Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘TSA’

I hope that you get the same chuckle I did when I read this… Now the big question is:

Who is really telling the truth????

October 22nd, 2008
Posted: 02:50 PM ET

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The federal government’s terrorist watch lists are far smaller than has been reported, the secretary of homeland security said Wednesday.

Michael Chertoff revealed for the first time that 2,500 people are on the “no fly” list and only about 10 percent of those are U.S. citizens. Individuals on this list are barred from boarding an aircraft because intelligence indicates they pose a threat to aviation.

Fewer than 16,000 people are designated “selectees,” he said, and most are not Americans. These people represent a less specific security threat and receive extra scrutiny, but are allowed to fly.

The American Civil Liberties Union has estimated more than 1 million names have been added to the lists since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The FBI, which manages the Terrorist Screening Database, said in August that there were about 400,000 people on its list, but that approximately 95 percent of those people were not U.S. citizens.
–From Jeanne Meserve, CNN Homeland Security Correspondent

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

G.E.’s EntryScan, also known as the “Puffer Machine,” is being purchased by Homeland Security’s TSA and installed in airports and is also located at the Statue of Liberty. The “Puffer” detects explosives and narcotics traces on individuals that step into the machine and alerts nearby personnel if either is detected. According to G.E. “the EntryScan “sniffs” tiny particles to detect a broad spectrum of substances as part of a total security solution.” Whoa-who

My advice: Don’t smoke a joint before heading out to the Statue. The boat ride will be just as cool without it.

Read Full Post »

From Natural News

by David Gutierrez

(NaturalNews) The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is moving forward to institute a rule that would require all passengers to go through a government review process before boarding any airplane that takes off or lands anywhere with in the United States.

The U.S. government already requires international passengers to participate in the Advanced Passenger Information System, providing their full name, gender, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, and travel document type and number to the TSA before boarding. Under the proposed Secure Flight Program, this procedure would also be required on domestic flights.

Currently, individual airlines are responsible for checking the passenger manifests against the “no fly” and “enhanced screening” lists provided by the TSA. The new programs are part of a concerted effort to centralize this process, so that the TSA itself will check all supplied information against these lists, and then instruct the airline or airport staff as to how to proceed.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) has criticized the new Secure Flight rules for their secrecy and lack of accountability. The association has expressed concern that there is no clear appeals process for passengers denied boarding or continually forced to undergo enhanced security screening.

“On the surface, the new Secure Flight program no longer relies on commercial databases and appears to have reduced the number of names on the ‘No Fly’ list,” said ACTE Executive Director Susan Gurley. “It also seems that the responsibility for checking data is no longer abrogated to the airlines. While this is a step in the right direction, it prompts the industry to ask what was the origin of this new data, how is it stored, who has access to it, and how can it be corrected.”

Read Full Post »

A House of Representatives panel yesterday released a damning report about a Transportation Security Administration Web site built to address grievances from travelers errantly flagged by the government’s no-fly list. It conlucded that cronyism and a lack of oversight exposed thousands of site visitors to identity theft.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform began its investigation into security lapses at the TSA’s Traveler Redress Web site last year, after Security Fix and other media outlets pointed out that the site accepted Social Security numbers and other sensitive information from travelers without encrypting the data, potentially allowing hackers to intercept the data. Wired.com noted in its coverage that the site was so laden in spelling errors that it resembled a phishing Web site, the sort typically set up by scammers to lure people into giving away personal and financial data.

The report, which liberally cites content and reader comments from Security Fix and Wired.com, found that the TSA awarded the contract without competition to Boston, Va based Desyne Web Services, and that the guy in charge of awarding the contract had previously worked at Desyne and was good friends with the owner. To date, Desyne has been awarded more than half a million taxpayer dollars worth of no-bid contracts by the TSA, according to the report.

The site’s security weaknesses remained undetected by the TSA for more than four months, despite congressional testimony from TSA Administrator Kip Hawley that the agency had assured “the privacy of users and the security of the system” before its launch, the report notes. “Thousands of individuals used the insecure website, including at least 247 travelers who submitted large amounts of personal information through an insecure webpage.”

ChrisBoarding Pass HackerSoghoian, the researcher and now cnet.com blogger who first discovered the TSA site screw-up, said half a million bucks is a lot of change for a few Web site forms.

“It’s strange that with $500,000 in TSA’s money, they couldn’t afford a real SSL cert,” Soghoian said.

This type of security oversight is unfortunately not as uncommon as you might think. On Wednesday, a reader tipped me off that the new member registration page for The Computing Technology Administration (COMPTIA) — which requests credit card numbers in addition to other sensitive data — was accepting new memberships and their credit card numbers without encrypting the data with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology on the site. The security glitch was fixed within a few hours after I notified COMPTIA, but a COMPTIA spokesperson claimed that the organization had made no relevant changes to the site since my e-mail was sent.

By Brian Krebs |  January 12, 2008; 9:15 AM ET

From the Washington Post 

Read Full Post »

Airport profilers: They’re watching your expressions

By PAUL SHUKOVSKY
P-I REPORTER

If a pair of Transportation Security Administration officers strolling by a Sea-Tac Airport ticket counter wish you happy holidays and ask where you’re traveling, it might be more than just Christmas spirit.

Travelers at Sea-Tac and dozens of other major airports across America are being scrutinized by teams of TSA behavior-detection officers specially trained to discern the subtlest suspicious behaviors.

TSA officials will not reveal specific behaviors identified by the program — called SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) — that are considered indicators of possible terrorist intent.

But a central task is to recognize microfacial expressions — a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt, said Carl Maccario, who helped start the program for TSA.

“In the SPOT program, we have a conversation with (passengers) and we ask them about their trip,” said Maccario from his office in Boston. “When someone lies or tries to be deceptive, … there are behavior cues that show it. … A brief flash of fear.”

Such people are referred for secondary screening, which can include a pat-down search and an X-ray exam. The microfacial expressions, he said, are the same across many cultures.

Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.

Maccario will not say whether the teams have disrupted any terrorist operations. But he did say that there are active counterterrorism investigations under way that began with referrals from the program.

SPOT began spreading out to airports across the nation two years after initial testing began in 2003 in Boston, Providence, R.I., and Portland, Maine. It’s now at more than 50 airports and continues to grow.

Lynette Blas-Bamba manages Sea-Tac’s 12-officer behavior-detection team. Since the program started here in November 2006, more than 600 people have been referred for secondary inspections, she said. Of those, 11 were arrested.

The officers ask simple questions:

“How are you today?”

“Where are you heading?”

“Is this all your property?”

“It’s almost irrelevant what your answers are,” Maccario said. “It’s more relevant how you respond. Vague, evasive responses — fear shows itself. When you do this long enough, you see it right away.”

Maccario emphasized that the program takes into account the typical stress many of us experience when traveling, especially during the holidays.

Ordinary people who are feeling anxious are “much more open with their body movements and their facial expressions as compared to an operational terrorist (thinking) ‘I’ve got to defeat security,’ ” Maccario said. “We’re looking for behavior indicators that show a certain level of stress, fear or anxiety above and beyond that shown by an anxious member of the traveling public.”

The detection teams look for those indicators to spike when a traveler with something to hide approaches security checkpoints.

Blas-Bamba and her team were trained in fall 2006. She says she did behavioral detection of a sort in her last job as a probation officer. “We all do it to a degree. It’s just a matter of understanding and articulating what we see.”

Part of the training is a cultural awareness component, Maccario said. For example, in some cultures people don’t make eye contact with people in authority.

And to emphasize the sensitivity TSA is bringing to the program, he recalled a meeting with an association for people with Tourette’s disorder to assure them that having a tic will not result in a pat-down.

The TSA considers the program a powerful tool to root out terrorists, but also an antidote to racial profiling.

“We don’t care where you are from,” Maccario said. “It’s no longer subjective. If you are acting a certain way, that’s what is going to attract our attention.

“There is no reliable picture of a terrorist,” he added, citing American terrorists like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and “the fact that al-Qaida continues to recruit people that blend into society.”

The program, however, has raised privacy and civil liberties concerns.

“The problem is behavioral characteristics will be found where you look for them,” the American Civil Liberties of Massachusetts legal director John Reinstein told The Washington Post.

But Naseem Tuffaha, political chairman of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Seattle chapter, looks at the program as a potential step away from racial profiling.

“Our message in working with federal and local authorities has been to make behavioral-based decisions rather than ethnic-profiling decisions. Our message is to really focus on suspicious behavior rather than suspicious-looking people,” he said.

But Tuffaha warned that if the TSA “only looked hard when somebody is Middle Eastern-appearing … then you are still conducting racial profiling under a different name.”

P-I reporter Paul Shukovsky can be reached at 206-448-8072 or paulshukovsky@seattlepi.com.

Read Full Post »