Request Submitted To: Transportation Security Administration

Category: Surveillance

Year Filed: 2010


The Transportation Security Administration has the responsibility and authority for ensuring the security of all modes of transportation, including, among others, civil aviation, ferries, passenger rail, and mass transit. In dealing solely with air travel safety, the TSA employs over 48,000 officers at hundreds of airports across the country to screen passengers and their baggage, using an array of technologically advanced systems such as x-ray systems, walk-through metal detectors, exp0losive trace detection equipment, trained K-9s, advanced imaging technologies and more. These technologies are not limited to the screening of passengers entering boarding areas, but extend as well to all public areas of airports.

Given its connection to the events of 9/11, security at Logan International Airport in Boston has figured prominently in TSA air travel safety measures. Among other steps, TSA has installed three AIT whole body scanning portals in Logan’s Terminal A with more apparently ordered. TSA has assigned a number of Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs) to Logan. Automobiles entering the parking garage in Logan’s Terminal B are subject to search upon entry.

The implementation of these measures, particularly as they move beyond the screening of passengers, raise significant public questions about their increasing intrusion on personal privacy and their effectiveness in increasing public safety, to say nothing of their high cost and their safety. Yet these measures often have been rolled out with little or no public input until they are already in use.

As TSA moves beyond the “sterile area” of the airport and even beyond the airport perimeter, the public will continue to have questions and concerns about the safety of new technologies, the privacy safeguards and the cost-benefit analysis of employing many of these methods. In order to provide more information to the public about how these technologies and methods work in practice, this request sought documents containing data and information underlying the implementation of these methods.