Body-Searching Children: No for the US Army, Yes for the TSA

From The Atlantic:

A US Army staff sergeant, now serving in Afghanistan, writes about the new enhanced pat-down procedure from the TSA. Summary of his very powerful message: to avoid giving gross offense to the Afghan public, and to prevent the appearance of an uncontrolled security state, the US military forbids use on Afghan civilians of the very practices the TSA is now making routine for civilian travelers at US airports.

(via 2010-11-15

The ‘Israelification’ of airports: High security, little bother

From TheStar:

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

“The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport,” said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

“Two benign questions. The questions aren’t important. The way people act when they answer them is,” Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

Once you’ve parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion’s half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

“This is to see that you don’t have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious,” said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

“The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds,” said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

Full-body scanners are waste of money, Israeli expert says

From The Vancouver Sun:

A leading Israeli airport security expert says the Canadian government has wasted millions of dollars to install “useless” imaging machines at airports across the country.

“I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,” Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

“That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport,” Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

Sela, former chief security officer of the Israel Airport Authority and a 30-year veteran in airport security and defence technology, helped design the security at Ben Gurion.

Another TSA Horror Story

From Our Little Chatterboxes: TSA Sexual Assualt:

Because I was traveling with baby formula, I knew to expect that they would test it with the paper circles for explosives. The TSA agent took all of my belongings over to the table in the center of the explosive screening tables. She asked me, “Are you aware of the NEW policies for carrying liquids through security that were instated 4 years ago?” (capitalized to show the emphasis that she placed on that word.)

I replied, “Yes, I fly with him every several weeks.”

She scanned the formula, then turned to me and said, “Remove your shoes and stand on that black mat for a patdown.”

I said, “OK, what do I do with the baby?”

“You cannot be holding him.” (I am traveling alone.)

So I placed him into his stroller. She instructed me, “Spread your feet apart and hold your arms out to the side.” I obliged.

She patted my left arm, my right arm, my upper back and my lower back. She then said, “I need to reach in and feel along the inside of your waistband.”

She felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.

She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.

She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.

She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia.

She then told me that I could put my shoes on and I asked if I could pick up the baby, she replied Yes.

She then moved back to my belongings to finish scanning them with the paper discs for explosives. When she finished she said I was free to go.

I stood there holding my baby in shock. I did not move for almost a minute.

I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking.

Here is why I was sexually assaulted. She never told me the new body search policy. She never told me that she was going to touch my private parts. She never told me when or where she was going to touch me. She did not inform me that a private screening was available. She did not inform me of my rights that were a part of these new enhanced patdown procedures.

Question of the Day

What is something new you’ve tried that has completely changed a habit of yours.

Dual monitors. Sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster Who Art Delicious, why didn’t anybody tell me that the secret to life is to have two monitors? I just bought an extra monitor this weekend for home and now at work I’m stuck Alt-Tabbing my poor fingers to death at my uni-screen.