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Auditors Question TSA's Tech Spending, Security Solutions

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the taxpayer-funded-fondlecrats dept.

Security 239

Frosty P writes "Government auditors have faulted the TSA and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, for failing to properly test and evaluate technology before spending money on it. The TSA spent about $36 million on devices that puffed air on travelers to 'sniff' them out for explosives residue. All 207 of those machines ended up in warehouses, abandoned as unable to perform as advertised, deployed in many airports before the TSA had fully tested them. Since it was founded in 2001, the TSA has spent roughly $14 billion in more than 20,900 transactions with dozens of contractors, including $8 billion for the famous new body scanners that have recently come under scrutiny for being unable to perform the task for which they are advertised. 'TSA has an obsession of finding a single box that will solve all its problems. They've spent and wasted money looking for that one box, and there is no such solution,' said John Huey, an airport security expert."

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239 comments

/. is always days behind.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681070)

Used to be cutting edge, now it's like where you go to catch up on old news that has already past...

Re:/. is always days behind.. (5, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681094)

Used to be cutting edge

Uh, when the fuck was this? Was it back when the Internet had no trolls and everyone on slashdot wrote thoughtful, well-reasoned commentary?

Re:/. is always days behind.. (0)

neo8750 (566137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681126)

Was it back when the Internet had no trolls and everyone on slashdot wrote thoughtful, well-reasoned commentary?

When did this exist?

Re:/. is always days behind.. (3, Funny)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681162)

Woooooooosh!

Re:/. is always days behind.. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681260)

Used to be cutting edge

Uh, when the fuck was this? Was it back when the Internet had no trolls and everyone on slashdot wrote thoughtful, well-reasoned commentary?

Dude, even back when it was ARPA*NET we had trolls and unreasoned commentary.

UseNet flame wars were ... wait for it ... legendary.

Re:/. is always days behind.. (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681318)

TELEX networks had trolls and whackjobs decades before ARPANET had its first message.

Re:/. is always days behind.. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681366)

I'll take your word for TELEX - I was only on BBS systems since 1978, so I don't know what went on before then.

Re:/. is always days behind.. (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681340)

Thank you, Fleet Commander Obvious! That was my whole damn point.

Re:/. is always days behind.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681676)

Used to be cutting edge

Uh, when the fuck was this? Was it back when the Internet had no trolls and everyone on slashdot wrote thoughtful, well-reasoned commentary?

That would be the mythical time of never in a galaxy far far away. Trolls invaded networks like fido and others long before the internet.

Re:/. is always days behind.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682046)

Back in the days before every major newspaper had an online tech section, slashdot was a valuable aggregate of technical news.

Slashdot was essentially obsolete when google news came online in about 2002. I doubt anyone has read Slashdot for the articles in the last five years.

Who'da Thunk? (5, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681078)

Gee, TSA wasting tax payer money? Who'da thunk Chertoff's big money maker would be a big money waster for the rest of us "little people"?

Why not use dogs? (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681144)

I'm wondering why no one is asking about using dogs for bomb sniffing.

I'm guessing that the reason the TSA isn't trying that is because dogs can be supplied by many "vendors". It's more difficult to patent a dog than a scanner.

Re:Why not use dogs? (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681208)

Bomb sniffing dogs won't find knives and firearms and whatnot, and probably not a whole lot of other volatile stuff you don't want people to take on planes. But of course, the scanners and whatnot are not very good at finding that either.
My suggestion is body-sized ziplock bags and a trailing luggage aircraft.Probably cheaper in the long run too.

Are we really worried about knives? (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681302)

If the pilot is behind a locked door (that the knife cannot cut through), are we really concerned about knives?

And dogs should be able to detect firearms.

Re:Are we really worried about knives? (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681552)

Yes! Oh yes! Remember, those 9/11 trrrrists had nothing but carpet knives!

Of course, we now tell the pilot to never open that door, no matter the threat, and guess what, this would entirely solve the knife threat (not for the unfortunate passengers, but then... 300 passengers knowing they will get their throats slit vs. maybe 4 terrorists... let's overpower them with mass!).

The whole threat scenario does not fit reality anymore. But we're deadly afraid of knives and we have to defend against them, ignoring that there is already a solution for it in place. Because, remember, it worked once already!

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681334)

Use metal detectors and bomb sniffers and you're done. What did you think a knife was going to do on an airplane?

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681996)

TFS mentions that the bomb sniffers didn't work. There will always be some manual work involved, which is as it should be.

Re:Why not use dogs? (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681492)

Bomb sniffing dogs won't find knives...

You're right - for that, you need knife-sniffing dogs.

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681958)

Though a good dog is also a good judge of when a human is acting in a strange way, e.g. nervous, scared, aggressive etc.

Re:Why not use dogs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682112)

Bomb sniffing dogs won't find knives and firearms and whatnot, and probably not a whole lot of other volatile stuff you don't want people to take on planes. But of course, the scanners and whatnot are not very good at finding that either.

My suggestion is body-sized ziplock bags and a trailing luggage aircraft.Probably cheaper in the long run too.

Dogs don't need to find knives and guns...Metal detectors are sufficient for that.

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

jalet (36114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682286)

Metal detectors can't detect ceramic knives, can they ?
I don't know if ceramic guns exist, they probably do, but I know for sure ceramic knives cut for real, and have no need to be sharpened.

Re:Why not use dogs? (5, Insightful)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681558)

Because dogs don't give security theater the same feeling as machines do.

In this forum, everyone knows how bad machines can mess up, but to the layperson, a million dollar machine running sophisticated terrorist detection software operated by a surely well trained man in a deep blue uniform will get the job done. Everyone other passenger owns a dog. Dogs aren't magical to them, but machines: machines are magical and completely above reproach. There are millions of dollars of work from people who are far smarter than you in there. You can trust that will keep you safe.

Remember, it really isn't about safety. We have other people to handle that. TSA is their to handle the illusion of safety.

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682034)

Dogs at the gates would be a great idea and improve the general feeling. Most people are either comforted by the presence of a dog because they like them, or because they are linked with security. There are some, notably those who are allergic or just don't like dogs, that might be put off, but also those who are afraid of getting caught might also get especially nervous and be noticed by the handlers.

In short, the dogs would provide a better illusion of safety than the detectors.

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681674)

Yes, dogs work very well in other places and in military settings. They have found a lot of explosives over the years and each time a different explosive has come out they have been able to be trained to identify that as well.
Personally I think we should set the dogs on Chertoff. The TSA is looking more like organised crime to funnel taxpayers money into the pockets of those that set it up than any sort of public service. It appears to be completely beyond control now and is busy trying to push things as far as it can without being shut down entirely. Obama appears to have a choice between letting the groping and graft continue and taking the blame or shutting the entire lot down thus getting labelled as being in league with terrorists (while getting blocked at every turn by the recipients of the graft). If it had been set up in a more sane manner under an administration that was not on holiday all of the time then it would be possible to rip out the graft and corruption without discarding the entire organisation. If Obama can do anything other than quietly take the blame and drop the snowballing problem in the lap of the next President then he will be worth that Nobel prize.

Re:Why not use dogs? (1)

Phoobarnvaz (1030274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681818)

I'm wondering why no one is asking about using dogs for bomb sniffing.

Biggest reason is you can't make as much off of a dog as a machine. Plus...if you have TSA perverts feeling up/abusing the dogs for practice/boredom...it would be funny to watch and perverts would be losing their arms/hands/crotches when they won't buy the dogs dinner/a movie.

Re:Why not use dogs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682282)

I'm wondering why no one is asking about using dogs for bomb sniffing.

Bomb sniffing dogs require a continuous cash flow and their reliability and versatility is known to be low.*

Security theater needs bright shiny objects that can be hyped as %100 foolproof and then thrown in a warehouse when everyone loses interest.

*I don't mean to say bomb sniffing dogs should not be used, but rather that they are only an aid to detection not a solution for it.

Re:Who'da Thunk? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681426)

That poor women [ow.ly] has his TSA nude shot on the web.

Re:Who'da Thunk? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681966)

Gee, TSA wasting tax payer money? Who'da thunk Chertoff's big money maker would be a big money waster for the rest of us "little people"?

What we need is Kabuki sniffing dogs.

Re:Who'da Thunk? (4, Funny)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682264)

My Freedom Fondle two weeks ago was a cheap way to strip me of my 4th Amendment rights.

Puffed air.... (5, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681106)

36 million on devices to puff air?

The TSA can blow me for free.

Re:Puffed air.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681332)

That's funny. Your mom will do that for $10.

Re:Puffed air.... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681572)

They are halfway there by giving you a hand job. (And one for your underage son as well).

Re:Puffed air.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681600)

Dude, for 36 million, I'll blow them.

Hey, everyone has his price.

Re:Puffed air.... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681926)

I had understood that the air-puff particle-sniffing machines were actually extremely accurate and were currently in use by the Israelis, who had found that the background scanner screening machines were of no use. Would be interested to know if the "report" on Israeli use of one over the other is all BS or not.

see what happens when point out holes in the TSA s (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681108)

Seeing what happens when you point out holes in the TSA system it may better to just to let it slide. And any ways a of the tech is from pork barrel.

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (2)

e9th (652576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681192)

The TSA has pulling this shit since at least 2008. Remember the CNN reporter [cnn.com] who wound up on the no-fly list?

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681286)

Why? You can get a private pilot's license for less than $10k worth of training.

Who needs the TSA?

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (3, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681458)

does that include lessons on *landing* as well?

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681644)

does that include lessons on *landing* as well?

Thats extra.

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682216)

MEL: "Just get us on the ground."
WASH: "Don't worry, that'll happen..."

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (5, Informative)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681470)

Getting a pilot's license is not all that hard (almost every one of my co-workers has a VFR license and most of them own a single-engine ship.)

The hard part is getting and *keeping* an IFR ticket, where you have to put in so many flight hours that it's really tough to do if you're not a full-time commercial pilot. Let's not even talk about the costs of owning, leasing, or even just fueling and maintaining even a low-end private jet.

It's fantastically liberating to be able to fly your own plane, but it also tends to be quite limiting. Consider the range on your, let's say, Cessna 182, for the 7-8 hours max you'd want to be in the left seat. Also consider what happens when you're grounded or diverted by VFR.

Most private pilots still go via commercial carriers when they travel. Flying yourself from Los Angeles to Maine can be fun, but it's no less greuling (and often not much faster) than the equivalent road trip.

The "use it or lose it" factor of IFR currency (FAR 61.57) in reality pretty much requires you to fly continuously, and without IFR you're stuck with mainly recreational flying in a relatively limited geographical area, only in clear skies. It doesn't suck, but it is not in reality the substitute you hold it out to be, nor do the costs end at the price of school.

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (5, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682258)

My girlfriend and I sat down to figure out how we could fly to her dad's airport outside of Baltimore from the LA Basin in a Cessna 172SP. We were looking at 16-18 hours of flight time over two or three days, five or six stops, and a bill of about $2400 to $2700 for the rental -- each way. Even without the rental fees, it would be something in the neighborhood of $650-$730 in fuel each way. That assumes no diversions and reasonable weather the entire way. It would be an incredible trip and a lot of fun, but it would also be much more financially difficult.

Being a private pilot works when you can get a few friends to go in on a trip to someplace that can be pricey even commercially. Flying from the LA Basin into Sacramento, for example, the numbers and time just about even out. More popular places like San Francisco, Las Vegas, or even Phoenix are tougher to match, and most long-distance flights are just right out. Until one gets into higher-performance aircraft (175 knots or faster and 800NM range or more), long-distance travel just doesn't work economically, and often not even then. For example, the above trip in a Cessna 350 would be a two-hop flight requiring about 12 hours in flight, give or take, depending on the cruise speed. At the common rental rate of $350/hour, that would be $4200 each way.

I love to sit in the left seat, but for most serious trips, I turn it over to the professionals.

Re:see what happens when point out holes in the TS (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681820)

Expect similar things for getting your pilot's license within 12 months.

They should pay me instead! (2)

socz (1057222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681110)

When they had their contest to find the best system to detect *, I suggested they ditch technology and go with human power. No computer yet can yet process all that we can in that mode of operation. You need to pay people some good money to actually want to do the job && keep it. Minimum wage or close to it means they don't care if they get fired, it's no big loss. Next, you have to have trained people, not people you put through a class and expect them to catch terrorists.

But don't tell any of that to the people spending money because if they don't spend money, they won't get money... and that's bad for their business and unpatriotic!

Re:They should pay me instead! (1)

sys_mast (452486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681436)

but couldn't they just spend the same amount on good people? and, as per your argument have good trained people that will actually be an effective protective measure? or am I missing you point?

TSA is not about solutions that work (5, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681112)

The TSA is simply a job creation program that has gone amok. At first it was extra baggage screeners, but it's now grown to the point that the only jobs they could think of involve fondling people. I think the idea is that if they get sued often enough, it will create lots of jobs for paralegals, expert witnesses and attorneys. The TSA likes machines because machines need operators, and each operator is one more job. In short the TSA is the biggest farce I've ever seen the government create, and it can't be closed down completely quickly enough.

Re:TSA is not about solutions that work (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681218)

It is not simply a job creation scheme - it is primarily a weath transfer machine backed by arse covering beaurocrats/lobbyists/corporatists on the revolving doorway that is the Security-Industrial Complex. The corporations get their money whether the machnes work or not. In fact, it is better if the machines don't work as there is then the option for supplying the Next Solution to Your Problem (TM)

Re:TSA is not about solutions that work (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681226)

But without the TSA, think of how many child molesters, rapists, and abusive husbands would be living out on the streets.

Re:TSA is not about solutions that work (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681868)

The TSA is simply a job creation program that has gone amok.

same could be said about the military industrial complex. started off with good intentions, but now just a big, welfar-ish jobs program. noone wants to be the bad guy and tell them we need to start cutting costs, because not letting people profiteer on weapons and logistics (both of which should be done completely in-house, imho) is somehow un-patriotic.

Who rules America? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681120)

THERE IS NO GREATER POWER in the world today than that wielded by the manipulators of public opinion in America. No king or pope of old, no conquering general or high priest ever disposed of a power even remotely approach- ing that of the few dozen men who control America’s mass media of news and entertainment.Their power is not distant and impersonal; it reaches into every home in America, and it works its will during nearly every waking hour. It is the power that shapes and molds the mind of virtually every citizen, young or old, rich or poor, simple or sophisticated.

The mass media form for us our image of the world and then tell us what to think about that image. Essentially ev- erything we know—or think we know—about events out- side our own neighborhood or circle of acquaintances comes to us via our daily newspaper, our weekly news magazine, our radio, or our television.

It is not just the heavy-handed suppression of certain news stories from our newspapers or the blatant propagan- dizing of history-distorting TV “docudramas” that charac- terizes the opinion-manipulating techniques of the media masters. They exercise both subtlety and thoroughness in their management of the news and the entertainment that they present to us.

For example, the way in which the news is covered: which items are emphasized and which are played down; the reporter’s choice of words, tone of voice, and facial ex- pressions; the wording of headlines; the choice of illustra- tions—all of these things subliminally and yet profoundly affect the way in which we interpret what we see or hear.

On top of this, of course, the columnists and editors remove any remaining doubt from our minds as to just what we are to think about it all. Employing carefully developed psychological techniques, they guide our thought and opinion so that we can be in tune with the “in” crowd, the “beautiful people,” the “smart money.” They let us know exactly what our attitudes should be toward various types of people and behavior by placing those people or that behavior in the context of a TV drama or situation comedy and having the other TV characters react in the Politically Correct way.

Read more [natvan.com]

Magical thinking (5, Insightful)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681128)

And this is what happens when you let magical thinking get spending power. Buy the magic box, and scare the monsters from the moon cult away. Seen any moon monsters lately? Magic box is working! Wait, scientist said magic box doesn't work? What does he know! Newspaper man proved magic box doesn't work? Nothing to worry about. My shaman/advisor says magic box doesn't work? Time to buy new magic box!

Re:Magical thinking (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681268)

And if there is no Monsters from the moon?

Why the TSA fabricates a bomb in an insulated beverage container, and uses that fabricated bomb as justification for more scare tactics.

That's right, they actually built a demo unit to show how it would be done [cbsnews.com] , paraded that before TV cameras.

That't right folks. The only people who have fashioned a beverage container bomb is the TSA.

Re:Magical thinking (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681310)

And if there is no Monsters from the moon?

Obviously the anti-moon-monster box is working!

Re:Magical thinking (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681460)

Why the TSA fabricates a bomb in an insulated beverage container, and uses that fabricated bomb as justification for more scare tactics.

Actually, I was watching an old 1967 movie set in Finland about that.

Of course, it was germ warfare, using eggs inside a thermos, but same net effect.

You can live in Fear, or realize that there is no such thing as safety and get on with your life.

Re:Magical thinking (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681500)

no, lois, I do not like the TSA. it insists upon itself.

Re:Magical thinking (2)

shogun (657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682280)

That't right folks. The only people who have fashioned a beverage container bomb is the TSA.

At least its slightly better than the game of catch up they've been playing of late, ie someone fails to blow up a plane with shoes then everyone has to take their shoes off etc etc..

Re:Magical thinking (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681476)

some people think the exact same thing about internet security boxes. think about it - it all fits exactly the same and its the same mode of thinking.

internet firewalls and security boxen. same basic idea.

Re:Magical thinking (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681660)

And same amount of protection. You catch the stupid wannabes, no doubt. But you will not defend that way against a real threat.

Re:Magical thinking (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682138)

Catching the stupid wannabes is actually a good thing as long as you don't spend too much on the boxes.

Re:Magical thinking (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681646)

I see that every time, it's not limited to government. Companies want that magic box that keeps them save from trojans and hackers alike. Buy once, forget about it is the goal.

And it's insanely hard to get it through a CEOs skull that this is not the way it works. Even if his CISO and CTO are there yelling with you in chorus.

I can actually give you a box, but it is worth jack without trained personnel and without adapting security protocols. And both cost time and continue to cost money. That's something most beancounters loathe.

Usually a few weeks later I get informed that they decided against me and bought some solution that gives them that box. And it's working, they haven't been hacked since.

And if there's no fire, you can build your house out of cardboard and it won't go up in flames.

Oh, well (0, Flamebait)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681132)

That's what happens when you choose to Federalize instead of professionalize.

Thank you, Tom Daschle, you ignorant bastard.
Oh, and the rest of your buddies, too.
They're just as stupid.

Re:Oh, well (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681230)

Thank you, Tom Daschle, you ignorant bastard.

Fox News/talk radio philosophy: if it happened when Bush and the Republicans were in charge, keep looking for a Democrat to blame. Then hammer that home on the air 10,000 times a day until people start believing. Just like Barney Frank singlehandedly created the Bush housing bubble when he was ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Uh, no. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681254)

The last thing I want is airport security handed over to the lowest bidder whose only obligation is to maximize profits for his shareholders. Some things are WAY too important to be left to the free market, and looking out for public safety is at the top of the list. TSA employees may be one step above rent-a-cops, but at least they ARE one step above rent-a-cops.

Re:Uh, no. (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681288)

Lowest bidder only maximizing profit for shareholder.

Incumbent official only maximizing donations to reelection campaigns.

I do not see much difference.

Re:Uh, no. (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681670)

That's why it needs oversight and auditing. But not from some bi-partisan committee bull that sees its right to exist rather in the ability to keep their cronies well fed.

Here's an idea for a great auditor: Every single company that wanted the contract but didn't get it. If there is someone willing and motivated to look for flaws in an implementation, it's them!

Re:Uh, no. (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681398)

How are they one step above rent-a-cops? Your statement seems to be implying that by the very virtue of not being from private industry they are better than private industry, which is a pretty weak argument. Especially when all the evidence doesn't really put them one step above anything. Further even if we assume you're right, that they're one step above rent-a-cops, how on Earth does that make you feel even remotely better? I can't even come up with an adequate analogy to express how stupid I think that sentiment is. Also note that I'm not even saying private industry would be better, I just think your post is wrong.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681704)

TSA employees may be one step above rent-a-cops, but at least they ARE one step above rent-a-cops.

Citation Needed on that one.

more than you know... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681168)

That's just a needle in the hay stack for wasteful government spending. It's very widespread throughout DHS and is pretty frequent in the military.

Yes (1)

ZirconCode (1477363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681204)

Oh yes, 14 billion, now lets look at ~ Can't bring up war, NO REFUSE! Agh no carrier?

Hmmm (5, Insightful)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681214)

I don't think it really matters that they have improperly spent all this money. So what?.. Is someone going to get in trouble for it over at TSA? Obviously not, they couldn't care less. The machines aren't about making you safer, it's about training you how to be a slave in this new globalized terrorist-filled society. If they cared about people's safety, they wouldn't let their workers walk right past security because they too, could be a terrorist.

Or they wouldn't be raiding the pilot's house that blew the whistle on this blatant hypocritical mission that the TSA is apparently on. http://www.news10.net/news/article.aspx?storyid=113529&provider=top&catid=188 [news10.net]

These scanners are obviously making their way to shopping malls, schools, gov buildings, and just about anywhere else - so don't let them fool you and tell you it's for the brown men in turbans, feeling up your 14yr old daughter and your 75yr old grandmother has nothing to do with brown men in turbans plotting evil things in caves.

Re:Hmmm (3, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681434)

Eh.. it's not about making you a slave; it's about justifying their existence. People will rationalize their own purpose even when it's inefficient or ineffective.

The part about getting people to do what you tell them is just a convenient side-effect.

Two words: sniffer dogs. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681216)

They work better than any other system, period. They don't have to irradiate you and they don't have to grope you. Admittedly Muslims and some other people consider them unclean, but they don't even have to touch what they're sniffing. The training takes time and money, it's true, but I have to wonder how many sniffer dogs could be trained for $14 billion...

Re:Two words: sniffer dogs. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681360)

For the 14 billion, they could probably keep the security lines no more than 3 deep and feed the dogs steak every night while they're at it.

Dogs and Pigs (5, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681246)

seriously, I've done counter-terrorism and I can tell you that all the tech solutions are literal wastes of money.

Even the tests of TSA screening show a trained terrorist can get all the items aboard 4 out of 5 times, with a more than 95 percent success rate on getting them into the cargo hold as well.

The only things that work - and have worked - are:

1. Dogs.

2. Pigs. Even better than dogs.

3. Throwing your coat or blanket on top of any hijacker and subduing them, yelling "Terrorist! We're all going to die - get them!"

Everything else is an utter and absolute waste of time and effort.

And a whole lot of cash.

Re:Dogs and Pigs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681386)

Yeah, it's a big waste, but guess what? Federal agencies don't go away. We've got the TSA now, in all its wasteful bloated glory. Once a bureaucracy starts up, it is self sustaining.

And THIS, ladies and gents, is why we have a trillion dollar budget deficit. (Well, this and thousands of other reasons like it).

Re:Dogs and Pigs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682024)

Yeah, it's a big waste, but guess what? Federal agencies don't go away. We've got the TSA now, in all its wasteful bloated glory. Once a bureaucracy starts up, it is self sustaining.

Well they definitely won't go away now that they're unionized [afge.org] .

Re:Dogs and Pigs and Coats... Oh my! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681510)

My friend and I were on our way home from Iraq for mid-tour leave in ~2005. Being in our military uniforms we were granted some additional freedoms other passengers were not. While on board one of the flights my friend and I sat next to a very nice man in his mid 30's early 40's. During the flight we found out that he worked for the TSA. During our conversation we started talking about airport security and how I inadvertently carried a knife, straight razor and multi-tool through 4 security check points and multiple scanners (obviously not the ones like today, but still). At one point my friend jokingly said "So I guess the only thing you couldn't smuggle on-board is a chain saw!" to which the TSA worker replied "Only if it's running..."

Post Military duty I haven't gotten on a plane since. I know "airplanes are safer than traveling by car" but I can't stand that kind of gross incompetence. (Hence why I got out of the Military after 4 years).

Re:Dogs and Pigs (5, Funny)

initialE (758110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682012)

2. Pigs. Even better than dogs.

Your solution is hiring more police?

I think some auditors are about to disappear. (0, Troll)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681252)

Considering what happens to people who question this administration...

Consider (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681276)

You should consider how much it costs the TSA for each terrorist they caught. Take that $14 billion, and divide it by the number of terrorists they've caught to date (0) since 9/11, and see how economical it has actually been. $14,000,000,000/0 = ?

Ummm, can someone do the math for me, my calculator doesn't have that enough digits.

Re:Consider (1)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681312)

Re:Consider (2)

simon0411 (1921684) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681838)

No, don't fall for it! Dividing by zero is exactly what the terrorists want you to... *Kaboom!*

Re:Consider (1)

volcan0 (1775818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681390)

I tried, but it crashed...soemthing about division by zero....

And then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681548)

Consider what happens when you multiply by the number of successful hijackings or bombings. Then multiply that by 20 Billion dollars to see the net impact on the economy.

If our planes explode, our economy implodes. I wish it wasn't that simple but it is. 2 Bombings in as many months would instantly bring our economy to a standstill.

$14,000,000,000 / 0 x 0 x $20,000,000 = Kiss My Ass

Re:And then... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682084)

Bollocks.

People have been hijacking and blowing up planes for decades and nobody's economies collapsed. It's only since it happened over American soil that The Terrorist Fear took over and America started fucking everyone (including themselves) in the ass and generally doing the terrorists' jobs for them.

The rest of the world has been dealing with this sort of bullshit for years and getting on with their lives. I was on the tube in London two days after a bunch of fucktards blew it up and we didn't have government agents groping passengers at every station (well, not officially, anyway). We got blown up by a higher class of arseholes in the 80s and we learned how to deal with that sort of shit. The correct response is the Glasgow response. You boot your local terrorist in the nuts as hard as you can, then go about your business.

The sooner America realises that they're amateurs at this and learns how to handle it properly the better.

Re:Consider (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681898)

But they've caught a few kids carrying weed. That's gota count for something right?

Oh (1)

Javajunk (1957446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681300)

The thought of all that money well spent makes me feel safe.

This is good news! (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681362)

I'm very happy that Auditors are Questioning TSA's tech spending...

I mean, they're only a few months after slashdotters, the general public, and pretty much anyone except the idiots who made the devices.

This just in (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681520)

The TSA will be audited again, but by another company. "We will audit until we pass, even if we have to go through all the auditing companies we can get our hands on", a spokesperson said.

Re:This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682126)

Eventually, they will set up, at arm's length, their own auditing company to make sure they pass.

magic box (2)

jkmartin (816458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681530)

I've got the stupid magic box they're searching for. It's called the ballot box and if any politician were to grow a spine and stand up to these goons I'd use it. The box that comes next in the series is far less peaceful.

You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34681684)

The TSA reminds me more an more of a corporate office run top to bottom by a sociopath in middle management. From the funny, but not quiet provably illegal money handling, to the majority of resources being utilized to implement plans that seem more designed to empower and entertain some tin-pot tyrant than to actually do anything useful, to the selective enforcement of often ad hoc, inappropriately arbitrary, and often contradictory rules, to the massive, crushing retaliation against anyone that points out the 800 pound guerrilla or the elephant he rides on. It's like deja-vu, all over again.

Re:You know... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34681728)

Quite seriously, some of their contraptions seem to come right out of Dr. Evil's secret underground lab. I wonder when they're going for sharks and lasers.

DHS riddles with waste? (3, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682000)

A bloated bureaucratic behemoth that paid for iPods for cops and bullet proof vests for dogs? But didn't pay for extra employees for searches? Or keeping cops on the street?

The next thing you will be telling me is that there is a pattern of bribery and corruption between contractors and employees administering the contracts.

They need their budget slashed immediately.

Just wait for their new groping machine. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682102)

Then you'll change your tune (to a higher pitch when it malfunctions).

Just thankful (1)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682204)

I'm just thankful that our leftist benefactor, George Soros makes plenty of money off of the TSA body scanners. If he wasn't a leftist, I'd feel like these were bad people ...

dogs, all sizes and multiplely trained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682210)

Even a Chihuahua or a Pomeranian can be trained to sniff drugs or explosives and who would be afraid of a Pom walking through the airport/train/bus station with his little Police/TSA vest on. Heck, every innocent person would be walking up to meet the cutest little security agent on the force and all you'd have to do would be watching for the guys avoiding him. Check him for allergies and he's likely clear as well.

Understated Article (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 3 years ago | (#34682240)

According to the article:

"Since the introduction of metal detectors in the 1970s, technologies have been bought and cobbled together in a somewhat piecemeal approach," said Tom LaTourrette, a security expert at RAND Corp., a nonprofit research institute.

"No one has been able to provide a satisfactory answer to the question of how to best structure aviation security," he said.

According to most of us in the real world:

"But the TSA's done a darn fine job of showing us how NOT to."

Ya gotta start wondering.. Is it Technology Alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34682250)

Hey I used to post on /. It worked out badly. So many trolls, bait bandits, and PC folks.... but after 2+ years since my last post... here goes.

The technology solution alone has proven itself not up to the task. Ya gotta wonder if we gotta start looking at the basic policy questions and the solution space.

What/who are the targets? What/who are the threats? Pretty clear air transport is among the targets, and near the top. The US financial structure, and political and military are probably stacked up pretty high too.

Threats?. Seem like Islamic fundamentalists (radicals) pretty much, not too many idealist Tim Mcveigh's doin the suicide bomber thing, not even many militia quackpots, racists, or pseudo-religious northam zealots either (despite Bis Sis and staffs feelings to the contrary). Something seems to be unique to the radical Islamic culture and stuff about disregard for human life in the context of the warrior jihad espoused by the Islamic radicals. It's just not too credible to suggest any significant threat outside of radical Islam. Whatever we do, we may wanna focus on whatever kernels of truth there are to this.

TSA is clearly looking for a silver bullet of sorts, and they could care less how ineffective, unpopular, or potentially unconstitutional the solution might be.

Probably the solution is a combination of technology and unsophisticated stuff; suggestions:

1) Change in senior leadership.. someone more engaged in both the political, programmatic and day to day management of the implementation.
2) Political acknowledgment that in such a huge threat space, technology is not the sole solution, and that despite potentially politically such unpopular tactics, profiling might be more fruitful/effective than a sniffer or millimeter waves (naked scanner).
3) Some serious changes in the way TSA stands up, trains, staffs airports (and further the other facets of the transportation grid).
4) Better management of the TSA acquisition program in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) as opposed to the good old boy system

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