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TSA Posts ‘How To’ Guide For Terrorists

From an only too delighted Washington Post:

TSA accidentally reveals airport security secrets

By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Transportation Security Administration inadvertently revealed closely guarded secrets related to airport passenger screening practices when it posted online this spring a document as part of a contract solicitation, the agency confirmed Tuesday.

The 93-page TSA operating manual details procedures for screening passengers and checked baggage, such as technical settings used by X-ray machines and explosives detectors. It also includes pictures of credentials used by members of Congress, CIA employees and federal air marshals, and it identifies 12 countries whose passport holders are automatically subjected to added scrutiny.

TSA officials said that the manual was posted online in a redacted form on a federal procurement Web site, but that the digital redactions were inadequate. They allowed computer users to recover blacked-out passages by copying and pasting them into a new document or an e-mail.

Current and former security officials called the breach troubling, saying it exposed TSA practices that were implemented after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and expanded after the August 2006 disruption of a plot to down transatlantic airliners using liquid explosives…

Seth Miller, 32, an information technology consultant in Manhattan, first publicized the manual’s ineffectual redactions Sunday on his travel blog, WanderingAramean.com…

The TSA learned of the failure that day and has begun an internal review by its Office of Inspection, an official said. It also checked other procurement documents to correct similar vulnerabilities.

The original version of the manual is still available online, preserved by Web sites that monitor government secrecy and computer security.

The agency said the posted manual was outdated and was never implemented. Six more recent versions have been issued since that one, a TSA official said

Among the most disturbing disclosures concern the settings used to test and operate metal detectors. For instance, officers are instructed to discontinue use of an X-ray system if it cannot detect 24-gauge wire. The manual also describes when to allow certain firearms past the checkpoint, and when police, fire or emergency personnel may bypass screening.

The document identifies the minimum number of security officers who must be present at checkpoints, how often checked bags are to be hand-searched, and screening procedures for foreign dignitaries and CIA-escorted passengers.

It also says that passport-holders from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Algeria should face additional screening.

Of course it is probably this last line that will get the TSA in trouble. We must not have profiling.

But what a disaster for our nation’s security.

Luckily, the Democrat chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, Bernie Thompson, has vowed to get to the bottom of this incredible breach.

Notice, however, that the Washington Post is not calling for an investigation as to how this information came to be ‘leaked.’

After all, the fact that terrorists now know what they can and can’t do to bypass security is not nearly as vital as who published those CRU emails.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “TSA Posts ‘How To’ Guide For Terrorists”

  1. Reality Bytes

    Why Not? Look how successful condoms to kids has been in fighting teen pregnancy!

  2. proreason

    This should help quell the Terrorists anger at us. And that will make us all a lot safer.

  3. Petronius

    Good to see that the administration is finally living up to its promises of openness and transparency in government.

  4. Steve

    An update from CNN:

    TSA says action taken in online release of screening procedures

    Washington (CNN) — Action has been taken against “the individuals involved” in posting a sensitive Transportation Security Administration screening manual on the Internet, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of Congress on Wednesday.

    “The security of the traveling public has never been put at risk,” Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee, and “the document that was posted was an out-of-date document.

    “Nonetheless, the posting of it did not meet our own standards for what should be available on the Net and not available on the Net,” she said. “So we have already initiated personnel actions against the individuals involved in that.”

    Pressed on who those individuals were by the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Napolitano said “the individual involved was a contractor. Some of the supervisors ultimately were in TSA.”

    She did not say how many people were determined to have been involved in the posting of the manual, which outlined screening procedures for law enforcement officers, diplomats, prisoners, federal air marshals and others.

    The agency has instituted an internal review of the incident “to see what else needs to be done so that the incident never recurs,” Napolitano said. In addition, the TSA has asked the inspector general to conduct an independent review “to supplement and complement what we are doing.”

    However, other agencies have been notified that the security of their documents may have been compromised, other Department of Homeland Security officials told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

    The practice of posting sensitive documents has been suspended, said Rand Beers, undersecretary of national protection for the TSA, and David Heyman, the agency’s assistant secretary for policy, under questioning from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Those involved are on administrative leave pending review, they said.

    Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, suggested to Napolitano that a “red team” damage assessment be done — a review by someone outside the agency to determine what advantage a potential enemy could have gained from the information and recommend what procedures or actions are necessary to minimize the damage.

    Napolitano said the agency is considering it. “I think one of my first questions has been well, what exactly was put out there that wasn’t available either by observation of airport checkpoints or the like. But indeed we may, if it is ascertained that there was some information not otherwise available that was put out, I think the red teaming issue is something that I would consider, absolutely.”

    In a statement Tuesday night, the TSA sought to minimize the impact of the unintentional release — calling the document “outdated,” “unclassified” and unimplemented — while saying that it took the incident “very seriously,” and “took swift action” when it was discovered.

    Congressional critics, meanwhile, lambasted the agency and called for an independent investigation.

    “Undoubtedly, this raises potential security concerns across our transportation system,” House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, wrote in a letter to TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides.

    Collins, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, called the release of the information “shocking” and reckless Tuesday. “This manual provides a road map to those who would do us harm,” she said.

    At issue is a 93-page manual giving instruction to airport screeners on how to screen individuals. It also gives details on how screening is conducted and the limitations of x-ray machines.

    The TSA posted the manual on a federal business opportunities Web site that provides information for government contractors, and redacted sensitive parts. But the redacted information was not properly protected, and the information was restored by people familiar with the computer program.

    The TSA said the posted manual — dated May 28, 2008, with an implementation date of June 30, 2008 — was never implemented and has been revised six times, although it did not elaborate on the extent of the revisions.

    “While the document does demonstrate the complexities of checkpoint security, it does not contain information related to the specifics of everyday checkpoint screening procedures,” the TSA said Tuesday. “The traveling public should be assured that appropriate measures have been put in place to ensure the continued implementation of a strong security screening program,” it said.

    The TSA said it removed the report as soon as it learned of the problem. But it was too late. The full, unredacted version of the report appeared on at least one Web site on Sunday, and was even more widely distributed Tuesday.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL.....ng.manual/

    • proreason

      “Action has been taken against “the individuals involved” in posting a sensitive Transportation Security Administration screening manual on the Internet, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of Congress on Wednesday.”

      Does this mean there will be some special elections soon?

  5. Rusty Shackleford

    “Does this mean there will be some special elections soon?”

    Only to find the right scapegoat(s)

    But, I’d be curious as to read the name(s) of the individual(s) involved…should they, uh, perhaps, be of some descent other than Anglican whitefolk. Like….maybe….having…..uh….possibly….muslim names.

  6. U NO HOO

    ““red team”” Sounds appropriate.

    Let me guess how simple it was to unredact, Ctrl+A/Select All, Copy, Paste, Change Font/Background Color?

  7. jobeth

    ewwww! I smell something fishy…. How many more “muslim” friendly things can this administration do before we call a spade a spade!

    Oh, and how it must sear the souls of the Obalmy’s that they actually have to have a nativity scene in the WH after all! I understand Michelle said no until she was pressured.
    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.co.....h_nat.html

    • Right of the People

      Egads, that must of shaken them to the core! Do you think that they can get absolution for this affront to Allah by saying they were “forced” to do it? What will the mullahs think?

  8. proreason

    Put the dobermans back in the rec room, guys.

    Ms Napolitano has just revealed that the released procedures were “obsolete”.

    So you see, what might have been a frightening security breach that could have contributed to the next major terror attack, and even potentially result in signifcicant loss of life, is really nothing. An itsy teeny snafu, and even those miscreants are on administrative leave.

    We’re in good hands.

    Sleep soundly.

    Janet is birdogging those teabaggers like flies on horse manure.




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