Comments

gregorylentAugust 8, 2013 7:08 AM

excuse my language ... once a quisling scum, always a quisling scum ... kip hawley is worth ignoring, even today

Paul RenaultAugust 8, 2013 7:23 AM

Essentially, what this shows is that, during the time some official or spokesperson is under contract/being paid by whatever organization they're speaking for, we should completely ignore whatever they're saying.

It usually turns out that, when they're out of power/pay/contract, they say [after admitting that the current policy is bollocks]: "I've always felt this way, but I couldn't speak out..."

Let's just stop interviewing them, let's just stop asking their opinion, let's just stop.

wise old manAugust 8, 2013 7:51 AM

If he felt that strongly he should have done something when he was able or quit.
Oh how the love of power corrupts people!
This is one of the major flaws in our society - Power should never be given to someone who covets it.

xyzAugust 8, 2013 8:07 AM

The commenters before me should sit down before they read this:

As a byproduct of the learning and experience acquired in life, people can and will change their minds -- and that's a good thing.

bickerdykeAugust 8, 2013 8:23 AM

A few thoughts on that article:

" the human brain is the most sophisticated technology on the planet"

Yes, but it's biggest feature is that is is able to work with incomplete information, based on prior knowledge, experience and - sterotypes. Incredible tools for our brain, but sometimes misleading. The brain is used to cope with errors resulting from wrong assumptions - a security process would need to offsett for that "human error" too. (e.g. add a random element)

"Passengers should be chosen randomly for shoes and coat inspections"

People don't mind having their schoes scanned. But they hate to have their shoes, case, laptop, coat, liquids bag, wallet and keys shoved in their two hands at the same time! We're passengers, not jugglers! And all of that, while the next passenger is pushing from behind. Just add some benches to sit and enough time to take them on and off again.

That's an easy change without any effect on the actual or even preceived security (compared to stop scanning all shoes)

"pay-for-performance system"

bad idea, as the performance metric would be the number unexploded planes. Basing performance on the number of passengers would speed up the security check process, but encourage sloppy work and put even more pressure on the passengers (see above, when you're expected to clear the checkpoint as fast as possible while carrying your belongings you had to remove)

And last of all: Why didn't that guy have all those fantastic ideas while he was still in charge? If that is what is wrong with TSA today, he is partly responsible or it.

naibanAugust 8, 2013 8:32 AM

it is realy great to see someone who actually had the power to make changes stand up and say 'these are the changes I should have made while I was in power'
what. a. dolt.

LarsAugust 8, 2013 8:45 AM

I don't agree with applying the expedited security checks to frequent flyers, it just creates a loop hole that can be exploited. If a terrorist comes to the US and just flies around a lot to rack up the trust, it makes it that much easier to exploit.

Kevin GranadeAugust 8, 2013 9:09 AM

"In today's TSA, too many officers switch off their minds in favor of just finishing out the shift without rocking the boat. "

Wise words.

It's POSSIBLE Kip was pushing for these very reforms while he was publicly defending the status quo. This is the very best face I can put on it, and it's still dismal, this is not an effective way to build trust.

Far more likely he was just finishing out his shift.

MEPAugust 8, 2013 9:26 AM

Bruce,

You've been thinking a lot lately about the psychology of security. Is there a relationship between direct accountability for success/failure and the accuracy of risk assessment? Is there a relationship between certain kinds of power structure (hierarchical vs. flat, appointed vs. elected, committee-driven vs. initiative-based, etc.) that could directly effect the outcomes of risk assessment activities?

It's easy to point fingers at individuals and lay blame/praise on them for their decisions while in these positions, but when we see the same mistakes being made again and again by many people over multiple successions of power, is it maybe more reasonable for us to start looking more closely at the structure of these institutions for the root of our problems? I think Hawley could be an interesting case study in the effects of the structure of our security establishment over the outcomes of same. We may well discover that the very structure of these organizations override the individual's ability to effect them or even to exercise their own agency in a meaningful way while working for them.

That, it seems, would be a much more pressing concern than fretting over who happens to be sitting in director's chair at any one point in time. If the director is basically an unwitting puppet to the forces acting on them regardless of their personal capacity to do better, then we need to find a way to change those forces much more urgently than we need to find a way to change that director.

AC2August 8, 2013 9:50 AM

" It is difficult to get a man to
understand something when his
job depends on not
understanding it. "

GSAugust 8, 2013 9:53 AM

"The further Kip Hawley has gotten from running the TSA, the more sense he has started to make."

But this is part of the problem isn't it? Generally top-level bureaucrats and politicians are reasonable, well-meaning, thoughtful people ... before and after they're in the particular position of responsibility...

There's some kind of class break in the incentives that come along with the decision-making position, and possibly with the filtering of the facts (since it's humanly impossible to know all the facts) that creates this change, and it seems very few people are immune to this...

HJohnAugust 8, 2013 10:15 AM

While I am not a fan of the TSA (or DHS, etc.), there is one thing I believe we should keep in mind in regards to why people seem to make more sense before and after they hold certain posts, but not during...

Most people take a much different view of risks they are responsible for, than they do of risks they are responsible for.

What is a small risk from a passenger perspective seems a bit bigger when you are responsible for 2 million passengers a day, which is nearly 750 million annually. So, one in a billion to outsiders (now including Hawkley) is small, whereas one in a billion to the guy ultimately responsible (who used to be Hawkley) is possibly an annual event.

Again, not a defense, and I think the TSA is a waste, but they are still charged with a great deal of responsibility. And this comes with great consequence should even one of a billion passengers repeat a past incident. Of course the risk is different to them then us.

HJohnAugust 8, 2013 10:17 AM

@HJohn • August 8, 2013 10:15 AM
Most people take a much different view of risks they are responsible for, than they do of risks they are responsible for.
______

err, I mean... Most people take a much different view of risks they are responsible for, than they do of risks they are NOT responsible for.

Brandioch ConnerAugust 8, 2013 10:43 AM

Airport transportation security officers are probably the least understood and most maligned of federal employees.
Maybe most maligned. But not misunderstood.
And when the Government Accountability Office found increased Transportation Security Administration officer misconduct, it just ratcheted up their unpopularity.
Again, maligned, yes. Misunderstood, no. Congratulations on working toward that during your stint there.
TSA's response was to assure us it fires those proven to have violated the public trust.
I'm sure that it does. It's not like there aren't dozens of replacements easily available anywhere in the country.

That's not the problem.

In today's TSA, too many officers switch off their minds in favor of just finishing out the shift without rocking the boat.
Now go back and read your previous statements while you were there.
My experience with transportation security officers is that they are overwhelmingly dedicated, sharp, willing and empathetic to passengers and their problems.
MY experience is that they're INCONSISTENTLY following rules that they won't explain (because of terrorism) and do not understand.

And that is your fault.

Security officers are in the best position to use their experience and training and detect a threat not covered in the Standard Operating Procedure.
WHAT "experience"?

While YOU were in charge, I had an RJ45 Ethernet crimper tool confiscated at one airport after traveling with it through multiple other airports. Because it was a "tool" and it was over "6 inches long".

And weren't you in charge when water bottles were banned because they MIGHT be bombs? So someone can bring a bomb through security but if it's found then they have to throw it out before they can get on the airplane.

To stop attacks, officers thinking on their own needs to be encouraged, not disciplined.
You haven't stopped one yet.

It's all Security Theatre.

Anne OniAugust 8, 2013 11:04 AM

It seems you have to check your soul at the door when working as an executive in the government.

EHAugust 8, 2013 11:26 AM

This is better than Dr. Sanjay Gupta's about-face on pot today.

Just about as unprincipled, too. Talk is cheap, Kip.

Brandioch ConnerAugust 8, 2013 12:56 PM

@HJohn

Most people take a much different view of risks they are responsible for, than they do of risks they are NOT responsible for.
Which is why most people would not be good choices for important positions like that.
So, one in a billion to outsiders (now including Hawkley) is small, whereas one in a billion to the guy ultimately responsible (who used to be Hawkley) is possibly an annual event.
So the focus SHOULD have been on identifying the various scenarios and reducing the probability of them.

1. A passenger taking over a plane and flying it into a building - not really a problem now. The other passengers will fight back. The flightdeck door should not be accessible to the passengers. The TSA could be working with Boeing and such to re-design planes to reduce that risk even more.

2. A passenger tries to hijack a plane - see #1 above.

3. A passenger tries to blow up a plane - depending upon the bomb, the other passengers will fight back. This is also the scenario where having multiple TSA channels (one for passengers, one for pilots, one for passengers who paid to skip screening, etc) causes the most problems.

Then take the money saved and put it into funding investigations to detect the plots earlier.

And that's not even addressing re-designing the airports themselves to make it easier to detect the bomb in scenario #3.

HJohnAugust 8, 2013 3:51 PM

@Brandioch Conner

I don't disagree with you. I'm just pointing out why people seem to shift when their level of responsibility changes.

Another example is the stark difference between the positions of Candidate Obama vs. President Obama. I do not say that to criticize nor defend him, or any other politician. Only that it is interesting indeed how much easier it is to be idealistic when one doesn't have responsibility.

I give the media a bit of the blame. They exaggerate certain threats due to how sensationalism sells. As much as we want those in power to do the right thing, it's unrealistic to expect them to commit political suicide with their bosses (that would be the voters).

GeorgeAugust 8, 2013 5:08 PM

Mr Hawley is just showing us how proud he is of being a shameless Kip-ocrite.

He may not have originated the TSA's Operating Philosophy that an agency practicing "effective security" SHOULD be "maligned" by the enemy (i.e., the traveling public). But he certainly did everything he could to perpetuate that Operating Philosophy, and to help his agency earn the dismal reputation it continues to enjoy.

Now that he's no longer Commander in Chief of the War on Liquids, he cvery proud of his role in making the TSA "maligned." So what better way to profit from that role than to write an "insider" book criticizing the rather obvious problems that he either created, perpetuated, or expanded. It's the very definition of the old cliche about "having your cake and eating it too."

And best of all, he knows that the TSA juggernaut is so firmly entrenched that criticism no longer matters. The TSA will do what it wants, however it wants. Indeed, John Pistole probably enjoys hearing all the complaints and criticism. Effective security, as the TSA defines it, SHOULD provoke constant complaints. If the enemy feels abused or violated, so much the better! The criticism proves that the TSA definitely does not need to be "fixed."

I'll have to see if the library has this book. It would be interesting to read, at least to see a Master Hypocrite at work. But I wouldn't give Kippie any of my money, since he doesn't deserve even a penny of profit from his dubious achievements.

Brandioch ConnerAugust 8, 2013 5:29 PM

@HJohn

I'm just pointing out why people seem to shift when their level of responsibility changes.
The problem is that Kip Hawley did it BACKWARDS. His level of responsibility DECREASED and then his criticisms INCREASED.
Only that it is interesting indeed how much easier it is to be idealistic when one doesn't have responsibility.
Again, Kip Hawley discovered his "idealistic" viewpoint AFTER he had retired from that job. That's backwards.
Another example is the stark difference between the positions of Candidate Obama vs. President Obama.
No. That's the way it usually works. The idealistic young man gets responsibility and learns that the world is more complicated than he thought.

With Kip Hawley, he had the responsibility in a complicated world FIRST and once he retired from it he found a new sense of naivety.

While he was in charge, he advocated Security Theatre.

Now that he is not in charge, he believes that Security Theatre is bad.

Dirk PraetAugust 8, 2013 6:47 PM

My experience with transportation security officers is that they are overwhelmingly dedicated, sharp, willing and empathetic to passengers and their problems.

Er, no. Ask anyone.

Blades represent virtually no threat to the aircraft at this point.

Maybe not to the aircraft, but definitely to the passengers and the crew. I know Sikhs can carry kirpans on planes in India, but I see no reason whatsoever to extend that rule.

However commendable, Mr. Hawley's change of heart on the matter to me is about as credible as DNI Clapper's apologies to Sen. Wyden. Perhaps he really means what he says, but for all we know he's just trying to distance himself from the TSA in the pursuit of some new career opportunity where his past could come back to haunt him.

Alobar GreywalkerAugust 8, 2013 11:21 PM

The TSA is unconstitutional, no matter how it is run. We all have the right to interstate travel without showing ID or getting searched.

If the USA wants less terrorism, all it has to do is STOP invading other countries and killing many many people.

Just because the US leaders have not been indicted for international war crimes does not mean they are innocent. Just that the US is so powerful, no other nation wants to compel the US to stop committing war crimes.

KentAugust 9, 2013 12:46 AM

Unfortunately, that tends to indicate that the NSA's issues are primarily political.

unknown.soldierAugust 9, 2013 7:30 AM

"The further Kip Hawley has gotten from running the TSA, the more sense he has started to make."

hJohn "Most people take a much different view of risks they are responsible for, than they do of risks they are NOT responsible for."

Human groups have corrosion, "group think". They have politics. They bring individuals down to the lowest common denominator. If you are higher then that, it can be useless because the individual is limited.

I just finished reading a portion about a man who served in the Hutu government pre-Rwandan genocide. One of the few Hutu who escaped punishment and did not get involved in the massacre. There was little he could do against the hard core members of his government.

So, part of your responsibility as a group member in a security oriented group is not just the security responsibilities you have, but also the political constraints.

You have to be able to talk the *language* of the people around you, which includes their biases.

unknown.soldierAugust 9, 2013 7:56 AM

Alobar Greywalker
If the USA wants less terrorism, all it has to do is STOP invading other countries and killing many many people.
Just because the US leaders have not been indicted for international war crimes does not mean they are innocent. Just that the US is so powerful, no other nation wants to compel the US to stop committing war crimes.

The US was bombing Iraq and put severe sanctions on Iraq before the invasion. We now know Iraq did not have WMD, which means they were absolutely right. No course correction has been made despite knowledge now of that.

The US has also supported corrupt regimes and powers in the region. (Ironically, including the Taliban, who never would have been in power unless the US put them there.)

But, there are many other draconian measures the US has been taking, and there would have to be a reverse course on these measures.

Everyone has seen that nations have done these things before. Everyone now knows these things are bad. We should not need yet another repeat of the Middle Ages. If there was any doubt whatsoever about these tendencies of nations -- surely what happened in the last century should relieve anyone of any possibility of claim to saying "I did not know". You do know, and so does everyone else.

Power, though, is highly intoxicating and a major driver of mankind. I do not think America or the other "free" nations can resist its' delirious taste. Even if that means what the future holds because of these people with depraved minds is one of totalitarianism beyond what the planet has ever seen before.

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