Taken on Nov. 19, 2010, when Quinnipiac men’s hockey defeated Dartmouth, 1-0. See the full slideshow here.
Taken on Nov. 19, 2010, when Quinnipiac men’s hockey defeated Dartmouth, 1-0. See the full slideshow here.
Originally submitted as a journalism capstone project to Quinnipiac University’s School of Communications in December 2010.
Rodger Koopman is no Spiderman.
But when the former counterterrorism official feels his senses tingling, he’s trained to pay attention.
“Your instincts aren’t typically wrong,” said Koopman, an Air Force veteran. “The Air Force preaches that.”
Well-versed in the politics of counterterrorism in his time at the Department of Defense, Koopman sensed aviation security was going in the wrong direction when he saw new TSA measures, launched on Oct. 29, that include enhanced pat-downs and advanced imaging machines.
More invasive isn’t the answer, Koopman said. More intelligent is.
“This is not good security,” he said. “lt’s not even real security. It’s only making Americans more resentful.”
Allied with Koopman are more than 900 fliers who reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union after their experiences with the enhanced pat-down.
“The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts,” one complainant told the ACLU. “She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone.”
The ACLU incited a firestorm against the TSA, decrying the department’s “naked power grab.”
“The government must keep us safe, but it must do so in a way that is sensible, effective and constitutional,” said Laura Murphy, ACLU spokeswoman. “Nobody should be forced to choose between ‘naked scans’ and intrusive groping by strangers to keep our airplanes safe.”
Within the Transportation Security Administration, though, the mindset is different. Advanced imaging technology and enhanced pat-downs are, in fact, the standard to keep fliers safe, TSA Administrator John Pistole said.
“We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” he said in a TSA release, “but that just isn’t the case.
“We welcome feedback and comments on the screening procedures from the traveling public, and we will work to make them as minimally invasive as possible while still providing the security that the American people want and deserve.”
The Flying Game
“Does that lady look like she’s going to pose a threat to our national security?” asked Patrick Turley, nodding towards a 60-year-old woman in a flowery dress by the baggage claim. “Absolutely not. But she’ll probably get pulled aside.”
Headphones on, leaning against a wall at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Turley is used to the process.
“It’s comical at times, but I don’t mind it.”
A professional golf caddie, Turley is on a plane every week. Each time, he gets an enhanced pat-down because of a rod in his leg (“soccer accident,” he says with a grimace). But he’s OK with it.
“The reason why they’re doing that now is to look out for our safety,” the New Fairfield, Conn. resident said. “If people have a problem with that, they’re either forgetting 9/11 or they’re too selfish in their own needs.”
Turley, fresh off a flight from Orlando, admitted feeling nerves whenever stepping on a plane: “I’m never 100 percent confident with security. Maybe 90 percent.”
His belief is to let security do their job. If anything, he wants more TSA agents, and if that means more pat-downs or imaging technology, so be it.
“I don’t think enough is enough,” Turley said. “If we can eliminate one person coming through with something that could harm a plane full of people, then that’s one for the good side.”
A Gallup poll reported that 71 percent of Americans agreed with Turley. Twenty-seven percent of Americans did not think heightened TSA regulations were worth it.
“Attitudes among frequent U.S. air travelers suggest that the reported uproar over the use of full-body scans and pat-downs at U.S. airports does not reflect how most air travelers feel,” read the Nov. 27 Gallup release.
Back at Bradley International, two baggage claims down from Turley, Austin, Texas native Ricky Reel had nothing bad to say.
“Nobody’s patted me down, so I’m happy,” Reel said with a chuckle, bags in tow.
A fiber optics network technician, Reel carries around wires and tools whenever he flies. But he shows everything to the TSA, he said, and everything goes smoothly.
“If security keeps us safe, I’m OK with it.”
‘My jaw drops every time’
Koopman, now working in a startup company, takes to the skies often, and because of metal screws in his leg from a knee replacement in May, he gets pulled aside at the security checkpoint every time.
The veteran gave a laugh when talking about his frequent enhanced pat-downs - “the FBI researched my background for a year and a half (before he worked in the Department of Defense). The idea that I’m any type of risk is beyond belief. My jaw drops every time.”
The increased security measures aren’t increasing security, he said: “They’re only managing liability.”
Like Koopman, any person (man, woman or child) with prosthetic body parts or metal rods and screws from surgery faces special examination.
This has been a cause for concern, according to security and privacy law expert Fred Cate, because the handicapped and helpless are singled out, and often for no reason.
“Targeting travelers with medical devices seems especially cruel,” Cate said in a letter to the U.S. Senate. “It is a fine way to greet a veteran who has lost a limb in the service of his or her country or a cancer survivor who has fought a long and disabling war against a horrible disease to say ‘we appreciate your sacrifice, and now we are going to delay and embarrass you every time you fly.’”
Cate, an Indiana University professor, added that following a pat-down, TSA officials would have no better sense whether an insulin pump was filled with insulin or high-tech explosives.
“After agents finish feeling the breasts of a woman with an implant, they have no better idea whether the implant is filled with liquid explosives or silicone,” Cate said.
Never Say Never
“Thank God I’m not a terrorist,” college junior Matthew Busekroos said. “Because if I was, the plane would have blown up.”
After stepping off the plane and into his Louisville hotel room on Oct. 27, Busekroos found a full Poland Springs water bottle in his backpack: his carry-on for the flight.
“If it happened to me, it probably happened to other people,” said Busekroos, a journalism student at Quinnipiac University. “It’s not realistic to think they’ll pick up on everything - but I still hope they do.”
His backpack had gone through the X-ray machine, like every other passenger’s carry-on. But somehow, his water bottle (17 ounces more than the maximum 3.4 ounces of contained fluid allowed) made it through unnoticed.
“It was either the technology or that people working there weren’t paying attention - which is even worse,” Busekroos said. “If it wasn’t my water bottle, it could have been a terrorist bomb.”
The student’s situation highlights a very real part of airline security, Koopman said. Things are going to get through.
“It’s logistically impossible to check every single container,” said Koopman, who retired from the Air Force in 1998. “If somebody really means us harm, they will be able to do it. We need to be more honest about that.”
Americans are enamored in technology, Koopman said. But technology, like in Busekroos’ case, still leaves room for human error.
“Technology is absolutely critical and valuable, but it isn’t going to win you battles,” Koopman said. “The same thing happens in counterterrorism. At the end of the day, it’s not going to make you more secure.”
Sitting right alongside Koopman on that platform is one of the world’s largest names in aviation security: Isaac Yeffet, former head of security for El Al Airlines in Israel.
“Stop relying only on technology,” Yeffet told CNN in January. “Technology can help the qualified, well-trained human being but cannot replace him.”
Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) doesn’t like the TSA’s new security measures one bit.
“When Americans witness three-year-old children being aggressively patted down by TSA screeners [as was the case last month] our airline security screening system is broken,” Holt wrote in a letter to Pistole, the TSA’s top man.
Several citizens have been equally loud – notably John Tyner, who told TSA officials in San Diego: “If you touch my junk I’ll have you arrested.”
Others have responded to the AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) machines that produce a near-naked image of the passenger. Certain fliers have worn special underwear with a tungsten fig leaf that shows us up on the AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) image, hiding genitalia.
“Quit staring at my junk,” and “Don’t tread on me” t-shirts have surfaced to combat the private nature of airport security measures.
An Oct. 29 release from the TSA informed passengers to expect an “unpredictable mix of security layers,” including advanced imaging, pat-downs, and canine teams.
Unpredictable may not be the answer, Koopman said.
“The public has this intuition that what’s going on is not necessarily right,” Koopman said. “They just don’t understand that feeling.”
It is instinct, Koopman said, is the very thing that the TSA needs to employ.
“To do it right, you have to profile,” Koopman said. “You have to use your intelligence. We have become so politically correct that it’s no longer possible to have a conversation about what concerns security.”
The TSA does identify BDOs (Behavior Detection Officers) that use “non-intrusive behavior observation and analysis techniques to identify potentially high-risk passengers,” according to their website.
These officers operate at 161 airports in America.
“Individuals exhibiting specific observable behaviors may be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint to include a handwanding, limited pat down and physical inspection of one’s carry-on baggage,” according to the TSA. “Referrals are based on specific observed behaviors only, not on one’s appearance, race, ethnicity or religion.”
Still, Koopman said a system that continues to draw out the handicapped and medically affected needs modification.
“Punishing people who are already handicapped in society - it’s terrible,” he said. “If we care about security, we should be applying profiling, obviously something of a legalistic liability. But, right now, we’re avoiding strategy.”
Back at a baggage claim at Bradley International, Turley pondered out loud: “I wonder if we could have the military be our TSAs.”
In a perfect world, perhaps they would. El Al in Israel, oft-cited as the safest airport in the world, employs a militaristic, intelligence-oriented approach to aviation security - one that includes an interview by a trained expert with every single passenger.
“It’s mandatory that every passenger - I don’t care his religion or whatever he is - every passenger has to be interviewed by security people who are qualified and well-trained, and are being tested all year long,” Yeffet, now in the American transportation industry, said of El Al. “I trained my guys and educated them, that every flight, for them, is the first flight. That every passenger is the first passenger. The fact that you had [safe flights] yesterday and last month means nothing. We are looking for the one who is coming to blow up our aircraft. If you do not look at each passenger, something is wrong with your system.”
The 39-plane airline pumps more than $100 million into security annually, as reported by Israel news source Haaretz.
“We must look at the qualifications of the candidate for security jobs,” Yeffet said. “He must be educated. He must speak two languages. He must be trained for a long time, in classrooms. He must receive on-the-job training with a supervisor for weeks to make sure that the guy understands how to approach a passenger, how to convince him to cooperate with him, because the passenger is taking the flight and we are on the ground.”
The Training Game
In the Air Force, Koopman underwent torture resistance training. Even then, he said he feels “violated” with the enhanced pat-down.
“I’ve been naked in hundreds of locker rooms, but when I get patted down by some TSA guy who is probably not that highly qualified in security, I’m embarrassed.
“I expect these patdowns in countries where liberty and freedom is not guaranteed.”
To investigate the training of TSOs (Transportation Security Officials), the Department of Homeland Security produced a report in October on TSA training processes.
“At one airport, TSA officials allowed TSOs to bypass the use of the Online Learning Center and provided little time for training because of staffing challenges,” read the report. “One lead TSO indicated that he had not accessed the Online Learning Center since 2005.”
That wasn’t commonplace, but multiple airports didn’t give ample time to train, according to the report.
“TSOs described rushing through course material without devoting the attention needed to retain the lessons. TSA officials agreed that if TSOs hurry through training courses because they are not being allocated sufficient time by management or they do not have access to training computers, they may not receive adequate or quality training.”
That raised eyebrows for frequent flyers, because the pat-downs get personal.
“They thoroughly give you a body (pause) rub, really,” Turley said. “They get inside the groin, inside the belt line on your pants.
“I’m sure [the TSOs] don’t like it either. You can tell they’re uncomfortable with it.”
More Americans are bothered by the full-body pat-down than the scan, according to the Gallup poll. Fifty-seven percent were OK with the full-body scan, while 42 percent were not bothered by the full-body pat-down.
“I hope sooner than later they come out with just machines that you walk through,” Turley said. “If they see you nude, who cares? As long as you’re safe.”
Originally published at QUChronicle.com:
Senior Caitlin Goldberg stood in front of a crowd of 300 students at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and she had to smile. It was the denouement to a journey that began four years ago when Goldberg, a hopeful freshman, applied for a Quinnipiac delegation to attend the Park City, Utah film festival.
“It was my first semester of freshman year,” Goldberg said. “I sent in the application, and Quinnipiac was selected. Everyone was speechless.”
Four years later, the Sundance trip has blossomed into the staple for the Quinnipiac Film Society, of which Goldberg is president. Twenty-five students, along with Dr. Raymond Foery, attended the 2011 festival from Jan. 20-25.
We can’t forget the Montgomery bus boycotts of 1955.
To do so would be disrespectful to our civil rights today and the very people who boycotted those buses in hopes of equality and civil rights legislation.
These people saw something wholly discriminatory in the public transportation system. Despite a daily reliance on such buses, they employed a staggering amount of dedication and spent distances and dollars avoiding prejudiced bus practices. There was something wrong, and these people wouldn’t stand for it.
And so we thank them. The world would be a far different place without such dedication and vision toward a goal.
A bus boycott to remember the bus boycott is honorable. But it is also misguided, because it minimalizes the commitment to a goal that drove the 1955 boycott in the first place.
“We are by no means protesting against the Quinnipiac shuttle system,” Black Student Union President Crystal Cook said. “We are trying to take necessary precautions to make sure it is not perceived that way.”
We wouldn’t be boycotting the Quinnipiac shuttle because it is discriminatory. This boycott will not call attention to greater equality or grand moral difference. It is merely an imitation of the mechanics of the event.
But the Montgomery boycotts were not about the cars, buses, gasoline, or taxi fares. They were about commitment to avoiding discrimination, and a commitment to a resolution that created greater equality.
Déjà vu it was not for the men’s basketball team.
After blowing a 23-point lead against Bryant on Thursday, Quinnipiac let a 15-point lead against Central Connecticut State dwindle down to two with one minute remaining. But defensive stands and made free throws kept the Bobcats on the winning end of a 73-68 affair at the TD Bank Sports Center.
“I didn’t feel like we were engaged Thursday night,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “We were young, and our attitude was ‘I can’t believe we gave up a 20-point lead.’ Tonight we were engaged and alive in the fight.”
Quinnipiac (12-4, 4-2 NEC) had seven steals in the high-tempo affair. The Bobcats were outrebounded 39-37 without former NEC Player of the Year Justin Rutty, who missed his fourth consecutive game after elbow surgery.
“We’ve gone from being an inside-oriented team to a perimeter-oriented team,” Moore said. “We really needed James Johnson and Deontay (Twyman) to make jump shots or make driving plays to create opportunities for those big guys to finish.”
Twyman led the way with a career-high 23 points for the Bobcats. Tevin Baskin added 13 points and nine rebounds in his first game with extended minutes.
Read the full story here.
Some highlights from my design work at the Quinnipiac Chronicle. Created with Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator (mix of CS3 and CS4).
This was one of my more memorable stories for the Chronicle. One, I beat everyone to the punch - this was the first story on the web. Two, I tracked down a digital copy of the ruling, threw it on Scribd, and embedded it - nobody else had that. Several news outlets then took my Scribd document and embedded it. Quinnipiac University was in violation of Title IX by eliminating their volleyball team and introducing a competitive cheer team, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled Wednesday in his 95-page decision. Underhill said that a “competitive cheerleading team does not qualify as a varsity sport for the purposes of Title IX.” Underhill ordered the university to issue a compliance plan within 60 days, and “that compliance plan shall provide for the continuation of the women’s volleyball team during the 2010-11 season.” “Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students,” Underhill said. Read the full story here.
This was one of my more memorable stories for the Chronicle. One, I beat everyone to the punch - this was the first story on the web. Two, I tracked down a digital copy of the ruling, threw it on Scribd, and embedded it - nobody else had that. Several news outlets then took my Scribd document and embedded it.
Quinnipiac University was in violation of Title IX by eliminating their volleyball team and introducing a competitive cheer team, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled Wednesday in his 95-page decision. Underhill said that a “competitive cheerleading team does not qualify as a varsity sport for the purposes of Title IX.”
Underhill ordered the university to issue a compliance plan within 60 days, and “that compliance plan shall provide for the continuation of the women’s volleyball team during the 2010-11 season.”
“Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students,” Underhill said.
Read the full story here.
Took this photo in December of a pair of women starting up a campus web-zine at QU. Accompanied this story.