Former TSA Administrator: End Intrusive Pat Downs, Liquid Ban, Knife Ban (@KipHawley)

It seems that once they get out of office, some politicians have a change of heart. No longer surrounded by the pressures of running the show, they can make better judgments. Take, for example, former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley, who writes the following:

TSA needs to make these changes right now to take on the root causes of its public and security issues. It needs to clean up the mind numbing, overly complicated checkpoint “standard operating procedure,” which no longer matches our security needs and allow officers to act. What needs to be changed:

• The intrusive pat-down needs to be discontinued in favor of a lighter technique supplemented with available technologies.

• The “prohibited items” list needs to be radically reduced to ban only real security threats such as explosives and toxins. As far as carrying knives, the FAA should make it a serious federal offense to intimidate a member of the flight crew or another passenger with a blade — and then TSA can remove blades from the prohibited list. Blades represent virtually no threat to the aircraft at this point. And the baggie rule should be dropped. Current technology allows threat liquids to be detected when they are taken out of the carry-on and scanned in a bin.

Well, isn’t that something. Mr. Hawley, if you’d like change, I invite you to assist with my lawsuit against the scanners and the groping by filing an affidavit stating that in your professional opinion, the pat-downs are intrusive and unnecessary. Your work as TSA administrator set the stage for the assholery we see now, and here is a real chance to fix it.

11 thoughts on “Former TSA Administrator: End Intrusive Pat Downs, Liquid Ban, Knife Ban (@KipHawley)

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  1. Better late enlightenment than never.
    I’d also like to suggest adding one more, very powerful tool to the arsenal of weapons against terrorists: profiling! Doesn’t make sense to me that an 80 year old lady who has never left the US will go through the same treatment as a young male adult who visits Yemen and Pakistan frequently. My senses tell me that one of them needs more attention than the other. The TSA could focus on 10% of passengers and leave the rest 90% alone. Will also require less manpower and waste less of our tax dollars.

      1. “Smart profiling” is based on many factors, race is not one of them. Factors could be travel history, behavior, age group, and others which provide much more efficient profiling than race. The approach should be “bad people not bad objects”.
        Israel does it very successfully and it DOES work. There haven’t been any attacks in Israeli planes or airports since they started implemented profiling in airports in the 70’s. And Israel IS a hot target for terrorists.

  2. “It seems that once they get out of office, some politicians have a change of heart. No longer surrounded by the pressures of running the show, they can make better judgments.”

    There was a Canadian Member of Parliament (don’t remember his name and probably wouldn’t share it here if I did anyway) who said that he literally felt something ( ?) on Parliament Hill that made him feel dumber and less patient. He served his one term and got out of federal politics.

    Oh, and profiling will work for what these derps apparently have in mind: turning the world upside down and ruining it the rest of the way!

  3. TSA in the Airport and Beyond:

    Despite the controversy surrounding the intrusiveness of the Transportation Security Administration, its duties continue to expand. The agency now has Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads, known as VIPR teams, assigned to perform security sweeps at transportation facilities across the United States in the name of terrorism prevention.

    Included in the “transportation hubs” in which the VIPR squads are found are highway weigh stations, train terminals, sporting events, and music festivals, according to the Daily Kos.

    The teams were created in 2005 in response to the train bombing in Madrid, Spain, that killed 191 people in 2004, but the program has now reached a budget of $100 million, with 37 teams, marking a significant expansion of the program. Records from the Transportation and Security Administration show that in 2012, the VIPR teams conducted more than 8,800 unannounced checkpoints and search operations with local law enforcement outside of airports.

    According to the TSA’s official website, “TSA routinely conducts thousands of VIPR operations each year in transportation systems nationwide” — nearly 4000 in 2010 according to CNN.

    The New York Times writes that the teams are “composed of federal air marshals, explosives experts and baggage inspectors,” as well as bomb-sniffing dogs. Likewise, there is typically an undercover member who is dressed as a passenger who monitors the crowds for suspicious activity.

    Predictably, the squads have provoked the ire of privacy-protection advocates.

    The New York Times reports, “TSA and local law enforcement officials say the teams are a critical component of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts, but some members of Congress, auditors at the Department of Homeland Security and civil liberties groups are sounding alarms.”

  4. TSA to Ruin Train Travel Now, Too:

    If you’re an air traveler who feels the urge to pull your hair out every time you enter a security line at the airport, you may have considered taking Amtrak or even the bus instead. If so, you may want to scratch that idea. The Transportation Security Administration, you see, is showing up in train terminals. Perhaps you’d rather drive?

    TSA has not shown itself to be exceptionally useful for thwarting terrorism. It has never caught a terrorist in its airport checkpoints or anywhere else, as far as anyone knows. But the bureaucratic urge to expand cannot be easily suppressed. Lacking evidence of its value in airline terminals, TSA is branching out to other places where it can be equally ineffective.

    The agency “has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals,” reports The New York Times. Its Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, created in 2005, now gets $100 million a year “and is growing rapidly, increasing to several hundred people and 37 teams last year, up from 10 teams in 2008,” the Times says.

    In 2012, it conducted some 8,800 unannounced operations outside of airports, or 24 per day. No, it’s not requiring concertgoers and train passengers to take off their shoes and empty their pockets, but give it time. And never mind that local and state law enforcement agencies used to take responsibility for these venues if they were needed.

    The agency can’t be eliminated. On the contrary, it has a strong tendency to grow. In 2003, Congress limited it to a maximum of 45,000 employees, but — I know this will surprise you — that restriction was later lifted. It now has 58,000.

    If you have been around long enough to be familiar with the ways of Washington, you would expect nothing of the kind. DHS started out with some 170,000 employees and now has more than 200,000. Its budget ballooned by 40 percent, adjusted for inflation, between 2003 and 2012.

    Thanks in part to helpful guidance from Congress, the department has funded programs that address no plausible threat. Cato Institute policy analyst David Rittgers noted that it gave $100,000 to a lightly populated Ohio county for a hazardous materials trailer and truck, which the county later sold, deeming it a waste of money. It provided tiny Bennington, N.H., with $6,500 for chemical weapons suits.

    It’s all a bit much, but in the age of terror, there is no such thing as excessive security. So TSA and DHS will go on finding ways to justify their existence. Threats come and go, but threat responses last forever.

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