The Bos\’un Locker

During times of war and during times of peace, we must prepare for tomorrow with the realities of today.

Update on Man Allowed to Board Aircraft

Posted by thebosun on July 12, 2006

In yesterday’s Houston Chronicle story, HPD, airport security at odds over incident ‘, a traveler at the Houston Hobby airport was apparently deceptive when Transportation Security Agency (TSA) screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop after he apparently indicated that he did not.

Upon further examination, screeners claimed that they found a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it in his luggage and examined the man’s shoes. The shoes were described by the TSA screener to be “hollowed out.”

In today’s follow-up article, Screeners’ actions at Hobby questioned, it appears to people in authority are looking at TSA screener’s actions or inactions instead of analyzing if this incident was a probe or a dry run on airport security, except for Representative John Culberson, R-Houston.

Representative Gene Green D-Houston did his typical liberal tolerant act by asking the question (and insinuating blame on TSA), why did (TSA) baggage screeners defer to a Houston police officer instead of using their authority to keep a man (they suspected of carrying bomb parts) from boarding a plane at Hobby Airport.

Staffers for Representative John Culberson, R-Houston, went a step further and are seeking explanations from the FBI and TSA about what happened. Thank you for trying to get to the bottom of the problem, Representative Culberson.

In the meantime, a TSA spokeswoman indicated that TSA security officers acted in accordance with their training and protocols. The Houston Police Department chimed in that the shoes were old and worn, not “hollowed out” like the screener claims. The police officer defended his actions and his representatives indicated that the clock worked when the battery was inserted, but did not ask why the battery taped to the outside of the clock to begin with.

According to the news article, nobody asked why the man originally indicated that there was no computer in his carry-on baggage.

Now others are also second guessing the TSA screener.  A security expert commented that: “The idea that TSA is going to stop, randomly, people who happen to be carrying an alarm or a laptop or are not wearing brand-new shoes seems a bit excessive, ……… It sounds like they need to revise their training procedures of who and what to look for.” Remember, the famous Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, was originally questioned and missed his flight from Paris to Miami on December 21, 2001, after French security agent becomes suspicious because he (Reid) was traveling without checked luggage. Those security agents cleared Reid to board the next days flight. On December 22, 2001, about 90 minutes into the flight, Reid tried light explosives hidden in his shoes. Reid had successfully eluded airport security procedures when they were already suspicious of him. Could this scenario happen again?

Sounds to me that what we have here is an old standoff between the Houston police, TSA, and other government agencies in Houston. Everyone is looking for a fall guy and the TSA screener is a likely candidate. Perhaps the man in Houston had a legitimate reason to act the way he did, perhaps he did not.

Were the man’s shoes “hollowed out” or worn out? Was this current situation a probe or dry run on airport security?

TSA has been on the job for three years. Now we have to answer the question, “Do they (TSA) have the authority and backing of their officials to deny a traveler from boarding a flight or not?”

One has to hope that the authorities involved have learned from this situation and will fix any flawed procedures that they have discovered.

Previous Post: Man allowed to board aircraft appeared to have bomb components

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