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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