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Tag: TSA

Ex-TSA Official Says Airport Screeners Would Have Caught Latest Underwear Bomber

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By Mark Strassmann
CBS News

At more than 180 U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration increasingly relies on full-body scanners. Their electromagnetic waves screen passengers for dense objects — both metallic and non-metallic threats — from guns to homemade plastic explosives.

Kip Hawley was the TSA administrator in 2007, when the agency rolled out these scanners.

He believes an alert transportation security officer at an airport security checkpoint would have caught the latest underwear bomb, which was revealed Monday had been thwarted by the CIA before it came near an airport.

To read more click here.

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TSA Officer Pleads to Taking Bribes to Let Drugs Pass Through

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By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A TSA officer based at Palm Beach, Fla. International Airport pleaded guilty Monday to taking bribes to let drugs pass through airport security.

Christopher Allen, 46, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.,  pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Have, Conn.   to taking payments from a drug trafficker to let large amounts of the prescription drug oxycodone pass through airport security. The drugs were destined for Connecticut for illegal sale.

“This defendant received cash payments to violate his oath of public office and look the other way as large quantities of oxycodone pills passed unlawfully through airport security,” said U.S. Attorney David B. Fein  in a statement. “For obvious reasons, we cannot tolerate corruption within the ranks of those who are entrusted with the responsibility for screening air travelers and their baggage. I commend the DEA Task Force for shutting down a pipeline of highly addictive prescription pills from Florida to Connecticut, and for bringing to justice this federal employee and others who participated in this illegal scheme.”

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TSA Screener Hurls Cup of Hot Coffee at Pilot

jfk airport

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Who doesn’t like a complimentary cup of coffee?

Well, here’s one instance where it wasn’t appreciated.

The New York Post reports that a Transportation Security Administration screener was arrested on March 28 at 5 a.m. for throwing a cup of hot coffee on an American Airlines pilot.

The Post reported the incident happened when off-duty pilot Steven Trivett, 54, was exiting a terminal and overheard a conversation peppered with plenty profanity.

Trivett asked them to tone it down and “conduct themselves more professionally in uniform and not use profanity or the n-word,” a source told the Post.

One screen told him to butt out.

When he tried to grab at the ID tags of screener Lateisha El, 30, the Post reported, that she tossed the cup of coffee on him.

The Post reported that Trivett wasn’t serious injured and El was given a desk-appearance ticket on harassment and misdemeanor-assault charges.

 

 

 

Too Much Partying for 2 TSA Officers in South Beach; Trashed Hotel Room and Fired Bullets

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two Transportation Security Administration officers apparently felt they had to let off a little steam.

The Miami Herald reports that TSA officers Jeffrey Piccolella, 27, and Nicholas Anthony Puccio, trashed their South Beach hotel room Tuesday night and shot six rounds out the window with a semi-automatic handgun.

The paper reported that one bullet pierced a $1,500 hurricane impact resistant window at a nearby Barneys New York clothing store. No one was injured.

The dynamic duo was charged with criminal mischief and use of a firearm while under the influence, the Herald reported.

 

TSA’s John Pistole Talks About Airport Security

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Report Likely to Fuel Debate Over TSA Scanners

 By Michael Grabell
ProPublica

A new report from the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security is likely to fan rather than extinguish the debate over the safety of X-ray body scanners deployed at airports across the country.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and other lawmakers have called on the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a new, independent health study. No such tests were carried out for the report, which instead relied on previous radiation tests, most of which have been available on TSA’s website.

“This report is not the report I requested,” Collins said in a statement to ProPublica. “An independent study is needed to protect the public and to determine what technology is worthy of taxpayer dollars.”

The amount of radiation emitted by the body scanners, known as backscatters, is “negligible” and “below acceptable limits,” according to the report obtained by ProPublica and scheduled for public release on Tuesday.

But the 28-page report also notes that not all TSA screeners have completed required radiation safety training. Inspectors found inconsistencies in how the machines are calibrated to ensure radiation safety and image quality. And the TSA made more than 3,500 maintenance calls in the first year the scanners were deployed, meaning that, on average, each machine needed service more than once a month.

X-ray body scanners became part of routine screening at airports nationwide after the underwear bomber tried to blow up a plane on Christmas 2009. The machines emit very small doses of ionizing radiation, the type of radiation that has been shown to cause cancer.

Radiation experts who have been critical of the TSA acknowledge that the machines emit only tiny amounts of radiation. But they say that as tens of millions of airline passengers are exposed for routine screening, it is likely that a few of those people will develop cancer from the machines.

ProPublica reported in November that the TSA has glossed over the scientific nuance in declaring the machines safe, that the United States was almost alone in the world in deploying the X-ray scanners and that the Food and Drug Administration went against its own advisory panel in allowing the machines to fall under voluntary standards.

A day after the story, TSA administrator John Pistole agreed to a request by Collins to conduct a new, independent health study of the scanners. But a week later, Pistole backtracked saying this report, then still being finalized, would render a new study unnecessary.

“We believe the report fully endorses TSA’s extensive efforts to keep the traveling public safe,” Pistole said in a response letter that was attached to the report. “As a result of intense research, analysis and testing, TSA concludes that potential health risks from a full-body screening with a general-use X-ray security system are miniscule.”

The report notes that an airline passenger would have to be screened 47 times per day to reach the annual radiation dose limits set by professional organizations. The inspectors said that no accidental radiation overdoses have ever occurred from the scanners.

The inspector general’s office did not test the machines but instead reviewed radiation measurements taken by the manufacturer’s maintenance contractors and Army health physicists.

The report does not address the potential health effects of exposing tens of millions of people to low-dose radiation. Nor does it weigh the risk and benefit against a safer type of body scanner that uses the electromagnetic waves, which have not been linked to cancer. That machine, known as a millimeter-wave scanner, is already used by the TSA in dozens of airports, such as Atlanta Hartsfield, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco.

The report also raises questions about maintenance. From May 2010 to May 2011, the TSA made 3,778 service calls in response to mechanical problems with the backscatter units. That works out to 10 calls per day, or an average of more than 15 calls per machine per year. But the report noted that only 2 percent of those calls were significant enough to require a radiation test.

Although the inspectors did not find any scanners that had been calibrated improperly, they found that some airports calibrated the machines less frequently than others and recorded the results differently.

The inspector general recommended that the TSA develop a process to ensure that all screeners receive radiation safety training. Several screeners told the inspectors that they were unable to complete online training because of computer delays and time constraints associated with doing their jobs.

Last month, a group of six Republican and Democratic senators on the homeland security committee introduced a bill that would require the TSA to post signs about the radiation at the front of security checkpoints and to hire an independent laboratory for a health study. House Republicans filed a companion bill in mid-February.

Officials in Broward County, Florida, recently voted to demand more information from the TSA on the safety of scanners in use at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. They are now reviewing the agency’s response.

And in Alaska, a state lawmaker who decided to take a ferry back from Seattle rather than undergo a pat-down required to fly, last week proposed bills to outlaw the use of body scanners in that state and to study the health effects of airport screening.

ProPublica is a non-profit, investigative news website.

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What Part of “Don’t Bring Guns to the Airport” Don’t People Understand?

 

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By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

What part of “don’t bring guns to the airport” don’t people understand?

It still fails to amaze.

As part of an occasional story on the issue, we report that 31 people from Jan. 23 to Jan. 29 were caught at airport checkpoints in the U.S. with guns, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The number is considered on the higher end of the spectrum. The numbers generally range from the teens to the 30s for a week.

Authorities have said in the past that some people — including cops and hunters — say they forgot they had the weapon in their bag.

 

TSA Agents Sent to Jail for Swiping Cash from Passenger’s Bag

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Two TSA officers based out of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York are trading their jobs for jail sentences, reports the Mail Online.

Coumar Pesad, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, admitted to stealing $40,000 in cash from a single checked bag, the paper reports. Persad saw money in the bag as it passed through a scanning device. He marked the bag with a piece of tape and phoned Webb, at the baggage belt area, to warn him about the bag. Webb grabbed it from the belt and the two later met in a bathroom to divide the cash.

Both were sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation.

No word on what a passenger was doing traveling with $40,000 in cash or whether that is under investigation.

To read more click here.