WASHINGTON, January 26, 2012 â€• Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint screeners are receiving training to prepare them for the possibility of a mass shooting at one of the agency’s airport checkpoints, and those TSA personnel are being instructed to “save themselves” should a shooting occur.
It is unclear whether the TSA is conducting the reported mass shooting scenario training at airports around the nation or only at the airport where our source, a veteran of the TSA, is assigned. The TSA source claims with obvious concern that his own life, along with the lives of other unarmed TSA personnel, would be in grave danger were an airport checkpoint shooting to unfold.
The TSA screener, who claims to have recently undergone agency training during which TSA personnel were confronted with a chilling checkpoint shooting scenario, now tries to remain aware of how to get out alive were such a shooting to unfold.
“Every day when I arrive for work, I look for an escape route in case someone opens fire,” said the TSA worker. “We have been told to save ourselves.”
Does the TSA already have intelligence about a possible future checkpoint shooting?
It is unclear whether the alleged training is simply a prudent attempt by the agency to protect its own employees from every imaginable contingency. Fears are that the Department of Homeland Security has detected a threat and is already moving to prepare staff to either handle it or get out of the way.
Considering the full range of possible reasons for the alleged TSA training, it would be hard to say whether the agency actually expects a checkpoint shooting.
The events surrounding the Christmas Day 2009 “underwear bomber” incident, however, provide reason to pay close attention to the details of Homeland Security’s operations.
Shortly after the “underwear bomber” attempted to detonate an explosive device onboard Northwest Airlines flight 253, an Airbus A330 flying into Detroit from Amsterdam, a witness who saw the bomber board the flight approached the FBI with information about the events that day. His information suggests that the U.S. Government knew that 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a threat to air safety, and that it may even have taken steps to assure that the bomber actually got on board the flight.
Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell, a 2012 Democratic Congressional candidate who lost to incumbent Tim Walberg (R-MI), stated by way of a Victim Impact Statement during Abdulmutallab’s sentencing hearing in federal court that while he and his wife Lori waited to board the flight in Amsterdam, he observed a well-dressed man help the bomber board the flight without a passport.
CNN Video: Kurt and Lori Haskell Interview
Haskell is convinced that “a federal agent gave Abdulmutallab a defective bomb to carry onto the plane to create an incident that would cause the government to install full body scanners at airports nationwide,” according to USAToday.
"Regardless of how media and government try to shape this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. agent,” Haskell says.
Haskell’s account of the events in Amsterdam was originally reported in the Detroit News.
Reached by phone on Friday, Haskell said that the alleged TSA training for a checkpoint shooting “doesn’t surprise me at all” and voiced fears that the government might be involved in such an incident.
“As a first-hand eyewitness to a proven false flat attack, I know that the government does stage fake attacks to further governmental policy,” Haskell said.
Patrick F. Kennedy, Undersecretary of State for Management, told the House Committee on Homeland Security on January 27, 2010, that Abdulmutallab’s visa was not revoked by the State Department due to a national security override from within the intelligence and law enforcement community related to a larger al-Qaeda investigation.
The name of the agency was not publicly disclosed during the hearing and implications were left unexplained.
CNN Video: Patrick F. Kennedy, Undersecretary of Sate for Management
Haskell observes, “An airport is the perfect place setting to stage their play.”
"Terrorism" is defined as the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. Haskell believes that the government is willing to and has already terrorized the American public by staging fictitious attacks to coerce the acceptance of new government policies.
Extrapolating on that scenario, the acceptance by the public and members of Congress of new gun restrictions would constitute only the latest policy initiative pursued through a program based on the implementation of terror.
While in France, President Obama authorized the use of an autopen to sign into law the extension of three key components of the USA PATRIOT Act on May 26, 2011.
Were another major shooting to unfold in the midst of congressional debate over additional gun control legislation, such as Diane Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban, the ensuing crisis could sway wavering members of Congress to support the new gun restrictions.
The TSA employee who disclosed the existence of the checkpoint shooting training, when asked about the possibility that TSA personnel were being set up for a staged checkpoint shooting, responded “I hope the government wouldn’t do something like that.”
TSA screeners are not sworn law enforcement officers, and unlike airport police officers, do not carry firearms.
The primary mission of the TSA is to protect commercial aircraft and the passengers travelling on them from terrorism threats.
TSA checkpoints separate airport “sterile” areas in close proximity to aircraft – where only ticketed passengers, airport workers, and airline crews are permitted – from “nonsterile” areas accessible to all members of the general public. Nonsterile areas typically include airline ticketing and car rental counters, baggage claim belts, and passenger pick-up and drop-off zones.
TSA screeners at the checkpoints look for weapons, explosives, and suspicious travelers who could present a threat to an aircraft, but like everyone else at airports around the country, they count on airport police for armed protection.
Airport police officers, often under the supervision of a city or county law enforcement agency within the municipality where the airport is located, provide armed protection at large airports and have full powers to detain and arrest individuals.
Airport police officers are typically required to have graduated from a police academy, where cadets undergo firearms training,
TSA “officers” wear badges and law enforcement style uniforms, but are not sworn law enforcement officers and initially receive only about 80 hours of new-hire training.
Last June, the House of Representatives voted 131-282 against an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Bill that would have blocked DHS from spending money on official-looking uniforms.
Arming TSA checkpoint workers who are not sworn law enforcement officers would likely elicit backlash from some of the travelling public and from members of Congress who view current TSA screening procedures as overly invasive, and in some instances reaching the threshold of criminal sexual assault as defined by state laws.
TSA Practices "stop" drill (raw video)
A previously unheard of TSA “all-stop” airport freeze drill become widely known after video of a drill being conducted at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport emerged on YouTube in September 2012. During the drill, passengers were ordered to “stay right where you are” after passing through the checkpoint.
On October 1, 2012, Arizona radio station KTAR quoted TSA spokesman Nico Melendez saying, “they use ‘all-stop drills’ to help prepare employees for a security breach ... They're called in case something happens at the checkpoint where we need to have everyone stop to be able to identify a problem or an issue.”
Because TSA checkpoint workers have no authority to detain people, however, it appears that passengers would not have actually been required to “freeze” unless ordered to do so by law enforcement.
A mass shooting at a TSA checkpoint would not only be a tragedy for the families of those passengers and TSA workers killed, but would likely lead to even more calls for gun control measures, as well as discussions of arming TSA workers, propositions that would likely face stiff resistance.
As Americans grow increasingly fatigued by their experiences at TSA checkpoints, there have been calls from some quarters to scale back or eliminate the agency altogether.
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