One Rule For TSA Managers, One Rule for You

As we’ve mentioned here before, the daily parade of would-be flyers who are stupid (or forgetful) enough to unintentionally carry a gun or some other contraband through a TSA airport checkpoint has become tedious. The TSA arrests the poor absent-minded schmucks and gives them the full prostate exam. Uncle Sam’s minions confiscate their guns and charges them with a felony. Their gun rights? Gone baby, gone. It’s the same story over and over, right? Well not quite. Not if you’re a TSA manager. Once again, with monotonous regularity, we learn that there’s one set of rules for government employees and one rule for us . . .

According an azcentral.com Action Eyewitness On-Your-Side Night Beat Special Investigative Edition Bulletin Report (you know it’s a big deal because they have an actual whistleblower with a pixellated face and altered voice), an unidentified TSA manager unintentionally brought a loaded gun through a TSA checkpoint on his way to work in December of 2008.

Did alarm bells go off? Was local yokel law enforcement called in, as TSA procedure dictates? Was the guy humiliated and frog marched out of there as any Tommy Traveler would have been? No, not quite. According to a transcript,

At 12:11 p.m. the TSA manager enters lane 5 reporting for work. At 12:13 p.m. he puts his briefcase on the conveyor belt for screening. At 12:16 p.m. he enters the checkpoint through the walk-through magnetometer. Then at 12:17 p.m. as the briefcase moves into the X-ray scanner, the TSA manager demonstrates anxiety over his property in the X-ray tube. At 12:17 p.m. a Lead Transportation Security Officer signals to Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Mike Hales, the firearm signal with his hands. At 12:18 p.m. Hales recognizes the employee who brought the gun and responds to him in lane 5. Hales then signals towards the supervisor’s desk appearing to stop the required call to the Phoenix Police Department, Airport Bureau.

At 12:19 p.m. Hales takes the briefcase from the X-ray. Oneminute later, Hales and the TSA manager exit the checkpoint and walk into the airport side of the checkpoint off camera. The TSA manager then walks out of the airport, still carrying the loaded gun with one in the chamber and a magazine.

The whistleblower maintains, “This was a cover-up, this was despicable. It’s the most egregious thing I’ve ever seen while I’ve been with the TSA.”

Evidently the whistleblower hasn’t been at TSA long enough to witness three-year-olds being sexually molested or old ladies in wheelchairs forced to disrobe in public. In any case, the incident wasn’t considered worthy of much note at the time. Not, at least, by Hales’ boss.

More specifically, in an email from Mike Hales to his boss, Dave Couts, the Assistant Federal Security Director of Screening (AFDS-S) Hales informs him of the gun incident. Couts hardly seems troubled by the news responding, “Thank you for the quick turnaround,” Couts wrote, “Will there be cigars needed for your child’s birth? A box is on me.”

But TSA did eventually look into the shady goings on, at which time Hales attempted to justify his actions. Or lack thereof.

An internal memorandum containing the findings of the TSA internal investigation reveals why Supervisor Mike Hales broke policy. In his first sworn statement, Hales writes, “I felt that this situation involving upper-management had the potential to give TSA Phoenix yet another public relations black eye. In an effort to avoid bad publicity for TSA, the TSA Manager, me and the checkpoint I told the X-ray operator to release the bag from the X-ray machine.”

We wouldn’t want the sterling image of TSA to be sullied in any way. At least not “yet again.” What eventually happened to Hales and Couts as a result of this little cluster?

One investigator said Hales should be removed from federal service. But he wasn’t. Months later Hales was given just a 3 day suspension for his actions that day. We tried to speak with Hales but he had no comment. Hales currently holds a position of greater duties and responsibilities with the TSA. He’s employed as a Transportation Security Inspector (Aviation.) His annual salary is $53,605, according to TSA Public Affairs Officer Lorie Dankers.

As for Dave Couts, documents reveal he received a five day suspension in lieu of reprimand. That letter was placed into his personnel file for two years. He’s still with the TSA but in a different position. He’s working as a Program Analyst and his annual salary according to Dankers, is $114,394.

The azcentral.com report, though, makes no mention of the mysterious TSA manager who actually brought the gun through security and was allowed to walk. Nothing about who he or she is or what – if anything – happened as a result of the incident. The intrepid reporterette on the story likely met with a stone wall of stonewalling over that minor detail.

So next time you’re flying the friendly skies, if you happen to leave a heater in your carry-on and slide it into the x-ray machine, ask the arresting officer as he’s cuffing you why the same violation isn’t treated as seriously when a TSA employee is involved. We’re sure he’ll show a lot more leniency as a result.

comments

  1. avatar Tom says:

    Did it ever occur to anyone who has gone through the friendly skies procedure that if a terrorist posed as a security worker or police, what goodies they could bring aboard the plane?

  2. avatar Tom says:

    I have often wondered about the airline and service employees past security in the concourse. How do we know these people are who they say they are? Are they really screened and background checked?

    1. avatar thatoneguy says:

      No, not really. I know a few people who work for airlines and they just throw on a badge and go through the side doors….

    2. avatar NukemJim says:

      By law they are supposed to be, but reality is different. There was an organized ring in Chicago a few years ago supplying business with fake extra IDs so that illegals could work in the airports and businesses as cleaning people. Some of the businesses were just recycling the IDs from employees that had left.

  3. avatar NR says:

    Do you have any hard data on people being charged with a felony for forgetting gun in a carry-on? Any convictions?

    It doesn’t look like the Rinehart case you linked really counts- that took place in New York, so the gun would have been illegal even outside of the airport.

  4. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    “a stone wall of stonewalling”

    Nice.

  5. avatar Ropingdown says:

    “Watchu yawnin’ about? Do we have a problem here? Empty your pockets and go through the scanner again. Don’t think you can put us to sleep. Skyler? What’s that about? Code or something? Sky? Why Sky?. Mike, we got another yawner routine here. Take’m to Room 3, and check the DC database. I don’t care how long it takes to get an answer. He can take the next plane. Not my problem.”

  6. avatar 9MM&4WD says:

    The gratuitous use of sound effects in the news story really sucked, not gonna lie. The story is enough, don’t undermine it with Hollywood effects, Channel 12.

  7. avatar Joseph says:

    This guy was obviously an immediate danger to the public and should have been shot on the spot. His supervisors should have been hanged in public the next day.

    Had this happened to a TTAG or CCW person, everyone would be crying the blues to rival Bobby Blue Bland. We all know TSA sucks and so does the gov’ment.

    How about some more object reviews about guns…otherwise this is just another political rant. You got popular for your unbiased reviews on guns. Politics is never unbiased. Get back to basics.

    1. avatar Matt Gregg says:

      I wouldn’t be crying, if you don’t know that it’s illegal to carry in an airplane or the secure part of an airport by now then you probably shouldn’t be walking around without a helmet on. Stupid really should hurt just a bit.

      Now would I like to change that law? Yes, we’ve all seen that gun free zones are basically free crime areas.

    2. avatar Bill M says:

      Joseph
      hy·poc·ri·sy
         [hi-pok-ruh-see] Show IPA
      noun, plural -sies.
      1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
      2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
      3. an act or instance of hypocrisy.

      Learn it, know it, love it.

    3. avatar buzz says:

      You seriously dont understand that’s the whole point of the article? That a TTAG or CCW would be treated differently that a TSA person? And you call that a POLITICAL argument? FLAME DELETED You’re totally comfortable with two levels of laws? One for the enforcers and one for everyone else?

    4. avatar mikeb302000 says:

      Although I agree with Joseph about the hypocrisy, I’m not sure the success of TTAG is entirely due to the gun reviews. I remember one of the guys said they are the most popular posts, but still. The rest is fantastic. I’m not interested in the reviews myself, and I’ll bet I’m not alone.

  8. avatar mikeb302000 says:

    Maybe you guys should dedicate 10% of your blogging efforts to promulgate this as a big deal, you know, the way you have with the Gunwalker scandal.

    1. avatar Milsurp collector says:

      This is a “big deal”. It’s an example of what happens when agents of organizations like the TSA break the law, but are not strictly punished. This employee tried to get a loaded gun through security. He, like any other person trying to do the same, was an immediate danger to those around him. He should have been cuffed, processed, and hauled away by cops like any other normal citizen would have. The fact that he’s a TSA employee doesn’t grant him some kind of trumped up immunity to arrest for breaking federal law.

      And don’t tell me he told the technician to not call the cops because he wanted to “avoid a public relations black eye”. I can smell that bullshit from three counties away. He was obviously on a power trip thinking he could break the law and get away with it because “he is the law” whether he’s on his shift or not.

    2. avatar Matt Gregg says:

      You know I’ve gotta agree, it’s no big deal that the ATF is funneling guns to the Mexicans, who cares about some murdered border patrol agents anyways? And a TSA guy getting a free pass over something that would land anyone else in prison? No big deal. It isn’t a crime when your government does it.

    3. avatar SDN says:

      Yeah, because having a President and AG who violated their oaths of office to “uphold and defend the Constitution” and “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” should never matter….

      1. avatar mikeb302000 says:

        You should join the Oath Keepers, you’re so worried about oaths.

        These stories, both the Fast and Furious and much more so this TSA thing, have been blown out of all proportion by the government, ATF, Obama-haters.

        1. avatar Matt Gregg says:

          Nice to hear you admit that firearms murder and gun smuggling is over blown.

        2. avatar Steve S. says:

          Don’t give a rip about a two-tiered legal system? That doesn’t bother you, so long as you can make some snarky comments?

          Do you even know what “a nation of laws, not of men” even means? That you are probably a voter scares me. No wonder we have the government that we have.

    4. avatar GS650G says:

      So Gunwalker is not a big deal?

  9. avatar Joseph says:

    Thanks for making my point Bill.

    Now how about some gun reviews.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Gun reviews are coming. Please stop flaming the website. Meanwhile, you are most welcome to submit gun reviews, BTW. Ping guntruth@me.com

  10. avatar GS650G says:

    Some pigs are more equal than others. Still.

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