Monday, May 26, 2008

An Unruly TSA?

I have a new email account, created after the upsetting phone call I received recently from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Investigator Greg Neiderer. It was a terrible welcome home gift after serving a year in Iraq. The government has snooped in on my other personal and private email account. It infuriates me. My right of privacy and my freedom of speech are being bludgeoned, for lack of a better term. The Constitution is really hanging by a thread when government officials use more time, energy and resources to attack whistleblowers than to stop the real threat of terrorism.

My wife and I had an interesting conversation last night. It turns out Mr. Neiderer called my home and spoke with my wife while I was in Iraq. My wife of ten years said he knew I was in Iraq when he called our home. Of course, she was the only one home when he called.

She said he acted like he knew me, and since I had been a Federal Air Marshal (FAM) under the arm of the TSA, and since the caller ID read “U.S. government” with an area code “703” out of Virginia, she thought he may have been an old friend of mine. With that in mind, she told him I was in Iraq. “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he said, and then he laughed.

There’s nothing funny about that, Mr. Neiderer.

To everyone else, Mr. Neiderer is not an old friend, or even an acquaintance. In fact, I’ve never heard of him in my life until a couple of days ago.

When I got home from Iraq last Monday, he didn’t even allow me a week to relax before calling me and probing me with questions in a supposed all-important government investigation. One would think the nature of this investigation would be terribly serious given the fact that Mr. Neiderer and his ilk at the TSA office in Virginia took some painstaking strides to conduct a thorough search on my recent activities since leaving the air marshal service.

From my personal email he, 1) found out I was a former air marshal; 2) found out I was in Iraq with the Army Reserves and knew that I wasn’t home yet; 3) dug up my personal phone number and called my wife while he knew I was in Iraq. What else did this guy find out about me or my family? Oh, probably everything. Shoot, I wonder if the private email conversations I had with my wife while I was in Iraq were being monitored too! It makes me livid.

All of this just because TSA wanted to know who sent me an email I forwarded in March of this year from my personal email account asking for current and former air marshals to talk to CNN.

I’m flabbergasted. What an extreme waste of tax payer money. It’s absurd. It’s outrageous. Who would have guessed that was more important than fighting terrorists in Iraq or safeguarding commercial aviation assets in America.

Come on! I left the Federal Air Marshal Service in early 2007. Why would government investigators from the TSA violate my personal privacy over something so ridiculous? Why would they violate my personal privacy, period?! It’s outlandish.

But then again, it has been said that the TSA stands for Thousands Standing Around, so maybe they have nothing else better to do with our taxpayer money than harass a soldier who has just returned from war.

My wife, who’s been all alone with our young children for the last year and a half, and who was all alone while I was traveling weekly as an air marshal for years before that, has been very scared at times for her personal safety. It was Mr. Neiderer’s laugh and the uncomfortable way he said things that made the whole conversation seem unusual and odd to my wife, but by then it was too late. She thought she could trust someone calling from a U.S. government telephone line. That is a disturbing fallacy.

The truth is not everyone in the government can be trusted, and not everyone in the government is smart or looks after our best interests. And that infuriates me.

In October of last year, The Star-Ledger out of New Jersey ( reported the following on the hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on transportation security.

Kip Hawley, who runs the TSA, told members of Congress during that meeting, “You can’t do this job if the work force is not trusting of the leadership team.” And then speaking of whistleblowers, who often go to the media since management won’t listen, he added, “Chasing after leaks is not a productive activity.”

Well, Mr. Hawley, I like what you said. But you are either lying to Congress, or someone – probably a lot of “someone’s” – in your organization are outright disregarding what you testified about before Congress. My guess is it’s not just one TSA Investigator named Greg Neiderer, but an entire group of miscreants. And if that’s the case, sir, either you’re guilty of perjury in a federal hearing or your own people are making you look incompetent as a leader.


Anonymous said...

Have you Googled "Greg" to see if he really exists?

And email me with your new address so I have it!


Anonymous said...

Nothing surprises me about this claim. TSA operates under the adage that "if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists", and this mentality is distorted down to the most minute strand of one's sense of power over another. Beltway boys aside even, each airport's HR issues are debacles and our nation's effectiveness to counter aviation security threats are undermined by many in TSA management because of their lust for power over people - mainly because the true leaders that should have filled their positions aren't there because they're filled with the other person's friends or chosen - not by a neutral third party - but by local management that rewards their brown-nosers (or fill in your own word) by promoting them into leadership positions they have NO capabilities succeding in, unless they can yell and intimidate - a typical pre-industrial age tactic when one demands conformity without compromise, which ultimately perpetuates the dysfunctional cycle of hostile work environments that reduces and destroys TSA's ability to do its job properly.

Of course, some airports are better at masking this crisis than others, but I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out why there exists a choired consensus of employees telling TSA's Beltway boys why employee morale is an all-time low. Internal Organizational employee surveys be damned, the results that are "made public" are BS because of the majority of those submitting them are fearful of retribution - yes, they are indeed not anonymous and can be tracked to whomever filled them out. Even if someone voices a negative opinion of something (much like this post), it is either ignored altogether or the 'perpetrator' is flagged and hounded at work.

The biggest problem that exists within TSA is being sniggered at because of politics, red tape and because those in DC that have the ability to bring about REAL change are incapable of expressing empathy for the tens of thousands of employees that make their bank accounts fat, without compromising their own sense of power which surely is coupled with the subsequent tinge of guilt they feel to realize that they, like their more incompetent subordinates share one trait in common: they fail to make the simple choice to lead by example and choose between what is right and what is easy. Result: TSA is easy.

The Earth will unfortunately always contain third world countries. Their Governments have shown through their repeated histories that when left to their own devices, they ultimately resort to destroying one another. TSA is a symbolic icon of this tendency because while the top brass in DC continue to ignore the problems they should spend more time investing to repair, it is left to fester into an infection that once fully outbreaks, they will not even attempt to fix it - but simply pull the plug and focus not on the lives ruined by the most mismanaged agency in the U.S. Government, but on what take they all made while the gettin' was good with taxpayers' money & pork barrel spending.

My apology if this response wasn't consistent to the initial just brought back some memories of just how far some in our Government that shouldn't be are given more power than they should and thus, innately have the propensity to abuse it. Big Brother is certainly watching...It's a shame they focus more on whistle-blowing than determining which airports need the most overhauls and direct their energies into aiding their agency, rather than dispensing those that are more able bodied to bring about postive changes to a crumbling infrastructure.

May God help us all.

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate to give the Thousands Standing Around credit for anything you are really messing up here…
For example:
“From my personal email he, 1) found out I was a former air marshal; 2) found out I was in Iraq with the Army Reserves and knew that I wasn’t home yet; 3) dug up my personal phone number and called my wife while he knew I was in Iraq. What else did this guy find out about me or my family? Oh, probably everything.”
1) The air marshal reference is written at the top of your blog… “I've worked as a SWAT team leader and a post-9/11 Federal Air Marshal.”
2) Again, see your own blog… “I just returned from a deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserves”
3) Ever heard of Google? I have your number now also. You were not that difficult to find with all the information you put on your site.
Let’s see, I also have:
A picture of the last tent you lived in while in Iraq.
You “had to see a psychotherapist” not to long ago.
You arrived back in the United States on or before May 15, 2008
You read your pocket-sized New Testament while flying out of Iraq
You are a bit blood thirsty, “I am a proponent of capital punishment. Unfortunately, not enough people are euthanized.” I am sorry about your friend though.
What would you like to know about your wife? You have an entire entry devoted to her and your four kids.
And yes, my personal favorite: Uncle Bill sent you “Old Yeller” while you were in Iraq!
All this I made it less than a quarter of the way through your blog… Did you ever stop to consider that you forwarded the e-mail in question to Mr. Neiderer yourself? Since you don’t remember it anyway, what makes you so sure you didn’t? Maybe he is an old friend you just forgot about… Like all the personal info you posted on your own site.
Just a thought.
Don't worry; I don't expect you to post this... It is far to embarrassing for you… And it really works against your conspiracy theory. :-)