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NOTE: Please see the TSA Blog for valuable information and ongoing updates about the situation.

Wow - I do not envy our colleagues over at TSA! You? 

Looks like lots of folks are in an uproar over the naked body scans and intrusive pat downs.  

Some questions:

1 - Have you experienced the scans or pat-downs? 
2 - How would you improve the process?
3 - How can they better educate travelers about the importance of these scans without tipping their hand to those who seek to do us harm?
4 - Is there something they can do from a marketing standpoint or have they already lost this story? 

Eager to get your insights...maybe someone from TSA will take notice of our solutions and we can have an impact.

Help our gov't colleagues out!!! 

UPDATE: I also want to add a couple more questions: 

5 - Who will the public blame should we experience another attack via air transportation? 
6 - Which is worse: inconvenience at the airport now or hundreds or thousands of our neighbors perishing?

TSA has an impossible task...complete Catch 22.

Tags: GovHelp, TSA, transportation security administration, travel

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Andrew,

This whole thing is a mess and I don't know if there is a way out. First, they don't seem to be making much of a difference, but of course, that is often the case with public servants.

I am waiting for our next disaster since our TSA fix seems to have created another security problem. Those big long lines waiting to get through the TSA screening...doesn't that make a nice target for a bomber. He doesn't even have to get on a plane now.

Recommendation- START PROFILING!! Do they really have to wand my 83 year-old-mother with a titanium knee. When I was in the Army and travelling quite a bit, I got the full Monty all the time, simply because I was a single travelling male. I would show them my military ID card and government travel orders and it still wouldn't make a difference.

It's been a long day, and this letter probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but I did want to get the profiling issue to the front of things
The fact that many of us now live in fear and accept these indignities in the name of "security" is just one more clue that the terrorists have indeed won. They have destroyed our society by changing the way we live.

The thing the process currently lacks is common sense, like that story in the news last year about the 6 year old who kissed a classmate and was expelled for sexual harassment. We arm our military personnel with automatic weapons on the battlefield and trust them not to annihilate their own platoon. Can't we trust them to take a plane ride?

Andrew, I know you are trying to conjure some empathy for our fellow govies in TSA, but that's a hard sell. We were in Memphis a while ago under federal travel orders and found TSA to be not only totally ignorant of their own rules, but rude and arrogant as well. I spoke with a TSA supervisor at BWI later who just shook her head and admitted that the Memphis TSA were way out of line, but things like this happen every day. And I was wise not to have lost my temper as they would have had the authority to detain us. Hard to feel sorry for these folks. Yeah, it's a hard job, but one doesn't have to be a total jerk doing it. If given a choice between dignity and security, I'd choose to live dangerously. I think I have earned some respect and civil treatment. I think all citizens have.

TSA should send all their staff on the line to take a course in customer relations at Disney, if anything, it will teach them not to glower. Then they should hire some top flight security folks, like the ones that design security at the Las Vegas casinos. I know a lot of the same folks who are screaming for better security are the same ones wanting to cut taxes and government spending, but hey, you get what you pay for.

Lots of stuff here, but this hit a nerve. Sorry.
True, the terrorists won years ago. I don't think there's any danger so immediate as to require someone to grope me or look at me naked! Most of the precautions we've had to take for the past 9 years constitute "security theatre," not actual security. Sometimes human beings just have to play the odds. Life is dangerous.
From a PR perspective, the problem here for TSA is partly tone and attitude.

As an occasional traveler who has not yet experienced full-body scans, I am viewing this situation based on media coverage and a bit of time spent on the TSA website and blog. But the message from TSA seems to be this: We have decided there will be full body scans. Period. You have no choice. And we do not intend to explain why we are moving to this system beyond vague generalities. Yes, you have an alternative - an intrusive frisking as if you were a criminal.

This is also being implemented at the exact moment of maximum anger and distrust with government at all levels. I think TSA deserves a lot of credit for having the courage to have a blog that lets people really vent and criticize the agency.

What we need to hear is something more like this: "Yes, we understand you don't like this. Thats a reasonable reaction. But this new technology will deal with a specific threat such as xxx and xxx and is based upon xxxx." I imagine that TSA may claim that they don't want to disclose "methods" or "tip off terrorists" but you simply cannot expect people to trust federal "experts" in this current climate.

TSA also needs to give us a bigger picture and some reassurance that common sense is still employed. I personally felt that we already have too much check-in security. Because one person had a shoe bomb 10 years ago, we now have millions of people taking off their shoes for scanning. Sometimes I have to take off my belt. Then the metal detectors. Then we had the limits on toothpaste ect. What is going to happen when a terrorist brings a bomb hidden in a "body cavity" - will the answer be to pull out the rubber gloves and similarly inspect everybody's private parts?
Completely agree, Michael. There needs to be more of a sense that TSA shares a "Pact of Protection" with Americans - to do only what is absolutely necessary to ensure our safety....and to explain to some degree the "why" behind protective measures, especially new tactics.
"What is going to happen when a terrorist brings a bomb hidden in a "body cavity" - will the answer be to pull out the rubber gloves and similarly inspect everybody's private parts?"

Please do not give TSA any more ideas! I am sure they would love to implement this policy and they already wear rubber gloves.
Spot on observations Peter! I left a similar comment on the TSA Blog and either they have an extremely long approval process or they deleted my comment.
I've experienced the scans for over 2 years now. No biggie in my opinion. But I also used to work at DHS and audited TSA so I know a little more info that can't share.

Couple ideas:
-It does take more time so there needs to be a selfish pay-off. There needs explanation that this process is better and making you more secure. This is a range of PR to good literature
-Better PR - I think they need to get out more in front of the story. It's tough now but it's a clear priority
-They do have some literature about it but maybe they could make it even more useful or catchy
I'm afraid I don't have any solutions for this.

All of my experience with TSA employees has been very professional and sometimes even pleasant; remind me not to go to Memphis. (The worst was when I was flying back from London immediately after an Incident, but even then they were tight-lipped-stressed, not rude or angry.) I have no axe to grind on this count.

But I do think that this is a step too far. Irradiated or groped - what kind of choice is that? And calling that into question at the checkpoint automatically makes you into a likely terrorist, because wouldn't a terrorist protest? The lack of explanation as to why this is needed leaves me suspicious. See for instance this article from The Washington Post, Ex-Homeland Security chief head said to abuse public trust by touti... This suggests that objectives other than public safety were being pursued.

TSA is in an awkward position. They are held responsible for absolute security in a world where that is never possible. At some point human dignity has to outweigh statistically minuscule threats. I think we are at that point now, and somebody should give TSA permission to not have to do everything they can.
Working for TSA, I can say this: Some take their job to the extreme, and unfortunately, the traveling public gets the brunt of it.

When I travel, I do not make mention that I am part of the Screening workforce. I go along with every thing that every one else does.

I have seen some of my colleagues be completely out of line, and at that point I ask to speak to a manager and let them know what is going on. At other airports, the staff is a polite and as professional as can be.

To be honest, I think that the saying is true in the case of TSA: You WILL remember the bad experiences, and forget the good ones.

I work at an airport that does not have the AIT or Backscatter, so unfortunately I am no help there. As another poster stated, due to the job I do, not much can be said other than, for every bad experience you see / hear about / read about, there are good ones that will NEVER see the light of day.

We do have a tough job. We try to do as we are asked. We do it for the most part the way WE would want to be treated if we were the passenger about to receive the dreaded 'Pat down'.

We try to be through and complete. We try to explain the procedure before we start touching and we answer the questions as best we can. Just remember, we don't have ALL of the answers. At some point the information gets cut off, but the policy keeps coming down. If you are curious, just keep asking 'Up the chain'.

All the best,

Sam
Touche', Sam.

The TSA folks at National and Dulles in the DC area have always been professional and polite. In fact one guy in Austin was extremely helpful as well. The bad experience in Memphis just drives the good experiences from my mind - but you are right, I should be fair. Thanks for reminding me.
"Professional and polite" as they touch your genitals? Let's define terms.

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