Job Opening: TSA Public Affairs Specialist

This job can’t be fun:

This Public Affairs Specialist position is located in the Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs (SCPA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If selected for this position, you will serve as the Press Secretary and senior representative/liaison working with Federal and stakeholder partners. You will utilize your expert knowledge and mastery of advanced public affairs principles, concepts, regulations, practices, analytical methods, and techniques (internet, print, TV, and radio) on a variety of transportation security and TSA related issues.

Typical assignments include:

  • Conducting on-camera and/or on the record interviews about sensitive, complex and potentially crisis situations, sometimes with no advance notice.
  • Serving as a senior representative and liaison from the Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs working with Federal and stakeholder partners.
  • Providing guidance on information to be released to the public, and approaches necessary to gain public understanding and acceptance of TSA policies and programs.
  • Planning and conducting events to demonstrate agency initiatives to the news media.
  • Responding to breaking news situations with an in-depth understanding of agency operations; willing to be available beyond normal business hours to respond to quickly evolving transportation security incidents and issues.

The posting expires today, so you don’t have much time. If you apply for and get the job, please continue to post here under a pseudonym. And if there’s a file on how to deal with me, I’d be really interested in seeing a copy.

Posted on August 31, 2011 at 12:30 PM35 Comments


Dave C. August 31, 2011 12:54 PM

Your file begins by saying:

Skein and Blowfish are easily breakable by NSA – heeheehee.

Mark August 31, 2011 1:10 PM

Why up so briefly? Is there a statutory requirement for a pro forma job posting before the job is handed over to a pre-selected candidate?

Carlo Graziani August 31, 2011 1:35 PM

Bruce, I’m no agent runner, but I’m pretty sure that standard guidelines for recruitment and placement of a mole do not include the words “use a blog posting to see if anyone who reads your blog is interested”.

kingsnake August 31, 2011 1:39 PM

No thanx. I can make more money, and feel better about myself, standing under a street lamp next to a liquor store …

Dave C. August 31, 2011 1:47 PM

Wouldnt it be more fun if the candidate’s profiles were put on the TSA website and the public could vote for the “best” one. I wonder what type of person would win? Isnt this a Democracy?

kashmarek August 31, 2011 1:59 PM

To qualify, you must be a skilled liar, and be able to perform well at the very things that the TSA is attempting to detect while screening passengers. In other words, your own agents can’t detect that your are lying, covering up your real intent, or using the facade of public relations to mask what is really happening. If you can get past TSA screening, you qualify.

JD August 31, 2011 2:15 PM

Unfortunately, there are plenty of trolls in D.C. who would think this is fun, and that none of the lies they have to repeat are lies. I’m sure one of them will get the job.

ChristianO August 31, 2011 3:06 PM

after Fukushima this sounds like vacation for any public affairs specialist from a nuclear powerplant…

Its like some cat-herder dreaming of managing a softwareproject.

TS August 31, 2011 3:18 PM

If I had to guess why it went so quickly: they already have somebody for the position, and just need to run the ad to “check the box”.
They also could have taken it down after number of applications received went through the roof as news propagated.

Jim Lillicotch August 31, 2011 3:39 PM

Why wouldn’t this be a fun job?
I think it would be great fun to play this game. You may have to speak many words, but never have to really say anything.
I do agree with TS the job was probably taken before it was posted.

George August 31, 2011 4:23 PM

I guess they urgently need more staff to prepare their barrage of self-congratulatory propaganda in celebration of the Big Anniversary of 9/11. They presumably believe that if they flood the media with greatly exaggerated accounts of the TSA’s great accomplishments, containing very many words and very little truth, all the critical commentary about the TSA’s massive waste of our time, money, and civil liberties will be drowned out by the sheer volume of official lies.

JamesB192 August 31, 2011 4:28 PM

I bet they have a nondisclosure statement to discourage people not in the TSA from getting their files. The question is not who is better the question is more likely who is the least detestable candidate or something like that.

George August 31, 2011 5:10 PM

Too bad Joseph Goebbels is dead. The job description sounds like they need someone with his exquisite genius for the Big Lie. Perhaps they’ve recruited some of the former Soviet Union’s master propagandists. Or better yet, maybe they’ve persuaded George W. Bush to come out of retirement, to again apply his gift for bending the truth beyond recognition to the cause of Protecting the Homeland.

All kidding aside, I doubt anyone who isn’t a certified psychopath could be in charge of public relations at the TSA, an agency that seems to have done everything it possibly could over the last decade to truly earn the anger, hatred, and incredulity of the public.

They have to defend an indefensible agency whenever it (too frequently) gets caught with its (figurative) trousers down. They have to justify every inexcusable violations of civil liberties and/or human decency as “a necessary and appropriate response to classified robust intelligence concerning the current threat environment,” and perhaps even wrap it in the flag. They have to spin highly visible Keystone Kop incompetence and inconsistency into “layers” or a “security strategy” that keeps us safe.

They have to continually insist that anyone reporting abuses or inconsistencies checkpoints is lying, since such things cannot and do not happen because they violate procedures that are (conveniently) classified. They have to dispose of every instance of documented outrageous conduct by a screener with a claim that the TSA’s “investigation” found the screener acted properly in accordance with those (classified) procedures.

They have to deny or spin away the all-too-infrequent reports from the GAO and other independent auditors that a TSA program is an ineffective waste of money. And all the while, they have to put on a happy face and exhort us to practice Orwellian doublethink: Ignore everything we see and hear about their agency and give them our unquestioning faith and trust.

In light of those job requirements, the only possible conclusion is obvious, but all too terrifying: They’ve chosen Dick Cheney as their new Press Secretary!

Gabriel August 31, 2011 5:50 PM

Easy, just pick the creepiest and greasiest candidate. Because anytime they have a new policy dealing with the general public, it sounds like it was devised by a creep.

Carl August 31, 2011 7:38 PM

I’m pretty sure the file on Bruce is just a collection of those Schneier as Chuck Norris posts, except they take them as fact.

Trichinosis USA August 31, 2011 8:50 PM

I’m sure this position will include a discount on vaseline. After all, it’s a petroleum byproduct.

John E. Bredehoft August 31, 2011 9:03 PM

Opening paragraph of the successful applicant’s cover letter: “I like challenges.”

Agree with ChristianO that a nuclear power plant position is probably worse.

Vles September 1, 2011 12:06 AM

Plenty of stand-up comedians ought to give it a go if you reckon it can’t be fun. Robin Williams is pretty good ad-hoc during interviews. Shame George Carlin has stepped outside of time, he would have been able to do it. 🙂

Z.Lozinski September 1, 2011 2:17 AM


“after Fukushima this sounds like vacation for any public affairs specialist from a nuclear powerplant…”

Paging Sir Terry Pratchett …

Escare September 1, 2011 3:46 AM

Free lines for anyone trying out for the job to use to weasel out of trouble:

“If the examination glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”

“It’s not legally considered groping because they only use the back of their hands.”

“We realize that the mass groping incident looks terrible, but the examiner was just following TSA policy. After review, we have determined that no policy changes are necessary.”

jacob September 1, 2011 12:09 PM

Bruce, no offense meant but putting you in TSA would be like putting Ron Paul in charge of the Federal Reserve. But then again a little chaos/revolution can be a good thing, especially where government is involved. 😉

Christian Koch September 1, 2011 4:48 PM

“* Providing guidance on information to be released to the public, and approaches necessary to gain public understanding and acceptance of TSA policies and programs.”

Here, the TSA admits that most people do not understand nor accept their own policies. I like hearing that. Now we somehow need to get them to admit that what’s necessary is a re-writing of their policies, not a justification.

Keith September 1, 2011 10:49 PM

I promise if I am hired for this position, I will answer to any questions not merely honestly, but with complete candor. I will offer my personal analysis of any scenarios or ideas presented by interlocutors without consulting official statements or pursuing permission.

I think in this respect I could be one of your best possible choices, and will do my best to help secure the nation by improving the resilience of its citizenry, by way of discouraging their reliance on authority.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.