Rise of the TSA


  • Prior to 9/11, individual airports and airlines were responsible for hiring their own security firms to provide screening for passengers on flights. Security screening and airport security were considerably lax compared to today. After 9/11, the US government decided to create the TSA as a national agency in charge of handling airport security and screenings. As other potential terrorist attacks were foiled, the TSA changed screening and security policies to account for these new threats.

Essential Questions:

  1. What were some of the major events that led to increased security measures at airports post-9/11? 
  2. Have these measures made airline travel safer? How have they changed the way Americans and others around the world travel and cross borders? 


  1. TSA/Air traffic control/security/Change to air travel over time, pre, during, post  
    1. Comic book: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003653078/ 
      1. This is a short comic book explaining how an old woman was upside at the new security changes in the post 9/11 aftermath, under conversation with someone going to a memorial for someone who perished in the attack.
      2. EQ:1
    2. https://www.tsa.gov/timeline (timeline of events this is great to cover a ton and turn into an inquiry lesson)
      1. This is a timeline highlighting major changes to TSA and airport security policies and how potential terrorist attacks shaped new TSA and airport security features.
      2. EQ: 1 and 2
    3. https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/aviation_and_transportation_security_act_atsa_public_law_107_1771.pdf (creation of the TSA first two pages)
      1. This is a public law that created the TSA in the aftermath of 9/11. The first 2 pages outlined the duties and purpose of the TSA.
      2. EQ: 1 and 2
    4. News that talks about policy changes 
      1. https://www.tsa.gov/news/press/releases – TSA press releases starting in 2003 
        1. This is the press release of all TSA-related events that start all the way back in 2003. the user can search by specific years dates and months, to find a specific press release in the aftermath of a particular event that had an impact on security at the airports in the United States.
        2. EQ: 1 and 2
      2. https://www.cnn.com/2012/04/30/world/al-qaeda-documents/index.html – liquid bomb revisit 
      3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8242479.stm – liquid bomb news
        1. these are two articles about the trans-Atlantic bomb plot in 2005, where al Qaeda terrorists attempted to detonate bombs on planes traveling from Europe to the US using explosives made in liquids. This would eventually go on to produce the policy to change the amount of liquid people could carry on airplanes.
        2. EQ: 1 and 2
    5. Pre and Post boarding an airplane clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP3KEe0JaAI (background of the private security company in charge of airport screening) 
      1. this is a film clip from an HBO documentary entitled playing, which has an interview of a former head of local security or private security firm that used to handle airport security at one of the airports. In the interview, he explains the procedures of how airports and airlines would hire private security firms to handle their preflight screening and what airport security was like pre 911.
      2. EQ: 1 and 2

Types of Sources:

  • Comic Book
  • Timeline
  • Governmental Law/Act
  • Press Release
  • News Article
  • TV News Show