Wednesday, November 24, 2010
If you are flying somewhere during this holiday try to keep in mind that those people you meet at the airport are NOT out to give you a good feel. And they certainly don't have that job because they want to molest your child. In fact, they don't care how fat and overweight you look on the scanner.
The only goal is protection from enemy attack and your safety. It's not a personal thing so grin and bear it...........could always be worse.......there could be NO air transportation. Just remember: there are those that would just like to get the pat downs and scanning taken care of so they can continue on their way to a wonderful visit with loved ones.
Airport officials and federal inspectors are bracing for a possible organized protest Wednesday by passengers angry over new security requirements, but there was little evidence of backlash at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday.
A loosely organized "National Opt-Out Day" campaign pushed by various Internet sites and activists has called for passengers to protest the Transportation Security Administration's use of body scanners and enhanced pat-downs by demanding pat-downs if they are selected for body scanners. Their stated intention: to back up security lines on one of the busiest travel days of the year, the day before Thanksgiving.
With that — and amid the broader uproar that has emerged nationally in recent days from a wide variety of groups and politicians — TSA Administrator John Pistole held his first national press conference Tuesday, trying to assure people that the agency would do everything it can to process travelers efficiently and safely, without backing down.
"We will process people as quickly and efficiently and securely as possible," Pistole said in a telephone press conference. "If large groups of people, large numbers of people, intentionally slow down our process, I don't think we can avoid that having a negative impact on people making their flights on time."
An estimated 110,000 passengers are expected at Orlando International Airport today, about equally split between those coming and those going. On Sunday, the season is expected to peak with 116,000 passengers. Typically, a little more than 90,000 come and go.
Tuesday, when an estimated 109,000 passengers went through the airport, the scene was anything but bogged down, with nearly no lines. Tom Draper, assistant director of operations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said the lines have been running smoothly pretty much all week.
Passengers such as Tamara Pope, 37, a NASA engineer from Merritt Island who was flying with her husband and five children to visit family in Michigan for the holiday, found their biggest challenge was killing time after arriving early. She also pondered her choice, if necessary, between scanners and pat-downs for her children.
"I'm a little worried," she said. "I have a special-needs child. I'm not sure he'd go for the pat-down. I don't know what's better when you have two pre-teen girls."
Three X-ray body scanners were installed at Orlando International two weeks ago, so most passengers will continue to go through the 12 metal detectors that have been in place for years. People are selected to go through the scanners either randomly or because something about them alerts a TSA officer.
Some passengers have complained that the scanners reveal breasts and genitalia to TSA officers, who monitor screens in a closed room and can't see the passengers. But the alternative is what Pistole calls "enhanced" pat-downs that have enraged some flyers when gloved officers traced the outlines of breasts, buttocks and genitalia through clothing.
"At this point, this is the new normal for passenger security screening," said Carolyn Fennell, spokeswoman for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. "So being informed is helpful. And so is being patient."
The arrest of the so-called "underwear bomber" on a Detroit-bound plane Christmas Day has accelerated purchase of the scanners, which are able to detect explosives and non-metallic devices hidden under clothing. Nationally there are about 400 scanners in place in 70 airports. Pistole wants 1,000 by the start of 2012 and, eventually, at least 1,400.
Pistole took issue with criticism that the enhanced pat-downs are akin to sexual assaults and said his office is investigating any such complaints, including reviewing closed-circuit security tapes, to see if any officers go beyond strict guidelines.
"I'm sympathetic to those concerns, but I'm also trying to be respectful of those who want to have the highest level of confidence that everybody else on that plane has been has been thoroughly screened," he said.
Last week, in a response to the public uproar, the TSA decided to modify its pat-downs of children under 13 so they're less intrusive. Pistole said the decision was based as much on intelligence as response to concerned parents.
"We don't have any intelligence of children 12 and under being used in terrorist attacks by adults," he said. "Of course, we do have information of teenagers being used. So that's a concern."
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Oil derricks may not be sprouting anytime soon off the Virginia coast because of the BP blowout, but the state's senior U.S. senator says those operating elsewhere must be protected from another threat: terrorism.
Democrat Jim Webb, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is calling on the Obama administration to develop safeguards for shielding offshore platforms from attack.
Webb made his case in a recent letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar.
"While Congress will continue to scrutinize BP and regulatory agencies, I write to urge you to also be vigilant against deliberate acts, such as an attack or sabotage, that could similarly devastate the region," says Webb, referring to the oil-rich Gulf Coast.
Webb favors exploration for oil and gas in Virginia waters, but after the Deepwater Horizon disaster he backed a White House-ordered delay until safety and environmental concerns are addressed.
In his letter, Webb notes that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission now requires that atomic generators withstand plane crashes. Similar standards should be considered for the oil and gas industries, Webb says.
"Security issues surrounding oil and gas drilling are of a different nature, but a lack of vigilance could leave the marine ecosystem, as well as certain areas of our national security, at great risk," Webb said.
"The Deepwater Horizon incident has caused the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history. With dozens of wells operating in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, we must employ policies that mitigate all types of risk.
"I therefore request that you provide, as soon as practicable, your assessment of the vulnerability of offshore oil rigs to attack, the current framework for addressing such risks and your recommendations to Congress for deploying adequate resources and safeguards," Webb says.
Webb's request for administration suggestions to Congress on improving security of offshore platforms comes as the Virginian readies for a possible rematch in two years with the incumbent Republican he narrowly defeated in 2006, George Allen.
Allen, too, supports energy exploration off the state's coast. A former governor, Allen operates a political consultancy that is aligned with the U.S. energy industry and through which he advocates for increased domestic drilling.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wehelie said he was then told his name was on a no-fly list and he now cannot board a U.S. airline or enter American airspace.
U.S. authorities have put Americans studying in Yemen under heavy scrutiny after a number of failed terrorist attacks were linked back to Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the bureau does not comment on whether a particular person is on a watch list. While Bresson did not discuss the FBI's interest in Wehelie, he did note several recent high-profile terror plots, including an attempted car bombing and a failed Christmas Day jetliner bombing, as reminders of the need to remain vigilant.
Wehelie, however, said he had no dealings with the terrorist organization while in Yemen and does not even see himself as a particularly observant Muslim.
"It's amazing how the U.S. government can do something like this," he told The Associated Press Wednesday from his ramshackle hotel in downtown Cairo.
"I'm cool with all their fighting terrorism and all that, I'm cool with that, I like that, more power too them," he said in American accented English, wearing baggy basketball shorts and a long white T-shirt.
"My home is America and I don't know why I can't go back there," he said, adding that he even suggested to the FBI to "put me in like ConAir or something ... in an airplane with a bunch of U.S. marshals or whatever in handcuffs just get me back home."
Wehelie said the US embassy has not given him any indication of how he can get off the no-fly list, but for now is paying the $16 a night for his hotel and gives him coupons to eat at U.S. fast food chains.
In a news conference held in Washington by a Muslim civil rights group, his mother Shamsa Noor, said she sent her sons to Yemen to learn Arabic and get some direction in their lives and now she feels guilty for that decision.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the U.S. government in the press conference to allow him to return home.
An Egyptian security official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media confirmed that there is a Somali-American stranded in Cairo waiting for his name to be lifted from a no-fly list.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The goal of the event, a repeat of an operation held in the fall, is to increase safety, prevent terrorism and “act as a method of deterrence,” Anderson said.
The checkpoints are coordinated by the Transportation Security Administration and include the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Coast Guard, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Norfolk and Virginia Beach police and Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, Anderson said. Police dogs also are being used to check vehicles.
The checkpoints began early this morning and will continue through the day, Anderson said.