My Attitude Towards the TSA “Security” Procedures

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    Excuse me, but how is leaving “a bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag” humiliated, crying and covered in urine making us any safer from “the terrorists?” How about making a breast cancer survivor remove her prosthetic breast? Same thing with this insanity. Is any of this making us any safer?  Also, where does it end? If terrorists start injecting explosives into their bloodstreams or hiding them far into body cavities, will all air passengers have to have blood drawn and body cavity searches performed?  

    Look, I fully agree that we need security, but at this point, it’s just getting out of hand. Also, I’m far from convinced that the way we’re going about this right now is truly effective.  For instance, the TSA until a day or two ago was putting pilots through these procedures, even though it seems like a pilot could figure out how to crash his or her airplane without being armed. In the end, if we can’t go about our lives in a reasonably comfortable manner with reasonable – but not overly intrusive or humiliating – security procedures in place, then the terrorists have won by fundamentally changing our way of life. I’m sorry, but there’s got to be a better way.

    • Randy Klear

      which has trained personnel asking a few simple but well-chosen screening questions to each passenger, going into more detail depending on the answers, eventually leading up to extended interrogations, patdowns, luggage searches, etc. for people who dig a hole for themselves.

      The reason this won’t fly here is because of the American passion for technology over skilled labor. Republicans, remember, were willing to trash the whole idea of TSA to prevent unionization of the current workforce, preferring to stick with the cheap, privatized security system that helped enable 9/11. Everyone may be outraged, but don’t expect a lot of support for constructive alternatives that don’t mean include large corporate contracts.

    • pontoon

      Saturday Night Live did a skit on the TSA procedures last night.  It’s pretty funny.  Here’s the link:

      http://www.hulu.com/watch/1947

      I agree that the new techniques do little to protect us.  There has to be a better way.  If we trained our security folks to do what the Israeli’s do, as long as we ask everyone the questions, I don’t know why we couldn’t do it.  It’s only profiling, if you choose a specific group to whom you ask the questions.

    • AnonymousIsAWoman

      Although privacy and dignity are important concerns, there is another important issue with the new full body scanners and that is radiation exposure.  The truth is if you fly once or twice a year, you probably are not in much danger from the amount of radiation you would be exposed to.  But if you are a frequent flyer, as many passengers are, this raises a very real health threat.  It’s one of the reasons the Pilots Association objected to the full body scanners.  The dosage of radiation is just too high to be safe for the many business travelers who fly monthly or even more frequently.

      We all want to be as safe as possible on an airplane, but there comes a point where common sense has to prevail.  As others have pointed out, anybody who is fanatic enough to put explosives in their underwear is also crazy enough to insert them in a body cavity.  At what point do we all finally say enough is enough. When we are all submitting to public cavity searches?  

      This may surprise people who know me but I think effective profiling is a far better solution than the collective insanity we are now engaging in.

      The key, though, is effective profiling, which is a precision instrument not a blunt weapon.  

      We all know the profile of a likely terrorist who would explode an airplane. But let me tell you who it’s not likely to be.

      It’s probably not a grandmother from Minnesota.  It’s also probably not an elderly gentleman from Egypt or a young family, complete with a mother; father; and slew of kids, from Abu Dhabi.

      A would be terrorist is usually a young man (or young woman, but more frequently a male), usually a loner, who has shown an interest in a particular form of very conservative, rigid political Islam (followers of Sayyid Qutb – which would leave out the vast majority of the world’s Muslims), and who has a travel history that includes visits to failed nation states which contain a large population of fellow terrorists or terrorist training facilities within their borders.  In many cases, as with the Christmas bomber, people have tried to warn security officials about this type of person in advance.  In that case it was the young man’s own father.

      So, paying attention to such tips, better coordination between the varying security organizations, following an accurate, precise profile, and better background checks would be more effective than random searches and invasive body scanners.  They would keep us all safer.  

    • Old Redneck

      In their “Aircraft Passenger Whole-Body Imaging Limitations Act of 2009” the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that said: “Whole-body imaging technology may not be used as the sole or primary method of screening a passenger under this section. Whole-body imaging technology may not be used to screen a passenger … unless another method of screening, such as metal detection, demonstrates cause for preventing such passenger from boarding an aircraft.”  

      Got that??   The House passed legislation that said you can’t be subjected to full-body scan or pat-down unless you first fail some other search — metal detector, sniffing dog, X-ray of your luggage.

      What happened to this legislation?  It died in the Senate because Senate Republicans killed it so the Obama administration could not have even a simple victory.

      So — when you are subjected to a virtual strip-search, or to a TSA grope-and-squeeze, thank the Senate Republicans.

    • Ingrid

      99% of us who travel are not terrorists, yet we have to submit to radiation, nude scanning, or public groping/molestation.  The reason that we don’t follow the Israeli model (and I believe we can do it here, even on a larger scale) is that we do not have intelligent security personnel.  By “intelligent” I mean that the TSA would rather hire HS graduates and pay them the least possible than hire people trained in security.  In addition, we are too lazy to look for people who can be trained in intelligence, and too eager to help corporations enrich themselves by using technology.  I understand that US companies who sell these scanners are trying to sell them worldwide.  Some countries have already abandoned this equipment and reverted back to intelligence.  Also, abuse of these machines can increase the exposure to radiation.  I do not trust that TSA employees won’t break the equipment and increase our exposure to radiation.

      Shahrukh Khan, an Indian actor, had his nude airport scanned image printed and shared by security personnel at Heathrow.  I am not convinced that the “save” feature of the scanners has been disabled.  Remember, TSA staff are not the brightest of the bunch.  Can you imagine a nude image of an Arlington elected official going viral?  Or of a child?  Are we waiting for a horror story of some pervert TSA employee groping young boys before we stop this?

    • somethingblue

      But grousing on blogs is cheap. If you object to the porno-scanners and gate-rape, call Warner and Webb and say so.

      Politely, but clearly and unequivocally.

      Warner: 202-224-2023

      Webb: 202-224-4024

    • Eric

      While I completely agree that the TSA needs to make significant improvements to this process, it seems to me that we should be careful not to create a pitchfork mob mentality while dealing with this issue.   I’m on the “Let’s fix this” bandwagon but I’m not as crazy about the tone of some of these arguments.

      1. Let’s NOT start calling this gate-rape.  It incorrectly and unnecessarily devalues the meaning of rape.  To suggest a security based pat down (very brief touch of private areas, with clothes on, conducted by pseudo-professionals, in front of many witnesses) is anywhere close to the same level as the hideous crime of rape is absurd.  No, I don’t like the pat downs either.  Yes, I got a pat down last time I flew, so I’m not just making this up.  It was mildly annoying and certainly uncomfortable, but I was NOT raped.

      2. The TSA does need to be much better prepared for difficult and non-standard situations.  There is absolutely no excuse for the truly awful things that some travelers are subjected to (Lowell gave some examples) because the TSA is unprepared.  As long as they’re employing the current security standards, they must be prepared for every situation so people can move through security without true horror stories occurring.  

      3. Let’s be careful not to demonize the TSA employees.  The implication is certainly out there that the TSA employees who are conducting these pat downs and body scans are scum bags who enjoy feeling people up and/or looking at scan porn in their “secret” backroom.   I’d be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of male TSA employees get NO pleasure out of grabbing at other men’s private parts.  Same for the female employees.  That doesn’t mean we, as travelers, should simply accept the “gropes”, but I don’t think the TSA staff should be made to be the bad guys.

      That said, there are always a few bad eggs.  As long as we’re stuck with these bad security measures it is up to the TSA to go to extreme measures to police their own employees.  Simply saying that the “save” feature is turned off on the scanning is not nearly enough.  There are plenty of background checks along with extensive monitoring (both in the work place and out) that needs to happen.  

      But, overall, let’s not paint such an ugly picture of the vast majority of honest TSA employees because we want to change the manner in which security is implemented.  

      4. Give the TSA a little credit for being proactive.  Again, I don’t agree with how they’ve gone about this, but at least they didn’t wait for another attack to happen.  Too often the government is reactionary and many people suffer before something is done to address a problem.  So the discussion should stay focused on “let’s increase security in a more comfortable manner” rather than “stop groping me”.  Unfortunately the MSM is on the case, which means we’ll get non-stop grope coverage.

      5. And finally, poking a little fun at Ingrid… 99% of travelers are not terrorists implies that 1 out of every 100 are terrorists.  Since most domestic flights have more than 100 passengers this means that most domestic flights have at least 1 terrorist on board.   😉