Breaking: TSA posts info on thwarting security

posted at 1:00 pm on December 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

If you’re traveling today through America’s airports, just stop reading now.  You’ll only make yourself even more anxious after reading about how the Transportation Security Agency managed to publish a how-to manual for terrorists to get through security checkpoints on its Internet site.  Thanks to faulty redaction, terrorists now know the following:

In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inadvertently posted online its entire airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.

The most sensitive parts of the 93-page Standard Operation Procedures were apparently redacted in a way that computer savvy individuals easily overcame.

The document shows sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials which experts say would make it easy for terrorists to duplicate.

The improperly redacted areas describe that only 20 percent of checked bags are to be hand searched for explosives and reveals in detail the limitations of x-ray screening machines.

They also can pick up some handy pointers on how to avoid getting screened at all.  For instance, if one goes through security in a wheelchair, that won’t get inspected, and neither will the footwear of the person in the chair.  When security checkpoints get crowded, TSA can skip most of its document checks, too.

Part of maintaining a security protocol is securing the protocol itself.  Those wishing to breach security for whatever purpose maintain a constant watch on procedures and training, looking for chinks in the armor.  Normally that takes a lot of trial and error, with plenty of risk for the malefactors for detection and capture.  Overcoming that intensive dedication to lost resources would be a prime goal of any terrorist network, but especially those whose numbers have been greatly reduced by a full-blown war conducted by the US on them — primarily al-Qaeda in this instance.

The publication of this data removes the requirement to throw lots of resources against the security protocol to learn its weak points.  That means that people flying now are at higher risk, thanks to the exposure of this information.  It almost certainly means that TSA will have to change these procedures, which will mean longer waits at security checkpoints for the foreseeable future, as they attempt to close the breach they themselves created.


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The USofA is on a collision course. We are going to get hit hard, and soon.

Yet another government agency that is incompetent. But, yeah, let’s hand over healthcare to them. ugh.

bridgetown on December 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM

LOL just as my dad gets ready to go back to fly for AA.

NICE.

blatantblue on December 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Not sure the 20% thing is a big surprise to anyone, or the wheelchair item, but I assume there were more sensitive particulars buried in there.

WitchDoctor on December 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Yeah, let’s give the Gvt. control over our health care, eh?

‘Tards.

RedNewEnglander on December 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Somebody needs to go to jail.

DanMan on December 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Can we blame this on Bush?

txag92 on December 8, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Yeah, let’s give the Gvt. control over our health care, eh?

RedNewEnglander on December 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Why stop there? Government is awesome, especially big government.

WashJeff on December 8, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Just what the airlines need…

SouthernGent on December 8, 2009 at 1:08 PM

Ed, it doesn’t help that you’re posting it as well. Please take down what it says and just state what happened.

DethMetalCookieMonst on December 8, 2009 at 1:08 PM

*** heavy sigh ***

This administration is doing such a stellar job of protecting us…….

UltimateBob on December 8, 2009 at 1:08 PM

TSA posts info on thwarting security

Who’s side are they on?

Juno77 on December 8, 2009 at 1:08 PM

This is why Bush and Neocons are just scary as Obama and Progressives. I have not felt safe since the day the TSA started operations. Just a bunch of busy bodies wasting taxpayer dollars on a job that would be much better done with advanced screening, biometrics and other technology.

JeffB. on December 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM

BOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHHHHH!

search4truth on December 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Someone is steeling NYTs scoop here.

the_nile on December 8, 2009 at 1:12 PM

WTF?

milwife88 on December 8, 2009 at 1:13 PM

..all we need is an emergency…

cntrlfrk on December 8, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Put Carol Browner in charge. “never write anything dowwn,..ever!

a capella on December 8, 2009 at 1:16 PM

Oh God. -.-

Not good at all.

Ryan Anthony on December 8, 2009 at 1:16 PM

I can’t WAIT for government run health care.

therightscoop on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

The sole purpose of all the TSA silliness is to convince the gullible passenger that all is well. Real security does not involve gun free zones and strip searching granny but in profiling real potential terrorists and searching them. As government will not do this, all this TSA silliness is simply smoke and mirrors.

JIMV on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Can we blame this on Bush?
txag92 on December 8, 2009 at 1:06 PM

It either that or Racism!

Juno77 on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

I have a strong hunch that the bad guys already knew this. No doubt some creature from the Obama administration has simply given this manual to some bad guy somewhere – - just as easily as the White House gate crashers got in.

kens on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Man, the super-competent government that pulled off the 9/11 attacks sure can’t keep things secret too well, can they?

lorien1973 on December 8, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Can we blame this on Bush?
txag92 on December 8, 2009 at 1:06 PM

It‘s either that or Racism!

fixed it.

Juno77 on December 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Sheesh!

I know this can’t be laid wholly at Obamamateurs feet, as the people involved in this sort of stuff probably have little to no contact with Admin officials. But isn’t it interesting that all this stuff comes up with the Ultimate Amateur at the helm.

JamesLee on December 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

All is well.
The adults are in charge.
/getalife

kingsjester on December 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

It either that or Racism!

Juno77 on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Straight up! LOL!

txag92 on December 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Real security does not involve gun free zones and strip searching granny but in profiling real potential terrorists and searching them.

JIMV on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

+1
So true, so true.

keebs on December 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

I have a security bypass badge at my local airport – I still get a very creepy feeling from the burka-clad TSA employees checking my badge for security bypass. In the wake of the Maj Hasan atrocity, shouldn’t the TSA get some clue from that as well?

Feh, unionized government employees… What do you expect?

Fishoutofwater on December 8, 2009 at 1:20 PM

I don’t think this kind of thing happens accidentally.

cheeflo on December 8, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Let’s put them in charge of our healthcare system!

WisCon on December 8, 2009 at 1:21 PM

So some ahole in the TSA got pissed that “his” people were getting too much attention at security and decided to leak this info.

Bishop on December 8, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Can we blame this on Bush?

You can rest assured that Giggles certanly will.

crazy_legs on December 8, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Yeah, I want my Medical Records ONLINE!

Smart Power!!

PappaMac on December 8, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Man, the super-competent government that pulled off the 9/11 attacks sure can’t keep things secret too well, can they?
lorien1973 on December 8, 2009 at 1:18 PM

No, No,No, that was the Boosh administration – This one is MUCH more smarter than that!

Juno77 on December 8, 2009 at 1:22 PM

I was once going through security at Phoenix airport. The lady behind me was complaining about the inconvenience of the security. I turned around, and told her that this security is a f*cking joke compared to Israeli security. I informed her that she’s lucky it’s only going to take about half an hour when going through Israeli security takes about three to four hours.

That shut her up.

IF the TSA was serious about security, they’d do it the way the Israelis do it. but of course, they aren’t…..

mjk on December 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Well, the One promised the most transparent administration evah. Too bad that this is the one place where it has happened.

Blackacre on December 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Great, Looks like more driving for me.

faol on December 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

A TSA spokesperson says the document posted online is an outdated version “improperly posted by the agency to the Federal Business Opportunities Web site wherein redacted material was not properly protected.”

What is the Federal Business Opportunities Web site? What is it’s function? And why would the SOP of the TSA ever be posted there?

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Security screening is largely Kabuki theater anyway.

The real security is from hardened cockpit doors and passengers that absolutely will not allow their airplane to be hijacked. Hijacking pretty much ended with Flight 93, there will be no more of those.

Now, poor screening of checked luggage and cargo, that *is* worrisome. Passengers and pilots have no control over that.

ZenDraken on December 8, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Gee what airline has managed to not be hijacked in the last 20 years? Israel has managed to keep their airlines safe. Maybe we should be asking them for help.

Theworldisnotenough on December 8, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Well, Obama did promise transparency….

(Gotta laugh through the tears, sometimes).

cs89 on December 8, 2009 at 1:25 PM

I turned around, and told her that this security is a f*cking joke compared to Israeli security. I informed her that she’s lucky it’s only going to take about half an hour when going through Israeli security takes about three to four hours.

You’re right about that. The Israelis don’t eff around with security. I never felt safer on an airplane post-9/11 as I did going to (and from) Israel.

crazy_legs on December 8, 2009 at 1:25 PM

OK, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is a major news story exposing a severe and critical breach in security.

So how come I just went on MSNBC, Fox, CNN, AP, UPI, NBC, CBS, ABC, even Drudge, and there is nary a peep being mentioned about this on any of these news sites?

I mean, WTF?!!!

pilamaye on December 8, 2009 at 1:25 PM

I won’t blame this on Obama’s “administration”. The TSA has been a organization of idiots from it’s inception.

Thunderstorm129 on December 8, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Hey – Pelosi said this would the the MOST OPEN, most honest government EVAH.

I guess she meant by “openness” that national security secrets would be published while Democrat political wheeling and dealing behind closed doors was “honest.”

Good Lt on December 8, 2009 at 1:26 PM

We really need Carlos Mencia as head of DHS from now on.

ieplaya on December 8, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Real security does not involve gun free zones and strip searching granny but in profiling real potential terrorists and searching them.
JIMV on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

WWTID?

[What would the Israelis do?]

Juno77 on December 8, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Gotta love this whole government greatness under Obama thing. We were already in more danger than we’ve been since 9/11, now we just doubled that with yet another screw up by an Obama run agency. Yippee!!!! Glad to hear it. Not.

I’m staying home.

Mad Mad Monica on December 8, 2009 at 1:29 PM

What. The. F*ck.

Track-A-'Crat on December 8, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Earlier this year, I took my Mom on a trip to the West coast. Her knees are bad, so she was in a wheelchair. In both Detroit and LA they checked her and made her take her shoes off. So the whole ‘they won’t check you if you’re in a wheelchair’ statement is a bit off, at least in my opinion.

shibumi on December 8, 2009 at 1:32 PM

What is the Federal Business Opportunities Web site? What is it’s function? And why would the SOP of the TSA ever be posted there?

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Federal Business Opportunities (aka FedBizOpps, fbo.gov) is the govt website that posts contract info and announcements for govt contractors (I’m a contractor for the Missile Defense Agency).

Apparently a TSA contract was coming up for bid and this info was part of the offer.

Cuffy Meigs on December 8, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Dubya sure can get around – sneaky ‘lil chimpie bastard

Ris4victory on December 8, 2009 at 1:33 PM

I knew we gave them the When To Manual in January.

Now, the How To Manual.

Just perfect.

TXUS on December 8, 2009 at 1:36 PM

In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inadvertently posted online its entire airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.

Who says this was inadvertent?

darwin on December 8, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Cuffy Meigs on December 8, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Thanks for the info.

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 8, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Cuffy Meigs on December 8, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Hopefully access to the Missile Defense Agency contracts is somehow restricted? ie, the company and the person logging on has to go through some security checks before it/they can access that portion of the website?

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 8, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Now, poor screening of checked luggage and cargo, that *is* worrisome. Passengers and pilots have no control over that.

ZenDraken on December 8, 2009 at 1:24 PM

I’ve always been more concerned about the caliber of the baggage handlers myself. Are they screened each time that they report to work?

onlineanalyst on December 8, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Just another example of why we need government. We need to rely on them to what\’s best for us because they are the smart ones.

Sporty1946 on December 8, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Major Hasan take up a position at TSA?

BKeyser on December 8, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Plese tell me this is actually a clever set-up to catch terrorists using the provided clearance ID templates.

Real security does not involve gun free zones and strip searching granny but in profiling real potential terrorists and searching them.
JIMV on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

+1.

TexasDan on December 8, 2009 at 1:53 PM

What was that thing about overwhelming the institutions and bringing them to their knees? Cloward Piven strategy? I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this was a little more deliberate than we are lead to believe…

classicaliberal on December 8, 2009 at 1:53 PM

This is why Bush and Neocons JOOS are just scary as Obama and Progressives.

JeffB. on December 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Please lose the N-word, kid. It’s so 9/10.

Del Dolemonte on December 8, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Hopefully access to the Missile Defense Agency contracts is somehow restricted? ie, the company and the person logging on has to go through some security checks before it/they can access that portion of the website?

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 8, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Nope. Anyone can create a fbo.gov login and search for contracts.

HOWEVER, the contract offers do not contain sensitive or classified info. That’s why this TSA thing is so troubling — it obviously DID contain sensitive info. Heads should roll.

Cuffy Meigs on December 8, 2009 at 1:54 PM

The improperly redacted areas describe that only 20 percent of checked bags are to be hand searched for explosives and reveals in detail the limitations of x-ray screening machines.

Great! I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to find that there is some Jihadist out there doing this kind of espionage and, make no mistake, they’ve already downloaded this information for their own use in future operations. They won’t be too interested in faking documents showing them as a US Senator but you can be damned sure they were interested in the limitations of the x-ray machines.

highhopes on December 8, 2009 at 2:02 PM

A simple Google search revealed some of the redacted text and gives an example of the redaction methods used that “computer savvy individuals easily overcame.”

When you see someone suspicious, don’t look them straight in the eye. Just let them pass, strip-search the old lady behind them, observer what plane the suspicious character boarded and don’t get on that plane, it’s probably gonna blow up. If granny complains move to full-cavity.

Obama is Brahman

Let’s see if together we can “crack the code.” We may need to call Charles Johnson in on this one.

29Victor on December 8, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Cuffy Meigs on December 8, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Yes, it does sound like someone was lazy and decided it was faster to redact a document and upload it then redo the document with only the necessary information BUT that can happen anywhere- ie someone thinking that their redaction method was hacker proof, lazy, not understanding the importance of the info, overworked, underpaid or God forbid, malicious intent.

Hopefully, many government agencies like the one you work with check that noone did the same thing with their contract information.

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 8, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Height of incompetence.

BuckeyeSam on December 8, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Another shining example of the breathtaking competence of union employees!

/s

NTWR on December 8, 2009 at 2:07 PM

They won’t be too interested in faking documents showing them as a US Senator but you can be damned sure they were interested in the limitations of the x-ray machines.

highhopes on December 8, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Quick….would you know any of these Senators on sight?

Kaufman
Barasso
Kirk
Whitehouse
Hagen
Bingaman
Klobuchar

Not all Senators are “famous” and many are rarely seen on TV. It would be pretty easy for a fair-skinned terrorist (or even an Arabic one with good makeup) to get through security with a faked Senatorial credential. What minimum-wage TSA screener would ever suspect that somebody would or could fake such a thing?

This is unbelievable. I am SO glad the smart people are in charge now!!

This is unbelievable.

rockmom on December 8, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Accidental or Intentional only your hairdresser knows.

chemman on December 8, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Fabulous. I freaking hate flying as it is.

4shoes on December 8, 2009 at 2:27 PM

After the security breach at the State Dinner where a foreign dignitary was a guest, and now this, I’m thinkin this administration is even more inept than Jiminey Carter and I’m not flyin without my Dollar General Store Marshalls’ Service Tin badge and my fully loaded .38 special!

dhunter on December 8, 2009 at 2:30 PM

TSA=Thousands Standing Around

Knucklehead on December 8, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Part of maintaining a security protocol is securing the protocol itself.

Not true–security through obscurity isn’t scalable. With millions of eyes on the TSA they can’t just hope someone bad doesn’t figure out to take a wheelchair through, they need to figure out how to securely process the disabled.

jonknee on December 8, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Dissolve the Constitutional Republic:

In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inadvertently posted online its entire airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.–Brian Ross, ABC News

Nothing unintentional about the intent, either. Create more crisis in order to grab more authoritarian power still, augmenting the already heinously grotesque DHS monstrosity.

maverick muse on December 8, 2009 at 2:59 PM

jonknee on December 8, 2009 at 2:36 PM

In the end, if security is the issue, ship wheelchairs to the destination UPS or FEDEX, as a security threat would apply even within baggage transport on the passenger carrier. Transfer the disabled passenger onto airline property at the airport.

maverick muse on December 8, 2009 at 3:09 PM

I can’t WAIT for government run health care.

therightscoop on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Thread Winner.

bluelightbrigade on December 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Just in time for the Christmas rush!

Do you think this might, just might, put a damper on airline travel? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful Christmas gift to the airline industry? Any companies there in financial problems? Won’t this just help the economy something wonderful?

Almost like it was a plot to kill some companies so the government can ‘rescue’ them.

ajacksonian on December 8, 2009 at 3:18 PM

..all we need is an emergency…

cntrlfrk on December 8, 2009 at 1:15 PM

You forgot your “/Rahm Emanuel” tag

bluelightbrigade on December 8, 2009 at 3:19 PM

The TSA, just another reason why I no longer fly anywhere.

GarandFan on December 8, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Bin Laden:

“I won”

BobMbx on December 8, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Ed, you are wrong about wheelchair occupants and their footwear- at least in West Palm Beach, FL. My wife has MS, and is confined to a wheelchair. We travel fairly frequently, and my wife has NEVER been given anything less than a full pat-down, wand, and shoe scan. Furthermore, the chair is then swabbed and analyzed in that magic explosive sniffer machine (that I don’t think works: once I used my gun bag as an overnight bag- they swabbed it and it came back clean… I anticipated having to explain because I could faintly smell the spent gunpowder).

lionheart on December 8, 2009 at 3:44 PM

heckva job there

cmsinaz on December 8, 2009 at 4:09 PM

***
Just wait until you see the latest TSA procedure for checking for BUTT BOMBS!!
***
And you almost never see a bomb sniffing dog checking out the line at the checkpoint.
***
I hate clowns–driving myself looks better every day. No terrorists in my back seat or trunk.
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on December 8, 2009 at 4:12 PM

JIMV on December 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

I have first hand knowledge of which I am not allow to reveal that you are much closer to the truth than you know!

However, I can tell you that there are WAY more security procedures that are in place that you never see. And they are getting more advanced everyday. It is not perfect, but it is better than you think.

The Dead Terrorist on December 8, 2009 at 4:31 PM

What a bunch of amatures. Change we can believe in count on.

Zorro on December 8, 2009 at 4:35 PM

They also can pick up some handy pointers on how to avoid getting screened at all. For instance, if one goes through security in a wheelchair, that won’t get inspected, and neither will the footwear of the person in the chair. When security checkpoints get crowded, TSA can skip most of its document checks, too.

Trivia, the important question is whether blond women in red dresses will be able to slip through.

agmartin on December 8, 2009 at 5:14 PM

Ed
At MSP I and my wheelchair got the once over, including taking my slippers off. I won’t tell you of the other airports where I could have been stashing a load of tnt though.

oakpack on December 8, 2009 at 5:26 PM

I always assumed airport security was mostly a put on “Confuse-A-Cat” show for the masses and had little to do with real security.

I’m not certain people really want actual security protocols in place…I’m not sure I do. You’d have no carry-on luggage and it would take at least an hour or two to get through security. Airline tickets would have to go up by 10 percent or so I’m guessing.

Whenever I fly, I put my faith in percentages…both for mechanical failure as well as hijackings.

Asher on December 8, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Oh ya. They also had a device that tested my CPAP machine at MSP.
I think if you’re traveling through Minneapolis/St Paul, you’re about as safe as it gets.

oakpack on December 8, 2009 at 5:37 PM

This is the ignorant, inept, incompetent government that we are going to entrust to manage health care?.I\’m positive that they are not up to the managerial requirements involved.

ExpressoBold on December 8, 2009 at 7:26 PM

I use a wheelchair, and almost always have to take my shoes off. The only flight (out of ~14 since 2002) I didn’t have to remove my shoes was leaving Tucson, AZ.

token on December 8, 2009 at 7:57 PM

The one interesting item I noted with this news is that ABC posted a link to the entire document on their website TODAY. Where are the links to the climategate emails?

me_a_name on December 8, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Can we blame this on Bush?

txag92 on December 8, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Yes, we can. He created the TSA. And he did it in such a big hurry that it had no opportunity to be or to become anything but a national joke.

ss396 on December 8, 2009 at 10:30 PM

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