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21 November 2010

What has the TSA done for you lately?

The past few weeks has seen the TSA come under tremendous amounts of well deserved public criticism for using an enhanced pat-down procedure along with new full body scanners to help keep explosives and other weapons off of airplanes.

The TSA's misguided efforts with respect to this passenger screening policy, as well as apparent serious shortcomings in TSA hiring procedures have been discussed at length in earlier articles, and in unprecedented ways by the general public online and offline.

It would be easy and even entertaining to highlight multiple aspects of the latest TSA policy disaster, including:
  • Reviewing some of the more interesting of the tens of thousands of TSA-related tweets from the past week (my favorite: "I wonder if TSA scanners can see through 6 feet of dirt to detect Founding Fathers turning in their graves"),

  • Embed one or more hilarious video created in response to the TSA's policy, such as one from Saturday Night Live, and another from NMA TV (the folks who bring you computer simulations of unfaithful celebrities),

  • Discuss the TSA's role in making the phrase "gate rape" an word of the day, or

  • Chronicle desperate scramble by the TSA in the last 72 hours to change their policies in the face of massive pushback (eliminating enhanced pat-downs of children 12 and under, followed by no pat-downs or screenings of airline pilots, and most recently a promise to make the pat-down procedure less invasive)

Instead of kicking TSA when it's down and making it even more likely that current employees will erase their experience from their resumes, the rest of this article will focus on some of the positive things that TSA has done that have actually enhanced security.

Every week, TSA publishes the Transportation Suspicious Incident Report (TSIR), which provides a comprehensive review of suspicious incident reporting related to transportation. The TSIR includes incident reporting, analyses, images, and graphics on specific security related incidents. In addition, selected articles focus on security technologies, terrorism, and the persistent challenges of securing various transportation modes in the US. You can download three of the reports below:

- TSIR for 20 July 2007
- TSIR for 5 August 2010
- TSIR for 15 October 2010

All three of these reports were downloaded from, a site that provides access to corporate and government documents that are usually unavailable to the public. This site also provides a number of documents from the Department of Homeland Security, including an evaluation of the recent cargo bombing attempt from Yemen.

If you have any questions and comments may about the TSIR, you can contact the Transportation Security Administration, Office of Intelligence, Field Production Team at (703) 601-3142.

A note on classification
The document that were retrieved from contains information that the Department of Homeland Security, which includes TSA, typically does not released released to the public or personnel who do not have a valid "need to know." Because these reports were obtained legally from a publicly available web site, unless you are bound by the appropriate regulations of a US government agency, you are free to download them and even distribute them. This is similar to the situation last December when TSA accidentally released a report containing sensitive security information. That report, “Screening Procedures: Standard Operating Procedures,” has been downloaded from nearly 25,000 times in the last 12 months.

Related Resources
WTOP interview on November 16, 2010 with Dr. Todd Curtis about new TSA procedures (5:12)
Dr. Curtis discusses TSA hiring practices on Rudy Maxa's World (10:40)


  1. One might find it informative to read the comments below the photos at .

  2. All it did for me was aassaulted and humiliated me!!!!!! They have nothign to do with security. The borders shoudl be secured first, and then maybe there will be no need for strip search in domestic puddle jumpers.

  3. I see, only APPROVED comments can be posted!
    TSA not only violates citizens righst, but also 1st Amendment.

    Well, if TSA is about security, then I must be a daughter of King Richard the Lionheart.

  4. Are you crazy??? TSA needs to be disbanded and dispersed before they end up really hurting someone or damaging some childs' genitals with their groping! They would not be groping my children so easily! Have you been to an airport and seen these goofballs!!!? Would you like some butch or pervert groping your wife or daughters? My questions to all these TSA idiots are have they passed the equivalent of a Child Abuse and Neglect background check and what is their names so that I can check it against the pedophile list! The next set of questions would be what qualifies them to check my baggage or my own person besides a GED and a few hours of "training"??!! TSA has many nicknames given to them by the flight crews because of their stupidity and I have to agree with them! Google them and see what I mean:)

  5. I visited USA for family reunion once a year. Last summer I cancelled the trip because of TSA and pad-down procedure. I found it humiliating and I don't think it can really stop terrorists. It can only stop tourists from entering USA. I won't go to USA again unless it is life or death.