TSA’s John Pistole shovels the sh*t yet again redux

The media are once again doing the TSA’s dirty work for it. Who needs PR flacks when you have newspapers, TV, radio, and the internet?

As we’ve written so many times, security at U.S. airports was working just fine after 9/11. Planes weren’t being blown out of the sky left and right. Then along came TSA Administrator John Pistole to implement the Reign of Molestation. And he’s been shoveling the sh*t ever since, abetted by a credulous media just as intent on fear mongering as he is.

Pistole’s latest PR offensive is another op-ed in USA Today. In it, he repeats the same bald-faced lies he’s been spewing for the past three years. No matter how many times he’s shown to be lying, no matter how many times his assertions have been refuted with facts, he continues. He’s like some demented wind-up toy that won’t shut up.

I took him apart here. Sommer Gentry took him apart here. Wendy Thomson took him apart here. Bill Fisher took him apart here. Deborah Pierce took him apart here. Phil Weber took him apart here. All the TSA News writers have had a crack at him, multiple times. And unlike him, we employ empirical evidence — and something even scarier — logic.

Pistole actually has the nerve to call the TSA “non-invasive” and “common sense.” Yeah, John, sticking your hands down people’s pants is “non-invasive.” Trying to detect “micro-expressions” on people’s faces is “common sense.”

Here are just a few of Pistole’s whoppers:

“It is important to note that TSA’s behavior detection approach does not have anything to do with a passenger’s appearance; rather, it identifies individuals who could be high-risk passengers based solely on their behavior.”

False. Racial and ethnic profiling is rampant.

More lies:

“As demonstrated by experts, these techniques are an effective means of identifying people engaged in deceptive or illegal activity, as well as those who fear discovery. Last year, officers referred more than 2,100 passengers to local law enforcement, resulting in 30 boarding denials, 79 investigations, and 183 arrests.”

False. “These techniques” have repeatedly been shown to be voodoo, by the GAO, by DHS, by the Salt Lake Tribune, by the experience of the TSA itself. And the only arrests that have taken place have been for drugs, illegal immigration, carrying “too much” money, or other violations that have nothing to do with bringing down a plane and for which the TSA is forbidden by law to search.

John Pistole is a liar. He is a liar and a criminal. He should be fired and prosecuted.

But we all know that will never happen. We have a clueless president — his wife and children don’t have to get scanned and groped — and hundreds of worthless wankers in Congress — not enough of whom have been scanned and groped. They will never stand up to this authoritarian religious zealot. They’re cowards.

But perhaps that’s fitting. Given that they represent U.S. citizens, and most of those citizens couldn’t care less about their rights, perhaps the cowardice of our political leaders is entirely appropriate. Only time will tell.

(Photo: Capt’ Gorgeous/Flickr Creative Commons)

Cross-posted at ABombazine

  • Susan Richart

    I tried to comment on the piece in USA TODAY and while my comment appeared for a while, it was soon taken down. I called Pistole a liar re his claim of over 219,000 people being selected by BDOs for precheck-style screening in just one day on the basis of observation and interviews. Guess USA TODAY doesn’t like their guest columnist to be called out.

  • frostysnowman

    So Mr. Pistole thinks God put him in that job? That God wants his particular brand of mania as head of the TSA? That’s almost more frightening than what the TSA does to American travelers every day.

    • Susan Richart

      It makes one throw up in one’s mouth, doesn’t it? Saying God put him in the job takes all responsibility out of Pistole’s hands; he is no longer accountable. One wishes God would send an angel to smite him.

      • Outland10

        I couldn’t disagree more.
        One has integrity and opinions he forces no public to comply with.
        The other enforces his **** paid from public monies. The result is usually a lot less funny than this:
        Thought police are Pistole’s allies, not Robertson’s.

        • That photographer’s tool story is actually over a year old, maybe two; can’t remember. I don’t know why it’s now showing up all over the place. Still, it’s good for people to be reminded of the idiocy of the TSA.

  • Chris Bray

    I stayed in a hotel over the summer that offered free copies of USA Today at the front desk. Never saw the pile get even the tiniest bit smaller, except for the one time I picked up a (vanishingly thin) copy to see if there was anything in there worth reading. There was not. So I start by wondering why the TSA would bother to spew into this particular vacuum.

    More generally, I wonder how much the messaging matters, anymore. It’s like the relentless spin about the Affordable Care Act — at the end of the day, you know if your coverage was cancelled, you know if the replacement policy was better or worse, and you know what your workplace memoranda say about work hours and future coverage. The fact that media figures blare out a constant stream of mental vomit about the law and its effects doesn’t change the fact that you can notice the law and its effects in your own life. You just have to be kind of awake.

    Ditto the TSA. Every air traveler sees the Thousands Standing Around with that vacant stare. Every air traveler sees with their own eyes the half-dozen mall cops in federal uniforms clustered around the little girl in the wheelchair or the elderly man with a medical device. There were people in the area when a TSA officer infamously shouted to the whole checkpoint, upon groping an elderly woman’s crotch, “It’s an adult diaper!” You can see this trash yourself, live in person, as they perform their idiotic theater.

    I will never forget when my wife carried medication through a TSA checkpoint, and the near-to-drooling TSA goon opened the insulated bag: the medicine is okay, he said, but the ice pack was a “biohazard” and couldn’t be allowed in the sterile area. I said, “Let’s go ahead and discuss it with a supervisor,” and he shrugged, put the ice pack back in the bag, and sent us on our way with it. I still kick myself for not asking him to define “biohazard.”

    But then what, John Pistole’s press office types up an op-ed piece for an unread newspaper, and suddenly I think the TSA is awesome?

    I do love this blog, and the quality of your work, but I often wonder why anyone would need to have any of this explained to them. As Dean Wormer told Flounder, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Clearly we have too many Flounders in the population.

    • I think you just answered your own question: “Clearly we have too many Flounders in the population.”

      I come across people all the time — in the neighborhood, at parties, at events — who swallow the TSA bullshit hook, line, and sinker. Most of these people are highly educated (like that makes a difference); some are even scientists, who supposedly value empirical evidence. But mention anything to do with “terrorism” and they become blubbering idiots, repeating the most inane crap about being “safe” or being “blown out of the sky.” It’s simply impossible to get through to them.

      I’m thinking of doing a post quoting these people (without using names, of course), some of whom have put their inanity into writing. One guy actually told me, after I had laid out all the facts, that he believed me, that he could see I was right, but that “I still think it’s a good idea that the TSA is there doing what it’s doing.”


      • Chris Bray

        And of course, generalize to the NSA and etc. Ugly and sad.

    • Dolt

      Here is the reason why Pistol (or anyone) bothers writing a piece for an unread USA Today: The scant few people who do read it are TV news producers. Watch any single TV news, be it local or national, and you will undoubtedly see a story citing USA Today. Pistol’s hope (and what will very likely happen) is that his opinions will be regurgitated all week on various TV news reports and it will be vaguely reported as an op-ed and skewed to seem more like fact.

      That also goes to your other question…why do people need to be told something that they will or can see for themselves? Because 1) They like it or approve and hope their experience is the exception for political/religious/social reasons. 2) They assume they just have bad luck/bad policy/getting screwed while everyone else has what is being reported even if that report is wild propaganda and not based in reality.

      It both fascinates and frightens me how much most people will buy a premise told to them even though it actually goes very much against the facts that they have experienced and learned for themselves. Every time, they think they must have encountered a fluke and everyone else has a different outcome than they did.

  • Jack Stinglash

    The religious zealot link was enlightening. This man sounds a bit frightening.

  • Susan Richart

    Good heavens, why can’t he stop trying to defend the indefensible? How many reports does the GAO have to issue before he gets it?

    I am especially galled by his statement that the BDOs are the ones who select people to receive expedited screening. That’s just totally untrue and anyone who reads at FlyerTalk knows it’s not true.

    • TestJeff Pierce

      Correct. People are picked for different lines based on the following profiles:

      – Parents with young child
      – Really old looking
      – Anyone (yes, anyone….) in a long line when the security lines are getting backed up

    • Outland10

      Why is he still on the job? Blackmail?