Decoding and Decloaking the TSA – layer by layer

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February 16, 2013 · 2 comments

in Decoding TSA, General Security, Security Theater

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The TSA is known for its veiled ways – they’re a secretive bunch, in other words. Whenever there are questions about their methods, and their “layered” approach to security, they’re quick with the “national security” card, and anyone poking into they’re ways of doing things is usually stone-walled.

So. Here we are. We’ve got a bit of a different view on security than the TSA – we believe that secrecy isn’t a viable route to go if you want real security, and that’s why we usually tell things like they are – if you’ve seen our articles on How to Read an Airport Security X-Ray, How to get Illegal Items through the Airport, and so on, you know what we mean.

Secrecy and Security

Secrecy has always been a part of security, and protection of information is a big part of the “protection of assets” field, but keeping security secret is seldom a good idea. Secrecy in itself is not viable as a security measure, especially in the modern age, where information is disseminated, shared and so wide spread that anyone can get a hold of anything, as long as they have the slightest inkling as to how.

Since secrecy is not a viable way of increasing security, the best way to improve security is to expose weaknesses and force improvement and understanding in everything from simple procedures to advanced planning and implementation. In the case of the TSA, we thing “advanced planning and implementation” is probably the best category to put things in.

Deconstructing “No comments”

We’re making a new page, and we’re making a whole new category, called “Decoding TSA”, where we’ll explain why the TSA does what it does, and how. Also, we’ll try to keep a lookout on the “no comment” comments they’re throwing around at every corner, and offer up a few explanations.

Won’t this piss off the TSA?

Probably. However, there’s a difference between so-called “Security Sensitive Information”, which is information that can be harmful to security if it got “out”, and “security information”, which is information about security measures that can be obtained by anyone who know where to look. We’re not in the business of spreading “SSI” to people who have no business knowing about it, but the TSA has long been abusing that category, placing information under that heading which has no business being there.

Examples? Sure.

“Layered” security. The TSA has been extremely reluctant to explain this concept, citing national security and SSI as their reasons for not talking about it. We know what it is, we know how it works, and we’re going to explain it to you. The TSA feels the need to take the diaper off a terminally ill 95-year old woman, and then won’t say why? We know, and we’re going to tell you. “Alarm resolution” when those pesky explosives detection machines go off? We know how to use the machines, we know how to disassemble them, even, so we’re going to talk about them. The TSA says almost anything about the machines is SSI, which is a blatant lie.

The TSA categorically refuses to comment on “procedural issues”, which is a blanket term they use to describe just about anything they do, ever, anywhere. We’re going to get a handle on those things, too.

Here’s our invitation:

Let us know in the comments or by email what questions you have when it comes to the things that the TSA does (or doesn’t do), and leave it to us to explain it. The best questions will get their own posts, and we’ll make sure to get as much information out there as we can. In the mean time, keep an eye on this post, since we’ll be updating it with links to all the good stuff.

Decoding TSA: Links

Here are the posts and pages so far:

Category Page – everything in the “Decoding TSA” category
“Layers of Security” – Hype and Secrecy?
Explosives Detection and “Alarm Resolution” 

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