TSA Epic Fails

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Harlowe
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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Harlowe » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:59 pm

You get an email every week about how a TSA agent risked their life to save someone. Every week.....

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:22 am

Yep, buncha damn heroes. Just ask 'em, they'll tell you.

But anyway ... as a cutlery blogger, collector and enthusiast I was caught off guard last week when the TSA actually did something that made sense and decided to allow small pocket knives on planes.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:03 pm

Bravery in the moment doesn't equate to intelligence or work ethic or anything else related to being our last line of defense, Tora.

And here's the story on the TSA guy "risking his life"...

http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/ ... ar-657825/

When he got there, the car was smoldering. As they were trying to free her, some flames started. And another guy helped. Hardly one of those "risking your life" situations. Oh, and the guy got a spot of blood on his shirt, too, so maybe you're thinking he risked getting some kind of fatal blood born disease from the incident.

And maybe this is a good guy, maybe not, who knows. I notice he's an ex-cop, and he's been working for TSA for about 10 years, and if he retired at age 44 from NYPD, he could very well have been on the force 20 years, and he's pulling a nice pension along with his TSA salary (about $120,000) as a "Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director", whatever the hell that middle management position is.

Oh, and more on TSA performance...

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/quee ... m_content= Queens

TSA lets a rape suspect pass through screening with a taser in his carry on bags. NIce work, last line of defense.
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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Harlowe » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:10 pm

Its like "the thin blue line" with him.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:49 pm

When all the metrics and quantification of those metrics to gauge your job performance are secret, it's pretty much guaranteed that your performance sucks.

So, in absence of any transparent, objective performance data, all we're left with is the TSA telling everyone how awesome it is. "Our performance is great, just ask us."

Yeah, the fox in the hen house is telling us that there's no foxes in the hen house. But of course we can't even show you a partially redacted photo of an empty hen house, because that would give away our super sekret terrorist catching stratz.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Torakus » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:09 pm

Embar Angylwrath wrote:When he got there, the car was smoldering. As they were trying to free her, some flames started. And another guy helped. Hardly one of those "risking your life" situations.
Did you miss the part where moments later the entire car was engulfed in flames?
Embar Angylwrath wrote:TSA lets a rape suspect pass through screening with a taser in his carry on bags. NIce work, last line of defense.
I am so sorry that the detection rate isn't 100%. It should be, but there are turds who don't pay attention. There are also some very cleverly disguised stun guns out there.
Embar Angylwrath wrote:And maybe this is a good guy, maybe not, who knows. I notice he's an ex-cop, and he's been working for TSA for about 10 years, and if he retired at age 44 from NYPD, he could very well have been on the force 20 years, and he's pulling a nice pension along with his TSA salary (about $120,000) as a "Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director", whatever the hell that middle management position is.
Is this you admitting that you are talking out your ass when you say everyone at TSA is a dirtbag that couldn't get a job at McDonalds?

A Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director is an SV-J band (roughly equivalent to GS-14). I didn't look him up in the global address book, so I am going to assume that his actual position is DAFSD-S. That last S stands for screening. That would mean that he is part of the senior management team at the airport who the TSMs (Transportation Screening Managers {STSOs below that, LTSOs below that, TSOs below that, trainees below that, applicants below that, whale dung just under them and Embar's opinion of me below that.....) report to. He then reports to the AFSD for screening who reports to the top TSA management official at the airport the FSD. The FSDs in turn report to Regional Directors (there are 6) who report to the Assistant Administrator in charge of the Office of Security Operations, who reports to Administrator Pistole, who reports to Janet who reports to Barry who is supposed to be accountable to us, but we know that isn't really the case. This is actually my peer level at TSA, except that I manage a program for an entire region with over 100 airports and field units. And like him I pull a nice 55% military pension from my 22 years service along with my TSA salary.

And yes I get an e-mail about the good (and many times heroic) things that TSA employees, usually TSOs, do every week. I suppose I could re-post them here, but I already get called a cheerleader enough.
Harlowe wrote:Its like "the thin blue line" with him.
It is nothing like that with me. TSA has plenty of dirt bag employees just like any employer. We might even have more on average because of our hiring policies; however to paint every single employee of TSA as a shit bird who couldn't get a job with McDonalds like Embar does is pathetic. I get it, you can't get government contracts, let it go. Or PM me, I guess as a DHS Acquisition Workforce member I might be willing to part with some knowledge that could help if I am squeezed properly.
Freecare Spiritwise wrote:When all the metrics and quantification of those metrics to gauge your job performance are secret, it's pretty much guaranteed that your performance sucks.
But the metrics are not secret because the screening checkpoint Red Team tests are not how their job performance are graded. The screeners are tested individually on their knowledge of screening procedures based on their particular certification (checkpoint, behavior detection, checked baggage, or dual cert. ) If they fail, they get de-certified and go back into OJT. They get 3 shots and then they go find another job, and if Embar is correct it is probably not at McDonalds because they have already failed at that.

I get that you are bitter and maybe even rightfully. I won't apologize, but I will offer you this: The next time you want to fly with your step-daughter, give me a PM and I will personally work with you and try to make sure a screening manager meets you at the airport to ensure that his or her screeners make your screening flawless. They love doing this. It provides the screeners with good training on how to deal with this type situation and more selfishly it avoids bad press because the heads up helps them make sure things don't go to shit.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:13 pm

I do honestly appreciate the offer, but the thing is, the State of CA after that incident has said that they won't ever let her fly again. They are her legal guardians, since we had to sign her over as a ward of the state, though they give us a fairly wide latitude over her care. They had given her 6 months to live with her at home, and 3-5 years to live if we gave them custody and she could get round the clock care. Wasn't much of a choice. That was 13 years ago, but even with phenomenal care, Retts is still considered a terminal condition. Now she's probably not in good enough health to fly even if Obama himself cleared it. So ... yeah, that ship has sailed.

They won't clear her for a 3 day car trip either, so that incident I described was probably the last time in her life she'll ever get to spend here at home, though she has another home that loves her, too. Through some weird twist of cost-cutting, she lives in a swanky private residence in Laguna Hills with several other "kids" like her, and the staff has all been there since day one. We send them cash at every opportunity, and all the kids in the house get to go out for pizza, and to Disneyland and stuff. It's mostly our loss that we don't get to have her here.

So, yeah, 10 minutes of being shit on for the crime of having a severely disabled daughter had much longer lasting consequences. But hey, that's life. It is what it is. It may seem like it from my posts, but it's not something we dwell on. But let's just say that I have a strong dislike for the TSA and leave it at that :)

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Ddrak » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:17 am

Or PM me, I guess as a DHS Acquisition Workforce member I might be willing to part with some knowledge that could help if I am squeezed properly.
Oh, oh, pick me! Please!

(Not that I have the first clue what the DHS would do with an intelligent traffic system or why we'd try to sell them one)

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:30 pm

Off-topic, but I keep forgetting you work on traffic control stuff. I used to build rail traffic control systems. We built software that ran the NYC subway, Chicago "L" and so on. It was eye opening experience doing real time software back in the 90's when computers were slow. It was cool except railroads are usually located in the most shithole towns you could imagine. Sorry, but I'm not going back to Gary, Ind. or Shreveport LA. And I was burnt out on flying in 1995, well before 9/11 made it ... less pleasant to fly.

What kind of traffic systems do you work on?

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Ddrak » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:30 am

Freecare Spiritwise wrote:What kind of traffic systems do you work on?
Pretty much anything related to roads - traffic lights, freeway control (on-ramp signals, lane control gantries, variable speed limit stuff), signs, weather stations, tunnel management, incident management, sending speed/flow data to Google, etc.

Only in Oz at the moment, but been trying to get some traction in the UK. Looked a bit at India but it's a complete basket case to do business there. US market is a plan for the future - have to deal with people driving on the other side there.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:48 am

Yeah, we started getting into that car traffic stuff too until the company went tits-up. I always liked working on real-time software- very challenging. I'm surprised you guys aren't doing rail traffic control, too. Aussieland has shitloads of trains.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Ddrak » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:10 am

From what I understand, rail is a pretty full market. Road's still fragmented, so we've built an integration system. Doesn't mean our customers don't want multi-modal stuff though, so we could always branch out.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:52 pm

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/ins ... essive-in/

Good god, just when I think teh TSA couldn't acheive new heights on Mt. Retard, this comes in.

Is there no common sense applied in that agency? For fuck's sake.
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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Partha » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:54 pm

Embar Angylwrath wrote:http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/ins ... essive-in/

Good god, just when I think teh TSA couldn't acheive new heights on Mt. Retard, this comes in.

Is there no common sense applied in that agency? For fuck's sake.
"Common sense" would indicate that prosthetics make handy places to hide explosives and contraband. So do wheelchairs made of hollow tubes. You wanna be safe? Here's your theater.
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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Torakus » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:16 pm

Partha wrote:"Common sense" would indicate that prosthetics make handy places to hide explosives and contraband. So do wheelchairs made of hollow tubes. You wanna be safe? Here's your theater.
So I have a couple problems with the reporting and even Duncan Hunter's quotes. I like Duncan, I still receive his e-mails weekly even though I have moved and he is not longer my rep.

Prosthetic devices could be a very nice place to hide explosives or contraband. PHX has scanners that are designed to screen them. I am not sure why they did not use them.

TSA screeners who are seated (Travel Document Checker, X-ray operator) can't just get up and go help people in wheel chairs. There is a screener who is assigned that duty, but it is one of many duties that they do. A supervisory screener should have responded immediately, but they also have duties, one of which is to ensure that the passenger throughput remains up to standards.

I seriously doubt some of this story. The story claims that the screeners forced the Marine to stand. My guess is they asked him if he could stand. If he then stood, it is my guess that he replied in the affirmative, otherwise he would have been allowed to be screened in the chair. Something just doesn't make sense.

http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information ... mmodations

Holy Fuck TSA actually gets it and has for quite some time. Perhaps I should call Duncan and tell him and this Marine how to use GOOGLE.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:15 pm

It almost doesn't matter if it's true, because if it is, the guy they mistreated has zero recourse anyway. If the police mistreat you, they can be held accountable. The truth comes out. Due process runs its course. Justice is served. But if the TSA mistreats you, there's effectively no recourse other than just more bad publicity for them. At that point, the truth becomes classified for our own protection and convenience, and there is no justice, only self-service.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Torakus » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:16 am

Freecare Spiritwise wrote:It almost doesn't matter if it's true, because if it is, the guy they mistreated has zero recourse anyway. If the police mistreat you, they can be held accountable. The truth comes out. Due process runs its course. Justice is served. But if the TSA mistreats you, there's effectively no recourse other than just more bad publicity for them. At that point, the truth becomes classified for our own protection and convenience, and there is no justice, only self-service.
I guess it depends on how you define "mistreat". Every case is different, but from what I have seen, the vast majority of the time in cases where people feel they have been mistreated, it is because there is a standard procedures being adhered to by the screener that the passenger does not like or understand and that the screener may not even fully understand. Of course there are those screeners who are just assholes and treat everyone like shit.

The great thing is, you are wrong. They are accountable, all the way to the top of the management chain at the airport. In fact the two largest federal disciplinary actions ever were at TSA (Honolulu and Ft. Myers). Entire senior management teams and screening staffs were fired or disciplined for improper screening. In this case it was baggage screening. Over the years a couple thousand screeners have been given their walking papers due to passenger complaints. TSA has progressive discipline so you won't hear about the guy in that viral video of a 3 year old paraplegic being treated poorly being fired because they are protected by 1) progressive discipline 2)federal employee privacy rights 3 ) union membership. TSA will announce firings in high profile cases, but the vast majority of the time the reason for firing has to do with screening procedures and TSA treats those procedures as sensitive information and does not advertise them to the public.

So I guess you need to define "mistreat" for me and what "recourse" you think is appropriate.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Ddrak » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:16 am

His problem (and it's true of any organization that has sensitivity around procedures) is that there's no publicly visible accountability. As you've admitted, it's an internal thing without feedback to the general public that feel harmed. No closed loop, and you're left with the uncomfortable question of who's watching the watchers, and if you really trust them when they tell you "trust us, it's good".

Of course, it's exacerbated by the questionable secrecy around screening procedures when any organization able to coordinate a serious attack would have no problem getting an agent into a position where they'd find out (TSA is too big with too high a turnover to believe otherwise). Valuable or not, people are going to resent the ultimate powerlessness of their position every time they're scanned to fly no matter what you do, which breeds a whole mess of misunderstanding and deliberate misconstructions.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:26 am

Yeah, I was going to mention that I have no doubts that bad screeners are dealt with internally. If you make the national news for being a douchebag, I'm sure you'll catch a pink slip. But as Dd pointed out, that's not the same as accountability to the people, which is what our society is supposedly based on. And none of this is especially helpful to the victim, who isn't part of the loop.

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Re: TSA Epic Fails

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:44 am

Here's a good metric methinks:

How many TSA employees since inception have ever done jail time for something they did while on duty?
Now, how many cops have done jail time since the TSA's inception, for something they did while on duty?

We could come up with a "number of convictions per 1,000 officers" number. Now, what would that number be for the TSA, and how would it compare to uniformed LEOs? 100? 10? 0? And what if it's 0? What would that mean? That would mean that no TSA employee has ever broken the law while on duty? Yeah, right.

See, I would say one defining characteristic of accountability is being put in jail if your actions are criminal, no matter who you are. So, if you can break the law, and the worst that will happen to you is being fired, that's not accountability.

If you can break the law without any chance of being answerable for your crimes, that means you're above the law.

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