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December 9th, 2009
08:36 AM ET

Security Mistake at TSA

The Transportation Security Administration says it will launch a “full review” of an incident in which the agency posted on the internet a sensitive manual outlining security procedures for law enforcement officers, diplomats, prisoners, federal air marshals and others.

The 93-page manual gives instructions to airport screeners on how to screen individuals. It also gives details on how screening is conducted and the limitations of the x-ray machines. The most sensitive information was redacted – which means people couldn’t read it – but hackers got in and put that information back in.

TSA officials say the manual was removed as soon as it was discovered.

We want to know what you think. Are you more concerned about your flying safety? What do you think should happen to make sure air passengers are protected?

Post your comments and we will read some of your responses in the Newsroom from 9am to 11am ET.

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    If your looking for one of the reasons why the republicans had an eight year rain without attack on our home land well heres just one this one can be filed along side of the party crashers.

    December 9, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  2. masimons

    The manual may have been removed from their site, but its always going to be available on torrent sites now.

    December 9, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  3. Bill

    I fly 60,000 miles a year and TSA is honestly a joke. They will harass a grandmother; but allow others to breeze through. It is also virtually impossible to check everyone in great detail and still get planes in the air. But the biggest joke is the lack of real screening of cargo. In this day and age, there is a real risk to travel, TSA can stop some of it. We are not really willing to spend the money to have real security as one sees in places like Tel Aviv.

    December 9, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  4. MikeW

    Did they Happen to post the NO FLY list too...

    Why not go all out...

    December 9, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  5. LaTasha R

    So let me get this straight..A couple who weren't invited were allowed at a White House Dinner and now TSA has its manual posted on the internet? Americans, we are NOT safe!!!

    December 9, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  6. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Im ready for Charels Holder to start exsplaning all the resent security breaches popping up on the democratic watch.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  7. William

    TSA.........again it shows how our government just is not working. All this spending is of no use to the tax payer. All in all, when everything rolls downhill, it ends up at the President's office door. And he's done very little in 11 months of anything except fly around the world and get a "Peace Prize."

    December 9, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  8. Joe

    Seriously? This is absolutely incredible. Perhaps the person(s) who allowed this breach to happen need to be replaced with one or more of the millions of people who are unemployed. I bet those who are out of work with NO experience in airline safety would do a better job. Why? They are alert, they are hungry and they would do whatever it takes to keep their job.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  9. Sydney

    This is the peak of foolishness and juvenile deliquency. In this era of increased global terrorism and attacks, why would an American help expose his/her countries secrets to keeping them safe? What are you trying to prove? That you are the SUPER hacker in town or what? Well...Americans are definitely NOT impressed with your bubble gum hacking antics. People need to grow up and act their age and NOT their shoe size!

    December 9, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  10. Mark

    Government employees in all levels of our nation's security are increasingly relying upon technology to maintain our protection. The document error appears to be a result of someone with an inadequate knowledge of electronic document publishing attempting to redact sensitive portions of the document.

    Members of the public had to alert the TSA of the gaffe. How can intelligence/security agencies even consider posting any type of bidding documents on publicly accessible websites? I have to have a secure, verified account just to sell something on Ebay but I can just browse to the TSA website and get access to "redacted" documents.

    Something in that equation does not seem adequate in protecting our national security.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  11. Paige

    Scary stories are great for ratings but you are totally overplaying this one, much to the glee of officials who invented the TSA in the first place.

    No security procedure is 100% effective, and no thinking traveler believes it is. There are lots of stories of weapons or other contraband getting through screening. The point of it all is to raise the odds that someone intent on bad acts will be stopped. TSA does that.

    If you were really news people, you might ask who posted this report in the first place? Honest mistake? Brain fade? Or someone who was more interested in political fallout than national security? THAT is your job, not finding warmed-over former officials to cry "wolf."

    December 9, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  12. Chris

    The TSA has been a failure since it's introduction. Poorly qualified workers posing as security/ law enforcement has not made the public feel any safer, but instead has caused much stress to the general public. As an airline pilot, I have to deal with these people on a weekly basis. I find it an embarassment to our nation that this is the level of security that we provide travelers where other nations have the National Gaurd securing their airports and ports. When will we as a nation realize that "security theatrics" is not protecting us, but instead costing the tax payers billions of unecessary funds.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  13. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Im starting to wonder who's side the democrat's are on.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  14. katherine

    i would be happy, no – grateful, to spend more time in the security line knowing that my bags are searched... from the smallest zippered compartment to the innermost pockets. when i fly, the most annoying items to carry are personal care products. if an airport vendor had a kiosk of all the small travel sized bottles travelers tend to purchase before trips, that would be very liberating. checked baggage could be eliminated if an affordable ship before you go were implemented. there are so many minute solutions which woud be easy to implement. travelers need to be assured that not only are their safety zones maintained but also their personal comfort concerns are addressed.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  15. pam

    most of the wheelchairs that go thru security r own by the airlines and all of the wheelchairs weather there personnal own or not r inspected. there shouldnt be any fear of flying do to wheelchairs or wheelchair passengers they are search as well .

    December 9, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  16. Chuck Strouse

    It's a sad day in America when our own govermental agency, the FAA, allows this kind of reocurring lapse in jugement on the part of an agency that's supposed to be protecting air travel as well as flight crews. This is just a sampling of screwups that the TSA commits on a daily basis. It takes an incident, and sometimes the death of innocent Americans
    for the FAA to take action. It is all political!

    December 9, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  17. don

    .All our resources,security, and money are elsewhere. How long can we operate within our own countrywhen we are taking care of everyone else? Is anyone really surpeised this breach Happened?

    December 9, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  18. Jason

    The govt. can't seem to do anything right.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  19. Fred Chadrickson

    I highly doubt that there is any "NEW" or useful information in this that any attentive individual wouldn't already have learned. The TSA has been securitizing almost ever day for the last 7 years, you know.

    I'm sure if one really wanted to know just how thing really work at an airport security zone, one would just sit at any terminal at any airport for a few day.

    A scrutinizing and thoughtful person would have learned more that what that manual would contain.

    However lackadaisical, I don't fear any repercussion from this.


    December 9, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  20. Debra Hall

    As I make my flight reservations for the holidays-I am sickened by the incredible invompetence of the TSA. Am I worried? Of course, who wouldn't be? This is an absolutely dreadful turn of events. How something like this could happen is beyond comprehension.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  21. Melissa Shedlock

    Making public, our security procedures, was as huge a mistake as making public, our interrogation tactics. When info was released on our tactics, it gave info to terrorists, on just how long, they must withstand an event of torture, so that they may train themselves for it. It's as if we're inviting these guys to attack us. I see no difference, between that leak, and this current mistake.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  22. tk

    As an employee of TSA I can assure you that the managers have little knowledge of security. Managers are hired on the basis of whose friends they are, not what they know. TSA managers are fearful of those who know security measures and are protective of their own jobs. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Believe you, this error will not be taken out on the line officers, not the management staff.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  23. Wendy Williams

    This "Accidental-Posting" was no accident,... there are millions of these generation "Y" kids out there that have no common-sense, hate all the "Old " rules or restrictions, that exist. They think they are "helping" by exposing weaknesses, in their twisted moral sense of the world.
    These are the type of people that wouldn't think of thanking someone that saved their life, but would say " I didn't ask you to risk your life for me".
    Wendy/ Canada

    December 9, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  24. John

    Let's face it...TSA has been a bad joke since its inception. The agency is nothing more than a headache for the experienced traveler and a facade for the novice to make them feel more comfortable about flying once through the security gates. How many stories have we heard of items getting through security? The super-expensive machines that blow air do not even work. I was recently traveling oversees when I bought a beautiful snow globe for my daughter at an airport in Germany as a gift ony to have it confiscated by TSA once I returned stateside...I mean come on, it was not even unwrapped yet. TSA is a huge waste of money and now we know they are incompetent as well.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  25. stacey l deane

    I've flown commercially 4 times since I've been in a wheelchair, and could'nt help but notice how easily I could have smuggled almost anything onto the plane all 4 times. I hope this is one of the things they will change.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  26. BrandonO

    I really don't see what the big deal is. If you believe that agencies like the TSA and Homeland Security do anything but create the illusion of security, you're fooling yourself. It amazes me that millions of Americans still haven't figured out that heightened paranoia and fear are the exact reactions international terrorists are seeking to illicit, and extreme concern over the security of airlines or White House functions play right into the hands of people looking to intimidate and TERRORIZE them!

    December 9, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  27. Larry

    I used to work for TSA and resigned due to the lack of any urgency when it comes to security. Screeners do their best and follow procedures, but when certain events occur, screeners are then forced by management to speed up their screening protocol, which can cause prohibited items from getting through. I am scared to fly because of what I know about TSA.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  28. Gage

    I can't remember the FBI, US Marshalls, CIA or other federal law enforcement agency posting sensitive information online. TSA was created in a rapid response to 9/11. Now it's time to revaluate current staff and root out the weak links who are incompetent of handling classified information. They need to impose much higher standards with their hiring practices

    December 9, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  29. andrea

    Dear CNN:
    I do not want my name to be put on the news in case you decide to post my email.
    This is a critical and huge mistake made by this agency. It is amazing that we choose people with such limited brain power to be in charge of sensitive information. Even an 8 year old knows that you should not share such secrets with the world that have people who envy us and will eventually find a way to hurt us.

    We have too much freedom in this country,people cannot distinguish what should be kept a secret,that is why we are failing at the wars because we are exposing our stratigies before we implement them.
    Thank you.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  30. Mihai

    The security training manual should have been posted online from day one. The vulnerabilities need to be fixed not hidden. The manual can fall in the hands of the terrorists though 100 other methods, it does not need to be posted online and vulnerabilities can be exploited. If the security procedure is public vulnerabilities can be discovered and addressed. This is a very well established principle in communication security. "Security through obscurity" never works as intended.


    December 9, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  31. Megan

    As a 13 year old girl who has to travel a lot to see family, so I don't want to have to worry about flying. I want to know that when I am flying, that I am safe. My biggest worry is that some lazy airport screener will naively forgot to check some huge terrorists bag. If spending an extra three hours in a bag check means a safe travel, then I'm all for it.


    December 9, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  32. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Yep the security is great bring on the detainees to be tried in New York .

    December 9, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  33. Yaakov

    Americans would be well served to spend the resources needed to implement a "traveler's security clearance". I travel frequently, and it's a pain to spend unnecessary time going through (poor) security just because I wear a brace and a build-up shoe. Everyone with permanent disabilities have to allocate extra time just to get through TSA.

    And, yes, my wheelchair bound 82 y-o Mom was embarrassed as they shook her used underwear in front of everyone.

    Last month, on my return from Florida, I asked the agent NOT to touch my "private", as several others had done, like on the way down.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  34. Calvin Utter

    People who want to blow up planes will always find a way. The security seems to primarily serve to make people "feel" better. Maybe shattering the illusion of safety will be good medecine for people who live in constant fear of dying.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  35. bettie

    TSA has been a smokescreen of security since it's conception. They only screen passengers and a few of the airport employees. Cargo, freight, and some others have NO security to go through. They have random checks on passenger bags at the gates to make sure that they did their job at the first checkpoint. Seems like they are admitting right there that, yes, we can and might have missed something.

    Allowing the manual to be seen is nothing when you compare it to what you can see sitting in the airport. I have to laugh at people when they actually think that sending themselves and bags through the checkpoint is really doing the job.


    December 9, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  36. Maria Mercer

    This is OUTRAGEOUS this people should be FIRED asap.....only in America this things happen ,how came this people did it? what kind of irresponsible people working for the government let this happening? we have to do something about and I sending this very upset mail and I hope this give a idea this people don't belongs int his kind of job and position!!!!!!! this should be a top secret it is Security matter it is the most damaged information that the public has to know! since I am a taxpayer ,I demand this workers to be FIRED!!!!!!!!!they don't realize how many lives they put in jeopardy?
    Who is this people ? somebody with out any reason?

    December 9, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  37. Jazznme

    Pathetic! But I'm sure Obama will have some sugar coated comments to calm any fears. And there will be plenty of blame to go around. But WHY do these absolutely stupid things occur!! How can anyone really be concerned about this when all that people seem to care about anymore is gossip and "reality" shows. Just look at what "news" has become–on every single major network. I'm loving sports more every single day!

    December 9, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  38. Henry Henderson

    How about if we no longer allow ANY carry on baggage period end of discussion. The TSA can then concentrate on the individual. The flying public no longer needs to show up three hours before their flight. The airlines do absolutely nothing to stop passengers from bringing steamer trunks onboard which significantly delays loading. To michael armstrong sr, this has nothing to do with DEM or GOP, TERM LIMITS would solve that problem, this has to do with incompetance that riddles every branch of our government. Get rid of the dead wood and replace them with people who want to work, who need to work, people who can make a decision and not fear reprisal and not those simply working to get their pension.

    December 9, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  39. Andy

    Having this manual be put on the web is a terrible occurance and should be looked into at once.

    However as an emplyee of the TSA let me pose this question to the american public. If you all feel that the TSA was created to make the public feel safe when they fly, and all of you would like to see TSA become a stronger, more thorough law enforcment/security agency, is the american public willing to give up a few civil liberties and wait in even longer lines to help this happen?

    When the answer to the question becomes a yes, then you can post how inefficient TSA has been from the beginning!

    December 9, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  40. Dodie - CA

    This is a perfect example of the “Peter Principle”

    December 9, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  41. Laurel M. Poeckes

    I am wondering what happened to the follow-up on the older man who died in the ER and was mugged. There was a video of the action, and, I understand, one man arrested, but one man and a woman got away. I don't remember where it happened and there has been nothing since the first day-that I have seen. It was on the news several times in one day, but nothing since. Can you help my curiosity? Thanks Laurel M Poeckes

    December 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  42. Rick Shaw, Awareity

    Yet another Lesson Learned in 2009. We all need to use Lessons Learned from others so they become Lessons Implemented to ensure better safety and better results in TSA...and most every other organization.

    2009 has provided hundreds of lessons learned and the majority of them reveal a widening gap involving a lack of awareness, a lack of accountability and a lack of oversight.

    Blaming the administration or calling it an honest mistake or brain fade are not solutions. What organizations really need are better solutions and better tools to keep up with mounting risks, escalating regulations, constant changes and updates to situational awareness and a growing need to securely share information.

    Organizational leaders need better management and oversight tools to "connect the dots" and implement lessons learned so we can eliminate gaps and weak links and achieve better results.

    December 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  43. Terry Campbell

    I like your new morning anchor. I hope she is permanent

    December 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  44. Harry

    In regards to the TSA disclosure on the internet.

    That is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen, regardless whether it is old technolgy or new, none of it should never be disclosed. This only tells any terrorist how to get around without getting detected.

    When any authorities do wrong they get put on temporary leave with full pay. That's not a reprimand, that's a vacation with full pay. They need to be relieved of their positions permanently.

    December 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  45. Tom

    FAA, Fed housing authority,TVA, Post Office, Fema(Katrina). I can't wait till government takes over health care.

    December 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  46. David

    No. Not that easy. How did the hackers get their hands on the redacted passages? That would be an even deeper breach of security than publishing the redacted document (highly sensitive, eyes only?) online. Were they able to see through the covered up text? did they get a hold of a physical manual? did they access the information somehow on the computer? How long was the manual online? Having said that, the TSA is getting slammed, but it's easy to overlook that they are standing up screeners at checkpoints all over the country. To better protect the flying public we need to make sure TSA employees are well trained and well compensated. Also, we should follow up on the questions raised by this security manual being put online. My pt of vw Heidi.

    December 9, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  47. Louis Wesler

    Geeeee the defense attorney doesnt want their client to be shown as a hater? I guess they are afraid the jury might actually understand the true significance of the hateful symbols tatooed on their clinet. It galls me no end that any one in this country should be paying for a cosmetologist to cover anyone's hate marking.

    December 10, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  48. bill crump

    I know a cheeper way: a paper bag with three holes in it would cost about fifty cents a week – if the bag was still deemed prejudical then a happy face could be painted on it and then every body would be happy without any prejudice – bill crestview FL

    December 10, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  49. Nina

    I have always believed the TSA to be inept; this incident is really no surprise. They continuously exhibit reactive rather than proactive positions. I travel around the world and often feel more reassured with the Security practices in many 2nd and 3rd world countries; no such confidence with our airport security. The joke with the TSA is the facade of security. Maybe it's time to allow a private group to implement airport security. Considering the alternative, we have nothing to lose and much to gain.

    December 11, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  50. ej

    The TSA always makes mistake, i work at a major airport and the TSA's style of keeping the terrorist out is sort of Keystone cop ish. There extra security precautions are requiring more id all of which any terrorist has already. The terrorist can maker state licenses and birth cert and ssn cards even passports and money (most of the time even better then the US Govt)..
    As for the badges they can wait in the employee lot and steal the badges. All of which has most likely been done already.

    December 11, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  51. en

    The US Govt makes too many mistakes today, if other companies made as many f ups as the US Govt does they would have states and federal authorities calling for those responsible to be fired:
    LIKE As for the Party Crashers, and if that's what they really where and not just a US Govt attempt at a cover up. Should be noted a past screw up on the part of the Secret Service and the employees be terminated at once from there positions..

    Right after the 9/11 tragedies the US Govt did the same, thing Blaming the people that got through the gates or checkpoints and NOT the people, The US Govt employees THAT LET THEM IN.!!!!
    Before i retired from the US Govt we used checks and rechecks to police our employees and the employees NOT doing a job or task right would face disciplinary action and termination from there position,

    NOW its not that way at all. Employees can BLAME the people that get through the Security check points/Gates and turnstiles, opposed to what should happen is BLAME the Govt employees, These employees MUST be terminated from there positions at once.

    December 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm |
  52. Ramona

    Travelers have to realize that the Airline employees want to help all passengers get to their destinations but they do not control the weather. They don't have to vent out their frustrations as though the Agent controls the weather.
    It is the responsibility of the traveller to check what time they are supposed to be leaving and be in the airport a good 2 hours before the flight. They need to check all their documentations; valid government issued identification, valid passports, the size of their carryon bags, the weight of the checked in bags and be aware that airlines do charge for checked in bags. Carryon bags have a size limitation as well.
    People have to also be aware that sending their loved ones on a trip who do not speak English or are "SPECIAL NEEDS" persons, will require extra documentation, assistance and some fee. They can't just drop them off.
    Lastly, when traveling with animals, call first before showing up with the pet without a reservation as the pet might be denied and they could lose their seat.

    December 21, 2009 at 10:27 am |