Feel that? That's what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA


If specified, this will replace the title that
Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Just found this over at another aviation site, and on AOPA.org (top story) - what a total and complete crock of BS.


In the Federal Register Friday, you'll be able to see that you can be knocked out of the air -- just like that -- if the TSA alleges that you pose a 'security risk.' Pilots will be immediately grounded; mechanics, DERs -- everybody who holds a certificate of any kind from the FAA -- can be immediately out of a job.

The TSA will notify you that you are considered a 'security risk.' It will notify the FAA; and the FAA will immediately suspend your ticket(s), pending your 'appeal.'

You will then have to convince the TSA (which already declared you a 'security risk') that you are not a 'security risk,' without your knowing why they think you are such a risk. Then, when the TSA issues its final ruling, the FAA will revoke your papers.

We wanted some confirmation on this, and called the TSA. Chris Rhatigan, in the press office there, said, "You may have to talk to the FAA on that."

We read her a part of the summary, which says, "This final rule expressly makes a person ineligible to hold FAA-issued airman certificates if the Transportation Security Administration notifies the FAA in writing that the person poses a security threat."

As we continued reading, and noted that the TSA was calling the shots, she said, "Hold on a second." She returned, and said, "This [determination that you're a security threat] comes from an intelligence database." OK -- so, how do we know how big a threat, or how it's determined that one even is such a threat? "We don't tell people how to get on to that database," she said. In other words, if you're denied your certificate, you won't be able to find out why -- just that someone, somewhere, thinks you're a 'security risk.'

Ms Rhatigan informed us that everything would be spelled out in the NPRM, and that we'd have to wait until Friday, to see what was getting published in the Federal Register. Well, folks the law goes into effect Friday. No NPRM. No discussion. Decree. Tough.

Well, we have an advance copy of that law. The document's "explanation" is merely procedural; there is no underlying reasoning explained; and the airman is simply screwed, without recourse.

First, you're grounded -- no questions asked. Then you can start the 'appeal' process.
Here's how it works: the TSA will notify the purported 'security risk' that he is considered a 'security risk,' and the FAA will immediately ground the flier/mechanic/etc. The accused can then tell the TSA that he's not a 'security risk;' but, without knowing on what basis the determination was initially made, the accused is defending himself, blindfolded. The TSA is then the final arbiter of determining whether the accused (whom they have already declared a 'security risk,' while possibly taking away his means of making a living and likely ruining his reputation) actually is a 'security risk.'

ALPA's Initial Reaction
John Mazor, spokesman for ALPA, the largest pilots' union, told ANN that his organization is taking a close look at the NPRM. It was too early to say anything definitive (we had told the union of this NPRM just minutes earlier); but he was willing to say, "As described, it has some disturbing implications." He assured us, "ALPA's security people are interested in studying the NPRM."

Part II

We reported yesterday that the FAA was rolling over, and allowing the TSA, in the interest of 'national security,' to tell the FAA who can have pilot training, who can fly an aircraft, who can design an aircraft, who can work on an aircraft, who can build an aircraft, etc.

We, at first, thought (based on the preliminary look we got) that there would at least be a public comment period before the hammer came down. Even though the document has pages of information, and even a cutoff date, concerning how public reaction can be gathered, this is no NPRM -- it's the law.

Here's how this usurpation of 'government by the people' is explained:
"This action is being taken without providing the opportunity for prior notice and comment, and it provides for immediate effectiveness upon adoption. The Administrator has determined this action is necessary to prevent a possible imminent hazard to aircraft, persons, and property within the United States. The FAA, after consultation with the TSA, has determined that this action is necessary to minimize security threats and potential security vulnerabilities to the fullest extent possible. The FAA, TSA, and other federal security organizations have been concerned about the potential use of aircraft to carry out terrorist acts in the United States since September 11. The FAA now believes it is appropriate to provide expressly by rule that an individual determined by the TSA to be a security threat is ineligible for airman certification. This rule thus codifies the fundamental and inherently obvious principle that a person who poses a security thr eat should not hold an FAA-issued airman certificate.

"The FAA finds that notice and comment are unnecessary, impracticable, and contrary to the public interest, pursuant to section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)..."

Note that the FAA is merely rubber-stamping the TSA's diktat. The FAA goes to great lengths to ensure that unqualified people don't get certificates, and that qualified people work hard to maintain them. The TSA, with no need to answer to anyone, can now tell the FAA that the FAA has to rescind that certificate, and the FAA will do so immediately.

We asked the FAA.
We talked briefly with Paul Takemoto, a spokesman at the FAA, who got stuck trying to explain what's going on. He explained the procedure quite clearly. [It's clearly written.] We wanted to understand, though, how the TSA could simply make the FAA irrelevant.

How, please tell us, can a person avoid being placed on that 'security threat' list?

He said, "If the TSA tells the FAA that the person poses a security threat -- you'll have to go to the TSA on what constitutes a security threat."

We did go to the TSA,
...and were told, ""This [determination that you're a security threat] comes from an intelligence database."

OK -- so, how do we know how big a threat, or how it's determined that one even is such a threat? "We don't tell people how to get on to that database," was the TSA's spokeswoman's terse reply.

So, let me get this straight -- the TSA says you're a security threat, and the FAA yanks your license. You are then unemployed, and a pariah in your former workplace, and you must defend yourself (to the TSA). The TSA won't tell you why you're a suspect; you're just supposed to convince that agency, the agency that has already tagged you, that you didn't do, plan, talk about, or think... something. Yes -- that's how it is.

The FAA doesn't have any review authority at all. As Mr. Takemoto said, "We're totally at the mercy of the agency that is responsible for aviation security. They are responsible for security; we are not."

"You have no review?" we asked, incredulously. "Correct," he said.

The TSA maintains a secret database, containing secret information, from secret sources. If it determines that you are a 'threat to security,' it tells you (and the FAA) that it considers you a threat, and your ticket is suspended immediately. (If you're a student, your training is suspended, immediately.) You may then, without knowing any specifics about the TSA's concern, "defend" yourself, and try to convince the TSA that its original assessment is wrong. When the TSA finds that, no, it didn't make any mistake, the FAA will revoke your certificate, and you're finished.

The TSA doesn't need to prove anything, present any evidence, or even check its facts. It answers to no one. Since you don't know why they're after you, you can't refute their dark database. You're not 'innocent until proven guilty;' you're just out of luck, out of a job, and out of options. The FAA won't do anything to defend you, or even listen to you. It doesn't have any more clue than you have; it's just a rubber stamp, for our growing police state.

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Congressionally ordered TSA and FAA security rules go into effect
TSA can order immediate revocation of a pilot license

Jan. 23 — The FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) tomorrow will publish "direct final rules" that permit FAA to immediately suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue an airman certificate of anyone that TSA has determined poses a threat to transportation security. The agencies issued the rules under the authority Congress gave them when it passed the Aviation Transportation Security Act of 2001 and directed TSA and FAA to "make modifications in the system for issuing airman certificates related to combating acts of terrorism."

"AOPA solidly supports every reasonable action to prevent terrorist acts, but these rules beg many questions as to the rights of pilots," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA's legal and technical staff will examine them letter by letter to understand all of the implications, and in the coming days, we will formulate the right response to the comment period that follows, rather than precedes, this form of rulemaking."

The new rules go into effect immediately since the agencies issued them as a direct final rule without prior public notice or comment. However, the agencies are soliciting public comments after the fact and may modify the rules. Members are encouraged to comment and copy the association.

The rules establish procedures for notifying the airman and an appeal process. U.S. citizens may ultimately appeal to the head of TSA, while foreign citizens have lesser appeal rights.

TSA said that perhaps one person per year might be flagged as a security threat.

Initial analysis indicates that the Transportation Security Administration holds the sole authority in a pilot appeal. AOPA has historically fought to ensure that more than one agency is involved in adjudicating certificate revocations.

"With all due regard to national security, we're deeply concerned that the rules appear to permit taking away a pilot's license without an independent review," said Boyer.

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Essentially aviation is now under martial law. No due process, no right to a fair trial, no nothing. Hell, confessed, convicted serial killers now have more rights than does a federally certificated, monitored and trained pilot who has done nothing wrong and who has not been (nor could he under the TSA's "definition" of a "security risk") be charged with a crime.

Welcome to The New America folks - "Where we take your freedom in order to protect your freedoms" - enjoy the ride.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Yeah, I saw this on some news site yesterday and was kinda hoping it was just someone's idea of a really bad joke.
This is very scary
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

I was thinking Canada - guess I should start practicing my "eh's," eh?
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

This is VERY un USA like... yes people who are 'security risks' should not be flying but they should be given due process and, pending a conviction, should be taken from the air. This is the way things have been done and should be done here in the good old USA - right to a fair trial, innocent until proven guilty, that whole bit... The TSA now bears a strange resemblance to the IRS in that respect... as once you are 'labeled' it's on you to prove your innocence and not the other way around.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Am I missing something here? If some one pose a threat that requires their certificates need to be revoked for public security, shouldn't more be done then just grounding them?
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Iain, you ARE missing the point: mere SUSPICION of posing a threat is sufficent to get your certificates revoked, and they won't even tell you why you're suspected. Good luck appealing the decision without even knowing what to refute.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Geez, so they can basically take your license away for no reason, with no evidence, and make it virtually impossible for you to get it back, as soon as I get my first pay check I am joining AOPA. I think we need them more then ever!
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

ALPA Reaction to Rule on Revoking Certificates of 'Security Threats'
Friday January 24, 5:37 pm ET

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was issued by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, in reaction to a rule announced today by the FAA that would revoke an airman certificate if an individual is found by the Transportation Security Administration to be a "security threat":

While ALPA has strongly supported most of TSA's actions to increase aviation security, this rule clearly crosses the line separating legitimate security measures from secretive, unaccountable government conduct.

The rule mandates that the FAA revoke the airman certificate (applicable to pilots, mechanics, and dispatchers) of any person who is determined by TSA to be a "security threat." Such action would effectively end that worker's employment in the airline industry.

While the rule spells out in clear detail the process by which the revocation would occur, there is absolutely no discussion of standards, procedures, or criteria by which the TSA might make a determination that an individual is a "security threat."

Furthermore, while the individual may appeal the initial finding, there is no provision for the individual to obtain any information as to why or how the determination was made, which makes the appeal virtually an empty exercise.

The unanswered questions about how one is determined by TSA to be a "security threat" should evoke a chill in every American. Pilots and other workers would be unable to invoke the traditional right to access and refute the information that is being used against them.

We also were disappointed with the fact that the rule was introduced in final form, with no opportunity for meaningful comment, and indeed, with no notification to the portions of the aviation community that have an interest in, and have worked actively with TSA on security issues.

Airline pilots, mechanics, and other airline workers already are required to clear a 10-year criminal background check with fingerprinting. Conviction for a wide range of crimes, ranging from serious violations to relatively minor infractions, already will effectively end an airline worker's employment in the name of security. This latest rule apparently lowers the bar to mere suspicions that are not the result of the kind of due process that most Americans would expect before they are branded as a security threat.

The government has a legitimate interest in keeping terrorists off of airplanes, both as passengers and as airline and airport employees; but this rule is rooted more in "1984" than in Sept. 11, 2001.

ALPA represents 66,000 airline pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its Web site is http://www.alpa.org .
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Looks like the TSA has replaced the FAA in who is allowed to give out pilot/mech/dispatch certficates. I have hated the TSA before and I hate them even more now.

To think that the American people have been (and still are being) strung along into thinking all the TSA does is airport passenger screening.

I'm really surprised no media outlets have picked up on this yet.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

I am ticked off! The TSA is only one of the ever longer growing dirty fingers of the government. The U.S. is turning (or should I say has already turned) into a totalitarian police state (look into the "Patriot Act" if you want more). Society is ripe for a new round of McArthyism. To think that the paranoia and irrationalism of many in America could be fueled, mishandled and taken advangage of so completely is absolutely unbelievable. Talk about a misuse of power! We have to do something about all this before it gets too late (if it's not already too late)!
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Oh yeah by the way, everyone might start watching out what they say on JC. You never know who's lurking or registered and reading what you say. Maybe about what you say about TSA, the Federal Govt., or the Bush Administration. They could use it as evidence and ground you forever. So much for your Constitutional rights! You know, free speech, guilty until proven innocent. That means that the TSA is violating the Constitution and every single citizens civil rights. Next it will be passengers that are "considered risks" and won't be allowed to fly as passengers ever again. At least in court you know what evidence there is against you. Someone needs to put a leash on the TSA and quick!
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Whelp, I have a few things to say:

1) Impeach G. Dubya. Who honestly believes he knew nothing of the threats before 9/11? I don't for a second. Why not show the American public what was in the daily security briefings leading up to 9/11 (relating to 9/11)? This administration has something to hide from the American pulic, and it's getting away with MURDER.

2) This is just one more tick in the pro column for moving to Canada, forgetting the whole "become an airline pilot" thing, and growing BC Bud. Ooops, I just became a "security risk", well, that just seals the deal now, doesn't it.

3) If G. Dubya is elected for a second term, I'm going to commit a felony so I can be sent to jail (not murder, I don't want to be another one of G. Dubya's execution victims). Inmates soon will have more rights than those of us who have our "FREEDOM". HA!!! What a friggin' joke this country is becoming.

4) He's starting a war that his daddy screwed up so that he can restore his family's "good" name (he's the one who did cocaine, remember). And, if you don't think that's the case, pull up the wool that he and his administration have thrown over your eyes.

5) And, relating directly to this post, are the flight schools/academys going to give you that 10 year background check BEFORE you start paying them? Or are they going to take your money, put you in debt, give you your licenses, and send you off with no hope for a career in which you just paid bookoo bucks to them to earn your ratings? This must be addressed, and soon. Either that, or there must be some recourse for forgiving all or most of your debt for flight training. Let's see, if they deem you a security risk, you can't even fly as a private pilot, so a 100% refund would be in order. Don't you think?

I am honored to have served my country, however, I would be a conscientious objector to this "war".

Okay, I'll get off of my soapbox now.

An extremely disillusioned and disenfranchised American Veteran.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Neil, the media seems to love slamming pilots. So it is no surprise that they aren't focusing on what the TSA is doing to pilots. The media thinks we're all a bunch of guys who get paid $300K for 10 days of work a month and that we all do shots of tequilla as part of our preflight.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

If G. Dubya is elected for a second term, I'm going to commit a felony so I can be sent to jail (not murder, I don't want to be another one of G. Dubya's execution victims).

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Good luck. If he had his way, you could be executed for jaywalking.
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

If flight schools are soon required to perform background checks on student pilots, the costs are going to skyrocket.
I know that it can cost up to $50,000 for a company to get a security clearance for an employee. Imagine if a flight school has to do that, add another $50K to your training cost.
I think I will start exploring my back up career.

Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

I thought some flight schools already perform background checks. Like FlightSafety and ATP. Eh?
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

So now that we've all complained about how much this sucks, let's look at the way in which our government is setup to correct things like this happening. What we all need to remember is that our government is not exactly setup to PREVENT these kinds of things from happening, but it is really great at CORRECTING them after the fact and it won't ever happen again. Someone is going to bring a lawsuit against the TSA on this, and it'll eventually get taken to the surpeme court for breaking the constitution. If it is against the constitution it will be corrected.

That being said, this does blow hardcore. I don't know how anyone would ever think they could get away with something like this. Let's hope it gets corrected and taken off the books soon.


John Herreshoff
Re: Feel that? That\'s what it feels like to get reamed by the TSA

Since the subject of Canada came up here I thought I would mention that a lot of Canadian pilots and companies are being screwed right now since the U.S. gov't will not permit any foreign pilot to come to the U.S. for any training on an aircraft over 12,500 lbs unless they already hold a type rating for an aircraft over 12,500. So a lot of companies can't upgrade pilots which sucks, and I am sure that it must be hurting companies like FlightSafety, Simuflite, and others who would normally be doing this training.

I am glad I am still many, many hours away from having to worry about type ratings!