In reality, Mr. Hawley overhauled the agency’s culture and operations. He upgraded technology and procedures to improve security and efficiency, and he tried to bring a common-sense approach to the job; one of his first acts was to remove scissors and small tools from the list of banned items so that security officers could focus on threats that could destroy an aircraft.
To raise morale within the work force, he improved pay and benefits. He also reclassified screeners as security officers, engaged them in decision-making and gave them new uniforms.
A highlight of his tenure came in August 2006, when British intelligence foiled a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives carried on several airliners heading for the United States and Canada; Mr. Hawley quickly banned all liquids, gels and aerosols from carry-on luggage in the U.S. Six weeks later, he allowed liquids in containers no bigger than 3.4 ounces.
After he left the agency, he spoke out about its problems in the book “Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security” (2012), written with Nathan Means, and in news media essays. Concerned that checkpoint operators were too focused on finding items on the banned list — items that posed little threat to bringing down a plane — he wanted the agency to lift the ban on virtually everything except guns, toxins and explosives. But he said such bold proposals were thwarted by political interference.
He also urged that T.S.A. officers be trained in risk management and be encouraged to use their own judgment.
As he often said, “The most advanced piece of technology in any organization is the human brain.”
Edmund Summers Hawley III was born on Nov. 10, 1953, in Waltham, Mass., and grew up in nearby Winchester, Mass. His father, Edmund Blair Hawley, was a management consultant, venture capital executive and educator. His mother, Greta (Crocker) Hawley, managed a household of five sons and a daughter.
Kip attended Brown University, where he earned a degree in political science with a specialty in national security affairs in 1976. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1980.