TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

from the comforting dept

This probably won't come as a surprise after hearing about the massively botched TSA screening that resulted in a guy covered in urine, but a new report out by Homeland Security investigators found that training of TSA agents is rushed, poorly supervised, and not up to the necessary level for the new security screening procedures.

For example, given all the talk about just how important these new naked scanners are, you would think that the TSA agents operating them would be properly trained to use them to see the stuff those machines are supposed to spot. Not so, apparently. According to the report, due to a "software problem," TSA agents were trained on images from an older generation of machines which did not adequately prepare them to use the new machines:
TSOs must complete both new hire and recurrent training on screening technologies; however, airport training equipment is sometimes different from the devices used at screening checkpoints. According to an OTT official, when TSA deployed a new generation of x-ray machines to 81 airports, the updated recurrent training for TSOs with these machines had not been implemented because of software problems. TSOs were still training with x-ray images from older generation equipment, which limits their ability to identify prohibited items using the current checkpoint equipment.
So, we're using these naked scanners even though the people operating them haven't been properly trained on them, and they're not really able to spot the prohibited items that we're told can only be spotted using these machines or a grope. Once again, I'm trying to figure out how this makes us any safer. You can see the full Homeland Security report, which is pretty damning, after the jump. It highlights how the agents are often rushed through all aspects of training, and how ill prepared airports are to handle such training. It does not suggest an organization on top of any security threat. It suggests security theater in the extreme. I would think that making sure security is properly trained is somewhat more important than insisting that we must see everyone naked.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Adam Savage

    "What the fuck, TSA?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Adam Savage

    You forgot the link Adam Savage: TSA saw my junk, missed 12" razor blades

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    "Trust us"

    ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Adam Savage

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Jay (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Adam Savage

    Resistance from Anti-Citizen One shall not be tolerated. You are charged with violating a law that is doubleplus ungood. You are guilty of thoughtcrimes punishable by heavy fines and public shame.

    Prepare to take medkit-one for thoughtspeak fix.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Identify items? That's not how body scanners work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Epic-acquired TSA Requirements Document (FOIA)

    Except that the Requirements Document acquired by EPIC stated that the devices must have hard drives, and internet/ethernet connectivity for "future requirements", as well as "data transfers via USB devices"

    Warning: PDF
    http://epic.org/open_gov/foia/TSA_Procurement_Specs.pdf

    See section 3.1.3.6
    "Shall (53) support full/half duplex data rates of 10/100 mega-bits per second to support future requirements"

    Section 3.1.1.5.1
    "The WBI system shall provide capabilities for data transfers via USB devices. These devices shall provide connectivity to download FDRS data as described in 3.1.1.5 and to upload/download."

    This requirement includes all raw data.

     

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  8.  
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    Joshy, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    Amazing how you can walk across the border from Mexico the largest drug supplier to the US but you cannot fly from Montana to South Dakota without be groped or being filmed naked-ish.

    Amazing the TSA uses the same tools (guns, pat downs, interrogations, etc) as a police officer but it only takes a couple of days training. Versus years of training every other police officer military or Coast Guard personal must go through. If they were serious about security they would have deputized career individuals who took security as the daily job not as something better than a fast food job.

    Why not have the Coast guard/Border guards take over the task of TSA?

     

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  9.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    I would think that making sure security is properly trained is somewhat more important than insisting that we must see everyone naked

    Nekkid is more fun.

    http://epic.org/open_gov/foia/TSA_Procurement_Specs.pdf

    10/100 and USB - Just make it easier to make sure my friends can see you nekkid as well.

    Cant wait until Megan Fox goes through one of these.

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Re:

    "Why not have the Coast guard/Border guards take over the task of TSA?"

    Because it's illegal to use military forces for civilian needs unless a declaration of Emergency/Disaster has been made....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Epic-acquired TSA Requirements Document (FOIA)

    Hard drives, eh? The Mythbusters should stick one of Jamie's legendary magnets to the thing for their next test.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    darryl, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:40pm

    TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    So, we're using these naked scanners even though the people operating them haven't been properly trained on them, and they're not really able to spot the prohibited items that we're told can only be spotted using these machines or a grope.

    Mike when are you going to tell the truth ? really you know that is total spin, why do you're readers constantly let you get away with it..

    The heading for a start, how misleading !!

    TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    You make that claim, as a statement of fact due to what?

    You make the claim, falsely, or at least the implication from that heading that they are using the older "limited" equipment.

    That is not true is it Mike, what this is about is they had to use the older scanners in their training, the ones that do not show up as much..

    But it does show up differences, less clear than the modern machines, so if you are capable of finding something illegal with the older scanning technology.

    YOU most certainly will be able to spot the differences in contract with the new and more sensitive scanners.

    But you dont care at all about any of that do you Mike.

    This is a change for another flame headline, misleading, and false..

    But it gives you great fodder for your cows to chew on for awile. before they get bored and wonder off..

    But please one day mike, would you be able to write something that is not false, or misleading, biased and factually wrong.. Please.. just for a change..

    The more I read your rubbish the more respect I have for the TSA who are trying to do a very difficult job in trying conditions, with people like you constantly trying to degrade them..

    Do you think most of those TSA people would be doing what they do, if it was not for them wanting to pay cheque, and to be able to support their families.


    And if you Mike, hate them so much, they must be doing something right..

     

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  13.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re:

    Recent congressionally passed law may have explicitly given this authority to the President. HR5122 also known as the John Warner Defense Authorization Act was signed by the president on Oct 17, 2006 John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Section 1076 Text of Hr5122 is titled "Use of the Armed Forces in major public emergencies". Removing the legalese from the text, and combining multiple sentences, it provides that: The President may employ the armed forces to restore public order in any State of the United States the President determines hinders the execution of laws that deprive people of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws. The actual text is on page 322-323 of the legislation.

    - copied off of abovetopsecret.com

    Resident "theorist" at your disposal :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    One thing that gets me curious they say they don't record the images but that most probably is a lie, because how do you traine people without actual material from real life situations?

    Some will say you simulate the images, well where do you get the images to emulate from? recollections?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Alright, fine, I relinquish the title.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    NOOOOooooo!

    And I was just talking about how much I love Jim Marrs on that other thread and you headshot me with a factoid from HIS site?

    Ugh. I'll take my beating, I guess....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    Are we safe yet!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Epic-acquired TSA Requirements Document (FOIA)

    Well, as you get into the document, it's a little hazy. They call for WinXPe, but linux is also listed. What is required is data transportability via USB. I think USB drives are a little more difficult to wipe. Here's an interview from Ginger McCall at EPIC.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/40072597#40072597

    If you dig into it the document, it looks like this only the first part of an over-reaching strategy to create a common information sharing platform called "Security Technology Integrated Program" or STIP.

    STIP program cost:
    http://itdashboard.gov/?q=content/cost-summary&buscid=171

    2012 Contract Awards:
    https://myit.usaspending.gov/?q=content/contracts&buscid=171

    TSA narrative of the program:
    http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/mgmt/e300-tsa-stip2010.pdf

    General Dynamics release:
    http://www.gd-ais.com/news/detail.cfm?prid=448&page=1

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:03pm

    Re: TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    Darryl Ping Pong Yang, I don't know what you wrote because I didn't bother to read but your text walls are hard to miss you are exercising my middle finger that has to scrow down a lot because of you, I just wish I could see you so I could show it to you :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    btrussell (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:04pm

    "Do you think most of those TSA people would be doing what they do, if it was not for them wanting to pay cheque, and to be able to support their families."

    I'd rather prostitute myself than try to find your balls.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dam, I was seriously looking forward to some witty banter. (No sarcasm intended)

    Love ya DH

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Epic-acquired TSA Requirements Document (FOIA)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Michael Long (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    Posted this the other day, but it's just as applicable here.

    Here's a great article on how Israel handles security at their airports. Note the emphasis on properly training PEOPLE as opposed to buying and trusting multi-million dollar machines to do the job.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199---israelification-high-security-little-both er

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    AdamR (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Just saw a news report on CBS NY, that said to help speed threw security check points you should do the Following:

    1. Wear underwear
    2. No excessively baggy cloths
    3. If you are wearing a skirt or long dress to have proper materials underneath.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Re:

    Ironically, the job requirements for both are very similar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Joshy@8

    I'm sorry, but the Coast Guard has MUCH better people. Putting them in as security theater would be a waste of good minds. The US Border Patrol, on the other hand, (cf. Peter Watts) already act like the TSA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    Nope. Wear a kilt. Commando. Then groan in pleasure when they reach up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    Re: TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    Learn to read? He explicitly says that they're using new equipment but were trained on old equipment.

    Reading comprehension fail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    Re: TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    Oh, and it's not Mike making these claims.

    It's the Homeland Security investigation that states it.

    Reading comprehension fail x2.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    BruceLD, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    Subject

    The scans exist to deter terrorists, and to piss off cash-paying travelers in an industry that is already financially strapped.

    The funny this is terrorists will simply change their tactics to avoid detection anyways. I've read at CNN where experts are explaining that rubber explosives that are designed to shape the human body can not be detected by these scanners. The rubber explosives would not be detected either if they are stored inside bodily orifices.

    Bomb sniffing dogs and puffers would be far more effective. Let the dogs sniff your crotch and ass as that's what they do naturally anyways.

    Why the hell is the TSA so paranoid about being recorded? I'll tell you why. They are worried about terrorists studying their techniques to find weaknesses, and they also don't want to be caught and held liable for things such as forcing female cancer survivors to take out their prosthetic breasts and exploding urine bag ending up on YouTube. They don't want to get caught for blatantly ignorant acts. I would suspect that the latter is the primary concern.

    Also, it sounds like the TSA has a lot of things to hide and they do not want to be held accountable for anything that can and will go wrong. What a bunch of idiots, and these guys are supposed to protect us?

    Bomb sniffing dogs, puffers, metal detectors and regular non-sexual pat downs are far better security. That is all that's needed.

     

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  31.  
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    BruceLD, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 7:12pm

    Subject

    BTW to the TSA monitors that are reading this right now (I know you're out there)...

    If the lovely terrorists decide to hide explosives in their rectums after evading the radiation scanner, metal detectors, sexual-pat downs and they end up blowing up a plane--what will you do next? Give every single man, woman and child passenger full anal cavity searches?

    The TSA needs to figure out something because if this happens, NO ONE will ever fly again and this will result in a catastrophic collapse of the entire world economy...which of course is precisely what the terrorists want and we're playing right in to their hands through the loss of privacy, rights and freedoms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    testcore (profile), Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    two observations

    1. Those who will give up freedom for security deserve neither.

    2. Know not thy enemy, but know thyself, and the battle is lost. Know thy enemy but not thyself, and the battle is lost. Know thy enemy and know thyself and the battle is over before it's begun.

    TSA needs a history lesson or three.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    The only thing the TSA does is to slow down the speed that airports can process individuals which simply jams the airports full of huge crowds effectively turning the airports into potential terrorist targets. We are better off if people are separated from each other than if we are crowded together in one place at some airport waiting for the TSA to check everyone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    Airport Security Redux

    I think these machines will work as well as the Puffer Machines. Have you seen this--?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd0BHqauEa4

    Maybe we should take our cues from Australia on security--
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3grHjibNdA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 12:00am

    Re: TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    Darryl, you accuse me of making stuff up. And you claim the following:

    That is not true is it Mike, what this is about is they had to use the older scanners in their training, the ones that do not show up as much..

    But it does show up differences, less clear than the modern machines, so if you are capable of finding something illegal with the older scanning technology.

    YOU most certainly will be able to spot the differences in contract with the new and more sensitive scanners.


    I will, once again, quote directly from the Homeland Security report, as I did in the post:


    TSOs were still training with x-ray images from older generation equipment, which limits their ability to identify prohibited items using the current checkpoint equipment.


    That statement says that you are wrong. Will you admit it? So far, in the last week, I have taken the time to point out direct factual errors in your claims every single day, and not once have you returned to admit you were in error. It's getting to be quite amusing.

    Shall we try again tomorrow?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: TSA Agents Have 'Limited Ability' To Spot Prohibited Items In New Naked Scanners

    you are exercising my middle finger that has to scrow down a lot because of you
    "There's an script for that" - I think it was Nasch who was plugging it (apologies if I'm malinging there)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:01am

    Not really a surpise

    Bit of a "Yeah? Big shock.." moment for me. Of all the countries I've flown to/from around the world I've found U.S. customs and immegration to be among the rudest and least efficient.
    I also knew a couple of guys who designed software to help highlight dangerous items in airport x-ray machines. They said that the operators in the U.S. were among the most poorly trained and least proficient they'd dealt with. Now that was a few years ago so it may have improved.... but you won't see me laying any large wagers on that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re: Re:

    The problem with that is the education system in the US has become LCD. Making finding qualified people to work at 10 dollars an hour a moot point. So we need the machines and the huge contracts for the machines awarded to friends of the president of the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    No we will never be safe until we have a world wide police state ... go progressives!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    pringerX (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Bomb sniffing dogs

    I keep hearing about sniffer dogs, but does anyone have hard numbers? At first blush, they certainly seem cheaper, more effective and friendlier than these scanners.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Michael, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    HOMESEC?

    How much of a mockery of a security force do you have to put together for the Department of Homeland Security to be able to pick you apart?

    That's like having your outfit being laughed at by the naked cowboy in Times Square.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Qyiet (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Subject

    NO ONE will ever fly in the states again and this will result in a catastrophic collapse of the united states economy.

    Fixed that for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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