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Tag: Airports

Significant Cuts to TSA Would Reduce Security at Time of Heightened Concerns about Terrorism

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration says it wants to make Americans safer from terrorism, but the TSA is cutting about $300 million from its budget in 2020, according to internal documents obtained by CNN.

To save the money, the TSA would eliminate screenings at more than 150 small- to medium-sized airports, reduce the number of full-time air marshals, cut the workforce at TSA headquarters and eliminate 50% in reimbursements to state and local law enforcement agencies for use of their K-9 units.

The TSA did not comment for the story.

Congress would still need to approve the cuts, and some congressional members have already spoken out about the reductions.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey and the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the proposed reductions “could put at risk the safety of passengers and the security of our transportation systems.” 

“The intelligence is very clear that the threat to our transportation systems remains real, so I am baffled by this administration’s endless efforts to cut funding in this area,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.

Loaded Guns, Inert Grenades, Throw Star Among Top Confiscated Items at Airports in 2017

Sculpture made with an inert grenade, via TSA

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Festively wrapped narcotics, loaded guns, inert grenades and “Satan’s” pizza cutter are among the top 10 items confiscated at U.S. airport in 2017.

In a YouTube video, the TSA’s “Blogger Bob” Burns lists the most unusual forbidden items confiscated at airports.

Other eye-popping confiscated items include a menacing-looking “face-tenderizer,” a sculpture with inert grades, a pointed fidget spinner, a throwing star, a scythe, a bone knife and an umbrella that resembled a knife.

“Some people travel with weird stuff because they are collectors: it’s an heirloom, they have ADHD [attention deficit hyperactive disorder] and it’s their fidget, or they want to use the item as a training aid in a seminar,” Jeff Price, an aviation security expert and professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, told CNBC

Still, “a lot of people who don’t travel frequently just don’t understand that some of these items can be used as weapons,” he said.

Another Record Year for Number of Firearms Confiscated at U.S. Airports

Guns seized by the TSA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More firearms were confiscated at U.S. airports than any previous year, exceeding a record set last year.

Security officers discovered 3,888 firearms as of Christmas eve and may reach 4,000 by the end of the year, the Los Angeles Times reports

That’s compared to the previous record of 3,391 in 2016.

The number of confiscated firearms has risen every year since at least 2011, when about 1,200 guns were found.

The airports with the most firearms seized are Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

A majority of the seized guns were found on carry-on bags, while others were found in potted plants and stuffed animals.

Travelers caught trying to bring a gun onto a plane face a civil fine ranging from $330 to $13,000 and could be turned over to local police in the event that gun laws are violated.

Gun laws vary by state.

Appeals Court Dismisses Case Against Ill-Tempered TSA Supervisor

tsaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

TSA screeners at airport security checkpoints have such an important job that they cannot always be sued for failing to behave properly, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Tuesday.

The court tossed a First Amendment claim by a passenger who said he was arrested merely for asking to lodge a complaint against an ill-tempered TSA supervisor, Reuters reports

“We, of course, do not suggest that TSA screeners should act with disdain for passenger rights or that they can escape all the consequences of their bad behavior,” Circuit Judge Kent Jordan wrote for a three-judge panel.

“Ultimately, the role of the TSA in securing public safety is so significant that we ought not create a damages remedy in this context,” Jordan added. “The dangers associated with aircraft security are real and of high consequence.”

Reuters wrote:

Airport security screening can be stressful. The decision was issued four weeks after the TSA announced tighter screening of electronic carry-on items, because of concern they could be used to conceal explosives.

Vanderklok said he was flying on Jan. 26, 2013 to Miami from Philadelphia International Airport to run a half-marathon when TSA personnel subjected his carry-on bag to extra screening, after x-rays showed a heart-monitoring watch stored in PVC pipe.

The TSA supervisor, Charles Kieser, said he summoned police after Vanderklok made a bomb threat.

Vanderklok denied doing so, and said Kieser retaliated for his having requested a complaint form to report the supervisor’s “rude” and “aggressive” behavior.

Prosecutors charged Vanderklok, a father of three then in his mid-50s, with threatening to place a bomb and making terroristic threats. He was acquitted after Kieser’s testimony did not match airport surveillance video.

Other Stories of Interest

TSA Warns Local Police about More Invasive Physical Pat-Downs at Airports

Airport crowdBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The TSA is beginning to conduct more invasive physical pat-downs at airports nationwide, but it’s not entirely clear what that will entail.

But the agency informed local police of the new procedures because of suspicions that passengers will complain about “abnormal” federal frisking, Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg wrote:

The decision to alert local and airport police raises a question of just how intimate the agency’s employees may get. On its website, the TSA says employees “use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.”

Now, security screeners will use the front of their hands on a passenger in a private screening area if one of the prior screening methods indicates the presence of explosives, according to a “security notice” Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) sent its U.S. members following a March 1 conference call with TSA officials

“Due to this change, TSA asked FSDs [field security directors] to contact airport law enforcement and brief them on the procedures in case they are notified that a passenger believes a [TSA employee] has subjected them to an abnormal screening practice,” ACI wrote.

President Trump to Issue New Travel Ban Order That Removes Iraqis from List

airport-people-walkingBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is expected to sign a new executive order Monday to replace his previous U.S. travel ban, which was blocked by courts.

Reuters reports that Iraq will be removed from the list of countries targeted in the travel ban.

The order would impose a 90-day ban on travel from the U.S. to six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Iraq was removed from the original order because of new vetting procedures and its work helping the U.S. combat ISIS.

The new order also isn’t expected to impact tens of thousands of legal permanent residents who are green card holders.

President Trump’s Federal Hiring Freeze Could Hurt TSA

Airport crowdBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump has pledged to make airports and planes safer, but his federal hiring freeze could impact TSA’s ability to adequately staff airport security lines.

“It’s our understanding that there is a hiring freeze for TSA and other departments inside of Homeland Security,” J. David Cox, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Thursday, The Hill reports. 

Trump signed an order last week freezing the hiring of federal employees, except for military personnel.

“I think some type of correspondence should go out to the administration in terms of maybe looking at that freeze in this area,” said Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) “Making sure that the traveling public is safe should not be something that’s curtailed. I really think that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Cox said the TSA has lots a lot of security officers.

The TSA still has “5,000 less transportation security officers today than… several years ago,” Cox said. “So we have less people doing more screening. That 5,000 that’s been lost needs to be returned.”

Border Agents Defy Judges’ Orders on Trump’s Travel Ban

Protesters at Detroit Metro Airport rally against Trump’s executive order. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Patrol agents ignored the orders of federal judges who said Donald Trump’s travel bans are unenforceable, members of congress and civil rights attorneys said.

Muslims from the seven countries on the travel-ban list were still being detained Sunday, two days after three judges ordered a temporary halt to the deportation of people who had arrived with valid visas in the U.S., the Guardian reports. 

On Sunday, four Democratic members of the House of Representatives visited Dulles airport in Virginia after it was discovered that people had been detained and weren’t allowed to see lawyers.

“We have a constitutional crisis today,” representative Don Beyer wrote on Twitter. “Four members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”

Representative Jamie Raskin also tweeted, “As far as I know no attorney has been allowed to see any arriving passenger subject to Trumps exec order at Dulles today.”

He added: “CBP appears to be saying people in their custody not ‘detained’ technically & Dulles international arrivals areas not in the United States.”

Homeland Security has declined to comment.

Protests were launched across the country to protest the ban on travel from the seven Muslim-majority countries.