Book details

Permanent Emergency

Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security

Author: Kip Hawley and Nathan Means

Permanent Emergency

Permanent Emergency


About This Book

We're all familiar with the TSA by now—from the daunting lines to the X-ray machines to the curious three ounce rule governing liquids. But many question whether this strange assortment of regulations,...

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Book Details

We're all familiar with the TSA by now—from the daunting lines to the X-ray machines to the curious three ounce rule governing liquids. But many question whether this strange assortment of regulations, meant to protect the two million people a day travelling through US airports, actually works. In this riveting exposé, former TSA administrator Kip Hawley unveils the agency's ongoing battle to outthink and outmaneuver terrorists, navigating bureaucratic limitations and public disdain to stay one step ahead of catastrophe. Citing foiled terrorist plots and near misses that have never been publicly revealed, Hawley suggests that the fundamental flaw in America's approach to national security is the belief that we can plan for every contingency. Instead, he argues, we must learn to manage reasonable levels of risk so we can focus our near-term energy on stopping truly catastrophic events while, in the long-term, engaging passengers to support a less rigid and more sustainable security strategy. This is a fascinating glimpse inside one of the country's most maligned agencies and the complex business of keeping Americans safe every day.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Griffin



In The News

“PERMANENT EMERGENCY is in its own class . . . [it's] a page turner . . . Whether you largely agree with the TSA's role in homeland security or not, if you read this book your views about the agency and the people who serve in it will change. Maybe permanently.” —

“A lively, fun-to-read, insider's account of an agency whose mission is critical to our safety.” —Dana Priest, Investigative Reporter, The Washington Post and author of Top Secret America

“While it may not assuage the frustrations of air travelers, Kip Hawley's memoir of building and operating the Transportation Security Agency provides gripping insights into the challenges of defending the public from terrorist threats.” —Bobby R. Inman, admiral, United States Navy (retired), former director of National Security Agency and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency

“Written like a thriller, this book is indispensable for anyone who gets on an airplane. Hawley was there on the cutting edge, and we're safer for it.” —Robert Baer, author of See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil

“Kip Hawley has written a gripping and lucid account of his experience building the TSA from the ground up. The book explains the complexity of managing air security and it reads like a thriller. Should be in the carry on of every air traveler.” —Michael Chertoff, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary (2005-2009)

“Since 9/11, Americans have been sold the idea that we have to give up our liberties in order to be safe and so we have tolerated cumbersome and expensive airport security procedures without asking enough questions about what actually works and what level of intrusion and cost we are willing to sustain. In this eye-opening book, TSA insider and expert Kip Hawley shows why trying too hard to be absolutely safe may make us both less safe and less free. His book provides a compelling argument for reexamination of our airport security practices and our antiterrorism strategies overall.” —Susan Herman, President of the ACLU and Centennial Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School

“Every flyer should read this book to understand what TSA has done to mitigate the terror threat to commercial air travel. Hawley's efforts vividly remind me of the bureaucratic chaos experienced attempting to stay one step ahead of U.S. Embassy bombers, on a DC road filled with obstacles, naysayers and turf battles, compounded with real-time terror plots and threats.” —Fred Burton, VP, Intelligence, Stratfor and the author of Ghost and Chasing Shadows

“This brisk and engaging narrative reveals the machinations behind the X-Ray machines and pat-downs in the nation's defense against airborne terrorist activity . . . The success with which the administrators managed these problems forms the dramatic, emotional core of this exciting book.” —Publishers Weekly

“Hawley's narrative traces the story of the Transportation Security Administration, created in the immediate wake of Sept. 11, 2001, and charged with improving airport security. In matters of transportation, Hawley demonstrates, the trade-off is not security vs. American values and constitutional protections, but security vs. efficiency, effectiveness and public approval . . . Throughout his narrative he brings to life details of incipient threats around the globe.” —The Washington Post

About the Creators

Permanent Emergency

Permanent Emergency