Tag Archives: TSA

Update: Two Years Later the TSA is STILL Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

Transportation Security Administration TSA Failed 95 Percent

Once again, TSA inspectors have failed to find 95% of the mock weapons sent through checkpoints by Homeland Security agents working undercover.

Just over two years ago, in June of 2015, I posted about tests Homeland Security had run at airports across the country. In those tests, undercover agents were sent through pre-boarding checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration. (Video from that original post is embedded below.)

Those agents carried realistic looking weapons and explosive devices past TSA screeners in order to determine how often the “weapons” would be detected. This included replicas of pistols, knives, nunchucks, tasers, ammunition, and even defused hand grenades.

Out of 70 items that should have been stopped, TSA screeners found a grand total of three of them. As I noted, at the time that translates to a failure rate of 95%. Not exactly a number that will make you feel happy as you stand in the giant line at the security checkpoint next time you fly somewhere.

Surely they’ve addressed those issues in those 2+ years and improved dramatically, though. After all, you could seemingly stumble into a higher level of success just by randomly guessing which passengers have some sort of contraband in their luggage. Right?

Not so much, according to the Washington Times:

Undercover federal agents successfully snuck drugs and explosives past security screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week, according to the local Fox affiliate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted the test last Thursday by sending agents disguised as ordinary passengers into the airport in order to see if screeners were up to snuff, KMSP reported.

The TSA “red team” attempted to smuggle 18 different items past airport security that should easily be detected but prevailed almost every time, the Fox affiliate reported.

“In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items through. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected,” KMSP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operation.
In fact, it could have even been worse this time:

The security test was ultimately abandoned once the TSA’s failure rate reached 95 percent, the station reported.

So, before the Mercy Rule was invoked, the TSA screeners in Minneapolis had successfully found a weapon being smuggled onto a plane once. Which, like 2015, equates to just five percent of the time.

Basically, when you eliminate groping people; especially underage passengers, taking lewd photos of unsuspecting women, and stealing shit out of your luggage, they just aren’t very proficient at what they do. (To be fair, they do seem to be pretty good at finding spare change passengers being subjected to their ineffectual security theater leave behind.)

Truth be told, they actually couldn’t be much less useful (and would be quite a bit less annoying and exploitative) if they just slept through their shift, like the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

Minneapolis – St. Paul TSA Screeners Fail Yet Again

Successful Five Percent of the Time in 2015

Groping People to Keep You Safe Almost Never

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Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Alternative Policing Within an Anarchist Justice System

This post was written by  and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Creating an Anarchist Justice System.” Posts and other content you think are worth sharing with the CopBlock Network can be sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Some tips to make it more likely that your submission will get posted to the CopBlock Network can be found here.

(Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text and images have been added. In addition, the conclusions expressed within this initial introductory summary represent my own interpretation of what is being stated within Logan’s own writings.)

In the post below, Logan discusses some alternative options for policing and specifically options which might arise within an Anarchist society. Initially, he also addresses the many issues with the current police, court, and prison systems and ways to counteract or avoid them. One of the most obvious and frequent questions asked of those who advocate replacing the current “justice” systems, is what would replace them and how regular people would defend themselves against criminals.

Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Creating an Anarchist Justice System

Anti-police sentiment is on the rise in America and around the world. In the wake of the death’s of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and countless others (Rest In Power), even the DoJ admits that at least some police departments are highly racist in practice and the Black Lives Matter movement has sprung up in response. Those from all sides of the political aisle have come out against police militarization. Pigs have been routinely denied service at various business establishments across the nation. On the inside, prisoners around the country have been on strike since September 9th, the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, with guards having recently gone on a solidarity work strike in support of the prisoners at Holman in Atmore, Alabama. So how do we, as anarchists, help provide tactics in the here and now for dealing with the state’s armed injustice system? But more importantly in the long run, how do we build alternative defense and justice systems?

How to Deal With the Pigs

It’s almost inevitable, especially if you’re working class, queer, a person of color, or an activist, that you will have to interact with the pigs at some point in your lifetime. This is why it’s important to hold community “Know Your Rights” workshops such as those offered by the ACLU or the National Lawyers Guild. Hold these workshops at your local infoshop, library, church, community center, or anywhere else where people, activists and non-activists alike, can learn how to hopefully more safely interact with the police. The ACLU also has an app which allows you to film police interactions and upload them automatically to the ACLU’s database for protection in case you phone is confiscated or broken. Groups like Copwatch and Cop Block also encourage people to film the police and hold them accountable for injustice and police brutality.

Movements like Black Lives Matter are currently fighting to curb police brutality by calling for police demilitarization, body cameras, community review boards, community election of police officers, disarming the police, actual punishment for pigs who break the rules, and the end of policies such as Stop and Frisk and Stand Your Ground. These demands hope to curb the worst violence on the way towards abolition.

Unarresting” people can be very risky, especially when you don’t have much support, but has been used as a tactic to free people who are being kidnapped by the pigs both at protests and elsewhere. If you’re up for the challenge then go for it! We need more people like you.

And don’t believe any of that sovereign citizen crap. Some of it sounds good in theory, but none of it has ever really held up in court.

How to Deal With Statist Courts

If you are arrested and/or have to go to court, finding a lawyer is usually key. Sometimes you can luck out and find a more radical public defender who took the job to truly help poor people but chances are you’re better off crowdfunding or throwing other fundraisers or looking for a lawyer who will work pro bono. Some groups, such as the Industrial Workers of the World’s General Defense Committee, are also set up to help pay for bail and legal fees for activists victimized by the state. If you’re looking for a good radical lawyer, depending on your case you could look towards the National Lawyers Guild, the Institute for Justice, or the American Civil Liberties Union. You could also ask you other radical friends for their local recommendations.

The now defunct nonviolent agorist defense agency Shield Mutual offered anarchists and libertarians protections against the state. Instead of armed protection, they promised services attuned to the needs of the individual. They could help with obtaining lawyers, crowdfunding for legal fees, setting up a public freedom campaign website, public relations, media promotion, and networking. They’ve even paid for a woman’s new plane ticket after she was detained by the TSA and missed her flight. The group operated as a friendly society where members paid monthly or yearly dues which went to the cost of helping its membership. They also had a peer-to-peer mutual aid network where members could request funds from other members for emergencies, business ideas, or other projects. Sadly this group has since disbanded (although their website is still up) but it still serves as a model for other agorist defense services.

If you ever happen to be summoned for jury duty, don’t try and skip out. Instead try and use the practice of jury nullification to keep people from being thrown in the state’s cages. The Fully Informed Jury Association has plenty of materials to read and learn from and regularly canvases outside courthouses where they’re active. Join or form a chapter, spread the knowledge. We can decide their laws are not worth enforcing.

How to Deal With the State’s Prisons

If you get locked up, it can seem like the end of the battle but that is far from true. Groups like Books for Prisoners supply reading materials, both radical and non-radical alike, to inmates for entertainment and education. Black and Pink and other letter writing groups provide companionship through becoming pen pals with those held hostage by the state.

In order to help change prison conditions and aid their eventual abolition, groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Free Alabama Movement, the Free Virginia Movement, the Prison Ecology Project, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty are essential. While some of these groups are inherently reformist, groups like FAMM and NCADP help fight against specific issues which will roll back the power of the state. Groups like the Prison Ecology Project focus on the high environmental costs of prisons. While on the inside, groups like the Black Guerrilla Family, IWOC, and other prison gangs, organizations, and unions offer a way for inmates to collectively organize against the pigs holding them hostage. IWOC, as a project of the Industrial Workers of the World, helps prisoners set up IWW branches inside prisons to organize against prison slavery and unfair living conditions.

The Anarchist Black Cross is dedicated to fighting for political prisoners and prisoners of war within the radical movement. They collect dues from its membership which are used to help prisoners with little to no resources obtain them, usually in the form of a monthly donation to an inmate’s commissary fund. They also help fundraise and advocate for POWs as well as doing letter writing and in person visitation. The Black Cross is organized by both allies and inmates who control the organization through directly democratic means.

For those trying to obtain freedom, having an outside network fighting for your freedom with online promotion, political pressure, phone blasts, demonstrations, etc. is a huge help. Nobody is going to pay attention to your case unless there’s enough pressure, such pressure works better in numbers, and such support comes through public awareness and media campaigns.

Failing that, there’s always escape.

Don’t Call the Pigs

One of the biggest things we can do in the here and now is stop relying on the police for protection. Don’t call them, don’t report crimes, don’t allow them in your businesses, don’t snitch. There are better ways of dealing with crime then turning to state violence.

Instead of calling the police, set up your own emergency networks. Have a network of friends, family, or neighbors who are willing and able to respond to emergencies and call them instead. Apps such as Peacekeeper and Cell411 make this process simpler allowing multiple people to be contacted at once with GPS directions and everything. Choosing the right network could lead to a faster response time and more adaptive tactics ranging from arbitration and conflict resolution to armed defense.

Essential to living in a society without pigs is learning self-defense. Martial arts, kickboxing, women’s self-defense courses, and firearms training allow individuals to help protect themselves and others from violence. Groups like the Sylvia Rivera Gun Club for Self Defense, Pink Pistols, and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club offer community firearms training to those in their community. The Huey P. Newton Gun Club actually promotes the idea of arming every black and brown citizen that can legally be armed in order to effectively protect themselves from police and white supremacist violence.

The Huey P. Newton Gun Club also advocates Black Panther style community patrols where they both protect the community from internal crime and violence in their communities and track police activity, filming them and yelling legal advice to those being harassed by the pigs while making it known that they are fully armed just in case the pig has any violent inclinations. Other anti-statist directly democratic community watch groups have also sprung up throughout history to protect communities without the need for the pigs.

In some places, especially in those where war or violence is more prevalent such as Rojava, these community watch groups take the form of voluntary militias. From the Zapatista Army to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, community regulated militias have proven an effective response to statist military and police forces. Currently the militia movement in america is of a decidedly more right-wing viewpoint, with groups like the 3%ers, and tend to carry with them underlying statist messages of patriotism and nationalism, but one can hope that a leftist militia movement will grow into a reality.

Grassroots rape crisis centers offer support geared towards the needs of the survivor and most will not go to the pigs unless asked. Some already offer restorative and transformative programs to help deal with the perpetrator as well while others should be so encouraged by their communities. And as communities look towards other institutional alternatives, the creation of private detective, forensics, and arbitration services can offer attempts at filling those needs.

Dispute resolution organizations (DROs) have been proposed as an alternative to police, insurance, and alternative dispute services. According to wikipedia, “The firms would be voluntarily contracted to provide, or coordinate with other firms to provide, services such as mediation, reimbursement for damages, personal protection, and credit reporting.”

Don’t Use Their Courts

Instead of relying on the state’s court system to solve disputes, turning to arbitration services, trained mediators, direct negotiation between either the two parties, or non-statist alternative dispute resolution between the parties’ lawyers or DRO(s) can offer solutions that are more adapted to the specific needs of the victims and the perpetrators. Community tribunals or courts could also be established in smaller communities to deal with situations directly as a community. Retribution for damaged property can be negotiated in such ways as could the establishment of a restorative and/or transformative justice process which normally takes the form of an accountability process negotiated by the victim and voluntarily fulfilled by the perpetrator. Indemnity services can also help pay for property damages in certain situations especially if no victim is caught.

Don’t Fill Their Cages

Establishing accountability processes for perpetrators of violent crimes helps address the needs of both the victim and perpetrator, helps to repair the damages made, and transform the perpetrator’s behavior in hopes that they do not continue to harm others. Un-cooperative perps are subject to social ostracization and denial of community services or support until they are cooperative. Repeatedly violent criminals are likely to eventually see the wrong end of a barrel of a gun in an armed anarchist community as self-defense is encouraged but in the here and now it’s best to familiarize yourself and your community with the local gun laws so as to know your rights when being attacked. Hold workshops to spread the knowledge you discover in your research or find a radical lawyer who will help you put together a workshop. Sometimes there are laws that make shooting to kill is legal while warning shots are illegal and that is just one example of such strange and backwards laws. Very rarely is shooting someone worth going to prison yourself so know the laws and weigh the options.

Freely available mental health resources such as medication and counseling or even support groups such as the Icarus Project would help alleviate the crime rate as those who suffer from mental health issues won’t be left untreated. This will not only allow for a way to deal with criminals who are mentally unstable in becoming stable but will help prevent crimes before they happen. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other addiction and rehabilitation programs offer a way to deal with drug and alcohol addiction without turning to punishment as the answer.

Creating a Less Violent Society

Moving forward we must continue the fight to demilitarize and disarm the police, to train in self-defense, and to set up our alternative justice systems but we must also get at the root of most crime in this country. Excessive laws and regulation, racism, sexism (including heterosexism and cissexism), and poverty are at the heart of most crime in this country. Repealing prohibitions on guns, drugs, prostitution, squatting, conducting business without a license, and the myriad of other prohibitions the state enacts will empty their prisons of a majority inmates who are locked up for victimless crimes. Taking care of their economic needs by making sure folks have food, shelter, medical care, and their other needs met either through better job opportunities in a freed market (or the agora as it stands today) or through mutual aid such as through groups like Food Not Bombs, free clinics, community lending programs, and grassroots labor unions will help combat economic crimes. As it stands most of those caught for theft, embezzlement, identity theft, robbery, and other economic crimes more often than not did so out of desperation to escape poverty. Taking care of the basic needs of your local community helps relieve such desperation and offers them the resources of survival so that they do not have to steal to obtain resources.

Nonviolent parenting, education, nonviolent communication techniques, and conflict resolution training can help to lead us to a better future where we can solve our own problems instead of relying on the state’s goons to kidnap and throw our enemies – and friends – in cages. The Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUTside the System campaign teaches people how to set up safe spaces where police are not needed or welcomed. All of these ideas and more are things we could establish and do in the here and now to create our own justice systems in the traditions of agorism, dual power, and “building a new world in the shell of the old.” And with people begging for solutions with both the current ongoing national prison strikes and the movements for black lives and against police militarization, now is as good a time as ever to begin building and put these ideas into practice.

Spread the Word, Break the Chains!

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Not Playing Around: How Police Support Culture Hurts Our Children

Note: This post was received via the CopBlock.org Submission page. It was submitted by Ballentine of the Sunset Activist Collective, as well as one of the members of the “Sunset 4.”

I was about 12 or 13 when I had a negative experience with law enforcement. I was camping and like other children do, I was playing with a toy gun outside and exploring the picturesque countryside. As I came over a small hill I spotted an armed forestry ranger lecturing another camper about having a firearm on national park lands. As soon as the ranger and I saw each other our body language changed. He stepped back slightly and his right hand flew down to his still holstered pistol.

He screamed “drop the weapon!” or maybe just “drop it!” And I did instantly, knowing that I was seconds away from catching his bullet. He approached me and inspected my toy. He told me to go put it away and out of absolute terror I did. I was just glad to have not been shot in the middle of nowhere. It was just a bizarre set of circumstances. I reasonably could understand his fear, an adolescent who appeared to be armed taking the high ground to possibly ambush him, possibly in connection to the already armed man he was presently admonishing. And yet he didn’t kill either of us.

Tamir RiceTamir Rice, John Crawford III, and Andy Lopez also had toy guns, but unlike me they were murdered by law enforcement. Law enforcement approached them. If law enforcement had not they might still be alive. None of them were committing a crime.

The world has changed. Law enforcement now is taught that they operate in an us-versus-them war on cops mentality. I used to walk around with pellet guns and even fire them within city limits. No one ever questioned it. Packs of children with pellet guns learned to shoot at soda cans in the vacant lots and deserts. We didn’t have airsoft. I can remember being about six and having a cap gun going to the airport in Washington DC. The TSA confiscated it and then sent us a check for it. They explained that they were very sorry, but they didn’t want to have people on the plane be scared. I don’t imagine that would go over the same way today.

John Crawford IIII remember learning about the 1968 riots in Chicago and about how Chicago kids played a new game “cops vs protesters” that involved beating each other with pillows or paper towel rolls. Children have probably been playing “cops and robbers” for a really long time. Many articles have been written about reinforcing gender stereotypes through toys and play, but what does the way children play say about police support culture? I too played cops and robbers but I always played the robber. The reason was in my mind cops were these overly wholesome “I’m not going to have any fun at all” people and that was a huge turn off. I think even as a child I considered them to not be that smart.

Does playing these games say something about the way we live? Would I still play if the police had murdered someone I knew? Why are the police always the “good guys” in these games? It’s not “cops and active shooter” it’s cops and robbers. Does this say something about the way we view property and the role that the police play in protecting the concept of property? The danger of all of this is the lack of objectivity. Children are taught not to steal and this is reinforced by playing a game where no one actually steals anything but instead we have a false gun battle playing out daily in backyards. It’s never questioned whether or not its OK to play “cops and robbers” or whether the cop could actually be the bad guy.

Andy Lopez Cruz is shown in this undated family photoToy guns are bought and sold and will likely be a part of several Halloween costumes this year, but what isn’t talked about is who can carry them and who can’t without fear of being murdered. It’s worth noting that John Crawford III was merely looking at a toy rifle in a store when he was murdered. If you’d asked me 15 years ago should children be allowed to play with toy guns I would have said “yes, they encourage people to go outside and play.” I would still say that children should be allowed but would I recommend it? No. Not anymore. It’s become too dangerous to play now.

Here in Las Vegas, in 1998, a 13 year old boy was wounded when Officer Anthony Russo shot him in the arm and leg for carrying a toy gun. The boy was not on school district property. If you can’t walk around with a toy anymore then we’ve really robbed children of their innocence. Tamir Rice was playing at a park and Andy Lopez in a vacant lot. Who were they going to shoot with their fake weapons? The police caused the danger by entering into a situation with real guns. They could have cleared the area and then approached, they could have observed first, but instead they opted to murder a child.

Sean Williams John CrawfordI know some will say “how does this effect me? These were children and I’m an adult who doesn’t have a gun let alone a fake one.” Consider the possibility that the police might shoot you to get their paid vacation and then plant a pellet gun or squirt gun on your lifeless corpse. There is no background check for a pellet gun; there is no registry for any toy gun, as well there shouldn’t be. But this means a law enforcement officer could conceivably find a toy gun while off duty and then plant it as a drop piece and file in their report “it was dark, I thought they had a gun.”

I suspect that this scenario is fairly common and we don’t know, because there is seldom accountability in the form of a criminal trial. We are all at risk of being assassinated by a killer cop so long as the policy of never holding the police accountable continues.

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TSA Agent Claims You Need Their Permission to Record Airport Screening Pat Down

This video was submitted by Tim Blanchard, via the CopBlock.org Submission page. It shows an incident in which a TSA agent in Las Vegas incorrectly stated that you need the permission of the TSA agents in order to film them conducting a pat down during  airport security screenings. Fact is the TSA makes it very clear on their own website that the filming and/or photographing of security screenings is completely legal, provided that the person doing so does not interfere with the screening.

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Date of Incident: 10/05/2015
Department Involved: McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, NV) Transportation Security Administration
Officer Involved: LTSO Jackson
Contact: TSA Online Complaint Center

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TSA Trading Liberty for SecurityI was trying to record my wife getting a pat down at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The TSA agents instantly tried to say that I needed their permission, which is completely incorrect. I even moved out of the immediate area when one of the agent was aggressive and came up to me. That agent followed me, but we encountered a deputy. The deputy agreed that recording an LEO is legal and supported by the 1st amendment and has been affirmed by the SCOTUS. The TSA supervisor (that the agent called for) never came, so we moved on.

– Tim Blanchard

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The TSA – Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

TSA Failed to Find Fake Weapons 95 Percent

Three out of seventy ain’t bad…

Although they tend to be pretty good at finding oversized contact solution containers and mothers with unauthorized breast milk, the Transportation Security Administration has once again shown that they pretty much can’t find any actual weapons. In the latest series of tests where undercover Homeland Security Agents took realistic looking weapons through airport checkpoints to test the TSA screeners, they failed to find those “weapons” 67 times out of 70 attempts. That boils down to 95% of the time that had someone actually been walking through with a hand grenade and shiny pistol like the one to the left, they would have made their flight with time to spare.

Via the Huffington Post:

As thorough as the Transportation Security Administration screeners may be as they rifle through your belongings, the agency isn’t performing where it counts.

In a series of trials, the Department of Homeland Security was able to smuggle fake explosives, weapons and other contraband past airport screeners in major cities across the country, according to ABC News. Officials briefed on the Homeland Security Inspector General’s investigation told the station that the TSA failed 67 out of 70 tests conducted by the department’s Red Teams — undercover passengers tasked with identifying weaknesses in the screening process, NJ.com reports.

During the tests, DHS agents each tried to bring a banned item past TSA screeners. They succeeded 95 percent of the time…

In one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.

TSA Fail

A TSA screener displays stuff they didn’t actually find in people’s luggage

This isn’t actually something that should be particularly shocking since the TSA has a long history of failing these types of tests. This dates all the way back to 2006, when screeners in Newark (where one of the planes hijacked on September 11th departed from) missed 20 out of 22 guns and bombs that were sent through security, but also include incidents in 2007 in Albany, NY, and 2010 in Houston, TX. So while the TSA employees tend to be really good at finding stuff to steal, using the screenings as a pretense to grope people they are attracted to or expose the breasts of underage girls publicly, and humiliating innocent cancer survivors; they have a pretty solidly bad track record of not finding stuff they should actually be looking for. In fact, in spite of claims of enhanced techniques and the acquisition of even more evasive equipment since the last time they failed miserably at these type of tests, they’ve only gotten worse and have still yet to capture a single terrorist attempting to board a plane.

In the wake of the most recent massive failure, the head of the TSA has been re-assigned (but not fired obviously, because he works in a government job and that just doesn’t happen, even if the agency you run has a .050 batting average on the one thing they are actually supposed to do.) Also, they’re going to enhance those techniques again and look for some more expensive and faulty equipment to buy.

Once again, via the Huffington Post:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday reassigned the leader of the Transportation Security Administration and directed the agency to revise airport security procedures, retrain officers and retest screening equipment in airports across the country.

TSA Trading Liberty for SecurityThe TSA’s acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, is being reassigned to a different job in the Department of Homeland Security. Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield will lead the agency until a new administrator is appointed.

The directives come after the agency’s inspector general briefed Johnson on a report analyzing vulnerabilities in airport security — specifically, the ability to bring prohibited items through TSA checkpoints.

 Johnson would not describe the results of the classified report, but said he takes the findings “very seriously.”

So there you have it, some incompetent people have been moved around and things are being taken very seriously. Since the truth behind the TSA is that they are designed more to control people (they officially refer to those lines you wait in as “corrals“) and to give the appearance of safety by making it look like they are doing something, that’s gotta be pretty reassuring (said nobody ever).

Five Percent is (Slightly) Better Than Nothing

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