Dear TSA,


I have no idea whether anyone at TSA will respond or even consider my suggestions and comments but, in any event…………


I was a passenger on one of the US bound aircraft in August of 2006. Had not the Brits caught the Islamic swine, I’d be long since fish food.


I flew as a pilot for 42 years. I worked both domestic and international flights so I certainly know how the system works and, in some cases, doesn’t work.


Let me tell you plainly and simply what does not and will not work (ever!)


Airline security cannot be achieved by referring to acts of terror by Islamic terrorists as “man caused disasters.” That is patently absurd! It makes a joke of the entire effort!


Had the Brits not been successful we may well have lost several aircraft that August day resulting in a thousand or more innocent lives being snuffed out.


This Christmas we almost lost another 300 of our citizens. For whatever reason the Islamic terrorist was unable to successfully detonate the explosive material which may well have caused a wing tank fire, explosion, structural failure and the loss of a wing. A horrible disaster, prevented only by pure luck!


With the volume of passengers passing through America’s airports, the El Al solution, while highly successful, simply isn’t practical. We started a program some time ago that allowed “known travelers” to by-pass security. This program was tested at some airports and shown to be highly effective and workable.


For the frequent flyers, this program needs be greatly expanded and the process streamlined. Today, anyone who is “wired” into the system, meaning traceable via internet data bases should be able to obtain the “safe traveler” designation entirely via posted information.


We are able today to obtain “concealed carry gun permits” using only a paper application that is sent, by the states, to the FBI and, in a relatively short period of time, the license shows up in the applicant’s mail. There is absolutely no reason the same could not be done to allow millions of qualified passengers to by-pass airport security check points.


After all, for 50 years there were no airport security check points anywhere and we got by just fine. The reason for this remarkable success was that American citizens are 99.9% honest law abiding non- suicidal people and don’t need to have their persons, toilet articles and suitcases scanned and searched.


The advantages to the TSA of implementing such a program would be immediate and highly beneficial, I would estimate that a minimum of 50% of American air travelers would, within a few short months, obtain the by-pass ID, hugely relieving the strain at every check point at every airport in America. This would allow security to better concentrate resources on finding actual terrorists.


A simple link to the “ known traveler” application page on your existing web site could be set up in 24 hours at almost no discernable cost. I would be willing to do this for you at no charge for my personal time whatsoever.


Once the application is received back from the passenger the data can be sent to the FBI (to the exact same department that clears the “carry permits”) and, if the passenger checks out, the ID can be sent to them by return mail.


To use the ID pass, the passenger would only be required, on its initial use, to visit any airport security office for a very brief personal interview which would result in a photo and validation stamp affixed to the pass. The security lines for these passengers would then only require the passenger to show the pass and walk through the check point. No scan or carry-on baggage checks would be necessary as the TSA and US Government woujld have pre-cleared this individual   (via a background check) in exactly the same way, and with the same confidence, as the Sky Marshals are.


The premise behind this system is:   If a detailed background check is a reliable way to determine, with an acceptable high level of certainty, that an individual passing that check can be trusted not to hijack or blow up an airliner, then there is no reason to scan or search that person.? If this is the case there can be no reason or valid argument for wasting valuable resources, time and money subjecting such an individual to a search of any kind.


Consider; flight, in and of itself, contains an element of chance just by the inherent risks associated with transport in any kind of vehicle let alone one that flies.. Engines can and do fail, weather can destroy any aircraft, any one of the myriad systems necessary to sustain flight can fail at any time……..Flying can never be 100% safe……… If we can board passengers that we consider safe, meaning that we are 99% certain they are not subject to committing acts of terrorism while airborne, then that ought to be more than acceptable.  


If however, the actual (hidden agenda) is to run American citizens through security like mindless cattle as a way to program ( train) them to accept increasingly intrusive government controls, then the known traveler program won’t be acceptable.


Assuming that 50% of the current TSA work load could be relieved within a 90 day time period, it would seem to me that security operations could devote manpower to more carefully examining boarding and arriving foreign passengers as well as expanding the security system to filter passengers in their local community before they even get to the airport. What I mean is that if every airport security office had a number of personnel that would liaise with local and federal law enforcement to identify potential terrorists within their local towns, cities and communities, before any of them even bought a ticket, the system worldwide could be made a lot safer.


This is not an impossible problem because 99% of all terrorists are Muslims and, if we want to make the system 99% safe, then Muslims are the only ones that need be focused upon. This means all Muslims, American convertees as well as those from Islamic countries.


To use the same level of scrutiny on an 80 year old American grandmother boarding a flight from  Idaho to Houston as you would on a 25 year old middle eastern man, wearing a turban, named Mohammed flying in from Saudi Arabia Is the height of absurdity, makes a joke of the TSA and is a serious waste of resources.


If we allow political correctness to continue as it is we disserve the miserable world we are creating. The TSA and all counter and anti-terrorist organizations have no choice but to profile. Safety and logic demand it.


To jump up and say that the Shoe Bomber was a Brit and the Oklahoma Federal building was blown by a blond American is not an effective argument. To make aviation security 99% safe, which is all we can humanly hope for, we have to focus on the reality not the aberration. Under this revised system, with greatly expanded and focused manpower, the Richard Reid’s of the world would have been apprehended long before boarding any aircraft and McVey was not suicidal and was never a threat to aviation.


With the spare manpower provided by the “known traveler” program, TSA can obtain and examine the existing terrorist watch lists and, where appropriate, merge them into the international “no- fly”  lists.


I’d appreciate hearing back from you.




Robert Firth