Posted tagged ‘suicide airplane bombers’

TSA Is Broken

December 30, 2009

When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab bought his ticket (for cash) and boarded his flight for the US (with no bags), had I known this was happening, I could have said the TSA was unable to prevented his subsequent attempt to blow up the plane. Why do I know so much?

I am on the famous TSA “no fly” list which prevents me from getting a boarding pass until the agent has made a call and gotten the ok. My name is reasonably common with over two pages (several hundred) of other people with the same name in the Philadelphia phone book. Each time I fly I present the same information, my Pennsylvania drivers license, and after 10-15 minutes the ok is given and the boarding pass is issued. There is no other verification that I am who I said I was, no new information from the last trip, and no effort to correct the “no fly” list. If the TSA system repeatedly sounds a false positive for me, and does not trigger corrective action within the TSA, how can anyone expect it to detect real threats?

All quality methodologies stress the importance of acting on deviations, both false or positive. If you have a system that says, “individuals on this list must be screened thoroughly or even better should not be allowed to fly”, then only those who fit that description should be on the list.

The corollary to this situation is that if the watch list is defective, then why should one expect the screeners to take the list seriously or for the rest of the security process to not also possess gapping holes?