Is Anybody Exempt from TSA Inspection?

Palm, meet face:

And by “contradictory,” here’s some blockbuster news: Although the X-ray and metal detector rigmarole is mandatory for pilots and flight attendants, many other airport workers, including those with regular access to aircraft — to cabins, cockpits, galleys and freight compartments — are exempt. That’s correct. Uniformed pilots cannot carry butter knives onto an airplane, yet apron workers and contract ground support staff — cargo loaders, baggage handlers, fuelers, cabin cleaners, caterers — can, as a matter of routine, bypass TSA inspection entirely.

All workers with airside privileges are subject to fingerprinting, a 10-year criminal background investigation and crosschecking against terror watch lists. Additionally they are subject to random physical checks by TSA. But here’s what one apron worker at New York’s Kennedy airport recently told me:

“All I need is my Port Authority ID, which I swipe through a turnstile. The ‘sterile area’ door is not watched over by any hired security or by TSA. I have worked at JFK for more than three years now and I have yet to be randomly searched. Really the only TSA presence we notice is when the blue-shirts come down to the cafeteria to get food.”

A Professional Term Paper Writer

From The Chronicle Review:

The request came in by e-mail around 2 in the afternoon. It was from a previous customer, and she had urgent business. I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you): “You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?”

I’ve gotten pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first section in a week. Seventy-five pages.

I told her no problem.

It truly was no problem. In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.

I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I’ve worked on bachelor’s degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I’ve written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I’ve attended three dozen online universities. I’ve completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.

You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work. I’m a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists.

TSA Pat Down Went Too Far, Agency Chief Says

From ABCNews:

The beleaguered head of the Transportation Security Administration said today that at least one airport passenger screening went too far when an officer reached inside a traveler’s underwear, and said the agency is open to rethinking current protocols.

An ABC News employee said she was subject to a “demeaning” search at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning.

“The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around,” she said. “It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate.”

That search was against protocols and “never” should have happened, TSA administrator John Pistole told “Good Morning America” today.

“There should never be a situation where that happens,” Pistole said. “The security officers are there to protect the traveling public. There are specific standard operating protocols, which they are to follow.”

Pistole, responding to complaints from passengers, has said the TSA would not change its pat-down procedures but today said the agency was “open” to changing security procedures.

Radiation and the TSA’s Body Scanners

Feeling safer yet:

Earlier this year, the Congressional Biomedical Caucus – of which Holt is a co-chair – hosted a briefing by Dr. David Brenner of Columbia University on the potential health effects of “back scatter” x-ray devices. According to Dr. Brenner, the devices currently in use and proposed for wider deployment deliver to the scalp “20 times the average dose that is typically quoted by TSA and throughout the industry.” Dr. Brenner has pointed out that the majority of the radiation from X-ray backscatter machines strikes the top of the head, which is where 85 percent of the 800,000 cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States each year develop.
According to Dr. Brenner, excessive x-ray exposure can act as a cancer rate multiplier, which is why Holt has urged the government to investigate thoroughly the potential health risks associated with this technology.
In August, Holt wrote to the House Committee on Appropriations calling for a freeze in funding for any further full-body scanning devices employing “back scatter” technology until the GAO completes its examination of the technology.

“I appreciate the challenges we face in trying to prevent terrorists from boarding American airliners. That same background also gives me an understanding of why TSA’s current obsession with fielding body imaging technology is misguided, counterproductive, and potentially dangerous,” Holt writes.