Skip to comments.Security Alert: Airport Screener Jacket Found at Local Store (TSA jacket for sale at thrift store)
Posted on 12/22/2006 11:14:11 AM PST by LibWhacker
Disturbing new evidence reveals a threat to our homeland security is worse than originally thought.
The News Four WOAI Trouble Shooters first uncovered records last May showing 1400 airport security badges and uniforms are missing from airports here and across the country.
Now, new information obtained by Trouble Shooter Brian Collister shows a dramatic increase in the total number.
But that's not all the Trouble Shooters found.
A WOAI viewer contacted the Trouble Shooters because he found a TSA screener's jacket for sale at a local thrift store. Security experts fear TSA uniforms could help terrorists pull off an attack. Mike Martinez, who found the jacket, said he felt compelled to pull it off the rack. He told News 4 his main concern was for the safety and security of fellow Americans after what happened on 9-11.
The thrift store sale is also a violation of the Transportation Security Administration's policy, which requires "for reasons of security" any discarded uniform must have all distinctive markings removed.
We asked Martinez if he had contacted the TSA.
"Yes I did," Martinez told News 4 during an on-camera interview. "When I first got the jacket, I looked in the phone book and I tried to contact somebody over at TSA. And I told them about the jacket, and they just told me it was a discarded uniform, and that was it. I didn't feel comfortable, but I didn't throw it away or give it away." Martinez said the TSA told him they didn't want it back.
So, Martinez brought the jacket to the Trouble Shooters after seeing our investigation last May.
Now, we've received new records revealing the number of missing badges and uniforms has more than doubled and is now at 3719.
After our initial investigation, a source within TSA told us agency officials sent out an email urgently asking every airport security director to immediately report any missing items they have not already reported to TSA headquarters.
Records the Trouble Shooters obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show the number of missing items from San Antonio and Texas airports remains about the same, except for a dramatic increase in the number of badges missing at Bush Airport in Houston. Bush originally reported missing 18 items, but now reports missing 77.
It is far from being the airport that's lost the most items, though. That title belongs to Los Angeles Airport (LAX), which is now reporting missing 636 uniforms, and O'Hare in Chicago tops the missing badges list with 189.
Congressman Lamar Smith spoke with the Trouble Shooters about the problem during a recent visit to his office on the North Side of San Antonio. Smith sits on the Homeland Security Committee and did not know the problem was getting worse until we showed him the new information. That's because TSA sent him a letter in August claiming the numbers were much lower. In that letter, Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley told the Congressman that TSA did not have any idea of the number of missing uniforms and that only 1375 ID badges were reported missing. That's not true. TSA had the larger numbers in May, nearly four months before they sent the letter to Smith.
Congressman Smith believes they're withholding information that he feels is absolutely critical to our national security.
"We have to do better or, frankly, they'll bear some responsibility if there is some kind of misuse of those badges and uniforms," Smith said.
Even though many security experts have called the problem a threat to our national security, TSA is still denying that a uniform or badge could help a terrorist pull off an attack.
"We recognize that these security systems, no matter where you go, are not perfect," the TSA's General Manager of Field Operations Earl Morris said during a phone interview.
While Morris admitted missing over 3700 badges and uniforms is less than perfect, he maintains that the system is far from flawed.
"We have many different security levels in place to thwart any kind of attempt to breech our security," Morris told the Trouble Shooters. Congressman Smith says he's going to propose new legislation. He wants heavy fines for any TSA employee who loses his or her badge or uniform. To this point, no TSA employee has ever been disciplined by the agency for losing a badge or uniform. We will let you know when Congressman Smith files his bill.
3700 badges? Seems like I'd be firing a bunch of people and halt the internal robbery going on.
Does anybody have any stats on private security organizations regarding this 'loss' problem?
I would be willing to bet is far less of an issue with competent enterprises that do real security work.
From the link:
Homeland Security officials contend that wearing a uniform will not always guarantee a free pass.
Oh, that makes me feel ever so much better now.
You can't fire 'em....they're Union people. (The employees are Union, because Democrats INSISTED when the TSA was formed)
Bush SPECIFICALLY forced the issue that no Unionization of TSA would be allowed, but the Democrats coming in January will no doubt attempt to amend the rules to pay back Union interests.
"Union Looks to Democrats on TSA Screener Rights
(WASHINGTON POST) - Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Baggage and passenger screeners at the Transportation Security Administration are not allowed to bargain over the terms and conditions of their employment, but the largest federal union hopes to get the Democratic majority in the next Congress to take another look at whether that ban is justified.
The American Federation of Government Employees, headed by John Gage, won a favorable opinion from a Geneva-based, U.N. agency, the International Labor Organization, on the issue of screener rights.
The ILOs Committee on Freedom of Association, in an opinion this month, said that it was concerned that the TSAs decision in 2003 to invoke national security considerations to block union representation may impede unduly upon the rights of these federal employees.
Screeners, the committee said, are not engaged in making national policy that may affect security and are not engaged in the administration of the state. Under those criteria, the committee said, TSAs 45,000 screeners should have collective bargaining rights.
The United States is a member of the ILO, which seeks to set worldwide labor standards. But ILO committee opinions are not binding, and the TSA said that the opinion will not change the agencys stance toward union representation.
In a statement, the TSA said Congress left it to the agency to decide whether to grant bargaining rights. The leeway to ban unions is contained in the 2001 Aviation Transportation Security Act, which created the agency after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Given the critical national security mission of our security officers, collective bargaining is not appropriate, and would reduce TSAs ability to make changes rapidly in response to threats, the TSA statement said.
Proposals to allow TSA screeners to unionize have not gained traction in Congress, but AFGE officials hope that will change when Democrats take control of the House and Senate next year. Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who lost a vote on an amendment that would have let screeners engage in bargaining, plans to push the issue, her spokeswoman said.
Efforts by the AFGE to overturn the TSA ban through litigation also have been rebuffed by the government and in U.S. courts. A key ruling came in 2003, when a regional director for the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which hears labor-management disputes inside the government, found that screeners were not entitled to a vote on union representation and that Congress intended to treat security screeners differently than other employees of the agency.
"We Don't Professionalize Until We Federalize"
Change the badge design from time to time. Do it with a one day notice.
Recall that we were assured by the Democrats in the Congress that if we only federalized these screeners, that they would be "professional" at their jobs. Well, there is a certain demographic segment of the population that works at this job and that demographic will behave in certain ways, no matter how much pay or training you give them. This is just the latest proof that is true.
Yes, that's a great idea, but to get such an Amendment thru political channels would cost millions, I'm sure !
This is done with military script money overseas, or was back in the 50s and 60s. We'd have blue money for 12-14 months, then had to turn it in for gold or some other color...
Now a private company hired by the airlines would care. They could be terminated