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How airports have changed following 9/11

TSA Whistleblower
Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 12:29:15-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- On any given day at the San Diego Airport, you'll find lines of passengers, most familiar with how things work in this post 9/11 world.

"After 9/11 there was a complete reset," said Lorie Dankers, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA was created in response to the attacks, in November of 2001.

The agency was tasked with developing procedures to detect and deter threats from ever making it onto an aircraft.

Which, according to Dankers, begins with credential authentication technology.

"That technology, what it does is it's able to verify the identity of the passenger confirms they're ticketed to travel."

For roughly the past 10 years, many airports have been using body scanners as an alternative to metal detectors.

"That's a millimeter wave technology that essentially bounces a radio wave off the body of the traveler to see if any items are concealed in the clothing of the traveler or on the body of the traveler," explained Dankers.

Contrary to what some may think, the body scanners don't show detailed images, simply an outline and areas highlighted in yellow that might require more inspection.

Dankers says it allows screeners to focus their attention instead of doing a full-body pat-down.

Everything passengers do now was in response to a previous threat.

After someone tried to use a shoe to conceal an explosive, the TSA began requiring passengers to remove them to be checked.

These days many X-ray scanners now use 3D technology. "They're able to rotate that image, pivot it, and able to isolate and remove something like an electronic to get a closer image to make sure it doesn't pose a threat," said Dankers.

When another passenger tried to smuggle liquid explosives onto a flight, the TSA began the process of limiting and restricting.

"We know the greatest threat today in 2021 continues to be explosives on an aircraft," said Dankers.

They do make exceptions for medically necessary liquids, checking them with a special device to ensure the liquid has the characteristics it should.

And after concerns arose about terrorists trying to conceal explosives in electronics, the TSA began requiring more detailed checks of those items and many times will now quickly swab and check for explosive residue on the items and even traveler's hands.

"We have a special machine that's able to tell if there's any trace of explosives," said Dankers.

As for checked bags, there is a similar procedure, with 3D scanners that look for potential issues. On Sept. 4, San Diego TSA says they screened about 13,000 checked bags that came through the airport. The TSA adds that 100% of checked bags are screened.

"We know that at any time someone could disrupt the system. We know that we have to be ready, we also have to be right every time," Dankers said.