Update: TSA has commented on the CNN story on their website.
From our good friend Dave Lewis from Liquidmatrix Security Digest, and memorable quotes from Samuel L. Jackson, apparently we can draw the conclusion that we have snakes on planes, but not Federal Air Marshals (FAMs). Dave covered a story that a whistle blower inside of TSA talked to CNN and leaked the fact that these days there are rarely ever FAMs on flights. Dave's article says:
So, what did they do? Did they put more air marshals in service? Not sure.
Did they say, “our bad, we’ll get right on it”. Nope.
They decided to launch an internal hunt for the
The Transportation Security Administration rejected as a “myth” CNN’s report that less than 1 percent of the nation’s daily flights carry armed federal air marshals. Now the agency is conducting an investigation into who talked to CNN and who encouraged other agents to do the same.
A spokesman for the TSA confirmed the investigation.
Spokesman Christopher White said a TSA investigator is looking into the “possible unauthorized release of sensitive and classified information to the news media by covered parties.”
A rational response. Sigh. The TSA refutes the story but, they don’t offer anything to back their version. Rather they claim it as classified information. The marshal in question has asked for anonymity due to fear of reprisals from the TSA. Yeah, the internal investigation won’t validate his position at all will it? (yes, that’s sarcasm)
So, how does one resolve this? Does the TSA come clean? Or do we continue to suffer the pat on the head as they tell us to go play in traffic?
This is pretty concerning. Defense in depth should be the approach, and I'm worried about the fact that TSA is horribly concerned with toothpaste, but apparently not interested in putting real physical protection onto planes. The TSA's many blunders and strange decisions have been pretty heavily covered here and other blogs, yet TSA continues to make suspect decisions regarding our security and privacy. For more on this subject, see:
- Airport security part 1: Bluetooth, switchblades and -- wireless X-rays?
- Airport security part 2: TSA is failing us, let my associated ranting begin thusly
- Airport security part 3: Planes, trains, and automobiles
- Airport security part 4: Attack of the body scanners!
Thinking back on the many things I've written on the TSA, I've come to the conclusion that it seems most of the security that TSA provides for us is an optical illusion, designed to make us feel safer in the wake of 9/11, but not necessarily providing us any real security. I can say that having FAMs on planes makes me feel safer and it feels like real security. TSA actually discusses FAMs increasing roll post 9/11 on their website stating:
Federal Air Marshals have an ever expanding role in homeland security and work closely with other law enforcement agencies to accomplish their mission.
[Image courtesy of www.sfgate.com]