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Tag: Airports

Senate Passes Bill That Would Improve Security at Airports

airport-people-walkingBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Senate approved a bill to overhaul aviation safety, security and consumer programs and policies, the Associated Press reports. 

In an effort to shorten security lines, the Senate wants to expand the TSA’s PreCheck program to include more travelers.

The number of TSA “viper teams” also could increase from 30 to 60 to stop and search suspicious passengers.

The bill calls for enhancing the vetting of employees who have access to secure areas.

Senators also addressed drones, saying criminal penalties need to be established to deter the reckless use of drone near airports.

Other Stories of Interest

TSA Whistleblower Speaks Out About Security Flaws That Endanger Flyers

airport scanner 2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA senior manager-turned-whistleblower spoke out publicly for the first time about retaliation within the agency and growing safety concerns.

Drew Rhodes, one of four assistant federal security directors at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, expressed his concerns about the TSA in an interview Fox9. 

Rhodes said he blew the whistle on the agency because of frustration over security flaws that weren’t being addressed,. They included the handling of ammunition at checkpoints and the failure to use orange tags on check bags that had already been screened.

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview with Fox9:

Rhoades: “There were these embarrassing stories about the TSA. My supervisor said, ‘I want to know who the leak is. Is it you, he said at one meeting.”
Reporter: They thought you were my leak for those stories?’
Rhoades “That is correct.”
Reporter: “And just to set the record straight, we had never talked, or met each other when I did those stories?’
Rhoades: “That is correct.”
Rhodes’ boss is Federal Security Director Cliff Van Leuven.

Ven Leuven ordered Rhoades transferred from Minnesota, to Tampa, Florida.  But for Rhoades, who had recently divorced, the warmer locale came at price.

Rhoades: “If I left the state of Minnesota, I would’ve lost custody of my children.”
Reporter: “So they knew they had you, that moving was a deal killer?”
Rhoades:  “Absolutely.”
Reporter: “And you think around the country directed reassignments are used to punish people in TSA?”
Rhoades: “No doubt. It’s happened in many cities.”

Homeland Security Committee Chief Calls for More Funding for FBI, DHS

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Following the Paris terror attacks, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for “an increase in funding” to protect the U.S. from a similar attack, CNSNEws.com reports. 

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” what needs to be done to protect the homeland, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, responded:

“Well, it’s — it’s very difficult and — and we don’t want these foreign fighters coming into the United States from visa waiver countries,” McCaul responded. “We’ve had, in the homeland, 18 plots stopped that were ISIS-related. We’ve arrested 70 ISIS followers. And we have 1,000 investigations in all 50 states.

“So I think one thing Congress can do is we have an appropriations bill coming up in about two weeks. And I think the FBI and components of Homeland Security will need an increase in funding to help combat this threat that we see right in our homeland.”

Reop. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said airport security remains a problem.

“We certainly have resource challenges, but we are fortunate that we don’t have anywhere near the number of foreign fighters to track that Europe does.

“At the same time, I think two areas where we can really beef up our own security, one is a continuing vulnerability at our airports. All too often when we test the TSA, they don’t meet the test, and that has to (change).”

Computer System That Checks Passengers Against Terrorism Watch Lists Goes Down

airport-people-walkingBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security computer system designed to raise red flags about airline passengers on the terrorism watch lists stopped working at five airports on Wednesday night, The Christian Science Monitor reports. 

The system went down for about 90 minutes but did not appear to be malicious, according to CBP.

CBP officers used alternative methods to check for suspicious passengers.

It wasn’t immediately clear which airports were impacted, by NBC News reported security screening problems at John F. Kennedy Airport and airports in Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Baltimore.

Other Stories of Interest

TSA to Begin More Stringent Screening of Airport, Airline Workers After Incidents

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The TSA will begin more stringent screening of airport and airline workers following allegations that a Delta Air Lines baggage handler was smuggling guns, In Homeland Security reports. 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also said the security changes are a reaction to another alleged incident in which a Federal Aviation Administration employee flew to New York with a gun in his carry-on luggage.

“Immediately following the incident” with the Delta baggage handler, “TSA increased the random and unpredictable screening of aviation workers at various airport access points to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities,” Johnson said in his announcement.

In Homeland Security wrote:

Johnson said he had asked the TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee to review the incidents and recommend remedies. Acting on five of the recommendations that can be implemented quickly, Johnson said that airport and airline employees who are traveling as passengers would no longer be permitted to bypass the scrutiny faced by other passengers. Anyone who boards an airplane other than on-duty pilots and crew will be screened, he said.

Airports will also be required to reduce the number of access points to secure areas and to subject airport workers to random screening throughout each workday, he said, adding that the TSA may send teams in unannounced to do random worker screens. Johnson also said the TSA is working with the FBI to continuously track the criminal histories of all aviation workers.

Travelers Left Behind $635,000 in Change at TSA Checkpoints in 2013

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ever search under your sofa cushions for change and find enough money for lunch?

The change adds up.

It did in a big way for the TSA last year, when travelers abandoned more than $635,000 in coins in the bins and bowls at airport checkpoints in 2013, The Business Insider reports.

That compares to $107,000 in 2012 and $150,00 in 2011.

Homeland Security Beefs Up Security After Terrorist Attacks in Paris

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The terrorist attacks in Paris have prompted Homeland Security officials to ramp up security at federal buildings and airports, the USA Today reports

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the move was “precautionary.”

“We have no specific, credible intelligence of an attack of the kind in Paris last week being planned by terrorist organizations in this country,” he said in a statement.

Johnson declined to provide specifics and said that the Federal Protective Service would “enhance its presence and security at various U.S. Government buildings.”

Security also tightened after a shooting at the Canadian Parliament building.

Homeland Security Boosts Security for European Travelers to U.S. Over Terror Concerns

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Travelers flying to the U.S. on Western passports will face increased screenings as Homeland Security officials express concern about European Islamic militants trying to launch attacks, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The idea is to “to learn more about travelers from countries from whom we do not require a visa,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

Concerns were raised over fighters coming from Germany, England, France and Belgium, where citizens from those countries aren’t required to apply overseas for a visa to enter the United States.

Since 2011, officials estimate that more than 3,000 Europeans have traveled to fight alongside extremists in Syria and Iraq.