TSA = #FAIL

TSA allows me to board a plane with my ID and someone else’s boarding pass:

I had an interesting experience with TSA yesterday. I was boarding a plane in Seattle and the TSA decided to visit the gate and check ID’s against boarding passes as the plane boarded.  This doesn’t happen often, and I am sure it is just a practice designed to lessen predictability it really wasn’t a big deal.

But, when I arrived at the airport and checked in my boarding pass indicated I needed to get my seat assignment at the gate.  So, I did and Delta issued me a boarding pass. I did not pay close attention to it other than the seat number and zone for loading.

Obviously I used that boarding pass to go through the TSA line where the TSA checked my ID and boarding pass. The glanced at the boarding pass, then at my ID, and let me through only saying “Have a good flight.”

Interestingly, the Delta agent taking my boarding pass noticed an error as she scanned it, but told me they would figure it out on the plane if there was really an issue.  When I went to sit down it turns out Delta had issued me someone else’s boarding pass and the gentleman was in the seat.  Yes, it was his seat; both his boarding pass and my boarding pass had his name on it.

This turned out to be of little consequence for me as I was assigned another seat.  Remember, I missed the name details on the boarding pass, as did Delta (which is interesting in and of itself since they noticed an error but let me on the plane anyway).

BUT, how did the TSA – the very agency designed to protect against this, miss it. They were at the gate specifically to check IDs against the boarding passes. TSA didn’t even blink an eye and I was on the plane with my valid ID and someone else’s boarding pass.

Perhaps the TSA is too focused on patting down 3 year olds instead of minding the details.



The War on Terror is Over – Really?

National Journal columnist Michael Hirsh published an article, as well as wrote an online blog, in which an unnamed senior official in the State Department told him that, “The war on terror is over.” (Read more on this here from The Weekly Standard).

I personally find this statement to be confusing because it was just this morning that I attended the Commercial Vehicle Safety Association’s conference in Bellevue, Washington, and heard a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official deliver a completely opposite statement.

Speaking during the general session, Jimmy Beasley, a Transportation Security Specialist for the TSA’s Highway Motor Carrier Program, began his remarks by stating “that we still should be aware and understand that the war on terror is far from being over. We still have a lot of work to do.”

He went on to explain that “lone wolf operations” are the biggest threat to the United States.  One of the counter measures to this and other threats are the VIPR teams (which I previously wrote about in a blog post titled Mission Creep on the Highways).  He emphasized the importance of the VIPR teams at bus terminals, truck stops, weigh stations, rest areas and other locations.

Further supporting the idea that perhaps the war on terror is not over, the TSA also continues to develop and update counter terrorism guides that will be published sometime in the next 6 months.

According to Beasley, TSA is also moving forward with two new initiatives to help fight the war on terror, though both are still in the beginning stages:

  • Food Defense – TSA is currently working with the USDA and FDA to try and identify and mitigate the security gaps in food defense during transport.
  • Truck Tracking – the 9/11 Act requires TSA to develop a truck tracking program for all motor carriers transporting security sensitive cargo. (Public Law 110-53, Sec. 1554)

The question then becomes, which Administration official is correct – is the war on terror over or not?  Well, it apparently depends on which official in the Obama Administration you are asking and what they are trying to achieve that day.