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Old 06-28-2017, 07:20 AM   #381
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Fish market owner 'personally offended' by large lobster TSA photo

http://www.kcra.com/article/fish-market-owner-personally-offended-by-large-lobster-tsa-photo/10232478

The owner of a Connecticut fish market says she is "personally offended" after she saw a photo of a 20-pound (9-kilogram) lobster being handled by a Transportation Security Administration screener on social media.

Lisa Feinman owns Atlantic Seafood Market in Old Saybrook, and says she packed the lobster in a cooler with other lobsters for a customer from Georgia.

TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy later shared a photo of a screener holding the lobster, getting thousands of likes on Instagram.

In a Facebook post, Feinman took great exception to the photo being taken.

"I have something to say about this," she wrote." "This TSA agent should mind his own business. When is it okay to go through someones checked baggage and take photographs? I am personally offended by this because I packed this checked cooler with care and concern for the lobsters and my customers personal property. In addition to this lobster, my customer also purchased several other lobsters all of which were purposefully packed on top of this guy. This agent (after seeing the contents on an x ray machine, no doubt) had to dump out 12 other lobsters to get to this guy. Seriously, nothing better to do? And who would be to blame when these lobsters show up with a claw broken off because the TSA agent doesn't know how to properly handle a lobster? Do your job and leave our personal property alone."

She also criticized the way the agent held the lobster, saying he could have snapped off a claw by putting all of its weight on its joints.

The agency has not responded to requests for comment.
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Old 06-28-2017, 07:38 AM   #382
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I have such mixed feelings about lobsters.

I have eaten lobster on a rare occasion but not without guilt.

I don't think I ever shall again after reading this:

"Lobsters usually feed on bottom dwellers like clams, snails, and crabs. Lobsters live in the murk and mud at the bottom of the ocean. Lobsters can grow up to four feet long and weigh as much as 40 pounds. It is believed that lobsters can live as long as 100 years."

100 Fun Facts About Lobsters - Woodman's of Essex

Any creature that can live 100 years should not be eaten.

Sorry for the thread derail Andrea.


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Fish market owner 'personally offended' by large lobster TSA photo

http://www.kcra.com/article/fish-market-owner-personally-offended-by-large-lobster-tsa-photo/10232478

The owner of a Connecticut fish market says she is "personally offended" after she saw a photo of a 20-pound (9-kilogram) lobster being handled by a Transportation Security Administration screener on social media.

Lisa Feinman owns Atlantic Seafood Market in Old Saybrook, and says she packed the lobster in a cooler with other lobsters for a customer from Georgia.

TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy later shared a photo of a screener holding the lobster, getting thousands of likes on Instagram.

In a Facebook post, Feinman took great exception to the photo being taken.

"I have something to say about this," she wrote." "This TSA agent should mind his own business. When is it okay to go through someones checked baggage and take photographs? I am personally offended by this because I packed this checked cooler with care and concern for the lobsters and my customers personal property. In addition to this lobster, my customer also purchased several other lobsters all of which were purposefully packed on top of this guy. This agent (after seeing the contents on an x ray machine, no doubt) had to dump out 12 other lobsters to get to this guy. Seriously, nothing better to do? And who would be to blame when these lobsters show up with a claw broken off because the TSA agent doesn't know how to properly handle a lobster? Do your job and leave our personal property alone."

She also criticized the way the agent held the lobster, saying he could have snapped off a claw by putting all of its weight on its joints.

The agency has not responded to requests for comment.
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Old 10-24-2017, 06:43 AM   #383
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TSA Security Measures Could Cause an Allergic Reaction

https://www.flyertalk.com/articles/tsa-security-measures-could-cause-an-allergic-reaction.html?utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=

Next time you’re traveling with a lot of snacks, be prepared – you may need to go through some extra security screening. As part of the Transportation Security Administration’s new, stricter screening rules, carry-on foods may need to go in their own bins. The measure has already gone into effect in airports like Orlando, where a woman from Arkansas told a travel agent that TSA was swabbing everything.

“When I went to Orlando from Memphis, I was pulled over for additional screening and was told it was [because] I had lots of snacks in my bag,” she said on a Facebook post reported by Allergic Living. “They swabbed every single snack.”

This poses a problem, though, for those with food allergies worried about cross-contamination. The bins are communal, so you don’t know what food has been in there already that might contain an allergen. And for TSA agents searching through bags or examining the food, they may have some sort of food allergen on their gloves from a previous traveler.

Sari Koshetz, a spokesperson for the southeast region of the TSA, gave Allergic Living some hints for how travelers can ensure no cross-contamination happens: Put all the allergy-safe food in clear, tightly sealed containers or baggies; Ask an officer going through your items to put on clean gloves; Point out liquids with medical purposes that exceed the volume limit for carry-ons so that TSA agents can scan them without opening them. It’s also a good idea, Allergic Living says, to carry a note from your doctor explaining your allergies and the safe foods (and possibly an EpiPen) you need to carry. Travelers should also consider joining TSA PreCheck, where the stronger security measures do not apply.
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Old 11-07-2017, 09:21 PM   #384
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Default Feel safe?

Homeland insecurities: Lost guns, backlogged asylum-seekers among DHS vulnerabilities

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/07/homeland-security-lost-guns-backlogged-asylum-application-vulnerabilities-lax-grant-oversight-dhs/838089001/

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security has key vulnerabilities in administration and oversight that could leave the agency open to fraud and pose threats to national security and public safety, according to a series of reports issued in recent weeks by the department’s inspector general.

The problems range from miscommunications on immigration to oversight failures at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a skyrocketing backlog of asylum applications that could present a “significant risk to national security and public safety,” the inspector general found.

The issues show just how steep the challenges are for President Trump’s pick to lead the agency, Kirstjen Nielsen, who is facing a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The 15-year-old agency, created to help keep Americans safe after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has a broad mission guarding the nation's ports, borders and airports and overseeing federal disaster response and recovery.

Nielsen is an attorney with homeland security and cybersecurity experience who was chief of staff to Gen. John Kelly at DHS before he became White House chief of staff. She followed him to the White House, where she is principal deputy chief of staff.

Previously, she worked at the Transportation Security Administration and on the White House Homeland Security Council under President George W. Bush.

Here are some of the key vulnerabilities identified by the DHS inspector general — and issues she faces if confirmed.

Asylum backlog

A backlog of asylum applications has skyrocketed in recent years, jumping from roughly 57,000 in 2014 to more than 250,000 this year.

Immigrants who are already in the United States can seek asylum by filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which then reviews them and sets up fingerprinting, background checks and interviews before asylum can be granted.

The inspector general did not indicate where in the process the backlogged applications are, but the IG’s office told USA TODAY that USCIS officials indicated they had only received initial, preliminary vetting.

“These cases present a significant risk to national security and public safety when not vetting the applicants’ backgrounds,” the inspector general concluded.

Eliminating the backlog without added staffing or policy changes could take years, and in the meantime, the inspector general said, USCIS officials have identified fraud trends in the program.

“Individuals may file for affirmative asylum, anticipating a prolonged waiting period, as a means of exploiting the application process to obtain an Employment Authorization Document,” the inspector general said.

Last year, the department implemented an “asylum surge issue team” to help improve processing, but the inspector general found “no meaningful changes implemented.”

Immigration miscommunications

DHS does not foster enough coordination between its offices responsible for immigration administration and enforcement, which has led to miscommunications and breakdowns, the inspector general found.

The inspector general identified issues with bed space availability, inmate transfer responsibility, language services and processing of undocumented immigrants because of different decisions made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

CBP apprehends immigrants but relies on ICE to house them, yet ICE didn’t consistently notify CPB if and where beds were available. In addition, while CBP is a 24-hour, seven-day operation, ICE enforcement and removal staff normally don’t work nights and weekends, leaving customs and border workers scrambling to house detainees.

A decision by USCIS last year to stop conducting interviews with individuals not currently detained at one location prompted ICE to convert nearly 2,000 cases pending asylum hearings to notices to appear in court. An ICE official said they likely would have been removed and not released into communities if their cases had been adjudicated upon entry to the United States.

ICE officials also didn’t always communicate with USCIS when they moved or released detainees, so USCIS at times showed up at facilities to do interviews but the subjects were not there.

“Lack of coordination in processing aliens creates potential vulnerabilities to national security and public safety,” the inspector general found.

In response to the report issued last week, department officials said they planned to establish a policy council with members from ICE, USCIS, CBP, and other offices to coordinate department-wide administration of immigration policies.

Hundreds of guns, badges lost

Between 2014 and 2016, DHS personnel lost thousands of sensitive assets including guns, badges and secure immigration stamps, the inspector general found.

Border patrol, ICE agents and TSA officers are among DHS personnel who carry guns and badges that pose a security risk if they are lost or stolen. A total of 228 guns and nearly 1,900 badges went missing during the two-year period.

The IG cited instances where two off-duty ICE officers left guns in backpacks while on a beach in Puerto Rico, and another left his gun and badge unsecured in a hotel room while on vacation.

A CBP officer left his badge in an unlocked public gym locker, another left his gun in a bag at a friend’s house, and a third left his gun in an unlocked car overnight. A TSA officer left his gun in his car while he had dinner with his family.

All were stolen.

Only a fraction of the officers were disciplined and none received remedial training on safeguarding such sensitive assets in the future.

In three cases, the inspector general found, weapons fell into the hands of convicted felons.

”Police recovered one firearm from an individual in possession of heroin; another from a suspect charged with armed robbery; and the last from a convicted felon at a pawn shop,” the IG wrote.

DHS officials said they concurred with the findings and plan to update policies, training and inventory control for guns and badges.
Marshaling better aviation security

The contribution to aviation security of the Federal Air Marshal Service is “questionable,” the inspector general concluded.

The details of the findings are classified but an unclassified summary said investigators made five recommendations for improvement. “We also identified a part of FAMS operations where, if discontinued, funds could be put to better use,” the summary states.

Part of the Transportation Security Administration, the service deploys marshals on commercial flights to “protect airline passengers and crew against the risk of criminal and terrorist violence.”

But critics contend that there are only enough marshals to cover 5 percent of flights, and yet the program accounts for 10 percent of the TSA’s budget, costing more than $800 milion per year.

“In general, spending one dollar on the service generates less than 10 cents in benefit,” wrote John Mueller, a political scientist at the Cato Institute and Ohio State University, and Mark Stewart, a civil engineer and risk analyst at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Mueller told USA TODAY he believes they are virtually useless.

“They do nothing,” Mueller told USA TODAY in an interview. “They may have helped with a few drunks here and there. They’ve apprehended nobody.”

Mueller and Stewart, co-authors of Are we safe enough? Measuring and assessing aviation security, maintain that slashing the marshal service’s budget by 75%, increasing training and arming of pilots and installing secondary barriers to cockpits would produce “better aviation security and a savings of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.”
Disastrous loan oversight

In a separate report released last month, the inspector general found that FEMA “did not manage disaster relief grants and funds adequately and did not hold grant recipients accountable for properly managing disaster relief funds.”

Between 2009 and 2015, the inspector general identified $1.6 billion in questionable costs. Last year, the watchdog found another $155 million.

They included instances where projects did not qualify or grant recipients did not ensure full and open competition for work under the grants, did not provide opportunities to small, women- or minority-owned business and used prohibited cost-inflated contracts.

FEMA provides grants to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations to help response and recovery from major disasters.

The inspector general also audited the agency’s initial response to major disasters and found the responses were effective but noted “FEMA’s management responsibility merely begins with the initial disaster response.”

In response to the report, FEMA officials said they are committed to addressing the findings and the agency is working to advance consistent, FEMA-wide guidance for grant management and compliance.
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:15 AM   #385
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Default Big improvement?

'Disturbing' findings: Airport screeners miss most weapons

http://www.kcra.com/article/disturbing-findings-airport-screeners-miss-most-weapons/13456754

Undercover testing at multiple airport checkpoints brought back uncomfortable results, finding that security procedures missed weapons a majority of the time.

"We found that briefing disturbing," House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said at a hearing following Wednesday's briefing to discuss the details of the tests conducted by Office of the Inspector General.

The briefing itself was private, but a source told ABC News that the failure rate was "in the ballpark" of 80 percent. A CBS correspondent says the investigators were able to get through checkpoints with mock knives, guns and explosives more than 70 percent of time.

The Transportation Security Administration said it agrees with the report and is committed to Department of Homeland Security recommendations, though are no specifics on what those entail.

"We take the OIG’s findings very seriously and are implementing measures that will improve screening effectiveness at checkpoints," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. "We are focused on staying ahead of a dynamic threat to aviation with continued investment in the workforce, enhanced procedures, and new technologies."

Despite the high rate of failure, the results of this round of testing is better than two years ago, when screeners missed 95 percent of prohibited items.
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Old 11-12-2017, 10:07 AM   #386
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i do not know why but TSA always stops me...and flying from dallas to vegas i was stopped...the TSA lady felt my "chest" with her fingertips...i was told i could move along...and i did...it was because of my necklace...sheesh
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Old 11-12-2017, 11:20 AM   #387
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Andrea??? Have you come across any articles, which address how the so-called "legalized groping" of airline passengers has negative impact on the airline industry?

I'm SO curious about this particular fall out, the unintended consequence of allowing this type of "security measure"..... I mean, hey, that article you found about screener's groping people to find guns or knives or any device of the sort is an failure to find anything except to grope people and put passengers through undue stress. I won't take an airplane anymore because I refuse to have strangers groping my body. I can hardly believe the hostile environment just to take an airplane to travel. It seems terribly counterproductive to have to submit to a body search, which is more like some prison tactic or sorts.

Anywhooo..... next time I'm visiting my friend who's a senior librarian, thus is something I'm going to ask her, if she's seen any credible literature concerning negative impacts on those who fly and the airline industry as an whole.
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Old 11-12-2017, 02:01 PM   #388
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Originally Posted by Kätzchen View Post
Andrea??? Have you come across any articles, which address how the so-called "legalized groping" of airline passengers has negative impact on the airline industry?

I'm SO curious about this particular fall out, the unintended consequence of allowing this type of "security measure"..... I mean, hey, that article you found about screener's groping people to find guns or knives or any device of the sort is an failure to find anything except to grope people and put passengers through undue stress. I won't take an airplane anymore because I refuse to have strangers groping my body. I can hardly believe the hostile environment just to take an airplane to travel. It seems terribly counterproductive to have to submit to a body search, which is more like some prison tactic or sorts.

Anywhooo..... next time I'm visiting my friend who's a senior librarian, thus is something I'm going to ask her, if she's seen any credible literature concerning negative impacts on those who fly and the airline industry as an whole.
I haven't seen any numbers but the board I find stuff on indicates to me there are different classes of people. Those that travel for work and don't have much of a choice, those that believe the gropes are keeping us safe because there hasn't been another attack like 9/11, and those that don't fly but claim they wouldn't have an issue with being groped because if the government says it is necessary......

Then there is the rest of us that don't like it so limit our flying, but sometimes it is the only way to get somewhere when you have to be there.

What I don't get is why we keep spending the $ on an agency that has proven again and again it can't do the job.
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Old 11-12-2017, 02:22 PM   #389
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Originally Posted by Andrea View Post
I haven't seen any numbers but the board I find stuff on indicates to me there are different classes of people. Those that travel for work and don't have much of a choice, those that believe the gropes are keeping us safe because there hasn't been another attack like 9/11, and those that don't fly but claim they wouldn't have an issue with being groped because if the government says it is necessary......

Then there is the rest of us that don't like it so limit our flying, but sometimes it is the only way to get somewhere when you have to be there.

What I don't get is why we keep spending the $ on an agency that has proven again and again it can't do the job.
Same here, I agree with you wholeheartedly, Andrea!
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:58 PM   #390
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Those airport cameras tracking your face may not be legal, study finds

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/12/21/scanning-the-face-of-every-american-traveling-overseas-would-be-invasive-costly-and-potentially-illegal-a-new-report-finds/?utm_term=.a1790b378669

A Department of Homeland Security program that would collect facial scans of every American citizen traveling overseas may skirt the law, come at enormous cost, exhibit technical flaws and invade the privacy of innocent people, a new report finds.

Published Thursday by three researchers at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University’s law school, the report examined a DHS pilot program currently underway at nine U.S. airports with overseas flights. In an effort to prevent visitors from overstaying their visas or using fraudulent travel documents, border agents scan the faces of travelers before they depart, and compare the biometric scan against a DHS database.

Visitors and U.S. citizens alike who are traveling on certain international flights originating from cities including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York, and Chicago will have their faces captured. According to the study, DHS plans to extend the face scanning program to every airport in the United States that sends passengers abroad.

But the researchers urge policymakers and the public to consider abandoning the biometric exit program, which they say is “riddled with problems” and “offers no tangible benefits.” Congress has never clearly authorized the collection of facial data at the border from American citizens, the report says, and DHS has not begun a rulemaking process on the facial scanning program that it is required by federal law to conduct.

The $1 billion program may prompt more invasive forms of government surveillance, including passive biometric scans at domestic airports and the use of facial recognition in other public spaces not associated with air travel, according to the report. That may lead to the chilling of free speech and free association, the researchers said.

In a statement, Jennifer Gabris, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that the agency takes its privacy obligations seriously, and that U.S. citizens can currently opt out of the facial scanning process.

“In addition, in an effort to be transparent, CBP held a dialogue with privacy advocates in August 2017 and will do so again in January 2018,” she said. Gabris added that CBP has instituted a rigorous process to review the performance of the biometric pilot program, which has a “matching rate in the high 90 percentile.”

“CBP is working to meet the Congressional mandate for biometric exit in a way that’s most efficient and secure for the traveler and that is least disruptive for the travel industry, while also effectively enhancing border security,” she said.

But in addition to legal and privacy implications raised in the study, the researchers found that DHS itself had acknowledged technical flaws in how the facial scanning system functions. Citing DHS's own data, the report states that the agency's facial recognition system erroneously rejects as many as 1 out of every 25 travelers who display valid credentials. Applying that error rate to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, 1,632 innocent passengers could be wrongfully delayed or denied boarding every day under DHS's system, the study found.

What's more, DHS appears to not have measurements in place to evaluate how well its facial scanning systems actually detect would-be impostors, according to the study. The 1-out-of-25 error rate measures only false positives, not accurate detections of fraud.

The study likened DHS's lack of a positive detection metric to a bar owner who hires a bouncer without asking him how well he can spot fake IDs. “DHS appears to have no idea whether its system will be effective at achieving its primary technical objective,” the study said.

The report also found DHS is unable to determine whether the accuracy of its facial scans drops because of a traveler's demographic traits. Citing industry research and DHS's own inconclusive findings, the report argues that its likely the agency's biometric scanning systems may discriminate against people based on their race and sex. “Innocent people may be pulled from the line at the boarding gate and subjected to manual fingerprinting at higher rates as a result of their complexion or gender,” the report said.

If the program does continue, the researchers offered six recommendations. They include DHS offering a justification for biometric scanning and identifying and quantifying the problem they are trying to solve; excluding Americans from facial scanning; and for the DHS to adopt a policy restricting the use of facial data for verifying the identify of foreigners, and not for other purposes.
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Old 01-22-2018, 09:59 PM   #391
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A woman called the ‘serial stowaway’ sneaked past airport security — again — and flew to London

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/01/20/a-woman-called-the-serial-stowaway-sneaked-past-airport-security-again-and-flew-to-london/?utm_term=.ae065e78295e

Marilyn Jean Hartman is infamous. For years, law enforcement agencies in several states have known her for her seemingly endless and bizarre habit of getting on planes without a ticket, a boarding pass or a passport.

The 66-year-old with short, white-blond hair was caught trying to get to Hawaii at least once in 2014. She made it to Los Angeles that same year after trying several times to board a plane in San Jose. She flew to Florida in 2015 after boarding a plane in Minnesota. She was jailed in Chicago that same year for trying to bypass security at the city’s two major airports. According to news reports, she usually tries to blend in with big groups to get past airport security.

And in 2016, an Illinois judge sentenced her to two years of probation and six months at a mental-health facility, where she had already been staying, after she was arrested again at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Hartman is back on the news again. This time, she made it to London.

She sneaked past security in Chicago and boarded a flight to Heathrow Airport. She was arrested after arriving there Monday and was flown back to the United States on Thursday, according to Chicago police. Hartman has been charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, and theft, a felony.

The Transportation Security Administration is investigating how she managed to sneak past security.

“During the initial investigation it was determined that the passenger was screened at the security checkpoint before boarding a flight. Upon learning of the incident, TSA, and its aviation partners, took immediate action to review security practices throughout the airport,” the federal agency said in a statement.

Lauren Huffman, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation, said no passengers or visitors were placed in harm’s way because of the incident.

“We are working with our law enforcement partners to support a comprehensive and thorough investigation, while continuing to maintain the highest levels of security at O’Hare Airport,” Huffman said in a statement.

Several media outlets, including The Washington Post, have documented Hartman’s misadventures and often referred to her with a nickname. “ ‘Infamous serial stowaway’ Marilyn Jean Hartman strikes again,” says a Post headline from 2015. Media outlets have also called her a homeless loner bouncing between women’s shelters and motel rooms up and down the West Coast over the past decade.

But her bizarre and headline-grabbing behavior has confounded authorities.

“Ms. Hartman, what am I supposed to do?” Cook County Circuit Court Judge William Raines asked during a hearing in May 2015, according to NBC affiliate WMAQ.

A year later, Hartman was back in Raines’s courtroom. The judge dished out a harsh scolding as he recounted Hartman’s history, which included several attempts to escape from mental-health facilities in Illinois.

“The only reason why you’re not going to jail this time is because all these people that are here trying to help you still want to help you. I can’t figure out why that is,” Raines told Hartman, according to the Chicago Tribune’s account of the hearing. He added later: “There’s no more feeling sorry for you. I think you’re addicted to the attention.”

In many cases, Hartman seemed to expect to be caught.

“And it’s not as if she is, ‘Catch me if you can.’ It’s almost like, ‘Just come catch me,’ ” Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Allen told reporters during the hearing.

But why the airport? That’s a question that assistant public defender Parle Roe-Taylor had told reporters she couldn’t answer.

In 2015, San Francisco Magazine tried to do so. A lengthy profile published online in June 2015 painted a picture of a woman who had been estranged from family members in Illinois, who constantly felt “the need to get on a plane to go away,” and who told wild tales of coverups and conspiracies.

Hartman claimed that people — airport security, public transit passengers, jail inmates, President Obama — have all conspired to compel her to sneak onto planes in an elaborate attempt to punish her, and then allow her to escape lengthy prison sentences so she can do it all over again, and again.

“They just hope I kill myself or act out against society,” she told the magazine during an interview while she was jailed in Florida. “Goodbye, cruel world.”

Hartman was living at an apartment facility for low-income seniors at a Chicago suburb before her arrest this week. She’s scheduled to appear in court Saturday, according to media reports.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:12 AM   #392
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TSA worker arrested after feds say he showed up for sex with 11-year-old girl

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-reg-tsa-worker-child-sex-case-20180410-story.html

A TSA worker based at Fort Lauderdale’s international airport is jailed on federal allegations he showed up at a Plantation park expecting to have sex with an 11-year-old family friend who he had been sending inappropriate texts and pornography.

Gary Delynn Linder, 27, of Lauderhill, cried during a bond hearing Tuesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. He did not speak but quietly wept and looked at his father in the courtroom.

Officials with the Transportation Security Administration at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said the agency has begun the process of terminating Linder’s employment. Linder worked as a TSA officer since November 2016.

Linder began trying to groom the girl for sexual activity about a month after he obtained her cellphone number in January, prosecutors said.

“Have you hit puberty yet?” was one of the texts he sent to the girl, followed by more inappropriate questions about her body and development.

The girl’s parents saw the inappropriate texts from him in mid-February and turned the phone over to law enforcement.
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Investigators assumed the girl’s identity and began responding to Linder’s texts as if they were her.

Linder exchanged more than 1,000 texts in about two months, often reaching out to the girl while she was at school and as late as midnight to 1 a.m., according to testimony from Lee Bieber, a Plantation detective who works on the FBI’s child exploitation task force.

“I responded in kind but he set the tone of the conversation,” Bieber testified about the texts he exchanged with Linder when he posed as the 11-year-old.

During the investigation, Linder sent pornographic images of adults having sex, as well as photographs of his erect penis, and begged the girl to send him sexual photographs of herself. He gave instructions on how to shoot the photographs but the undercover detective made excuses and did not send photos.

The texts were extremely sexual and included a labeled diagram of female genitals, instructions on masturbation, and graphic descriptions of Linder’s sexual fantasies involving the girl, investigators said.
Stories and secrets from a TSA screener

Linder arranged to meet the 11-year-old girl at 4 p.m. on April 4 at a park in Plantation. Beforehand, he specified that he wanted to have sex with her in his car.

The undercover agent, posing as the girl, told him to bring two glazed donuts with him and to knock on the public restroom door and the girl would come out.

Agents arrested Linder when he showed up for the sexual encounter – with the glazed donuts.

“In this case, there was a real child – a child that was known to the defendant for a long time … and he took the substantial step of showing up to meet her,” prosecutor Jodi Anton told the judge. “But for law enforcement intervening, you’d have a hands-on offender.”

They said Linder confessed and identified the girl as a family friend whose home he often visited. He also said he was attracted to young girls between the ages of 6 years old to 14 years old, authorities said.

Linder also said he had been communicating with two other minors, girls aged 14 and 16. Authorities said they found two child pornography images on his phone when they searched it.

Linder was arrested on federal charges of using a cellphone to entice a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce child pornography and transferring obscene materials to a minor.

If convicted, he could face 15 years to life in federal prison. Linder has not yet indicated if he plans to fight the charges.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer on Tuesday ordered that Linder will remain jailed while the case is pending.
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:54 PM   #393
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Originally Posted by Andrea View Post
I haven't seen any numbers but the board I find stuff on indicates to me there are different classes of people. Those that travel for work and don't have much of a choice, those that believe the gropes are keeping us safe because there hasn't been another attack like 9/11, and those that don't fly but claim they wouldn't have an issue with being groped because if the government says it is necessary......

Then there is the rest of us that don't like it so limit our flying, but sometimes it is the only way to get somewhere when you have to be there.

What I don't get is why we keep spending the $ on an agency that has proven again and again it can't do the job.
So, I wanted to follow up with you Andrea about the subject of credible scholarly literature available on the subject of Airline Industry issues... for example, issues relating to methods of security checks, methods utilized at boarding gates, port of entries, invasion of privacy (gross cases of body touch types of things --- groping, etc) and any number of topics available to read.

I'm limited in my attempt to conduct an exhaustive type of search due to lack of an desktop or laptop, but by smart phone device and experimenting with certain Boolyan catch-phrases, I couldn't find anything that comes close to what I had in mind. Of course, I'm no librarian or category research expert, but a few things come to mind about why there might not be too many credible Scholarly articles available.

1) Most all upper education institution's with research departments has to have an Independent Review Board (IRB). If an candidate conducting any formal research for a study wants to have their research to be deemed credible, the candidate has to submit an research proposal that meets that institution's set of criteria, to gain permission to move forward with their study, as well as the chair of their department. That's one hoop you can't neglect when committing to the research project the candidate undertakes as either fulfilling an departmental requirement for any upper graduate or doctoral study involved.

2) Since the general subject of the airline industry is an stand alone agency, I'm guessing that there might be barriers to uncovering certain types of available data. For example, I'm guessing, depending on the scope of study and how well the candidate narrows down to the type of information necessary to the case study involved, the candidate might face an awful lot of bureaucratic red tape gaining access to such information. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) agency is notorious for being exceptionally obtuse and often times it is hard to get any type of reasonable cooperation from this agency. Or.... Maybe the candidate might have trouble gaining access to credible case law applications or decisions rendered by State or Federal district courts. Or....maybe the candidate might have trouble getting available data from the FAA (there's always the possibility that certain sets of data might be classified as not available due to security risks).

3) When an candidate takes up an research topic, it's usually based off other research that has been previously published by another candidate .... and from what I've learned about getting your study published, it's helpful to either add toward the collective base of studies previously published or its even more helpful if the candidate's research disputes prior research and makes an airtight argument that nullifies previous studies noting x y or z types of conditions or similarities or that type of thing.

All that to say, that my ability to find any recent study within ten years, which it takes a few years for credible studies to get the institutional stamp of approval, was close to nothing -- I came up empty handed.

Anyway, you may or may not have already known about some of the barriers to credible studies and how hard it is to get enough information to get your study published. Especially if it's ground breaking news.

Thanks so much for taking the time to post about TSA issues in the news.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:30 AM   #394
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Welcome to the Quiet Skies

http://apps.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/graphics/2018/07/tsa-quiet-skies/?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter

Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.

The previously undisclosed program, called “Quiet Skies,” specifically targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.

The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.

But some air marshals, in interviews and internal communications shared with the Globe, say the program has them tasked with shadowing travelers who appear to pose no real threat — a businesswoman who happened to have traveled through a Mideast hot spot, in one case; a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, in another; a fellow federal law enforcement officer, in a third.

It is a time-consuming and costly assignment, they say, which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work.

TSA officials, in a written statement to the Globe, broadly defended the agency’s efforts to deter potential acts of terror. But the agency declined to discuss whether Quiet Skies has intercepted any threats, or even to confirm that the program exists.

Release of such information “would make passengers less safe,” spokesman James Gregory said in the statement.

Already under Quiet Skies, thousands of unsuspecting Americans have been subjected to targeted airport and inflight surveillance, carried out by small teams of armed, undercover air marshals, government documents show. The teams document whether passengers fidget, use a computer, have a “jump” in their Adam’s apple or a “cold penetrating stare,” among other behaviors, according to the records.

Air marshals note these observations — minute-by-minute — in two separate reports and send this information back to the TSA.

All US citizens who enter the country are automatically screened for inclusion in Quiet Skies — their travel patterns and affiliations are checked and their names run against a terrorist watch list and other databases, according to agency documents.

Explore the behavior checklist
1. Subject was abnormally aware of surroundings

Reversing or changing directions and/or stopping while in transit through the airport
Attempting to change appearance by changing clothes, shaving etc. while in the airport or on the plane
Using the reflection in storefront windows to identify surveillance
Observing the boarding gate area from afar
Boarded last
Observing other people who appear to be observing FAM team and/or subject

2. Subject exhibited Behavioral Indicators

Excessive fidgeting
Excessive perspiration
Facial flushing
Rapid eye blinking
“Adam’s apple jump”
Rubbing/wringing of hands
Strong body odor
Sweaty palms
Trembling
Cold penetrating stare
Exaggerated emotions
Gripping/“White knuckling” bags
Wide open, staring eyes
Face touching
Other

3. Subject’s appearance was different from information provided

Lost weight
Gained weight
Balding
Graying
Hair length/style change
Goatee
Visible Tattoos (Describe)
Visible Piercings (Describe)
Beard
Mustache
Apparent Altered Experience (Explain)
Clean shaven
Other

4. Subject slept during the flight

Subject slept during most of the flight
Subject slept briefly

5. General Observations

Checked baggage?
In possession of cell/smartphone?
In possession of multiple phones?
Used phone to talk?
Used phone to text?
In possession of computer?
Seated in first/business class?
Used lavatory?
In possession of any unusual items?
Traveled with others?
Met with others in the airport?
Engaged in conversation with others?
Subject initiated conversation with FAM?
Carryon baggage?
Other notable activity?
Subject engaged in “more than casual contact” with airport or airline employee?

6. For Domestic Arrivals Only

(If possible, provide identifiers (license plate, vehicle description) of pick up vehicle in AAR)

Picked up at curbside shuttle, taxi, bus or public transit?
Picked up at curbside by private vehicle?
Obtained rental car for transportation

The program relies on 15 rules to screen passengers, according to a May agency bulletin, and the criteria appear broad: “rules may target” people whose travel patterns or behaviors match those of known or suspected terrorists, or people “possibly affiliated” with someone on a watch list.

The full list of criteria for Quiet Skies screening was unavailable to the Globe, and is a mystery even to the air marshals who field the surveillance requests the program generates. TSA declined to comment.

When someone on the Quiet Skies list is selected for surveillance, a team of air marshals is placed on the person’s next flight. The team receives a file containing a photo and basic information — such as date and place of birth — about the target, according to agency documents.

The teams track citizens on domestic flights, to or from dozens of cities big and small — such as Boston and Harrisburg, Pa., Washington, D.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. — taking notes on whether travelers use a phone, go to the bathroom, chat with others, or change clothes, according to documents and people within the department.
Flying the quiet skies

Air marshals are following citizens to or from cities big and small, including these airports

Seattle
Minneapolis
Detroit
Boston
New York
Chicago
Harrisburg
San Francisco
Philadelphia
Washington, D.C.
Las Vegas
Charlotte
Phoenix
Myrtle Beach
Los Angeles
Atlanta
Houston
Miami

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.

Since this initiative launched in March, dozens of air marshals have raised concerns about the Quiet Skies program with senior officials and colleagues, sought legal counsel, and expressed misgivings about the surveillance program, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Globe.

“What we are doing [in Quiet Skies] is troubling and raising some serious questions as to the validity and legality of what we are doing and how we are doing it,” one air marshal wrote in a text message to colleagues.

The TSA, while declining to discuss details of the Quiet Skies program, did address generally how the agency pursues its work.

“FAMs [federal air marshals] may deploy on flights in furtherance of the TSA mission to ensure the safety and security of passengers, crewmembers, and aircraft throughout the aviation sector,” spokesman James Gregory said in an e-mailed statement. “As its assessment capabilities continue to enhance, FAMS leverages multiple internal and external intelligence sources in its deployment strategy.”

Agency documents show there are about 40 to 50 Quiet Skies passengers on domestic flights each day. On average, air marshals follow and surveil about 35 of them.

In late May, an air marshal complained to colleagues about having just surveilled a working Southwest Airlines flight attendant as part of a Quiet Skies mission. “Cannot make this up,” the air marshal wrote in a message.

One colleague replied: “jeez we need to have an easy way to document this nonsense. Congress needs to know that it’s gone from bad to worse.”

Experts on civil liberties called the Quiet Skies program worrisome and potentially illegal.

“These revelations raise profound concerns about whether TSA is conducting pervasive surveillance of travelers without any suspicion of actual wrongdoing,” said Hugh Handeyside, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

“If TSA is using proxies for race or religion to single out travelers for surveillance, that could violate the travelers’ constitutional rights. These concerns are all the more acute because of TSA’s track record of using unreliable and unscientific techniques to screen and monitor travelers who have done nothing wrong.”

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Quiet Skies touches on several sensitive legal issues and appears to fall into a gray area of privacy law.

If this was about foreign citizens, the government would have considerable power. But if it’s US citizens — US citizens don’t lose their rights simply because they are in an airplane at 30,000 feet.

— Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor

“If this was about foreign citizens, the government would have considerable power. But if it’s US citizens — US citizens don’t lose their rights simply because they are in an airplane at 30,000 feet,” Turley said. “There may be indeed constitutional issues here depending on how restrictive or intrusive these measures are.”

Turley, who has testified before Congress on privacy protection, said the issue could trigger a “transformative legal fight.”

Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor chosen by President Obama in 2013 to help review foreign intelligence surveillance programs, said the program could pass legal muster if the selection criteria are sufficiently broad. But if the program targets by nationality or race, it could violate equal protection rights, Stone said.

Asked about the legal basis for the Quiet Skies program, Gregory, the agency’s spokesman, said TSA “maintains a robust engagement with congressional committees to ensure maximum support and awareness” of its effort to keep the aviation sector safe. He declined to comment further.
A view from the top of dozens of passengers walking in an airport terminal.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beyond the legalities, some air marshals believe Quiet Skies is not a sound use of limited agency resources.

Several air marshals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly, told the Globe the program wastes taxpayer dollars and makes the country less safe because attention and resources are diverted away from legitimate, potential threats. The US Federal Air Marshal Service, which is part of TSA and falls under the Department of Homeland Security, has a mandate to protect airline passengers and crew against the risk of criminal and terrorist violence.

John Casaretti, president of the Air Marshal Association, said in a statement: “The Air Marshal Association believes that missions based on recognized intelligence, or in support of ongoing federal investigations, is the proper criteria for flight scheduling. Currently the Quiet Skies program does not meet the criteria we find acceptable.

“The American public would be better served if these [air marshals] were instead assigned to airport screening and check in areas so that active shooter events can be swiftly ended, and violations of federal crimes can be properly and consistently addressed.”

These revelations raise profound concerns about whether TSA is conducting pervasive surveillance of travelers without any suspicion of actual wrongdoing.

— Hugh Handeyside, American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project

TSA has come under increased scrutiny from Congress since a 2017 Government Accountability Office report raised questions about its management of the Federal Air Marshal Service. Requested by Congress, the report noted that the agency, which spent $800 million in 2015, has “no information” on its effectiveness in deterring attacks.

Late last year, Representative Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican, introduced a bill that would require the Federal Air Marshal Service to better incorporate risk assessment in its deployment strategy, provide detailed metrics on flight assignments, and report data back to Congress.

Without this information, Congress, TSA, and the Department of Homeland Security “are not able to effectively conduct oversight” of the air marshals, Hice wrote in a letter to colleagues.

“With threats coming at us left and right, our focus should be on implementing effective, evidence-based means of deterring, detecting, and disrupting plots hatched by our enemies.”

Hice’s bill, the “Strengthening Aviation Security Act of 2017,” passed the House and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.
Read the bulletin

The Globe, in its review of Quiet Skies, examined numerous TSA internal bulletins, directives, and internal communications, and interviewed more than a dozen people with direct knowledge of the program.

The purpose of Quiet Skies is to decrease threats by “unknown or partially known terrorists; and to identify and provide enhanced screening to higher risk travelers before they board aircraft based on analysis of terrorist travel trends, tradecraft and associations,” according to a TSA internal bulletin.

The criteria for surveillance appear fluid. Internal agency e-mails show some confusion about the program’s parameters and implementation.
Another image of the Quiet Skies bulletin with highlighted text showing that selectees are not on under investigation or any watch list

Quiet Skies focuses on a person’s international travel patterns and potential affiliations. Passengers are not under investigation and their names are not on a terrorist watch list or in a screening database.

Air marshals have surveilled a businesswoman, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, and a fellow federal law enforcement officer, sources said.

A bulletin in May notes that travelers entering the United States may be added to the Quiet Skies watch list if their “international travel patters [sic] or behaviors match the travel routing and tradecraft of known or suspected terrorists” or “are possibly affiliated with Watch Listed suspects.”

Travelers remain on the Quiet Skies watch list “for up to 90 days or three encounters, whichever comes first, after entering the United States,” agency documents show.

Travelers are not notified when they are placed on the watch list or have their activity and behavior monitored.

Quiet Skies surveillance is an expansion of a long-running practice in which federal air marshals are assigned to surveil the subject of an open FBI terrorism investigation.

In such assignments, air marshal reports are relayed back to the FBI or another outside law enforcement agency. In Quiet Skies, these same reports are completed in the same manner but stay within TSA, agency documents show, and details are shared with outside agencies only if air marshals observe “significant derogatory information.”

According to a TSA bulletin, the program may target people who have spent a certain amount of time in one or more specific countries or whose reservation information includes e-mail addresses or phone numbers associated to suspects on a terrorism watch list.

The bulletin does not list the specific countries, but air marshals have been advised in several instances to follow passengers because of past travel to Turkey, according to people with direct knowledge of the program.

One air marshal described an assignment to conduct a Quiet Skies mission on a young executive from a major company.

“Her crime apparently was she flew to Turkey in the past,” the air marshal said, noting that many international companies have executives travel through Turkey.

“According to the government’s own [Department of Justice] standards there is no cause to be conducting these secret missions.”
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Old 08-30-2018, 07:40 AM   #395
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ACLU Seeks More Information About Los Angeles Subway Body Scanners

https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/aclu-seeks-more-information-about-los-angeles

The ACLU of Southern California filed a public records request today demanding more information about the body scanners that the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is deploying in subway stations purportedly to detect terrorists. There are a lot of unanswered questions about these body scanners, which see through clothing to detect objects on people’s bodies. That raises numerous privacy and racial equity issues — and ultimately, the question of whether we want remote body scanning to become pervasive in our public spaces.

We wrote about this technology and the questions it raises in March when TSA tested it in New York’s Pennsylvania station. The privacy questions include whether the scanner searches are permissible under the Constitution under California’s very privacy-protective state constitution without a warrant and whether an alarm by one of these scanners is sufficient to justify a demand by a security officer to see underneath a person’s clothes. People carry all kinds of personal effects on and about their bodies, especially in a busy place like a transit hub, and many of those things are very personal: valuables; back braces; medical devices, such as colostomy bags and prosthetics, etc. We should also bear in mind that this technology will likely improve over time in its resolution, clarity, and effective operating distance — and will, therefore, become more intrusive.

There are also serious questions about its effectiveness and whether it survives a cost-benefit analysis. We don’t know what the system’s false positive and false negative rates are, but with all of the things that people carry, it’s likely to be generating constant false alarms. For instance, a German study reported on in 2011 found a strikingly high false positive rate of 54 percent in the use of these scanners. In other words, more than one out of every two items tagged as suspicious turned out to be innocuous. And that was the version used in airports on subjects who are standing still with their arms raised and their pockets empty rather than the free-standing version used here on moving crowds in a chaotic environment. Similarly, the risks of the false negatives — the rate at which these devices fail to detect actual threats — are potentially astronomical as well. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog reported that its undercover agents were able to slip contraband through TSA’s suite of security screening protocols in over 70 percent of attempts.

We don’t have anything like sufficient information to suggest that these devices will be effective in preventing mass casualty attacks. The government hasn’t made the results of its tests in Penn Station or elsewhere public. And even if we did have cause to believe they’d be effective, remember that, as security experts have long pointed out, when you harden one target, attackers will simply shift to a softer target. That is especially true of terrorists, who generally don’t care about disabling or degrading a specific facility but are simply interested in creating publicity and terror.

More broadly, this development is the latest to threaten the “airportization of American life.” Under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, police officers and other government agents ordinarily can’t search you without a warrant supported by probable cause. The courts have accepted an “administrative exception” to that requirement for the narrow purpose of detecting weapons and explosives that might be brought aboard aircraft. One of the questions raised by the Los Angeles body-scanner deployment is whether we’re going to allow that narrow exception to our privacy rights to be wedged wide open into a world where we are constantly searched as we circulate throughout our public places, effectively rendering the Constitution’s protections meaningless.

Los Angeles’ Union Station, for example, contains numerous restaurants, houses art exhibits, hosts weddings, and attracts tourists to view its renowned architectural elegance. New York’s Pennsylvania Station, where this technology was also tested, is similarly a contiguous part of New York City’s public spaces, with plentiful entrances and exits and numerous stores and restaurants. Neither are anything like the secured area of an airport. It’s hard to imagine that even with hundreds of body scanners installed throughout these stations, such scanning would be at all effective in detecting a sole bomber from among the 700,000 people who flow in and out of the two sprawling complexes each day.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters of the deployment, “We will not have a repeat of 9/11 or any terrorist incident inside our transportation systems in the United States.” As far as the Los Angeles subway goes that’s fairly certain because you can’t drive a subway train into a building. Mass transit facilities are far more like regular public spaces than they are like aircraft. Aircraft are uniquely structurally vulnerable to attack, uniquely terrifying to passengers contemplating such attacks, and uniquely able to be weaponized against ground targets.

Our domestic security bureaucracies will, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, mindlessly press forward with their task beyond any point of reasonableness. That is the nature of bureaucracies, which, as we have argued elsewhere, are best thought of as mindless organisms with certain common characteristics. They will carry out their task of stamping out any risk of attack, no matter how small, without regards to cost, proportion, or damage to other values.

The continued occurrence of mass shootings may also be taken up by our security bureaucracies as additional fuel for the construction of a “checkpoint and search” society. Officials at the launch of the Los Angeles scanners cited guns as another justification for these searches. But consider the ever-increasing calls for security checkpoints, metal detectors, randomized searches, and onerous backpack policies at schools in the wake of any school shooting. The security apparatus’ response to the epidemic of school shootings is to turn schools into fortified bunkers rather than to invest time and resources into student programming, school supplies, teachers, restorative justice, student support, and mental health care — all of which actually may stand a chance of preventing an attack.

Los Angeles Metro’s acquisition of scanners raises another troubling reality: racially biased policing. These devices only identify potential risks. The officers tasked with operating them follow up on alarms by determining whether an individual deserves additional scrutiny, questioning, or detention. As research has proven, the insertion of line-level discretion in policing introduces racial bias in enforcement decisions. The use of body scanners threatens to exacerbate these disparities. If an officer is unsure about whether to question an individual who may have a suspicious device, they will inevitably be more likely to do so if the person is a Black man than a white woman. Worse still, these scanners may provide officers with an “objective” basis to carry out a racially pretextual stop that they might not otherwise feel legally entitled to do.

In short, for all the specific unanswered questions raised by the Los Angeles subway deployment, which we are trying to get answers to today, the big question is whether we are going to go down the road of subjecting Americans to remote automated searches at every turn. The security bureaucracies and device manufacturers will be pushing for it, but that’s not how Americans should have to live.
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I May Have to Quit Harvard Because the TSA Won’t Stop Searching Me

https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/discriminatory-profiling/i-may-have-quit-harvard-because-tsa-wont-stop#comment-239509

I realized my life had entered a new phase while crossing into the United States from Canada in September 2016.

“You both have to come inside,” the border officer said to my husband and me. “Inside” was an empty and cold warehouse with rows of wooden benches. They confiscated our keys and phones, and when I asked for my baby’s diaper bag from our rental car, they escorted my husband as they spoke into their radios: “Suspect is approaching car.”

I had already been detained on the same trip from my home in Orlando, including during a layover in Los Angeles that caused us to miss our flight to Portland, Ore. I had rationalized those stops: They’re just doing their job; maybe it’s a random search like they said.

But this time, they kept us overnight. As the hours passed in that warehouse, my 6-month-old baby howled and shivered. After we left, we went straight to the airport, only to endure extra screenings again on the return trip.

I started researching the Transportation Security Administration’s “secondary security screening selection” process to understand why I was being stopped every time I got on a plane or came back home to the United States after a foreign trip. Nearly two years later, I am still being stopped and searched, and I still don’t know why.

I’m a graduate student at Harvard University, and missed flights and travel anxiety were beginning to affect my schoolwork. So with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, I have filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security asking that I be allowed to travel freely, which is my constitutional right.

Am I being stopped because I am Muslim, or because my family once traveled to Iran to visit a holy shrine? Is it because of my criticism of U.S. policies on the multimedia website I run to raise awareness about injustices around the world? Maybe it’s all three. Federal officers have asked me about my writing and religion, both of which are protected by the First Amendment.

I’ve tried using DHS’s “redress” process. I’ve applied to TSA’s PreCheck program and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program. And I’ve written to members of Congress. All my efforts have failed.

In response to my redress inquiry, DHS sent me a frustratingly unhelpful letter: “[We] can neither confirm nor deny any information about you which may be within federal watchlists or reveal any law enforcement sensitive information. However, we have made any corrections to records that our inquiries determined were necessary.”

It added: “We cannot ensure your travel will be delay-free.”

Now I have a routine every time I travel: Arrive at the airport more than three hours early. Explain to the airline agents at the help desk that they must call Washington to clear me for travel — a process that can take an hour. Try to be patient when TSA officers escort me from the boarding area to the gate for a private security check. Allow them to rummage through my things and grit my teeth as they pat me down multiple times. Don’t bother telling them about parts of my body that are sensitive from surgery, since they’ll be rough regardless. Run to the boarding area and don’t make a scene as they pat me down again, trying not to feel embarrassed as other passengers watch. Stay as brave as possible.

And above all, be prepared for something new. Once, they brought the explosives unit — several armed men — because of sticker residue on the back of my computer. Another time, they brought a team of dogs to search me. Once, they took my crying 2-year-old through the screening process by himself because he clung to my husband during a pat-down search. Recently, they took me to a private room and forced me to open my pants and show them my underwear. They hid their badges when I asked for their names.

My husband and I bonded over our love for travel when we got married, but now our adventures have been greatly diminished. What once was a dream to take our children around the United States and abroad has been reduced to short car trips. I’ve contemplated many times giving up my studies at Harvard because of the anxiety and humiliation that come with the inevitable harassment on my flights to and from Boston.

America is my home. It’s where I was raised, got married, had my children and built a life. Its greatest qualities of freedom, liberty and opportunity have undoubtedly shaped the person I am today. But these values are slowly diminishing, and those liberties are being taken away from us little by little. I fear one day we will be unable to recognize it as the place we called home.
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