Bruce Schneier on terror attacks post 9/11

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    I wonder what the outcome would be if TSA went through and did updated background checks on all employees who have been there longer than 6 months.
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  2. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    I wonder what the outcome would be if an agency with actual experience in performing real background checks did it for them.
  3. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    :) I almost added that in, because I don't have a high opinion of the outside contractor doing the checks.

    I think a serious background check is appropriate, given what's at stake, don't you? Security professionals tasked with guarding pax from evil-doers every minute of every day while surrounded with all sorts of temptations? Yes, I think a rigorous background check is in order.

    I'd rather see my tax dollars spent on that than on more bogus 're-training'.
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  4. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    I think that if the TSA can threaten a guy with $11,000 in fines for saying "Don't touch my junk," then "re-training" is not an effective motivator for TSA employees - penalties for screwing around on the job should be substantially more than "civilian" penalties.
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  5. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    The constant need for 're-training' tells me that 1) the training is ineffective and/or 2) the employee(s) in question are 'untrainable'.

    I don't care if the 'bad apple' employees are untrainable because they are not intelligent enough or because they don't care. Either way, if they can't do their job, they should be removed from being allowed to perform that function immediately.

    Of course, none of this would be happening in a well-run organization. Managers need to be fired. Lots of them. But I bet Chertoff and company could come up with an expensive 're-training' program designed just for ineffective government managers.
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  6. RB

    RB Founding Member

    You guys will probably flame me to a charred cinder but if we are going to have a TSA then I think they should attend an academy. Screening methods along with some physical fitness and knowing how to deal with people would seem to be a good place to start. The background checks can be done while in training and if there is something that pops up, well just to bad, walk home.

    What we have now is surely not working very well so if we are going to be forced to pay for this agency with tax monies then we should demand a professional group of people.

    We damn sure don't have a professional TSA today!
  7. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Honestly? I don't think DHS/TSA would be able to find that many people who could even pass a physical fitness test. I'm not just saying this as a snark - even the armed forces are having to lower their physical fitness requirements so that they can enlist people.

    If TSA wants to expand, and an academy was a part of this, they'd have to ditch the physical fitness requirement.

    I'd rather spend my energy shutting them down forever. :)
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  8. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    But some of them are quite fit. Lots of very healthy vocal cords get exercised at US checkpoints. And at some airports, the baggage handlers must be reasonably fit - the professional cameras that TV folks use weigh more than a pound or two, but apparently one screener had no problem slipping one into his personal little backpack and carrying it off. Lots of good joints - when you're squatting and groping all day long, you need to be reasonably fit.

    No taxpayer-funded gyms, please. I don't have a problem setting pre-employment physical fitness standards (although I'd place more emphasis on honesty and courtesy and common sense), but my Fortune 100 employer doesn't subsidize my fitness, so why should I subsidize someone else's?
  9. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    I would not be opposed to a physical fitness standard but not for the reasons some of you are apparently advocating. A healthy workforce is a working workforce. On-the-job injuries take quite a toll. Part of it is because of the nature of repetitive lifting of awkward objects such as passenger luggage; a lot of it is because of poor lifting techniques; and part of it is because of poor physical fitness. Ergonomic tools to aid in the lifting of heavy bags are great, but the employee still has to be at a minimum level of adequate physical fitness. I see this purely as a matter of reducing/eliminating costs associated with overtime used to compensate for shortages because an employee has medical restrictions.

    As for taxpayer-funded gyms, I am also against it. However, a smart gym owner will offer a corporate rate to attract large number of members through the doors. From that point, it's a matter of talking new members into the package deals that a lot of gyms offer, but that's strictly between the gym and gym member. As it turned out, I got in on a membership package that was cheaper than what TSA/DHS employees get at the corporate rates.

    At one time, TSA apparently had a physical fitness requirement but it was enforced only as an entry standard. I don't know if it was something that TSA could not enforce or chose not to enforce. I would not be bothered if it had enforced it; however, TSA is NOT the military, so I'm not sure where to draw the line. Soldiers have to be able to maneuver through a hostile battlefield; police officers have to be able to chase down suspects; fire fighters have to be able to move in and out of burning buildings while carrying heavy equipment or rescued victims. None of this applies to TSOs. Still, I favor a physical fitness standard purely as a measure to ensure a healthy workforce as opposed to one that is hampered by a high percentage of OJIs.
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  10. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Maybe. But the barkers at ATL and PHX always look like they're at the edge of apoplexy.
  11. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    The TSA hasn't been able to enforce minimum standards consisting of non-criminal/polite behavior. I'm certain that physical fitness is a subject they couldn't touch.
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  12. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    My company requires the ability to lift 75 lbs (some stuff is heavy) so TSOs should be held to some physical fitness standard as a requirement to remain employed.

    As to the background checks? I would like to say that background checks mean something. Unfortunately they aren't effective. Many spies were trusted before being caught.
  13. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Generally, I agree.

    Just looking around the airports at the TSA staff, I'd say most of them couldn't pass a fitness requirement. I could outrun them any old day of the week. Heck, I'll even put on stilettos and I bet I could still outrun a lot of them. Of course I actually do my time at the gym (wearing black, of course). ;)

    TSA is not law enforcement or military, but they sure do try to hold themselves out to be law enforcement, and from what I've observed, they certainly don't mind if people mistake them for law enforcement.

    When I stop and think about the TSA though, I find them a bit bewildering. They fall into a bizarre category of non-law enforcement, but with quasi-law enforcement duties - they're allowed to search through my bag and examine my car keys and look disapprovingly at my choice of reading material, but they still miss the swiss army knife that had been in my bag for eons. They yell orders like we're all in boot camp or something. I'll never forget the TSA agent who ragged on me for awhile because when I put my shoes on the belt they weren't eight inches away from the bin with my other stuff in it. Seriously, she yelled at me because of some eight inch rule that I didn't know about. :confused: She also missed my swiss army knife.

    But they're there for my safety. Okay - I'll accept that for the moment. What if I'm standing in line minding my own business and someone really did have a bomb and was going to detonate it right there? Would the TSA know what to do in that circumstance? What if someone had guns and started firing indiscriminately? What does the TSA agent do? Call the cops? A very large number of passengers will be turning to the TSA looking for guidance. What will they find? I know for me, I don't feel very safe when I'm anywhere near a checkpoint. I do my best to get out of there as quickly as I can.

    Since the TSA was created I've run into maybe 10 or so agents that I would consider up to the job/helpful/courteous/respectful/competent, etc. That's it - and I used to fly once a week or so, so I'd run into them a lot. It's really kind of depressing.
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  14. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

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  15. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Well I think TSA should stop playing quasi-military with the honor guards, saluting and other military like behaviors. Can't have it both ways.

    edit to add:

    This sure looks military like.,0,
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  16. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

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  17. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Well I did say military "like", not military.

    I'll be checking out some TSA types in the morning, will see what hijinks they are up to this week.
  18. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Seriously. It's as if it's impossible to train them to do so much as tuck in their shirt-tails.
  19. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    When the TSA decided to pass on some (not so) secret intel to screeners a couple of years ago, they had to do an expanded background check of those employees. It turned out quite a few had some skeletons in their closets, and where shown the door. Whoopsie! :rolleyes:
  20. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    This. I really wish I knew why TSA is so averse to terminating bad employees. It seems that the only way TSOs get fired is when they're caught breaking the law and stealing from/assaulting pax or committing sex offenses against teenagers when off-duty.

    People, as a general rule, understand that no organization is perfect and so wouldn't think twice about some (expletive deleted) TSO being pink-slipped for mouthing off to pax, spouting DYWTFT, lying about SOP or whatever else. Only nowadays, after TSA's public image has been utterly destroyed, people are more inclined to take note of terminations because TSA management and Blogger Bob have built up this facade of perfection and infallibility which seems so implausible to begin with that when something does go wrong, the response is less of a "Hmm, them's the breaks" and more of a"Well DUH!"

    People expect a certain measure of laziness and misconduct, doubly so in the public sector. (expletive deleted), there's a reason we have the expression "Good enough for government work." Showing "bad apples" the door would've been a source of good PR had they just been willing at the outset. But no, they had to pretend to be perfect and build up an unattainable image, and now people just see how false it is. 12-gauge, meet foot.

    Oh, wait, I "voluntarily surrendered" my 12-gauge at LAX T1. Oops.
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