse.
Over the past several decades, tens of millions of people have crossed that border illegally. Every single day, terrorists, drug dealers, gang members, sexual predators and a whole host of other “bad guys” could be crossing that border and we would never even know about it because we aren’t doing anything to stop it.
For nearly 60 years, the U.S. government has successfully protected the border between South Korea and North Korea, but the U.S. government flatly refuses to protect our own borders.
Until the federal government decides to do what the U.S. Constitution requires them to do and start protecting our borders, then the federal government should not be asking any of us to make a single sacrifice in the name of “security”.
The truth is that we can have a reasonable level of security in this nation without giving up the liberties and the freedoms that millions of Americans have shed their blood to protect.
We do not need to turn the United States into a giant prison camp. America is supposed to be the land of the free, and we need to work hard to get that dream back.
Editor’s Note – TSA should stand for “T”yrants, “S”caring “A”merican kids, the elderly, and everyone for that matter. No they are not all bad people, but we sure do hear a lot of bad stories – who designed these procedures, and who trains these morons?
Its just gone way to far – TSA agents, and we use that term generously, along with their administration have gone over the edge. How many stories do we have to see, witness, hear, or endure ourselves? Last we looked, every single terrorist in the air was a Muslim. ALL OF THEM!
Funny, these two little girls don’t have beards, are not chanting Allah hu Akbar, they are not young middle eastern men in the 20 or 30 something category, so why? On top of this lack of brain matter, the TSA screeners are often the people you would not allow to baby-sit your child anyway. Anyone who would defend this is even more callous – they followed procedure?
Well, so they followed procedure, that was the response – well, the procedure line is not a panacea, it just means the procedures are WRONG! The people who designed the procedures are WRONG also! Is anything the federal government doing working well?
Its not just the kids, the elderly, the infirmed, its everyone, like U.S. Rep. Francisco Canseco in San Antonio who was basically assaulted. (Read Below)
TSA defends pat-down of 4-year-old at Kansas airport
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The grandmother of a 4-year-old girl who became hysterical during a security screening at a Kansas airport said Wednesday that the child was forced to undergo a pat-down after hugging her, with security agents yelling and calling the crying girl an uncooperative suspect.
The incident has been garnering increasing media and online attention since the child’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer of Montana, detailed the ordeal in a public Facebook post last week. The Transportation Security Administration is defending its agents, despite new procedures aimed at reducing pat-downs of children.
The child’s grandmother, Lori Croft, told The Associated Press that Brademeyer and her daughter, Isabella, initially passed through security at the Wichita airport without incident. The girl then ran over to briefly hug Croft, who was awaiting a pat-down after tripping the alarm, and that’s when TSA agents insisted the girl undergo a physical pat-down.
Isabella had just learned about “stranger danger” at school, her grandmother said, adding that the girl was afraid and unsure about what was going on.
“She started to cry, saying ‘No I don’t want to,’ and when we tried talking to her she ran,” Croft said. “They yelled, ‘We are going to shut down the airport if you don’t grab her.'”
But she said the family’s main concern was the lack of understanding from TSA agents that they were dealing with a 4-year-old child, not a terror suspect.
“There was no common sense and there was no compassion,” Croft said. “That was our biggest fault with the whole thing — not that they are following security procedures, because I understand that they have to do that.” (Read the rest here.)
Family Misses Flight After TSA Gives Pat-Down To Girl With Cerebral Palsy
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Transportation Security Administration is once again the subject of national scrutiny, this time after aggressively screening a 7-year-old female passenger with cerebral palsy which caused her family to miss their flight.
The girl, identified as Dina Frank in a report by The Daily, was waiting with her family on Monday to board a flight departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York headed to Florida.
Since Dina walks with the aid of leg braces and crutches, she cannot pass through airport metal detectors, and must instead submit to a pat-down by TSA agents.
Dina, who is also reportedly developmentally disabled, is usually frightened by the procedure. Her family reportedly requests that agents on hand take the time to introduce themselves to her.
However, the agents on duty at the time began to handle her aggressively instead.
Air travel is difficult to the family due to Dina’s disabilities, but the nature of Monday’s inspection was especially traumatic for the child.
“They make our lives completely difficult,” her father, Dr. Joshua Frank, a Long Island pediatrician, told The Daily. “She’s not a threat to national security.”
Frank taped the encounter, which ended when a supervisor inspected her crutches and let them pass. But agents followed up and insisted upon doing a full inspection of Dina.
Ultimately, the family missed their flight.
“They’re harassing people. This is totally misguided policy,” Frank told The Daily. “Yes, I understand that TSA is in charge of national security and there’s all these threats. [But] for her to be singled out, it’s crazy.”
Dina, from Long Island, had recently experienced triumph after Botox and phenol injections helped her to gain control of her legs, enough to take several unassisted steps.
After being born prematurely and suffering from bleeding in the brain, Dina struggled for years to get around, even enduring a double hip replacement to assist in her recovery, CBS New York reported.
U.S. Rep. Francisco Canseco said he was assaulted by a TSA agent at the San Antonio International Airport.
The Texas Congressman said the security agent went too far during a pat-down earlier this month.
“The agent was very aggressive in his pat-down, and he was patting me down where no one is supposed to go,” said Canseco. “It got very uncomfortable so I moved his hand away. That stopped everything and brought in supervisors and everyone else.”
Canseco told the KENS 5 I-Team the agent said he too was assaulted when Canseco pushed his hand away. (Read the rest here.)
By Scott W. Winchell – SUA reported on the use of TSA officers in a joint operation on Tennessee highways several months ago. The question is, upon the creation of the TSA, what legal authority allowed the Executive Branch any sort of permission or wrote any overt intent into law that would allow them to act as sworn and trained police officers, anywhere, especially outside any airport?
It seems that the Obama administration, through Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano, has done what is becoming commonplace in this administration, expanding the powers of the Executive Branch beyond its Constitutional constraints. Taking legislation and through twisted logic, expanding them well beyond the law’s intent.
This administration will take any loophole and expand it into a wide chasm where regulations are created, powers are bestowed, or seeds are planted for further usurpation of power. It seems that mere words can create these vast twists. The term “Transportation Safety” Administration has seemingly given them that opening since it was not just “Airport Safety” Administration. Transportation is a broad term, and they are expediting and expanding into areas definitely not the intent of the original legislation.
This is akin to self-determining when the Senate is or is not in session to make recess appointments. The administration has and will continue this usurpation of power they once decried so vehemently of the Bush administration. Is this what we have been hearing about, an Obama private national police force?
Rep. Blackburn writes about this phenomenon below, and SUA congratulates her for raising the issue to a higher level. Now we need to get Congress and the Supreme Court to act again. But this is what this administration depends upon. They know it will take years to change, but by then, who knows how far this will be taken. This reminds us of the old adage, “its easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
When the TSA was formed, and likely to be unionized if Obama wins a second term, the vast majority of the people in these positions where euphemistically former “fry cooks”.
Through our lives, we have all seen the “Mall Cops”, or “Gramps with guns” patrol our shopping centers and parking lots, many armed. Movies have been made poking much fun at them, mostly in the lowest forms of jest, but unfortunately, this latest expansion of power is no laughing matter. TSA is loaded with “Paul Blarts”, not funny!
As Blackburn points out, these “Mall Cops” are often much better trained than any TSA officer, yet, Napolitano has created the appearance of legality and power by creating elaborately uniformed ‘officers’. How is the general public supposed to know the difference when confronted by a TSA officer on a highway?
If you, in personal life, gave even the impression of impersonating a police officer in any way, shape, or form, it would be your own handcuffs on your wrists.
One of the great honors of my service to Tennessee is having the opportunity to represent Ft. Campbell which is home to the storied 101st Airborne, the 5th Special Forces Group and the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment which piloted Navy SEAL Team Six during the raid on Osama Bin Laden.
Each soldier who calls Ft. Campbell home has gone through some of the most intensive training on the planet which pushed their minds and bodies to their physical limits. In the end, those who make the cut have earned the right to be part of our United States military, are honored to wear its uniform, and are serving on the frontlines in the fight against global terrorism.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our nation’s Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano contends are our nation’s last line of defense in fighting domestic terrorism. Unlike “hell week” which faces potential Navy SEALs, becoming a TSO requires a basic level of classroom and on the job training. In many cases this rigorous training is less severe than the requirements of becoming a security guard in most states.
Believe it or not, only 7 years ago, TSOs went by a more deserving title, “airport security screeners.” At the time, their title and on the job appearance consisted of a white shirt and black pants. This was fitting because airport security screening is exactly what’s required of the position. However, this is no longer the case.
In the dead of night, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) administratively reclassified airport security screeners as Transportation Security Officers. The TSA then moved to administratively upgrade TSOs uniforms to resemble those of a federal law enforcement officer. They further completed the makeover with metal law enforcement badges. Not surprisingly, government bureaucrats at the TSA left out one crucial component during the artificial makeover – actual federal law enforcement training as is required of Federal Air Marshalls.
While TSOs may have the appearance of a federal law enforcement officer they have neither the authority nor the power. If a passenger brings a loaded gun or an explosive device into an airport screening area there is nothing a TSO can do until the local police step in to save the day.
If TSOs are truly our nation’s last line of defense in stopping an act of terrorism, then the TSA should immediately end the practice of placing hiring notices for available TSO positions on pizza boxes and at discount gas stations as theyhave done in our nation’s capital. Surely, this is not where our federal government is going to find our brightest and sharpest Americans committed to keeping our traveling public safe. I would contend that we can surely strive for a higher standard and may want to look first to our veterans returning home from the battlefield.
Interestingly enough, as TSA officials like to routinely point out, their agency’s acronym stands for Transportation Security Administration, not the Airport Security Administration. This fact has extended the TSA’s reach far beyond the confines of our nation’s airports. Many of my constituents discovered this first hand this past fall as those familiar blue uniforms and badges appeared on Tennessee highways. In October Tennessee became the first state to conduct a statewide Department of Homeland Security Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) team operation which randomly inspected Tennessee truck drivers and cars.
VIPR teams which count TSOs among their ranks, conduct searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and every other mass transit location around the country. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times has detailed, VIPR teams conducted 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year alone. The very thought of federal employees with zero law enforcement training roaming across our nation’s transportation infrastructure with the hope of randomly thwarting a domestic terrorist attack makes about as much sense as EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Justice tour.
In order to help rein in the TSA I introduced H.R. 3608, the Stop TSA’s Reach in Policy Act aka the STRIP Act. This bill will simply overturn the TSA’s administrative decision by prohibiting any TSA employee who has not received federal law enforcement training from using the title “officer,” wearing a police like uniform or a metal police badge. At its most basic level the STRIP Act is about truth in advertising.
As TSOs continue to expand their presence beyond our nation’s airports and onto our highways, every American citizen has the right to know that they are not dealing with actual federal law enforcement officers. Had one Virginia woman known this days before Thanksgiving she may have been able to escape being forcibly raped by a TSO who approached her in a parking lot in full uniform while flashing his badge.
Will the STRIP Act solve every problem facing the TSA? Absolutely not. The STRIP Act seeks to expand upon the work of my colleagues by chipping away at an unnoticed yet powerful overreach of our federal government. If Congress cannot swiftly overturn something as simple as this administrative decision there will be little hope that we can take steps to truly rein in the TSA on larger issues of concern.
Furthermore, if Congress fails to act do not be surprised if the TSA gives TSOs another administrative makeover in the future. Only this time it won’t be a new uniform. It will be the power to make arrests as some TSOs are already publicly calling for.
Congressman Blackburn is a Republican serving Tennessee’s 7th district.
Editor’s Note– Another breech of security measures and a failure of TSA to seize one of the very items they are tasked with preventing to be on board any aircraft, a knife. No real examination was performed by TSA of the passenger, which had the smell of alcohol, a knife, and a belligerent attitude. These are three markers to reconsider before passing the person to enter an aircraft. Later, a confrontation ensued on the plane and the FBI was called in.
With all the furor over invasive, intensive, and inappropriate searching, what, what, what…TSA?
Salt Lake airplane passenger carried knife on board, made threats, police say
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake airline passenger faces federal charges for allegedly carrying a knife onto an airplane and verbally threatening police and FBI agents.
Shortly after taking his seat on a Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas on Sunday, David Alan Anderson, 60, began elbowing the passenger next to him to “claim” the armrest, according to a federal complaint. He then put his foot on the passenger’s leg.
“Sir, you are going to have to move over,” the passenger told him.
About five minutes later, the passenger saw Anderson staring at him. He then said to the passenger, “If I have a knife, I would slit your throat,” the complaint states.
The passenger told flight attendants, who noticed Anderson reach into his bag several times with something cupped in his hand. The flight crew then called Salt Lake police.
Anderson denied having a weapon or making threats. But during a consensual search of his bag, police found a Gerber folding knife with a 3 ½-inch blade. Police handcuffed Anderson and took him to the airport police station.
At the station, the complaint says, Anderson made numerous profane threats to police and FBI agents including, “Your days are not long,” “It’s a shotgun in the chest,” “I’ll pull your eyeballs out,” and “It will give me a lot of pleasure to see you again, but you won’t see me, bucko.”
According the complaint, Anderson smelled slightly of alcohol, but did not appear to be drunk. Anderson faces charges of dangerous weapon on an aircraft and retaliation against a federal law enforcement officer by threat of murder.
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