Of course, in order to find out who is worthy of the position, there is a list of criteria (as found at JobMonkey.com) to weed out the riff-raff:
Position: Airport Screening Officer
Qualifications: An entry-level job, requiring only a high school diploma or GED. All training is provided on the job, although most new hires will have to take a 12-hour instructional class.
Job description: Screening officers use technology to look for potential threats to the transportation system. This may mean operating the X-ray machine at the security check to scan for suspicious items. It may also mean walking people through metal detectors, using a metal-detecting wand when necessary, asking questions and collecting information, and occasionally even patting people down.
So, would you like fries with that?
Well, here’s something fried…
The Transportation Security Administration was created after 9/11 in response to 9/11. And it is responsible for protecting the transportation system in the United States.
Let’s think back to December 2001... How did the “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid make it past the likes of the high(ly) school skilled airport screening officers to board a plane with explosives in his shoes? (Granted, Reid did board through ICT Security, whose employees receive 40 hours of classroom training, instead of the TSA's 12.)
And how did the “Underwear Bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, on the list of people connected to al Qaida, manage to stick bombs in his underwear and attempt to blow up a plane on Christmas Day?
The same way my husband did NOT make it past those 12-hour-trained-able-to-communicate-in-English security officers: Technology and the TSA’s reliance upon it.
After a routine scan of his carry-ons, he got pulled aside for a thorough check of something “suspicious.”
During the thorough check, you oughta know, Canadian sensation Alanis Morissette walked by.
At first the security officers were a little distracted, but then got back on track with their duties as they started chatting with my boyfriend about hockey.
Go, Habs go! (See, it’s easy to get distracted while doing something else.)
Anyway, these TWO security agents proved to be multitasking wizards, as they were also able to haphazardly look through the contents of my boyfriend’s backpack.
In the end, they didn’t find what they were looking for, and admitted, “Guess it was the other guy’s backpack that had it.”
And so we were given the okay to move along, not sure if it actually was “okay” to move along.
Now, how does the TSA’s reliance upon technology hamper our safety?
Isaac Yeffet, the former head of security for El Al and now an aviation security consultant in New York, said El Al has prevented terrorism in the air, partly by making sure a well-trained agent interviews every passenger before check-in.
"Stop relying on technology,” says Yeffet, “Technology can help the qualified, well-trained human being, but cannot replace him.”
On September 11 when the world changed, security totally failed not at one airport – but at three different airports around the United States.
Yeffet explains how “improved” security continued and continues to fail.
For instance, the Shoe Bomber gave security all the suspicious signs that any passenger could show, including: A British passport from Belgium, not in England; odd one-way tickets around the world; no luggage…
“What else do I need to know that this passenger is suspicious?” asks Yeffet.
And because of the Shoe Bomber, passengers were then forced to take off shoes at airport security?
“A patch on top of a patch,” says Yeffet.
Then the case of the Underwear Bomber.
The TSA, who works closely with its international counterparts, such as ICT Security, had all information security people dream to have. He was on the list of people connected to al Qaida.
His father even called to warn the US Embassy a month before that his son would do something “bad.”
Just two pieces of a planeload of information security should have reviewed.
Yeffet explains, “I don't need more to understand that when he comes, I am not looking for more evidence. He is suspicious; I have to take care of him.”
And now we have full body scanners, because some Nigerian guy sticks bombs in his boxers?
(By the way, if we get some sort of Hair Bomber, I swear I’m not flying again. I refuse to shave my head.)
Yeffet argues these scanners do nothing more than disrespect certain cultures, such as Muslims. A Muslim woman needs to be covered head to toe, but she has to undress before strangers, in the presence of her husband?
Regardless of religion (or girth), Yeffet says every passenger still has to be interviewed by security people who are qualified, well trained, and tested throughout the year.
“We are looking for the one who is coming to blow up our aircraft. If you do not look at each passenger, something is wrong with your system.”
We must look at the qualifications of the candidate for security jobs. These officers must be educated, and speak more than one language. They must get extensive training, in classrooms, and on-the-job.
El Al security is constantly in touch with the Israeli intelligence to find out if there are any suspicious passengers on a flight. They sort through lists of passengers for each flight and compare them with other “suspicious” lists.
During the year, El Al does thousands of tests of its security personnel around the world. If there is a failure, that person is immediately fired. Then everyone learns from that failure, step by step, how it happened.
El Al spends more money on security than any American airline.
The government and passengers share some expense, but the amount of lives saved is worth every shekel spent.
And passengers understand the security is for their benefit.
If you're a passenger on El Al, chances are, you will be observed from the minute you arrived on airport property, whether by car or bus.
Once you check-in, you wait in line with your luggage. You meet security and are asked questions. Sometimes one question asked three different ways.
And trust me, you’ll almost feel like you’re lying even when answering the truth.
Based upon answers and a psychological evaluation (unbeknownst to you), security comes to a conclusion.
Sounds simple. But nothing complicated seems to be working, does it?
After the simple encounter with security, you board the plane and then play the fun game of “Guess who is the Underwear Equalizer”?
Every El Al flight has at least two undercover air marshals. They are armed and licensed to shoot and kill.
These are just a few of the Israeli airline’s measures against terrorism, none of which include limiting liquids to 100ml, unless it is medication, or some vitamin supplement, or baby formula…
(Because surely every man or woman armed with a GED and customer skills can denote the difference between clear, odourless contact lens solution, and clear, odourless liquid explosive.)
El Al’s simple solution has worked flawlessly, under constant threat – for decades. Meanwhile, the TSA, ICT Security, and other worldwide transportation security models continue to use flawed programs that threaten our safety.
So next time you travel, just take this into consideration: Would you like an unblemished model of security? Or would you like fries with that?