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Tag: TSA

Secret Service Agents Who Sacrifice Their Lives to Protect the President Are Working without Pay

Photo via Secret Service.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The men and women who have sworn to sacrifice their own lives to protect the president are not receiving paychecks under the government shutdown.

The 7,000 Secret Service employees, including those on protective details and uniformed officers, missed their first paycheck of the new year.

“These are the people who are closest to him and clearly put their lives on the line for him every single day,” Rick Tyler, a Republican political consultant, told Huffington Post. “He has demonstrated no empathy for them over this situation.” 

Trump has been virtually mum on the tens of thousands of federal law enforcement officials who have been forced to work without pay. They include TSA screeners and FBI, DEA, ATF and Border Patrol agents who are considered “essential” employees.

Thousands of TSA screeners have been calling in sick in protest, causing snarls and security concerns at airports.

The irony is that the shutdown over border protection could make the country more unsafe.

Airports Brace for Safety Issues As TSA Employees React to Government Shutdown

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A government shutdown over border safety could soon cause serious security problems at airports, where more than 51,000 TSA employees began working without pay Friday.

The TSA reported a 55% increase in employees calling in sick Thursday, and some airport screeners have already quit, the agency’s spokesman Michael Bilello told Bloomberg.

The TSA is responding to staff shortages by planning to close some security checkpoints at airports nationwide beginning this weekend.

Airport authorities are expressing fear that the shutdown could soon worsen security screening.

“We’re very concerned that the current situation with government employees going without pay is unsustainable in the long term,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Bloomberg. “We certainly have to be mindful of the potential for cascading operational impacts.”

Airports also are bracing for flight delays.

The group that represents more than 10,000 air-traffic controllers, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, filed a lawsuit Friday, alleging it’s against the law to force employees to work without pay.

Trump’s Shutdown Endangers Airport Safety As Unpaid TSA Screeners Call in Sick, Quit

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump said the government shutdown could last months or even years because border protection is so important.

But what about airline safety?

In the first weeks of the shutdown, protection at U.S. airport has been compromised because TSA screeners are calling in sick – and some are quitting – because they can’t afford to work without a paycheck.

The agency’s 51,739 screeners are required to work during the shutdown because their services – screening bags and passengers for weapons – are considered essential.

But with no assurances of getting paid until the shutdown is over, a growing number of screeners have called in sick.

Airports are increasingly concerned about airport safety and disruptions.

“We’re concerned that a prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president for security at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Time.

During previous government shutdowns, Congress made sure that federal employees who are forced to work are paid. That has happened yet.

Under normal circumstances, screeners would get paid this Friday. If they don’t, airports are bracing for long wait times, disturbances and potential threats to airlines and passengers.

Shutdown Irony: Country Less Safe As Federal Law Enforcement Works with No Pay

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The irony of President Trump shutting down the federal government in the name of public safety is nothing short of incredible.

Trump is refusing to budge on his demands for a border wall as the government shutdown is now in its second week.

But the agencies that protect Americans’ safety – the FBI, DEA, ATF, Coast Guard, TSA and yes, the Border Patrol –  are affected by the shutdown.

Since the federal law enforcement employees are considered “essential,” they are still on the job, but they are not getting a paycheck. And that is lowering morale and prompting some to resign.

Tens of thousands of TSA employees, many of whom make less than $40,000 a year, are protecting airports without a paycheck.

Nearly 13,000 special FBI agents also are working without pay, prompting the FBI Agents Association to urge politicians to quickly find a solution.

“As the country celebrates the New Year, the American public can be assured that the FBIAA’s membership—which includes nearly 13,000 Special Agents of the FBI  are on the job 24-hours a day, seven days a week to protect our country from criminal and terrorist threats,”  FBIAA President Tom O’Connor wrote in a statement. “These men and women are doing so while facing a confluence of policies and gridlock that are causing financial hardship for Agents and their families.”

The American Federation of Government Employees union filed a lawsuit Monday, arguing that “essential” employees should be paid for their work.

So far, Trump has shown no willingness to budge on his call for billions of dollars for a wall that even many Republicans say appears to be a waste of money.

TSA Begins Using More Floppy-Ear Dogs for Airport Screenings to Avoid Scaring Children

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Pointy-ear dogs are sometimes scaring airline passengers, especially children, so the TSA is looking for more floppy-ear canines to engage with people in airports.

Turns out, dogs with droopy ears are less frightening to children, an internal TSA review found, The Washington Examiner reports.

“We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Doesn’t scare children.”

The TSA uses about 1,200 dogs to screen passengers and luggage. About 80% have droopy ears, while the rest have cone-snapped ears, such as the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois..

The floppy-ear dogs tend to be  Labrador Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, and Golden Retrievers.

2018 on Pace for Record-Breaking Gun Confiscations at U.S. Airports

Guns seized at US airports, via TSA

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The TSA is expected to turn in another record-breaking year for the number of guns seized at airports.

While the final tally has not been made, records show 2018 is well on its way to surpassing the 3,957 guns confiscated the year before.

The number of guns seized at airports has increased every year since at least 2005, when 660 firearms were confiscated.

In just one week in early December, the TSA reported 78 guns were confiscated, ranging from .40-caliber Glocks to 9mm semi-automatics. Of the 78 guns, 63 were loaded.

The airports with the most guns confiscated last year were Atlanta with 245 and Dallas-Fort Worth with 211.

The theories for why more guns are being confiscated ranges from a more diligent security to flyers taking bigger risks out of fear of terrorism.

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.

TSA Secretly Tracking Travelers Not on Government Watch Lists

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal air marshals are conducting surveillance on thousands of unsuspecting Americans as part of a secret TSA program called “Quiet Skies.’”

The Boston Globe reported that the undisclosed surveillance targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” citing a TSA bulletin from March. 

The bulletin indicates the program is intended to diminish threats to commercial flights posed by “unknown or partially known terrorists.”

Here’s how the program works: All U.S. citizens are subjected to screenings, and thousands of Americans have already been surveilled. Travelers are then added the Quiet Skies list for up to 90 days or three encounters. At no time are Americans alerted they are on the list.

It’s unclear what prompts the federal agency to add a traveler to the watch list.

Americans added to the list are then monitored by marshals, who fly with the travelers and look for sleeping patterns, “excessive fidgeting,” a “cold penetrating stare” or an “Adam’s apple jump.”

The Globe questions whether the tracking is legal:

Quiet Skies represents a major departure for TSA. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency has traditionally placed armed air marshals on routes it considered potentially higher risk, or on flights with a passenger on a terrorist watch list. Deploying air marshals to gather intelligence on civilians not on a terrorist watch list is a new assignment, one that some air marshals say goes beyond the mandate of the US Federal Air Marshal Service. Some also worry that such domestic surveillance might be illegal. Between 2,000 and 3,000 men and women, so-called flying FAMs, work the skies.