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Tag: TSA

Embattled TSA Gets New Leader After Senate Approves Obama

Peter Neffenger

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The embattled TSA has a new leader.

The Senate confirmed Peter Neffenger on Monday with an 81-1 vote, hoping that strong leadership can improve nagging security problems at the nation’s airports, USA Today reports.

Neffenger used to serve as vice admiral of the Coast Guard.

The Senate criticized President Obama for taking too long to name a successor.

“I wish the White House hadn’t waited six months to send us a nominee to lead this troubled agency,” McConnell said. “The American people will be counting on Mr. Neffenger to validate the trust their elected representatives place in him tonight by pursuing every necessary reform in the wake of such troubling findings.”

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Obama’s Nominee to Lead TSA Gets Advances After Senate Committee Approval

Peter Neffenger via YouTube

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s nominee to lead the TSA was approved by a Senate committee following the enforcement of the Commerce Committee less than two week earlier, Bloomberg reports.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee approved Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger on a voice vote.

The nomination comes at a strenuous period for the TSA, which recently was exposed for failing to spot weapons and other banned items in a vast majority of the test cases. The agency also has come under criticism for purchasing decisions, hiring practices and aggressive pat-downs.

If approved, Neffenger would replace former acting TSA Administrator Melvin Carraway.

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Looking Ahead for TSA After Study Found Serious Surveillance Issues

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Now that many see the TSA as a failure,  what’s next next for the beleaguered agency?

Give the task back to the airlines?

The Hill offers insight, saying private competition may drive down prices but you get what you pay for.

More than 13 years after 9/11, we are still struggling to ensure the continued security of America’s airliners, which suggests that this is not an easy task. Most of the problems seem to be in human performance. This is not because TSA agents are not up to the task. Screeners work hard to do their best, and they regularly uncover guns and other weapons that passengers attempt to conceal. Their failure is not owed to the fact that passengers have observed them taking breaks or occasionally joking with one another. The checkpoint is their workspace. Effective security does not require visible hardship or a scowling demeanor.

Screeners have a difficult task to perform under often terrible conditions. They have to deal with crowds of soon-to-be passengers, who are often apprehensive about flying or missing flights or complain about being told by some stranger to take off their shoes or their belts or empty their pockets. Every move the screeners make is watched by hundreds of people who view the screeners as adversaries.

Cleveland.com Editorial: TSA Gives Little Reason for Confidence in Security

By Editorial Board 
Cleveland.com

At airports around the country, including Cleveland Hopkins International, passengers entering the security wringer run by the Transportation Security Administration have been entertained by a display of some of the instruments of mayhem that agents have taken from people over the TSA’s 14-year history.

Earlier this year, the TSA proudly released a year-end report stating that during 2014 it had confiscated 2,212 firearms – most of which were loaded – after screening more than 653 million passengers.

The display board and statistics might have made everyone feel as though the lines, pat-downs, shoes-in-the-basket and full-body scanners were worth it, except for one other statistic that was revealed recently:

Ninety-six.

That’s the percentage of times Department of Homeland Security operatives managed to sneak weapons, bombs and other contraband past airport security in a test of TSA effectiveness.

ABC News disclosed the information June 1 from a leaked report, showing that a covert DHS team had beaten security screening 67 of 70 times.

When confronted with this evidence of colossal failure, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for more evaluations and training. He expressed continuing confidence in the TSA workforce and said test results “never look good out of context.” Then he reassigned acting TSA administrator Melvin Carraway.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest reacted by trying to blame Senate Republicans for dragging their feet in confirming Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger as TSA head. After the prior TSA administrator announced his departure last October, President Barack Obama nominated Neffenger in late April.

TSA Inspector General John Roth, who oversaw the covert test, reacted by telling the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he wasinvestigating the source of the leak.

Those responses don’t fill us with confidence.

To read more click here.

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NYT: TSA’s Appalling Performance Is ‘Harbinger of Potential Disaster’

By New York Times
Editorial Board

The performance of airport security screeners on a recent investigation by undercover agents was appalling. The screeners failed to detect weapons, mock explosives and other prohibited items 95 percent of the time at airports across the country, which may be a shock to travelers who assumed the hassle of screening was worth it if it kept them safe.

The investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general reportedly found that undercover agents were able to get prohibited items through security checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts. The report on the investigation is classified, but ABC News broadcast the findings on Monday. The network said that one undercover agent was stopped when he set off an alarm, but that the screener who patted him down afterward failed to detect a fake explosive device taped to his back.

After the ABC News report, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, said he took the findings “very seriously.” He added that he ordered corrective steps at the Transportation Security Administration, the unit in his department that is responsible for airport screening. He cautioned that “the numbers in these reports never look good out of context” but acknowledged that such covert tests are a critical element in the evolution of aviation security.

It’s hard to see how such an incredibly high failure-to-detect rate could be considered anything other than a harbinger of potential disaster. Security experts say planes remain a high-priority target for many terrorists.

Mr. Johnson stressed that travelers are protected by multiple layers of detection and protection, “many of which are not visible to the traveling public.”

The corrective steps he is taking, some of which are already under way, make good sense. He directed the T.S.A. to brief all airports on the findings and fix the vulnerabilities revealed by the covert test. This would involve retraining airport security officers, re-evaluating all security equipment and conducting more covert tests to determine how well the new measures work.

To read more click here. 

TSA Director Carraway Removed from Helm After Serious Security Flaws

Melvin Carraway

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In an effort to improve security at U.S. airports, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson has reassigned the acting TSA head.

Al Jazeera English reports that the move comes after the embarrassing discovery that checkpoint scanners miserably failed to detect mock explosives and weapons in 95% of the cases.

Johnson said Melvin Carraway will be reassigned to the Office of Local Law Enforcement at Homeland Security headquarters, while TSA acting Director Mark Hatfield takes the helm.

“The numbers in these reports never look good out of context but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security,” Johnson said. “We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve.”

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TSA Whistleblower Reinstated After Supreme Court Defends His Actions

tsa.gov

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA air marshal who was fired for telling the media about the impact on budget cuts has been reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Robert MacLean was a justified whistleblower.

The USA Today reports that MacLean, who flew undercover to thwart terrorism, told MSNBC in 2003 that the TSA was reducing the number of marshals on overnight flights, a plan that drew harsh criticism from Congress.

Even though TSA reversed its decision, MacLean was terminated for disclosing “sensitive security information.”

In arriving at the ruling, the justices said whistle-blower protections in this case trumped bans on disclosing sensitive information.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in MacLean’s favor.

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Lawyer: Federal Air Marshals Should Not Use Gun Ranges That Aren’t Lead Free

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal air marshals should not be using gun ranges that aren’t proven to be led free, the top attorney for the marshals told TSA on Tuesday.

The Seattle Times reports that a letter from attorney Lawrence Berger, who represents the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, was sent to to the agency expressing the concerns.

The letter following an April 13 investigation by the Seattle Times that revealed TSA has endangered hundreds of employees by having them use commercial ranges that have lead contamination.

“FLEOA demands that the Transportation Security Administration immediately cease and desist contracting with or otherwise utilizing any gun range that has not been inspected by or received an up-to-date clearance from OSHA that the range is safe from toxic poisoning,” Berger said.

The Seattle Times wrote:

When lead-based ammunition is fired, lead vapor and dust spread into the air and onto surfaces. If a range doesn’t have proper ventilation and fails to adequately clean the range, air marshals can be overexposed to lead. Shooters might also track the metal home and contaminate others. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning.

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