November 19, 2012

Something guaranteed to get Seth steamed up…

From Freedom Outpost:

On November 9, 2012 the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) issued a press release indicating that “Workers at the Transportation Security Administration made history today when they voted to ratify the first-ever collective bargaining agreement at the agency. The agreement between the American Federation of Government Employees and TSA was ratified with a vote of 17,326-1,774.”

The AFGE represents over 650,000 employees of the federal government. It is the largest union for non-postal federal employees and the largest union for D.C. workers who report directly to the mayor.

Brian Koenig writes that the AFGE “coerces members to fork over between $14 and $16 out of each paycheck, providing the organization with up to $16 million more in revenue per year. Portions of this influx of money will go to subsidizing Democratic election campaigns and funding a number of liberal agendas.”

Koenig went on to claim that the “union doled out $2 million on lobbying to the government largely to guarantee that federal employees get paid more to work less.”

A unionized TSA, gee whiz!

How does THIS grab you?

The Washington Times reported on the contract:

Under the new TSA contract, employees will win annual leave based not on their performance, but how long they’ve held on to the job. They’ll also be able to wear shorts when it’s hot, with the tab for the new wardrobe picked up by the taxpayers. House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica, Florida Republican, blasted the deal for focusing on “tie tacks and tattoos” instead of issues that actually matter. Those tie tacks can’t exceed 1/2-inch in diameter and must be gold or silver in color. Tattoos must be covered by a sports sleeve or band that does not detract from the uniform. TSA must also provide office space for designated TSA union officials to work on union business at taxpayer expense.

Tie Tacks & Terrorists…

by @ 9:42 am. Filed under Government Stupidity, Homeland Security, TSA Concerns, Weasels

July 19, 2012

More “fun” with TSA

It’s beginning to seem — no, actually it began to seem a long time ago — like the T in TSA stands for “Tragedy”.

If Seth, being the security professional hereabouts and the most loudly vocal critic of the Transportation “Security” Administration I have the pleasure of knowing, were posting this one, I’m sure he’d have some choice epithets.

From CSN News:

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved flight training for 25 illegal aliens at a Boston-area flight school that was owned by yet another illegal alien, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The illegal-alien flight-school attendees included eight who had entered the country illegally and 17 who had overstayed their allowed period of admission into the United States, according to an audit by the GAO.

Six of the illegal aliens were actually able to get pilot’s licenses.

I wonder if “Gadzooks!” would be considered sufficiently strong to cover this piece of news…

Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Ala.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said he found the GAO’s findings “amazing.”


“We have cancer patients, Iraq War veterans and Nobel Prize winners all forced to undergo rigorous security checks before getting on an airplane,” said Rogers, “and at the same time, ten years after 9/11, there are foreign nationals in the United States trained to fly just like Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 hijackers did, and not all of them are necessarily getting a security background check.”

Stephen Lord, who is the GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues, testified about the matter Wednesday in Rogers’ subcommittee. Rogers asked him: “Isn’t it true that, based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country learning how to fly airplanes, yes or no?”

Lord responded: “At this time, no.”

Although the illegal alien who owned the Massachusetts flight school had not undergone a required TSA security threat assessment and had not been approved for flight training by the agency, he nonetheless held two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot licenses, also known as FAA certificates.

Read the entire article here.

What kind of government are we running here, exactly? More to the point, what kind of people are these politicians we elect to protect us hiring to supervise these efforts? Can you imagine such incompetent people holding a job, for any length of time, in the private sector?

Seth has long advocated extracting the politics from the business of protecting the people and placing qualified, dedicated professionals in charge of these efforts, people who have literally been there and done that, rather than PhDs owed political favors by career politicians for getting their worthless hides elected.

As taxpaying citizens, a form of paying customer, we are surely entitled to some bang for our buck, and I’m not referring to the kind of “bang” we’ll get if these idiots don’t start doing what we pay them to do.

by @ 12:12 pm. Filed under Homeland Security, Security, TSA Concerns, Unbelievable!

May 19, 2012

TSA, Our Very Own Homeland Security Threat

Yes, keeping up with Seth’s reading, in his absence, in order to try to keep up with Hard Astarboard (and I stress “try”) can be a highly informative activity.

Also in line with the boss’ particular interest in his own profession, Security, there’s some material (though not the more Protection Industry specific, “non-publishable” stuff) on the subject that I spend time reading, and if I believe it is relevant to Seth’s security blogging interests, share it.

One of his greatest pet peeves, as long time readers will know, is the inept sieve of useless bureaucracy known via oxymoron as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).


Top ranking TSA managers are not telling the head office about nearly half of the security breaches at the country’s major airports — including Newark — making it more difficult to spot dangerous weaknesses in the national fight against terrorism, according to a federal report obtained by The Star-Ledger.

But much of the fault may lie with the Transportation Security Administration headquarters itself, which has a poor system for reporting and monitoring breaches, says the report, which is scheduled to be released today by the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the TSA.

Let’s not all have cardiac arrest as a result of our amazed shock!

“The agency does not provide the necessary guidance and oversight to insure that all breaches are consistently reported, tracked and corrected. As a result, it does not have a complete understanding of breaches occurring at the Nation’s airports and misses opportunities to strengthen aviation security.” states the report, signed by Anne L. Richards, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant inspector general.

The report grew out of a February 2011 request by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) for an investigation into articles by The Star-Ledger about at least half a dozen security breaches at Newark Liberty International Airport in January and February of that year.

While the report focused on breaches occurring at Newark Liberty from January 2010 to May 2011, it says investigators also reviewed security breaches at five other major airports during the same 16-month period, to determine the severity of Newark’s problem as well as deficiencies at other airports and for TSA operations generally. The five other airports were not identified, though Lautenberg had requested investigators also look at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports.

While the actual number of breaches were blacked out, the redacted report said that only 42 percent of breaches detected in Newark during the survey period were then reported by local managers to the agency’s central Transportation Security Operations Center. The average reporting rate among all six airports surveyed was 53 percent, while the highest rate at any one of them was 88 percent.

Doesn’t that just make you want to make immediate flight reservations?


“A TSA source told The Star-Ledger newspaper there were three more security lapses, but TSA has disputed them,” Lautenberg stated in letter dated Feb. 24, 2011, asking Inspector General Richard Skinner to look into the beaches.

Even before last year’s breaches in Newark, Lautenberg told Skinner, in January 2010 a Rutgers graduate student took advantage of a vacated security post at a checkpoint exit lane to enter a secure area and kiss his girlfriend, shutting the airport for six hours and disrupting air travel around the world.


Investigators found local officials often may not report security problems because of confusion over what the national guidelines from TSA headquarters require.

Ah, yes, your typical “well oiled machine”…

One of the six airports did not report that a passenger had been allowed into a secure area without a valid boarding pass because the local TSA management did not consider it reportable “based on their interpretation of the guidance.”

Well oiled: Supplying KY for airline passengers headed for Bendover, Massachusettes.

Now, now, Mrs Wolf… Actually, I remember Seth telling us that of every U.S. airport he’s passed through, the only one in which he found any professionals working for TSA was Logan International, in Boston.

One possible reason for the under-reporting, the report suggested, is that the definition of a breach varies in internal agency literature.

Yeah, guys, better talk fast…

For example, the report quotes one TSA operations directive, titled “Management of Security Breaches,” as defining a breach as, “any incident involving unauthorized and uncontrolled access by an individual or prohibited item into a sterile area or security area of an airport that is determined by TSA to present an immediate and significant risk to life, safety or the security of the transportation network.”

But a different directive, involving the agency’s Performance and Results Information System, titled, “Reporting Security Incidents via PARIS,” refers only to individuals’ gaining access improperly, not to prohibited items. The result, the report states, was differing interpretations of what constituted a breach among local TSA managers, resulting in inconsistent reporting, with only headquarters to blame.

“At the six airports visited, TSA did not always take action or document their actions to correct security breach vulnerabilities because,” the report states, “the agency did not provide TSA management at the airports with a clear definition or guidance for identifying and reporting security breaches through its reporting systems.”

Sure, sure…

Hat Tip to an email link from Steven Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

by @ 11:45 am. Filed under Homeland Security, Security, TSA Concerns

May 4, 2012

About Time!!!!

It would, of course, have to come from Rand Paul — he and dear old dad are among the few politicians in Washington who actually speak their minds these days.

Senator Rand Paul has issued a press release in which he vows to lead the charge to “end the TSA” and put a stop to the needless and humiliating groping of toddlers and grandmothers.

Earlier this year, Paul was detained by the TSA after refusing to submit to an invasive pat down after already having passed through a body scanner. The incident prompted national headlines and caused the Senator to miss his flight.

“It’s time to END the TSA and get the government’s hands back to only stealing our wallets instead of groping toddlers and grandmothers,” says Paul in the statement.

LOL! (above emphasis mine)

Best of luck; I know Seth, being a Security specialist himself, has been wanting TSA to be flushed down the nearest commode, where it belongs, for years!

by @ 9:07 am. Filed under TSA Concerns

July 16, 2011

Flying the “friendly” skies?

One of the things that’s cool about babysitting Seth’s email and Hard Astarboard for the moment is the access I have to “the boss’” daily emails at his various addresses, including one of his professional ones (where he receives stuff pertaining to his professional milieu). I get to read more in-depth articles on various issues that are hardly covered in the media, but also find articles and other items of interest that are specifically pointed out at certain on-line publications, such as this one that has published an article from, of all newspapers, The Tennessean.

Since one of Seth’s largest concerns here and elsewhere is Security with, in large part, emphasis on Homeland Security and one of his pet peeves has long been the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), here’s this one:

Thousands of airport security breaches raise alarms

More than 25,000 security breaches — an average of seven per day — have occurred at U.S. airports since November 2001, according to newly released Department of Homeland Security documents.

More than 14,000 were people entering “limited-access” areas by going through airport doors or passageways without permission, or unauthorized people going from airport buildings to planes, according to the documents to be presented at a House subcommittee hearing today.

The documents, obtained in advance by USA TODAY, don’t provide details about the security breaches or whether any could have led to potential attacks on planes or passengers.

The total number of infractions is small when compared with the large volume of traffic at the 450 major airports in the U.S., which have served more than 5.5 billion fliers since 2001. But critics say there is still reason to worry.

“It’s clear the airports are not secure,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations. “For all the money, time and persistence we have thrown at airport security, it’s a real mess.”

Clear/ not clear/ whatever: that many flaws leave plenty of room for one or more of their number to allow one or more incidents which, given that we’re talking airplanes (we need only look back to September 11, 2001 to see how much tragedy can be brought about by unsecured airplanes, even one such plane), which contain not only enough aviation fuel to make them into WMDs, but scores of vulnerable innocent human lives in the form of passengers, as well.

You have to ask, “What are these TSA people and DHS doing with their working hours and our tax dollars, exactly? Playing “tiddly winks”?

Damage Control

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nicholas Kimball said the breaches represent a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the air travelers who used U.S. airports in the past decade. The term “breach” is broadly defined and can mean accidental violations that pose no real danger to the public, he said.

“Many of these instances were thwarted or discovered in the act,” Kimball said. “These events were reported, investigated and remedied. … We have taken extensive steps to increase the safety of the traveling public, and that is why airports today are safer than ever before.”


Security consultant Raffi Ron will testify today that the TSA has spent billions of dollars to screen passengers and bags and relegated other aspects of security “to the back seat,” according to written testimony submitted to the House subcommittee.

“As it stands today, the vast majority of commercial airports in this country … do not have the capabilities to detect and prevent an intruder from entering the air side of the airport through the fence or an adjacent waterfront,” said Ron, a former security director at Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The House subcommittee says it does not have a breakdown by year when the security breaches occurred, but former Federal Aviation Administration Security Director Billie Vincent says 25,000 security breaches indicates a problem.

“We’re open to penetration if someone decides to penetrate,” he said.

The Rest Of The Story

In 2006, tests by the TSA showed that security screeners at Los Angeles International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60 percent of tests, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY.

In 2003, five undercover Department of Homeland Security agents posing as passengers carried weapons undetected through several security checkpoints at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Documents to be introduced at today’s subcommittee hearing also show:

6,000 security breaches in which Transportation Security Administration screeners failed to screen, or improperly screened, a passenger or a passenger’s carry-on items.

2,616 security breaches involving an individual gaining unauthorized access to the “sterile area” at screening checkpoints or an exit lane without submitting to all screening procedures and inspections.

1,026 incidents when someone gained unauthorized access to a sterile area but was “contained” or “constantly monitored” by airport or security personnel until apprehended.

1,318 incidents in which someone gained unauthorized access from airport perimeters to aircraft operations or security identification display areas and was under constant surveillance until apprehended.

Vincent, who praises the TSA for compiling security-breach numbers, says that very few perimeters at airports worldwide are secure.

Chaffetz has no praise for TSA.

“It’s absolutely stunning that the vulnerabilities are so wide,” Chaffetz said. “There’s not much to suggest that airports are more secure than years ago. We’ve just been lucky.”

The article is here.

by @ 8:48 am. Filed under Homeland Security, TSA Concerns

June 12, 2010

TSA Director Candidate

As anyone who’s been visiting Hard Astarboard for a long time knows, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is one of Seth’s “pet peeves”.

Well, before he began his temporary absence from these pages, he made it known among friends that he supports the nomination of John Pistole to head up the TSA, himself registering surprise that the Obama Administration was actually able to produce a nominee who doesn’t seem to have any legal or ethical baggage to bring with him.

Since Seth, da boss hereabouts, is concerned both professionally and patriotically with security, I figured we should post this article from Homeland Security Today:

FBI Deputy Director John Pistole impressed members of the Senate Commerce Committee in his first of two confirmation hearings Thursday with his knowledge and experience with terrorism concerns in his bid to become administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

His long career at the FBI left such a positive impression on lawmakers that even Republicans seeking an outright declaration of opposition to collective bargaining rights for TSA screeners–which they did not receive–were left acknowledging they would support his nomination.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who derailed the nomination of Obama’s first pick to become TSA chief earlier this year over the issue of collective bargaining, again raised it Thursday.

DeMint insisted that officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must question how collective bargaining rights for TSA screeners would improve security. He was unsatisfied with an earlier reply from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that security and collective bargaining weren’t mutually exclusive.

“When the secretary of homeland security can’t tell us how something would improve security, it should stop us in our tracks,” DeMint protested.

Collective bargaining for TSA screeners “would have a direct negative impact on security” by applying a 19th century industrial era model to a 21st century information age environment, DeMint argued. Transportation security officers (TSOs) could jeopardize national security if they demanded changes in their workplace, through the use of collective bargaining, that restricted rapid redeployment or changes in work schedules due to threat information, he said.

Pistole acknowledged that Napolitano asked him to conduct a review of the issue if he is confirmed. That review would involve collecting as much information as possible from relevant stakeholders to make an informed judgment or recommendations.

As the FBI has no unions or collective bargaining rights, Pistole emphasized that he was “attuned to safety and security issues” as a priority.

DeMint warned Pistole that he would face intense political pressure to grant collective bargaining rights to TSOs. While DeMint endorsed Pistole’s credentials to lead TSA, the senator said he would question his competence if he caved to that pressure.

“If we see you yielding to political pressure, that would suggest to us that priorities have changed,” DeMint stated.

DeMint was visibly disappointed by Pistole’s position on the issue, however.

Although Pistole said collective bargaining would not work at the FBI because it would impair the agency’s ability to surge resources and to deploy people worldwide at a moment’s notice, he could not commit to the same status at TSA because he had not yet conducted his review of the issue.

Lacking a firsthand knowledge of how TSA managers work together, Pistole could not say for certain if TSA would benefit from a third party such as a union facilitating discussions. He also declined to promise that his review of collective bargaining would be made available to the committee.

Despite those positions, DeMint conceded, “I will trust your judgment until proven otherwise.”

Other issues

If confirmed, Pistole said he would immediately examine intelligence to assess soft targets that may provide attractive opportunities to al Qaeda and other terrorists seeking to strike the United States.

Successful attacks in Europe and India against rail networks and a thwarted plan to attack the subway system in New York City have demonstrated terrorist interest in hitting passenger rail systems because they are not protected as well as airports, Pistole said.

Security at general aviation airports also requires a second look, Pistole said, as the spring attack on a federal building in Austin, Texas, underscored the vulnerabilities involved with privately owned aircraft. Fiscal restraint may restrict how much attention those airports receive from TSA, however, he said.

As for aviation security, Pistole vowed to be guided by threat information to ensure the best use of the “latest intelligence, latest training, latest techniques, and latest technology” at TSA.

To that end, Pistole endorsed the use of advanced imaging technology (AIT) at US airports, saying it was the best means to detect the sort of sophisticated explosive carried by suspected Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Pistole provided some of the most detailed public comments to date on the bomb allegedly carried by Abdulmutallab, noting that it used an initiating charge of acetone peroxide (TAPT) with a main charge of pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN).

PETN also was the explosive used by shoe bomber Richard Reid in his attack on a US-bound airliner in December 2001, Pistole noted, but Abdulmutallab carried almost twice as much PETN as Reid did.

Reid’s PETN would have caused a manhole-size hole in the airplane had it detonated, so Abdulmutallab’s charge “would have caused catastrophic damage” to Northwest Airlines Flight 253 had it worked, Pistole noted.

Given the level of the threat, TSA must continue its rollout plan of AIT and strive to engage foreign partners to adopt standards similar or better to the United States for aviation screening, Pistole said.

Pistole identified his top priority at TSA as making certain that TSA has the latest intelligence and threat information. The major failing of the Christmas Day bombing attempt was that information sharing did not occur in a fashion timely or robust enough to trigger a visa revocation or watchlisting for Abdulmutallab, he commented.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the committee, predicted that Pistole would receive Senate confirmation as early as next week in a vote to occur after his second confirmation hearing June 16 with the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Soon after, Rockefeller revealed, the Commerce Committee will unveil a TSA authorization bill as well as a port security bill, both of which will have a great deal of impact on TSA operations.

Of course, given that we’re dealing with the Obam/Pelosi and Reid trimvirate, one never knows what ulterior information might be concealed beneath Deputy Director Pistole’s publicized personna, but from the looks of the man’s background and from what he says, he gets the benefit of the doubt here at Hard Astarboard.

by @ 12:38 pm. Filed under Homeland Security, TSA Concerns

May 23, 2010

Surely, They’ll Eventually, Accidentally Get It Right

Since “the boss” is dedicated to keeping a watch on TSA (the Transportation Security Administration) and other security concerns and I’m minding the store, I’ve availed myself of some of the websites he left me that link to various security venues.

Hopefully, before someone else gets something right.

At any rate:

At least 16 people later linked to terror plots passed through U.S. airports undetected by federal officials who were on duty to spot suspicious behavior, according to a government report.

The airport-based officials were part of a federal behavior detection program designed to spot potential terrorists and others who pose a threat to aviation. The program, started in 2003, is one of 20 layers built into the nation’s aviation security system.

The Government Accountability Office questioned the scientific basis of the entire program in a report released Thursday. The program is dubbed SPOT - Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques. It was instituted by the Transportation Security Administration “without first validating the scientific basis for identifying passengers in an airport environment,” the GAO said.

“A scientific consensus does not exist on whether behavior detection principles can be reliably used for counterterrorism purposes,” the congressional auditors said.
The public version of the GAO report did not include the names of the 16 terror suspects who eluded detection. But among the 16 who slipped past the behavior detection officials at Newark Liberty International Airport, the report said, was an individual who “in August 2008 later pleaded guilty to providing material support to al-Qaida.”

Both Najibullah Zazi, the Denver-area shuttle driver who led the plot to blow up the New York City subway system, and an accomplice, Zarein Ahmedzay, pleaded guilty to providing material support to al-Qaida. Federal investigators said both men also traveled through the Newark airport in August 2008.

“TSA has bungled the development and deployment of a potentially important layer of aviation security,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who requested the report. Mica, the top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called on the Obama administration to reorganize the TSA so it can better carry out its mission.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate the current deputy director of the FBI to lead the TSA. Two previous nominees dropped out after concerns were raised about their backgrounds.

Between May 2004 and August 2008, behavior detection officers who work for the TSA have made about 1,100 arrests, but none were for terrorism, the GAO said. TSA spokesman Greg Soule said behavior detection officers at Orlando International Airport spotted a person in April 2008 who was carrying components and instructions for a pipe bomb in his luggage.

Soule said the SPOT program “is designed to look for passengers displaying behaviors that indicate they are trying to avoid detection.”

The agency did not agree with all the GAO’s findings.

“TSA strongly believes that behavior detection is a vital layer in its aviation security strategy. … Leaders within the community of behavior detection researchers agree,” Jerald Levine, the director of the Homeland Security Department’s GAO liaison office, said in a response included in the report.

On the Third Time’s A Charm circuit, we may finally see TSA get a qualified whip, though there may be a few questions that require answers prior to confirmation.

The F.B.I.’s bio of the man who may soon be the new TSA Pistolero in town is here.

Hopefully, as I said, they’ll get it right before that someone else does.

by @ 3:18 pm. Filed under TSA Concerns, Uncategorized

April 19, 2010

A Fourth Amendment Question…

…seems to have arisen, involving, among others, our good friends the TSA.

Federal security workers are now free to snoop through more than just your undergarments and luggage at the airport. Thanks to a recent series of federal court decisions, the digital belongings of international fliers are now open for inspection. This includes reading the saved e-mails on your laptop, scanning the address book on your iPhone or BlackBerry and closely scrutinizing your digital vacation snapshots.

Unlike the more common confiscations of dangerous Evian bottles and fingernail clippers, these searches are not being done in the name of safety. The digital seizures instead are part of a disturbing trend of federal agencies using legal gimmicks to sidestep Fourth Amendment constitutional protections. This became clear in an April 8 court ruling that found admissible the evidence obtained by officials who had peeped at a passenger’s laptop files at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

According to court documents, FBI agents had identified an individual suspected of downloading child pornography on an Internet chat room. The G-men, however, did not want to take their evidence before a judge to obtain a search warrant, as the Constitution requires. Instead, they flagged the suspect’s passport and asked officials at the Department of Homeland Security to seize and search his computer at the airport - without a warrant. Three incriminating images were found during the examination, but this case is not about whether a particular person is a scumbag. It’s about abusing a principle that applies to all Americans.

Well, with all the rhetoric that came out of B. Hussein Obama and the rest of the Democrats in their malevolent attacks criticisms of the Bush Administration in regard to what they termed callous invasions of the privacy of U.S. citizens (monitoring of certain suspect international telephone communications and accessing bank accounts believed to be part of terrorism financing networks), this one sure is a shocker, isn’t it?

I’ve heard the accusations that the “Bushies” were using the War on Terror as an excuse to allow Uncle Sam’s nose into our personal business, according to the political left, keeping an eye on how much our nine year olds have accumulated in their savings accounts and keeping track of whom we were taking out for dinner and a show on Friday night, but this one’s a taker of the proverbial cake!

The fun part is that Obama and his henchpersons do worse without even a grimace that they are doing exactly what they purported not long ago to be anathema to any semblance of decent humanity.

Can you say, “hypocrisy”?

Actually, coming from the leadership of the Obamanation, seeing how much more marxist-like and anti-Constitution they have proven themselves in the last 15 months, I would have to say that they are acting well within the parameters of their established character.

It’s interesting to note, however, that though 99.99999% of today’s terrorist threats come from Muslims of Southwest Asian and Middle Eastern decent, every increasingly oppressive anti-terrorism screening measure they take targets everyone but Muslims of aforementioned descents.

Obama philosophy: When the best odds on preventing a terrorist act can be found in the profiling of Muslims, we must make every effort to avoid profiling Muslims.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of Americans to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects” from unreasonable and unwarranted government intrusion. It is obvious that this right is meant to apply equally to papers that happen to be stored in digital form on a personal hard drive. Such protections do not disappear merely because one happens to be at a real - or imaginary - border.

Because the courts have been derelict in their duty to uphold this fundamental right, it is up to Congress to prohibit the thinly veiled attempts to create Constitution-free zones where Americans find their privacy invaded.

January 26, 2010

A Couple of Colleagues Who Read This Blog…

…have e-mailed me, wondering why I haven’t yet commented herein on the Errol Southers kerfuffle. After all, they reasonably reason, I do tend to pursue topics that concern the government’s affairs regarding our mutual area of endeavor, especially those of the Transportation Security Administration, with what one of my distinguished colleagues describes as “a tenacity that would make a pit bull envious”.

So here goes…

Truth to tell, I was first pleased, then disappointed by and at the same time, cynic that I’ve become where the neo-Democrats are concerned, unsurprised by the entire affair, from Southers’ nomination to his stepping down as nominee.

When he was first put forward by the Administration, I thought, Alright (High Five!!!!), the White House is finally getting it! Unlike in their appointment of the supremely unqualified and profoundly incompetent Janet Napolitano as National Security Advisor, they’re actually looking to appoint a qualified security professional to head up a security agency, the TSA no less.

Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department’s Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence, head of USC’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. Well thought of in the security field, a man who has devoted his career to security and counter-terrorism and who is an expert on both counts.

The man was also appointed by the Governator as Deputy Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection of the California Office of Homeland Security.

Since he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Brown University and later served on the Santa Monica Police Department and the faculty of the Rio Hondo Police Academy, every aspect of his career has been dedicated to the protection of the public and combating terrorism, and eminently qualify him to head up TSA. While with the FBI, he worked in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism, and was a shooter to boot: he was a member of their elite SWAT team.

Southers’ vision for the future of the agency, in the training aspects, the adoption of Israeli methods for identifying potential threats and enhanced utilization of existing technologies, was exactly what is needed.

I was truly impressed. The Obama Administration was actually going to put the right person in the right position, a real security expert as Director of the TSA!

Who’d a’ thunk it!?

And then…

…along came the broadsides, first the revelation that Southers was entertaining the idea of unionizing (collective bargaining, anyone?) the TSA.

“What!!!?” I exclaimed.

I’m sorry, but I in no way believe in unionizing any part of critical infrastructure, and as a protection professional, there’s no way I can condone the unionizing of any security agency.


“We’re going on strike, screw the lives or itineraries of the public, we want more lucre!”

“I don’t care if you’re short handed, my union contract says that I don’t have to work any overtime if I don’t want to!”

“My union contract says that I get two twenty minute coffee breaks every day, and if I take ten minutes to guard that door, I’ll only get half my break! I’m not guarding that door, I don’t care if you can’t get anyone else to do it!”

“I’m real sorry you’re short-handed, boss, but I’m taking a personal day. I promised to take my kid to the zoo.”

“You can’t fire me, buddy, I’m union all the way!”

Sorry, but those entrusted with the safety and security of others, by nature of the responsibilities involved, must be prepared to make sacrifices unasked of those in other lines of endeavor; sacrifices of personal time, personal convenience and, as often as not, personal fortune. If you’re not prepared to assume these sacrifices and such other elements as taking personal risks to protect the lives and the safety of others, you do not belong in the security business.

Unionizing TSA would drive a wedge between the objectives of such an agency and the efficiency necessary to realize them.

Based on the above, Senator Jim DeMint was correct in putting a hold on Southers’ confirmation. Given the virtual ownership of the Democrat majority by the unions, a suggestion by a head of the TSA that his or her agency be unionized would be all it took to see greedy, corrupt union czars authorized to “bargain collectively” with the very lives of the traveling public.

Civilian or not, a security department or agency has to be run more like a military venue than a Teamster’s operation. Imagine all of the firemen, EMTs and surgeons simply walking off the job in the middle of a natural disaster because they have a gripe with the institutions that employ them!

Unions have proven, time and again, to exploit the vulnerabilities of members’ employers by threatening strikes or actually going on strike when the employers have been at their most vulnerable.

Collective bargaining in the public sector is one of the factors behind governmental budget shortfalls and tax increases, and strikes, often tragically, can inconvenience and even endanger the majority of taxpayers to accommodate the greed of a very few. Again, it has no place in the safety and security sectors.

Then, there was the back issue of Errol Southers using the information access of his position to pursue inquiries into his ex’s new flame. To me, the only major problem with that is that he was less than truthful when asked about it.

Look, I’ll level with you here… Only a sanctimonious asshole can say with certainty that in a moment of desperation, he or she would definitely not use information access to which he or she is privileged (the exception being if it jeopardized national security or the integrity of the agency, firm or department in which he or she worked) to obtain information he or she felt he/she absolutely needed to possess.

Southers used such access to gain information relevant to a personal matter.

On the same token, any public servant has, without hesitation, got to tell the truth when under oath or otherwise asked about anything pertaining to his/her actions or those of others in the course of any official inquiry. That in itself is part and parcel in the scheme of things. When you serve the American people, you simply do not lie to them about such things — the people own the decision as to whether or not you are to be trusted in a given position and are entitled to all the facts that pertain to your character and to the details of any actions you have taken in the course of your service that are not officially classified as secret.

Errol Southers lied as a first instinct; There’s no way that anyone with even the most minimal intelligence could possibly believe otherwise. He “didn’t remember” that he himself had used his access to information directly, but rather had others seek private information on his behalf. If he had told the truth in the first place instead of having a “memory lapse”, I could easily find the wherewithal to overlook the underlying incident in light of his dedication and qualifications.

DeMint’s and others’ concerns were reality based, yet the left-wing (mainstream) media and the Democrats cried that blocking Southers’ appointment was based on “politics”.

Southers himself, on stepping down, said that he is “Nonpolitical” and was withdrawing because he believed his nomination and the subsequent ado presented a political lightning rod. On that score, I completely believe he is sincere.

It’s right that Southers did not end up in the job, even though, in my opinion, he was qualified from a professional standpoint.

Yeah, I did mention cynicism, that in my not being at all surprised that Erroll Southers had some “back trail”, as it were, if for no other reason than that he was selected by the Obama Administration: Barack Hussein did, after all, unabashedly bring the corrupt Chicago political machine with him to Washington, and in keeping with everything else he represents, he is forever hard put to produce key position nominees who do not have skeletons, problems with embracing veracity, or at least negative agendas of some kind.

In summation, politics has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion here. Had it not been for the lie and his perception that collective bargaining might have a place in a security organization, I would be, at the least, overjoyed to have a person with Erroll Southers’ knowledge, vision and experience at the helm of the Transportation Security Administration.

by @ 2:30 pm. Filed under Homeland Security, Security, TSA Concerns

December 29, 2009

Following Up

Chuck, back from the raucousness (until Thursday, 31 December, anyway) of my typical Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day festivities.

A belated Merry Christmas to many, Happy Hannukah to others. Sorry, we don’t do Atheism, Quansa or Ramadan (Ram-It-In?) here.

By “following up”, I refer to the aftermath of what’s his face, um, why do these murdering assholes have to have these tongue twisters for names, rather than just a simple “Abdul” or “Achmed”? Um, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, that’s it. One of Allah’s faithful, for sure.

Seth pretty well explained how we feel about Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland “Security” and about the way that passel of morons she commands runs the TSA.

And Barack Hussein, that guy a bunch of naive, anti-America or simply stupid people elected president.

Yeah, I know. I’m not what you’d call one of the politically correct, I just call it as I see it, though at this forum I endeavor to be considerably more sedate than I am elsewhere.

So, for this post I’ve brought with me a few links pertaining to the close call the folks aboard Flight 253 experienced and the state of our Homeland “Security” situation in general.

From CNS News:

President Barack Obama, in his first public comments on the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit, described the suspect as “an isolated extremist,” despite reports that the 23-year-old Nigerian had been trained in Yemen, a country he visited twice.

The Associated Press, quoting a Yemeni government official, said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab lived in Yemen for two extended periods of time — a year, from 2004-2005 and again from August-December this year. He apparently was in Yemen a few weeks before the attempt to blow Flight 253 out of the sky over Michigan.

An isolated extremist, of course. There are only a handful of misguided followers of the Religion of Peace© who entertain any malevolent feelings toward America and we, the infidels herein.

More of our fearless leader’s PC and other assorted bullshit can be found in the linked article.

But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? Also from CNS News, Homeland Security Touts 2009 Accomplishments, Including ‘Secure Flight’ Program

Just days before a Nigerian man tried to blow up a U.S. airliner as it descended into Detroit, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released its “2009 Accomplishments & Reforms” fact sheet, touting its “Secure Flight” passenger vetting program.

The Obama administration has confirmed that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was on the U.S. government terrorist watch list, but the 23-year-old man was still able to board a Northwest plane in Amsterdam bound for Michigan.

On the DHS fact sheet, issued on Dec. 15, the “Secure Flight” program is second on the list and is described as a program that “prescreens name, date of birth and gender against government watch lists for domestic and international flights.”

They sure did a great job in preventing Abdulmutallab, al-Qaeda’s newest celebrity, from getting aboard Flight 253, explosives and all, wouldn’t you agree?

From the Heritage Foundation’s Blog:

Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), the explosive Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253, is among the most powerful of explosives in the world and was widely used to blow up airplanes in the 1970s and 1980s. The only reason the passengers of Flight 253 are still alive today is because Mr. Abdulmutallab’s syringe detonator failed for still unknown reasons.

Yet despite the facts that PETN is easily detected and Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father warned the U.S. embassy in Nigeria about his son this November, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had the audacity to go on television yesterday and say “the system worked” and that the suspect was properly screened. The “system worked?” The 278 passengers on flight 253 could be dead today but for a faulty syringe and the Obama administration considers that a success? That is pure idiocy. Idiocy that is a direct threat to the security of this country and that goes to the heart of the Obama administration’s approach to the war on terror.

What on earth could Secretary Napolitano possibly mean when she said the “system worked?”

Good question, read the rest of the linked post.

And then move on to what we’ll call a recap by Wesley Pruden, from today’s Jewish World Review:

Well, to paraphrase a famous president of a slightly earlier time, “you’re doing a heckuva job, Janet.” That goes for everybody at the White House.

If Barack Obama wants to reassure a nervous public that bureaucratic incompetence won’t be tolerated, he might look to the example of what happened to the director of FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But no one expects the president to sack Janet Napolitano, the secretary of something the government insists on calling Homeland Security.

That’s not how an administration that regards words and deeds as equals actually works. The lessons in the latest Islamist attempt to bring down a Western airliner could be useful, but such lessons are too painful for the guvvies to think about.

Mzz Napolitano’s early assurance, since amended, that “the system worked” was either dopey beyond belief, or an unintended ringing endorsement of the ancient folk ethic that “G0d helps those who help themselves.” Better G0d than a guvvie, but not everyone can count on having as a fellow passenger a young Dutchman with quick instincts, athletic grace, a sharp eye and a full complement of bravery and courage. That’s not really a “system” for securing the homeland.

President Obama, interrupting a day at the beach, told reporters in Hawaii that he would pursue the plotters in Arabia and he would not rest until they are caught. This time he did not promise they would be executed, as he did of the Guantanamo plotters who are to be tried in New York City. But the attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit was “a serious reminder” of the dangers George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other Republicans warned us about. (Of course, he couldn’t afford to say it quite that way.)

Mr. Obama’s tough-guy rhetoric, his words plain, pretty and well-parsed, is more reassuring than his deeds, or would be if there was evidence that he really understands what must be done. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young jihadist from Nigeria by way of Yemen, was quickly indicted on federal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, which means that he will have the full array of rights accorded to every defendant in an American court. Someone will have to read his Miranda rights, and he will have the right to a lawyer. This will please the civil rights radicals who imagine the Constitution to be a suicide pact, and who don’t, or can’t, understand that the most important civil right of all is the right not to be murdered. Murder, after all, is the surest way to deprive someone of his other civil rights.

If ever a system isn’t working, this is the one. Warning flags the size of bedsheets fluttered above checkpoints on two continents. The suspect’s father tried to warn the American government that his son had been radicalized and was looking for an opportunity to slaughter innocents. That should have been enough to interview the young man before revoking his visa. But such common sense, common nearly everywhere else, is rarely rewarded in the government precincts of the politically correct. Someone eager to scratch the itch to wound America might be offended.

Where were the intelligence services that soak up so many of the nation’s billions every year? Did the CIA talk to the FBI, or the DEA to DIA, or did considerations of protecting turf take precedence, as such considerations often do? The Obama administration promises an investigation, naturally, and of course it will be fair, thorough, hard-hitting, blah, blah and blah. Congress should be suspicious of bureaucrats investigating themselves, and conduct its own investigation. But Democrats in Congress will no doubt be more interested in protecting the administration than finding out what really happened. To find out might compel even a senator to actually do something.

The Detroit incident ought to persuade President Obama once and for all that making nice with those who are determined to kill as many of us as they can is a fool’s errand. He can go back to Cairo again and again to apologize as eloquently as he can, and when the apologies are over and he bumps the floor with his forehead in bowing to whomever, the Islamic jihadists will still despise us and will continue to plot to destroy us.

Janet Napolitano can conjure up more ways to harass air travelers, going after all those blue-eyed Scandinavian grannies in Minnesota again to avoid “profiling” the likely terrorists. She may require us to take off our pants as well as our shoes. But even with more harassment of the innocent, she still won’t have a “system” that works. We must pray for a Dutchman.