Posts Tagged ‘TSA’
May 26th, 2016 at 1:20 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: TSA Lines
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 31st, 2012 at 8:15 pm
TSA Exempts Itself from Cancer Screening

Remember this story from Richard Rahn of the Cato Institute the next time you’re looking for an example of how ours is turning into a government of men, not laws:

Use of X-ray body scanners is an example of regulatory deception. If you work in the private sector and spend substantial time around machines or substances that emit radiation, you normally are required to wear tags that measure radiation doses. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has exempted itself from that requirement with the argument that the doses of radiation passengers and TSA employees receive from the X-ray body scanners (backscatters) at airports is so low as to cause no more than a trivial amount of extra cancers. They may well be right, but without measuring what employees and passengers actually receive from frequent and sometimes miscalibrated machines, no one knows for sure. Besides, the effect of radiation on the body is cumulative.

The European Union has prohibited backscatters, as have many countries, because of concern about health and safety. TSA has come under great criticism for the use of these machines, particularly when a safer and better technology is available. TSA has not admitted the danger but quietly has been replacing some of the backscatters with millimeter-wave scanners. These machines rely on low-energy radio waves like those in cell phones and thus are believed potentially not to damage a person’s DNA, unlike the backscatters. These new machines are faster because a computer analyzes the image, rather than a guard as with the X-ray machines. They are better at detection and provide greater personal privacy. Still, the question remains, why is TSA phasing out the X-ray machines so slowly and not providing its employees with radiation-detection tags? Private employers probably would be sued over such behavior.

August 4th, 2012 at 10:40 am
Podcast: Time for TSA to Follow the Law Re: Its Use of Airport Body Scanners
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In an interview with the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”), Competitive Enterprise Institute (“CEI”) Transportation Analyst Marc Scribner discusses the legal challenge to compel the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) to comply with a year-old court order to give the public an opportunity to comment on the agency’s use of full-body scanners on airports.

CFIF joined CEI’s amici brief.

Listen to the interview with Mr. Scribner here.

June 26th, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Domestic Drones Turned Into Terrorist Missiles?

Previously, I’ve agreed with Charles Krauthammer’s concerns about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) being allowed into domestic airspace because of the threat to privacy from so-called “eyes in the sky.”

Now, Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is showing how tech savvy terrorists can, and very likely will, exploit a “gaping hole” in the government’s flight security structure.

Last Tuesday, in the barren desert of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, officials from the FAA and Department of Homeland Security watched as Humphrey’s team repeatedly took control of a drone from a remote hilltop. The results were every bit as dramatic as the test at the UT stadium a few days earlier.

DHS is attempting to identify and mitigate GPS interference through its new “Patriot Watch” and “Patriot Shield” programs, but the effort is poorly funded, still in its infancy, and is mostly geared toward finding people using jammers, not spoofers.

According to Humphreys, “Spoofing [a drone’s GPS receiver] is just another way of hijacking a plane.”

For about $1,000 and with a little bit of technical training a terrorist could take control of any civilian-operated drone and wreck havoc.  Without a human pilot at the controls, the drone’s onboard computer will simply follow whatever commands it is given, regardless of where they originate.

And while some terrorists may be interested in taking over surveillance drones for intelligence gathering purposes, the real danger is if a drone as large as a cargo plane – which FedEx plans to use when domestic drones are approved – is overtaken and flown into planes carrying people or into crowded buildings.

As Humphreys says, “In 5 or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace.  Each one of these would be a potential missile used against us.”

So not only would a terrorist hacker not need to buy a drone in order to fly one, he wouldn’t even need to go through an invasive TSA screening to reenact the 9/11 tragedy.

Because of pressure from the military and drone manufacturers, Congress is requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to fast-track regulations as part of the FAA’s reauthorization act.  Significant rules that will impact every American are to be conceived, written, and finalized within weeks of each other, and an entire regulatory scheme is mandated to be implemented in less than a year.

If you think that kind of statutory mandate translates into greater bureaucratic efficiency, think again.

The time-crunch – and the deliberate lack of oversight from Congress by pushing the rule writing onto an agency – means that everyday Americans will not be privy to the decision making process that will dramatically impact their safety in the air and on the ground.

Congress needs to rein itself and this process in.  With arguably illegal waivers being given to certain groups to avoid provisions of ObamaCare and No Child Left Behind, we’ve seen how arbitrary and capricious federal regulators can be when it comes to expedited rulemaking.  There’s no reason to expect a more coherent approach from an FAA trying to balance competing interests like privacy, profit, and public safety on an irrational deadline.

We need open debate and deliberation from our elected officials about the costs and benefits of domestic drones.  If Congress won’t engage the issue because it’s too politically painful, then the American people shouldn’t suffer a lapse in safety and privacy because their representatives would rather pass the buck than take responsibility.

December 17th, 2010 at 5:53 pm
DHS Mum on Downed Mexican Drone near El Paso, TX

Could it be that a loaded gun passing unnoticed through a TSA checkpoint isn’t the only foreign object slipping under the radar of Secretary Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?  Reports are surfacing that an unmanned drone aircraft belonging to the Mexican government crashed near a residence in El Paso, TX.  In a move that can only be explained as an attempt to confirm the suspicions of Area 51 types, DHS returned the drone before other U. S. agencies could inspect it.

So far, no one with knowledge is saying why an aircraft similar to the drones the U. S. military uses to kill insurgents in Afghanistan was flying almost a mile into American airspace.  Even more incredible is the acknowledged failure to inspect the vehicle to make sure it actually belongs to the Mexican government and not one of the sophisticated drug cartels it’s battling.

Feeling safe about that southern border yet?

December 17th, 2010 at 10:18 am
Podcast: Commentator Asks Whether TSA Searches Are Going Too Far
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Radio personality Mike Bates of 1330AM WEBY, Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, discusses airport security searches and argues that the virtual strip searches and full-body pat downs cross the line.

Listen to the interview here.

November 29th, 2010 at 11:31 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama Administration Gets Tough With North Korea
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 19th, 2010 at 10:31 am
Ramirez Cartoon – TSA: “Please Remove These Items From Your Person.”
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

March 27th, 2010 at 5:36 pm
Another TSA Nominee Fails to Make it Past Security

The White House is now 0-for-2 on nominees to head the Transportation Security Administration, the agency in charge of screening passengers and bags in airports, among other things.  The problem this time: the nominee’s defense contractor employer took more money than it was owed.  With the vacancy open for several months into the future, maybe Ponzi scheme artist Bernie Madoff will be out of prison in time to take the reins.

January 5th, 2010 at 2:32 pm
President to Announce Airline Safety Measures
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In response to the attempted terrorist attack aboard a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day, President Obama is set to release a new wave of airport security measures.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has responded somewhat by giving pat-downs to travelers from Yemen, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and 11 other countries that are havens for terrorist activity.

Of course, the Christmas bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab, was already in a U.S. database of 550,000 suspected terrorists, but that did not subject him to additional scrutiny under current law.  No word yet on whether the President’s new proposals will change this practice.

Read more of CFIF on Homeland Security and Terrorism.

December 29th, 2009 at 5:36 pm
TSA to Unionize?

The fracas surrounding Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) hold on Erroll Southers’ nomination to be the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) next chief shows the endurance of two liberal pastimes.  First, the refusal of any of DeMint’s critics to directly address his concerns that Southers will clear the path for TSA workers to unionize.  The second is the enshrinement of unelected bureaucrats as the sine qua non of a workable federal government.

Right now, the TSA’s supposed top priority is to protect Americans traveling through the nation’s airports and on its airways.  If TSA’s workers are allowed to unionize its primary focus, like all other public employee unions, will become job protection and expanding compensation.  To Senator DeMint that means less flexibility in personnel decisions and higher taxes.  Apparently, Southers hasn’t been candid about whether he supports unionization.  Disregarding the senator’s qualms, pilots unions and trade associations are calling for DeMint to relent.  For those familiar with him, that isn’t likely.

Perhaps what’s more amazing (or disgusting, depending on your current level of holiday cheer) is the implied premise of Southers’ supporters that TSA is “rudderless” without a permanent, Senate-approved leader.  Granted, Congress is on an extended vacation and the president is golfing in Hawaii, but no one can seriously argue that TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA, or the myriad of other federal departments, agencies, or bureaus touching on domestic safety are insufficiently empowered to decide who gets on an American airplane.  If anything, the admission that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s name was on a terror watch list and had been reported to the American government by his own father indicate that “what we’ve got here is…failure to communicate” among various federal entities.

If it takes a new law to make that possible, so be it.  But fast-tracking a stealth unionization administrator can wait until he and his supporters come up with a better reason than a civil servant’s indispensability.