WÉ: When did airport security become a major issue?
TSA: Ever since the hijackings of the 1950s there has been some level of security. The last ten years have required improvements and the last six has required the Feds to step in. Airlines used to handle their own security with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) oversight. With the TSA came research money for new X-Rays, explosive detectors, and people scanners.
WÉ: How is airport security in the United States right now?
TSA: Always on high alert. The aviation sector is in the orange, or high, risk level right now. [Logan] is [at a higher level] than other airports. Take a look at this little blurb on the TSA's official website: "Although numerous arrests have been made in the U.K. to disrupt and neutralize this threat, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking a number of heightened protective measures to ensure the continued safety and security of our international and domestic air travel."
WÉ: Is there still a terror threat at the airport?
TSA: Yes. We have verified the presence of groups casing airports looking for weaknesses.
WÉ: If these terrorist groups get by, is it because they are extremely intelligent in exploiting airport security weaknesses or is it because TSA employees are not effectively performing their duties?
TSA: An airport has thousands of employees, which is a more likely route in for terrorists. Security is too tight at the checkpoints. Don't forget that the TSA's screening standards are set in Washington.
WÉ: When one thinks of airport security, he/she often thinks of invasive screening and mistreatment. What do you have to say about that?
TSA: We are certainly not invasive. As a matter of fact, we are prohibited searching "sensitive areas" -- which very often are the places people hide things. Mistreatment, there is some of that and I grant you that we address that. In my dealings, I usually run into the "Do you know who I am's" and the wannabe Civil Rights Lawyers. Have you heard of the woman in D.C? She ran to all the media outlets she could. She was a bitch because she poured her water on the floor and created a hazard for others. [The TSA] threw her out and called the cops. TSA then countered with the true side of the story with video footage. We showed her pouring the bottle on the floor. She used to be a Secret Service Agent. She led us to believe that she still was and thus deserved special treatment.
WÉ: How often are there "mishaps"?
TSA: Take a look at these statistics from the TSA website from April 28 to May 4: 11 passengers were arrested due to suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents 17 firearms found at checkpoints 4 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints 21 incidents that involved a checkpoint closure, terminal evacuation or sterile area breach 14 disruptive passengers on flights.
WÉ: What is the deal with the carry on water limitations and such?
TSA: Since September of 2006, there has been a 3 oz or less toiletries limitation. After you pass through security, you can bring whatever kind of drink you want on the plane. The first day that the policy was put into place, we took everything. Later that week, we lightened up a bit. When people heard about the threat, nobody complained. The public has short term memory loss, though. It didn't take long for people to start asking "since when?!"
WÉ: Do you have any final thoughts?
TSA: We remind people that along with terrorists, we are the look out for stupid people. You know, the people who endanger everyone with their actions and belongings. As I tell people, it's not you, it is the guy next to you (the stupid, the drunk, and the angry). Some of their stuff could bring down a plane.