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Homeland Security 5 Year Anniversary 2003 - 2008, One Team, One Mission Securing the Homeland

Remarks by Secretary Chertoff and TSA Adminstrator Hawley at the Aviation Security Blogger Roundtable

Release Date: November 17, 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact 202-282-8010
Washington, D.C.

Secretary Chertoff:  So another one of our regular bloggers' roundtable.  I wanted to do an aviation one.  Today was a good day because we announced our final rule on e-APIS.  It’s not really a TSA function, but it relates to aviation coming in from overseas.  It's part of our effort to make sure we push the threshold out for knowing who's coming to the United States as far forward as possible.

And, of course, we did the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the LASP, the large aircraft, private aircraft, over 12,500.  No doubt that will get a lot of comments.  But it's a good moment to reflect on how far we've come in terms of commercial aviation and general aviation from where we were from before TSA was stood up right after 2001, right after 9/11.

Any opening remarks?

Mr. Hawley: No, why don't we go around the room and --

Secretary Chertoff:  Tell me who you are.

Mr. Hawley: -- yes.

Secretary Chertoff:  Some of you I know, some I don't.

Mr. Hawley: I'm Kip Hawley, TSA administrator.

Ms. Howe: I'm Ellen Howe, head of public affairs for TSA.

Mr. Burns: My name is Bob Burns, otherwise known as Blogger Bob.

Mr. Hawley: On the tsa.gov.

Mr. Wolf:  Chad Wolf.  I blog for security debrief.

Mr. Smith:  Tom Smith.  I'm with ACI-NA.

Ms. Wilson:  Benet Wilson with Aviation Daily and Towers and Tarmacs.

Mr. Cooper:  Rich Cooper, Security Debrief.

Mr. Phillips:  I'm Matt Phillips.  I blog for the Wall Street Journal online at the middle-c terminal.

Ms. Peterson:  I'm Barbara Peterson.  I write for Conde Nast Traveler and I also write for their online blog, Daily Traveler.

Mr. Czerwinski: Jonah Czerwinski.   Good to see you again, Mr. Secretary.

Secretary Chertoff:  By the way I'm going to call you out on one thing.  So you disagree with my saying that when I do risk, I put the most weight on consequence?  And you said, but on Wall Street they disagree with that.  They think it's more a matter of probability than consequence.  I rest my case.

Mr. Czerwinski: They may not be the people to watch--

Secretary Chertoff:  Right.  It was my position on consequence, which I've articulated for a couple years now, is what I've now learned that in the trade they call it the fat tail.  If you read Black Swan so it's inside baseball.

Mr. Czerwinski: I noted that, thank you.

Secretary Chertoff:  All right, shoot.

Question:  Sir, I was the announcement where you talked about this at CSIS?  You had a good crowd there.  Based on the fact sheets that have been shared, again, $41 billion dollars have been spent thus far since 9/11.

With this new rule, who pays for this?  Is this a cost that will be borne by private pilots and small airports?  Who ends up paying for this?  How much of it will this type, with the new rule, cost pilots and the American public?

Secretary Chertoff:  I don't know if -- Kip, did we --

Mr. Hawley:Yes, we have --

Secretary Chertoff:  -- get an economic analysis of what the cost is in the rule itself, which I probably ought to refer to because I don't have it on the tip of my tongue.  There's no doubt that there will be some cost borne by the private aviation companies.  It will be far less than the cost they would bear if someone got on a plane and actually high jacked it and used it to carry out a terrorist attack.  So in that sense I think it's ultimately a prudent investment from their standpoint.  But it's part of the cost we all pay to some extent.  There's a little bit of inconvenience and a little bit of cost to everybody, all the security measures, but the consequence of not having them in place would be a much greater cost.  But we'll get you the exact numbers out of the --

Question:  Yes, the phrase you used I thought was very interesting when you  made the presentation about what the final rule was, making the investments now before those threats become imminent, which I thought was sort of --

Secretary Chertoff:  Right, well, in particular what I'm worried about with the e-APIS and the prescreening overseas is we've spent a lot of effort on the idea of a container being a vector for bringing in a weapon of mass destruction.  And some have argued we need to do more.  You know, there's this  mandate to have 100 percent overseas standing, which, as I've argued, presupposes that every country in the world will agree to do that and does not spell out what's to happen if some other countries say, sorry, but we're not going to do it.

But what interested me is in all the money and effort we've spent on that, which I have no quarrel with, I don't ever hear people say, what about general aviation?  And, to me, I thought the likelihood of someone putting a nuclear weapon on a plane, given that it would be a very scarce resource, is significantly greater than they would put it in a container and leave it to the, you know, vagaries of the oceangoing maritime domain and the longshoreman.

So that's why with the last year we've looked very hard at what we could do to raise the bar on protecting against an airplane coming from overseas with a bomb.  The vision here is know the people and then ultimately preclear and scan the aircraft.

And there are several hundred flights, private flights, transoceanic every day.  It's not a huge burden.  But beyond that, at some point, putting all the effort into maritime containers and nothing in general aviation is foolish.

So I think this is a case where I don't believe the nuclear threat at this moment is imminent, but I would certainly not want to wait until it was imminent to start to think about what do we do.  So I think this is a kind of investment that will take, you know, awhile to get fully implemented, but it will measurably increase our security against this kind of a threat.

Mr. Hawley: I'll just pick up a little bit on the cost that the concept of shared responsibility goes throughout all of our security programs and in the general aviation, the large general aviation community has stepped up in a big way to put in place security measures throughout the system, and we're only talking about the very large planes of the 12-5, that the vast, vast, vast majority of the flying general aviation community is unaffected by this rule, but our participants in the overall security regime by the various things that they take on above and beyond what's in this rule.

Question:  Can you talk a little bit about the threat?  When we talk about GA domestically versus the vulnerability or is there a specific --

Secretary Chertoff:  No, it's not based on a specific threat.  It's based on looking at the entire landscape with respect to transportation sector and asking where are we at the lowest level of protection; and as we raise in some areas the delta between the higher level of security, the lower level of security becomes more acute.

So general aviation has been talked about since as long as we've been doing this after 9/11.  It's a challenging problem.  I think what this does is it reduces the risk.  It doesn't eliminate it, but it reduces the risk by giving us visibility for planes above a certain weight, which if loaded with explosives could cause an awful lot of damage.  And I think in coming up with the number it was a combination of both modeling the effective explosives on a plane of a certain size and also then picking a particular number that has a certain significance in the trade.  So we want it to synchronize it with some other regulations.

Did you want to add anything?

Mr. Hawley: No, I think if you look at the vulnerability and the consequence side, those would be really the main players domestically.

Question:  I wanted to ask, you implemented the Global Entry program in June.

Secretary Chertoff:  Right.

Question:  And when that was unveiled there were remarks made that TSA and DHS were going to work together to see about possibly integrating Global Entry with the domestic Registered Traveler program.  Where are you with that now?

Secretary Chertoff:  Well, I mean, the challenge with domestic Registered Traveler is this:  it's making sure that there is a reasonable expectation of what this can deliver.

To the extent that we're looking for a program that provides a satisfactory identification comparable to a passport or something that we would rely upon for boarding an airplane, I think we are interested in promoting a Registered Traveler program.  I think our pass card would be amenable to that; an enhanced driver's license, a REAL ID driver's license, and a private card that met the FIPS standard, the appropriate level of FIPS protection, which as you know is the Federal Standard for Identification, that would be accepted.  I want to encourage the private sector to come up with a form of identification that would meet the FIPS standard, meet the TSA standard as a way of validating yourself to get on a plane. 

Here's what sometimes happens when people talk about this though.   Some people think domestic Registered Traveler means you're not going to go through the magnetometer.  That's not going to happen because although identity validation is one important tool in security, it is not the only tool and we still have to put them through the magnetometer. 

A separate issue is some private vendors work out deals with the airports where if you join their program you get a special line.  That's like a VIP program.  That's really  not a security issue.  That's auctioning off scarce rents issue, which is a business issue.  It's not a government issue.

So I try to be careful to make sure that our program does not become confused with the government validating a, kind of a, if you pay more money you get to the head of the line rule, which is between private vendors and private airports.  But the government shouldn't be advantaging the economically well-off in the air travel.  We should be limiting ourselves to focusing on security and values.

Question:  So what does that say then about the support for something like CLEAR, and as a related question, some of the new technology that was supposedly tested in that environment, like the shoe scanner, which I gather is still unplugged.

Secretary Chertoff:  Right, Registered Traveler programs like CLEAR, I think it's just important for us to be precise about what a program brings to the table.  What I don't want to do is look like the government is endorsing particular products or particular services.

To the extent that CLEAR provides an identification that meets the required standard, and I think they're now going to put a photograph on, we are perfectly happy to accept that as an identification.  To the extent that there is a desire, however, to get them around the regular magnetometer, we have not signed up to do that.  To the extent there's an argument that people should be at the head of the line or in a separate line, that's between them and the airport.  That is not a security issue.

And as far as technology, we should disaggregate that.  If you can come up with a good shoe scanner, God bless you.  We'll buy it.  We'll use it for everybody.  I don't see a value to have a special shoe scanner for a separate type of people.  I think if someone's got the technology that stands on the merits, we ought to use it and if we can let people keep their shoes on that's fine.

So, to me, I'm trying to unbundled a lot things that are not necessarily naturally tied together to make sure that when we accept something, we're focused on precisely what the value add is for that process as opposed to letting people bundle a whole lot of stuff together and then have the government somehow get in the business of promoting a particular business.

Mr. Hawley: Just on that specific thing, the shoe scanner that we're talking about does not work.  The minute it is working we'll have it, as the Secretary said, deployed very widely.  We are testing a different kind of shoe scanner in two places, one of which is in LAX.  It's a different way to get at the same problem.  So clearly that and the liquids are the two big things that passengers all want to be able to do in an automated way.

Question:  But just as a follow-up to the question, I know at the very onset after 9/11, I remember originally this whole concept of having a separate sort of lane, it was actually called the Known Traveler and part of that was that, you know, you have these millions of people traveling every day.  Some of them make 50 trips a year and some make one every five years.

So how -- it seems that a more intelligent way, or at least that's what the thought was at the time, was to address the fact that some people are traveling so frequently, and that if they are willing to submit to further background investigations they should be expedited.

Secretary Chertoff:  But you see, most of these commercial things don't offer a background check.  It's not a true background check.  They run you against the watch list and criminal history which is what we do.  So, and they may run you in terms of immigration status but that's not really a security issue.

So you could in theory truly have a known traveler lane for example for people who actually have a security clearance.  That would be a comparatively small number of people.  It's not what's offered by a private company, so the difficulty is and I'm not going to get into specific companies, but when there's a suggestion that you're going through a real background check, you're not.  You're getting essentially the same check that we run through Secure Flight, and while that's a useful test we're not confident it identifies the full range of people who are threats to the degree we would excuse them from going through the line.

Now if we -- you could have a rule that's for people with a TS clearance, top secret clearance, or secret clearance get through without the magnetometer, that would satisfy the security issues.  There might be an objection on the part of the public that you're privileging government people as opposed to non-government people, or members of Congress as opposed to everybody else.  So that raises kind of an equitable issue.  But I don't have a security problem with that.  I just think that we need to be clear, no pun intended, that the Registered Traveler program doesn't really offer a true background check.

Question:  So you mentioned Secure Flight.  I’m hoping to get an update.  This is supposed to come on line next, I guess, January.

Secretary Chertoff:  Begin to come on line in January.

Question:  Expanding at the end of '09 hopefully to the international level.

Mr. Hawley: Yes, the rule, as you know, is out and we’ve put out the implementation program, that is exactly on schedule.  We have a number of smaller airlines who are already participating.  We are getting live data.  We have every reason to believe that we will, in fact, have it operating even with a couple of small carriers in January of 2009, and then others will roll in up until the full thing becomes mandatory later in the year.  So operationally, technically, legally, everything is rolling and now we just have to work with the airline partners to layer them in.

Question:  From a governance standpoint this seemed to be less a technology challenge than it was a process and management challenge and who was responsible for what.

At this point do you foresee a governance, some unknowns still that need to be shaken out, some governance challenges that are on the horizon that we haven’t yet addressed, but we anticipate them being out there?  Either with the private sector airlines or other partners in the federal bureaucracy?

Mr. Hawley: No, I think that the benefit of Secure Flight is it is so narrowly tailored to the minimum amount of information we need to do a very simple thing: watch list checking.  And it’s very clear.  Airlines, you must ask for this data and give it to us and then we have to secure the data, use it just for that one purpose and then clear passengers.

Question:  One last question on the Secure Flight.  The problem, as I understand it, with the airlines running these checks is there really wasn’t enough of a process for making sure that it was done right.  It was just a nightmare in terms of managing all the different cooks in the kitchen.

At this point the U.S. government takes over and it will be responsible for running these name checks.  Is there a risk that from an airlines perspective, is there a risk from their perspective that the government would err so much on the side of caution that we’ll end up with a just checking and checking so many more people than perhaps would be necessary.  Do you see that as a risk?

Mr. Hawley: It’s exactly the opposite.

Question:  Okay, fewer checks.

Mr. Hawley: Way fewer checks because what’s happening is the airlines have older legacy systems and because we are pretty hardball about don’t let a no-fly get on your plane, they’re gathering lots and lots of people and not really filtering them very much.  Whereas our system is the latest technology, very sophisticated, and then we will by hand go check.  So the number of people inconvenienced is a tiny, tiny fraction.  And I think that’s, and the Secretary has talked about this a lot in terms of public inconvenience, there’re all these people out there who think, gosh, I’m on a watch list and they’re nowhere close.

Question:  In a way it’s been a consequence of the former paradigm where there was an overabundance of checking and now the more stringical approach  --

Secretary Chertoff:  That’s exactly right.  We’re trying to be more stringical.

Question:  This again comes down to the shared cost that you talked about earlier that the airlines and others are there.

Mr. Hawley: But it’s much less today.  They have to have all those people to do the matching themselves and then they have to resolve the extra people.

Secretary Chertoff:  Right, and there’s also people who don’t fly and it has all kinds of intangible costs.

Question:  A management question.  The TSA has sort of -- my impression has been it’s been viewed as one of the better functioning component agencies of DHS, sort of, and granted it may not be a high bar, but we’ve got Secret Service, Coast Guard, and TSA are considered doing well.

Secretary Chertoff:  I think in fairness, I think Customs and Border Protection gets high marks, Border Patrol; I think ICE does.  I don’t want to, you know, by exclusion leave anybody out.  I think all those have basically done pretty good.

Question:  I concur.  In fact, let me put it this way: TSA is doing a great job. There are some management challenges that are out there and the president-elect has identified in correspondence with the head of one of the major unions, some imminent changes he plans to bring to the workforce, be it collective bargaining and certain pay scale changes, possibly reverting back to GS schedule.

Do you have some thoughts on what the possible implications might be?  Do you think that’s an inevitability?  What’s your opinion on that?

Secretary Chertoff:  I kind of, just like I wasn’t going to talk about the election, I’ve kind of decided that I’m probably not going to try predict what the next administration is going to do.  They have to do what they think is right.  Obviously we took a position on the issue of collective bargaining when it was presented to Congress, and you’re welcome to revisit that and see what our argument was.  I think, you know, the next administration will have to determine what the trade-offs are and respond accordingly.

Question:  I wanted to jump over, TSA did some pilots on employee screening at airports, and I wanted to know one, when that report is going to be coming out and what are just some of the interesting things that you discovered during the pilot process?

Mr. Hawley: It will be coming out by the end of the year and it’s in the analysis process now.  Some of the interesting things we found, that you can do 100 percent screening and it is expensive.  We also found that you can have excellent security system that does not require you to screen everybody just at the perimeter.

So I think what the big takeaway is that if you have smart, sustainable security using different tactics you can get to the same place, but that they’re proponents who say yes, we want to have 100 percent of people screened, there’s no killer reason that you wouldn't do it other than cost.  You might just ask yourself, are there other things that I could do that would get me as good or better security result for the same cost.

But it really is a risk management trade-off and the study is going to show here is what we found and then it will be something that the  next administration, the Congress, can deal with to see whether they'd like to change what we have in place now.

Question:  I was wondering if you could maybe talk a little bit about sort of how the new fiscal realities that have set in over the last few months might affect rolling out some of the new technologies that you talked about.

Secretary Chertoff:  Well, one issue, I mean, of course there's always a fiscal issue and I guess there are a number of different dimensions to it.  One is there is a more general question about how we pay for large technology purchases, particularly things which tend to become obsolete or overtaken by new technology.

There's an argument that we ought to be doing is instead of buying this stuff we ought to be leasing it and returning it.  That has tended to run afoul of the fact that it doesn't fit neatly into the budget, the way Congress budgets, but I think rather than not do something smart because it requires to retool our process, we should look at retooling our process and doing something smart.  I think there's a real argument when you're making a major investment and technology is likely to, you know, in five years be transformed, what do you want to own this stuff for.  What are you going to do with it afterwards?  So that's one issue that may  be visited in the area of the fiscal issue.

As with any other investment there's going to have to be a weighing of the risk involved in terminating or decreasing investments.  So when it comes to our domain, like TSA, you're going to have to look at a couple things.  If you don't continue an investment plan to upgrade, are you going to increase the risk of something bad happening on an airplane.  And apart from the worst thing, which would be death and destruction there would be a huge economic impact, and that economic impact has to be weighed when you do the calculus.

The second question is if you have a lot of delay, that has a cost in productivity as well.  So to the extent you can have an upgraded technology that shortens the lines, gets more people to be willing to fly as opposed to take a train or drive, that arguably has a productive element as well.

So I think everybody is going to probably have to do some introspection as to the way people spend money, but I'm not sure that in the long run, you don't want to cut in a way that diminishes your productivity which ultimately increases your revenues, and you do want to invest in a way that increases your productivity and increases your revenues.  I think that's going to be the touchstone with TSA.

Question:  So you think there’s a strong argument to be made to continue investing in this program?

Secretary Chertoff:  I think so, otherwise what's going to happen is this:  It's going to get less effective.  The efficiency, or the lack of efficiency, is going to become more of a problem and in the end it's going to impact on productivity and revenue.  So in the long run you're biting off your face to spite your nose.

Question:   Associated with those investments, what would you say as far as what TSA is looking to do, in spurring those investments also providing some safeguards to the companies that develop and deploy those technologies?  Is the Safety Act now becoming more and more wed into how TSA is, again, trying to advance technologies for the airports?

And the other piece I wanted to bring up dealing with the fiscal realities, we're about ready to start spending billions on new infrastructure being built around the country.  Airports will certainly have crossed that threshold at some point.  Is TSA looking to advise the Congress on some of the decisions on some of those investments on how we design the airport of the future?  Because, again, a number of cities have very old facilities.  We've retrofitted them to deal with new equipment.  Is TSA --

Mr. Hawley: Yes, and we are doing that as we speak, and we're very in close touch as you know with all the airports, and so many of them have capital plans looking in the out years and we're working with them at the design stage to put in place the best security.  If you build in, as the Secretary says, if you build in security up front then your incremental cost is way low going forward.

And I think on one of the problems we face overall, I think certainly at TSA and probably larger, is the engaging with the business community in terms of being able to accept more innovative technology and getting more people in the game, because our current process is so protect the process and the integrity of the process so you're not giving anybody undue advantage that the process is slow and cumbersome.  And I think that's a challenge as a country.  I know from the technology industry where I come from and will return it's -- we're not able to turn on new technology and try new things as fast as you can in the private sector.  And I think that's something that, long term, as a nation we have to fix.

Question:  What are you doing in the time that you've got to, again, sort of you mentioned protect the process; do you see the safety act as one of those tools that will help you bring more people to the table?  How are you going to use this very unique tool that will bring those people to the table?

Mr. Hawley: I think we have used it.  We'll continue to use it.  It's an important tool.  I think the other thing that you have to remember is it's not all about the federal dollar.  And if you look at two of the  most successful things we've done at TSA in the last year, one of them is family lanes, those don't cost money.  That's a process change that came from innovation.

Look at the laptop bags. There was all this big talk about you're going to have to wait to deploy all these thousands of new scanners so people can keep their laptops in their bags.  Guess what?  They don't.  The industry came forward and designed bags that allow you to keep the laptop in the bag.  That's a through-put advantage.  It's a security advantage and it cost exactly nothing.

So I think that in these times of economic focus that innovations are there and we need to take, certainly at TSA, we can't stand back and say, okay, we have to wait and invent some new technology or fix the acquisition process.  There's a lot of stuff on the table that you can, just by improving your process, you can get your benefit.

Question:  Well, there's one thing you could also say is somewhat low tech, which is the behavioral detection.  And how is that evolving and how is that fitting in with your being more efficient at the checkpoint?

Secretary Chertoff:  Well, we obviously borrowed this from what you see in Europe and what you see in Israel.  And shortly after we unveiled it, we had an instance where an officer, a trained officer, saw something anomalous about someone's behavior even before the bag had gone through the screening function.  They called the person aside; they opened the bag and they found the components of a bomb, unassembled components.

So it obviously does work, and I want to come back to the layers because the biggest misapprehension I run across in terms of dealing with TSA is the argument that you take an individual layer and you demonstrate that it's not perfect and therefore it must be the case that the whole thing is a waste.  And I have two problems with that.

First of all, it applies a standard to TSA that is not applied anywhere else in any other function in the world.  For example, there is no police department -- in the best police department in the country has not eliminated crime.  So under the argument used for TSA, those are all failed police departments because we still have murder and rape and drug dealing.

The second argument is it fails to take account the layers of security, which is why we're using a lot of layers.  This is not a full-proof method.  I've had people say, well, you know, it may mistake ordinary nervousness although I think what we're doing with the checkpoint and with the training is designed to lower the risk of that, and it may be that a very cool customer can get by this, but if you add all the layers together it makes it not impossible but very, very difficult for somebody to maneuver through all those layers.  So I think that's one of the main thing this BDO brings to the table.

Question:  Are you hiring more officers that are trained in behavioral detection?

Mr. Hawley: Yes, so we'll probably have about 2,400 at the end of this year.  We're looking to almost double that in the next year.  And, as the Secretary says, it's an inexpensive but it is a highly effective layer that goes against all the -- you know, you have to predict, you know, program your machine to detect this chemical or that chemical.  With BDO's we're picking up cash, we're picking up people who are being cash couriers who think they can get through that.

Secretary Chertoff:  And by the way, everybody thinks it's all about people going like this.  It's not.  I mean, I won't tell you what they are, but there's a couple things that I was told that things people do or don't do that as soon as you see, you go wow, of course that makes perfect sense and yet it's not the obvious behavioral thing.  And, you know, the more bad guys worry about that the better off we are.  That's exactly -- the best thing we do in counteracting terrorism is uncertainty.  That is the foe of the planner, the terrorist planner.

Mr. Hawley: So I'm going to give you a statistic here and I didn't do what every lawyer is supposed to do, which is know the answer before you ask the question, but I looked on today's report just from today that we had 15 BDO, behavior detection officer document checker observations that raised the level of what we call an incident, eight of them significant and that's just yesterday.

So it is highly, highly effective because terrorists have figured out what kinds of things can be detected in an x-ray or a pat down or whatever you have.  But there is just no way to accurately predict that you're going to be able to beat the behavior system.

Question:  Now is that 2,400 figure does that come out of the 43,000?

Mr. Hawley: Yes.

Question:  And that's still capped by law, right?

Mr. Hawley: No, no the cap was removed.

Question:  So are you going to raise the overall number?

Mr. Hawley: It's all in the budget.  It's all something we've worked with the Congress and the Congress has supported, and I think they've seen the progress and the Secretary went up two years ago and said, I would like to have some additional headcount for the document checkers.  I want to take that over because it's a critical security job, and the Congress has, you know, supported that and continues to support the BDOs.

Question: Could you just clarify when you gave the list of incidents.  It was 15  instances where  someone --

Mr. Hawley: That would be notable that goes into our ops center to say, hey, we got something here, not somebody has water in his pocket or whatever.

Question:  And then out of those eight were --

Mr. Hawley: Yeah, were significant.  So those would be things like they found something that they had to go call a police officer.  And typically, what we will find -- you got the drug people who are -- you got drugs of some sort. We do find cash, and another is people with illegal status or fake IDs.  You say, well, you don’t have a whole lot of terrorists everyday testing your system, but you do have a whole lot of people every day with 2 million people who are nervous or trying to hide something, perhaps, when they see a security environment.  So it is a great test or a great practice for our guys to keep fresh on what are the characteristics.  And it is not, I’m late for my flight or I’m fighting with my son, you know, it's deception type things.

Question:  And with a BDO, is that someone whose sole job is to conduct these kind of searches in addition to --

Mr. Hawley: Right.  Plain clothes and in uniform.

Question:  Kip, I wanted to jump over your talking a little bit about liquids.  A couple of years ago you did a press conference right before Thanksgiving about the 3-1-1 policy, and one of the things that you discussed -- you were on your way to Brussels to talk to the EU about a uniform liquids policy for carrying.  What is the status of that?  It has been a couple of years.

Mr. Hawley: It happened.  Well, we do have a unified policy with the EU, and in fact, pretty much ICAO worldwide.  We have agreed to work together on whatever the next step is beyond 3-1-1, and that means sharing classified information as to what we are looking for and what the technical results are.  So that is absolutely a part of it.  And I think the Secretary announced when he was in Europe a week or so ago, a similar type agreement on the path forward with air cargo.  So the team aspect of working with our offshore partners in a world where much of the threat may originate abroad is extremely important.

Question:  Yeah, a question regarding the technology.  Given the TSA’s work with the national labs and Project Newton which the agencies talk about briefly from time to time, is it TSA’s intent to replace or augment EDS and check baggage with AT-like systems, similar to what they use overseas?  Or maybe you just address overall where TSA is going with checked baggage.

Mr. Hawley: Sure, the national labs are great partners and we need to take into account the best that science has to offer to learn where we are today against threats that we know about, and where we are with the technology, and it's really a very sophisticated look at everything.  There is no predetermined outcome.  We will learn from what the studies show.

So I will hang around.  You got the Secretary here.  Take advantage of the Secretary.

Moderator:  Any other questions?

Question:  We could go on all day, so they have to cut us off at some point.

This question about investment vehicles and partnering with the national labs is something that I wanted to revisit.  There is a task force that is stood up by the National Nuclear Security Administration at DOE that is responsible for the nuclear labs of Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, along with nuclear test site -- national test site -- and there is a great deal of partnership that has been orchestrated by DHS and some of these national assets, like the labs through such things as the DNDO.

But one thing that predates DHS was the Technical Support Working Group, and the purpose of it was to bring rapid prototyping to technical security needs, specifically focused on counterterrorism and defending against terrorism.  I recall when DHS first stood up, the previous team was still standing up S&T, so they had agencies like TSA in mind and said, you know, we are probably going to redeploy our investment in TSWG and not use that any longer.

Is that the case, or are you finding TSWG is something you are using these days?

Secretary Chertoff:  Boy, that is really a question for science and technology.

Mr. Hawley: I think we're all partnering and everybody is working well together.  There was a time when there was, you weren’t quite sure who was doing what, but I think in the last two or three years that is behind us.  And literally I get to participate with the other users when the dollars are split up with S&T.

Secretary Chertoff:  Yeah, that’s what Admiral Cohen did was that he drove the investment process, by having the operators lay out what the requirements were and then drive investments --

Question:  The IPTs integrated program.

Question:  Exactly.

Mr. Hawley: And TSWG is a part of that.

Secretary Chertoff:  Right, right.

Question:  -- and you are finding TSWG is still a part of that equation working well.  Okay.

Question:  Sir, you used the phrase in your remarks up at CSIS about, in dealing with a code orange in aviation, you said, we have been at a perpetual orange for some time.  What are the conditions that you look to to come to, I will say, a perpetual yellow?

Secretary Chertoff:  Well you know, the reason we went to orange is because we've had a series of aviation focused attacks.  We still believe that is a major focus for Al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups.

As I said at CSIS, going to orange triggers a whole lot of security measures, particularly in the back area of the airport, the airside piece, that are not present at yellow.  So it is a way of actually keeping the baseline elevated.  I guess at some point we could ask a question whether orange should be the new yellow for aviation and just recalibrate yellow to be what we do at orange.  That's probably a discussion we would want to have.  There are some budget implications in terms of overtime and stuff for the airports that we would have to discuss with them, and I think we would have to talk with them about whether they believe it is so clear that we are going to be at this level of airside security that we ought to recalibrate it.

I doubt that that is something we would do in the next two months because I think probably the next team should take a fresh look at whether they think it is likely of bringing it down or not.  But it is really driven by the operational benefit of having that higher tempo on the backside.

Question:  I wanted to ask, you know you just mentioned the incoming administration, because this is the first time that DHS has made a transition to a new administration.  So what's going on at this point to kind of make that transition as smooth as possible?

Secretary Chertoff:  Well, as I said in the remarks, I’m not going to discuss what particular advice we are giving the transition.

Question:  Oh, no, no.  That wasn’t what I was asking.

Secretary Chertoff:  We do have, I guess, a couple dozen people who are on site as of today and you know we have prepared briefing books.  They will meet with whoever they want to meet with.  We have also prepared a kind of draft 30-60-90 day decision list of stuff that is likely to be on the front burner in the first six months of the new administration.  That is a pretty long list, as a matter of fact.

I’m finishing up a rather, maybe overly long letter to my successor that will try to put the individual things we are doing in a broader context as opposed to having everything be programmatic.

And at some point I will sit down -- once they have designated a successor, I will sit down with my successor, hopefully you know more than once, kind of talk through things from my standpoint.  And we'd like to see if we can get them, the new team, involved in some kind of a tabletop exercise next year to familiarize them with some of the issues that you might face if you actually had an incident that was you know underway in the first six to nine months of the new administration.

Moderator:  Any other questions?

Secretary Chertoff:  I will leave you to bombard him with the technical stuff in a few minutes, but is there anything more for me?

Question:  What are you going to do?

Secretary Chertoff:  That is a good question.  I don’t know.

Question:  Are you looking forward to your first visit to the airport without a security detail?

Mr. Hawley: Yes he is, very much.

Secretary Chertoff:  It will be very interesting.  I mean my wife who travels, you know when she travels, I get a candid report all the time from my -- and also if my, if a child travels I hear about that.  So I get a lot of input.  I’m not unaware of the thing at the airport.

I will say that it is a very hard job being a TSO, and for all kinds of reasons not part of TSA's activities, the airport is not a happy place these days.  I mean, being charged for like, you know water and air that you breathe on the airplane and stuff like that is not fun, and also the schedule seems to be a little delayed sometimes.  So you get people in a very, very stressed out situation and it puts a lot of pressure on our TSOs, and I really appreciate the job they do.

And I think I would like to say thank you when I see them.  And I do when I visit them -- of course I do when I visit them in an official capacity.  I look forward when I am unofficial to thank them for the job that they do, because I think they really do a very good job. 

And it is easy to take for granted what hasn’t happened, but look at all the -- go back prior to 9/11.  Every Christmas since I have been in this job, I think, I meet with the families of PanAm 103.  They have a memorial service in Arlington.  And think about that experience, that happened around Christmas time.  I think I said it was TWA 857 -- I think it was 847.  Think about all the hijackings and bombings over the years, and realize what we haven’t seen, and that needs to be -- there needs to be some gratitude for them.  So I for one will have that.

Thank you.  Always a pleasure.  I have to say, people say, why do you do blogging?  I’m not saying this to feed your egos.  I said, I thought that by and large, in terms of focused, sustained, engaged, and knowledgeable questions, the bloggers who cover us regularly do a great job, and it is useful for me to get feedback because I actually do read these -- I read the good ones, I don’t read the nutty ones -- to get feedback about stuff that is working and not working, and I think that it is a great way for us to communicate, because we do get, you know, good questions come from a knowledge base.  You guys do follow this stuff on a regular basis.

Question:  When you hand over leadership journal, can we get you to guest blog at some point?

Secretary Chertoff:  Yeah, I probably will.

Mr. Hawley: Talk to his agent.

Secretary Chertoff:  Alright, see you later.  Thanks guys

Mr. Hawley: Well, there you have it.  Now you got chopped liver.

Question:  When you looked at all the different technology that you have to really invest in, and again, you hear a lot of people talking, about the investments have got to be made in the airports as far as the new screening equipment, et cetera, is there something that you see out there, boy I really wish I had this and I don’t have it.

Is there a particular sort of technology or scanner or screener you wish you could really have that, again, is generations away?

Mr. Hawley: I think we are pretty close, and the biggest, most important technology we have is the human brain of our officers and our Air Marshals and all that.  And that's the technology that we really have focused on getting the most out of and move away from a rules-based, proscriptive, go through a checklist mentality to, what we're really talking about the BDO thing, is really be engaged and be able to pick up on the subtle cues.

So put those issues aside, I think that continues to be the largest investment we have and the one with the highest upside and sustainability, because you can’t ever really design an attack that you know is going to beat all the human layers you are going to see.

Whereas if you go study the patents of any machine we have, every machine has a vulnerability and you can design to beat that vulnerability eventually.  So I think you always have to have the human element and it always has to be switched on. 

As far as the technology, we've got -- the scanning of the bags technology is very good now, with some improvement in the software that is coming, and I've said before that likely will be in a year, not within this year, but in a year we will be able to accurately assess liquids and other kinds of chemicals.  So I think we're almost there.

And on the body scanning, we are just about to move from a portal world, where you have to go into a portal and it will scan your body, to one that you can essentially do the walkthrough, and that will make things a whole lot more convenient for passengers and the through-put should be improved.

So really in a year I think both of those technologies will be able to be deployed at checkpoints, so I don’t think we are talking five years or ten years out -- some kind of magic machine.  But if you have the human element -- something that can scan for physical property, something that can scan accurately for what you got in your body, then I think that is pretty much the trick. 

And what the Secretary is talking about, of the people aspect of knowing who your -- and really what you are asking about, the intent of the known traveler, is when you -- there are further improvements you can make there, like the reason we don’t use top secret today is (a) it is a small number of people; (b) we don’t have an accurate way to real time assess that person -- but from a risk perspective, we are there, easily there.  So I think that maybe something along those lines would enable us to have for some population that you really have pre-cleared, just get them through and out of the way.

Question:  Can you flesh out the difference between the portal approach and the walkthrough approach?

Mr. Hawley: Sure.

Question:  How, experientially, what does it feel like for traveler?

Mr. Hawley: Phone booth. Walking down the street. That a portal, you will go into a place that's a little bit larger than a phone booth.

Question:  Okay.

Mr. Hawley: And then you have it do its thing and then they say you're good to go and then you step out and you go on your way. The other is you put your sensors up in the wall or whatever and you can imagine walking an S pattern so you get the full view, but you don't have to stand and stop. You can do it on the fly.

And that's a question of processing speed because you get the image, you got to process it fast enough to associate this, and that's a very doable thing and there are things that either are in the lab or shortly will be in the lab that can do that. So it's not really Star Wars type stuff.

You have privacy issues. People may say, wait a minute we don't like those. As we've done -- we found something like 90% of the people given the chance of the (inaudible) portal take it because it's just simple and we have walled off the person seeing the image from you and we don't store the image.

Question:  You made the point earlier about that, the family lines not costing anything. Thanksgiving is going to be sort of the big test for those family lines.

What have been some of the lessons learned since you've done these family lines that you are looking to get out to all of your security officers so that they are ready for those Thanksgiving lines?

Mr. Hawley: First of all we didn't invent the family lines. This is a thing where we talked to a lot of focus groups. We get on our blog and they always talk about shoes and liquids and finally we just kept getting the message. Look, we get it. You guys have your own security concerns, that's your stuff, but can you at least separate us out before we come to security.  At least have the people who, you know, need a few more minutes not having somebody anxious behind them making you nervous and me, I'm a fast traveler. I just want to go with all the other fast travelers. So, we did that and it was amazing how well it worked.

For the families, it does take a little bit longer but there's no stress and that's the -- we just kept getting it everywhere that it was a much more pleasant experience and the people going through there alarmed less because they weren't in a big hurry -- hurry up, hurry up, go, go, go, go, go. They only came up to us when they were ready, so therefore they alarm less, which means they take up less resource, which maybe takes a little more time in the queue, but for us, we're spending less resource. So it's a friendly, happier experience for them and a more efficient experience for us.

So, that's why we made it go nationwide and we said, look, this thing is all upside; there is no downside here and it also allows us to concentrate our handheld technology on liquids to where the bulk of liquids are. So right now we have a certain number of handheld liquid things, and what doing these family lines will do, will allow us to concentrate our handheld scanning devices there, therefore increasing the overall security level as well.

Question:  Could you just explain that a little more?  Is it just because families, bottles and stuff like that? That's what the liquid --

Mr. Hawley: So, if you -- there are a lot of circumstances where you need more than your 3.4 ounces, and they're called medical exception, and so what we've done is combine them in the family since most of the people who have exception liquids are families, to give them their own lanes. Let them -- give them a little more time to get it out and we then we have what we call a Fidos, which are the handheld one time scanner and another is a SABRE that is a different kind of scanner, and then we have test strips.

So we can reduce risk from a point of view of the larger bottles having them devaluated, and it increases through-put at the other lanes, because the more we get people with the exceptions over there and the people over here are going to have fewer bag checks, which is a faster process.

Question:  Did you find the sense of stress from the family lanes was largely because they are anxious about holding up people who are faster?

Mr. Hawley: Because you are behind them going 'ah.'  You know, it's just -- it came up everywhere as the biggest -- we were expecting to hear, we don't like your pat downs; we don't like the fact that we have to wait in line, but it was, we don't like the, kind of, the peer pressure of forcing us forward.

Question:  Are there other categories you can see disaggregating (inaudible)? In other words, this is a process that you could continue?

Mr. Hawley: Sure.

Question:  Beyond just families; what's the next category?

Mr. Hawley: Well, we have the Black Diamond lanes, which are for the so called expert travelers and we have that in something like 40 airports. Again, it's not something that we're selling or we're pushing. It's really where the airport and the airlines and our FSDs want to do it, they do it. If they don't, we don't ask them to do it.

Question:  So it's a pull process. The airline and the FSDs got to say to you or the airport and the FSDs got to say to you, we have a need for this extra category.

Mr. Hawley: Or we want to give it a try. How it really started was all this conversation and then finally somebody got up a piece cardboard and said why don't you just put a big black diamond and put it up over one of your checkers and just see what happens. They did it in Salt Lake, obviously a skiing place. So, just see what happens and they got it, and then I think it started, the first one might have been in January of '08 and it just -- now we're at over 40.

Question:  Another classic Pavlovian behavior revealed.

Question:  Might not work in Florida.

Mr. Hawley: It does. It does. They have -- in Texas they've got -- I forget. They've got the Pony Express and wagon and they've localized them. The concept is pretty simple and it doesn't cost. There's no reason for us not to do it.

Question:  Right. I see what you mean. You don't use the black diamond everywhere but have some localized idea.

Mr. Hawley: Yeah, but we use the black diamond solely when you and I travel from place to place and you see it we get the picture.

Question:  Yeah. Okay.

Mr. Hawley: It's pretty low-tech, but it's --

Question:  What kind of feedback have you gotten in terms of people's assessment of their own level? You know, the black diamond. Is the through-put that much faster?

Mr. Hawley: Yes. It is -- we have people out front that help. So we don't say, "uh-uh, you are not a black diamond," but they kind of say you know, would you like to use our family lane or maybe you know, you look like you're an (inaudible) business traveler. Why don't you, you know, so.

Question:  There's a jerk line.

Mr. Hawley: No, no, no. You can tell, and it's also a very good thing for our BDOs that it gives them an opportunity to interact in, you know, in a nice way that's not too much in your face. You know, "Oh, would you like perhaps like this special selectee lane?"

But so yeah, we can get through-put advantages like that. When you get to your dollar questions this is all the money. If you can improve your through-put and your lane utilization it's cash and the bottom line.

Question:  But it depends on you having enough lanes open. You couldn't keep on creating categories. There are times when you only have a few lanes open.

Mr. Hawley: Right.  So you have like -- if you have an airport, have someone cut to the front of the line. The airline has its elite passengers and then, you know, at some point it gets to -- you know. So that's why you have to work with the airport and the airlines and they have to all agree. We don't want to get in the middle of somebody else's commercial business that says, I'm making money selling the front of the line so you guys -- the market momentum really has brought it along.

Question:  I can see where you talk about the market momentum and these things sort of occurring.  I guess one of the things you have to probably watch out for is that you know, sort of categorizing people.  For instance, persons that might have, you know, a physical immobility problem, you know, they, you know would regiment folks don't -- this has got to be a very fine line.

Mr. Hawley: It's all voluntary.  If there's a happy look in your eye when you say you'd like to use the family lane, then you would proceed forward. If there's a what-are-you-saying-to-me look, so it's -- it also goes with this whole checkpoint evolution engaged training with our officers. It's all part of the same strategy which is to get our officers -- when I said the human factor, get your officers switched on and if they, by switching on, give a better feeling to the passengers who feel like they're dealing with a person who can talk to them, that's calms things down. It all feeds on itself.

Question:  Could you talk a little bit about the engaged training? Sort of the things you are hoping to solve with that?

Mr. Hawley: Sure. Well if you could imagine a room with 500 TSOs stomping and cheering you probably wouldn't believe me, but in reality that is what this does. We just graduated a group of trainers Saturday night and it is about the threat changes. So if you write down a checklist of looking for these prohibited items; stand the two feet apart, that's not going to catch the terrorist who is watching you, knows your equipment and is able to try to figure out ways around it.

If you just stick with a very static rule-based system you will lose. So what we need to do is recognize we have certain disciplines that we have to do, but that we have to be alert to the terrorist who's designing the attack around what they see. So, you need to be aware of these techniques. You need to be aware that part of a plot would be to distract you by getting you upset by trying to anger you, by trying to distract you. So you have to, you know, be centered over yourself. Be professional. Be alert for these things. All that kind of training eventually comes down to:  Look, you guys have seen 3 1/2 billion people. There's nobody else on earth that has subconscious of knowing what passengers look like, whether or not we write it down in the SOP. You got it up here.

So what this says is, it used to be you can only use your conscious or conscience, what we write down, and you can not use your subconscious because we don't control that. What we're doing that was flipping his head. We've said so you've got all this subconscious learning, use it. It's called experience. It's called ability. You know, use it. Bring it to the game.

And the thing that showed this to me first was we had somebody dump a terminal because they saw an image of an IED on one of their test -- there was a test image.  It was a tip image. We probably -- you probably remember this. So but it was an error. You're supposed to say when you alarm it, "Congratulations you found this test image," but when she alarmed it, it didn't say "congratulations" and it really was the image of a bomb.

So I said go through exactly what it was in your head as you were thinking, millisecond by millisecond.  She said well, blah blah blah blah blah. I got to get out of here, which is her subconscious was way the heck ahead of, okay, is this a detonator? Is this a power source? Could this be an organic? Could this be -- it was all -- so that -- what we're saying is we got that with more than half of our officers that have been with us for years. That's a lot of experience.

So, that's what this training does, is say here's the latest Intel. Here's the latest smuggling techniques. Here's some professional techniques to manage people so you stay within yourself and here's how to work as a team. Here's how to not have to go find a supervisor to resolve everything you see because you see more images than the supervisor. As a supervisor you need to coach and mentor, not make decisions TSOs are supposed to make.

So, that's a very empowering message and that would train the whole workforce.

Question:  Obviously, and the word you used was 'empower' there, as you are building these capacities in your employees, obviously that's got to have dramatic improvement for employee retention and morale. That's something TSA had been cited on early on.

Mr. Hawley: Yeah.

Question:  What is retention like now? What are your numbers like?

Mr. Hawley: They're excellent for the full-time,  so we're talking low ten percents. It's something like 10, 11 -- somewhere in that range.  We have a larger percentage of the workforce that's part-time, so those numbers are higher than full-time. So they're up in the high 20s probably. So what we're trying to do now is we're looking exactly on the economic issue of there's -- if you have everybody full-time and you're at peak business you're wasting money. But if you have too much turnover with your hiring at the peaks you're also losing money.

So, we're trying to rebalance that and recognize that the intellectual capital that we have residing and people's experience. So, we'll probably go a little bit more on the full-time, which will help our overall attrition numbers.  But attrition, I think we're in good shape.

The two key numbers I look at are injuries -- number of injuries and folks that don't show up for their shift, which are ways of voting with your feet, basically. If you know, if there's a high injury rate there's a signal there that something's not right in that workplace; and if people are always calling out sick that's also a signal and both of those have just plummeted in a good way. And you can see it in the so called line problems at Thanksgiving, Christmas. Go back the last year and all those people waiting for the big lines. The reason was not any kind of special voodoo.  It was the injuries and the call outs dropped.

So we had our whole workforce working, and you're going to see it this Thanksgiving, I'll be so bold to say, that of course the traffic down -- it's not like it has been, but it's really -- it's all about that workforce being switched on. If that workforce is switched on they're showing up for work, they're not getting hurt. They're more into the training so you get a better security. You get a better place to work. All those things feed on themselves.

Question:  You talked about the issue of subconscious being something that early on you were advised to just kind of look it up and set up an objective criteria.

Mr. Hawley: Right.

Question:  What was the thinking at that point behind trying to separate the subconscious from and how did it change?

Mr. Hawley:Okay. So you're starting up the new agency and now we're at new everywhere in the country. How do you put together a consistent product and quality control and like this. So it was very prescriptive on how you did it and the testing and training had to do with memorizing how well you memorized what the standard operating procedure is and how you do it. That way you are going to get a consistent security result.

The problem is, that works in a safety environment where you know what the laws of physics are going to do. If you build it this strong it won't fall off but against the enemy -- I mean, think about TSA. Probably unique is that we are the target. It's not like we're supposed to investigate after the fact. We are the target and it's not the laws of physics we're going to use. We're going to use people who plan -- spend all the time planning new ways to come and get at us in different approaches. So if you have anything that's static, no matter how good it is, they can move around it.

So, what was a necessity in standing up the agency, a very rule based system, rule based training. If you memorize the SOP you weren't going to get fired. To them say, you know, mission-wise, and you know from the public we're not the most loved agency in the world, but a lot of that comes from things that just didn't make sense to passengers because these poor TSOs were being told, here are the rules, follow the rules whether or not it makes sense and that gets in the public's head and in a lot officer's heads frankly, you know, gosh, this thing doesn't really make a lot of sense.  So, that's really what we're trying to get away from.

From a security point of view we can't be sitting still. From a workforce point of view, from a public point of view you want to be a thinking, engaged, prepared security agency and that way you can move them however you want. Like the Secretary says, we now will be able to move them from the back of the airport, through the airport. We can do -- with TSOs we now use them for all sorts of things, including, for the first time, overseas. We've had other countries ask us for support and have been able to do it, including BDOs. So it's a much more flexible capability and I think it's a better security result.

Question:  So earlier we were talking about secure flight and it focused primarily on the (inaudible) rule and the recent changes.  Earlier (inaudible) there was a significant concern about the use of private sector generated data, even anonimized private sector data.  Can you tell us a bit of an update about how the targeting has changed recently under secure flight?

Mr. Hawley: Zero commercial (inaudible).

Question:  Okay.

Mr. Hawley: Is that clear?

Question:  Yeah, I don't know if I can read between the lines on that one.

Mr. Hawley: No, no, that's the problem.  Again, right after 9/11 you want, as the Secretary said, you want to find the known terrorists.  They're on the watch list.  You want to find the unknown terrorists because you don't know all the terrorists.  So there was this attempt to use secure flight or CAPS 2 to do that.  Congress and everybody else was very clear in saying, no, we don't want you do to it; in fact, you can't do it.

So the smart people that we are, we figured out we're just going to do the watch list matching period and that data gets purged every week unless you're a near match or an actual match.  So we do not do that.

Question:  So just so I understand, the idea was that previously it was deemed necessary or at least preferable to have other sources of information feed into a targeting process.  Congress weighed in and said actually, no don't do that.  TSA said, well, we got to obey Congress so we simply won't use the preferred --

Mr. Hawley: No, no, no.  There's a lot of intellectual debate on it. Some would tell you no, you can reverse engineer what the 9/11 terrorists did and look at for common data elements and then go apply that to the public at large.  Maybe that works, maybe it doesn't, or maybe their smart enough to change the way they operate.  So there's some people that say it's valuable; some people say it's not valuable.  We don't get into that discussion.  We just say if CIA or FBI says you're a terrorist who shouldn't be flying on an airplane, it's our job to make sure that an airline doesn't let that person get on a plane.  So it's a very, very simple very limited, very narrow but you sure as heck better get that done before you have any other conversation.

Question:  Got it.

Mr. Hawley: Okay, now the other pieces just you, you know, if you know about caps, which is the airline runs an algorithm that does not include the name.  It goes to a whole of things like has been reported, you know, last minute, one-way, paid with cash.  That's a separate system that is still in place but we don't get any of that data.

Question:  Who uses that data?

Mr. Hawley: The airlines.  So the airlines then use that -- that gets you your Quad-S and that's why a lot of people think they're on the watch list because they get a Quad-S and so we do try to change the bad algorithms not be the obvious last minute, one-way, paid with cash. There are other aspects to it that really do the work.

Question:  That will continue to be run by the airlines then indefinitely?

Mr. Hawley: Correct.

Question:  And what will change, with the secure flight starting to happen in January, what from the passengers perspective will change?  What information will you have to give to make a reservation that you don't have to know?

Mr. Hawley: Full name, gender, date of birth.

Question:  I was wondering when I was finally going to have to give that up.

Mr. Hawley: Then there's a whole (inaudible) thing about the fake boarding pass and I'll just tell you on that in case you are interested in whacking me on that.  One thing the Secretary said on secure flight is that there are something like 2,500 no-flys.  What did he say, 80 or 90 percent?

Question:  He said more than 90.

Mr. Hawley: More than 90 percent of the no-flys are non-U.S. people which says that from a security perspective your first priority is make sure that no-flys aren't getting on planes outside the U.S. and coming here and fake boarding passes won't get you through customs immigration to get on an international inbound.  So and that works as well for selectees as well.  So it is -- if you have layers in risk management from an international inbound it's not subject to the so-called you could play with a fake boarding pass.

Now there are a lot of other ways that we will detect fake boarding passes or fake ID's domestically, but I think now that we've publicly said on the no-flys 90 percent are outside the U.S., basically that adds another angle that Bruce didn't have in his is calculus. I think it changes the weight of the argument.

Question:  I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about the USA Today piece about the Marshals, Air Marshals.  You seemed to raise questions about background screening.  What do --

Mr. Hawley: So I think we had clearly like everything in TSA we stood up  and I think as time has gone on we've gotten better with our hiring process and clearly some of the examples are terrible things and those people paid the price.  They were caught.

But the workforce today is outstanding and unfortunately because of the covert nature of what they do and you don't know who they are so you don't see the good examples.  But we take all that to heart, not just because of the paper but Bob Bray is the new head of the FAMS and one of the things he is working on is the hiring process, the background process.  It's an issue that goes on department-wide with law enforcement because we're hiring a lot of border patrols, secret service; the psychological readiness, you know, these are the high stress jobs.  You want to look at all sorts of factors.

So it is, I think it was unfair shot going back picking -- lumping in people who cheated on their expenses with people who are running drugs and going back all the way to -- so that part was not fair.  But the underlying -- hiring a lot of law enforcement in a hurry.  Sometimes these issues happen and in this kind of work you can't -- there's zero tolerance basically for bad hires.  So we have to, you know, continually work that to make sure the folks we bring in are right, as well as the folks that we have continue to stay fresh.


This page was last reviewed/modified on November 17, 2008.