Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Further Proof the TSA is a joke

Two Stations Get Their Reporters On Planes --
Repeatedly -- Without Proper ID

"Two television news operations at different ends of the country -- Houston's KPRC and Rochester, NY-based WHEC -- have come to the same startling conclusion: over four years after 9/11, just about anyone can board a commercial airline flight -- with or without valid identification.

In both cases, the stations used undercover cameras as reporters and producers made it past the check-in counter and security checkpoints with all forms of identification -- including a Sam's Club card, a Costco card, and even an easily-reproduced company ID that could be done on any home computer -- to clear security.

No driver's license and no passport were shown, according to KPRC, and no questions were asked. The Houston, TX station cleared security at both of Houston's large airports, as well as airports in Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville, and Little Rock.

In Rochester, a WHEC producer flew from the New York city to Washington, DC and back, using an ID card he made on a computer.

WHEC reports there is a fundamental flaw in TSA policy in how it is written, not simply how it is implemented: the station says the TSA website makes clear that a form of government issued id is required -- although there is no law that backs that up."
This surprises me in no way, in fact I used to do it all the time. One of the consulting services I have offered in the past (actually a regular contract when I worked for an access control and idenitification management company) was physical security audits of airports. I’ve done penetrations at JFK, LaGuardia, Logan, and several smaller regional airports.

It’s ridiculously easy to get on a plane, with or without ID, with faked ID, with home printed ID… and with or without weapons -- EVEN AFTER 9/11

Screeners are trained to look for seven objects, and objects that look very similar to them. If a screener is unable to identify an object, in theory they are supposed to stop and manually search the bag; but in practice they almost always just pass the bag along so long as it doesnt resemble one of the seven objects.

I have deliberately sneaked on board, or into security areas, the following:

1. Numerous knives of every size and shape
2. Several simulated explosive devices
3. Several standard commercially available pistols
4. One standard commercially available shotgun (though it was modified and disassembled)
5. Ammunition and prepared (though unarmed) demolition charges (to test the chemical screening)

Hell, I’ve ACCIDENTALLY gotten on board with a small pistol (polymer framed pocket pistol in an inside pocket of a laptop case with a bunch of metal and batteries in it), and several times with substantial pocket knives…

...and yet granny gets her tonail clippers confiscated.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over and over again: The only real security will be when there is a visibly armed man at every checkpoint with orders to shoot to kill anyone who presents a viable threat, and both visible and hidden armed guards on every flight.

A good step would also be to allow every U.S. citizen with a CCW or other similar qualification (we should at least make folks prove they aren’t a felon or hostile foreign national boarding with an illegally posessed gun) to carry on board.

We should also certainly make the pilot carry qualification much easier (90% of federal agents couldnt pass it, and they did that deliberately. I ran it once as a simulation, and it was damned hard) and actively encourage pilots to take it.

Hell, if they would make the qualification reasonable, and start offereing it at more than once training facility (yes, they limited it to one facility for the entire country); I’d even say it would be OK to make armed passengers go through it.