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USA Today Editorial: TSA Takes Sensible Steps to Improving Security, Airport Experience

tsa.gov

USA Today
By Editorial Board

Holiday air travel seems to get more unpleasant with each passing year, especially if you’re flying coach. Planes are packed. Seats are cramped. Overhead bins are overloaded. Free meals are non-existent.

But one part of the airport experience has been improving, and — believe it or not — it’s the part controlled by the government. Four years after the pre-Thanksgiving “don’t touch my junk” uproar over intrusive pat-downs, the Transportation Security Administration has made significant strides toward a more common-sense approach to screening.

TSA has accomplished this even as airlines have made the screeners’ job harder by imposing hefty bag-check fees that encourage fliers to schlep their densely packed luggage through security and onto planes.

The most welcome change at the checkpoint: No longer is everyone — from toddlers to wheelchair-bound octogenarians — treated like a terrorist.

Expedited, “risk-based” security is now available to children under 12, seniors 75 and older, members of the armed services and other low-risk fliers. Most significantly, the PreCheck program has enrolled more than 700,000 travelers who can go through special lanes where they don’t have to remove shoes, belts, light jackets or laptops.

As a result of these and other steps, complaints are down more than 25% and wait times have been reduced, says TSA Administrator John Pistole, who is stepping down next month after four-and-a-half years on the job.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Justice Department Needs to Help Restore Order in Ferguson

Michael Brown

By St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Editorial Board

The story of Ferguson has been told in pictures.

First was the body of 18-year-old Michael Brown, face down on Canfield Drive in a pool of blood, killed by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. That picture went viral, shared wildly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by a legion of people growing angrier by the minute as his body lay in the street forfour and a half hours.

That anger bubbled up into the streets, mostly along West Florissant Avenue, where chanting and protests and the tears of a mourning mother were the pictures of the moment.

Then came the militarized police response, SWAT teams in riot gear, sniper rifles and tear gas, cops with dogs keeping young black protesters at bay. A patriotically dressed young black man tossing a tear gas canister back at police in an iconic display of anger and freedom.

St. Louisans reacted in horror to the violent images sent around in those mid-August days and nights. Eventually, an uneasy peace came and the narrative changed. There were regular, organized protests. New coalitions between clergy and young people, between university students and civil rights activists. There was a push for positive change in a community that needs it.

Everything changed, we hope temporarily, on Monday night.

After Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced that the grand jury in St. Louis County would not indict Officer Wilson in Mr. Brown’s death, weeks of tension and rage built upon decades of institutional oppression boiled over.

The world saw Ferguson burn, and the reality was as bad as it looked on late-night cable television. A dead man was found in a car near Canfield Drive. More than two dozen businesses were burned. Bullets and rocks were flying. Some hit their targets.

It was the Failure in Ferguson, and by the next morning, everybody was looking for somebody to blame. There were plenty of candidates.

To read more click here.

Hacker Group ‘Anonymous’ Says It Shut Down Cleveland’s Website Over Police Shooting

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Notorious hacker group Anonymous took credit for shutting down the city of Cleveland’s website Monday, prompting an FBI investigation, Cleveland.com reports.

Anonymous said the website was hacked in response to the police shooting of Tamir Rice, who was killed Saturday while carrying an airsoft gun.

The website was still down Tuesday morning.

“The city of Cleveland and our website vendor are reviewing the incident and determining proper preventative measures to be added in order to ensure future attacks are thwarted,” city spokesman Daniel Ball said.

Anonymous posted a video on YouTube, saying Tamir was shot “in cold blood.”

“Police of the United States you will learn in due time once anonymous has shut down your sites that we will not stand for your ignorant untrained rookie cops,” the message said.

 

Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson Won’t Stop Justice Department Investigation

By Steve Neavling
www.ticklethewire.com

Chaos erupted in pockets of Ferguson Monday night after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager.

So what’s next? The Justice Department is investigating whether Officer Darren Wilson violated the civil rights of Michael Brown. But don’t expect him to be charged, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department also will be examining the policing practices in what likely will lead to wholesale reforms, the Los Angeles Times reported. Investigators will be reviewing excessive force cases and arrest reports in search of a pattern of violating residents’ rights.

Reforms are more common than charges, the LA Times wrote.

Although civil rights investigations tend to drag on, Attorney General Eric Holder said he hopes to wrap up the probe by the time he leaves office, possibly as early as February.

Boston Globe Editorial: Border Patrol Needs More Reforms, Not More Money

By The Boston Globe
Editorial Board

The ebola crisis has sparked no small number of irrational statements, but one of the least sensible is the call to invest heavily in US border enforcement. President Obama’s highly anticipated plans for executive action on immigration, announced Thursday, included boosting border security. A more secure border, the thinking goes, should be the policy priority, not creating pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But there’s a problem with that reasoning: The United States already has piled additional billions into border security, creating Customs and Border Protection, which is now the largest law enforcement agency in the country, with 60,000 agents and staff.

The number of border agents has nearly doubled in 10 years. In a compelling 10,000-word exposé in Politico magazine, writer Garrett M. Graff presents a portrait of an overstaffed, dysfunctional Border Patrol, a force within Customs and Border Protection that is home to rogue agents and cloaked in secrecy. Many of the agency’s problems are attributable to its rapid growth, much of it originally funded in George W. Bush’s second term and maintained afterward.

A surge in funding would exacerbate the issues plaguing the border patrol, which placed too many inexperienced agents in the field without proper training, and continues to struggle with internal misconduct and corruption cases.

Politico’s Graff layers in many chilling points about the patrol and its officers, whose green uniforms prompted Washington officials to dub the agency the Green Monster. It is likely one of the US government’s deadliest agencies, with 46 fatal shootings in the past 10 years.

To read more click here.

Record Number of People Trying to Board Planes with Guns; TSA Braces for Holiday Travel

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

No matter how many warnings the TSA issues, people are trying to bring guns onto airplanes at a record rate, Channel3000.com reports.

So far this year, more than 1,930 travelers were found with a gun – the most ever calculated in one year. The number caught with guns all of last year was 1,813.

Expecting 24.6 million travelers during the Thanksgiving period, the TSA is bracing for a surge in people bringing guns in their carry-ons.

The reasons for the influx are varied.

“Some people just aren’t using common sense,” said George Hobica, founder of the travel advice web site Airfarewatchdog.com. “What’s really scary is that eventually some of these will get by TSA and misused.”

TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said most travelers who are caught with guns claim they forgot they had their weapon.

“Perhaps we need stronger penalties for people who try to bring them, or forget to remove them, in carry-ons,” Hobica said. “That might jog peoples’ memories to not try to bring them on planes.”

 Other Stories of Interest

Breaking: Grand Jury Decides Not to Charge Ferguson Cop in Death of Michael Brown

Michael Brown

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Following an intense investigation, a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo. has decided not to charge police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced Monday night. He said the grand jury found no probable cause to file charges.

McCulloch, in a televised announcement live,  said investigators found some inconsistencies in witnesses accounts.  The grand jury reviewed reports, drug analysis and photographs. The grand jury was given the choice of five charges ranging from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter.  

Federal, state and local authorities were bracing for violence as the announcement was made.

The prosecutor said that the people in the grand jury were the only ones who had reviewed all the facts. And he noted that there had been a lot of misinformation that had circulated in public about the shooting.

 

Homeland Security Secretary Responds to President Obama’s Immigration Plan in Letter

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a letter last week after President Obama unveiled a new immigration plan.

Tonight, President Obama will announce a series of executive actions to begin to fix our immigration system. The President views these actions as a first step toward the reform of the system, and continues to count on Congress for the more comprehensive reform that only changes in law can provide.

I support and recommended to the President each of the reforms to the immigration system that he will announce today. These recommendations were in turn the result of candid and extended consultations between me and the leadership of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as outside stakeholders. Along the way, I listened to members of the workforce who implement and enforce the law to hear their views. In my own view, any significant change in policy requires the insight of those who administer the system. I believe we have done that here.

The executive actions the President will announce will reform and improve the system in a number of respects. These executive actions are well within our legal authority to direct and implement.

Many of the actions the President will announce tonight must be implemented by you. Today I visited USCIS to explain those actions to the workforce there, and to others by video teleconference. Tomorrow, the leadership of CBP, ICE and USCIS and I will travel to McAllen Station, Texas, to review the executive actions with the workforce in South Texas. In the coming days, I or other leaders of this Department will also brief many of you around the country about the reforms, in person, by video teleconference or otherwise.

Thank you in advance for your attention to these new policies, and thank you again for all the good work you do for the American people.

Sincerely,

Jeh Charles Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security