Commentary on New, More-invasive TSA Pat-downs

I think it is easy for the common public to be alarmed by these new procedures.  However, it is important for us as Americans to take a close look at how many different methods of operation terrorists have attempted, or succeeded in, to cause harm and disruption to our great nation.  We still enjoy certain civil liberties that some other countries have suppressed in an attempt to thwart the terrorism threat.  It is unfortunate to cause inconveniences to the common public traveling through airports and getting on planes.  It is even more unfortunate when these security procedures break down or are left to poorly supervised staff and these airplanes become weapons. 

As a security consultant I spend a lot of time looking over past events that were successful terrorist events and how they were carried out from the planning stages to the finale to see where in the process we could have caught one or more of these operatives before their mission was carried out.  There are few opportunities we have to be able to disrupt the bad guy’s plan so we must be diligent in the mitigation measures we engage. 

In this case, the pat down procedures migrating from the back of the hand to the front of the hand and using fingers is a management concern but there are other pieces of that strategy that are not being highlighted.  Women are to be patted down by women TSA agents according to their standard operating procedures.  Men are to be patted down by men TSA agents according to standard operating procedures.  The use of the full-body scanner can be used for those not wishing to be patted down. 

In the end, the risk to the TSA will be the accusations from passengers that inappropriate touching was involved in their pat down.  If the TSA does their homework then they will increase the video surveillance and supervisory monitoring of these areas that the pat down occurs to minimize the potential of inappropriate touching.  It will be a difficult supervision task to monitor the agents doing the pat down to ensure inappropriate touching does not occur.  We all know people will accuse them of inappropriate touching even if its basic stuff.  To those who say “this is an intrusive maneuver and tactic and one that should not be used” I would suggest coming up with an alternative that also maintains our civil liberties.  It’s not an easy task securing our citizens.

How do you feel about the new pat-down procedures? Are you dreading your next flight, or do you have an experience to share?  Post a comment now.

Posted by Charlie Howell on Nov 10, 2010


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