Category Archives: Commercial Aviation Airport Security

Napolitano speaks in Denver on new threats

Napolitano calls on local police to become first preventers

The threat lives among us.

That was the message from Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano to a Denver audience on October 28th.

Napolitano was the featured speaker, in an event which also included current Denver Mayor and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, put on by The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (

Napolitano’s focus was on the changing nature of terrorist attacks. After 9/11, the U.S. engineered itself to deter attacks from organized terrorist cells that came from outside the country. However, with several numerous attempts over the past couple of years by individuals that are also U.S. citizens, Napolitano notes that the threat is changing.
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Post 9/11 and Security Theater

There was really interesting piece recently posted on posing the question, are we safer than we were before 9/11 from terrorists attacks in our airports? The article examines a highly criticized practice relating to airport safety called “security theater.” The question relating to our post 911 safety and is always the question without an accurate answer. While no one can truly say if we are “safer,” there are just too many variables, we can assess certain areas of the aviation security system to determine if those areas are either more or less effective. Continue Reading

Kids could be slaves; yea, it is a big deal

It seems that everyone has been quick to play down the journey of three underage travelers who decided on their own to fly from Florida to Tennessee (click here for article). Aviation experts, the airlines and TSA have all said that protocols were not violated. And, they are right.

However, the issue is not whether current protocols were violated, but whether we have the proper protocols in place. If we did, then this would have been a VERY big deal.

See, unfortunately, a hundred plus years after slavery, it seems there is still a huge problem in the human slave trade. We addressed this in Practical Aviation Security and it is a frequent topic in Aviation Security International magazine. However, human trafficking rarely makes headlines here in the U.S., even though much of the human trafficking takes place here. One of the biggest signs of human trafficking is children traveling alone. Continue Reading


A recent Gallup poll showed that many American’s support ethnic profiling in our airports. I do not. Here’s why. It doesn’t work.

The question is often asked, should we profile? Well, not profiling is like saying “don’t breathe.” We all profile whether we want to or not. It’s in our DNA.

Ever since we were chasing Wildebeests across the Serengeti with a club a few thousand years ago we came with this built in survival instinct. When we walk into a room or down a street, we stay aware of our surroundings or else we may become a victim of crime, getting run over by a car or some other hazard. We feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings so you may not experience this on a daily basis, but if you ever want to test this theory, go to an unfamiliar part of town. You will immediately find yourself assessing your surroundings and the people within them. You will look at someone else and immediately try to decide whether they are a threat. How will you know, you’ll pay attention to body cues that your body has paid attention to since birth. Continue Reading

Security has a real cost

Finally, nine years after 9/11 and people are starting to understand the real economic impact of security.

Today, CBS news reported that a 2008 survey showed that 41 million trips were avoided due to security hassles resulting in a cost of $28 billion to the U.S. economy. Business travelers have options such as web casts, telecommuting, and even driving to shorter destinations. While corporate aircraft sales have not seen a real increase as a result of aviation security rules, it looks like there has still been an uptick in corporate aircraft travel through the use of fractionals and charter credit-style card usage.

Today, Transport Canada announced that only certain items would be allowed in carry-on baggage and are actively discouraging carry-on’s. This is THE problem. We have the technology, know-how and effective security practices, such as behavior profiling, to implement an aviation security system that does not require the passenger to conform to the rules, but the processes to conform to the passenger (sometimes still known as the “customer”).
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Fixing the System

As more and more news reports begin to come out about this incident, along with the inevitable “what needs fixing,” stories, let’s take a look at what really needs fixing.

The No-Fly and TIDE List

TIDE is the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center and is a repository of information on international terrorist identities. According to a recent press report, there are about 550,000 people on the TIDE list, 14,000 on the Selectee and 4,000 on the no-fly (click here for source).

We need to continue initial efforts by TSA to clean up the no-fly and selectee list. The fact that this guy wasn’t on the no-fly list may just be an indication that he had not done enough previously to warrant being placed on the list. To screen everyone on the TIDE list however, will take more time and may potentially let the bad guys know that they are on the list. Sometimes, in law enforcement and intelligence, it’s not good to let the hunted, know they are being hunted.

Deployment of Whole Body Imagers … Continue Reading

Okay, now panic

The Denver Post reported today about the impacts of Security Directive 08F on several small commercial service airports in Colorado. To view the article, click here. DISCLOSURE: Since 08F is a Security Directive and by nature, is Sensitive Security Information, I will not divulge any information here that has not already appeared in the Denver… Continue Reading