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TSA Security and why George Orwell is the New Nostradamas Answered

This is basically ripped from Digg, but I'd much rather open discussion here rather than over on Digg as Digg isn't a discussion, just a horde of comments...

Travelers at Sea-Tac and dozens of other major airports across America are being scrutinized by teams of TSA behavior-detection officers specially trained to discern the subtlest suspicious behaviors...Such people are referred for secondary screening, which can include a pat-down search and an X-ray exam. The microfacial expressions, he said, are the same across many cultures. ...a central task is to recognize microfacial expressions....

Article

Perhaps you've read Orwell's 1984 - if you haven't, do so.

He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

Digg Linked Here


Again a link to the Surveillance map - in which we (US) have joined the UK, Russia and China as an Endemic Surveillance society...

Link


How do you feel about your privacy?

I say this as I personally have almost nothing but contempt for the TSA.... I say that as someone that almost always gets extra screening - so much that almost all of my flight tickets of the "SSSS" designation (indicating you get special screening without anyone picking you out).

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user
jessyratfink (author)2008-01-03

There just has to be a better way to "save us from terrorists." Judging people based on their skin color, facial hair and general expression is getting us nowhere. Really.

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user

Well I dunno...when was the last time the US has been attacked by terrorists? Seven years ago? That seems pretty good compared to most countries that are targeted. Since 9/11, our security has been stepped up. Since 9/11, we haven't been attacked.

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user

And on September 10th... We hadn't been attacked by plane in 10 years....

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user

But we shouldn't have been attacked any of those times. Each time we are attacked, efforts are taken to avoid it happening again. If we don't change when something happens, it would be much easier for them to strike again. Like they say: We have to be right every time, they only have to be right once.

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user

Each time we are attacked, efforts are taken to avoid it happening again.

Bingo.... The problem is - that's not a goal we can reach... This is obvious given the fact that we have been hijacked after a previous one.... We will never be one step in front - we can only be one step behind.

Here's the key issue though.... It's not about any of this... It's about what's next. If a private restaurant did what the the TSA is currently doing... No one would stand for it. Even in a "heavily terrorized" nation where people have blown restaurants....

It also doesn't help that you can pay extra money in which a background check is done (which they do anyway for anyone that books a flight in advance) and you get less of a screening compared to everyone else.... The only thing a hijacker needs is to act autonomously...

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user

But we can catch a terrorist before he strikes, and we've done so. Just because we can't get them every time doesn't mean we shouldn't ever get them.

People would put up with security checks in restaurants to a point that it's worth it to them, just like at airports. People are just willing to put up with more at airports. If they made everyone check all luggage (which would then be totally sifted through by hand). And then made you have a full body cavity search and change into a pair of their pocket less scrubs, I'm sure you would stop flying.

People will put up with things to where it is worth it to them. At some schools, metal detectors and x ray machines are used, and people allow that. At many monuments and large buildings, metal detectors and x ray machines are used.

Those background checks don't free you from security checks, it just allows you to pass through a shorter line, and not be randomly selected for being checked. You still go through the metal detector and x ray machine. You will still be pulled over if the metal detector goes off. You bag will still be searched if there is something seen inside of it.

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user

An Orwellian society does not happen overnight - small progressions lead to the nightmare described in1984. So right now, it's just airports... In five years - all train/subway service will have the same security check points. A year from that - all bus service. A couple years later - you must submit documentation for interstate travel and await approval. Giving charity? The proper authorities have been notified...

On the subject of charity... In the months following 911 - IIRC, three specific charitable organizations had their assets frozen (among others)... Not for what they did - but what they might do (you know - relief to 10's of thousands of starving children globally and such)... Moving forward 10 months (all organizations cooperating in good faith of an error) - they are labeled terrorist organizations without any criminal case or evidence against them... Flash forward another two years - independent investigation finds no cause for the initial seizure nor the terrorism label.

At what point do we say - This is enough, this is my liberty - if I don't have it, what the hell are we fighting for?

Those background checks don't free you from security checks, ...and not be randomly selected for being checked.

Ergo - less screening.

People will put up with things to where it is worth it to them. At some schools, metal detectors and x ray machines are used, and people allow that. At many monuments and large buildings, metal detectors and x ray machines are used.

Use of it elsewhere doesn't validate anything... My old high school got new fences around the entire campus... So no one could "get in" and cause trouble.... Apparently, they've never heard the term "going postal" - now everyone is stuck inside with "trouble"

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user

Let's try not to get off topic..Micro expressions have nothing to do with charities being frozen. The fact is, if someone starts yelling that they have a bomb in an airport, they will be taken aside. This is just a subsection of that. Israel does the exact same thing, and if you have, or know people who have flown through there, you will know how safe they/you felt...they did not feel as if they needed to guard their emotions, lest they'll be arrested.

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user

It's not off topic... The topic is privacy and 1984 and has evolved into security. microexpresions is what triggered the discussion :)

I, for one, am glad we are not Isreal. My best friend went on holiday in Isreal... Funny thing is - he was robbed, at the airport in a "secure" area :)

The fact is, if someone starts yelling that they have a bomb in an airport, they will be taken aside.
We're not worried about in the airport - it's on the plane ;) All someone would have to say is "There's a bomb on the plane and it will go off if my heart is stopped" or similar. I imagine that any air marshal on board wouldn't gamble shooting that idiot...

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user

I'm glad we're not in Israel as well...but most people who I have talked to who have flown through there felt extremely safe.

All someone would have to say is "There's a bomb on the plane and it will go off if my heart is stopped" or similar. I imagine that any air marshal on board wouldn't gamble shooting that idiot...

What do you think they would do, open up the cock pit for them? No, the plane would be landed, people evacuated, man arrested. While panic may ensue, people won't be hurt.

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user

Planes have landed with hijackers and would-be bombs aboard.... There have been stand-offs.... Luckily, in all of those cases there wasn't a bomb and the purposes were not to blow up a building (instead, something on the order of releasing a prisoner) That being said - locking the cockpit doors is as effective as bullet proof glass in a bank.... I say that, because while working in Ft. Lauderdale, I frequently used a particular bank that had bullet proof glass after being robbed a few times.... The found out, on their next robbery, that bullet proof glass doesn't protect your patrons - and they still got robbed.... On a somewhat side note, I recently found out how the local Office Max was getting robbed.... They were having group rushes... About 50-75 people would come in at one time, not disperse within the store, then walk out with merchandise (they've yet to identify anyone AFAIK)... Thinking about it now, that seems like an effective way to garner more control of a plane... Imagine buying out all of the tickets - not filling all the seats.... The Air Marshall would quickly become visible :/

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user

Planes have landed with hijackers and would-be bombs aboard.... There have been stand-offs....

Which is why the US doesn't negotiate/pay ransoms. The TSA didn't fail, there was no bomb, and why terror plots are inevitable, damage is not.


That being said - locking the cockpit doors is as effective as bullet proof glass in a bank.... I say that, because while working in Ft. Lauderdale, I frequently used a particular bank that had bullet proof glass after being robbed a few times.... The found out, on their next robbery, that bullet proof glass doesn't protect your patrons - and they still got robbed....

But in the case where they have very rudimentary weapons, not much is accomplished. The goal of terrorism is to make people be afraid in their own country. If terror is achieved via plane, the goal is generally to use the airplane as a bomb. If no one is injured, than the American become reassured that their government is doing it's job. The goal would not be just to harm the people on the plane, it would be to harm other people as well. There are easier ways to kill 150 people than an airplane.

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user

The goal of terrorism is to make people be afraid in their own country.

As such - terrorism is successful.... I mean, we're freaking taking our shoes off at the airport.... Or confiscating Disney's Ariel Doll for fear of terrorist act...

The goal would not be just to harm the people on the plane, it would be to harm other people as well.
I'm not so sure of that - I mean, the potential to kill a bunch of people quickly is there... But the potential to have lasting social and economic problems are there. That is - they murdered nearly 3,000 people, and we've spent more than a trillion dollars on the wrong country.... That specific event may not have been planned - but that's one of the most effective bits of eco-terrorism I've ever heard of (next to dump bombing counterfeit money over an enemy)...

But in the case where they have very rudimentary weapons, not much is accomplished.

You mean like box cutters?

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trebuchet03 (author)trebuchet032008-01-07

I forgot to mention... on the subject of bombs.....

TSA Misses most Fake Bombs

And GAO has successfully gotten a real bomb through - without detection... That's in addition to a "toxic gas incendiary device." There's even a video of those components being detonated....

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royalestel (author)trebuchet032008-01-09

It's interesting to watch the discussion between you two. You seem to have similar news sources. You and I couldn't get two posts without being bogged down by disagreements over things it seems both you and 'berg take to be true. Personally, I'm thinking a couple technological leaps and we'll be a giant global village. Just like a normal tiny village, everyone will know everyone else's business, and then finding terrorist suspects is more a matter of data mining.

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trebuchet03 (author)royalestel2008-01-09

I hope that ultimately doesn't happen (the data mining bit) - that's is basically the reason I'm adamantly in support of privacy... Don't get me wrong though - I'm not against airport security.. I'm just against the current reasoning and profiling (hell, Mexico appears to be more "equal rights" with their random selection - push a button, light turns green or red - red for extra screening).... Want to prevent bombs? Stop the random bomb sniffer searches from being random - have everyone go through the stupid machines (you can then keep your shoes, bring a soda... etc.). The problem with that is the inconvenience and cost... Because the lives of citizens do have a price, and some safety is "inconvenient" for the TSA (their wording)... etc.

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user


Want to prevent bombs? Stop the random bomb sniffer searches from being random - have everyone go through the stupid machines (you can then keep your shoes, bring a soda... etc.). The problem with that is the inconvenience and cost... Because the lives of citizens do have a price, and some safety is "inconvenient" for the TSA (their wording)... etc.

I've never been through one...how long does it take? Because you would have to do that on top of all the other screening (bomb sniffing machines don't detect knives)

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user

Metal detectors do (and everyone goes through them which is why I don't have issue).... Sure, that won't get ceramic knives - but we're not screening for that at the moment anyway (My friends, family nor myself have been anyway)... Bomb sniffer machine takes about 2 seconds from the moment you step in... 5 seconds at the most... And they've had me go through after loading my crap onto the X-ray belt... It says "Step in" - "Air Pumps on" It puffs some air at you. Wait about a second and the acrylic doors at the front open.... Just think of how much time you'd save not having to take off your shoes - then put them back on (and how much advertising they'd save by not needing to advertise bringing slip on footwear :p) ;) I mean, if you have a bomb in there - this machine will find it... unless the machine is just a false sense of bomb security. ;)

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user

Do they detect all types of explosives?

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user

I just looked up how they work..It seems to me that as long as you haven't handled the explosives at all, and someone else wraps them up in a plastic bag, the machine won't catch it..

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user

As long as you don't handle the bag/have it on your person (which I don't see how that would work given the necessity of having possession :p)...

I set off a false positive without handling any items that could potentially set the machine off (but I was in the same warehouse) -- it's really sensitive if you've been around anything dubious (hell, I even had a shower - but I think because I handled my clean clothing before showering - I passed something on)...

Here's and example of how it's helped one group of people (it's the lesser evil and likely less embarrassing)...

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user

When I read, it said the air is supposed to get any particles from your clothing/skin and senses them. So if you did it right, couldn't you keep everything contained?

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user

I'm sure one could figure out how to get by it.... However, you can get by the whole shoe X-ray thing if you did it right (just make a sole lined with lead - it'll look like a solid sole to the person behind the x-ray machine). The key difference is - this is the first completely automated method - removing the TSA meat people from making human judgment calls (or lack thereof)... Calls like not catching my pocket knife in my backpack on an International flight... It was in a backpack pocket I almost never use... I didn't realize I had it until after I got home from my trip...

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user

it'll look like a solid sole to the person behind the x-ray machine).

..metal looks a different color on an x-ray machine, doesn't it?

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user

On the dual energy X-rays - yes... Metal is more dense is looks different... It's great - except in cases of steel boots and such... In any case, as long as it looks uniform - the tech won't think anything of it....

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user

It'd be interesting to get access to some TSA machines and run some experiments.

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user


As such - terrorism is successful.... I mean, we're freaking taking our shoes off at the airport.... Or confiscating Disney's Ariel Doll for fear of terrorist act...

I never said we're perfect...though taking off our shoes isn't so ridiculous.

I'm not so sure of that - I mean, the potential to kill a bunch of people quickly is there... But the potential to have lasting social and economic problems are there. That is - they murdered nearly 3,000 people, and we've spent more than a trillion dollars on the wrong country.... That specific event may not have been planned - but that's one of the most effective bits of eco-terrorism I've ever heard of (next to dump bombing counterfeit money over an enemy)...

Exactly, when something like that is successful, they've succeeded. But not much happened as a result of the plain that the terrorist was tied up in. The twin towers being hit is what caused the most mental damage, not the fact that terrorists were on the plane.

You mean like box cutters?

That was a fluke, one that should never have happened. But then, that's exactly why the security that you're complaining about was stepped up.

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user

Exactly, when something like that is successful, they've succeeded. But not much happened as a result of the plane that the terrorist was tied up in. The twin towers being hit is what caused the most mental damage, not the fact that terrorists were on the plane.

I don't mean to pull the Iraq war into this..... But when the war started there was an alleged connection between 9/11, Saddam and Iraq. Afterwards, it was revealed by the 9/11 commission's report that this was not the case....

I never said we're perfect...though taking off our shoes isn't so ridiculous.
It's a pain in the ass, yes.... But the reasoning is "fear of shoe bomber."

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user

I don't mean to pull the Iraq war into this..... But when the war started there was an alleged connection between 9/11, Saddam and Iraq. Afterwards, it was revealed by the 9/11 commission's report that this was not the case....

But if all the planes had been landed safely, with no one hurt...do you think such a big deal would have been made, and the same things would have happened in Iraq?

It's a pain in the ass, yes.... But the reasoning is "fear of shoe bomber."

It's not that we fear the shoe bomber, it's that we're learning from a mistake and not letting the same thing happen again.

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user

But if all the planes had been landed safely, with no one hurt...do you think such a big deal would have been made, and the same things would have happened in Iraq?

Those at power (key being the Secretary of Defense) during that time stated so :/ Rumsfeld wanted: best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. at same time. Not only UBL. SH = Saddam UBL = Osama... Quoted saying: Go massive, Sweep it all up. Things related and not.

You may recall the government responsible for 911 conspiracies (which I totally don't believe) - but those statements coming in less than 6 hours of the attacks were a kick start for the "imaginative."

It's not that we fear the shoe bomber, it's that we're learning from a mistake and not letting the same thing happen again.

Which goes back to my point that if they decide it's going to happen - and invest the effort... It's going to happen - on our terms as guided by the TSA or the security of some other country flying to the US (like in the shoe bombing case). Sure, we'll respond afterwards - they're likely to take away more civil liberties... But hey - we're "Safer."

But seriously, if we really were reacting to something that happened... Why don't we have the same rail security? I mean, the shoe bomber left from France - and was foiled by a flight attendant and bad matches... The Madrid train bombing killed a bunch a people - injured a lot more... But all one needs to ride BART is a couple bucks and nothing more.... If our security measures were truly reactionary - we'd see that across the board... But we don't, which shows they are a "feel good" measure... It shelters people from the reality that there is a problem....

It's almost painful for me to hear that a candidate's issue is that they promise to stop warrant less domestic espionage....

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user

Well I dunno...when was the last time the US has been attacked by terrorists? Seven years ago?

This bit of reasoning was bugging me, and I couldn't put my finger on it earlier...but this is what bothered me anyways: This is a lot like the hiker that bangs two sticks together in the woods, and his friend asks him why he is doing that. He replies that it is to keep the tigers away. The friend says there are no tigers in the area, and he replies, "see, it works !" ;-)

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Patrik (author)Goodhart2008-01-09

Silly joke: Why do elephants have red eyes? To camouflage themselves when they hide in cherry trees. Well, have you ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree? Great camouflage! (And yes, I do know elephants do not in fact have red eyes...)

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Goodhart (author)Patrik2008-01-09

Reminds me of all the elephant jokes that once "graced" the youth of my generation; another example:

How can you tell if an elephant has been in your refrigerator ?

By the footprints in the butter.

Elephant jokes

Although this is off topic ;-)

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glassspider2142 (author)Goodhart2008-01-09

damb never thought to look at the butter! i knew they had been in the fridge due to the 7 kg lump of crap left on my half eaten piza!

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user
Goodhart (author)glassspider21422008-01-09

serves you right for not finishing it up.

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user
glassspider2142 (author)Goodhart2008-01-09

well i want to maintain a neck! lol ... hope you enlightend by my cammera advice :)

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user
glassspider2142 (author)Patrik2008-01-09

haha they do have red eyes at will, and their camoflage so good it has even you fooled! think you should get a job cherry picking so you can see for your self how many elephants do live in cherry ochards!

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user

hi skinny! hows your fat dilusion going :)

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user
HamO (author)jessyratfink2008-01-03

is getting us nowhere.... I'm sorry but I don't believe we have had a single airliner hijacked since 911, have we., no more planes flown into buildings have we? As much as dislike the inconvenience of searches and limits at our airports, I would really dislike being used as a hostage waiting to die. Please Jessy, come up with a better way.

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user
trebuchet03 (author)HamO2008-01-03

We haven't - doesn't mean there hasn't been any ;) There's been 6 hijacks in cuba since 9/11 - all of which attempts to escape the country...

In any case the earliest hijack before 9/11 was in February 1991 (excluding attempts to escape from cuba as mentioned above)...

As always, any hijack will use permitted items as guided by the TSA ;)

Although - this quickly reminded me...

no more planes flown into buildings have we?
of
Plane Crashed into NYC High rise Building 2006

sure, no terrorists have hijacked our planes since 2001 and before that, since 1991... But planes have crashed into buildings, unfortunately...

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user

Box cutters were permitted on airplanes?

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user

Nope - but screwdrivers less than 6 or 7 inches are... As are lighters.... Really, all someone needs to say is that they have a bomb on the plane... From history - that works... Even when there isn't a bomb on the plane...

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user

As of August 4, 2007, in an effort to concentrate resources on detecting explosive threats, TSA will no longer ban common lighters in carry-on luggage. Torch lighters remain banned in carry-ons.

Lifting the lighter ban is consistent with TSA's risk-based approach to aviation security. First and foremost, lighters no longer pose a significant threat. Freeing security officers up from fishing for 22,000 lighters every day (the current number surrendered daily across the country) enables them to focus more on finding explosives, using behavior recognition, conducting random screening procedures and other measures that increase complexity in the system, deterring terrorists. The U.S. is the only country in the world to ban lighters – all other nations, including Israel and the U.K., do not.

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user

On "detecting explosive threats";

Vol. 24, #2: Summer of 2007 "2600" zine. The article name was: Fun at the Airport, by Evil Wrangler

On pages 22-24 is a story about a fellow in a major city airport....just looking around. What he found was that, as he wrote: "a major airport...infested with Transportation Safety Administration workers and idiotic, restrictive security policies designed to give the American public a false sense of safety...."

I will not quote from the rest of the article (please read it to get the details) save to give you his conclusions, & maybe it will inspire someone out there to get some "real" security out there.

From the last paragraph: "In summary, there are 2 points to take away. The first is that security is an illusion and that the Emperor is, indeed, quite naked, if you simply begin looking. The second, more disturbing point, is that the government both is lying to us and is spending (expletive removed) loads of tax money on nonsensical contrivances like the TSA...and should be replaced with something that actually could identify the small number of potential terrorists rather than forcing the entire population of the country to endure the misanthropic groping of an uneducated illiterate workforce. End of soapbox."

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user

It's easy to pick out certain instances and use them to convince anyone of either side. Hack you seen Sicko? It portrays the health care systems totally differently than any citizen of those country actually sees them to be. I've personally talked to a canadian family about their healthcare system and heard about the thousands of families without a general doctor, simply because the government won't hire enough. About how the father had to wait ~8 months for the procedure that my father got in a matter of weeks. Biased reports can never be used as evidence of a bad system.

Should be replaced with something that actually could identify the small number of potential terrorists


Good idea! We can just have two lines, one for terrorists, and one for normal citizens!

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user

Well, he wasn't really biased, he went in and snooped around, was unharrassed, but found no less then 12 ways a terrorist could either get on the plane unnoticed or create havoc right there at the airport itself. It was a bit of an eye opener for me to see just how open to attack this major airport was. A true hacker (IF he is one) doesn't enter any situation with preconceived ideas, but is there to learn.

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user

Is there any where online I could read it? Obviously I can't say for sure either way, but it seems that there is no way he went in there with an open mind for how security is..meaning he would only write about the bad - a well balanced paper would also probably not get as much attention.

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user

So far, that is the closest I can come to the article, sorry.

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