The nation's airlines, meanwhile, are bridling under a new directive from the TSA that takes effect this week. In what the TSA says is an effort to gather all security information in a central clearinghouse to track trends, the agency is demanding that carriers "immediately" report to the TSA each incident that could be considered a security threat. The airlines already report security concerns to the TSA. But they say that being forced to report even minor incidentsand first to the TSA rather than the FBI, which has both the legal jurisdiction to handle crimes aboard aircraft and more experienced aviation-security agentsis unnecessary and will add delays. "The TSA has no idea what they are getting into," says one airline-industry source. "The airlines get thousands of crank calls a year, and there are thousands more disruptive passengers who turn out to be drunks, not terrorists." Ken Maxwell, a former counterterrorism official who is now vice president of security for JetBlue Airways, says he is "very concerned" that the new TSA rules will hinder security.
The TSA says the move is part of an ongoing effort to refine its system for dealing with potential security threats. "It is important that concerns be shared quickly," says Mark Hatfield, a TSA spokesman, "and the TSA is the agency responsible for the security of the entire transportation system."