Protect and Defend

Welcome to my blog, Protect and Defend. You don’t have to understand me. You only have to agree with me. I can live with losing the good fight, but I can not live with not fighting that good fight at all. - Publius

Monday, August 14, 2006

Who the Hell is running this place?

Report: X-Rays Don't Detect Explosives

Associated Press August 14, 2006.

WASHINGTON - X-ray machines that screen airline passengers' shoes cannot detect explosives, according to a Homeland Security Department report on aviation screening.
Findings from the report, obtained by The Associated Press, did not stop the Transportation Security Administration from announcing Sunday that all airline passengers must remove their shoes and run them through X-ray machines before boarding commercial aircraft.
The shoe-scanning requirement was ordered as the government fine-tunes new security procedures since British police last week broke up a terrorist plot to assemble and detonate bombs aboard as many as 10 airliners crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to the United States…
On Sunday, the TSA made it mandatory for shoes to be run through X-ray machines as passengers go through metal detectors. They were begun in late 2001, after the arrest of Richard Reid aboard a trans-Atlantic flight when he tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his shoe. The shoe scans have been optional for several years.
In its April 2005 report, "Systems Engineering Study of Civil Aviation Security _ Phase I," the Homeland Security Department concluded that images on X-ray machines don't provide the information necessary to detect explosives.
Machines used at most airports to scan hand-held luggage, purses, briefcases and shoes have not been upgraded to detect explosives since the report was issued.
TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said putting shoes on the X-ray machines makes the screening process more efficient and eliminates confusion. "We do not have a specific threat regarding shoes," Clark said. "In an abundance of caution we require all shoes to be removed and X-rayed to mitigate a variety of threats."
The Homeland Security report said that "even a 1/4-inch insole of sheet explosive" could create the kind of blast that reportedly brought down Pan Am flight 103, the airliner that blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, killing 270 people in the air and on the ground.
"To help close this gap, the percentage of shoes subjected to explosives inspection should be significantly increased," the report said.
The Homeland Security report recommends that explosives trace detection, or ETD, be used on the shoes and hands of passengers when the screeners determine they must be checked more thoroughly.
"Within the current state of the art, they afford the only meaningful explosives detection capability at the checkpoint," the report said.
ETD involves a screener using a dry pad on the end of a wand to wipe a surface _ baggage, shoes, clothing _ and then putting the pad into a machine called an ion mobility spectrometer. The machine can detect tiny particles, or traces, of explosives.
Screeners do use ETD on passengers who have been selected to be screened a second time after going through the checkpoint.
TSA chief Kip Hawley recently acknowledged that the threat from liquid explosives isn't going away _ and new security measures designed to thwart the threat may be around for awhile.
The agency is testing equipment to detect liquid explosives at six airports, Hawley said, and he called the technology "very promising."
But, he said, "with a million and a half to 2 million passengers every day, it is not practical to think that we are going to take every bottle and scan it through these liquid scanners."
"We are not going to wait for the perfect device to be deployable," Hawley said in an interview Friday. "We're going to look for a total system to be at the level to make us comfortable."
The agency wants to make better use of a limited resource _ airport screeners, whose numbers have been capped by Congress at 45,000. The TSA handles security for 450 commercial airports…

So then what the hell does the X-ray machine do then? Check to see if I have some coins in my pockets? We know the terrorists are going to try liquid explosives and right now they are only “testing” equipment to detect liquid explosives at only 6 AIRPORTS! And Congress has capped the number of TSA employees who act as security screeners? Is this because they are not really doing anything? I mean they can’t detect explosives of any kind, in fact the only thing they can detect is my cigarette lighter and my cross necklace?
This report was issued 18 months ago and they still don’t have the airports secure? I was dumb enough to believe that the government hadn’t made our ports secure, our trains, our metros and subways, and our bridges and tunnels secure, but I thought they had at least secured the airlines. Now I find out just how incompetent the whole government is. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue this is an issue of complete incompetence, and the government’s incompetence puts us all at risk.
I have a friend who I want to go visit in Georgia. The trip is about an hour and 15 minutes by plane or 10 if I drive. I think my life is worth the extra 8 hours.


Blogger Bobkatt said...

If you want to have your confidence shaken even more about airplane security please read:
customs coverup
It is a great article from a woman who was basically run out of customs work for being honest and pointing out some of the security flaws at JFK and complaining about the corruption rampant there.

Tue Aug 15, 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger Rogue Mariner said...

It makes me wonder if the whole production I went through on my recent trip to Ireland was really just a show, for my benefit. It would explain how my 67 year old mother is repeatedly pulled for random screenings. Yes, the woman with the fake knee is the troublemaker. Is there a stronger word that incompetence? Because I think that would really nail it. Publius, please drive to GA.

Tue Aug 15, 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

I think that public air travel is on its way to extinction, for the most part. Why bother with the hassle and outrageous expense if it's not secure anyway?

Of course, our taxes will all go up to bail out a corrupt and failing industry...

Tue Aug 15, 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

The Bushites rushed the Brits into making arrests in the latest "terror" plot so they could time the announcement to coincide with Lieberman's defeat in the primary. Why? Because they were more interested in scaring the crap out of people ("a vote for Lamont gives aid and comfort to terrorist types" or some such rot)than they are in providing security for me and my family when we fly next month. If we fly next month.

You might also have heard about that big chunk of change that the Bush regime diverted from a project designed to improve airport security through better technology, including technology designed to detect liquid explosives.

Oh yes, George's "War On Terror" is making us all MUCH safer...

Tue Aug 15, 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

QD, you are 100% wrong on the first part. Read the AP story I posted on here from Thursday. The terrorists who were arrested were planning a “test run” within two days of when they were arrested. So, no, there is no connection between the arrests and the primary race. If there was they could have made the arrests the day of the primary or the day before if that was their motivation.
As for where the money is going, well I don’t know who is in charge of that, but I know someone is incompetent in the allocation of funds, but I know Congress and their pork projects are also to blame for this.

Tue Aug 15, 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

Right, right, NO connection, whatsoever. None. Uh-huh. I believe you. I'm sooo convinced. I feel SO much less cynical and sarcastic now. Thanks for clearing that one up for me.

Tue Aug 15, 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

Didya listen to that new Johnny Cash CD yet?

Tue Aug 15, 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Oh, geez... All that and no "Loose Change" endorsement?

Wed Aug 16, 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

QD, then tell me why they did not announce the plot the day before the primary or the day of? Or are the terrorists plotting with the Republicans for November?

Wed Aug 16, 11:40:00 PM  

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