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Lost, stolen, broken: TSA pays millions for bag claims

Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:31 am
by KeithSmith

The Transportation Security Administration paid passengers $3 million over the last five years for claims that airport security screeners broke, lost or stole their luggage or items inside, according to a review of about 50,000 complaints.

The article goes on at great length to quote the standard PR lines from TSA. However, at least one Congressman "gets it".

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said the overall $3 million paid to settle claims is cause for further investigation.

"Congress has been having problems getting straight answers about abuses at the TSA," Mica said. "Orlando, my major home airport in Florida… has startling statistics. It warrants further review, even a subpoena for the information if that's what it takes."

Congress can't get straight answers from TSA, so you can imagine how well the average citizen does. The people who don't take the time to struggle with TSA or don't have the skills to do so get nothing for their damaged or missing property. So, the real damage TSA does is no doubt many times greater. The people who do get some measure of compensation are the ones like this fellow who used his blog to put pressure on TSA.

One unsuccessful claimant was Cory Doctorow, a London writer who was traveling on business to Phoenix in April. He posted a photo of his mangled $800 aluminum suitcase on his blog.

Doctorow alleges TSA agents pried off the unlocked "TSA-safe" locks on his luggage – locks that are supposed to be opened with a universal key available to screeners at all airports.

"I was sent an illiterate, unhelpful response from a do-not-reply email address," Doctorow said. "It said that TSA assumed no responsibility for damage inflicted during searches."

Doctorow filed other claims with insurers and the airline. TSA officials say the agency accepts claims for damage to locks, and they concede that agents sometimes break locks to inspect bags.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:39 pm
by jjbaker
Yay. Another big hit for the TSA...

A Twitter account attributed to TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein posted a photo of a passenger’s unusual luggage from Richmond International Airport, WWBT-TV reports. The photo shows a pile of bundled cash in what appears to be a carry-on bag.

“If you had $75,000, is this how you’d transport it? Just asking! TSA @ #RIC spotted this traveler’s preferred method,” Farbstein wrote via Twitter.


Farbstein’s tweet drew wide criticism, with many commenters arguing the TSA violated that passenger’s privacy and potentially elevated their threat of theft.

"Is there any TSA policy against photographing and publicly posting the contents of a person’s bag?" one person responded.

“Is it any of your business? Is there a law, you know, other than the privacy laws you violated?” another tweeted.

The TSA regularly posts images of strange confiscated items found in luggage on the TSA Blog. But the blog does not identify the airports in which the contents went through security. Most photos depict weapons and or other bizarre items confiscated.

A Richmond International Airport spokesperson tells WWBT that under asset forfeiture laws a person must provide some type of bill of sale or have proof of explanation for why they’re carrying such an amount of cash. In the case of the $75,000, the man was unable to do so and had to hand the money over to the federal agency.

The passenger wasn’t charged and was allowed to continue onto his flight after handing over the cash.

“TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at airport checkpoints,” Farbstein told WWBT in an email statement. “Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips. TSA turned this bag over to law enforcement, which is investigating.”

Source: Wash.CBS Local

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:53 pm
by KlausNW
A Richmond International Airport spokesperson tells WWBT that under asset forfeiture laws a person must provide some type of bill of sale or have proof of explanation for why they’re carrying such an amount of cash. In the case of the $75,000, the man was unable to do so and had to hand the money over to the federal agency.

What makes that cash any less personal property then a check or jewelry? So if I go through security check point with a $75,000 necklace or wedding ring I must surrender it?

If the money was in a bank and he was carrying a check, what's the difference?

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:59 am
by RKittine
It has been a really long time since you DIDN'T have to declare all cash over $10,000 being carried. I guess you can buy rings with cash that has not had taxes paid on it and then sell the rings outside the country, but it would not directly be with U.S. Currency. Get a domestic audit and you may have to show how you made any single deposit into your bank account that is over $12,500, the new non-taxed gift limit as of a few years ago. Before it was $10,000. Most banks get nervous if they see a lot of $9,900 deposits in a row.

We have these issues out here in the Hamptons where people may get $250,000 for the rental of their house for the season and are trying not to pay taxes on the income.


Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:37 am
by KeithSmith
ACLU Sues TSA for Unlawful Detention of Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty Treasurer

Today, we filed a new lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over unlawful TSA search and detention practices. The case was filed on behalf of a traveler who was illegally detained and harassed by TSA Agents at the airport for carrying approximately $4,700 in cash.

On March 29, 2009, the plaintiff in the case, Steven Bierfeldt was detained in a small room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and interrogated by TSA officials for nearly half an hour after he passed a metal box containing cash through a security checkpoint X-ray machine. He was carrying the cash in connection to his duties as Treasurer of Ron Paul's Campaign For Liberty. Steven's experience is part of a troubling pattern of the TSA transforming its valid but limited search authority into a license to invade people's constitutional right to privacy.

Steven was detained and questioned as he returned home from a Campaign for Liberty event transporting proceeds from the sale of tickets, t-shirts, stickers and campaign material. He repeatedly asked the agents to explain the scope of their authority to detain and interrogate him and received no explanation. Instead, the agents escalated the threatening tone of their questions and ultimately told him that he was being placed under arrest. Steven recorded audio of the entire incident with his iPhone, which you can listen to here. ... &method=dl

In a press release we issued about the case today, Steven states:

I do not believe I should give up my constitutional rights each time I choose to travel by plane. I was doing nothing illegal or suspicious, yet I was treated like a potential criminal and harassed for no reason. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that TSA considers simply carrying cash to be a basis for detention and questioning. I hope the court makes clear that my detention by TSA agents was unconstitutional and stops TSA from engaging in these unlawful searches and arrests. I do not want another innocent American to have to endure what I went through.

ACLU attorney Ben Wizner who is counsel in the case, explains:

Airport searches are the most common encounters between Americans and law enforcement agents. That's why it is so important for TSA agents to do the job they were trained to do and not engage in fishing expeditions that do nothing to promote flight safety. It is, of course, very important to ensure the safety of flights and keep illegal weapons and explosives off planes. But allowing TSA screeners to conduct general purpose law enforcement searches violates the Constitution while diverting limited resources from TSA's core mission of protecting safety.

TSA officials have the authority to conduct safety-related searches for weapons and explosives. Since 9/11, TSA agents have been using heightened security measures as an excuse to exceed their search authority and engage in unlawful searches that violate the privacy rights of passengers. Our lawsuit charges that unconstitutional searches and detention by TSA agents have become the norm. For the sake of public safety and constitutional values, these unlawful searches should stop.

Source: ACLU

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:03 am
by jjbaker
Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, Transportation Security Administration agents say they're having a hard time getting into the spirit thanks to their contract negotiations with the agency. The front line workers are members of the American Federation of Government Employees and their contract with the TSA is up on Dec. 9. Union members staged a demonstration at LAX on Saturday to draw attention to their concerns. The union says TSA agents make far less money (about $40,000 a year) than other government workers.

Bobby Orozco, the local AFGE rep, told CBS News the agency is playing hardball in the negotiations when it should be loosening the purse strings to bring officers more in line with the working conditions and pay of other government employees, particularly in light of the recent increase in worldwide terror attacks. “We want to be treated like all other federal employees. We want to be able to have a secure workplace, so we can secure the public,” Orozco told the network. The TSA did not comment to CBS. More rallies are planned at other major airports as negotiations continue.

Source: AVweb

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:34 pm
by KeithSmith
Well, so much for the idea of paying them twice what they are worth will make them happy.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:58 pm
by KeithSmith
The current issue of Time magazine (VOL. 186, NO. 24) has five pages dedicated to TSA in an article titled "The Price of Security". It's a scathing essay.

I was already very familiar with many of TSA's wasteful practices, but the article went on to list many more that I wasn't aware of. The surprising part to me was the utter incompetence of the organization. For example, when inspectors attempted to sneak fake bombs or weapons through passenger checkpoints, they were able to do so 96% of the time.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 6:45 pm
by KlausNW
Keith, that's only half the story....

. . . 72 DHS Employees on Terrorist Watch List

At least 72 employees at the Department of Homeland Security are listed on the U.S. terrorist watch list, according to a Democratic lawmaker.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D., Mass.) disclosed that a congressional investigation recently found that at least 72 people working at DHS also “were on the terrorist watch list.”

“Back in August, we did an investigation—the inspector general did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security,” Lynch told Boston Public Radio.

“The [former DHS] director had to resign because of that,” he said.

DHS continues to fail inspections aimed at determining the efficiency of its internal safety mechanisms, as well as its efforts to protect the nation.

Lynch referred to a recent report that found the Transportation Security Administration, which is overseen by DHS, failed to stop 95 percent of those who attempted to bring restricted items past airport security.

“We had staffers go into eight different airports to test the department of homeland security screening process at major airports. They had a 95 percent failure rate,” Lynch said. “We had folks—this was a testing exercise, so we had folks going in there with guns on their ankles, and other weapons on their persons, and there was a 95 percent failure rate.”

Lynch said he has “very low confidence” in DHS based on its many failures over the years. For this reason, he voted in favor of recent legislation that will tighten the vetting process for any Syrian refugees applying for asylum in the United States.

“I have very low confidence based on empirical data that we’ve got on the Department of Homeland Security. I think we desperately need another set of eyeballs looking at the vetting process,” he said. “That’s vetting that’s being done at major airports where we have a stationary person coming through a facility, and we’re failing 95 percent of the time.”

“I have even lower confidence that they can conduct the vetting process in places like Jordan, or Belize or on the Syrian border, or in Cairo, or Beirut in any better fashion, especially given the huge volume of applicants we’ve had seeking refugee status,” Lynch said.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:29 pm
by KeithSmith
Just when we thought TSA could not get any worse, they make another encroachment into our freedom of choice. Just trust them to wisely apply their authority. After all, haven't they already demonstrated a high standard of behavior and judgment in the past.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:31 pm
by KeithSmith
Here is an excellent article that hits at the flawed logic that makes TSA a reality today:

The one key fact the article fails to include is that TSA has to approve the use of non-TSA screeners. TSA has done everything within their power to ensure those better, more efficient, more economical private industry screeners do not push TSA away from the trough of taxpayer money where TSA has stuck its snout.

Naming anything after a living politician is usually a bad idea, but this summer, we can make an exception. Now that Americans will be spending much of their vacations waiting in security lines at airports, we should honor the public servants responsible. At the entrance to the checkpoint at LAX, let’s install a bronze plaque proclaiming it the Sen. Dianne Feinstein Line. Similar monuments can be installed at JFK for Hillary Clinton, at the Phoenix airport for John McCain, and at the home airports of all the other senators who voted to create the Transportation Security Administration.

An independent watchdog is essential to ensure that screeners are doing their job, and the obvious candidate for that role is the federal government. But that means that someone else has to do the screening.

Even by D.C. standards, the creation of the TSA was a blunder of colossal proportions. Citing the lapse in security on Sept. 11, politicos claimed that a new federal agency was needed to replace the private security companies that had been screening passengers for airlines. Never mind that the screeners were innocent of blame for the terrorist attacks.

It was the federal government, not the private screeners, that set the policy allowing small knives and box cutters to be brought onto planes. Federal guidelines also prevented airlines from arming pilots and reinforcing cockpit doors.

Instead of learning from those mistakes, the Senate voted 99 to 0 to turn airport screening into a federal monopoly. The only intelligent deliberation occurred in the House, where Republicans actually listened to experts from countries with considerable experience in aviation terrorism. Israel and European nations had learned the hard way that good security requires a division of responsibility. An independent watchdog is essential to ensure that screeners are doing their job, and the obvious candidate for that role is the federal government. But that means that someone else has to do the screening. The watchdog can’t watch itself.

House Republicans heeded the experts’ advice, and they passed a bill to establish a system modeled on the one used in Israel, Canada and Europe: Each airport would run its own screening system, and the feds would have wide authority to set standards and mandate improvements. When it came time to reconcile the competing bills, however, Senate Democrats stood firm, and they denounced the House Republicans for putting ideology above national security.

One of the loudest critics was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who was such an ardent cheerleader for the TSA that he deserves to have the line at Newark airport named after him. “The right’s fanatical distrust of government is the central fact of American politics, even in a time of terror,” Krugman wrote. Exploiting the public affection for firefighters after Sept. 11, Krugman argued that the Republicans’ anti-TSA ideology would logically call for the elimination of the New York City Fire Department because fire protection should be a purely private responsibility.

This was nonsensical on several levels. None of those evil Republicans claimed that aviation security was a purely private responsibility. Besides, just because something is a public responsibility doesn’t mean that all the work must be done by public employees.

Predictably, the TSA blames its failures on lack of funding. But it’s already spending way too much...

Acknowledging a government role, moreover, certainly doesn’t mean that the work must be done by a federal monopoly. One reason that Americans respect firefighters more than postal workers is that they’re not working for a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy in Washington. They’re free to adapt to local conditions.

But such logic was ignored in the frenzy to do something after Sept. 11. The Bush White House caved to public pressure and promised to sign whatever bill emerged from Congress, even if it was the Democrats’ version. The Republicans won a few concessions — the TSA wouldn’t be unionized, and a few airports could experiment with their own screening systems — but the Democrats prevailed in creating another federal bureaucracy.

Soon travelers were referring to the TSA as Thousands Standing Around, and the agency has made headlines ever since for incompetence. The three-hour lines this summer are just the latest failures of a top-heavy bureaucracy (one administrator for every three screeners) and a workforce that has gotten even more unmanageable since it was unionized in 2011. (Because President Obama undid the original no-union policy, he deserves to have his name on the line at O’Hare.) Last year, ABC News reported that federal investigators had successfully sneaked contraband past TSA screeners on 67 of 70 attempts.

Predictably, the TSA blames its failures on lack of funding. But it’s already spending way too much, as demonstrated in a congressional study comparing TSA screeners in Los Angeles with non-TSA screeners in San Francisco, one of the few airports allowed to run its own system. If LAX switched to the San Francisco model, the study concluded, it could cut its screening costs by more than 40%.

The San Francisco private company’s screeners received the same salary and benefits as TSA screeners, but they were so much better trained and deployed that each one processed 65% more passengers than a TSA screener in Los Angeles. And in tests by federal investigators, they were three times better at detecting contraband.

It’s not easy to get rid of a federal monopoly, especially now that unionized [TSA] screeners can intimidate local politicians...

Those results, as well as other research showing that private screeners get better ratings from passengers and airport managers, inspired congressional Republicans to pass legislation giving more airports the option of switching to private contractors. But it’s not easy to get rid of a federal monopoly, especially now that unionized screeners can intimidate local politicians — as they did in blocking an attempt to replace them at Sacramento’s airport.

Despite this formidable obstacle, the TSA has inspired so much anger that officials in Atlanta and other cities are finally considering a switch to private contractors. That change would be a boon to future travelers, but it won’t come soon enough to make any difference this summer to the huddled masses at TSA checkpoints. The best we can do for them is to erect monuments honoring the politicians who created this mess.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:53 am
by KeithSmith
More TSA in the news:

This article generates so many more questions like what kind of background checks do these people get before they are hired.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:15 am
by KlausNW
Back Ground Check...

Back Ground Check...

Back Ground Check...

"I don't need no stinkin' back ground check"

What? are you a racist :?:

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:25 am
by jjbaker
Priceless: ... 600-1.html

Claims of theft by TSA employees are not a new phenomenon. John F. Kennedy Airport in New York has been described as “a flea market for airport employees,” where 200 items are reportedly stolen from passengers daily. Yet of the 7,900 claims filed with the TSA over the 14 months from January 2016 to February 2017, only 4,300 were resolved, says Stratos Jets, which crunched the government data. Even among the claims that were resolved, payment was meager, with less than 25% approved in full and 12% settled for partial value. “In the case of denied claims or those that aren’t responded to promptly, travelers have the option to file a suit against TSA with the U.S. District Court,” says the Stratos report. “Processing of claims can take up to six months, according to information provided by TSA, and claims are generally denied if TSA determines your bag was not opened for ‘physical inspection.’”

Jewelry claims were most consistently denied, with 3 in 4 receiving an outright rejection and only 9% approved in full. Lost cash and cameras follow close behind—both denied in two-thirds of claims. Travel accessories (like headphones and chargers) were most likely to be reimbursed, with 48% of claims being paid in full. By dollar amount, travelers with stolen or damaged computers faired best, receiving an average of $460 per claims, though claims for computers and accessories were only approved in full for 16% of claims.

Re: TSA in the News...

Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:41 am
by RKittine
I would love to see the demographics of the claimants.