NY Times: With Hair Pat-Downs, Complaints of Racial Bias

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    Agreed. Too bad this amazingly expensive imaging equipment couldn't manage to *see* through either woman's natural hair, going through scanning first without alarm in both cases. "You're good, but..."
    News stories on the topic should have comments posted in reply which point to the drug search motive and rewards offered, to bring awareness to the non-security agenda, and relation to profiling.
     
  2. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Interesting question. How exactly would a scanner scan "external and internal" simply by taking emanations from the body? A scanner that scans like the L3 and RapiScanner, or the internal scanner that scans right through the body (also currently available), is *not* dealing with physical emanations. I'm wondering whether you are trial ballooning those Smith internal scanners with an ATR-like interface, which would be awful. The machines that work on emanations are the puffer and more sophisticated devices of that sort.

    I think devices that truly limit themselves to emanations are similar in search concept to dog sniffing and WTMD. Most folks wouldn't have too much trouble with those if they worked well.

    If there was a machine that scanned through your clothing and your body, this still runs afoul of the 4th Amendment, no matter *how* the results are rendered. ATR is still a violation of the 4th Amendment, however, it is a stopgap that is better than the quasi nude rendering with peepers in the booths. Also, what exactly would be the resolution rubrics of such an external/internal scanning device? It would necessarily entail cavity searches if external search failed to resolve the issue, would it not? Once you start looking where you ought not to be looking, you make problems for yourselves. That is why even the ATR is destined for the scrap heap.

    If we are going to fantasize about the perfect machine, that worked, respected the 4th Amendment and privacy (no image rendering), and was medically safe, why are you fixated on a scanner that scans over the surface and internals of the body? That tells me that y'all have a mindset to do this from the get-go. You could just as easily speculate about the perfect machine that worked well purely using emanations.
     
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  3. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Give them time.

    Power, power, power. It's all about power and control. It's slave training.
     
  4. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    In a way you are describing Explosive Trace Detection / Explosive Trace Portals. This county put a man on the moon in roughly the same amount of time that the TSA has been around; all that is needed is some competence in drawing up the procurement and maintenance specifications. One would also have to eliminate the political grift of people like Michael Chertoff and the Nude-O-Scopes, though
     
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  5. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    I don't believe this was racial profiling. I do believe that this could have been handled better. Unfortunately, there aren't enough details to tell what really happened.
     
  6. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    If TSA would level with people and tell them the rules, they would know what to expect. Instead this sort of thing occurs and breeds more suspicion of the agency, and whether it is warranted or not is not actually important, as the fact that such suspicion exists is itself detrimental to the agency's mission.
     
  7. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    Agreed. I think this situation is more of a lack of clear communication than anything malicious. To be quite honest with you, I'm glad this is in the news because it will force TSA to enforce simple practices like actually advising passengers of the screening process instead of TSOs just mumbling the words. I believe this passenger was told what to expect; however, I think the TSO simply went through the motion with the explanation like a checklist rather than clearly communicate it so that the passenger understood what was going to happen.
     
  8. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    What I would *like* to see is a machine that can clear people completely and remove the majority of patdowns. I would truly love to see a passive machine that clears the folks, thereby rendering any discussion of health risks moot.

    You raise a valid point about the limits of the administrative search and the resolutions of positive alarms. It is a can of worms at best, and a can of snakes at worst. ATR is a move towards the passengers (a small one admittedly, but at least they have shown that someone is listening), and hopefully there will be other adjustments in the future to make travel more easygoing for the passengers. The theoretical point I was making was a machine that is passive and clears the entire passenger would be nice. I also realize this is an unrealistic hope at this point, but maybe something that can be done in the future.

    The question of limits is something that would have to be considered by a higher level than myself. I was just gauging the response level here is such a machine were to be available. I loved the ETP, but they really did prove to be unreliable in the checkpoint areas due to cleanliness issues and the level of maintenance required to keep them running. Maybe some format of those will come back with a more reliable design, but I don't see much research being done at this point.
     
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  9. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    Research done by whom, TSA?
     
  10. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    Based upon my information, yes. The cost over run on maintenance was about 4 times what was forecast - this is all second hand info, so don't quote me on it, as I have no hard printout or link to give you on it.

    The only hard info link I have is the blog at TSA :http://blog.tsa.gov/2009/05/explosive-trace-detection.html

    According to that, we spent a total of 29.6 million on the entire ETP program, and 6.2 million of it was for maintenance.
     
  11. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    An aspect of the problem is the seeming obsession of the agency with machines, which can and do fail. Does one really think that a plot as deep-rooted as 9/11, could be averted by this or that detection device?
     
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  12. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    Obsession with the newest best equipment is something we all suffer from at times. AIT solves some of the problems with being hands on with passengers, downside was the imagery and still having to be patted down if an anomaly is found. ETP tested for explosive residue, downside was the maintenance was a bear. Pat downs find all kinds of items that are dangerous, downside is being touched by someone you don't know. Intel is the best angle that is being played out right now, it is also the easiest angle to mess up. Use certain info you glean out from sources and you out that source, most likely getting them killed or at least rendering them useless in the future. Use them wisely and some smaller incidents still occur, even though it was known about. I think the focus on tech is ok, as long as the tech we get does the job at hand, and therein lies the rub. AIT is not perfect, ATR is not perfect, even patdowns are not perfect. TSOs are in a no-win situation, if they find something during a search that is illegal but not WEI, they are to turn it over to local LEOs - then they are berated by certain elements for "looking for drugs", when all they did was patdown someone that alarmed (or was selected randomly), or did a bag check on something that the Xray operator couldn't clear. If a TSO misses anything related to WEI, they are excoriated by a certain element as being unprofessional or an idiot, when the item was simply secreted well. Nothing is perfect, and the tech is not the end all be all of screening, but it is a big part and some of it serves its purpose quite well.

    As for the plot? Now? Maybe, but nothing is perfect. Back then? Probably not, because the rules were different then, and the attitude was different. The biggest things we seem to be focused on right now are ... well, WEI, because they have the best chance of taking down a plane in the hands of someone determined.
     
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  13. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    I hear what you're saying, but I think there's perhaps a more basic problem here, which is that the agency is buying junk faster than they can train people. I wrote a little piece over at Daily Kos about the abysmal lack of training that TSOs have in using the "CastScope", how they can't be sure what the heck they are looking at, and they have to rely on the passenger (this is the potential terrorist) to interpret the images for them. And this seems to me just the tip of an iceberg.
     
  14. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    More frightening about the cast scope is that it is a much more powerful x-ray device being operated by people with zero radiological training. One woman reported being required to straddle the device for pictures repeatedly before she was cleared to travel.
     
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  15. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    Oh, well, that too, of course. I didn't want to get into that, but there are some real horror stories, multiple xrays, no shield of body parts by anyone, bones visible in xrays -- WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!
     
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  16. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    A relative (MD trained radiologist) refuses to go through them. Multitude of issues.
     
  17. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    bolding mine.

    It is nice to dream. But thinking we're ever going to have a machine or a process that clears people completely without violating them in some fundamental way is nothing more than a pipe dream. Bart has it right. We cannot get to "complete clearance" without losing things we simply cannot afford to lose, and make air travel so burdensome nobody will want it. I think TSA has to lose this as a goal. It gets translated at the front lines into the horror stories that have played out these past several months, kids being felt up, grandmothers getting their Depends removed, and all the rest, all too depressing to rehash now. Pretty good security is all you're going to get, air tight, never. And if you're dealing with pretty good, you can dispense with the really invasive things, the crotch invasions, boob gropes, etc. If random is being used now, with random selection into WTDM, or random gate searches, then things like random dog runs would probably do the trick just as well, and you decrease the potential of abusing people.
     
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  18. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    It is not good for our nation to violate citizens' Constitutional Rights. Technology can do great things for us. It's no surprise that fascists would like to use technology to realize their lunatic fantasies of total control over a passive population. That's what they've always wanted, and technology seems to be offering them new ways to achieve their goals. Whatever!

    What do the rest of us want? Why should we squander our national resources in the fulfillment of a handful of psychopaths' fantasies? Most of us can see through their hype and fear mongering and see that we don't need to dismantle the Constitution to be reasonably safe.

    I think a fundamental shift of direction is needed here. I'm hoping 2012 will be the year we scale back the fascist crazies and return the U.S. Constitution to its rightful place as Law of the Land. When I read about no-knock warrants resulting in citizens' murders, CPS zealotry resulting in government sponsored kidnapping and child abuse, sociopathic police beating up photographers and TSA thugs rooting around in citizens' undies, I feel a deep sense of loss. We were a great country. We could be great again. All we have to do is stand up for what is right and reject the silly drivel spouted by fascist loons.

    We've always had fascist loons. They've come at us from Left, Right and Center. They claim we can be safe, if only we'll surrender our rights to them. Now they claim that technology can make the process of surrendering our rights to them entirely painless. The yoke of slavery will be virtual, rather than physical. There will be no chafing, no sores and no weight.

    I think the majority of Americans will be OK with this, but it will nonetheless destroy our nation. The minority who are not OK with fascism in any form will leave the sheep to their new masters, and the flock will not fare well.
     
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  19. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    I can understand that POV, if you run into a TSO that has never operated the machine (on the floor in real time) and they bumble around, it can leave a terrible impression on the quality of employee that you are dealing with. We have all been in a situation where someone is training or has no clue what is going on, or is nervous because it is there first time doing something. I am truly lucky in a number of respects with training because we get the assigned training and even help each other when there is a question (here at my airport). The cast scope is a relatively simple process machine (you put the arm in the correct location, scan, interpret image), as for the interpretation part, that is where the training and image review comes into play. I have never used castscope, never even seen one in person before, so I can't speak as to how difficult the image interpretation will be. If it is like the regular xray, it is a matter of reviewing and practice. We don't really have many castscopes either do we? Do you know how many are deployed nationwide Cartoon?
     
  20. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    I have spoken before on the differing POVs on the level of security, Ihave a decidedly different viewpoint on acceptable security than many others that I work with. I cut my teeth in security at a Nuke site in the Army, so you can imagine the evels of security I have worked with on a regular basis - completely inapplicable (for the most part) in aviation security for comercial aviation. We have a goal as an agency to prevent anything bad from happening - and that is unrealistic, but noble. The point of security at the airport could be protect as many folks as possible or it could be give the folks basic protection and let the cards fall where they may... right now, we are in the middle somewhere. I agree with some of the policies and disagree with others, and we seem to be reaching a point where things are changing (again), hopefully this time it will change for the better on both ends - allowing effective security, while easing the challenges on the passengers. Only time will tell if this is what will happen with the changes coming down the pipe, but I certainly hope that things get better for all involved.

    I can dream can't I? I saw it in Total Recall, it has to be real...
     

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